The first boondock was halfway between Paicines California and Reno Nevada. We spent the night at the Gold Run California rest area on I80. This was a last minute thing since we had planned to stay at the Camping World in Rocklin, CA, only to be rudely sent on our way. I WAS GOING TO BUY A $@%&ING BIKE, TOO! Yeah, I know, Lemonis ain't shedding no tears, but still.
Anyway, I read some where that you could sleep at California rest areas from 6pm to 10pm, so we pulled on in.
The Gold Run Rest Area Report:
- It's easy on, easy off, even for tow vehicles pulling 32' travel trailers like I was. This is typical of rest areas.
- The signage says you can stay up to 8 hours at the rest area. We stayed 10 or 11 and had no trouble.
- I parked in truck parking in one of the extra long lanes. It was Saturday night and every space filled up with trucks as the night wore on. Some guys complained about our RV being in a space close to our window. Other campers were parked along the perimeter rather than in a truck space. I would probably find a perimeter spot if I had to stay overnight at a rest area again. The other reason to park away from the trucks is...
- The big-rig truck farts go on all night and are seriously loud. I had ear plugs, but my poor mom looked haggard the next morning.
- The rest area has vending machines, bathrooms, and the usual tourist flyers. No restaurants or gas. The vending machines only take dollars or coins and there is no change machine. (We used our laundry quarters to get two Lunchables from the vending machines for dinner). There is also a beautiful pond in the back which gets less beautiful when you read the sign that says 'Keep Out - Raw Sewage.' There are shaded nature trails around this cesspool which people who spoke French or Polish were happily hiking, oblivious to the poopy danger mere steps away...
An hour later he knocked on the RV door to return the kit. I asked if he had gotten things taken care of. He explained that their alternator is blown so they will limp to the next town with a 24 hour Walmart to buy some jumper cables so they can keep jumping ever time they need to start, until the get to Reno where they can try to get work, and hence pay for a repair. Since I have two emergency kits in my SUV (one a free gift for rabid gamblers from a casino in Vegas, the other a free gift for signing up for a Discover card) I gave him one. Someone like me really doesn't have room for duplicates in her life. He was very grateful and offered to pay. I told him to 'Pay it forward.' And he got excited because this is his life's philosophy. He's a 'chiver.' I asked what that was and he mentioned Bill Murray? @-@ ::vacant stare:: Well, cool!
I like being one of those kind strangers people meet along their journeys. :) But I digress...
The next night we went to the TA Truck Stop in Sparks Nevada, just a hair's breadth from our final destination of Reno. I heard that such places were good spots for blacktop boondocking. I researched this one specifically and got confirmation that RVs were welcome to stay overnight.
The TA Truck Stop in Sparks, NV Report:
- This is a massive compound with huge bays where big rigs can get diesel fuel, and somewhat less maneuverable regular unleaded gas pumps. The only pump you'll safely get through when towing your RV is the outside one, so basically park behind whomever is at this pump and stare at them until they get the $#%& out of your way.
- Yes, RVs park in the regular sized car lot overnight and are welcome to do so. HOWEVER, if you're like me your 32' travel trailer with 8' SUV (I think?) will not fit in two spots the way a class A without a toad would. The options are to take up a dozen or so spots by parking lengthwise across them, or to park in the truck area. (Don't do either. See my next boondock report).
- The truck area is a horrible option, because it freaking fills up to the point that truckers are paying to reserve spaces in advance. Further, these ain't pull-thrus. The big rigs were backing into spots. I got lucky because I have a handicapped plate due to my mom's mobility issues. There were three handicapped big-rig spots in front of the truck parking area, next to the diesel pumps. I presume RVs aren't supposed to park in the truck area (though no one seemed to be policing) but my handicapped placard got me a pass, I felt. No one complained next to our window like at the rest area. If somebody did complain I could complain back at them for not actually having a handicapped plate. The FedEx driver tandem towing two rigs and the spry guy with a refrigerated truck had no handicapped plates or placards. I'll forgive the FedEx guy, cuz he was just going in for dinner and there was nowhere to park his two trailers. The spry guy who had a prostitute in his truck bed gets less of a pass. I don't mind the prostitute so much as her pimp who stood around inspecting our RV while she worked. -_-;; Let's not tell my mom about this.
- The three handicapped spots, and a lined out area between these spots and the truck scale FILLED UP so the only way for rigs to get to the parking area was to drive through the scale or through a diesel pump. The pumps always seemed full. Trucks parked at the pumps once the lot filled up, two deep in most lanes.
- The handicapped spot we were in was not wide enough for us to put out our slide more than 12 inches and we had to fold up our steps when we went inside. One of our windows was nearly taken off by a passing truck.
- If I haven't already convinced you to avoid the TA for your boondocking needs, you remember how I complained about the truck farts from the rest area? Holy crap...this was stereo truck farts all fricking night! Sometimes they were so loud my cat would run from the window screaming Bloody Mary! The stupid exhaust fumes set off my carbon monoxide sensor twice! I woke up with a sore throat, red eyes, and nostrils full of partially hardened liquid cement. I'm still recovering from that toxic environment as I type this. Trucking is damned unhealthy!!
- Now let's go into the TA. They have a nice convenience store, heavy on trucker items, but able to fufill all your junk food needs as well. There is also a restaurant that puts out a salad bar around lunch time. The food was eatable. The salad bar I'll probably avoid unless you catch it right as the worker sets it up. Right outside the salad bar is the entrance to the casino and yeah...
- OMG THE SMOKE IN THIS PLACE! It's funny, I've been away from Nevada for several months and I missed my casinos. They became romanticized places of sheer novelty and entertainment in my gambling-withdrawling mind. I totally forgot that most casinos are giant fricking ashtrays. I swear I did not smell one cigarette the whole time I was in California. Back to Nevada and BOOM. Holy crap is it thick! And old! Even if no one is smoking there is a stench soaked into walls. I didn't want to stay in there because I knew I was going to stink. Why, oh why, has Nevada not picked up on vaping yet? I know it's still not healthy, but at least it's less stinky! Anyway, my point was to avoid the salad bar unless you like tobacco leaves in your salad.
- There's a 'gun museum' in this TA. Two glass cases. If you like guns you'll probably find it interesting I guess?
- The only other reason I can think of boondocking here instead of my next suggestion is if you want to partake of one of the prostitutes visiting the truck beds. Though...it's a real short drive to a legal brothel, y'know?
Baldini's Casino in Sparks NV Report:
- This is where you should go to boondock instead of the TA. It's only 1.5 miles away from the TA. The reason I didn't just go here is because I thought you could only stay one night.
- YOU CAN BOONDOCK MULTIPLE NIGHTS AT BALDINIS. In fact, there are permanent residents here, but the RV lot still has loads of space. There are also two lots available just for RVs.
- First off, go park your rig in the RV lot closer to the casino, if there's room. If not, go across the street from it and park there.
- Next, go into the casino and go to the Player Rewards desk (or whatever it's called). You know where you sign up for a player's card? Tell them you'd like to park your RV overnight in their lot. They will call security for you to make this happen. While you're waiting for security sign up for a player's card. You can't boondock unless you're signed up with them.
- The security guard will need your plate number and player's card. He will take your information for their log book and will give you a two day pass to park overnight there.
- After two days you can get another pass if you want, but they will check your player's card to make sure you've been gambling. He said they need to see modest activity in order to renew the pass.
- You can continue getting passes as long as you frequent the casino. Like I said, there looks to be some permanent residents in the lot, including one in an unhitched travel trailer.
- The lot was spacious when we came here and easy to find a space. Easy in and easy out. Maybe it gets crowded sometimes, but not when we were there.
- The lot is INCREDIBLY WELL LIT at night!! I feel kind of safe, but I won't get cocky.
- There are no trucks here. No truck farts! No exhaust!
- You need to go play in Baldinis even if you're not a gambler to 'pay' for your spot. I mean, do this even if you're not renewing your spot in two days. It's just showing consideration for the sweet boondock. My mother won $100 today! Seriously! She bought in with $5 and the machines kept hitting. It was 'new player card' syndrome (we see this all the time) but still was pretty sweet. The security guard said there was blackjack somewhere but I never found the tables. There's plenty of machines, including the newer fancy ones. If you are opposed to gambling you should think of it as just paying for your RV spot through a machine...that might want to pay you back.
- The casino has a gift shop and two eateries. One is a fast food 'hospital cafeteria' type affair where you can get a burger basket (burger and fries) for $1.99 at the time of this posting. It's not 5 star cuisine but it's cheap! You know how I like cheap. We had this for dinner and were very happy with the decision. The other eatery is a sit down restaurant with moderately priced fare. The current special is steak and shrimp for $7.99. We ate there for lunch and were happy with it. The bread pudding was the bomb diggity.
- The best thing about this boondock is that it's QUIET. ;o; My mom is catching up on her sleep and my cats aren't freaking out from large truck farts. Yes, it's under a flight path, and the planes went low enough to rattle the RV, but they stopped flying at sundown. There were only two while we were here. One tried to tear the roof of our RV I think...
- Oh, I should also mention THEY WERE NICE! They were happy to give us a pass. They were happy to have us boondock. I didn't get that, "Okay, fine, but be gone by morning," attitude you see at many a Walmart. They actually want RVers here. ;o; Such a wonderful feeling.