Dec 9 - Big Tree Weeds and Burgers

This is the post I intended to write last night.

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Don't think I mentioned yesterday that we had to stay in "boondocking" at the Escapee Co Op Park in Pahrump. They were full-up. That was OK by us as we're experienced boondockers, it wasn't going to get below freezing, and it netted us another free night. During this four day trip from Sutherlin we stayed in a pay-to-park RV park only once.

Woke to a sunny sky and, after spending more petrodollars on dino juice, we were on the road before 10am. Topping Mountain Springs Summit southeast of Pahrump we dropped down to the Vegas Metroplex and swung onto I-15 intending to exit immediately onto I-215. But nothing doing... they've changed things around this interchange since our last trip and there is now a separate turn for I-215... which I missed. Shit! Now heading north into the area of "the strip", I took an exit with the hope of being able to do a 180 and get back to I-215. I think it was Tropicana Blvd and a 180 we did. Minimal damage except to my orienteering pride.

Steady progress to Boulder City and then across "the bridge" at Hoover Dam. Nothing of note to report as we drove to, then through, Kingman AZ, caught I-40 for 22 miles to where US-93 cuts off to the south toward Wickenburg and Phoenix. A few miles before Wickenburg we turned east on AZ-71 to Congress and then back on AZ-89 to the Escapees Park called North Ranch. This will be our homebase for the next three months.

North Ranch has an Escapees RV Park, but it also has a large community of deeded lot properties. Two good folks from Timber Valley have a couple lots here and, with a proviso, agreed to rent one of those lots to us for the winter. The proviso is that they’re trying to sell the lot we’ll be staying on, and if they do, we’ll have to vacate. Worst case, that means we’ll move over to the RV park which we had intended to stay in this winter anyway. So, for at least a while, we have a nice big lot to bounce around on… and the feeling of being in a more-or-less regular subdivision.

When we arrived at the lot we got out to inspect the RV parking pad and found an oddity: there was a 12 to 15 foot tall tree growing right out of the middle of the pad. Now that’s odd. Why would Bill and Barb put a big tree right in the middle of their RV pad? While we were pondering the situation a couple neighbors pulled up and introduced themselves as Russ and Liz. They were there to chop down that tree, which turned out to be a weed. That’s right, a 12 to 15 foot high “weed”... with a 2” thick base. But a sawzall made short order of the weed, and Russ even hauled it to the plant recycling place on property. Turns out this plant is called “tree tobacco”, is not native to the USA, and actually contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Some folks do indeed smoke it too. It also grows so fast it’s being evaluated as feedstock for biofuel production. Hmmm. One neighbor insisted this thing was not there just a couple weeks ago. If that's the case I hope the stump doesn't regenerate and spring up overnight. It could lift and roll the bushouse onto it's side.

Once parked and more or less settled, I treated my sweetie to dinner out. We tried the only sit-down restaurant of note in little Congress… Nichols West. For a Tuesday night it was moderately busy. We both tried one of their burgers and mine, a Bistro Burger with caramelized onions, bacon, goat cheese, and arugula was the best hamburger I’ve ever had. Or, it might have been the best hamburger I’ve had in a long time. Or, it might just have been the mix of a completed trip, a beautiful woman, a craft IPA, and just enough road fatigue to produce the perfect receptive atmosphere. In any case, I’ll be going back for a second shot at that burger… to see if it’s as good as I remember.
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