How many peeps can say they've eaten 'hot dogs' on Thanksgiving day in Death Valley? Not to many. I'm proud to say that I am one of them. The only thing that would have made this Thanksgiving the very best would have been to have my children and dad w/us. Yes....that would'a been one that went down in the books as the BEST!! We left out early Wed. morning and arrived in the valley around 2 ish in the afternoon. Being the 'picky' camper that I am we searched several campgrounds. However, being picky has it's downside. It takes time to explore and so you take the chance of not getting a place to camp. Who would have thought that Thanksgiving weekend was one of the busiest in the valley. People come here from all over to enjoy the beauty and comfortable temps. Most of the year, the highs are over 115 degrees. Hence the name "DEATH." By the time we headed up to the north end of the Valley, the sun was already behind one of the many mountainous peeks. We all said a prayer and hoped there would be a spot remaining. Plan B ...... well we didn't have one. Fortunately....someone kept the light on for us (not literally) and we found the perfect spot, lit our lanterns and got busy w/the business of making #21 in Mesquite Campground home for the next four days. We're getting pretty good at this thing and it wasn't long before the four of us were dining on homemade veggie soup around a roaring fire. I had to try out my new hat (think Heidi) and snazzy gloves/mittens. We were all pretty tired and headed off to bed early. The wind was pretty steady most of the night, so sleeping (for me anyways) was a bit difficult. Our first day was full of sight seeing. After a quick stop at a castle called Scotty's, where we also made calls to our kids and my dad (these calls ended up costing us over 100$ from a payphone), we headed out to Ubehebe crater. 1/2 mile wide and 500 feet deep. There were 3 other smaller craters near by. They were made by molten lava only 2,000 years ago. Awesome. We then headed 26 miles out a dirt road (listening to the 'hub' sing "Daniel Boone was a man"), to view one of the most mysterious phenomenons I have ever heard of. The place is called the racetrack. It is a dry lake bed sitting amongst several mountains. Nothing mysterious about that, however, the rocks move across the lake bed w/out any external force. The theory is that when the ground receives rain, it becomes very smooth and slick and the rocks slide across the surface. I tried to get some good pics, however, by the time we arrived the sun was already behind the mountains. It was still very cool and probably my favorite part of the trip. We headed back to camp singing Christmas carols along the way. We had invited another camper across the way that was there by himself on his bike. By the time we got back to camp it was well past turkey dinner time. We roasted wienies over the fire and looked for our guest. He finally showed about an hour later, seems he had a better invitation. Someone in a trailer had cooked the whole 'shabang' traditional T-day dinner. No worries. We sat around the fire w/him and heard stories of how he had traveled most of the world w/a view from his bicycle. I became enthralled when he spoke of camping @ the base of Mount Everest and woke each morning to look out his tent to a view of the majestic peak. I was jealous!! # 1 on my bucket list is to travel to Tibet to see this mammoth mountain. Friday we took a trip to the sand dunes. It was like the beach w/out the ocean. Pretty cool. Also, hiked up a canyon called Mosaic. Spectacular walls of marble. Did I mention that on our second night we heard coyotes serenading one another? This became a familiar sound each night. I know for a fact that the only thing between myself and one of these howling creatures was the thin nylon material of my tent. I laid there, hanging onto Skully listening to the coyote sniff @ my head. I woke up the 'hub' and said "Hub, there's a coyote right outside the tent." Only to have him say, "I heard the coyotes howling Tami." "No......that's not what I said. I said there's a coyote outside the tent." Hub says, "That's just Steve unzipping his tent." I thought I would give it one more try "HUB, there's a coyote outside the tent." Hub says, "What?" "Oh, whatever, I give up." It wasn't until the next morning as I retold the story to Steve and Vicki that he understood what had happened. Well.....some of us sleep good.....some of us don't. So, three nights of little sleep and I woke up to clouds and the air was definitely chillier than it had been. Wasn't long before the wind was gusting up quite a bit. We decided to take a trip through a canyon. Ughhhhh........now, I can get carsick but on this day I was greener than I have ever been. I'm telling you...I thought for sure I was going to hurl. As we began our trip down the canyon I couldn't take it anymore and asked the 'hub' to stop the car, I had to get out and walk. Snow was starting to fall and the wind.....gruelling. Good thing I was sick. (HUH)? The guys got out and guess what? You're never gonna guess.....we had A FLAT TIRE. I think this makes #5. So, they set about the task of fixing it. Poor guys. It was so very cold. I took some pics to make sure we would remember. Like I need pics of this reoccurring event. I would like to say that the time w/out the car moving helped the situation. NOT!!! Not only did I feel bad physically, but I felt terrible because it was putting a damper on our adventure. The 'hub' got out, let Steve drive (he has long legs), that way I could put my seat back and try and get through the ride. The last thing I remember before I fell asleep was driving by a 'ghost' town. I woke up just as we were coming out of the canyon. We were all pretty sick @ the sight that met us when we got back to our campsite. The wind had gusted so hard that the Halfacres tent had tipped over w/everything in it. It was dark, cold and the wind was howling. Unfortunately, we had to cut our trip short because of the weather. It took only 30 minutes to throw all our belongings into the car and trailer and off we went. We arrived home sometime after midnight tired and fell into bed (after a shower of course). The bed felt pretty good, only thing better would have been a coyote howling outside my window pane. I had to settle for the sound of the 'hub' snoring :) "Ow ouuuuuuuuuuu"