Our Trip Home- OMG!

Monday, March 30, 2020

I hope this finds ya’ll well and hunkered down attempting to maintain your sanity during this COVID 19 national emergency. We are doing well as are our neighbors. The virus hasn’t hit Reno hard as yet. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and pray for the best possible outcome for our great country.

I find it difficult to end a travel blog after we reach home- and keep it short, hee, hee. Don’t see the short part happening anytime soon! Don’t know why. So I’ll just let ‘er rip and end the latest saga of our RV adventure. We had booked our site at Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort through March 14th but someone was getting antsy to go home. Long term reservations like ours requires cancellation notification a month in advance. Palm Creek does not issue refunds in cases like ours, they say “Have a safe trip home!” Oh well. I understand Jil’s desire to head for home sweet home as she had been through a lot with that broken wrist and the dental work, being sick for 72 hours all the while breaking in our new family member, Ollie the Boxer dog . We packed up and departed on Thursday, March 12.

Of concern of our trip home is weather, bad weather, especially as we near Hawthorne, NV. A wind advisory has been posted for the next few days. We’ll attempt to time our arrival in Hawthorne at the end of the advisory in order to duck the wind. Anther concern is Mr. Ollie’s reaction to riding in the RV. He has lived in it for two months but it hasn’t moved. A couple of slide rooms were moved in to increase access to change out the sun rotted dual tires for brand spanking new ones. Ollie was very curious and a little afraid of the moving rooms but OK with it. As it turns out Ollie travels well but one could tell that he wasn’t completely on board with his house bouncing down the road.

We are basically taking the same route home that brought us here with few exceptions. Its raining as we head north on I-10 taking advantage of the light traffic and the I-202 bypass that skirts downtown Phoenix. Back on I-10 we pick up Arizona State Route 303, US 60, then US 93 in Wickenburg AZ. Six miles east of Wickenburg is the Hassayampa rest area. It’s a nice place to stop to stretch however big rig parking is limited. Signage is vague so it’s a little hard to find. Another take away is the heavy cross traffic getting in and out of the rest area. No easy on and off transition roads here! On this occasion is the entire big rig area is flooded due to the rainfall. We make the best of it, stretching all twelve of our legs whilst avoiding as much of the puddled water as possible.

Big Rig vs. auto- car drivers do not respect big rigs……….

We transition onto US 93 via a pair of those big rig unfriendly roundabouts- and promptly get cut off by a tiny little car in the middle of one- gads!

US 93 takes us through very interesting hills and dales complete with streams, deep canyons and Wiley Coyote rock formations. Also of note is how this road has been allowed to deteriorate as one day a good portion of this route will become the new Interstate 11. We see evidence of road crews creating the new interstate on several occasions- one is near Wikieup.

Our first overnight stop is the Kingman Journey KOA park in, yes…, Kingman AZ. We’ve not stayed here in the past and the park is OK. It’s obvious that it has rained- large puddles are everywhere. Although the park roads and sites are not paved the native soil doesn’t track into the coach. The dogs have a run where they can be unleashed which is a plus. It rains off and on all night……..

Our Subaru can take a beating being towed only a few feet behind the Allegro. I look at the Subaru in the morning and find that the whole car looks like it went mudding. Can’t see through any window and the previously white paint job is now the color of Arizona mud. At least it can’t get any dirtier.

The weather doesn’t appear to be a factor- we depart Friday morning at our normal 0800 hours and head west on I-40, picking up US 93 once again just west of downtown Kingman. We head north towards Las Vegas paralleling the Colorado River Canyon and once again pass by Hoover Dam.

Beauty in the Colorado River Canyon

The vegetation is in full bloom and very green contrasting with the dark rock formations- ahh, more eye candy for this leg of the trip!

Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

The wind is picking up and gets strong as we pass Hoover Dam over the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge into Nevada. Strong wind is normal in this area as big rigs are advised at times to slow down and travel the inside lanes in order to protect them from ferocious crossing winds.

As we head towards Las Wages NV on I-11 it strengthens. We retrace our route to Pahrump, NV. As we near Pahrump we are drenched with a desert downpour. Just north of town is our turnoff towards Death Valley Junction on Bell Vista Road leaving all civilization behind. We’ve not taken this route- new scenery will add to our adventure. As we approach town the remnants of a desert downpour lies ahead. We have to cross a deep puddle on the road, the deepest part is blocked by an Inyo County employee and his truck.

Death Valley Junction, CA lies in the Amargosa Valley. The town has an interesting history. Heck, what old town out in the middle of nowhere doesn’t? It sprang up in 1907 at the junction of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad’s spur to the Death Valley Railroad. The Death Valley Railroad carried borax from the Lila C. borax mine located in the hills to the west until 1928. The town was originally owned by Robert Tub who operated a saloon, store and brothel. From 1923 to 1928 the Pacific Coast Borax Company built a Spanish Colonial Rivival whistlestop centered at the hotel, theater and office complex, now known as the Amargosa Opera House.

The town began to decline over the years. However in 1967 dancer and actress Marta Becket stopped at Death Valley Junction to have her car repaired, fell in love with the opera house, leased and eventually purchased the hotel and theater complex. She staged mime and dance shows until her last show in February 2012. Becket passed in 2017. Allegedly the hotel still operates (we didn’t see any activity) with the Amargosa Cafe being the only other viable business in town.

Had we continued west we would visit Death Vally National Park. It’s not on our radar this trip. We head north on CA 127 which in a couple of miles transitions to NV 373 at the California/Nevada border. Our destination is just a couple of miles from the border.

Longstreet Inn’s back yard
The Inn is nicely landscaped

Arriving at the Longstreet Inn, Casino and RV Park, we check in at the Inn’s desk and find our site in the RV Park. The RV park may be gravel but the scenery is spectacular. Adjacent to the RV park is a large parcel of open land where the mutzos have plenty of room to romp and thoroughly enjoy doing so.

Longstreet Inn, Casino, & RV Park’s back yard- the dogs loved it!

The wind is very strong, so strong it’s difficult to open the RV’s door against it. Hopefully the wind will die down some tomorrow or we might just be spending two nights here.

The next morning the wind has diminished some- it’s decision time. Do we go or not go? The wind will mostly be at our back but gusts of 50mph are in the forecast. We decide to go considering the wind will be pushing us the majority of the way……..we should get good mileage!

We drive north through the Amargosa Valley passing Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Had we stayed another day we would have visited that oasis in the desert. Access is via a rough dirt road and we opt not to take the RV on it. We join US 95 once again stopping in Beatty to buy some nuts and honey at Miguel’s shop.

Interesting signage in Beatty

As the road takes us to higher elevations the snow level has come more near the highway. The old mining town of Goldfield is next but we do not stop, neither do we stop in Tonopah. Just down the road from Tonopah is Millers Rest Area. It’s a welcome stop to stretch our legs. On our previous stops very few if anyone is ever here. This time several families are having a picnic in spite of the howling wind and chilly air.

Thus far we’ve had a strong following wind which hasn’t created any unusual problems in steering our big box. Well cowboy, that has changed in a big way. US 95 is no longer primarily a north/south oriented road, it has become mostly east/west. Steady 30mph winds with 50 mph gusts= no bueno. I counter steer to fight the gusts conceding forward progress to safety. I slow down, then slow down again all the while battling the wind concentrating on keeping the big box between the center and fog lines. This leg of the trip has turned out to be a real white knuckler….Gads!

11,286 foot high Mt. Grant as seen from Whiskey Flat RV Park

We are so very happy when we reach the Whiskey Flats RV Park in Hawthorne, check in, set up in our site and relax. It’s a basic RV park in the desert yet has a lot to offer. It’s set up nicely, nicer that most. There’s lot of room to exercise the furry ones as a big vacant lot is right outside the perimeter of the park. It sports full utilities and cable TV to boot. We’ll enjoy our overnight here, then decide if that wind is too much to travel through in the AM.

Well let me tell you Mister, the wind howled almost all night long. On top of that it was hitting us broadside now causing our 26,000 pound rig to rock and roll. Gads! By dawn the wind had diminished to a few puffs. We go!

Approaching Yerington. Notice the amount of snow in the mountains.

Another 130 or so miles and we are home. The mountains are full of snow so we hope that isn’t an omen. Ha! It is……. the weather for the first 120 miles was good, cool but good. We drive through sleepy Yerington connecting with US 95A. As we leave Spanish Springs and head over the hill towards Sparks the clouds get thicker. Driving down the Truckee River Canyon, now on I-80, it starts to rain. Passing through Sparks it starts to snow a little. We are only 10 miles from home now. Passing downtown Reno it’s snowing harder.

Almost home!

Winter is still lingering in Reno!

Despite getting in a “bang” as the Aussies call a traffic accident, Jil suffering a broken wrist and replacement of an unrepairable tooth crown, adopting Ollie, our young Boxer dog, and literally weathering the many storms on the way home, we had a memorable trip. We met lots of nice folks that hail from the across our country and Canada. We had a wonderful time visiting with our friends from Reno and our friends from Washington State. We saw sights we’ve never seen before. What could be better? Oh ya, no broken bones, no car accidents, no broken teeth…… Hey that’s life!

This is one way to attend Mass- selfies fill the pews!

We are good now and that’s the main thing. Now if we could only attend Mass services during Holy Week……… heavy sigh…….

Food for thought during this trying time:

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