Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012-37 Pahrump Nevada


Pahrump Nevada
Las Vegas day trip

Campground:  Preferred RV Resort, 1801 E. Crawford Way, Pahrump NV, 89048 (800) 445-7840
Local: (775) 727-4414 PA rate: $16.50, Normal Price: $33.00 for the PA rate one gets a gravel site with a concrete pad and picnic table.  Full hookups w/wifi and over air tv stations available.  Good cell phone service.  Swimming pool, club house, work out room, and workshops.

I’m here for 10 days on my way south for the winter.  I discovered the other day when I went to check up on my mail that had not gotten delivered to the previous campground, that the folks at Silver City Rv rejected my mail and had it sent back. While I was staying at the campground.  Of course they never told me that, as I continued to extend my stay there, waiting for my mail to arrive.

Lesson learned for full-timers.  Always have your mail sent General Delivery to the Post Office at your next destination and for an added 75 cents the USPS will provide a tracking number for your pkg.

I filled up with diesel today at only $3.999 a gallon.  Seems like ages since in was in the $3 range… I think I remember when $2.50 was high.

Luxor Hotel/Casino

Here at the Preferred RV Resort, which is member owned, I’ve been talking to some of those members.  Now each owner can buy a share and stay in the park for 30 days each year.  Initially it sounds pretty good even though a member has to pay yearly dues of $300, so that works out to $10 a day for your 30 day stay.  But they have added a few extra dollars per day to cover electric costs etc. so it’s closer to maybe $13.50 a day.  My next door neighbor bought out someone else who was leaving the area for good and got his membership/owership for about $200.  Initial owners/members paid $5,000 to join.  At dinner this evening, they have lots of food events here, one couple has purchased a home in the area and sold their RV.  But they are still owners in the park.  So for the $300 yearly fee they basically have a club membership and join in all the activities that go on in a park like this.  It also sounds like there’s a lot of turnover of owners/members.

mock up of the tunnel digger for Yucca Mt

Between Beatty and Pahrump is the Nevada Test site, part of the Nellis Airforce Range complex.  It is also the site of the Yucca Mountain Project where they were building all those tunnels into the mountain to store nuclear waste in the future.  The program was cancelled in 2009 by President Obama with the belief that it was better to spend the money repurposing the nuclear waster for use in the newer nuclear reactor plants.  You see the nuclear waste from our old nuclear plants in the U.S. which are first generation plants can be configured and used in the second generation nuclear plants that our scientists developed.  Of course we haven’t built any of those second generation plants in the U.S. but we apparently have shared those designs with other countries like Japan and European countries who did.  So rather than store nuclear waste it could be used, even if we don’t have the nuclear power plants to take advantage of that repurposed nuclear waste, other countries do.  I know, it’s crazy isn't it.

map showing earthquake activity in the past

yucca Mt project was being built on an active military test site

This all leads up to the extensive display that the Pahrump Museum has put together to explain this whole project, but mostly ignoring the info presented in the previous paragraph.  You see the site was contested by a whole bunch of folks from environmentalists right down to the State of Nevada itself.  But the county of Nye, which Pahrump is in, seems to be pretty much in favor of the original plan.  After all, it would create and has created a ton of high paying jobs in the local area, that is until it was all canceled two years before the final studies on it’s feasibility would have been completed.

Tests were done on water seepage into the newly constructed tunnels.  Water being a bad thing when storing nuclear waste.  Heat tests were done on the tunnels to see how they would react to 400 degree temperatures which is what the nuclear waste would produce.  Charts showed where past earthquakes appeared in the area.  What caught my eye on the displays is that the Test range is still being used today.  Meaning they still drop “munitions” for testing etc.  Which  to my mind doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do if one is going to be storing nuclear waste underground in the area, but what do I know.

The Yucca Mountain project is dead in the water as the saying goes and has been locked up real tight.  I was kind of hoping I could get a tour of it.  But it was not to be.

Another spooky aspect is that the Nellis Airforce range, some 3 million acres in all is also home to area 51.  No wonder one of the campgrounds in Beatty NV is called “Space Station Rv park”.   So I learned about yet another piece of the puzzle that makes up our country and some of the odd decisions we make along the way.

Las Vegas, day trip

A few days later in the area and I decided to drive into Las Vegas.  About an hours drive from Pahrump.  I had also wanted to drive hwy 160 into Vegas as it will be my route heading towards the Bullhead City area at the end of the week.  For much of the way it becomes a 4 lane divided highway through the desert, then it narrows to a two lane road over the Red Rock Canyon range.  There is a 7% grade descending into Vegas for 3 miles, though it didn’t seem bad considering there were wide gentle curves as it went through the mountainous area.  None of those tight sharp curves I’ve encountered going over some mountain passes.

My goal this time was to head to the Luxor Casino and hotel.  I love the fantasy architecture of the Vegas strip.  It’s been on my personal bucket list of places to visit for quite some time and I made it on today’s day trip.  Heading north along Las Vegas Blvd. I pass the famous Las Vegas sign and just as the congestion of Vegas begins to overwhelm, I arrived at the Luxor.  Parking was easy in their free parking garage.  Heading across one of the many skyway bridges, I entered the Luxor for the first time.  The black pyramids exterior looks a bit dirty from the desert dust and the black glass appears to be sagging just a bit.  Overall it’s still a most spectacular sight.  The interior is as to be expected, a series of ascending floors forming the interior of the pyramid, showing the walk ways and doors to each hotel room.  No windows face inward from those hotel rooms only the doors and walkways on each floor look out over the expansive interior.  And the interior is filled with a mash of fake tall buildings, shops, entrances to the Titanic exhibit and the Human Body Exhibit, both costing about $32 to enter.  A nice food court sits in the back with everything from a Mc Donald’s to Nathan’s Hotdogs.  Making for an inexpensive place to get a quick bite to eat.  Starbucks is there as well with their $4.50 cups of coffee, but I opted for the Mc Donald’s coffee which is pretty darn good as well and only 63 cents at the senior rate.

After my tour of the Luxor I hopped onto the three stop free monorail out front.  Ok, it doesn’t go all that far but it’s free.  At the Excalibur stop, I got off, walked across another sky bridge to the MGM Grand which is an entire block in size.  I know because I walked through the whole darn thing to get to the other end that has a link to the Vegas Monorail which costs $12 for an all day pass.  Figured it was better than hoofing it up and down the main street where on street level it’s very congested on the road and sidewalks.  Ok it wasn’t as great as Disney Worlds monorail being a bit more bumpy and also the views were often obscured by construction and parking garages.  But otherwise a fun little journey through the heart of Las Vegas.  I hate to say it but a number of us monorail riders had a good chuckle as a guy pushed his wife onto the car in a wheel chair and as the train took off the wheel chair started to roll down the isle.  She locked herself in place and then upon exiting, he bumped just about every chair and post like it was a pinball machine with the wheelchair.  I know, I know, we shouldn’t have been chuckling, but we couldn’t help it.

Circus Circus

New York New York

view of new condo's from monorail

inside the MGM

Vega monorail.  $12 full day pass

So there you are, another week on the road.  After having settled in for a week and exploring a bit of southern Nevada, I’ll be heading to Bullhead City and Lake Havasu next before reaching Desert Trails around the middle of the month.  So just a few more stories before landing at my winter destination.

do you think too much sun?

a few more pictures on PICASA

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012-36 Hawthorne to Pahrump Nevada


Hawthorne Nevada

Campground:  Scotty's rv park, Hawthorne Nv 775-945-2079 $19 regular rate.  Basic in-town campground.  Mainly pull-thru’s.  Restrooms, laundry and wifi available.  Concrete island with all utilities and long narrow concrete pad for stepping out onto.

Campground:  Joy Land RV Park, 1260 Ketten Rd.  Tonopah NV, 89049, Local: (775) 482-9444
PA rate: $9.00 - $10.00 Normal Price: $18.00 - $20.00 Three dirt lots on a side street.  The 3rd one has pull-thrus.  Real basic but doable, though surrounded by shacks and MH‘s in disrepair, this is a poor town.  No tv reception.  Minimal cell phone.  Wifi available in town.

Beatty Hot Baths
Campground:  Beatty Hot Baths Rv.  $21 water/elect. 30 amp.  No dump station.  Hot springs are include in the RV camping rate making for a great value.  Only about 14 campsites but they also permit dry camping for a small fee.  No wifi, no over air tv, 2 bar Verizon cell service. But who needs it with a hot springs out your back door.  Note: Road traffic/noise is heavy in the evening.

Campground:  Preferred RV Resort, 1801 E. Crawford Way, Pahrump NV, 89048 (800) 445-7840 Local: (775) 727-4414 PA rate: $16.50, Normal Price: $33.00 for the PA rate one gets a gravel site with a concrete pad and picnic table.  Full hookups w/wifi and over air tv stations available.  Good cell phone service.

I headed out of the Carson City area after waiting well over a week for my mail to arrive and it never did.  At least I had a great time visiting with Elaine and John along the way.  I decided to head on south into California to Mono Lake, just to see what it looks like, then east back into Nevada.  What a wonderful drive along hwy 395 along the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range which recently got a dusting of snow on all the top peaks.  What an awesome site to see along with the fall change of colors.  Around the Mono Lake area it becomes a most desolate desert valley surrounded by those mountains and even though there were a few things to see in the area like a scenic drive, the eastern or back side of Yosemite and a ghost town, I continued on back into Nevada.  Fortunately I didn’t have to buy any fuel while in California as the cost for diesel was over $5.00 a gallon.  there are numerous electronic signs indicating which mountain passes are open or closed.  Only one was closed when I went through the area.

I liked this route not only for the new vista’s I’d never seen before, but also because they had numerous areas one could pull over to take some pictures and get a drink out of the camper.  There was even some construction on one of those overpasses.  We all had to stop and wait for the one way traffic to reverse and I got an extra chance to take a few more pictures and visit with fellow travelers along the route.

Distance traveled: 151 miles

I arrived in Hawthorne Nevada a dusty little town of about 3,000.  The large Hawthorne Army Depot is here consisting of over 2,400 bunkers storing ammunition, mercury and things of that sort.  My campground, Scotty’s Rv, is right in town so it’s close to one casino a few restaurants and two discount stores.  A military museum called the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum is in town and even though it was closed when I stopped by, it has large windows and a number of displays outside so I was able to get an idea of what’s stored in all those bunkers.  A local resident told me that the military special ops group that took down Osama Bin Laudin had their final training here before going over to take him down.  The local paper had a big to-do about it after the fact and this particular local I spoke to was not happy that it was out that their small town was involved.
Calif. heading back into Nevada

Hawthorne Nevada, Army Depot bldgs

Distance traveled: 104 miles

There are some really awesome colored mountain ranges along route between Hawthorne and Tonopah Nv.  Looking like someone splashed yellows, reds, oranges, browns and tans across the mountains.  It’s a lonely road to travel even with the occasional bunches of cars, trucks and Rv’s passing on by.

I arrived at the Joy Land Rv Park which is more or less three sand lots surrounded by chain link fences on three sides.  The pull thru sites are on the 3rd lot and at the end of a desolate road.  Old shacks, mobile homes with debris stacked out front and on the sides looking as if the inhabitants have given up on life itself.

Tonopah, mining museum

abandoned mining housing

Tonopah is an old mining town and I’ve passed this way before a couple of years past.  Half the stores are closed, a few old casinos line the main street.  I stopped into a deli in the heart of town, one of the few shops that looked well kept.  The food was good and as the locals came in, it was clear that everyone in town knew each other and easy casual conversations took place.  A young couple in their mid 20’s came in with a small baby and a child about 4 or 5 years old.  I was impressed with how easy going the parents were and relished hearing the dad telling the baby that she was just too precious and cute for words.  Gives one a warm feeling to see children being raised with such love.

Can’t imagine how they make a living around here.  I drove through some of the back streets and folks were living in houses that had no paint on them and in many cases looked as if they’d been patched together with what ever was available.  I’m only spending two days here and even with that it seems too much.

Distance Traveled:  93 miles

Hwy 95 looks like it’s been paved recently and is just as smooth as can be.  The road is straight as an arrow for most of the way on this two lane highway with bare mountains on either side and I even saw my first Joshua Trees in the desert.  Still no cactus.  Beatty is a good stopping point for anyone wanting to visit Death Valley, the Ghost Town of Rhyolite and Scotty’s Castle.  I’ve been to all of those areas and have reported on them in the past.  This time I’ll once again enjoy the hot baths at the park.  They’re actually hot springs enclosed in three buildings.  Each with temperatures from mild to hot depending on which building you choose.  The floor of each building has rock and gravel as the base where the hot springs percolate up through the floor.  A wide sturdy staircase leads to the waters edge.  A shallow 3-4 feet deep.  Just right for sitting on the bottom of the gravel floor or floating on the heated mineral spring water.  You can bet I enjoyed my time in the baths today and will again tomorrow.

downtown Beatty NV

The small town of Beatty, approx. 1,000, are the most friendly of folks.  I’ve had easy conversations with so many in the short time I’ve been here.  And what a perfect day.  77 degrees and sunny.  Having such a short time in the area I had to see a few of the sites once again.  I took off early in the morning and headed just outside of Beatty to the ghost town of Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum which has some of the most wonderful sculptures.  Just perfect for any budding artist/photographer to enjoy.  I think I got some hauntingly beautiful shots and can’t wait to share them with you.

heading into Death Valley

I learned more about the ghost town of Rhyolite as well.  It is considered the last of the gold rush era boom towns built on the hopes and dreams of finding gold.  Only one mine produced gold, taking out a total of about two million dollars worth and went broke doing so.  At it’s height in 1907 it had between 3,500 to 5,000 people.  With concrete and brick buildings.  Some three stories high.  All had water and electric.  This was a town that was determined to make it.  And yet less than 13 years later it was all over. The final end to the gold rush era.

Then it was off into Death Valley and when I say into, it really is like going down deep into this barren hot valley.  The descent is through a series of mountain ranges as bare and weathered as one would imagine.  But oddly they have had quite a bit of rain recently, washing out a more direct route to Scotty’s castle.  That rain revived the scrubby plants that grow in death valley and much of it was as green as can be and washed of all the dusty sand that usually covered everything.  My destination was Scotty’s castle, about a 35 mile drive through Death Valley.  The castle was built by the wealthy Albert and Bessie Johnson of Chicago.  How it ended being built in this oasis of a canyon is most fascinating.  It all started when Scotty, who was working for the Buffalo Bill Cody show, began selling shares of his “gold mine” out in death valley on the side.  Albert Johnson was one of those who invested in Scotty’s mine to the tune of $30,000.  Johnson decided to visit the mine and took a trip out to Death Valley.  Realizing that Scotty had no mine but enjoying the west and Scotty’s stories, Albert decide to buy up any land that had water in the area.  Eventually building a couple cabins around the natural spring.  Bessie came out and said if he wanted her to ever join him again, he’d better build a proper house.  And that was the beginning of the adventure that led to the building of Scotty’s Castle.  The place was able to produce it’s own electricity and had solar water heating.  Indoor waterfalls helped add humidity to the dry desert air.

Distance traveled:  73 miles.

My next stop is in Pahrump Nevada.  A desert valley community approx 50 miles west of Las Vegas.  Preferred RV Resort is one of those resorts that has a large swimming pool craft rooms, club house, Laundromats etc.  Nice place to land at a good Passport America rate.  I understand many Vegas workers live out here due to the cheaper housing prices.  I'll be here for 10 days.

So there you have it.  Another week on the road as I continue heading south towards my winter destination.  I’ve committed myself (ok you can stop the jokes right there) to head a new camping club at Desert Trails this winter.  It will be called “The RV travel Club”  and we’ll be sharing places to go, things to see and travel routes to use and avoid along the way.  Hopefully we’ll cover a few states each week.  Looking forward to sharing what ever I’ve learned along the way.

more pictures on PICASA

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012-35 Carson City Nevada


Carson City Nevada
The State Capital
Virginia City

Carson City, Nevada's Capital
Well here I am sitting in the flat valley of Douglas County with bare mountain ranges on either side.  Though the mountains to the west of me are also forested at the higher elevations as they reach into California and spidery lines indicate where the ski slopes are.  There isn't any snow on those peaks but it won't be long before they turn white with powdery snow.  Hwy 395 which runs through Reno and Carson City is constantly busy and from my campers windows I can see traffic heading in both directions night and day.

Here at the Silver City Resort I stopped up at the front desk to enquire about when the mail arrives daily as I’m waiting for mine to arrive.  Super nice owners and as I went to get a cup of coffee in the store, they told me as a camper in the park the first cup of coffee was free and they even gave me a fresh donut.

I checked out the monthly fees at a campground nearby that was advertising a rate of $295 a month.  Apparently that is the starting rate for the winter rates.  Summer rates run in the $465 range.  Why folks would want to summer in Nevada is a bit of a mystery to me.  I was talking to a biker who lives in the area and he said it was a very mild summer and the temperature never got over 100 except for a couple of days.  Now I don’t know about you, but that’s awfully hot to me.

I picked up the local Sunday paper today and it cost a whole $3.00.  It was $2 until just recently when the Reno Gazette-Journal decided to up it a full dollar more.  Seems kind of redundant to call the paper a Gazette and a Journal.  Surely one would suffice.  Wonder how much you pay for your local Sunday paper these days.  I haven't been buying the paper much anymore since I get most of my information over the internet, but it is nice to read a local paper and find out what’s happening around town.

Nevada’s legislature meets every other year to enact laws and do whatever legislators have to do.  Seems they’ve had a ballot to change it to a yearly session, but the public has soundly defeated it every time.

People out here enjoy doing things like gluing a coin to the street or even on a hand railing.  I’ve seen it in Oregon, Calif. And here in Nevada.

I wish I could tell you I’ve been touring and exploring, but this is a down week for me.  Down being a good thing in that I’m just enjoying the area without doing any of the touring type stuff.  Today I signed up for one more day at the campground and had to pay the full rate.  Well, actually I got about 25% off with my D.o.D. card and then I used a $25 coupon from Good Sam’s that I got when I signed up for the Camping World discount card, bring my final cost for the extra day down to $6.25.  Best one day camping fee of the year.

an old mining operation at the entrance to Virginia City

No mail, so I will stay another day or two.  In the meantime, you know I had to do a bit of touring.  I decided to drive over to Virginia City NV.  It’s only about 11 miles from Carson City.  I’d visited this mining town years ago and remembered the main town and train ride I took back then.  This trip I drove in from the south end and was surprised by the 15% grade in the road leading into this mountainous mining town.  There’s even an Rv park up here, but you’d best take the “truck route” to get to it.

15% grade to the left

The town is well preserved and now serves as a great tourist destination though I did see an open pit mining operation on the outskirts of town.  Nice to see an old mining town still having some mining activity in the area.  I got hear early in the morning to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee and pastry at a coffee shop in town before strolling the boardwalk through town.  Many of the shops and building having covered walkways making it very pleasant on those hot sun drenched days.  What fun antique and consignment shops up and down the main street, interspersed with saloons, museums and even the occasional old fashioned casino.  There were T-shirts and the usual tourists gifts for sale, but not as intense as so many modern day tourist destination towns.  Going through some of those stores was like walking back in time.  Seeing all those knick knacks from years past.  I even took a 30 minute trolley tour around town.  Something I always recommend when traveling to an unfamiliar town.  It helps the traveler to get a bearing on where the important buildings and tourist things are so one can go back and explore those things that are most interesting to you.  And if the tour guide is good, I get to learn more about the history and interesting tid-bits on an area.

The Spite Houses

Like the two houses that were almost touching each other.  Seems two miners hated each other.  One of the miners moved to the other side of town and built his modest house.  While it was being built, the other miner bought the land next door.  When the first miners house was completed, the second miner had his house moved to within inches of his nemesis.  Or over at the Silver Queen Saloon where there’s a painting of a lady covered in 3,261 silver dollar coins making up her dress.  The belt around her waist is made up of 28 $20 gold coins.  The silver coins are supposed to represent the 3,261 feet of the deepest Comstock mine in Virginia City and to honor the miners who had to go down to those depths which was so hot down there (120 degrees) that they could only work for about 20 minutes before out to cooler levels of the mine then taking a 20 minute break.

The Silver Dollar Lady 
Back at the camper I did a bit of investigation into the Roku media streamer.  It’s a small device that you connect to your tv and the internet via a wi-fi signal.  It works well with my 4G connection on the Verizon smart phone, but unfortunately, most of the “channels” that are available cost money to stream.  Like HULU-Plus which cost $8 a month instead the free vanilla version of  HULU which doesn’t cost anything to view tv programs.  I guess I’m not quite ready to spend $8 or what ever each month to view tv.  Movies are also available on a per movie cost basis.  It’s an interesting product for sure in that you can access movies, video, and tv programs and lots of free obscure programs without the use of a computer.  It even comes with a remote control so you select the show just like you would a tv program from a menu on tv screen.  So I guess if I want to watch tv via the internet, the computer connected to the tv is the way to go for me at this time.  Now if you were able to follow this little discourse it means your techno savvy.  If not, it means you have better things to do with your time than play with electronic toys like I do.

One of the joys of being on the road is when you get a chance to meet up with fellow Rv’ers.  Elaine and John arrived at my current campground here in Carson City and we had just the most delightful get together.  Using our smart phones, we found a great Mexican restaurant in town called El Charro Evitia. A truly authentic Mexican restaurant that we all enjoyed.  John’s meal came with the usual beans and rice but he said they were the best he’d ever had.  Nice to find really good food.  I even had dinner over at their La Casa Grande the other night as well.



My travels will be coming to an end in another month but I’ll more than likely send out a few reports from my winter destination once I get there.  Wishing you all the very best of  journeys.

More photos on Picasa