I had originally thought that the latter part of March would be a nice time to visit Nevada. I was wrong. I ended up spending too much time reading the weather forecasts and planning my trip around the forecasts. There were two snow storms that came through Nevada when I was at the Valley of Fire. After that I thought spring had sprung and I headed north. But snow, rain, and cold weather (low twenties) kept happening.
After staring at maps and checking weather forecasts, I decided my next location would be the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. High wind warnings, potential rain for the next couple days, and rather chilly temperatures all were in the forecast. I wanted to be nestled into the rocks of the Valley of Fire campground protected from the high winds, with power to run my electric heater since my trailer propane heater was on the fritz, and be on paved roads if it rained. The park would be a good place to hang out for a few days with the poor weather.
Searching for the perfect camping spot, I drove on a road with my trailer that I shouldn’t have been on. As I usually do before my travels, I research where I can potentially camp before I leave. I had found a good camping spot that looked like it fit into the middle of nowhere category. I wouldn’t have to stay in the Death Valley National Park’s parking lot campground at Stovepipe Wells. But somehow in my research I missed the information that it was not a good road to travel with a trailer. I’m puzzled how I missed that critical information because I am typically very cautious. But I missed it.
I learned long ago that life doesn’t stop happening while traveling. Things break, dogs need to go to vets, and… tires need to be fixed. It is all part of the adventure. I try to laugh and go with the flow.
Back in the fall of 2020 I hatched a plan to head south the first of February in 2021. The plan was to get away from the Pacific Northwest cold and wet weather. I would drive south on I-5 to Bakersfield and then head eastward towards Death Valley and explore. Then covid hit California hard. Driving through California didn’t seem responsible with the ICUs full and I didn’t want to drive down the east side of the sierras pulling a trailer with the potential of icy roads. Surprisingly, California started recovering from covid in February. I made the decision to go south.
I started driving from Seattle and it took me five days to get to what I thought of as the beginning of the trip – Red Rock Canyon, California. This included an extra day waiting on the north side of the Siskiyous for the road conditions to improve. When I read the Oregon DOT site at 1:00 pm; it was 30 degrees at the pass, snowing hard, bumper to bumper traffic with a 60 minute delay. It was not a hard decision to check into the Valley of the Rogue Campground to wait the weather out. The next day was much better.
It was a long slog south, but I made it to Red Rock Canyon.
In addition to my interest in geology, I love human history. I remember as a kid going on family camping trips looking out the car window following the hillside scars of old roads twisting with the topography of the land. I always wanted to walk those abandoned roads and look for treasures from the past. In 6th grade I decided I wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. But then I changed my mind when I thought I would have to memorize dates and I wasn’t good at memorization. The strange logic of a child. In western Montana there is lots of history to explore.
After seeing a bit of Glacier NP it was time to move on. I was heading east then south. Driving south on Hwy 89/287 from East Glacier to my new home located at the Willow Creek Reservoir by Augusta, I was driving through wildfire smoke. Everywhere I looked I just saw smoky haze. I could only see a vague outline of the Rocky Mountains to the west. I set up my campsite at the reservoir and hoped for more. The next morning the skies were clear and I absorbed an expansive view. I was reminded why I go camping. The scenery was gorgeous.
Visit Glacier National Park? I had no plans to visit Glacier with the thought of lots of people and it being a not dog friendly place. But I realized I was close and it was the end of the season. So I called the Park to find out how crowded it might be and was told: ”It is better than it was this summer.” The man on the phone sounded tired. Not the most positive comment, but not negative. So I decided to go drive the Going To The Sun Road.
I’m off on a fall camping trip after too much thinking, analyzing, and twisting in circles about the pros and cons of going on a fall trip with covid19, wild fire smoke, leaving late in the year with shorter days and colder nights, and an old dog. My final approach was: “Just go,” if it doesn’t work out I can just drive home.