The best thing about full time RVing is that you often have the freedom to change your plans on a whim. So we often ask locals, what’s a “don’t miss” around here?
Two people, including a park ranger, recommended the China Ranch Date Farm near Tecopa, so as we left Death Valley, we decided to detour south to visit it.
Whew. Neither person mentioned the hairpin turns, single-lane roads or steep hills. It would have been scary enough in a car, but we were trying to maneuver it in a lumbering 27-foot long RV.
Several times, Mark had to get out, jog ahead to the next blind curve, see if a car was coming, then wave me to inch forward. At times the rock formations on either side of the road were so close it was like threading a needle. We would have given up and turned around but there was no place to turn around.
First, the back story. During the mining rush (gold, silver, borax, talc) at the turn of the century in Death Valley, a Chinese man named Ah Foo (I could NOT make this stuff up) left the Borax mines and started a ranch in an oasis, growing food for the miners. His “Chinaman’s Ranch” was very successful until he mysteriously (foul play?) disappeared.
At the shop, you can sample a dozen different types of dates, from black to tan, or taste the date cookies and date bread. But they are best known for their date shakes.
I piled my purchases on the counter and asked the clerk for a date shake. She grinned, did a little shimmy, and said, “There’s your shake!” Then, singing the whole time, she scooped vanilla custard ice cream and purreed dates into a metal cup, blended it, and served it to us with spoons, because a straw would have been ridiculous.