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Naked in the Desert

Posted on July 30, 2014 by 1 Comment

Driving on 50, you know what you’re going to get. Open roads and small desert towns left to crumble. The dust devils are continuous roadside attractions and provided us a little bit of excitement when we literally drove through one with the windows down. Just a little extra dust in the bus.

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Our destination for the night was a well known boondock spot on BLM land approximately in the middle of nowhere – Spencer Hot Springs. About 10 miles down a dirt road outside of Austin, Nevada. You know you’re getting close when you start seeing naked people peeking out of their RV’s. We weren’t aware of this little feature, but made sure to note the new rule of thumb : desert + hot springs + middle of nowhere = naked time.

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There were maybe 10 other campers scattered about a total of 4 ‘pools’. The pools are just steel cattle troughs with spring water diverted to them. We drove right past the first one solely due to the vision of the gentlemen airing out next to it. We made our way towards the back and stopped to chat with a robed Canadian guy sitting next to his truck with BC plates. He’d been there a month. He gave us the low-down and showed us the ‘best’ pool. But, we we warned, it was being monopolized by 4 ‘pit-bull’ ladies who had been camping next to it for the past 2 months. “Where’s the hot springs etiquette?” he pleaded.

Unafraid of the pitbulls, we pulled up to the tub, popped the top and jumped in. Within a few minutes, here comes our buddy, giddy at the chance to finally use the best tub. I will say this – a small cattle trough in the middle of nowhere is no place to share a soak with an old rotund naked guy prone to float. He was a polite conversationalist, though. Still not sure about the hot springs etiquette.

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Later, Bode and I took a night-time dip and stared at the stars in silence. Two military jets flew overhead in formation, then circled over us a few times before jetting off into the distance. We soaked in silence a bit longer until Bode simply volunteered, “I’m happy.”  The first time any of us has uttered the phrase in longer than I’d like to admit. It’s good to be back on the road.

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Filed Under: Nevada

Ely, Nevada

Posted on July 29, 2014 by 1 Comment

We got on Hwy 50 and started driving west. Loneliest highway seems about right. We were quite happy to cruise at 54ish mph and not worry about giant trucks constantly whizzing past us.

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Across the border in Nevada, we stopped at the railroad ‘museum’, which was an impressive collection of giant old locomotives. Huge toys – kind of like a giant model train set. You can go for a ride each morning at 9, but we were way too late and the guy said nothing was working today. First, his steam locomotive died, then he killed two diesels just this morning. Oh well. They’ve got quite a shop and it looks like a huge effort to keep these 100 year old trains going. As far as I can tell, it’s a two-man operation.

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Filed Under: Nevada, Utah

Driving Across Utah

Posted on July 28, 2014 by 2 Comments

Our rough plan is head to California – Bode wants to go to Alameda to see some friends and then go to Lego Land. I have an opportunity to connect to a work project in Brea, so we’ll go there. And, while we’re at it, we might head north a bit to visit more friends, then come back down the coast and stop in Los Osos to collect a burrito, then maybe make a taco run across the border. No guarantees, but that’s the plan as of this week.

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So, even though we wanted to go south and see Bryce, Zion and other baking desert sites, we’re now going to cook across Utah and Nevada in quick fashion. We’ll come back some day in the winter or early spring.

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We made a short run to Salina, Utah and camped for the night at slightly higher altitude and noticeably cooler temperatures. This is also where you hop on Hwy 50 – “The Loneliest Road in America”.

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Unsolicited endorsement: MSR camp stoves. I bought mine second-hand from a traveler in Peru several years ago. It was beat up, but worked fine. I cooked nearly every meal on it for a few years and beat it up some more. Eventually, it was beyond repair, so I just packed it away with plans to deal with it later. Once we got back in the US, I contacted MSR and told them just that. They said to send it back with $25 to cover ‘repairs’ and they sent me a brand spanking new stove. I’ll be a customer for life.


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Filed Under: Utah

Moab and Arches

Posted on July 27, 2014 by 6 Comments

It’s worth noting that we’ve seen a Westfalia on the road every single day so far this week. But, still no T2′s.

We had a sweet camping spot on BLM land next to the Colorado river that allowed us to take a dip and cool off when the Utah heat was unbearable. And, I’m already doing campsite repairs. Somehow, my pricey high-power second battery-isolating relay blew out while driving the other day. Now, I just manually jumper a wire across to before we start our driving day.

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We didn’t know this, but if you arrive at Arches National Park before opening hours (7:30 AM), there is sign that says to just come on in – no charge. Since you should strongly consider ending your summer day in the park before 10AM, we highly recommend getting here early anyway. Daytime temps are about 110F. It’s hot. There’s no shade. Bring lots of water.

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We only did a few short hikes – seriously, there’s no shade here – before heading back into town and deciding on a campsite with a few amenities. We parked next to the RV’ers and tried to fit in. Thing is, nobody was home.  All of these folks pull up, unhook their tow vehicle, plug in the RV, turn on the A/C, then drive away in the car. Sometime after dinner, they come back to their chilled RV and go to bed.

I feel like a sucker. We’re sweating outside at a picnic table all day and taking cold showers and throwing water balloons at each other to avoid overheating… and pay the same price as the people pulling kilowatts when they’re not even there. 37 bucks a night! I literally fell asleep on our picnic bench last night since it was just too hot to sleep in the bus. I woke up when they turned on the sprinklers. Clearly, we’re doing it wrong. Time to go…

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Filed Under: Utah

Post 1000

Posted on July 24, 2014 by 7 Comments

…and that’s a thousand blog entries. It only took about five years.

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If you read all of them, then you’re in the club.

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Filed Under: Utah

Life Elevated

Posted on July 23, 2014 by No Comments

The only thing we knew about Fruita was that it was home to Mike The Headless Chicken and some good mountain biking. Probably more than most people know about Fruita. It turns out they have dinosaurs too. We were happily rolling along, so didn’t stop to camp at a recommended spot near mile marker 2.

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Instead, we left Colorado and were into Utah. Due to the pot laws, we half-expected to see police blockades and mandatory vehicle searches at the border, but instead just a big sign.

Things are flattening out. And, it’s hot. Really hot.

Who’s idea was it to go to Utah in July?

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Filed Under: Colorado, Utah

River Rats

Posted on July 22, 2014 by 4 Comments

It turns out the best way to get to the Utah border from here is to drive north to Kremmling, then cut down an unpaved road that takes you back down to the interstate near Edwards. That way, you don’t have to cross the Continental Divide again.

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It was a beauty of a drive.

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Somewhere before Bond, we came across a big river rafting outfit with tons of campers, teepees and revelers. One big party full of river rats.

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It’s good to be back on the road.

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Filed Under: Colorado

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