Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Several months ago Jil and I discussed spending some time away from home, hopefully in a warmer climate. We had spent a few days at the Palm Creek Golf and RV resort in Casa Grande, AZ last winter on our way to the Deep South- and liked it. Palm Creek is a true resort featuring a golf course tennis and pickleball courts, lawn bowling, a ball room, and places where one can woodwork, silver smith, make pottery, and knit/sew. You name it, they’ve got it. It even has a cafe.
After storing our Christmas decorations we hit the road on December 28th, hoping for decent travel weather. We hope the 6 day snow event that occurred during Thanksgiving week isn’t a precursor for what’s to come.
We got off to a late start by design as we wanted to do a last minute clean up of the house. We are only traveling 140 miles. Our first stop is the Whiskey Flat RV Park in Hawthorne, NV (3200 souls). It’s a no frills park- we are comfortable here- and it’s location is a good jumping off point for our trip south.
We are off by 0800 the next morning. Our main concern is driving into high altitude and the possibility of snowy and icy roadways. Most of US 95 in Nevada is laid at 4000′ following long flat sagebrush covered valleys. Tonopah is a tad over 6000′. No worries though, a little snow on the ground but the road is clear. This town is the seat of Nye County, her nickname is Queen of the Silver Camps so named for the 1900 discovery of silver, the second richest silver strike in Nevada history.
Continuing south on US95 we come upon Goldfield. Goldfield (268 souls) is an interesting old town. Between 1903 and 1940 Goldfield’s gold mines produced more than $86 million at then-current prices or $1.496 billion in today’s dollars! Due to the remarkable production of gold the town rapidly grew to be the largest in Nevada at over 20,000 souls. By 1923 gold production and the population were in steep decline.
That year a moonshine still exploded destroying most of the town’s flammable buildings. Of note Wyatt and Virgil Earp resided there- Virgil taking the position of Goldfield sheriff. Virgil contracted pneumonia and died here- Wyatt moved on shortly thereafter. As tiny as the town is it is the seat of Esmeralda County.
Our next overnight stop was to be Beatty, NV (1000 souls). We had an early start which meant we arrived in Beatty just after noon and way too early to stop for the night. Beatty is a jumping off point for Death Valley National Park and the the historical mining town of Rhyolite. We found a municipal park, walked Megan, and enjoyed lunch. A command decision was made to continue on. Somewhere in a desolate section of the Amargosa Valley we hook a right onto Nevada State Road 160. We pulled into the Lakeside Casino and RV Park after traveling 277 miles.
Pahrump (36,000 souls) has it’s own story. Originally inhabited by the Southern Paiute, the valley was slowly inhabited by settlers in the late 1800’s. The area has numerous artesian wells; the water they provide is vital to farming. Numerous large farms were established, most over 1000 acres on which cotton and alfalfa were grown and livestock raised. Until the 1960’s there was no phone service except for one radio phone nor paved roads in or out of the valley. Real estate speculation prompted the establishment of paved roads and telephone service.
We are on our way shortly after 8am figuring all that white slippery stuff was in our rear view mirror. Wrongo Cowboy! As we approach Mountain Springs Pass (elevation 5400′) about 60 miles from Lost Wages, er, Los Vegas (650,000 souls) snow appears on the hills, then on the side of the road, then ICE on the road. Holy Smokes, who would have thunk it? To make matters more interesting the road is under construction and the construction guys had made a narrow obstacle course out of the normally straight road. The good thing was the construction crew also limited the speed to 25-35 miles an hour and had treated the roadway making the slippery roadway more safe.
Traffic is not terribly heavy going through the southern suburbs of Lost Wages (620,000 souls), at least by big city standards. Us big rig jockeys don’t appreciate it one bit. I-5 to I-215 to the new section of I-11 brings us to the Hoover Dam/Lake Meade overlook and across the Colorado River Canyon Bridge into Arid Zona, er, Arizona. This time of year brings some rain to the area so it doesn’t look so arid- the hills are actually green.
We are now traveling on US93, the road that will be replaced by I-11 when it is complete. As such, this highway is not getting a lot of attention as the road surface is pretty rough. As we pull into the Kingman (28,000 souls) area traffic is backed up for blocks. The cause- two traffic signals that don’t appear to be synchronized and trucks trying enter and exit the nearby truck stop. We again have arrived at our loosely planned destination early. We fuel up at Loves Truck Stop, have a bite of lunch, walk Megan and are off, this time on I-40 east where we once again catch US 93 south. We stop for the night at the Hidden Oasis RV Park located in Wikieup, AZ (320 souls) after a drive of 211 miles.
The Oasis RV Park and Cool Water Cafe is an eclectic place for sure. Most of the folks live here year round so there are no newer rigs in the park. The folks here are definitely country and they are all nice, respectful and willing to help one another. The co-owner and head chef at the Cool Water Cafe that fronts the RV park is also down to earth friendly. Brenda and her mom offer wholesome vittles but are mostly known for their delicious home made pies made fresh every day. She stated that most of her clientele live in the RV park with some walk-in travelers. Folks, if you are driving through Wikieup AZ be sure and stop in at the Cool Water Cafe- the food and pies are delish!
We drove another 190 miles on December 31. The wind was blowing a little and the road very rough. We almost got in a traffic accident in Wickenburg when a pick up truck pulling a trailer cut us off in a traffic circle. From Wickenburg we head south on US60 to I-17 to I-10 continuing on through Phoenix. The traffic through Phoenix (1.6 million souls) wasn’t horrible but like I said we drive a big rig.
Continuing south on I-10 our turnoff comes in Casa Grande- a 190 mile day. We arrived a day before our reservation began so we spent the night in the overflow section of the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort, our home until March.