The (mostly not terrifying) trip down
Delayed but undeterred
Oak Harbor to Pendleton
A non-eventful day, which, considering we went through Seattle, was a very good thing. Stayed at Wildhorse Casino. Very nice. Quiet parking lot, clean casino, and buffet was only $9. But we just went on Weight Watchers (Fred's already lost more than I care to know about) so we could eat all the fruit and salad we wanted. And not much else.
Pendleton to Twin Falls
Other than a little snow in the pass on the way to La Grande, this was a simple trip. It was a little hard to find the RV park, but it was so plain (and cold) I didn't even take photos.
Twin Falls to Vegas
Cold, scary, mostly beautiful
First of all, there are a lot of cows in Twin Falls. You can smell them long before seeing them. I love meat so it’s not right to complain. But I’m really glad they’re here and not at home. Also, it’s cold and windy in Twin Falls.
It was 29 degrees when we left at 7:43 AM. Not sure how cold it got overnight, but am sure that our electric furnace in the RV failed.
We took this route because we thought it’d be easier and faster than going down through California. It did end up taking just four days. But that’s largely because we skipped a night in Ely and pushed through to Vegas. Why? Because it’s 6 degrees in Ely on any given November night and our Winnebago isn’t designed for the arctic.
Well, the road was mostly two-lane and mostly OK. But getting behind a slow truck was predictably painful. But we saw a few cool things. Such as a herd of sheep alongside a traditional sheepherder’s wagon with rounded roof topped with a wood stove pipe. No photo, driving too fast…Then there were the double-semi trucks that roared past us at 70, crossing over double yellow lines.
Having left so early, we got to our planned stop, Ely, at lunch time. Went to McDonalds and found it bustling with Army troops getting chow. I asked the clerk if there was a base nearby though I hadn’t seen one on the map. No, he said. They’d been getting a couple bus loads a day for a few days. Heading to the border. To hold off the caravan from Mexico. What do you say to that? “Wow,” I said.
Beautiful. Except for the pee bottles
Passengers on long drives have a lot of time to observe the side of the road. That’s not always a good thing. Prime example: I noticed that a lot of people deposit pee on the side of the roads between Twin Falls and Las Vegas. Either that, or a lot of people are tossing out apple cider in various recycled beverage bottles.
Who do you suppose would do that? I gave this a lot of thought (I know, it's weird) and here’s what I concluded. I think it's people who travel this road a lot (truck drivers) who aren't deterred by a $500 littering fine, particularly given the lack of rest areas over a several hundred mile stretch. Having seen gallons of pee, I started feeling very sorry for the road maintenance crews who have to recycle the bottles, so to speak. No way do those bottles fit the definition of "litter."
High rollers at the Riviera (RV Park)
Once upon a time the rich and famous stayed at the Riviera. Built in 1955 and demolished in 2015, (and where Fred and I stayed years ago during a business trip) the Riviera was quite the luxurious place long before the themed mega casinos popped up.
The casino is gone but even if you've lost your grubstake you can still stay at the Riviera (RV park.) And you’re actually in luck if you get in, because there are very few RV parks in or around Vegas. Although old, it was fine: Cheap, clean, and quiet.
Now you (don’t) see it
So who’d imagine you’d go by Boulder Dam and not be able to see it? Not me. I was there in 2008 or so, and we could still drive over the dam. At the time they were building a huge new bridge on the west side of the dam. So I looked forward to seeing the finished bridge with the dam down below. Well, we saw the asphalt of the bridge, but that’s all.
OK, that was terrifying
I’ve been around a long time and had a few adventures. But I have never, ever sobbed in terror until November 9, when we were caught in a side wind on the roads around Kingman AZ. We were pushed nearly off the road a couple of times. I’d seen one too many pictures of semi trucks tipped on their sides and kept wondering how bad the wreck would be when we tipped over. In an RV you present a large sail that catches a gust and tries to grab the wheel out of your (Fred’s) hand.
I seriously considered staggering back to the bed to grab all our pillows to pack in around us to help cushion the crash. I know, silly. And Fred was surprised that I was so scared. I imagine I’ve been in much worse situations and wasn’t smart enough to be afraid, so I figure it all evens out over time. Clearly, we made it without getting killed. But the tension wasn’t over, because we still had to endure… the abandoned Nissan.
Oh Lord, all that to end up stuck in Kingman
Picture this: You’ve just come through a wind storm and are feeling shaky relief. You have a long way to go before the end of the day. But you need gas. When you’re driving an RV and towing a Jeep, you’re not particularly agile. So when you commit to a gas station line, you’re not getting out of it until the way in front of you is clear. We wiggled into the only line we could fit in.
There were three pumps in front of us, with a black Nissan parked closest to us. After a couple minutes the other two pumps were vacated, but no movement from the Nissan. We’d seen a woman get out of the car and take a couple little girls into the mini-mart, but figured there was a driver in the car. So, after waiting for a few minutes for the car to move, I got out and rapped on the window. The windows were so darkly tinted, I couldn’t tell if there was anyone inside. Without an answer, I figured if there WAS someone inside refusing to acknowledge me, I didn’t want to meet them, so gave up and went back to wait in the RV.
Another five minutes passed. Foul language started flowing freely. I finally gave up and went into the mini-mart to find the lady with the kids. It took a minute to get her to understand why we’d want her to move her car, but eventually she came out. And moved it up by one pump. It took some stern advice from Fred to get her to move all the way out of the line of pumps. Whew. It was a huge relief to get the diesel and move on. Wonder if the lady learned anything about courtesy?