I’ve Got a Pocket Full of Money and 14 Days

Exclaimed a vacationing Californian in the site next to us here at Lower Lehman Creek Campground in Great Basin National Park when I asked him where he was headed. I loved his carefree attitude. It’s the same way we feel. The hell with the rising cost of travel, lets go see things.

Which brings to mind another interaction with a Californian I had which was quite the opposite. We were at a private campground doing the usual, laundry, tanks, water, etc. There was a feller next to us in a giant bus having trouble with his inline water filter. I had a couple spares and had in mind to offer him one. To start the conversation I said, “that’s a nice rig you have there.” He turned around shrugged at me and pompously said “I know.” And that was that. My spare water filters remained unmentioned.

I was mighty ignorant about the Great Basin. I thought from the top of Buck Mountain here in the park I would be able to see the whole basin. That was not so at all. I learned that the Great Basin includes 6 states and Baja, Mexico. It includes Death Valley’s lowest point in the contiguous United States and Mount Whitney the highest. It is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds – those with no outlets – in North America. I had no idea!

We were hoping to be able to see the famous Bristlecone Pines but the few remaining trees are tucked into areas that we could not get to. These pines are some of the oldest trees on the planet. Susan was pretty disappointed to miss them.

Image from https://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/identifying-bristlecone-pines.htm

Lower Lehman Creek Campground is a first come, first serve campground. When we arrived we had our pick of a handful of empty sites. Not the hustle and bustle of Lees Ferry, probably because it was early in the season and it was cold, cold, cold. This was also the start of a long stretch of very remote travel and camping where we could communicate with family only occasionally because of limited cell service. We took Shiny places we probably shouldn’t have. But boy did we see things.

The road up Buck Mountain was closed due to snow but we managed to get part way up. The pictures do not do the view justice by any stretch.

Please enjoy this short slide show from around Lower Lehman Campground. Photo’s by Susan.

We were to have cold nights for the next two months until we reached the pacific coast. Our catalytic heater got a work out as did Jenny our solar suitcase and at times Hondo our generator.

We made our way to Ely, (pronounced EEL-EE) Nevada along Highway 50 AKA the Loneliest Road In America. We pulled into a KOA for a night to do the usual laundry, tanks, water, etc. We explored Ely a little bit. Ely is literally in the middle of nowhere. When this settlement runs out of something they wait for the next truck to come in with a resupply. Sue went into the local grocery store for a dozen eggs and came out empty handed as the price for the few dozen eggs that were left was $8.99 per dozen! Unh-uh.

Speaking of eggs, I was in a store shopping for a dozen eggs recently and a lady in front of me was opening up egg cartons then closing them and putting them back on the shelf. I asked her what she was looking for. She told me that after working on an egg farm her whole life she never bought a carton of eggs if any of the eggs had the small end pointing up. She went on to say that there is an air bubble in the big end of the egg and if the small end is pointed up the bubble works it’s way up and ruins the egg. Has anybody ever heard of that?

Ely, Nevada KOA

We saw a brochure in the KOA office for a historic site called the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. We decided to check it out. I’m glad we did.

It took 5 to 6 acres of trees to fill just one of these bad boys. That’s 35 cords of wood. As you can imagine it did not take long before the forest was gone. The charcoal was used to process silver ore at a mine down the road.

Right next to the charcoal ovens was a state campground. We drove through to check it out. Beautiful, dry (no electricity) campground with large private first come, first serve sites. Not a soul around. Our type of place.

Our next stop was South Fork Recreation Area near Elko, Nevada. The 200 mile drive turned out to be one of the most exhausting drives we’ve ever had. For most of the drive the Ruby Mountains sat majestically on our left. We could see the snow falling on the mountains and occasionally we had to drive through light snow. But the wind was pushing and pulling poor Shiny and Blue all over the road. It was a battle staying on the road even after we slowed down. And let me tell you slowing down did not make the locals happy.

Then two incidents happened that scared the bejeezus out of me. The first was a military jet of some sort that used Shiny for a practice strafing run. At least that’s what it seemed like to me. The first thing I noticed was a shadow over Blue and then a second later an ear drum busting jet engine roar. Geez Us!

The second incident took place on I80 just before we reached Elko. Since it was snowing in the Ruby Mountains we decided it was best not to cut through the mountains on highway 229 but stay on 93 to I80 and take that to Elko then down to South Fork. Well I80 was heavy with traffic, mostly truckers. It was windy and with truckers passing me constantly. It was a nasty drive anyway. But then we saw what looked like a dust devil on steroids ahead of us doing it’s dance. I thought we would get by it but at the last second it swerved right into the back of Shiny and pulled us into the breakdown lane. I thank my lucky stars it pulled us into the breakdown lane and not into the double trailered FedEx truck a few feet to my left!

Sue and I both decided that we needed to get off the road ASAP. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we ended up at the Double Dice RV Park & Grill.

It wasn’t a bad campground. They had nice showers, video cameras and all. (Did you catch that in the picture?) It seemed like the type of place people stopped at for a night just to get off the Interstate, like us.

We met a couple of interesting characters here too. One was a Californian who schooled us for an hour or more on diving for Abalones. You wouldn’t think there would be an hour or more’s worth of story telling about diving for Abalones but….

After mentioning to another person we were on our way to South Fork State Recreation Area he tried to convince us that it was not worth the 20 mile drive because we would have to drive over the same road to get back to I80. As it turned out, It was very much worth it.

South Fork State Recreation Area with the Ruby Mountains in the background

South Fork is a first come, first serve campground, our favorite kind. Our site had electricity and there were water spigots spaced around the campground. When we arrived, there were plenty of sites overlooking the lake. We selected a nice one.

Lots and lots of birds here. That made Susan happy, and when Susan is happy I’m happy. We saw a handful of birds for the first time and one of the biggest dang nab Red Tail Hawks I have ever seen in my life. Please enjoy this slide show of some of the birds. All photo’s by Susan.

And then there was the Great Horned Owl nesting in a nearby tree, complete with 3 chicks.

One day we took a drive to Thomas Canyon Campground in the Ruby Mountains. What a beautiful place that is. It is a US Forest Service campground with water spigots but no electricity. The Lamoille Creek runs right through the middle of the campground. The only people there when we drove in were the two camp hosts. And, no wonder! It was spitting snow and well below freezing. This would be a nice place to set up camp a little later in the season. Some sites were right on the creek.

We left South Fork and made a quick stop in Winnemucca, NV for one night to stock up on groceries, laundry and whatever else we thought we might need for an extended period of time with no services. Then we headed for Virgin Valley Campground in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

Can you say REMOTE?

I received some nice sympathy comments on my last blog post referring to my camping pet peeves. In that post I complained about generators, bright lights on campers, dogs barking, and dog poop. So here is another pet peeve of mine that falls under the Noise Pollution category.

It’s 7 am, Your lounging in bed. The guy next to you wants to get an early start so he takes out his cordless impact gun (designed to remove the lug nuts from wheels) and proceeds to lift his 4 stabilizer jacks. You hear a rapid BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM lasting 4 or 5 seconds like a machine gun going off outside your window. There is a pause then BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. Another pause as he moves to the next stabilizer then BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. A pause and then one final time BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM. This insensitive human being could have done this silently at 7am with his hand crank but he feels the need to use his testosterone laden Impact gun. It’s an obnoxious sound anytime of day but 7am?

I don’t want everyone to think that I go around 24/7 fuming about my pet peeves (I don’t). So I want to end with something that makes me happy, very happy.

Connor imitating Grampy’s beard with soapsuds


  1. Loved the commentary and am in awe of your experiences. I have trouble keeping up with where in the world you are. I think I need to consult a map. Everything seems like it’s just “out there” somewhere. Snow? cold weather? Wow. I have to add a hometown pet peeve. Leaf blowers at 7AM. I feel like saying, “If you don’t want leaves on your driveway, go back to the city.” great picture of Connor.

    1. Thanks Winnie, just keep in mind that we are a couple of months behind on the blog. The hometown pet peeve sounds like a good idea to me!

  2. love your story telling and the eggs stay fresher when placed pointy side down, I have never heard the other story.

  3. Makes my day to read your tales. Just for a share just about 50 years ago I do think it was in ‘72 I tented in that KOA and it was$3.00. We pulled in around 11pm coming from Tahoe I think. Night travel there was interesting. We were speeding and limos passed us going a lot faster no doubt headed to the casinos. Those were the days. Happy trails,guys. Jane Keniston.

    1. What an adventure!! You guys have been traveling through some places that few other people we know have traveled. In fact, you might be the only ones, LOL. We absolutely love Great Basin NP, and Lamoille Canyon, and we’ve even stayed in the Virgin Valley campground with that wonderful natural warm pool! Happy trails! 🙂

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