Monday, October 7, 2013

Across Nevada and finally home (for a while)

By nightfall Saturday at the Hi Desert RV Park in Winnemucca, the RV park's 137 spots were almost all taken. A few folks were living there long-term -- you can always tell by the skirting around the bottom of the RVs which helps keep the cold out.  Some folks skirt with wood, others use insulation, others use whatever.  Some, like us, of course, were at the Hi Desert because Winnemucca is on I-80, and if you are traveling the 400-mile I-80  stretch that crosses Nevada, your main choices for a campground with electricity and water are Reno, Fernley, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Wells and West Wendover. Winnemucca fit in our milage plans, so Winnemucca it was. We only stayed one night. 

Sunday morning, guys in full camo gear with guns were driving out of the park on ATVs.  Seems like that weekend was the opening of chukar season.  A chukar is a game bird.  Per, Winnemucca is the "Chukar Capital of the Country."  The web site goes on to says that's because of a long chukar hunting season and liberal bag limits, plus the area duplicates "the original chukar habitat of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the birds’ native countries.  Only here will you find the steep, rugged canyons with talus slopes and rocky outcrops that provide a perfect hideout for the birds. When it comes to chukar hunting -- real men’s chukar hunting -- no place does it up better than Winnemucca."

I read that last sentence to Jim and he said "C'mom, it's a little bird and you've got a gun."
A chukar (on the right) courtesy of Wikipedia. Too cute to shoot, I think.
Our next one-night stop was Wells, NV. Again, we stopped in Wells because it's on the way to Salt Lake and the mileage was right.  And again, we didn't see much of Wells because we just wanted to stop, relax, go to bed, get up and get going. Wells was originally a stop on the California Trail and later became a railroad town thanks to the Transcontinental Railroad. Only about 1,300 people live there.

Our Wells one-nighter was at the New Angel Lake RV Park.  It had welcoming managers, clean bathrooms, etc. etc., so it was a decent place for a stop and go. We watched TV, read, slept, and tried to recover a bit from colds we've both picked up.

This morning we left Wells for home and got here about 2 p.m.  We pulled into a parking lot near Holladay City Hall (Holladay is the name of the SLC suburb we live in) and unhooked the tow car from the rig.  I told Jim I'd follow him home in the tow car.  After about a half a mile, he stopped and motioned me -- his usually-right-beside-him navigator -- to drive up to the rig. "I made a wrong turn," he said.   We drove nearly 7,000 miles this leg, and his only wrong turn happened a half mile from our house.
Somewhere in eastern Nevada we finally got near the mountains that previously were in the distance.  In the foreground is sage in bloom. In the mountains are yellow-leafed aspens.   
The salt flats of western Utah.  That stuff on the ground is salt -- not snow -- although I'm sure many a driver has thought the bright white salt was snow. And that weird thing in the lower middle is called the "Tree of Life."  It's an 87-foot sculpture about 25 miles east of Wendover created by a Swedish artist who had a vision while driving across the salt flats. That's the story, anyway. 
Our first glimpse of Salt Lake in nearly four months. 
As soon as we got home we unloaded the rig and started some laundry.  Looks like Jim is carrying in at least one six-pack of IPA.
Now we're with my daughter, SIL and these two characters.  I'm not sure how often I'll post while we're home, but I will be posting -- so check back.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fallon, NV, then going home

We are on our way home.  After Fallon, we were going to make three stops on our way to Salt Lake City. The last stop was going to be Wendover.  If you are into gambling, Wendover is the closest city to Salt Lake where you can partake.  We're not into gambling.  And we've been to Wendover before.  So tonight it's Winnemucca, then Wells, then right by Wendover and on to home.  We'll stay in Salt Lake for a few weeks before we take off again.  We don't yet know where we'll be going, except that it will be south and most likely include Tucson. 

In the meantime:  Yesterday we spent day two in Fallon, Nevada.  First we had breakfast at a great little cafe, then we explored a petroglyph site, then we got our flu shots.   At the pharmacy where we got the shots, we watched through a glass door as a Doogie-Howser-looking pharmacist carried the supplies toward us and dropped the syringes.  He came out the door, put his stuff down on a chair, then turned back toward the pharmacy to, I assume, get new syringes, and fumbled and fumbled with his key while trying to open the pharmacy door. After getting new syringes, he came back to the waiting area but had apparently forgotten something.  He grabbed for the door so he could go back in before it locked, but missed and the door slammed shut.  So he fumbled with the key some more and went back in. At that point Jim and I were ready to bolt.  But once the pharmacist got over his preparation discombobulation, he did a good job.(He told us he practiced on oranges.)

This morning we took off for Winnemucca. We're not going to see much of the town, other than the view of town on our way to the RV park.  This is a one-night stop and we didn't even unhook the tow car from the rig. But here area a few facts about Winnemucca from Wikipedia: The town was named for a local Indian chief and Winnemucca means "One Moccasin."  Butch Cassidy's gang robbed a bank here in 1890.  According to an article called "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Prostitution In Nevada," sex workers in Winnemucca must register their cars with the local police. Winnemucca is home to the world's largest potato dehydration plant.  Big employers here are mining, trailer manufacturing and casinos.
My veggie omelet at the Courtyard Cafe and Bakery in downtown Fallon, Nevada.
We hiked at Grimes Point, 12 miles east of Fallon, where 150 of the hundreds and hundreds of boulders contain rock art.  A sign at the site said the petroglyphs date between 5000 BC and 1500 AD and that they were created as part of a ritual performed before hunts. They think.
View at the top of Grimes Point.
A sign at the trailhead rest room at Grimes Point.  After just four days of government shutdown, the smell was obvious.
Meanwhile, back at Naval Air Station Fallon:  Fighter jets fly low over one of the base roads, so you need to watch where you are driving.
This is what will fly right in front of your car while you are waiting at the yellow flashing lights.  
This morning's drive to Winnemucca had scenery like a lot of eastern Nevada: flat and brown with mountains in the distance. Austere beauty.
And here we are wedged between other rigs at the Hi Desert RV Park in Winnemucca. Not our usual cup of tea for a campground, but it's clean and just for tonight.  Instead of sightseeing, we're watching Ohio State play Northwestern. OSU won 40-30 but the game was lots closer than the score indicated.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Impacted by the government shut down

We're camping at the Fallon, Nevada, Naval Air Station Fam Camp.  We arrived early this afternoon and planned to pick up a few things at the commissary (military grocery store) and the exchange (military department store) and do some laundry.  Because of the government shut down, however, commissaries and exchanges are closed.  

On a scale of 1 to 10, our not being able to shop on base is about a minus 20.  And the town of Fallon (with lots of stores) is only about 8 miles away for folks who live on this base.  But I feel sorry for families who live in places like Yuma, AZ, and have to drive 25 miles to stock up on food after serving their country all day, not to mention people who will miss pay checks or not be admitted to possibly-life-saving medical programs.  

Do what you were elected and are being paid to do, Congress, and figure it out. This is stupid.  

Anyway... we left Petaluma yesterday morning and are now headed east and officially on our way home to Salt Lake City for a few weeks.  We wanted to stay at Donner Memorial State Park near Truckee, but their campground is closed for the season.  So we spent last night at Thousand Trails Snowflower RV Resort near Emigrant Gap, CA. Thousand Trails promotes itself as a "family camping resort" and sells what they call "zone passes."  Members pay $525 for 12 months of camping in one geographic area and can camp as much as they like, subject to some restrictions.  For example, you can't stay in one park more than 14 consecutive days and you ave to wait seven days between park visits.  I don't think it would work for us -- we travel a little too much by the seat of our pants.  But last night's camping spot (Thousand Trails lets non members camp when space is available) was rustic and lovely.

This afternoon we arrived at Fallon, home to the Naval Fighters Weapon School, also known as TOPGUN. That's on Wikipedia so I doubt that I'm giving away any government secrets.
Wednesday morning:  Turkeys were pecking on a nearby ball field when we hooked up our tow car to the motor home before leaving Petaluma.  A deer had been with them, but was spooked when we got out of the vehicles.  He's still in the photo to the right near a chain link fence, but hard to see.
Wednesday night: Our campsite at Snowflower RV resort near the eastern California town of Emigrant Springs.  We had our choice of two campgrounds.  One was called "The Cliffs" and was essentially a parking lot with, what else, a big cliff  nearby.  The big Class A rigs were parked there.  We stayed in a hillier area called "Fawn Meadow" with more space between the rigs, prettier views (we thought) and, obviously, lots of trees  
We couldn't have back up too much further without serious repercussions. 
Just what Jim wants in a camp site:  a view of water and trees out the back of the rig.  The camp manager told us bears were around and I was hoping to see one amble by (while I was safely in the rig) but no such luck.  Lots of noisy squirrels, though.
Thursday morning: We left Snowflower Resort and headed east about 120 miles to Fallon, NV.  This shot was taken soon after we got on I-80, where we saw lots of mountains, lots of trees, and lots of orange barrels.
After trees and mountains on I-80 came Reno....
...then fewer trees and browner mountains...
...then a flatter landscape as we got on US 50 toward Naval Air Station Fallon.  
And Thursday afternoon: Our spot at the Naval Air Station Fallon's Fam Camp.  It's about 8 p.m. as I write this, and I can hear the fighter jets. 
From the other direction, a little more authentic view of what the campground really looks like: a big gravel lot with cement pads.  But it also has electricity, water, wifi, cable TV, lots of space between sites, and a laundry.  And pretty clouds.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Camping at the US Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma, CA

Yesterday we drove by the ocean, redwood trees, wineries, and pottery stores.  We drove on curvy roads, over hills, in the rain, and past gasoline stations charging $4.69 a gallon. The route was California Highway 1 to California 128 to US 101 to the Fam Camp at the US Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma, California.

Many military bases have campgrounds that both active duty and retired military can use. Jim is retired from the Navy Reserves and we've stayed at nine military campgrounds in six states.  This is both the smallest military facility and the smallest Fam Camp (only six sites) we've stayed at. Despite its size, it's the west coast's largest coast guard training facility and the place where coast guard support folks such as cooks, medics and electronic technicians learn to do their jobs.  It's also home to the Coast Guard's Chief Petty Officer Academy.  According to Wikipedia, about 4,000 people train here each year.

As a side note, my older brother called me today and told me to "tell Jim that his beloved Oregon sucks."  Bob and my SIL Suzie have been in Oregon with all the crazy rain (crazy even by Pacific Northwest standards) that's been happening since last week.  Bob said Oregon's had more rain in September than any September since they started keeping track.  He added that even though Oregon sucks, he and Suzie still had fun. 
On the way to Petaluma: When a sign advises you to go 15 mph,  there's probably a switchback ahead.  And there was. This was on California 128-- home to the beautiful Anderson Valley with wineries, the trendy town of Boonville, and the Anderson Valley Brewing Company which sadly (especially for Jim) we did not visit.
My one Coast Guard Training Center photo, other than the camp sites.
Our campsite pad is big -- about 30 feet by 90 feet and a spot cost us $20 a night. We met another Lazy Daze couple here,  Holly and Harold, who were just 7 days into their inaugural trip in their 1989 new-to-them rig. 
A view from the Fam Camp. The area is very pastoral and very quiet, other than the cow I hear mooing as I write. 
This afternoon we drove to downtown Petaluma and had lunch at Dempsey's Restaurant and Brewery adjacent to the Petaluma River.  I had my go-to meal (humus and pita bread) and Jim had chicken tacos.  And of course his beer was an IPA and mine was a stout.