Monday, March 26, 2012

Hangin’ in Henderson.

There’s something about this area of Nevada.  It seems to keep us pulled close for longer than we anticipate.  But that’s o.k.  We enjoy it.

First visit, we ran into Henderson to get a tire fixed and wound up spending five days roaming the streets and sites of Vegas.  This time around, we decided to head into Henderson to stock up on supplies and to take a break from the constant winds out at Government Wash.  Ten days later…

Sidebar: Check out this cool bus that some guy did up and is driving cross country.  He was parked at Walmart with us.
We’ve seen a few different buses like this along our travels.  Each has a slightly different message or meaning behind their journey but all have a primary focus of promoting peace and paying kindness forward which is pretty cool.

So, we’d been in town for about there days shopping and catching up on web related stuff when we got a message from a long time friend of Nicole’s asking if we wanted to come visit her for the day.  A week later… 

Yup. We had a great time!

Oh, but first… Have you ever seen those signs in the grocery store parking lot that tell you that removing the shopping carts from the lot is illegal?  Have you ever wondered how in the world a little sign is going to keep you from removing a cart? 
We did.  But we don’t anymore.

The new question is… how will Walmart get their cart back after we dragged it the last fifty feet or so to our van with what we thought was a bum wheel?  Can they turn off the invisible wheel locking fence at will?


It’s a good thing D’Lene understands that we aren’t normal.  We love her for that.  She didn’t even look at us funny when we spent every night of the week we visited sleeping in the van.  Despite her having an extra bedroom and bathroom that we could have had all to ourselves, we still preferred it.  What can we say.  Having the van with us is essentially like having our home right next door.  It just makes sense to us to go back ‘home’ each night.
IMG_1643Not sure what we were more excited about… seeing D’Lene or the empty frame of a 1000 piece puzzle she wanted us to help her with.  Let us define ‘help’ in D’Lene’s words.  “You can finish the rest of it but I want to put the last piece in.” IMG_1646She actually helped a bit more than that but we were only too happy to oblige her request and set our minds to finishing the puzzle.  Three days later… the final piece was laid in place (by D’Lene).IMG_1647With the puzzle done, it was time to begin the gaming.  A night of Headbandz, followed by a night of 20 Questions and then some Boggle to round it all out.IMG_1663Cloey didn’t find it as enthralling as we did.  Could be that Nicole and Darlene wore her out each day with four or five walks.  Her poor little legs.  D’Lene would get home from work and the little munchkin would just lay there barely able to keep her eyes open.IMG_1659
We wore her out good.  We got our paybacks when D’Lene took us for a trail walk one day and the next afternoon we were so tired we just sat on the couch staring at the TV like zombies.  Can’t even tell you what we watched.  Guess we’re not as in shape as we thought!
IMG_1648There was a lot of catching up, reminiscing (Nicole and D’Lene used to work together) and laughing on this visit.  There were also a lot of since-we-hit-the-road firsts on this visit.  Our first real shower in four months, for example.  Laundry that we didn’t have to put quarters in, a hot tub with chlorine in it, a fireplace, a TV with a DVR and an endless supply of water to name a few.  Pretty sure we blew all of the water conservation that we had managed to rack up in the last four months in just one shower.  But it was so worth it!
IMG_1656As our one day visit turned into a week, it was time to say Goodbye to Cloey and D’Lene and move on down the road.  We’ve got a destination now.  That’s not something we usually do or had planned on and it will be a subject for another post.  Suffice it to say though that the wind has blown hard enough to show us where we’ll be in two months time.
IMG_1672 So, we’ve moseyed on down the lane and officially begun a two month journey that begins with seeing new things…IMG_1675We’ve seen poles that mark the side of the road in heavy snow areas but flash flood level markers are a new one!IMG_1681Missed getting a shot of the actual street sign but here’s a shot of the GPS.  Who lives here?  Do you have to be at a certain desperate point in your life to move to this street?  Once you do, can you find your way back?  We didn’t try to find out but just seeing the sign leaves you feeling subliminally down and blue.  Thankfully we saw this one next and pulled in for a few nights.
IMG_1682Scenic it was with days spent relaxing and taking in views of the last of winter. IMG_1679And nights spent looking down on the ‘big’ city.
It’s good to be back on the road.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Matter of Pride.

So, we’re driving through a parking lot yesterday when a kid (he’s like 20, so not sure what that says about us?) whose driving in the opposite direction sticks his arm out the window to get us to stop.  Of course, for those split seconds between stopping and talking to him, thoughts of “What’s wrong with the van?” ramble through our heads.  There’s no [obvious] smoke and we’re pretty sure we didn’t hit anything large enough to be still plastered across the front.

We pull up next to him and a brief conversation ensues.

KID: “How much you want for it?”

NICOLE: “It’s not for sale.”

KID: “Come on, sell it to me.”

NICOLE: “We just got it.  Not selling.”

KID: “We’re going to go traveling. I want to buy it from you.”

NICOLE: “We live in it full time.”

KID: “It’s awesome.  God Bless it in the name of Jesus Christ.”

And, that is how it went.  We already knew that we loved our girl, Annie, and could not imagine our travels without her. When a random stranger, whose only just spotted her three seconds ago, wants to buy her from you though it sort of re-seals the deal.

IMG_1222Our Girl.  She’s one of a kind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Government Wash.

We have no creative title for this post.  It is what it is.  And we enjoyed it. Government Wash is its name.

The vibe at Government Wash is Slab City with a side of Government Regulation.  You are, by the way, actually located within the confines of a National Park.  There are trash cans, for example.  And there are restrooms with flush toilets and a sink, if you are so inclined to make the hike (or drive) to them.  Park Rangers take care to make their presence known and do not hesitate to enforce their authority.  Perhaps it is this regulation that keeps the area relatively clean, save for the fairly high number of ‘gifts’ left by dogs.   

If you search the internet you will hear repeated stories from folks telling you to lock up your valuables with tales of great numbers of the homeless from Vegas residing in this area.  We are assuming that this consistency, which actually made the area more enticing to us (remember the electric fence story?), is the same one that has kept others away.  With the exception of weekend day use visitors, which actually provided some short term entertainment in the form of various water-craft, music, bonfires and the like, we found the area to be fairly deserted and peaceful.

IMG_1599 There are essentially what we would identify as two sections to the area.  The high road and the low road, for lack of more intriguing terms.  The high road is where the majority of folks are parked in small pull-outs just beside the drive.  They get a nice panoramic view from up there, the surface is more level and easier for the bigger rigs to maneuver.  It is a mix of motor-homes, fifth wheels, tents and people who sleep in their cars, trucks or some vehicular variation.  The low road is only slightly more adventurous, a little more private and a bit more unlevel.  It should be of no surprise that we opted to take the low road and found it to be quite pleasing to our tastes.
IMG_1600Another round of ‘Where’s Annie?’.  Can you see her in the above photo?  It was enjoyable to be back near the water again.  We found a nice open area with a fire pit, plenty of room for our chairs and extra space to get some more work done on the van.  Nicole managed to get another coat of paint on the front portion of the roof and we also have finally completed the bench seat by putting the hinge on the top.  No more stuff going flying each time we turn the corner!  Surely, there will be something else just as exciting to take its place though.  There always is.

2012-03-09 Bench Seat Top Hinged 2012-03-09 Bench Seat Top Hinged (1)

We had intentions of setting up shop to get a bunch more work done (outdoors) but as seems to often be the case, Mother Nature had other ideas in the form of some pretty significant winds.  So, with exception to daily walks and explorations of the area, our great tans suffered a bit as we spent most of our time relaxing inside, reading, puzzling, cooking great food, organizing, cleaning and, believe it or not, finding more stuff in the van that we didn’t need.

On our walks we met some of the ‘locals’ who stay here for many months (we’ve heard tale of years) at a time.  Some of them live in their cars or tents and a few live in trailers.  The majority of them reside on the high road and have formed a sort of community.  They hang out, help each other, have cookouts, created a book exchange box, play games like Hillbilly Golf and a few of them actually work in town.  All of them were very friendly, more than happy to make new acquaintances and we enjoyed our time with them. 

The sunsets at Government Wash this visit left a bit to be desired considering our past desert experiences.  However, the moonrise made up for it each night by create the most fantastic glow across the water, which we tried to capture with our point and click camera.2012-03-10 Lake Mead Moonrise 2Government Wash is not very lush or rich in the vegetation category.  Some desert scrub and grasses here or there but mostly a combo of beach and desert sand and rock.  This is one of the closest locations to Vegas in which you can launch your boat, jet ski or other watercraft and camp as long as you wish.  There is a 15 day limit posted which apparently is rarely enforced unless you are found to be misbehaving.  The downside for the locals and the upside for us in terms of crowds is that the main boat ramp is closed due to low water.  This is not just any boat ramp mind you.  This ramp is the longest and widest we’ve ever seen and could probably be used to launch the QE2 or a Carnival Cruise if either so desired to float Lake Mead. 

2012-03-13 Lake Mead Boat RampSee what we mean? 

Despite the lower level of plant activity, the animals in this area are thriving.  Birds of all kinds, rabbits, lizards, coyotes… yes, coyotes ramble through our site quite often.  We hear the coyotes howling quite regularly during the afternoon and especially in the evening.  They wander around the area like stray dogs which can easily fool you into feeling that they might not be so wild after all.  One of them has a regular route he walks every day which involves crossing the lower part of our site.  It’s pretty wild to see him walk through with no care for our presence at all.

2012-03-10 Lake Mead Coyote Site (2)Chairs to the left.  Coyotes to the right.
2012-03-10 Lake Mead Coyote Site (8)Then one morning as we are in the van preparing breakfast he just laid down right at the edge of our site.
2012-03-10 Lake Mead Coyote Site (9)He made puppy dog eyes at us, yawned and laid his head all cute on his front paws.
2012-03-10 Lake Mead Coyote Site (10)
And when we were not swayed, he tried his alter-ego.
“My, what big teeth you have!”  The better to …

Sure, it was a wolf not a coyote who mouthed that famous line but it’s all we’ve got right now.  We’ve also only got a few of some of our essential supplies left so a trip back into town is in order.  Where to from there?  Only the wind knows.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It Went A Little Something Like This.

We’ve been busy.  Busier than we are used to these days.  Some busy has been by choice.  Other busy by chance and the rest we figure just sort of happened because the wind blew.  We aren’t complaining though.  Nope.  We aren’t.

It’s hard to complain when you are parked here.

We stayed here for a good bit, soaked in the beautiful scenery and warm temps.
Can you see us?  Use the small tree in the water as your reference point.

We took some time to relax by doing yoga. 
IMG_1544 IMG_1548
O.K. maybe not.

We explored the area on foot and discovered more stunning vistas over each hill.

IMG_1492We put our daily strolling toward something good.

IMG_1561And we were quite surprised by the result.  We even found .51 cents to boot.

A few days into our stay we tried to get the phone to work.  We climbed every hill we could but… nothing.  So, we packed up to take a ride down the road to get some service.  We always pack up, by the way, even for a short ride, because we never know if we’ll go back. IMG_1467Did we tell you that we drove a little over six miles down a washboard road to get to the cove?  We drove that entire six miles and then some back out before discovering service at the paved road.  We discovered something else at the paved road, too.
IMG_1573We had picked up a noisy hitch-hiker in our left front tire.  Good thing we had packed up our stuff before leaving the cove!

So, off we went to Henderson, NV.  Home of the closest Sears with a tire shop.
We were due for our free rotation so we figured we’d take care of two things at once.  Two things.  Not three.  That’s what we had figured. 

IMG_1570It is not supposed to look like that.
2011-1-3 Clean Rim Dry

The unexpected third item was a shattered center cap which in the above photo is intact.  Sears says that they are very sorry and will pay for a replacement or four if need be.

One of the first guys we talked to about a replacement displayed some serious rim envy.  He smiled real big, couldn’t take his eyes off of them, started stuttering.  “Hey!  Eyes up here, buddy!”  He then informed us that they were quite rare.  Which led to the following succinct conversation.

Nicole:  “So, it’s going to be a bit hard to find an equal replacement?”
Envious Man: “Oh, no.  It won’t be hard.  It will be near impossible!”

A few hours of internet searches led us to some vintage rim and wheel dealers who will get back with us. This led to the big question… what were we to do while waiting a few days for their replies?

Vegas Strip Vegas, of course!

We figured we’d spend a night walking around sight seeing.  And then, we met Rahman.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         This is not Rahman.  But this is how Rahman looked at us.

He was a rep for a Time Share company.  They wanted people to come check out their offers in exchange for promotional gifts.  Five days later we had seen three shows including Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, ate at a great buffet which could have survived on the ridiculously decadent deserts alone, played $100 in promotional slot money and generated some pretty sore muscles / got in shape walking all over the strip. The grand total for our five day stay in Vegas… $15.

We had an awesome time but still no word on the center caps. After five days of non-stop entertainment, our senses were ready for a break.

IMG_1486 Can’t you just hear it?  Hear what?  Exactly.