Tonopah to Pahrump to Brenda?…

The next morning in Tonopah was very pleasant…and I was so close to Pahrump with the numerous shipping business there that there was no real hurry. It’s just 2.5 hours away. So I could dally here a while in Tonopah and enjoy the very comfortable weather. Very nice. This is why I head south in the winter.

But around 9 am I got itchy feet so began my break camp routine. Put the satellite dish down, drained, emptied, and stored the water hose, did the dishes, arranged the food in the refer, picked up and put stuff away, and generally prepared for travel. Slowly.

When 10 am rolled around, I was sure that the nearly 70F temp would mean the slides would work. But when I tested them, nope, no movement. No sound. Crap.

Wanted the ambient temp to increase a bit more (the hydraulic system was on the shady side this time) so I kept busy and visited FB online while I waited. Testing the slides every once in a while. Went out and whacked the works with my rubber mallet a time or two. And right around 11 am the slides come back to life. Right after I found the ground stud underneath and forward of the hydraulic control system and whacked it a good one. I can’t really see that stud from where I tend to work on the hydraulic system assembly – have to crawl underneath to see that stud, and the other times I’ve taken to stoop down and try to see it under there were wasted. So finding it was cause for a happy dance. It’s blacktop here instead of the gravel I’ve been staying on over the last several months so easier and more comfortable to scootch under there. Lucky.

So, now I know where that ground stud is. Great. And the slides coming back to life immediately after I whacked it is an indicator of where the intermittent operation problem is. I’ll take care of that after I reach Pahrump, or Mexico. Now with the slides working again, I can get back on the road. So pulled in the slides and was able to get on the road by 11:15 am.

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Winnemucca to Brenda, Arizona…

While parked in Winnemucca, spent a couple hours on Wifi trying to mesh my trip plans with shipping the oscilloscope to the buyer I’d sold to on eBay. I had rejected an offer, actually two offers, for the o’scope previously because they didn’t offer enough and I was happy they didn’t because they lived so far away, back east both of them. The shipping cost would have been brutal. And there’s the worry of such long trips ending up damaging the o’scope and I’d have to take it back. But the offer I accepted ended up being for exactly the money I was asking for (after some negotiating), and the guy lived in a suburb of Las Vegas, just an hour from the route I was already on as I headed south! Lucky coincidence for me.

So my plans had me stopping in Pahrump to ship the o’scope because they had several retail shippers plus those mini shipper facilities for UPS and FedEx…oh, and USPS of course, if I chose that route. The problem with heavy, bulky, or oddly shaped packages is that online calculators for shipping costs are often non-intuitive and I’m never certain if what I find is the lowest shipping price for my package…often it isn’t. So I planned on getting early to Pahrump so I could dance around and maybe go to 2-3 different stores to get the best price…if I needed to. The package was 28 pounds and fairly large. After I got it shipped, the plan was to head on to Brenda, Arizona (west of Phoenix around 120 miles) to spend a month in warm weather while waiting for San Felipe, Baja to cool down from the 90’s to the 80’s.

Sunday morning, I head off towards Brenda with planned stops in Beatty, and Pahrump. I thought I’d arrive in Pahrump early afternoon on Sunday, and be able to do my shipping stuff at a retail shipper there. If that went well, that same day I’d continue on to Brenda, Arizona and to a small RV park there I’ve stayed at before that is fairly nice with nice people. Or if I couldn’t hack that long drive, stop somewhere between Pahrump and Brenda. If that didn’t go well, or if I arrived late at Pahrump there were several RV parks there where I could stay. One is a PPA park and the website showed it to be pretty nice. As an aside, I did have trouble Saturday afternoon getting the slides to work, but when they finally started moving, I pulled them both in so I could leave early Sunday morning.

There’s two routes I could take as I leave Winnemucca, I decided on the easterly route. The first 4 hour leg gets me to Tonopah and starts by heading north east out of Winnemucca on I-80, then turns due south at Battle Mountain. The entire trip is 11 hours all the way to Brenda so I anticipated perhaps stopping for the night in Pahrump when I arrived there late that afternoon. I assumed I’d get there around 4:30. Giving me an hour to get to a shipper. Than off to Brenda if it was still early and I felt like driving more, or settle for the night if I’d been delayed. I was pretty sure I’d have to stop somewhere short of Brenda for the night. Didn’t know where exactly. Nice solid plan. Didn’t work out that way.

Here’s the desert just outside and east of Winnemucca.

And soon I’ve turned off the freeway onto a lonely 2-lane highway. This is called Copper Basin so you know why people ended up being here at all. Mining.

Not much out here. Did see a large volcanic tuft field. Tossed here by a volcano I couldn’t spot, sometime in the far distant past. Continue reading

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Another RV repair post…

I’ve added a new post to the RV repair section of the blog about the Winnebago’s tendency to develop leaks around the front windows. And my DIY attempt at reducing the possibility of having to do a $3300 repair.

If you’re interested in that sort of thing, check it out, and feel free to comment with any tricks you might have tried yourself: Weather Proofing


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Time to move South…

I’d like to backtrack slightly here and mention that the trip I took on US-395 from Burns, Oregon to Walla Walla, Washington and back, was really very interesting and scenic. An easy drive for my 35 foot RV with attached car, hardly any traffic, numerous changes in elevation and as a result, changes in scenery. Grasslands to forested areas with mountains, rivers and streams, and a few tiny communities to explore or just pass through while gawking. Some areas looked like they hadn’t changed in thousands of years. Areas with little evidence of the hand of man. Probably shouldn’t try to oversell it, but it’s well worth spending a day or two exploring on this road if you are in the area.

My stay at Burns RV Park was nice, gave me another week to explore in and around the town of Burns. After I was pretty much done exploring there, headed back out to Narrows for no other reason than to save money.

It was starting to get cold at night. Down to mid 30’s F. So I planned on getting back on the road soon…after I watched a Seahawk’s game at the parks bar. Which it turned out, they wanted to close at 7 PM!! What?! Luckily, the game went into halftime just as I learned that, so I hightailed it home and got the game on satellite. Which meant I didn’t order dinner there at the bar. I’d originally planned on doing that.

A couple days later, it was time to move on south. And I had a plan, to travel over to Boise and check out the VA hospital there, along with getting a shingles shot for myself. Vaccinations are free to me from the VA system and although my shingles is mild, it seems to be becoming chronic, so I wanted to get the vaccination. The VA Clinic in Burns couldn’t get the vaccine, it’s too expensive or something to take the chance they wouldn’t use it all up and it would spoil.

First I checked and found a Passport America park near Boise, then I used Google maps to check out the streets approaching the hospital. Part of that search had photos and one of them of the hospital grounds showed a sign that said ‘RV Parking’. OK, I felt safe driving my RV right over there to the hospital, parking, going into the clinic getting my shot, and then heading back to the RV park. Sounds like a plan. So here’s the last picture or two of my setup at Narrows. Note the less than ideal weather happening.

One issue I had with the cold was that my slides would not work in the morning until it had warmed up somewhat. I’d stumbled on that fact at the last RV park in Burns when I needed to dump and tried to pull in the bedroom slide. When I figured out that higher ambient temps got it working again, and learned that banging on the works of the system with my rubber mallet wasn’t doing the trick anymore, I had to adapt. I’d wait until 10-11 AM and then pull in the slides the day before travel so the issue wouldn’t put a crimp in my travel. I’d had this problem previously a couple times so I’d already made up a RV Repair thread about it here: Slides not working…

So that’s what I did. Waited until it was warm enough the day before departure, pulled in the slides, and was ready to go the next morning.

On the way out. Had to spend a few minutes scraping off the frost from the car window so I could see well enough to maneuver it around to get it attached to the RV.

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Quick Trip to Walla Walla…

And now it’s mid-September (blog time) and my son contacts me to let me know my daughter and her BF are going to be in Walla Walla where he lives so I should come up to visit. OK, it’s a one day trip from Narrows RV park on some roads on the east side of Oregon north of Narrows I’ve never been on so sounds like fun. Oh, sure, I’ve been to Pendleton (famous for many reasons, one is the Pendleton Woolen Mills – still active) and a few miles south of there, but not much further south than that. I have also done some hiking in the Blue Mountains outside and east of Pendleton in the Tollgate area so I’m not unfamiliar with the area. Still, the route I’ll take will be new to me…so, an adventure. Map shows it’ll take 5-6 hours to get there.

First leg of the trip is due north towards Burns, than cross US-20 onto the US-395. I’ve never been on US-395 before so this should be fun. It’s a 6 hour trip so I left fairly early in the morning. Clouds off in the distance the entire trip promised the occasional rain.

This is my nice 7″ GPS I found on eBay. Sits on top of the drivers cockpit and gauge cluster assembly cover. It’s cool, even has a ‘bus’ setting so I’m routed around low overpasses and away from tight streets. Pretty neat, but, it didn’t come with a sun hood like many of them do these days so I had to make one. But at only $49, I’m not complaining. Lifetime maps too. If I can figure out how to find them and download them from the website. It is not exactly intuitive but for right now the maps that are built in have been great.
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Back to Burns…

The eclipse was fun, but I wanted to get outta town. Not much in Vale. They do have three or so excellent restaurants but nothing much else. I did find a bar with some microbrews on tap  and good food, but the TVs were too small so watching games on my home TV was more fun. I enjoyed being able to ride my bike around town for the exercise…as long as I did it in the cool of the mornings. By 3 pm it was HOT. I took several jaunts in my car with the AC on but again, didn’t find much of interest in the area. Went over to Ontario for shopping one day. That’s about it. I did stop in at the local auto shop for an oil change. And than at the local Les Schwab tire store to have my tires balanced but eventually, my overpriced visit week at the Vale RV park was over and I wasn’t going to give them any more money. Time to head back to Burns. This time though, I headed straight to the Narrows RV Park. It’s a Passport America park so half price. Since I was unsure where I’d be going afterwards, I paid for 3 nights to start, just to check the place out. It’s 26 miles from Burns, and right on the main road to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

This is the onsite bar they have. Notice everything looks new. It’s about 10 years since the owners bought the place and refurbished all the buildings. And built some new. 2008 was the year the RV market crashed and many RV parks went out of business. Bad luck on the owners part. Or they were able to get it much reduced price because of that. Who knows. But in any event, there’s a ‘for sale’ sign on the park now. The land around here has a rich history as just a couple miles away right at the narrows was a grocery store and hotel which existed for many decades beginning in 1889. It was a travelers stop over between Burns and French Glen for decades and developed into a small town until a highway was built that bypassed it. Afterwards, the small town of Narrows slowly died. The area is remote so it’s a little strange finding all this new building of the RV park out here in the middle of nowhere. Hunting probably contributed to the Narrows Hotel and Grocery store’s long life, and that still helps this RV park. Also, many bird watchers like to come here to take pictures at the Narrows and then visit the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Yeah, that place where those armed terrorists occupied federal buildings for all those months in early 2016.

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On to the Solar Eclipse…

My first visit to Burns was only for a week. When I left, it was to head for Vale, Oregon where I had a reservation at the RV park there. Attraction was that the park would be in the path of totality. They were legally allowed to gouge for this once/twice in a lifetime event. I really wanted to see another eclipse, so I paid the outrageous $640/week they asked. They also had a non-refundable deposit that I’d paid months before to hold the spot. The parked looked like they were trying to put lipstick on a pig with the few ‘improvements’ the newer owners had made to the place. All the power towers were 30 amp and showed their age, as did the other connections. I had spent many hours searching for a decent place to stay for quite a while before I eventually settled on Vale, and though I wasn’t all that pleased paying that much for a 2nd class park, it had the shade trees I wanted and the Wifi was amazingly fast. More than 15 Mbps down! (That’s very good for a RV park).

It’s only a 2 hour drive for a car so 3 hours for my RV. Enjoyed this trip a lot because it’s country I’ve never been to even though I’ve lived in the area most of my life.

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Heading for Burns…

After that great visit to Crater Lake in my last post, it was time to head over to Burns, Oregon. The best route took me through Bend. What I’d planned is a week in Burns so I could evaluate the area as a possible anchor town for purposes of VA health care. I have been anchored in Portland for years because the hospital there has a very good reputation and I have friends in Portland, but it became such a hassle going there because of the over crowding, and the overpricing they can get away with in the Portland area. You might call it gouging. It happens with all rentals in that area for some reason. And RV spots are no exception. The final straw was the only economical RV park I would usually stay at, despite its many shortcomings, became a long term only park. So I could no longer stop there for just a week or two. I’d have to sign up for a month to month lease arrangement. And the last 3 times I’d gone to Portland for my yearly check up had all turned into a hassle finding accommodations as the RV parks are like partially booked solid for weeks in advance and I’d be lucky to find an open, and very expensive short term spot. Another economical park in Corbett nearby in the gorge turned out to be booked solid for 2 months around the time I wanted to visit. As was another overpriced park along the Sandy river. So I’d end up staying in the Walmart parking lot or on the street for days at a time. This had been steadily getting worse over the many years I have been coming here for my yearly VA checkup. The trip there in August of 2016 turned out to be a 1.5 month visit because I needed to get a colonoscopy and my yearly exam so it just took longer. I was able to stay at a fairly nice park…$640/month. Kinda spendy, fancy park though I had my bike ripped off there. They cut my wire cable to steal it even though there were at least 4 other nearby bikes with no cables or chains at all!

But, anyway, that’s why I was planning on scoping out Burns as a new anchor town, staying for a week at what looked like a pretty nice RV park there just a mile from downtown. After that week, plan was to head over to Vale, Oregon to watch the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. I actually planned ahead for this trip and had reservations in both Burns and Vale. Week at a time. But talk about gouging…both RV parks had bumped up their rates just for the eclipse crowds that may show up.

And something else I’m seeing lately. Both RV parks had changed ownership recently. The investors are back at it with buying RV parks, raising the rates, and doing hardly any improvements. This was going on back before the RV’ing crash of ’08, but it stopped during that period, now it’s starting up again. That’s mostly a bad thing for me, because I like it when the rates are low. Fancy facilities are secondary, or tertiary to me. All I want is a simple pull through, water, 50 amp electric, a way to dump, and WIFI that’s half way decent. Oh, and a view of the southern sky for my satellite. New owners mean higher prices. And they often don’t have the traffic to justify improving the infrastructure of the park, so you get a crappy park with high rates.

Well, anyway, enough of that…so I was scheduled to leave Crater Lake RV Resort the morning of the 4th day, here I’m stowing gear, but since my trip was going to be so short at just 4 hours I took a slightly longer hike around the edges of the park, near the water…

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Finally…a visit to Crater Lake…

For several decades, I’ve lived near to Crater Lake but never visited. There was always something else to do, or it would cost too much, etc. Than when I retired and started traveling full time I figured, hell, now I’ll be able to visit! So no hurry! And as it turned out, the best time of the year to visit Crater Lake is in the summer, but I’d usually head over to the coast to take advantage of the mild temperatures by the coast during summers. Over where you’d hang out before a visit to the lake it would be desert hot.

Well, the years flew by and before I knew it, 9 years had passed after my retirement and all my traveling and I’d not visited yet. So I shifted my northbound travel over to the east side of Oregon where the lake is best approached in order to increase the chance that I’ll be able to stop there one year. And for 3 years it seemed I either just missed the spring opening, or just missed the period before the winter closing. The weather there is unpredictable to say the least, they’ve even had snow in July!

This year (2017) I decided to actually plan a trip there so beginning in February while I was still in Mexico, that’s what I did. I wanted to combine several activities as I headed north. One was to volunteer at Lake Tahoe, another was to revisit the Ice Caves and visit Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold near Tulelake, California, another was to visit the Burns area in eastern Oregon and make a final decision about whether or not to make Burns my home base as far as VA health was concerned. See the Portland area has just become way too crowded in the RV parks during the best time of year to visit. Expensive too. They do have a really nice VA clinic in Fairview near Portland that I used, and the hospital in Portland is well known and well favored by patients, but the Portland area was just becoming to much of a hassle. No more zipping into town, visiting the clinic, leaving town within a few days. Now I have to make reservations, stay a month at a RV park to minimize expenses.

Well, as I drifted north starting back in February, I tried to take new to me travel routes in order to experience new scenery. I did most of what I planned on doing along the way, and eventually, it was an auspicious time to visit Crater Lake. To do that I head north from Merrill, Oregon…just a days drive from the road that takes you to Crater Lake. It was early August by that time and yes, I planned it that way. Had great fun along the route staying at out of the way places and visiting new RV parks for longer periods.

On August 8th it was time to head up to the Crater Lake RV Resort. It’s only a 2 hour drive from Merrill so I didn’t leave Merrill until 11 am and dawdled along the way.

Lots of farms along this route.

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Around and about…

After visiting the Lava Beds & Capt’n Jack’s StrongholdI didn’t have much more to do in Merrill except ride my bike around town and occasionally take a drive here or there. Also found a neat golf course outside of town. Nine holes for $13, which included a rental hand cart to drag my new found golf clubs around. If you remember, back when I was in San Felipe, Baja Mexico, early this year, I went to a thrift store looking for a camping chair, and found a full golf bag for $12. Quite the bargain, and the equipment was all top notch. So I’ve been carrying them around with me for 4 months and here in Merrill I found a convenient golf course to practice at.


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