DEATH VALLEY TALES AND TIDBITS – and MAKING ICE LAST in the DESERT!
Stories abound about death and disaster, ghosts, canyons and striking it rich in Death Valley, and how the “49ers” came across this vast desert during the American Gold Rush of 1849. Prospectors were found dead, just a shriveled and desiccated mummy. The hot desert sun and lack of water can do that to you. Emigrants ran out of food and water and had to eat their own oxen, burn their wagons to make a cooking fire, then staggered out of Death Valley barely alive.
There are also success stories. One hard scrabble miner and his wife were going beyond broke mining for gold and silver. Then one day on the salt pan he picked up and tested some salty, crusty looking mineral that turned out to “burn green” meaning it was borax — borate mineral that became the 20-Mule Team Borax Soap. The miner and his wife retired in wealth.
So in today’s jeeping world, we travel Death Valley with all the conveniences including ice chests. There are still ways to run out of ice and be “inconvenienced.” Here are some helpful tips for making sure you don’t become a Death Valley Tale…
- Use plenty of ice
• The recommended amount of ice is 1 pound of ice per quart size of your cooler.
• Large cubes, blocks of ice, or ice substitutes such as Blue Ice are recommended over small cubes or shaved ice.
- Starting off right
• Before you start packing, you should, at minimum, bring your cooler to room temperature at least 24 hours prior. Pre-chilling your cooler for a few hours before you begin your final packing is also a great way to start.
- Chill-out before you pack
• Be sure to plan ahead. It’s recommended to pre-chill the items you plan to pack approximately 1 hour before you place items into your cooler. Two six packs of soda or one gallon of liquid will melt approximately 2.5 lbs of ice just to cool from room temperature.
- Ice goes last
• Cold air travels down, so load your food or beverage items into your cooler first, then cover them with ice.
- Stay out of the sun
• Unfortunately, coolers can’t wear sunscreen. Be sure to keep your cooler out of direct sunlight as this will decrease the amount of time your cooler stays cool. Placement inside car trunks, garages or on top of warm surfaces will also decrease the cooling time.
- Don’t drain the cold water
• You should not drain the melted ice water from your cooler because the melted water if more effective in keeping your cooler cool than empty air. Melted water also preserves the remaining ice better than empty air space.
- Keep the lid closed
• Do you remember your mother telling you to keep the refrigerator door closed? The same goes for coolers. Try to keep the lid closed as much as possible, and open the cooler as little as needed. Keep the cold air in and your cooler will stay cold longer.
Whenever you travel in the desert, have plenty of water and be prepared to spend the night if necessary.