Nickname: Silver State
Capital City: Las Vegas
Famous for: the slot machine, Burning Man
We only spent a few days in Nevada. So close to our first big stop in Bakersfield, we were driven by time. We have family there who were expecting us and we had our damaged wheel and a few bits waiting to be fixed.
We planned to drive long days so left Wendover early morning in the fog and headed south-west on Hyw 93, the most direct route for us.
Still snow patches here and there but generally the weather was warmer and warmer as we made our progress. Our campsites were the desert on public lands where we had our first opportunity to climb out of our top hatch make ourselves comfortable on the top of the box and enjoy stargazing in the mild February desert nights.
We read somewhere about an RV park just few miles from Beatty, where they had 3 private hot spring in antique bath houses which sounded cool. And as we were heading that way we thought it’d be almost a crime not to stay there for a night. We rolled up in the early hours of the evening got ourselves a good spot had a short hike up the hill then headed to the antique bath house They had 3 different houses with different temperatures. The “antique bath house is a bit strong title -I imagined something like at the end of the film Maverick (with Mel Gibson) sitting in a bathtub in a gorgeous colonial spa…. this was more like 3 tin sheds with stingy lights but I liked the pool. I guess they wanted to leave a natural feeling so the bottom of the pool was gravel which was slightly weird first, but over all we did like it. It sure was private and we stayed there for a long time enjoying the hot water. Here we met a lovely couple from Oregon. We had a very nice chat. They were on their way to Death Valley (as we were too) and recommended an RV place to stay where they were planning to stay. It was good to know as usually we rarely have forward plans on camp sites.
This was our first official sunny and genuinely warm morning. No jackets, no scarf or gloves! We set off first thing to the nearby town, Beatty for a quick breakfast and coffee then planned to move on. As always we were looking for the cafe where locals go, and we found it. A bright, little cafe with ’50’s design and delicious eggs & bacon (and some pancakes) An eccentric, middle aged gentleman from the opposite table was interested in our vehicle and our travels so we invited him to sit with us. We had a great long chat and as our time in the cafe was approaching to the end he invited us to his home which was just across the road. After we paid we headed to his property and parked up. His place was a warehouse conversion with unique interior. Rupert, our host was waiting for us with the kettle and the fire in the fireplace on. He was an artist, a designer, a collector of antique art and furniture, an architect, a big thinker. His place was a real inspiration of great living space with style. He had a large black and white cat shyly hiding from us and a Harley Davidson parked up in one of the corners of the warehouse.
He was a racing-car enthusiast (he designed a racetrack which he was planning to bring it alive southern Nevada) and he was a lover of stylish coffee table books. Rupert is Canadian born from English parents and though he never lived in England in his heart and in his all being he seemed very much English to me. As John is a designer, architect and engineer himself, I think this was one the reasons they were gravitated to one another and enjoyed each other’s company very much. Regrettably our time was running out -as we spent half a day at Rupert’s home, and we had to say goodbye and move on.
We were going to take Hwy 374 which is the shortest (and only) way to Death Valley but within a short 15 minutes there was a turn off sign to Titus Canyon which was effectively a scenic route to our destination. We decided to take this dirt road instead. (at this point we were more confident that our wheel would hold out) The dirt road was rough first and we were making a pretty slow progress but then when the hills started appearing the road surface turned smoother and so much more interesting. The narrow road wiggled upwards by the side of the higher and higher hills opening our view to wonderful mountains in the distance. There were some turns and twists that I thought we were too big for but as I was holding my breath and griping on the handle John effortlessly maneuvered us round up then down on the steep skinny route.
And after some long hours (at least it seemed long to me) we were over and on the other side of this beautiful and breath-catching hill-chains and rolled on to a flatter surface in a basin surrounded by mighty rocky mountains.
We found out there was an vintage automobile gathering over the past weekend in Beatty and many of the participants choose this route to leave instead of the highway so we had some company once we stopped for a short hill-climbing. There was a historic sign claiming that where we stand there are 100 years old supposedly Native American rock paintings -I wasn’t sure what they really were but it was a good stop for stretching our legs in the wonderful warm air. The oldsmobile people caught up with us. They were a cheerful bunch -some of them dressed in vintage costume emphasizing their love to the era. We equally admired each other’s automobiles, took some photos and they scooted on leaving a small dust cloud behind.
I mentally prepared myself for another hour or so slowly rolling up on narrow roads then down on steep ones to get over the monumental mountains ahead of us so I thought we better get going. As we were making our way towards the rocky giants, instead of going uphill we entered a breathtaking deep canyon that winded our way between smooth red, white, grey stripy rocks and eventually lead our way out to a sunny parking patch. The actual canyon drive took about 15-20 minutes and we didn’t want it to end. (the whole drive + hike was all together about 3-3.5 hours) The wonderful thing about this drive was that we didn’t know what to expect, and as it’s a one way only route the scenery was building up to the grand finale of the canyon. Number one drive for us! and any who isn’t in a hurry and don’t mind a little suspension work-out on their vehicle.
Somewhere through our drive in the canyon we crossed the state border to California. We arrived at an oasis of RV parks, shops, restaurant, bar etc in the desert of Death Valley and what we felt doing right away was to get a couple of cold beers at the bar before we check in to the RV park for the night. As we were enjoying our beer there was the lovely couple from Oregon walked in to the bar! We all cheered loud and greeted each other as old friends. We had a great evening and we got an invite for a hike in the Mosaic Canyon for the next day with them.
This was our first really busy and slightly noisy RV park experience -that just made us appreciate all our previous nature campsite more. As we had dinner and maybe a couple more beers we got to the RV place in the dark and just about found one spot to park up creating a little noise and a little diesel fume. Sorry.
After a patchy night sleep and about 15 people’s visits in the morning (completely new experience; in a busy RV park we can’t hide and clearly many people are interested in unusual RV vehicles) Anyhow, eventually we could set off with our friends for our hike.
The canyon was beautiful the four of us had a great time and lovely chats, John and I got to do a little rock climbing and go a little further in canyon which we loved. A few hours later we had to say goodbye to our new friends and make a move again.
We found a wonderful stop for our last night in the rocky desert. One more peaceful and starry night.
Tomorrow we’ll be arriving to Bakersfield where family and a few repair work are waiting. Next, Bakersfield, CA.