Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Here's the Skinny...

I don't think I have many readers of this blog, because I don't post pictures that often.  When I do they're pretty crumby.  Once again I'm giving you a post sans pictures.  Cest la vie.

We got many repairs on our ten year old SUV since last update.  New muffler, new catalytic converter, power steering repair, a bunch of other stuff.  She purrs like a kitten now.  The Nissan Armada was an expensive car when new, and it's turning out to be an expensive car to repair.  We still love it and don't want anything else.

Right now we're back at our boondock in the Long Term Visitors Area near Yuma Arizona.  Originally the plan was to be headed east right now, but the car repairs made us buy another permit and this time we got two weeks worth. 

Life is just too easy, convenient, and cheap here.  We have water, dump station, trash, propane, and a church for my mom.  The permits include everything except the propane which is sold at the Christian Service Center next to where we're camped. 

These permits are cheap compared to our usual monthly camping costs.  I normally budget $200/mo for permits, dumping, water, and an occasional Passport America campground.  Here I can get by for $100/mo.  $80 for a 4 week permit, and $20 for propane.  After the huge budget devastation the car repair caused me I needed a cheap month.

I don't want to get complacent, however.  My goal is to get to Florida before the end of winter so we can have a short flight to visit family in Puerto Rico.  Whether this goal continues in January or in February...not sure yet.  But we're staying put for now.

This is our first winter living off our solar.  The short days are such a pain.  Especially since our generator has some problem where it shorts everything out after we run it.  It never seems to add any juice to our batteries either.  This is a problem we need to address, but I'm just not up to another repair right now.  Maybe, eventually, we'll get this worked out.  (We're close to the dealership so maybe there?)  I just don't know where we'll live while the repairs happen.  Ugh.

Anywho, we run out of power shortly after the sun moves to the side of us.  The Satellite is a power suck.  Watching TV is turning into a luxury.  Work, however?  My work has to get done.

I work in the evenings because I can't concentrate when my mom and cats are bouncing around the RV.  Night gives me quiet time to get into my writer zone.  Of course, we have no juice left in the batteries at night, and can't run our generator.  My laptop batteries only get me two hours of use.  So what do I do?

I take that 410 watt cigarette lighter inverter we bought when our main inverter blew and hook it to the engine battery.  I hook my laptop to this and work.  After an hour or two this battery is dying.  So I turn on the RV and let it run long enough to replenish the battery.  Then I go back to work. 

Often I have to press my 'Emergency Start' switch to get the RV to start.  (Thank God for this, BTW.)  I'm probably doing damage to all our batteries.  I'm sorry if anyone is cringing out there.  I just need to be able to work.  I'm not retired.  I have to make my monthly income writing my novels.  I try to get something out every month.

So, yes, the dark days of winter are not ideal, but we always seem to manage one way or another.

I almost forgot--the reason I called this post 'here's the skinny' is because my mother and I are dieting again.  I know we try and fail alot, but our health is suffering.  Also, if we do get to Puerto Rico I don't want my cousin mentioning how fat we are again.  x_x 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


We're at the Cocopah casino on the Indian Reservation in Yuma (Summerton, actually).  There is a big RV lot on blacktop with lines marking out nice large spaces.  There's about 30 RVs here and it's only half full.  It's $10 to stay here for 3 days, but they give you one day free, so it ends up being four.

This is perfect because we just dumped and took water at the LTVA in Winterhaven and are good to dry camp for 4 days. 

Why did we drive the rig out here?  Well, first off, I was going to have to do it eventually because we needed gas in the RV and there's no gas stations in Winterhaven except for one on a military base (where we had a negative experience before). 

Second, the car will be done tomorrow and it would be hard to drive the RV to the Meineke.  I want to get an Uber like I did before.  There's no Ubers in Winterhaven.  Moving over here gives me access to that service again.

This is a very nice blacktop boondock.  Pretty quiet so far, except for one noisy truck engine that ran for a while.  All around us is bright green grass, the casino landscaping.  It's been so long since I had something other than desert and scrub brush to look at.

Of course, we're stupid and gambled ourselves broke.  Not really--but we did go overboard.  In that regard it becomes a much more expensive boondock.  Meh...oh well.  It's what we enjoy.

Before we settled in here we drove to a Food For Less and got provisions.  This is a Mexican grocery store chain in Yuma (and elsewhere?).  We were low on everything so I really filled up the shopping cart, including the space under it. 

If you go to a Mexican grocery you'll notice that people have very little in their carts, or are just carrying one or two items to the checkout.  People go shopping more than once every two weeks.  A lot of the carts looked to hold the contents of one dinner. 

So here I come with my megacart.  The check out lanes aren't designed for big piles of stuff.  It's that tiny rotary style check out you see at little mom and pop grocery stores.  I let a man with two items ahead of me.  Then a woman with one item comes up.  I tell her to go ahead.

Her eyes bulged and she said, "Really?" in a tone that sounded like she knew me (or my type) and was shocked that I was being civilized.  She followed it up with a genuine thank you, and a 'thank you so much!'

I looked like a fat trashy white person.  We had planned to shower that morning, but couldn't park the RV in by the token shower without a permit, so we skipped it.  I was dressed in what I'd slept in last night because I expected to get cleaned and dressed up after my shower.  My hair was in a messy bun.  My splotchy skin is white as a fish-belly.  People can't tell I'm a Sorta-Rican (half hispanic).  I look white.  The woman was a young black girl.  She acted like she was not accustomed to someone like me being considerate.  Her reaction made me stop and think. 

But, then, it could be because people in this area are generally inconsiderate and have nothing to do with race.  I don't really know.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Without Our Follow Car Again

So we’re in the LTVA (long term visitors area) in Winterhaven California.  We spent our first few days here in the lot of the solar place.  On Saturday they installed our new inverter.  It looks like our batteries are fine.  I think when we disconnected the fuse we screwed it up somehow, but now we have plenty of power to last us into the night.  The new inverter hook-up cost $80.  That was great.

What’s not so great is our Nissan Armada (the follow car).  We got a ‘Service Engine Soon’ light.  After ruling out a loose gas cap we went to Autozone to have them tell us the code and what the problem was (they do this for free, pretty sweet).  

We need a new catalytic converter.  Le sigh.  Fine.  We drove to the garage across the street to see about getting this done.  This is Alice Auto Repair in Yuma.  Can’t say I recommend them.  The guy made up some malarkey about us needing OEM parts and quoted $1,700.  When I claimed I didn’t have the money he suddenly decided we didn’t need OEM parts and went down to $1,200. 

I was pretty pissed.  You could see the dollar signs in his eyes.  And we expect to be ripped off at mechanics, but by one or two hundred bucks.  Not $500+.  I claimed I’d have to ask my brother for a loan, paid $35 for the quote and high-tailed it out of there.

Someone on Facebook said that I should go to an exhaust place for this kind of repair.  On Saturday I took the car to Meineke on 4th Ave in Yuma.  As I was driving there the car was not doing well.  I’d step on the gas and it would take a few seconds for it to actually go.  Every stop sign was a struggle for me to get moving again.  This was a 30 mile drive and I felt that if I couldn’t get the work done the same day I was going to be screwed.  I couldn’t manage another round trip. 

Meineke quoted me $350 over the phone, but my Nissan is a fancy expensive car and needed a fancy expensive catalytic converter.  I wasn’t surprised when they told me the part was going to cost more in the range of $600 and would take hours more labor than they anticipated.  This jived with what the last guy quoted me. 

What I didn’t expect was to walk under my car and see that my muffler was rusted out and clogged with carbon.  It’s supposed to be hollow, but when he knocked on it it sounded like it was stuffed full of crud.

So I need a new muffler too.  Yay.  I got quoted $1,400 for both repairs, labor, tax, etc.  Is that good?  I don’t know, but it’s still less than the first guy quoted me just for the catalytic converter.

More importantly, I barely got it there and I wasn’t about to start driving around trying to find another quote.  In fact—I wasn’t even going to drive it back to the campground.  That thing was staying there until it was fixed.

Since we’re going to Mexico I told her to do a full diagnostic and see if anything else needs to be repaired.  Then I installed Uber on my mom’s phone and got a ride back to the camp.  I’d never used it before.  I got a drive home with pleasant conversation and no complaint about making him go out to the middle of nowhere.  I’ll use this again if I need to in the future.

I explained to my mom that I had to leave the car there.  We agreed it was the best way to do it.  She had gotten our solar work done while I was gone and was happy to report it was only $80. 

Later on I hear the solar workers saying that the woman in the RV was waiting for her daughter to get back and couldn’t move the RV off their lot herself.  I yelled out the window that I was back.

“What?  How did you get home?”

“I took an Uber.”

“Wow!  You’re brave!”

What?  I didn’t feel brave.  I wasn’t sure if I was dealing with a technophobe or a sexist.

Anywho, I took the hint and moved the RV off their lot.  We dumped and got water, though before finding a spot to settle in.  No sense in moving it twice.  We’re parked a few hundred yards from the solar place because I wanted to be close in case anything they did for me wasn’t working.  This is also close to the Christian Service Center where we’re getting our mail forwarded.  It’s good to be in walking distance to stuff when you don’t have your follow car.

After the diagnostic, new tire rods, a leaky transmission line, an oil change, and a cracked power steering line added another $500 to our quote.  Ugh.  That’s $1,900.  But I don’t doubt the things they’re telling me.  It’s a ten year old SUV and the previous owners did not do routine upkeep.  Yes, we have to put money into it to keep it running well.  It’s better that than buying a new car.

Hopefully the work will be done by Thursday.  At that time I will see if this one guy who offered to give us a ride is still willing to do it, or I’ll call the guy who Ubered me the first time and see if we can work something out.  There’s no Uber in this remote area.

In the meantime, we’re stuck home.  We need groceries.  I’m stretching out the last of our food as best I can.  If we don’t have the car by Thursday we might have to go camp at a Walmart so we can get provisions while the work gets finished.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Back to Yuma

Today we left the Salton Sea to go back to a reliable boondock we wintered at last year.  It's the Imperial Dam LTVA (Long Term Visitor Area) in Winterhaven, CA, right by Yuma, AZ and Algodones Mexico (where my mom got her teeth done last winter).

This is the area we want to be in with our current travel goals.  We also like it because this is a place made for people who live in there RVs.  For $40 we get a 2 week permit that lets us camp, dump, fill water tanks, and dispose of our trash.  (You can get a season long permit for $180 which would cover Sept 15 to April 15).  There's also a coin shower at the more expensive camping area on the water.  It has everything we need and is quiet, peaceful, and safe.  We stayed in this area all winter last year.  I'm sure we'll do it again in the future.

We came here because this is where we got our solar installed for the new motorhome.  As you know, we blew our inverter and I couldn't install the new one because we upgraded to a 2,000 watt inverter and the leads on our wires won't fit.  We also think we have a battery problem because we get more life from our engine battery than from our six battery bank.  As soon as the sun goes down the auxiliary batteries read empty. 

This may be because we damaged them by draining them to empty, but we followed the instructions originally given to us by the solar place to the T.  We never let our charge control display drop lower than 12.1.


The solar place is on vacation, but the workers live in RVs surrounding it so one of them greeted us and explained they'd take care of us Friday after the holiday.  In the meantime they let us set up camp on their lot and gave us an electrical hook-up.  This is the solar  place by the Christian Service Center.  I can't recommend them enough.  They have done great work for us and always treat us fantastic.

We are loving this because we've been limping along on a 410 watt cigarette lighter inverter for the last couple of weeks.  It doesn't allow us to watch TV and use the computers at the same time.  Every time we disconnect the TV and satellite receiver we have to go through a long riggamaroll to get it started again.  It takes about 10 minutes for the satellite to finish its tests and find a signal every time we want to watch TV.  It's been a pain in the butt.

We're settled in with power once again.  We bought a 2 week permit, since there is no shorter option so we'll be here until December 5th.  We dumped, got rid of trash, and took on water.  It's nice to be back in familiar territory.  :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Salton Sea Stinks -- In More Ways Than One

We need to visit my brother and his family before escaping to Mexico.  This means taking the RV somewhere close to LA.  Last time we stayed in California City, in a blah area with some empty streets where subdivisions were never built as the local tourist attraction. 

This time we decided to go to the Salton Sea.  (Yes, I know it’s actually a lake.)  I’ve seen some amazing posts about this place from other RVers and decided it was my turn.

Here we are on BLM land somewhat far from the “sea”.  

The sea is between that ridge and the distant mountain range.  Our nearest neighbor is that little white thing over there on the right.  I KNOW.  So crowded. 

There are plenty of campgrounds directly on the beaches, but I heard you really don’t want to be the close.  It’s smelly.  Even this far away we’re suffering some serious allergies and noticing a funny taste in the air. 

I might chosen better than this site, however.  I researched online about where to find the ‘ruins’ and was told to go to Bombay Beach…which is 50 miles from me.  Or 19 if I could go straight across the water…and I can’t.  It’s a huge lake, 35 miles long.  We’re on the OHV side…4-wheeler area. 

Oh well, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to this area.  Tomorrow I’m visiting my brother and after that we’re leaving, so if I’m going to see the ‘ruins’ the time is now.   

I don’t think Bombay Beach is the spot I really wanted to go.   

 Where are the desiccated hot tubs?  

Where are the rotted out barber shop chairs?

 I’ve seen exciting relics like what I mentioned in other blogs, but I just couldn’t find them.  You’ll have to settle for my disappointing picture tour of Bombay Beach.

A local man on a bicycle showed me the path to get to the beach and warned me that there wasn’t much left.  “People been taking two-by-fours out of there for years.”  Of course he’s right.  

 Nothing that interesting.  If this is really the center of the Salton Sea’s majesty then it’s not worth the trip.

I really think I went to the wrong place.  I always do that.  It seems like I don’t get to see the fun stuff unless I pay for a tour, and there’s no tours here.  (Why would there be?)

 This is the abandoned home leading to the beach.  I liked the grafitti on it.

There’s a boat apparently set up for the tourists to take pictures of.

And an old hunk o’ machinery, melting in the salty air.

As you get closer to the water you start seeing pulverized fish bones, with a few larger pieces.

Then you see stuff like this.

Until finally…

Of course the smell hit me long before I got this close.  These are not 40 year old fish carcasses.  There are still fish spawning, living, and dying in this toxic lake. 

The water has receded a tremendous amount over the years.  The only thing refilling its water is the run off from the multiple farms around it.  Date farms, kale, alfalfa.  All sloping towards its waters.  

It’s a cataclysmic failure on man’s part.  Getting a beautiful lake from no where, and then destroying it.  But who am I to judge?  Did they know it would happen?  Did the farmer’s need to provide people food supercede the needs of wealthy jetsetters?  

Next to Bombay Beach is a small village filled with the very poor and the somewhat less poor.  They took over a lot of the abandoned buildings from the original beach-side village.  Trailers and RVs are on a lot of the lots.  One dwelling is a Mac Truck where a person is living out of the sleeper cabin.  I didn’t take pictures of places where people were actually living.

  After we left Bombay Beach we continued down to Mexicali, Mexico.  But as they say in The Neverending Story:  But that is another story and shall be told at another time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Camping at The Mad Greek in Baker CA

Today we left Pahrump after staying a month and a half.  We're on our way to Mexicali.  The goal today was to get to Barstow, where we were going to park at a steakhouse. 

Before we left Pahrump I had to get groceries and my mom needed to get a prescription filled.  This gave us a late start.  Around 3pm we were coming into Baker, CA.  The sun goes down around 4:30 lately due to the walls of mountains on all sides.  My mother can't drive at night due to a macula issue. 

Rather than chance getting into Barstow without a minute to spare, I pulled into the first RV/Truck lot I found in Baker, right on the highway coming in.  This is the Mad Greek, a place I know well.  I used to travel to California a lot for conventions related to one category of books I write (comic books, actually).  This is the road I always take.  Baker is the town you always go through.

I put the RV in a level-ish spot as far from the trucks as I could get.  Now, I wasn't sure if this was a legal place to stay overnight, so I was hesitant to open the slides.  But it's just too hard to get around in the RV with them closed.

We were worried.   I looked online to see if this was a legal boondock, because it got dark and my mom would be able to drive our follow car anywhere else (I drive the RV, she follows in our SUV). 

I went to get food at the Mad Greek and asked if we were okay.  Not only were we okay, we got 20% off our meal!  NICE!

So here we are tonight, comfortable an reassured.

We are waaaaaay in the back there.

Baker is famous for the world's largest thermometer.  Yay?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Broke Our Main Inverter (Again)

When you dry camp (camp without hookups) and rely on solar or a generator for your electricity the batteries do not give power to the outlets.  To use anything you have to plug in you need an inverter connected to your batteries.  The inverter has outlets on it, and you hook in power strips to run your computers, TV, satellite receiver, charge phones, and power a wi-fi hotspot.

We dry camp 80% of the time.  Like right now, when we're parked in someone's yard.  Anyway, on to the story...

We're still in Pahrump waiting for my mother's X-Ray results to come back.  We have a handyman friend, who we've known for years, come over yesterday to fix a bunch of stuff.  This is still a 'brand new' RV, but fulltime living for 8 months caused the following:

  • The bottom fell out of a bedroom drawer
  • The piston arm that opens the storage under my mom's bed snapped off where it was screwed in on the bottom.  (Probably a repair I could make myself, if not for having to hold a heavy bed open at the same time).
  • Three drawers no longer latched.
  • The thing I put on our shower to allow us to turn the flow on and off leaked.
  • The table I have in my 'office' kept sliding around and needed to be screwed in place.  (The original table attached to the wall broke within weeks of buying the RV).
I also had him fix my office chair buy cutting part of the armrest so I could get in and out of my office easier.  He used an electric saw for this.  Like an idiot I let him hook this to our inverter.  Our inverter is 1000 Watts and the thing was less than that.  I unhooked everything else.

He cut the armrest and then grinded down the sharp edges.  There were no problems.  Then an hour after he left it screamed with a continuous beep and the red light of death was on.  :Sigh:  I looked over the manual but fixing it is beyond me.  I keep checking it to see if it will magically work again.  Even with the batteries fully charged it's red and screaming.  There's no reset button.

This really annoys me because this was suppose to protect against a short of up to 2000 watts.  Whatever.  Inverters never work how they're supposed to.  They're fragile pains in the asses.  (Especially when I'm too cheap to splurge for a good one.)

I express ordered a 2000 watt inverter for Monday.  In the meantime I got a quickie back up 410 Watt inverter from Walmart.  Just laptops, phones, and wifi is hooked in.  We'll unhook everything to run the TV and satellite tomorrow for the Walking Dead.

Lesson:  Don't hook powertools to an inverter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Journey to Mexico

It's a rough time for us right now.  Trump won the presidential election in the USA, and the House and Senate are his same party.  If you're happy for that I envy you.  You're not having to go through the chest pain and nausea I'm suffering right now. 

My mother and I are Hispanic.  My brother is a Muslim.  I rely on Obamacare to survive without a large intestine and with bone cancer.  For me, this election is horrifying.  It may affect me and my mother's lives in a terrible way.

Many people say 'if x candidate wins I'm moving to Canada/Mexico.'  They often don't do it, because to do it would me selling homes, tearing up roots, losing jobs, dealing with school issues for their children, and so on. 

For me, moving to Mexico means driving our house on wheels a few hundred miles. 

Of course, it's more complicated than that, but not anywhere near as complicated as it is for most people.  We've decided to go to San Felipe on the Baja Peninsula.  I've heard great things about this area from other RVers.  It will be nice to go there even if the country doesn't implode (and I really hope it doesn't) but if Trump decides to do some of the terrible things he described in his campaign I will be safely out of the USA, and I will be able to help others who are close to me make the journey also. 

Fortunately, I have a few months to get things settled for a long-term stay in Mexico. 

The bank that holds the lien for my RV will give me 6 months permission to travel to Mexico.  After that I have to come back to the USA and renew for another 6 months.  I will get that first letter in time to leave January 1st.

Before that I need Mexican liability and collision insurance on the RV.  (And car?)

My mother needs to get her passport card.

I need to see what the cats require to travel with me.

I need to apply to be a temporary resident, or at least get a 6 month tourist visa.

The RV and car need to be in tip-top shape.

I need to look into whatever else I have to do.

I'm scared, hurt, disappointed, but optimistic.  Maybe this will be what I've been searching for.  Either way, it's an adventure. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween at a Trick or Treating RV Park

We're still in Pahrump finishing what we need to do before heading south and then east.  Today we went to the Lakeside Casino RV park (a Passport America 1/2 price park) to do our showering and dumping as usual.

When I checked in the woman asked if I wanted to hand out candy.  They would provide me three big bags if yes.  Of course!  What fun!

"We get around 1,500 trick or treaters."  @_@  Woah!  That sounds like a big deal!

After my shower I got dressed up to look nice while handing out treats...then I decided to put my mom in a costume. 

But what costume could one make with stuff one might find in an average RV without any preparation for Halloween whatsoever? 

I say if all else fails you can always make a fortune-teller costume on the fly!  Here's how she came out:

No crystal ball--but I had a deck of tarot cards for her! orange can look like a small pumpkin in a pinch.

It was fun, but it was nonstop kids.  It was like making up for my last ten years of zero trick or treaters all in one night!  I ran out of candy and booked it to the store, but then ran out again.  We had to tear down and hide inside at 6:30pm.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Read Listings Carefully with Passport America

We've been staying in a friend's yard for the last few weeks.  I need to be in this area because I'm being flyed out for a convention from the airport here.  I'm not going to give the exact location info because of reasons.  This isn't a boondock anyone can use other than me and my mom anyway (since we're with a friend).

Today was our dump/shower/laundry day.  As you know I usually go to Passport America RV parks so we can get everything done for $12-$20.  We've been going to this one RV park for the last few dumps, but were told last time that they only gave 3 days per month and we would not be able to use Passport America again until November.

Annoying, but whatever.  There is another Passport America park in town so I went there today.  And, of course, it didn't work out.  This park only accepts Passport America until the end of September.  

It was my fault for not reading the listing, but lesson learned.

Instead of paying $50 to camp there, we paid $10 to dump.  Now we're back in our friend's yard and just need to take showers.  For laundry either my friend will let us do it at their house or I'll use my buckets.   :/  

We're welcome to shower in my friend's house but really don't like to.  There are thirsty roaches who like to hang out in her tubs.  Kind of major ick factor for me.  Also my friend has a creepy husband and I just don't like being naked in his house.

Anywho, we're going to watch to see their car leave and then run over and fight the roaches for a bath while they're out.  We'll see how they feel about sharing their washing machine, but, as I said, I'll use the buckets and plunger if I have to.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Creepy Boondock

Usually when I say a boondock is creepy I mean that there are creepy people around or other signs that the place might not be safe.  This time I mean creepy in the traditional creepy sense...but we'll get to that later.

After a day and night of living out of water buckets we were itching to get going the next morning.  Unfortunately the wind was still making it feel like the RV was going to tip over at any moment.  I opened the curtain to my bedroom loft (the bunk above the cab) and saw my mom bundled in sweaters and coats with her winter boots on. got pretty dang cold.

She looked at me and said, "We are getting out of here TODAY."

I acquiesced and started climbing down to start my day.  That's when she pushed her cellphone in my face.  It was 2:15.  I kind of overslept.  D:

The reason was that I was finishing a book I've been struggling with for a few weeks and was up until the wee hours.  Leaving this late is a problem because the days are getting shorter and my mom can't drive when it's dark out.  She has vision in one eye only, and that eye has macular damage.  She's blinded by headlights and streetlights.  As you know I drive the RV and she follows me in the SUV.  We had to get to Pahrump before dark.

So we set out, and the wind wasn't quite as bad as I anticipated.  We stopped in Beatty Nevada to eat at a Dennys that was inside a casino.  See...that's a problem right there.  Daylight hours were slipping and the temptation is too great for us not to gamble for a little while after we ate.  I saw a billboard for a campground and figured we'd just pull in there for the night.  We couldn't boondock (go without hookups) another night because we had no water.

The billboard said the RV park was '2 minutes ahead'.  For people from outside the USA, that's how we estimate driving distance here.  If you ask someone how far away somewhere is an American will answer you in the amount of time it takes to drive there, not the actual distance.

Well two minutes passed and there was no sign of this RV park.  Next thing I know I'm driving into the Death Valley National Park.  x_x  Crap.  The shadows of the mountains are starting to get really long and I have no idea how we're going to make it.  I smack Garmin awake and demand for her to tell me where an RV park is.

I saw the Furnace Creek Death Valley campground and pull in.  These type of campgrounds usually don't have hook-ups, but they do usually have a dump station with potable water.  You give me that and I can camp anywhere.  I was desperate.

We ended up in a nice spot that did have full hookups.  It's a beautiful park.  These National Park or State Park campgrounds are really swanky.  We enjoyed the night of air conditioning at half-price with my mom's America the Beautiful card.

After a good night's rest we headed the rest of the way to Pahrump.  People, Death Valley is GORGEOUS.  And this is from a woman who sees beautiful mountain views on all sides.  The scenery down there, yellow cliffs, breathtakingly tall mountains with layers upon layers of smaller mountains before's really worth the trip.

So we get to Pahrump and head for our old boondock here.  I know we camped in my mother's Pastor's yard last time, and we will eventually go there this time, but today I needed to do a lot of work and it can be tough with all the Pastor's grandkids.  They're great kids and I like entertaining them.  I just need to focus on work now.

Last time we used this boondock we were 50 feet from the highway.  I didn't want to camp there this time.  On our last day in Tonopah we went out to eat and came back to find people skulking around our RV.  -_-  They bolted fast when we showed up, and nothing was taken or damaged, but it shook me up.  I want to camp where people can't see me.

I started going down the winding dirt roads of this area of BLM.  I drove for a while, and eventually found a level spot near a lot of desert trees (not juniper, thank God) that mostly block us from the Highway a mile away.  You can see us if you're coming North, but not if you're coming South.

We set up the camper, got groceries, and came back.  As I'm unloading the groceries I turn around and BOOM!  A sheriff's car has pulled up.  @_@  WHAT THE HECK?!

I smile and give my friendliest "Hi!"  Because being super polite and friendly to cops always serves me well.  He says hi back and then leans into his car to speak on the radio.  I stand waiting.  After several minutes he pops his head back out and says, "Never mind.  I have a call to get to." 

And then he drove away.

@_@  Um.  Okay then.

I wasn't too frazzled because there is a BLM sign right by us.  This is definitely a legal camp.  I think he just saw us trying to hide and wanted to make sure we weren't cooking meth.  I really don't know though.

So I do a tour of our camp area, just scouting around to see what junk humanity has left before us...and I see this.

I turn to my left and see this...

What in the fricking...THEY'RE ALL OVER THE PLACE!

Wait...that one has writing on it.  Let's see what it says...

 'Beloved puppy?'  Oh.  It's a pet cemetery.  One of the 'caskets' has been dug up and the lid was torn off.  Probably by a coyote.

Okay, fine.  That's a lot less creepy than some Blair Witch shenanigans.  We'll let the puppies rest in peace.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stranded Without Water

So, at that dreadful RV park our RV was so unlevel that when I filled my water tank it read 'full' even though it obviously wasn't.  Once we got more level back at our boondock it read only 50% full.  -_-  However, we're not completely level here either, so today, already, our pump isn't pumping any water from the tank.

I made the executive decision that we would head to Pahrump today.  However, I was rocking in my bed this morning.  We are having winds like you wouldn't believe.  I've just put in both slides because they were shaking so bad we were scared something was going to break.

Nope.  No way.  I am not driving the RV in winds that are so bad that we think we're going to get knocked over when we're parked.  Honestly, I don't really think we'd tip over (though I've witnessed high profile vehicles falling over TWICE when they took a sharp turn too fast) but when the winds are this bad you are getting knocked all over the road.  You can get knocked into oncoming traffic by a violent wind.  No thank you.

So here we are at the boondock, unable to leave, and out of water.  But wait!  We're not out of water because I filled my two 5 gallon buckets with 2.5 gallons each of water to do laundry.

WOW.  That was seriously lucky.  My mom and I usually go through 8 gallons per person per day, but we're going to make it with only 5 gallons today.  It lets us flush the toilet, give water to the cats, and clean our coffee cups.  We'll be out of water by the end of the day, without a doubt, but at least we can stay put during this windstorm.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Joy Land RV Park, Tonopah NV


This is my first impression of this RV park.  It was the only Passport America park in Tonopah, and when we saw our toilet stuff filling up the pipe we knew it was time for an emergency dump.

When we got here there were no RVs.  I had no idea where the 'park' was.

Garmin took us down sketchy one-lane dirt roads with horrifyingly low wires.  There were yards full of garbage, shells of ancient cars, and lots of miner-era buildings falling apart.  My mom said, 'This is creepy,' through the walkie talkie. 

We finally get to an open gravel lot with a sign that says Joy Land Rv Park.  Except...where the heck is it?  All I see is open dirt.  Dogs barking draw my eye to an RV surrounded by chicken wire.  Next to it I see electrical boxes spaced out on gravel with scrub-brush growing here and there. 

Oh.  So those are the spots. 

I head for the only building.  It's the laundry room/bathroom and it's locked.  I'm starting to wish I had called first.

"Hello?  Hello?  Does anyone run this RV park?"

Eventually a man on a motorcycle pulls up to the RV with the dogs and tells me to pull in where ever I want.  He says the owners come by 'sporadically' and will check me in when they do.

Well, I've got a dangerously full black tank and a back-log of laundry (I tried to keep up with it, but it got away from me.)  I pull into the least scrubby spot and start my dump routine. 

We are more unlevel here than we were at the boondock.  -_-

Oh well.  I call the number listed in Passport America and a man comes in a truck to check me in and give me the key to the bathroom.

I ask him where the trash is.  He points to a black rubbermaid trash bin which is the same size as the one I had for my trash pickup every week in Pahrump.  When I go to put our three bags of trash in the thing is already full.  Well, I don't care.  Getting rid of trash is mandatory at our RV stays.  I pile it on top. 

The ladies room is one toilet, sink, and shower.  My mom goes first.  There's no toilet paper and it's pretty dirty.  Whatever.  That's why you wear shower-shoes.

I bring our backlog of laundry to the two-washer laundry room and to my astonishment a Class A pulls up!  It has a satellite on its roof that's even taller than mine.  How the heck did it get under the wires?

Well, while they're checking in I claim the two washing machines.  My thinking is that these are full-timers just like us doing the same thing we're doing and they have a pile of laundry too.  Yeah.  Sure enough.  She comes in a little later asking if we're using both machines.  Yes, we were.

One of the dryers has had the coin box stolen off it, so it no longer works.  We hang half our clothes on the RV ladder and put the rest in the only available dryer.

So yeah.  This is quite the dumpy little place.  It gives us everything we need, though.  We can handle it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mineral Museum, Hawthorne Nevada

We had a great night's stay at the El Capitan Casino boondocking area.  It helped that we won a fair chunk of change in the casino while we were there.  I never asked any of the casino staff if it was okay to overnight in the lot.  There were other trucks and campers there, and no one came to bother us.

Before we left Hawthorne I made sure to stop at the free museum in town!  I always like to look around these museums when I get the chance.  They are kinda starting to look the same, though.  Mining is a prevalent theme in northern Nevada.  Hawthorne has a large military base, so there was some of that stuff too.

I love old bottles of medical stuff or cooking stuff.

This is a wash plant for gold prospectors.

Military stuff.  Bombs and giant ass bullets and stuff.

Vodka bottles.  Wow, fancy.

Tobacco tins.

More bottles.  I wish I could have gotten a closer look, but this was behind glass.
After our outing we proceeded to Tonopah and are there now.  I'd show you a picture of our boondock, but it's exactly the same as most of our boondocks, and in fact we were at this spot around the same time last year.  It's scrub brush and mountains.  We'll stay here until we need to dump and then continue the rest of the way down to Pahrump.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hawthorne Nevada

So, the goal today was to drive from Fallon Nevada to Tonopah in order to get us half way to Pahrump.  We're driving along, and pass Walker lake, which looked beautiful and had a lot of campgrounds (not sure if they're free or not).  There were steep dirt roads leading down to the camps I saw, though, so we kept going.

We got to Hawthorne Nevada along the 95.  I see a sign for a casino with RV parking.  I just glimpsed it, though, and couldn't pull over until we got to a McDonalds with a dirt lot across from it.

My mom and I go into the McDonalds to buy something fattening and I talk about maybe staying here for the night.  There’s a museum across from the McDonalds I’d like to check out.   

Also, Hawthorne has a nicer vibe than Fallon... 

While I was at the casino in Fallon there was a lounge where they had large screen TVs showing Fox News.  When Trump’s speech came on it was standing room only.  The entire casino went into the lounge to bob their heads up and down at what he said.

Now, I know you don’t read this blog for politics, but the climate in America today is one rife with political dogma.  When you hear people saying ‘ban all of this group,’ and ‘deport all of this group’ it becomes an us vs. them mentality.  And who am I?  I’m a them.  I’m Hispanic.  My mother is full-blooded Puerto Rican.  We don’t like a ‘clan’ of people nodding their heads enthusiastically when their leader is talking about doing bad stuff to the ‘them.’ 

Fallon, and to a lesser extent, Carson City, is a heavily white area with an aged population.  We got groceries in Fallon before leaving today and most of the other customers were single, elderly men.  I say single because men this frail would not be the ones shopping if they had a significant other to do it for them. 

They were rude.  They cut off my RV when I was slowly maneuvering the parking lot.  In the store one of the men on a motorized scooter practically ran my mother over to get past her.  He didn’t say excuse me.  

In the Fallon Casino restaurant two men were eating together to take advantage of the 'Two for $20' deal they have on Tuesdays.  One of the men placed a tip on the table.  They both headed out.  Moments later the second man came back and snatched the tip off the table.  As he was returning to the other man I heard him say, "Found it."  As in, he lied about needing to go back to the table for something to steal the tip.  These were men in their 60s.

The last, and most hideous event was when we had first arrived at the casino and hadn't turned our walkie-talkie's off yet.  We were picking up a conversation from two other drivers, as we often do.  One of them referred to a man walking on the sidewalk as the n-word.  And apparently all that man was doing was walking, minding his own business, and being black.

I dunno.  I like the weather and amenities in Carson City, but it’s Trump country, and that makes me and my mom feel unwelcome.  My mom likes to think she can strike up a friendly conversation with anyone without having them sneer at her for her accent.  That’s not how it was up here.

Reno was different.  People are around other ethnicities.  They’re their friends, neighbors, and coworkers, so the fear is gone.  They’re no longer a ‘them’ but part of the ‘us.’  Sadly the homogenized small town areas give off an unwelcoming vibe.

Anywho, I digress.  Our Garmin was useless in finding this magical casino that offered RV parking.  Thankfully Hawthorne is such a small town that driving through the main strip brought us to the casino.

El Capitan casino!  It has a huge dirt RV lot in back with a dump station!

So we’ve set up for here for tonight.  @-@  We’ll finish the way to Tonopah tomorrow.  Hawthorne is a small town, but it’s more racially integrated than Fallon.  I saw multiple races at the McDonalds and everyone was talking to each other like it wasn’t anything special—because it isn’t.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Southward Migration

When I last updated I was boondocking in an abandoned mine area off Highway 50 between Carson City and Dayton Nevada. 

While we were there I had a friend stop over for a night on his way south.  An overnight guest?  But where would he sleep?  Turns out my office can double as a spare bedroom.

Here is my office in office mode.
And here it is when the fold up bunk bed is flipped down.  Our guest slept fine there.  (Scrappy is modeling the bed).

This boondock served us well for the 14 days we were allowed to stay there.  On 9/11, the last night we were there, we had a scare when many cars blocked us in.  We heard music and people speaking in Spanish.  There were lots of cars, and in such a remote dirt road area, late at night, that's frightening.  After a while it became clear they had come to our choice camping spot because they wanted to party.

I came out of the RV and attempted to greet them in Spanish.  Was that smart?  Probably not.  But I heard female voices among the crowd and that made me believe they weren't as nefarious as one might imagine.  A little while after I yelled 'Hola' to them the cars all left.  We slept through our last night with no more incidents.

This praying mantis on our ceiling is another visitor we had during the boondock.

My mother's medical stuff is as done as its going to be.  It's just too hard to get stuff done in Reno.  She's going to see her more accommodating doctor in Las Vegas.  I'm going to be a guest at a convention in October and they're flying me out of Vegas.  So Pahrump, near Vegas, is our ultimate travel goal.

On 9/12 we moved to the Washoe State Park.  I thought it would be a cheap night's stay where we could shower and maybe do some bucket laundry.  Since it was $15 per vehicle and we moved both our RV and car there, it was way too expensive.  But anyway, we got showered, dumped, got water, and did one bucket of laundry.  

I didn't take any pictures of the park, but it's a beautiful place to dry camp.  Large, spacious, level RV spaces that are spread out on two loops.  There's a lake there also, but it's too dry for boats to use the dock.  I didn't actually check out the water.  We just showered, dumped, the usual. 

The only problem with the state park, and the boondock, is that Juniper trees REALLY STINK.  I don't know if they always smell this pungent or if it's some special blossoming happening now, but they reek.  The park is full of them.

I'm trying to get to Tonopah, to a boondock we stayed at a year ago.  Tonopah is halfway between Reno and Vegas and there's a Passport America campground nearby where we can shower and do the rest of our laundry. 

So did we start heading towards Tonopah?  No.  We didn't.  We went east back to Fallon to stay at the Bonanza Casino again.  Because we suck.  We wasted money as usual.

During cold weather our cats Sultan and Scrappy will tolerate being near each other.

Tomorrow we will be making the long drive to Tonopah in one trip.  That's 4 hours to the boondock.  We'll stay there until we need to dump and then will check into that campground I mentioned.  After that, we're going the rest of the way back to Pahrump.

It's all familiar places right now, but we will be getting off the beaten path soon.  More on that later.