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.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Quickie Update

We've been happily boondocking at the choicest spot in the maze of dirt roads of Highway 50 between Carson City and Dayton.  Many a camper has passed us hoping for our sweet parcel.  Sorry!

They get revenge by doing target practice a short distance next to us.  I know I'm paranoid, but I get so tense when I hear gunshots.

Today we went to the Washoe County state park to shower.  It was nice, and only $4!  Extremely nice staff there.

There's a dump station at this park, but it's 7 miles from us.  The park in Dayton is only 2 miles away.  So tomorrow we will dump there.  I will get three buckets of water to do our laundry again.

We started doing laundry in the RV with the 'Breathing Washer Stick' and a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot.  Two buckets, actually.  One for washing one for rinsing.

It worked out for us.  I don't like sitting around at laundromats unless it's absolutely necessary. 

My mother will have finished up her medical stuff at the end of the month.  We'll start our migration south then.  This is a good place to stay for now.

If you're interested in my writing here is the latest book I put out: