Showing posts from November, 2010

Desert Boondocking at Q

This morning, Tuesday, we left Cattail Cove State Park in our rear view mirror and made the short 60 mile drive south to the Quartzsite area (just "The Q" to some). The day was cool and the wind was light... perfect for seeking out that "just-right" spot on the many acres of public land around here so we could practice our boondocking skills. Not sure how long we'll be here, but something on the order of 4 or 5 days feels right at this point. I'm sure some are wondering how the bean soup turned out yesterday. Well, it was just about the best bean soup I've ever had. Dar loved it too. I love soup on cold winter days, and have gotten very creative in adding all sorts of things to even the most pedestrian canned soups in a pinch. But this "from scratch" soup was just excellent. Oh, and my experiment to use food-oriented titles for blog posts was inconclusive. I think I'll just go back to using my normal naming conventions in the future. Le

Meat Loaf, Green Beans, and Mashed Potatoes

First off, the title of this post has nothing to do with anything I'm going to write about today. It's only an experiment. For some reason yesterday's post (referencing food in the title -- "donuts and beans") caused the website "hit" counter to go crazy. So today, I'm experimenting to see if, maybe, the reference to food in the title was responsible. OK, enough about that. Oh, actually I do have one thing about food to clear up. In yesterday's post I referenced "15 bean soup". After reading the directions a little more carefully, I realized I may have mis-lead some readers. "15 bean" soup means you use 15 different kinds of beans (I had no idea there were that many!)... not 15 beans (count 'em, 1, 2, etc.). So last night I dumped the whole dang bag of 15 different kinds of beans into a pot of water and let them soak overnight. This morning, I drained, added fresh water, added a pound of diced ham, and let that mixture

Donuts and Beans

We decided to stay at Cattail Cove State Park for a couple more nights. Why? Our next stop will be near Quartzsite where we'll be camping out in the desert, no hookups at all... you know, stretching those boondocking muscles a little. The forecast includes gusty winds the next couple days. So, since we have the time flexibility and like this park... the way it's tucked into the folds of the hills and shoreline along Lake Havasu... we might as well wait for the much calmer weather that's supposed to arive on Tuesday. The issue isn't driving in the winds, it's sitting out in the middle off the desert and getting pelted by wind-blown sand. So we'll just wait for more agreeable conditions for our desert camping exercise. The other day I was killing some time while looking at a map of all the camps we've had over the past three and a half years. Here's that map... We know we've ignored the Northeast and New England during the Sabbatical so far... and

An Afternoon in the Desert

Considering we were away from family and could only connect up with them by cell phone, we otherwise had a nice Thanksgiving break. The park's Thanksgiving Dinner turned out better than expected, as we had about 30 people, far more food than necessary,... and a singing ranger who entertained us for over an hour after the feast. Bright sun and enough warm clothes made us all forget about the cool breezy weather. Our traditional Thanksgiving movie is "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles" (Steve Martin, John Candy, and it was dusted off for it's annual viewing again this year Thursday night. It's a corny old film that still makes me laugh... with a little holiday-season heart to boot. Very enjoyable. Friday, we fought the urge to rush out do battle with the hoards looking for the best deals (didn't take much for me to fight that urge!) and instead went for a drive in the desert. Much of this part of Arizona is public land managed by the Bureau of Land

Giving Thanks

We're planning a quiet Thanksgiving here at Cattail Cove State Park in Arizona. The park is sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at 1pm, complete with live music... and all we have to do is bring a side-dish to pass. I'm sure it'll be a good time. I usually get a little pensive on holidays like this one, and I know my thoughts will wander around to all the things I'm thankful for. But at the top of the list is the family that we're lucky enough to have... Moms, Dads, Daughters, Sons, Brothers, Sisters, and Grand-sons. The very next thing on the list is our health... without which, nothing much else matters. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone T&D

Cracks and Chutes

In my last post I wrote, about Parker Dam, that it's the next lower dam on the Colorado River below Hoover Dam. That isn't the case. Rex and Mary over at Happy Camper caught the error and "reminded" me that the next dam below Hoover is the Davis Dam at Laughlin/Bullhead City which forms Lake Mojave. Parker Dam is the one below Davis. Thanks, you guys, for stopping by the journal... and for keeping me on my toes. The last couple days we are clearly in R&R mode. Dar's been working on her online photo albums and doing more genealogy research. I've done a few small projects around the bus-house and have been reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson (yes, on the Kindle and a very enjoyable read if you like science and history). Yesterday we ran into town for lunch at the Mudshark Brewing Company restaurant in Lake Havasu City (which was excellent... both the meal and the craft beer) and then took an interesting hike (known as &

On the Shores of Lake Havasu

Hi everyone. We've decided to take advantage of a deal here at Cattail Cove, an Arizona State Park right on the shores of Lake Havasu... pay for 5 nights and get 2 nights free.... and that means we'll be here until next weekend. This certainly fits in the budget and, since it's a holiday week, we're looking for a place to lay low for a few days anyway. The Park is even having a Thanksgiving Dinner to which we're invited, and since we won't be with family for the holiday, this could be the next best thing. There are no complaints in the weather department from these two explorers. Despite a windy and cool day today, compared to Pahrump we're 20 degrees warmer. And with winter descending on all members of our family in the northern latitudes (daughter Andi called and has snow on the ground in the Portland area), there won't be any grumbling about chilly or breezy Arizona weather from us. On Saturday we explored parts of the area around Lake Havasu. We

Gettin' Out While the Gettin's Good

Last night, Thursday night, I checked the weather before climbing in the sack... and saw an already deteriorating forecast deteriorate further. Saturday and Sunday had already been tagged as "No Travel" days by the Safety Director, but now Monday was beginning to look "iffy" too. Much colder weather, snow in the pass between Pahrump and Las Vegas, and high winds... out of the south, of course (the dreaded but all too common headwind). Hmmm. We could hunker down for a few days in Parhump and let it all pass -- or we could just get out of town a little early, on Friday, today... sort of "gettin' out while the gettin's good". So that's what we decided to do... move today. Dar stowed most of the interior stuff before bed. And this morning we were both up early, before daylight, to attack the pre-move checklist. Today's forecast still called for stiff southerly winds, building during the day... so the earlier we could get going the better. And

Over the Dam Bridge

Until just the past few weeks, all traffic between Las Vegas and Kingman, AZ. on US-93 had no choice but to travel over the top of Hoover Dam. And getting over the dam can be a slow and tortuous process, with steep grades and narrow turns as the road descends canyon walls down to the dam and then back up the other side. The speed limit on the dam itself is 15mph due to the amount of tourist congestion (mostly people from Europe taking advantage of the cheap dollar to see the wonders of the United States). Better plan on a late arrival... wherever it was that you were going. Well Bunkie, that's all changed now that the new O'Callaghan/Tillman Memorial Bridge (the Dam Bypass Bridge) is complete and open to traffic. Built just 1500 feet downstream from Hoover Dam, it's supposedly the first (thus the largest) concrete and steel composite arch bridge in the USA and includes the largest concrete arch in the western hemisphere. It is, no doubt, a big bridge . The roadway is abou

Dar's Back

Just a short post to bring the Journal up to date. I retrieved Dar from the Las Vegas airport last night. Even though she had a great visit with family in Wisconsin, she was happy to be "home".  The flight back was unremarkable and arrived a good half-hour early. We stopped for a quick and light bite to eat on the way back to Pahrump, and got back to the bus-house by 8pm or so. In a few minutes we're heading out on an exploration of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead area. That means driving back to Vegas again, but intrepid explorers occasionally have to endure previously charted territory in order to reach the frontier. That's just the way it is in the exploring business. Looking ahead, we're paid up here at the Escapees Park in Pahrump until Saturday. But wouldn't you know it... the weather is looking a bit "iffy" this weekend. So I think we'll look into tacking a day or two onto our stay, and wait for good traveling weather. Now, where'

Mundane Monday Musings

I'll tell you what... it'll be good to have my travel partner back tomorrow evening. There are times when I look forward to a little solitude, a little time to myself.  But I've had my fill the past few days. In a recent post to this journal, just after Dar left last Thursday, I think I alluded to the many solo travelers and wanderers that are out there... seeing the country... and that I may be getting a glimpse into that lifestyle status. I can see why they find ways to connect with others on a regular basis. Whether they're caravaning in small groups, attending solo group rallys and get-togethers, or connecting up in the virtual world through blogs or other social networking tools... we all need to be in touch with others from time to time. I'd have to become much more extroverted if I ever needed to carry on by myself. Hurry back Dar! Part of my weariness with the past few days is probably due to the tasks I've been putting off... and then decided I need t

Pondering a Parable

From time to time I ponder the topic of "purpose" ... the purpose of our travels, of our nomadic lifestyle, of this blog... indeed, of our very lives. The subject was re-awakened in me this morning by a good and wise friend, who sent me this verse. Thanks Pat. If you're inclined to pondering at times, it might provide some fodder for you, too, on this quiet November Sunday. Parable First divesting ourselves of worldly goods, as St. Francis teaches, in order that our souls not be distracted by gain and loss, and in order also that our bodies be free to move easily at the mountain passes, we had then to discuss whither or where we might travel, with the second question being should we have a purpose, against which many of us argued fiercely that such purpose corresponded to worldly goods, meaning a limitation or constriction, whereas others said it was by this word we were consecrated pilgrims rather than wanderers: in our minds, the word translated a

Pahrump... Harrumph

At the risk of offending all our readers in Pahrump (wink), I've got to report that we've been generally disappointed with what we've found here. There's no doubt that it's a unique place with a unique history, but aspects of it just leave us shaking our heads. Before I start in, I want to make it clear that I'm writing about the overall town in this article... not the Escapees RV Park where we're staying -- which is well maintained and controlled by the owner/residents. We always find Escapees Parks to be desirable places to spend a few weeks. The following is in reference to the town of Pahrump. First, a brief history lesson, copied from Wikipedia... Pahrump was originally inhabited by the Shoshone. It was discovered and slowly inhabited by American settlers in the late 19th century. They reportedly chose the name for the valley which Pahrump is named after the original indigenous name Pah-Rimpi, or "Water Rock," so named because of the abunda

Come Fly With Me...

This morning Dar caught a Southwest flight to Wisconsin. She's joining her sister and her Mom for a "girls weekend" and making some preparations for the upcoming holidays. And that leaves me here in Nevada, alone. Anticipating these solitary periods is better than actually experiencing them. I have plans, a bunch of work to do... but today, after I got back from the airport, I pretty much just veg'd. Maybe a glimpse into the world of the solo explorer?? In any case, having someone to share experiences with is what I've come to enjoy. The Las Vegas airport was a zoo this morning. They say fewer people are coming to Vegas.. but you'd be hard-pressed to verify that in the "departure" lanes at the terminal. Traffic just crept... stop and go and very slow... the result of cabs and hotel vans just stopping to drop off passengers in any lane they happen to be in. Here, in Vegas, apparently there's no need for courtesy or concern about other traveler

A New Low

Tuesday, we went over to Death Valley National Park, about an hour drive west from Pahrump. With less daylight for exploring this time of year we made an effort to get started early -- and surprised ourselves when we were actually moving by 9am. The weather was perfect for exploring Death Valley... cool and very sunny. Let me tell you Bunkie... there aren't many cool days in Death Valley. Death Valley was the name applied to the area by prospectors and miners during the California Gold Rush days during the 1850's. Aligned north-south between two mountain ranges near the California/Nevada border, it's about 70 miles long and 10 to 15 miles wide. The unique geography of the area makes it the lowest, driest, and hottest spot in North America. The average daily high temperature never gets below 65ºf (usually in December) but climbs to 115ºf during the long summer... and long periods of temps over 120ºf are regularly recorded. The hottest day on record is 134ºf which occurred

RV Blunders

A few days ago, during our stay in Fernley, we were entertained one morning by two separate neighbors as they pulled out of the RV Park. All RV'ers make mistakes from time to time... I know we've made a few. But the two we witnessed that day are of the type that really shouldn't happen if even a modicum of care is taken during departure. Blunder One: a motorhome parked immediately to our right. After unhooking all the utilities, hooking up his car (he tows a Jeep Liberty, with a tow-bar, all four wheels on the ground), and warming his engine for a few minutes, he started driving off, but turned the wrong way, away from the angle of the parking pad and the natural flow of traffic... apparently trying to short-cut his way out of the park. Well, big motorhomes don't turn very short... and due to turning the wrong direction, he wasn't quite able to make the turn without backing up and taking another stab at it. The problem is that when you're towing a car, four w

Paltry Post from Pahrump

I've got more to report than what's in this short journal entry, but I'm tired and just don't have the motivation after that Sunday night tight nail-biter football game that drained nearly all my energy. Of course, I'm talking about the Green Bay - Dallas game. I know... I know... the final score (45 -7; Green Bay) doesn't sound very close... in fact, it sounds like a bigger blow-out than this past summer's BP Macondo Well disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But, for Packer fans, there's no margin that's a comfortable margin... and we suffer through each and every play until it's over. At the end, though, we were ahead... so it was a good day. But I'm still exhausted. Monday, we're thinking we might run over to Hoover Dam and check out the goings-on at the old dam place. I understand there's a new bridge over there too. And then Tuesday, if the weather holds, we think we may run over to Death Valley National Park. So check back for mo

Glowing Tonight

Between 1951 and 1962, the U.S. Government saw fit to detonate about 100 atomic and nuclear warheads here in Nevada. All of these detonations were above-ground tests... but many more subsequent tests were below ground... almost 1,000 more. These blasts took place at the Nevada Test Site, a 1400 square mile area of desert and mountains that starts about 10 miles from Beatty, NV... our camp tonight. Can you imagine the spectacle as the residents of Beatty gathered their friends, families, and children around and watched A-Bombs and H-Bombs being tested within a few dozen miles of their homes? Did they grab a beer and wait in lawn chairs for the blasts? "Hey Marge... come on out here and get a load of these fireworks... Boom!" ... It must have been a different world. Yesterday morning, Friday, we finally got underway from Desert Rose RV Park in Fernley. It was a perfect day for traveling and seeing the expanse of Western Nevada as we traveled down US-95 toward Las Vegas. The m

Cat In the Trash

The other night, oh, probably about 10pm or so, Dar asked if I'd take the trash out to the dumpster... you know... didn't want to wake to a smelly trash can the next morning and all that. "Sure", I said, don't mind a short walk at all... a chance to stretch my legs a bit before bed. So off I went, into the dark, on the trail to the local dumpster a couple hundred yards away. The RV park is dimly lit... millions of stars overhead but no moon... and it's quiet... very quiet. I know, having been here other nights for the same purpose, where the dumpster is located... off in a dark, out-of-the-way corner of the park. As I drew close I could make out that one of the two big plastic dumpster covers was open... making the job of depositing my bag O' trash a simple matter of flinging it skyward, in a big lobbing arc, into the deepest recesses of the big receptacle. And, as I did so, with great accuracy I might add, there was an unexpected, loud, and very e

Flow Keeps us in Fernley Another Day

Just a short post to say that we're still in Fernley tonight. Plans changed. As we were getting underway this morning, I noticed a puddle of what turned out to be engine coolant on the pavement under the rear end of the bus-house. Just like the human body, most of the bus-house's vital fluids are supposed to be sealed and contained within the systems they're designed for... and not spilling out willy-nilly on the ground. A check with the Safety Director confirmed this. OK, we've got a problem and we're not going anywhere until this is resolved. After a few phone calls, inquiries, and conversations with RV park staff, we found a mobile diesel mechanic who could be over in two hours (ain't small towns great!). The nice thing about talking with locals is that they can provide the inside scoop on people or businesses like this... relay the experiences others have had... thumbs-up or thumbs-down. And this guy came with the highest recommendations. At the appoin

Virginia City Bonanza

There it was -- Virginia City. Right there on the map, just a little way from Lake Tahoe and Carson City. As a kid in the 60's, I saw Virginia City on TV every week... it was the nearest town to the Ponderosa Ranch, and where Ben, Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe had to go for supplies and story-lines for the famous TV show Bonanza. And there it was! Well, the mostly flat and fictional Virginia City of the TV show (actually a backlot set at Paramount), was a tad different than the real one. The real Virginia City was a  mining boom-town, it's entire reason for existing at all was that it was sitting on top of one of the richest silver strikes of all time... the mother of all lodes... the Comstock Lode. Perched on the side of Mt. Davidson, a peak in the Virginia Range here in Northwest Nevada, the town exploded with growth after the first silver strike in 1859, eventually growing to more than 10,000 residents by 1880. But by that time, after 20 years of intense mining activity, the

Nevada's State Capitol

I'm still not sure what to think about the Nevada State Capitol. Built in 1870, it's a small structure that's called the "State Capitol", but few of the functions of State Government are still contained within it's walls. It's just too small to be viable in this complicated world we live in. We did see that the Governor maintains an office here along with a few others. But the Supreme Court moved out and to it's own building in 1937. The Legislature, both the Senate and the House, moved out and to it's own building in 1971 -- making Nevada one of only three states in which the legislature is separate from the Capitol. And many other government offices are sprinkled around the Capitol grounds in their own buildings. While it's not uncommon for governments to out-grow their Capitol and expand to other nearby buildings, Nevada has taken this vacating of the Capitol to a level we hadn't seen before. On top of that, by 1957 the Capitol buildi

Lake Tahoe

This past Monday we crammed 3 explorations of Northwest Nevada into one day. This post will cover Lake Tahoe... and I'll follow it with separate posts for the other two -- the Nevada State Capitol and Virginia City. An early start (for us) got us out the door and heading down US-50 toward Carson City and the Lake Tahoe area before 9am. The weather was typical for this part of Nevada during late fall... sunny and cool. Neither of us had ever seen Lake Tahoe before so, being this close, we had to take the time to see it. From Carson City, the Lake is only about 10 miles away... but the climb to the rim adds about 2,500 feet of elevation. Lake Tahoe is 22 miles long, 12 miles wide, and 1600 feet deep (the second deepest lake in the U.S. after Crater Lake). It's a bowl surrounded by mountains, straddling the border of Nevada and California high in the Sierra Nevada Range. The surface of the lake is 6200 feet above sea level, and it's the largest alpine lake in North Ameri

Visitors From the North

We had an agreeable weekend here around Fernley. The weather has certainly cooperated... crisp and cool, but mostly sunny. Saturday we were surprised when a couple we know... from our short stay at an RV Park in Banderra, TX. last November... showed up here, in Fernley and parked right next to us. Phil and Rose are a neat energetic couple from B.C. (that'd be Canada, ahy?) and we were delighted to see them. The rest of the story is that they're readers of this journal, saw where we were parked, and it just worked out that they could connect up with us at Desert Rose RV Park for a few days as they work their way south for the winter. How neat is that? Needless to say, we've had a couple longer than usual happy hours since they've arrived, and have thoroughly enjoyed their company. Today, Monday, we're heading out early in explorer mode. The target destination is Carson City and the surrounding area. Besides the Nevada State Capitol and Lake Tahoe, there's at