Surviving Power Outtages in Death Valley

So Monday, my neighbor, decided to heat up a frozen cauliflower pizza for lunch. I made plans to cook chicken and use up some of my frozen fruit in smoothies for whoever wanted one, after I got out of work that night. There is no reason for letting good food go to waste.

Tuesday (November 19th) we had a planned power outtage from 6:15am-about 3:30pm. The power came back on earlier then what the power company had told us it would

After making 2 employees a smoothie for an early breakfast before our power was shut off, I came home to eat chicken and make myself some coffee, wash dishes, and hunt for extra batteries for 2 of my fans. I made sure that both of my tablets were charging, and then ran some water to save in the tub…it came in handy to flush toilet later and clean up.

Even though the sun was rising outside, my room stays pretty dark without power. So I took a nap for a few hours.

Before heading into work, I gathered my fans, flashlight, glowsticks, and cheat sheets for the items we sell most in the gift shop. Without power I knew the register was not going to work and would not be able to look up anything, so my cheat sheets make life easier. Well I was only at work for about 1.5 hours when the power came back on. Then I had to enter all the earlier transactions, into the register.

Then I got called into work early on Wednesday. I went in at 11:00am and around 12:30 the power went out again. My boss had me close up the little gift shop and gave me a long lunch. We had no idea why we were getting a second power outtage, or how long it would last. I went back to work in the general store at 4:30pm. The power was still out and I knew it would be dark soon outside.

Some of our hotel guests were wandering around in the dark, all lost and confused. Unfortunately we had no flashlights for sale in the store. I was a little surprised that people got so upset that we wanted all the cooler doors kept shut. Beer is kept in the cooler and it seems that is what people wanted most. It seems that beer is the #1 necessity during a power outtage. It didn’t make sense to me. One of my bosses drove up to Panamint Springs to get us some pizzas. Panamint Springs runs everything on generators, so they never have any problems when a power outtage falls across the national park. We finally closed early and I was home again by 9pm.

I sat outside my room enjoying a cup of Tazo tea, looking at the stars and listening to other employees either complain that they couldn’t set their alarms or charge their phones. Luckily I have a gas stove in the community kitchen…which is why I can still have hot tea or instant coffee during a power outtage. I never use an alarm and I don’t own a phone. So I just couldn’t relate to everyone else’s whiny complaints. I was sorta surprised that nobody had started a campfire up at the usual spot…usually at least once a week, a bunch of employees will gather together and hang out around a campfire. I can see the fire from my room but I have never gone up there during the whole 17 months that I have been here. But on a night without power and nothing else to do, there was no campfire.

EDIT: On the afternoon of 11/20 a fire started in the electrical substation that distributes power to most of Death Valley. Panamint Springs was not impacted. Because of the location and complexity of the substation, the rebuild may take days or weeks.
Southern California Edison has dispatched a large generator with the intent to run all of Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. There will still likely be times without power as repairs are made or the generator undergoes maintenance.
Those visiting should anticipate prolonged periods without power or connectivity. The Furnace Creek cell tower is powered by separate generator, but will likely be down at times as well. The park will have limited ability to respond to emails, posts, or phone calls for the duration of the outages. The parks internal radio system used by emergency responders and law enforcement is operational.

Just found these last 2 pictures on Facebook, from the national park service page.