At first we thought crossing the Utah-Nevada state border might be a bit boring, after being totally wowed by southern Utah during the past few weeks. But on this route into the state we enjoyed stretches of gorgeous mountain ranges, a vast treeless valley floor, and seas of sagebrush on dry desert. Continue reading
After an exciting night at a Casino parking lot, we purged our water tank of the mineral water from Tecopa and continued on with Arizona as the next destination. The southwestern states were very much in our minds as we experienced a wet and cold summer in Alaska. Every time it rained there we longed for the dry, sunny and mild winters which can be had in the southwestern states. We longed to be in Arizona this winter to hopefully bask in the sun and stay dry. Don’t get us wrong, we had a fantastic summer in Alaska, despite the almost-constant rain. So after trekking southward for the past two months, we have finally arrived at the Grand Canyon State.
Weaving thru the fringes of Nevada and California, we crossed into Arizona and immediately “lost” an hour of our day. Arizona is the only remaining state to not follow the Daylight Savings Time (DST) change. That means it stays light out a little later, so it’s ok by us!
Our first stop was Bullhead City, located on the Colorado river across from Laughlin, Nevada (where the casinos are). Arizona and Nevada are bordered by the Colorado River and we found the location of both cities (Bullhead City, AZ and Laughlin, NV) interesting. When we crossed the Colorado River we either gained or lost an hour, depending on our destination. So, if you live in Bullhead City and work at a casino in Laughlin, you must leave for work an extra hour early – bummer! But ok, you also get home an hour early every night.
Bullhead City was named for Bull’s Head Rock, an old landmark located along the Colorado River. In the era of steamboat travel up the river, it was used as a navigation point. Unfortunately, we did not see this rock formation as we were told the water has covered it and only a small, undistinguishable part remains.
But first things first. This stop was mostly for Betsy. The mud, bugs and grime from Alaska and Canada, coupled with a recent sand storm have accumulated over time, and she was very dirty. Figuring that it probably wouldn’t rain on her again for quite some time, we thought this a good opportunity to do a top-to-bottom spick-and-span cleaning job. At the Ridgeview RV Park we learned that a couple of guys from the local cleaning service would make a house call to our site and give Betsy a good scrubbing and washing. The cost was $100, far less than would be required to make Steve get out of his chair and do it himself. We scheduled them immediately and the next day Betsy was looking much better.
Enter Steve…during the next three days he labored with the pleasure of protecting the roof and polishing the entire coach until Betsy gleamed like new. Then he cleaned and lubricated all of the compartment doors. In the meantime, my contribution in this beautification project was as the interior master-duster and wheel polisher (8 wheels – Steve said I did such a great job on the RV wheels that I could do the car wheels, too. Whoopee!). Finally, we cleaned all of the interior windows and removed the screens for a good washing. Wow, the old girl looks like new!
This stop was also a time to reconnect with my cousins, Merla and Estela, who live in Bullhead City. We met their families and spent an evening with them over a delicious Thanksgiving meal and some playing of Texas Holdem. We also played the dice game LCR (Left-Center-Right), since it was a fairly large group. If you want to have a simple game that is always a smash hit at a party, pick up this inexpensive game at a toy store – it rocks!
Before strong winds kicked up we managed to walk quite a bit, but got in only one decent hike. On this hike I saw for the first time BeepBeep – RoadRunner. I loved the cartoon about the adventures of the Road Runner and Wile E Coyote, so I got very excited, snapping pictures like a maniac. Look, isn’t it cute! This was the first time I had seen in person the bird that always outsmarted the hapless coyote.
After spending a very productive Thanksgiving week here it was time to move along to another place that we have heard good things about and been wanting to visit for some time – Lake Havasu and the London Bridge. Stay tuned!
After soaking in the natural hot springs and enjoying a therapeutic massage with Karin Pine (who managed to hit all the spots that needed healing) at Tecopa Hot Springs, it was time to get rolling again. The view while on highway 127 W continued to keep a smile on our faces and the camera shutter clicking.
After only a couple hours of landscape-gawking, we made a (diesel) pit stop at Primm Valley near the stateline of Nevada and California. We thought it might be fun to hang out at the casinos there for a free night of camping, plus we could fill up Betsy’s 100-gallon tank with reasonably-priced fuel.
We parked in one of the biggest parking lots we’ve ever seen, behind Buffalo Bill’s Hotel Casino where we had the place almost to ourselves that night. It was so huge that Fedex and McDonald’s use it for a couple of hours a day as their transfer point for trucks heading east and west. Steve was amazed at the show they put on as several tractor-trailer rigs arrived and then transferred one or two or three trailers to other trucks heading to their appropriate destinations.
Since we don’t gamble, why stop here? Is there anything else to do other than gambling? Oh yes! Buffalo Bill’s houses the one-time tallest roller coaster in the world, the Desperado. In fact, it made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s tallest roller coaster in 1996.
Steve rode this coaster with his Dad soon after it was completed, and again with me in 2000 (it scared the bejesus out of me). Since this was sort of along our route, he planned to ride it again. This time he is doing it alone, no sir not me, I’m done with roller coasters, no thank you. And so he did a tripeat alone on the Desperado and was happy as a clam after his exhilirating 2 min and 43 second ride.
Across the freeway is another interesting attraction, if you know who the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were. Personally I didn’t know anything about them until we went to Whiskey Pete’s Casino. We visited the free mini-museum depicting their outlaw careers. I learned that Bonnie and Clyde, in their early twenties, were a notoriously violent bank robbing couple during the depression. The museum holds the actual bullet-riddled car they were in when they were ambushed by a police posse. Also displayed were Clyde’s clothing and other personal effects.
Having been in the quietness of the desert for many days, this was a fun stop in the midst of the noisy casinos, at least for one night. After purging our water tank of the Tecopa mineral water, we headed on to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State….back to the desert landscape we go!
In the past we have driven over most of highway 395 but never stopped to smell the roses, for we had to go from point A to B and overlooked many beautiful locations. Besides, those times we drove during summer and winter season and it is quite different now in the fall. We will be sharing beautiful sceneries that are often overlooked by Californians when driving through this road, us included.
Leaving Sparks, Nevada behind we head south and took highway 395, the Scenic Eastern Sierra Nevada. For several hundred miles the highway traces the dramatic eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, diving down into the deepest valley in North America (Death Valley) and passing roadways and trailheads that lead to all kinds of natural and historic wonders.
Our first stop on this highway was at Bridgeport, where we set camp to explore and be awed by the beauty of the surroundings. Bridgeport is a popular destinations for fishing – a town backed by the jagged spires of the Sawtooth Range, aptly named because of its knifelike spires of granite splitting the sky with splendid accuracy.
Driving around here we noticed the vast sage brush rangelands with wide open spaces for which the west is famous, and the vast ranges where the happy cows from California reside. We believe they are happy, since we noticed them smiling each time we took pictures of them!
The interconnected Twin Lakes (located about 13 miles west) are beautiful and worth the drive; each well over a mile long, and about half a mile wide. These lakes are nestled under the jagged crest of the Sawtooth Ridge, and the icy blue Matterhorn Glacier; they’re really something to look at.
More beauty along the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway in Mono County.
Our digs with a view at Paradise Shores RV park.
The mornings at Bridgeport were “brisk” – into the low 20’s and a little colder than we like to subject Betsy’s systems to. The elevation here was over 6400′, so our next stop will be at Bishop, which is closer to 4000′ and will give us milder nights.