Deserts to Oceans

Jeanne read information in one of her full-time rver’s blogs about boondocking behind Bally’s casino in Lost Wages, so we thought we would give it a go on our way to Lake Mead. Driving a motorhome with a toad through the heart of Sin City wasn’t as bad as I thought, but the traffic lights tended to be very lengthy in duration. We found the parking area for RV’s behind the casino employee parking area. It was a limited amount of spaces with RV space vying with big rig truckers who dump their second trailers there for temporary drop-offs. But we found a space. It was all pavement, and was strewn with garbage and dogshit from piggish human dog owners who failed to clean up after Fido(s).  We made good use of our one night stay here by donating to the local economy at several of the nearby casinos. Jeanne hit big on a couple of hands and promptly got bit by the bug at the Paigow tables. At the end of the night, even though we were smack dab in the middle of Vegas, the noise level was low so as to not disturb our beauty sleep.

Next morning we relocated to Lake Mead National Recreation Area. We chose to lay anchor at the area called “Government Wash”, a popular boondocker area. There is a very large, nice boat launch ramp with bathrooms and large parking area here, unfortunately the lake level is a bazillion feet down due to the drought, so the boat ramp is closed and unusable. We found a large area to pull into just past the boat ramp. The roads are rough, rocky gravel and it took a couple of tries to find a position that I could get level in without activating my “excess slope” warning. Also, there was evidence of more piggish humans with a lot of broken glass and some garbage strewn about the site areas. While we were here, there were only about 7-8 other boondockers scattered over the whole area, but at night and early mornings there was a lot of vehicular traffic going by us, mostly fishermen heading to and from the dirt boat launch at the end of the point nearby. This also seems to be a popular area for locals to come and party around the bonfires at night. Still, not altogether TOO noisy. We had more noise from the packs of coyotes that wandered through the campsites.

Government Wash, home for a stretch…

A view of part of Lake Mead, from our campsite.

“OK, everyone, let’s try to keep the noise down, shall we?!?”

Just one of the many cool sunsets at Lake Mead.  Is that a cow I see jumping over the moon?

Here come’s one of our neighbors, Wile E. Coyote. Is that an Acme rocket strapped to his back?
The Lake Mead area has many points of interest to check out. Hoover Dam was our first stop. Since the last time we were here, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge has been completed. We walked up on the bridge and got a spectacular view of the dam. We also got a spectacular view of the bridge from the dam. From the dam and bridge areas we could see just how low the water level was in the lake, and looking at the water it was just as clear as clear can be. It is still a very busy tourist attraction and again we passed on the tour of the inside of the dam (I don’t think my burgeoning bouts with claustrophobia would do well on such a tour).

Looking at Hoover Dam from the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge. You can see the water level beyond the dam…down WAAAAAAAY low.

From Hoover Dam, looking at a hot chick with the memorial bridge in the background.

Clear water behind the dam.
Rogers Spring was near the north end of the lake, about a half hour drive from our campsite. It is a natural hot spring and there is a hiking trail up the mountain for an overall view of the valley. The spring is an oasis in the desert…

An oasis in the desert…

Rogers Spring

A view from the mountain trail above Rogers Spring.
Redstone Dunes is a patch of bright red rock formations that look like you are in downtown Bedrock, home of the Flintstones. There is even a formation that is referred to as “Redstone Apartments”. The hiking among the formations is short but awesome.

Jeanne in the Redstone Dunes.

Taking a break in the rocks.

Another shot from downtown Bedrock…
While looking for “Bowl of Fire”, we stumbled upon an area called “Anniversary Narrows”. How appropriate since it was the day after our 33rd wedding anniversary. The narrows is a slot canyon behind the Anniversary Mine, up in the hills. We took the doggies on a walk through the narrows, it was a short walk (about 30-45 minutes, one way) and the rock walls were full of amazing configurations. There was a bit of rock scrambling we had to do, always fun carrying doggies, but overall the hike was moderate.

Headin’ up into the Anniversary Narrows with the doggies, a little rock scrambling but not bad…

Madison our cocker spaniel just HAD to mug for the camera

And Woody, our chihuahua mix complained, “You’re really not going to take me up that canyon, are you?”
Well, we finally did find “Bowl of Fire”. At milepost 16 off Northshore Dr. a dirt driveway leads back toward the mountains. Instead of turning left at the sign for Anniversary Mine (I think that is road 90), continue straight (again, I think that is road 94). After about a mile and a half, there will be a small marker that denotes no vehicle traffic on a dirt trail. The trail will lead you into “Bowl of Fire”. Once inside, you will know you are there, and you can hike in any direction, up any canyons, and see magnificent rock formations. And the beauty of it all is there is NO worry about directions, locations,  or getting lost. When you are done, just hike downhill. All downhill access leads to the main draw from which you came. Once again, the rocks remind me of the town of Bedrock. Very scenic views…

Lost? Oh well, all trails lead downhill, to the start.

There are those that insist on making cairns to help mark their trails…

…and then there are those that REALLY make cairns to mark their trails…

“Bowl of Fire” formations

More, kind of eerie formations.

Everything looks melted.
Before leaving the area we just HAD to hike the old  Railroad trail, from the visitor’s center to the dam. That trail winds up the mountain and through 5 train tunnels. Good trail to take the doggies; flat, easy, and wide. The train tracks and equipment have long since been removed and it was interesting to see that piggish humans existed even back when they dismantled the rails. Railroad ties, chunks of cable, pieces of train, and other related garbage had been chucked over the side and down the hill when they did the dismantle, and it is still there.

One train tunnel after another…

Jeanne and Madison heading into the darkness.

There are 5 tunnels on this trail, nice and flat and easy to walk.
Overall, driving the area of Lake Mead was very scenic. But I do have to say, between our times in Death Valley, Borrego Springs, particularly Lake Mead, and Las Vegas I was both saddened and enraged to see the extent of damage caused by piggish humans. Garbage, broken glass, dogshit, and grafitti was all about, marring all of that natural scenic beauty. Pardon my callous extremism, but I would like to see all piggish humans shot to death and their rotting carcasses left for insect feed and eventual fertilizer.

Out of Las Vegas, we planned on a few days stay at Joshua Tree National Park in California. We got there late in the afternoon, and easily found the BLM boondocking area popular with RVers near Chiriaco Summit. The problem we quickly discovered is there are only a scant few sites there that would be suitable for a 40 foot MH and all were occupied. We tried to find a vacant spot, but leveling was an issue. The last attempt at trying to level the rig got my front end ALMOST stuck in deep, soft sand. Thankfully, gravity won out and I got out of a bad situation and decided Joshua Tree was not for us this time around. We then decided to return to Borrego Springs for a few more days of desert boondocking. We took this time to hike in search of the dreaded Snake in the Desert. It was a short hike up into the hills of the Clark Dry Lake Bed area, and we found it. Then, it was on to San Diego.

The Snake in the Desert.

Here is a closer look.

One of the snake’s critter buddies…

Another of the snake’s critter buddies…

And still, one more…
Our first stop in San Diego was the Mission Bay RV Resort (Passport America participant). This was a park right on the bay, all paved roads and sites, with 24-hour security on duty. They had a nice dog walk area along the edge of the bay. One issue with this park is they do not have a lot of spaces (without having to pay for luxury sites) to accomodate bigger rigs. They have a 4-day maximum stay for Passport America, don’t take reservations for P.A., and if someone reserves ahead of a P.A. member, it might limit your possibilities. For us, they only had a spot for 2 nights with our P.A. Oh well, enough to get some laundry done and grocery shopping. We did not want to leave San Diego just yet, so we found the Sunland San Diego RV Resort in La Mesa for another 3 days, also a P.A. participant. I would say it is a safe bet we will never return to this one. It is adjacent to the I-8 freeway and the access road, Alvarado, is narrow at the gate. The traffic noise is horrendous all hours except for maybe an hour around 0300 hrs. Inside the park the roads are narrow, spaces tight, and the landscaping creates issues. There should never be any 2×4 framing used to separate different types of landscape materials where the framing is between your rig and the sewer hookup. That just creates issues for your gravitational draining capabilities. And trees should not be growing too close to sites, they tend to create brush scratch on your paint job up high. This park allows long term residency, as evidenced by nasty, overgrown, broke down trailers here and there. The park does have a clean pool, spa, workout room, and clean, keyed-entry bathrooms. 

While in San Diego, we day-tripped into Ocean Beach and walked the area. We also found “dog beach”, an area of beach that dogs are allowed on and can run off leash. While in Ocean Beach, we could not pass up the opportunity to dine at the world famous Hodad’s, a local burger joint.

Jeanne, downtown Ocean Beach, taking a break on this surfer bench.

And she met a new friend while walking downtown…

Hodad’s company wheels.

Dining in style inside Hodad’s.

The doggies doing some canine networking on Dog Beach.

Madison, the canine long distance swimmer. Check out the layer of smog in the background…
Now, I grew up in Orange County just north of San Diego. From my young years I remember when San Diego was picturesque to say the least. Clear blue skies, great temps, clean beaches. Now, some 50 years later, I am disgusted and thoroughly not impressed. I never imagined that one day I would see thick layers of smog near the beach areas. Grafitti scattered all over. Homeless derelict bums by the trainloads. Yeah, it was a dog beach, but, come on piggish humans, CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOGS! And of course, San Diegans now have my vote for America’s worst drivers! I never saw so many drivers changing lanes-s-s-s-s-s-s (not just one lane but crossing 3-4-5 lanes at a time) and cutting off others. Tailgating is a way of life here, too. I’m saddened to say, I can’t wait to get out of here…

Another view of the smog layer at the ocean…

So, with San Diego in my rearview mirror, we’re off towards Temecula and Borrego Springs. We are planning to meet Chad and Crissy (son and daughter-in-law) for some ATV fun in the desert at the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area. Ta-ta for now…

About rvrrat520

Recreational wanderers just livin' the dream while we can still get vertical.
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