Friday, April 04, 2008

THE 20 MULE TEAM

I'm sure at some time in your life you have heard of the 20 Mule Team, or the name Borax. Did you ever stop to think about where it originated from? In 1940 there was a forgettable movie of the same title, the television series Death Valley Days, and if you are old enough, the commercials referring to the mule team. This is the third or fourth time we have traveled this area of Death Valley, and each time I make mention to Craig of the town of Boron, near the street of Borax and Twenty Mule Team. "Say, isn't that the place they make some type of laundry detergent"?

I had to go in search of answers, and I found them, way too many to bore you all with the details, but there was in deed two ten-mule teams put together to form a 100-foot-long, twenty mule team. The borax load had to be hauled 165 miles up and out of Death Valley, over the steep Panamint Mountains and across the desert to the nearest railroad junction at Mojave. The 20-day round trip started 190 feet below sea level and climbed to an elevation of 2,000 feet before it was over.

Between 1883 and 1889, the twenty mule teams hauled more than 20 million pounds of borax out of the Valley. During this time, not a single animal was lost, nor did a single wagon break down — a considerable tribute to the ingenuity of the designers and builders and the stamina of the men and mules.

Continuing on our route, the topic of conversation was suddenly changed when we began to see quite literally a sea of orange across the fields. "Are those poppies"?, I asked. Not being experts in horticulture, we assumed they were and I started taking pictures. It reminded me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, Toto, the Tinman, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion, go traipsing through the field of flowers. I was pretty sure the Wicked Witch had not cast a spell on the fields we were passing by, but we still did not take the chance to stop and smell the flowers. Sometimes there just isn't a spot on a two lane road to pull over a big 18 wheeler, no matter how much you would like to.

So tonight we are staying with Craig's parents, as Craig had used every bit of his last driving hours to make it into Selma, CA. We will start our week of home time on Saturday, but it will be anything but that. We will be making a trip up to Usk, Washington, to where our property is and doing all that is involved in changing our residency. We will also be putting the final touches on our order for our Park Model house. We have lots of changes coming our way, and we are looking forward to experiencing them, as always, together, and with a laugh or two, which I'll be more than happy to share with you all!

4 comments:

Bob Funkhouser said...

Changes are good, just continue to manage your stress levels.

Fell a little behind monitoring your blog, trying to catch up today. Got a whole day...

Mom said...

The desert is beautiful place, especially in the spring.
A new home is an exciting dream. it is wonderful to be able to follow your dreams.

Mark Krusen said...

I've been behind on reading your post too. I've caught up. Just look at the color of the blue in the sky.Thanks again for letting me ride along. I'll try to keep my shoes clean so I don't get mud in the bunk. :)

rosemary said...

I do remember Borax and the commercials...i like the sound of the whip...weird. have a good time at "home." Hopefully your snow is gone.

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