A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

18 Hours in 7 Days

Miller's Rest Area

We wound up staying a full week in the rest area that was posted for eighteen hours only.  No one ever came by to say otherwise.  Only the guy who collected the trash each day would come by and he couldn't have cared any less.  After a week though it was time to move on and Beans would miss her birds. 

Over in the grassy area I once again saw the resident Roadrunner.

He was quite comfortable in allowing me to come up close.

And you remember the guy on the tricycle with a trailer who looked like an old prospector?  Well he was still there when we left.  The only thing during that week was he moved out into the middle of the desert for a few days.  There he laid in the dirt, 95 degrees in the hot sun, no shade, not even a hat!  Insane!  He finally moved back to the cool shady rest area itself the morning we left.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Beans Big Adventure

This occurred two months ago.  I only now can now write about it.

One early evening sitting outside I heard Beans playing with something under the RV.  She had a baby mouse.  The next morning she had another baby mouse under the RV.  Where was she finding them?  Then I saw a baby mouse fall down from the front bumper.  The nest must be up under there somewhere.  Beans was occupied with the baby mouse and a lizard she had caught earlier.  I was occupied in looking under the front of the RV.  I couldn’t locate the nest and crawled out from underneath.  Beans was gone!  I looked everywhere.  I even got up on top of the RV hoping I could see her dragging the white cord from her harness in the brush.  Nothing.  I tromped around for what seemed nearly a half an hour looking and calling.  I was just sick.  Finally I stumbled upon her far behind camp.  The cord had got wrapped around a bush (obviously chasing a chipmunk) and she was stuck, just hunkered down covered in fox tails.  Let me tell you we both were so happy to have found each other.  I unhooked the cord and would come back for it later.  I hugged her and held her close.  She “talked to me”  the whole way back to the RV.  She was so happy I found her.  I cleaned her up and fed her.  She spent the next fifteen minutes or so just being near me reaching out with her paw to touch me, making sure I was there.  We were both worn out for the rest of the day from the trauma of the event.  She never darts away and will always stay near but it only takes one chipmunk and she is gone in a flash.  That night I laid in bed thinking what if she was still out there stuck somewhere?  If she didn't have on her harness with the long cord attached she would have come home.
The thought of being tangled up still horrified me and I struggled to get it out of my mind.
I learned a very big lesson that day.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Little House on the Highway

Thirteen years ago today I bought the Little House on the Highway

At the time I had a 1976 Winnebago Brave.  It was funky and fun but I was looking at taking longer trips now and wanted something easier to drive with some modern features.  On this day I was planning to drive to a nearby town to look at a BT Cruiser RV a private party had for sale.  That Friday morning before leaving the house I checked Craigslist again and saw a used 2006 Winnebago View for sale at a dealer's lot along the way.  I had never seen a used View for sale before. This was back in 2007 remember.  I thought I would just stop by and look at it, torture myself, and then continue on to see the BT Cruiser.  Now I had seen the new Winnebago Views at an RV show the year before when they first came out.  I was really impressed with the design and quality but knew I would never be able to afford one of these motor homes.

I stopped at the lot and there she stood along the fence.  A salesman wearing a Hawaiian shirt walked over to greet me.  Being he had just returned from vacation he wasn’t familiar with the RV.  He went to get the keys.  “This just came in yesterday.”  He opened the door and I was amazed at how nice and clean it was and even smelled new.  I mentioned this to him.  He said that they hadn’t even detailed it yet.  “This is how it was when we got it.  The previous owner traded it in on the new 2007 model.”  

The View sets on a Dodge Sprinter chassis with a Mercedes Benz diesel engine and drive line.  I asked the guy to start it up.  I was expecting the loud obnoxious diesel sound of the pickup trucks I saw all the time.  I was surprised.  It was quiet and smooth running.  I walked around to the exhaust expecting to see it belch black smoke from the pipe.  I saw nothing, I smelled nothing.  Now I was really interested.  They had it priced at nearly $20,000 less than the new sticker price. The salesman said “This wont last through the weekend.  One guy is coming by this afternoon when he gets off work.”  I knew he was right.  I would never have an opportunity like this again.  After the test drive I decided to buy it.  

What I feel happened here was this was probably one of the first used Views anywhere to be offered up for sale and they just didn't know the potential resale value of them.  Years later I kept looking and the price I paid was still showing up on 2006 Views five years later and beyond.  I have people asking every once in awhile how do I like my View.  I always find myself saying “It is the best investment I have ever made.”  Aside from owner/operator error I have never had a problem with The Little House on the Highway.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Phone Booth

Seen in the little desert town of Gerlach when leaving the Black Rock Desert

One cannot be bored while waiting for a call.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Beans’ Ambush Bush

She will crouch down behind this small bush, ears back, tail switching back and forth, chattering away for the longest time all tensed up to make a dash for the birds drinking water.  She will never get one but doesn't give up.  One time she was behind the bush at the water pipe and the birds came in close.  I don't these birds have ever had a predator come after them before. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Trailer


This trailer was sitting in the forest for as long as we were at Sisters.  It was there when we arrived on June 1.  I would pass by it every time I went into town on the motorbike.  There was never any vehicle to tow it with.  Only a bicycle.  One day I saw the owner of the bicycle.  He had long greasy hair and wasn't all there upstairs.  There was some definite mental issue with him so I always kept my distance.  Everything he needed he did so on his bicycle and he had to peddle two or three miles into town for supplies.  I wondered how he got the trailer there and did he leave before winter set in? 
When we left conditions were getting bad with the fires and smoke.  Two days later all the National Forests in Oregon were closed.  A day after that I received a severe air quality alert for Sisters.
I wondered about this guy and how he survived and what became of his trailer when told to leave.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Beans Remembers

When Beans and I are out for a walk I watch how much she enjoys being out in nature exploring and hunting.  Often as I stand there I reflect back upon her life before I adopted her at her age of approximately two years old.  She was living in an apartment with two dogs and a little girl.  I would wonder if she has any memory of that time and place.  One day I looked it up and learned this:

“Long term memory for a cat is more powerful (they were comparing it to dogs here).  Although a cat may lock only a few people or places into his long-term memory, he can remember them for years.  He can remember certain places or people for most of his life.”

Oh I am sure she isn't walking around thinking about her life before and comparing it to what she is doing at the moment but now I know that she knows she is having a great life from that what is stored in her long-term memory.

When the guy handed her off to me in the parking lot that day the last thing I said to him as I turned away to get into the RV is “She’s going to have a great life.”  I doubt that he could care any less but I know Beans life is infinitely better than his.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Miller's Rest

Fifteen miles north of Tonopah, Nevada

After leaving Walker Lake we passed through Hawthorne, Nevada where I stopped at the one and only liquor store.  What was so special about this store?  They accepted no debit or credit cards.  All purchases were with cash only.  I loved it!  It was like stepping back in time when life was so much simpler.  I thanked the nice lady for the highlight of my day.

After two hours of driving through a desolate wasteland with "No Services for 100 Miles" Miller's Rest area was an oasis for the traveler.  No semi-trucks allowed.  Nice.  We parked far away where there was a dribbling water faucet, the only water source for the birds.  Here I am topping off our water supply and this little fellow came right up to me.

Naturally, Beans loves this place.

These folks from Montana pulled in behind.  The wife drives the truck towing their yacht while he drives the huge coach pulling a cargo trailer containing who knows what.
It just boggles my mind the stuff people haul around traveling. 

Meanwhile this lady picked up wind blown trash around their area before leaving the next morning.  She was at it for nearly an hour.  My back would be killing me.  If this was a habit of hers, and God bless her if so, she should invest in some grabber tongs like I have.
She filled two large bags plus dragging some large pieces over by the litter barrels.

So don't ever underestimate the healing powers of the desert.
Someone drove off no longer needing their crutch.

Good to know.

There is a 18-hour limit as to how long you can stay here.  This fellow I know has been here longer than that.  Imagine a grizzled old prospector and that is what he looked like.  I refrained from taking his picture out of respect.  I am sure he had an interesting story but you could see he didn't want to be pestered.  I don't blame him none.  Anyway, a check of the weather shows that everywhere south of us is in the mid-90's and higher.  Nope. 
 I think we will stay here for a while and test the 18-hour stay policy. 

And for my dear friend Theresa, this scrawny chicken is for you.
He was right outside the door, maybe looking for Beans.
"Beep, beep"

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Walker Lake

There is nothing remarkable about Walker Lake but it was smoke free.

But it is free to stay at so that is fine with me.  Beans likes it. There are lizards here.

I took a walk down to the water's edge.
It stunk and is yucky looking.
I decided to not go in for a swim.
A quick read on Wikipedia reveals Walker Lake, a natural lake, 
is now nearly a dead lake void of any fish and bird life.  

The one pit toilet was worse and I'll spare you the sight behind the door.
It wasn't closed and maybe should have been.

You can just make out what used to be a campground at one time.

Still it was nice to have blue skies and clouds once again so no complaints.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Inside the Drive-in

The next morning I was extremely surprised to see clouds in a blue sky looking out the window.   It was going to be a fine day.

Inside the projection room.

The two portals where the projectors projected out from. 

Inside the snack bar.

The popcorn machine was still there.

The screen was made up of four by eight sheets of plywood.  I remember as a little boy going to the drive-in and enjoyed watching people shine their spotlights onto the screen playing tag before the movie began.  And I remember times when there was a malfunction like when the film broke.  Everyone would honk their horns as if that would fix the problem faster.

Steel girders supported the screen with pivot points in the ground so the screen could be hoisted up in place after being constructed.

And the ticket booth.

Don't be too surprised if we see the rebirth of the drive-in movie theater due to COVID-19.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

From Bad to Worse

We finally left the Black Rock Desert tired of not being able to see anything due to the smoke.  An hour and a half drive south brought us to Fernley, Nevada where I stopped at a car wash to get all the nasty alkali dust off of the RV, motorcycle, bicycle, cat...everything.  The smoke seemed to be even worse there.  After a stop at the grocery store we continued on south where I learned what worse really was.  Visibility was less than a mile.  Breathing was uncomfortable.  I finally put on my bandanna which seemed to help or at least I thought it did.

We made it to Yerrington, Nevada where I pulled into an abandoned drive-in movie theater for the night.

Just waiting for the movie to begin.  If it gets any smokier I won't be able to see the screen.

It wasn't as bad inside as long as I kept the windows and doors shut.
Once settled I received an email from a friend which included a link to a map with all the fires and air quality alerts marked.  
Naturally I had picked the worst possible place in Nevada to come to with "very unhealthy air".


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Random Finds

Just a capped pipe stuck into the ground that someone shot a hole into.

A geographic survey marker.

Well there are a pair of wire cutters that are going to be very difficult to restore.

Fence line along the edge of the playa near the train tracks that serves no purpose.

It is incomplete in length and broke down in places.  
No livestock anywhere around for miles either.

Oh wait, maybe it is for these roaming desert cats,

Oh, its just Beans.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Burning Man

Burning Man is a huge art festival held every year at the Black Rock the last week of August into the first week of September.  I discovered it by accident in 1995 while out on the playa for a Labor Day weekend.  Then there were about three thousand people in attendance.  I went every year afterwards up to 2010 when I quit going for it became too big with over 70,000 people.  This year the event was canceled due to COVID-19.  The website warned people to not go out there as law enforcement would monitor the situation.  We arrived a week after it would normally have ended.  

One day I rode Gracie the six miles over to where Black Rock City would have stood.  I wasn't surprised to find several camps there.  I talked with some of the people and learned that during THE week there was an estimated over a thousand people that showed up.  And the Sheriff's and Bureau of Land Management Rangers showed up also, but were real nice, told everyone just to be safe and leave the place clean.  I thought that was cool.  Now I was surprised to find one big art project had been brought out.  This is no small feat. These folks have to rent huge truck and trailers and fork lifts or cranes and bring them all the way out here to set up their art creations.  If you are interested in seeing more just Google Burning Man images and you will be amazed at what you see.  In regular times close to hundred art creations will be at the event ranging from small projects to huge massive wood art pieces and buildings which will be burned at the end of the festival.  In case you are wondering everything is cleaned up to a 'Leave No Trace' standard and a month later you wouldn't know a city of 70,000 people once stood there.