Weekend in Vegas!

Weekend in Vegas!

A few days before Christmas, we decided to head to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway. And instead of wasting valuable poker money on hotel rooms, we decided to take Matilda with us. The plan was to park in the Rio parking lot, and stealth camp for two nights there.

Matilda

Plans are fun. And pointless.

As we were leaving Preferred RV Park in Pahrump, we stopped at their on-site propane fill and filled up. I napped the 60 miles to the Rio. Upon arrival we found a level spot in the back of a large parking lot and went to turn on the propane. And it was broken.

We went to Lowe’s to find a knob replacement, but they didn’t have one. We called multiple camping and RV supply stores, but no one sold just the knob. We finally called a place called CampOut Inc. and Trailer Supply. They didn’t sell just a knob either, but said they would take one off of an extra tank they had in storage.

Not all heroes wear capes!

Mr. Write and the customer service guy at CampOut Inc. tried their best to fix the knob. But to no avail, because the older fellow that had filled our tank that morning at Preferred RV was actually an undercover superhero that forgot to check his strength while making sure our propane was turned off, and now it was fucked.

I’m just gonna turn this knob a little bit more, Bub.

The entire valve needed replaced. CampOut Inc. became our own superheroes when they told us they would be able to get us in the next day for repairs. Yay! We had to empty the freshly filled propane tank before they could work on it. Between the emptying of the tank and the repairs, it would take about 3 hours and  $300.00 – so much for saving that valuable poker money.

Without a working propane tank, we needed hookups, so our stealthy parking lot camping was out. We ended up getting a space at Main Street Station RV Park – $20 for the night…but they also hold a $100 deposit. It was a bit of a hassle getting the space, but we did manage to have a good night anyway.

Why do you need a $100.00 deposit for a $20.00 RV space? …”because it is our policy to have a $100.00 deposit for all of our rooms…” Um…what?

We ate dinner at a Las Vegas buffet, and we played poker at Binion’s Gambling Hall – the place that made poker famous.

Shuffle up and deal!
The Original Home of the Poker Hall of Fame
I’m not the short stack, yet!
The place that made poker famous.

Leaving the Main Street Station RV Park the next morning was almost as much hassle as getting in, but we managed to get back to CampOut Inc. with time to spare for our repair appointment. We wandered around with the dogs for a few hours while the repairs were being done, and got to see a few cool things.

Like this RV that pulled in for repairs, too! 
The Mighty Thor
Bumblebee and Wolverine
I may have had a nerdgasm while checking this thing out.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an RV!

also…

Whatever the fuck this is…

CampOut Inc. got us up and burning again pretty quickly, and even filled our tank back up for us. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, go check them out on Fremont Street – great people!

Upon arriving back at Preferred RV Park in Pahrump, we told the manager about the repairs we had to have done, and they issued us a reimbursement check with no problems.

Good customer service can make crappy situations so much better!

Thank you, CampOut Inc., and Preferred RV.

Walker Lake – Hawthorne, Nevada

Walker Lake and Hawthorne, Nevada.

16 miles northwest of Hawthorne, Nevada is the Bureau of Land Management Walker Lake Recreation area. The lake is 50 square miles – but nowhere near as large as it was at the beginning of the 1900’s. There are signs as your drive through the campground displaying where the water levels used to be.

No worries. It’s only water.

The campground is only $6.00 per night, with 50% discount if you have the Golden Access Pass. It is dry camping, but there are vault toilets.

Only $18 for a 6 night stay.

Even if you’re not a morning person, make sure to get up early at least one day while camping along the water. The sunrise is breathtaking.

Good Morning!!

We really enjoyed the view and the peace and quiet.

View out our front door.

Nearby, the Town of Walker Lake has not done as well as the lake has, as it has already dried up.  

A tumbleweed made it to the water…a tumblewood’s dream.

Along the southern border of the lake is the Hawthorne Army Depot, which is the largest ammo depot in the world.  

World’s Largest Army Depot – aka The Big Guns

With such a large Army depot nearby, one would think that the town of Hawthorne would be thriving – and one would be wrong.  Hawthorne is doing better than the Town of Walker Lake, but not by much. There are multiple motels that are closed, stores that have shut their doors, and buildings that are falling apart.

But they do have large…
…balls.
And adorably painted propane tanks..

Hawthorne is very proud of their Army depot, so they have an ammo museum (free admission!) with all types of bombs, missiles and other exploding fun. And a tank.

What’s this bomb for? Oh, just general purpose bombing.
Bunk replica…no, you can’t take a nap. I checked.
Top secret stuff.
Gas mask. Are you my mommy?
Boom.
Tanks. You’re welcome.
Smiling missiles are the best missiles.
…I bet.
Um. Sir? Could you cross your bombs somewhere else?
Bomb Cart

While patronizing a local store an air raid siren went off and all the locals just kept shopping like it was no big deal. Apparently it just means that it’s noon, so we don’t worry about air raid sirens in Hawthorne.

‘Merica
The city park has windmill art made out of old bomb casings.
This art is the bomb.
Freedom windmill

The El Capitan Casino and Restaurant and Joe’s Tavern appear to be THE happening places in town.  El Capitan has an excellent burger and Joe’s Tavern has a Sunday Football Potluck with cheap beer. 

The people of Hawthorne were kind to us out-of-towners, which is harder and harder to come by these days. They appreciated our business, and wanted to share their history with us. If we find ourselves nearby again, we will definitely stay a few days to see the sunrise over the lake and go enjoy an El Capitan Mountain Man burger. 

The Spirit of Halloweentown – St. Helens, Oregon

Where do adult rving nomads go for Halloween?

 

Halloweentown!

It’s been years since I watched this movie with my kids and I don’t really remember much about it, but we were in the area in October, so we went to take a look.

Time for Halloweentown!
If you’ve seen the movie, you should recognize the building – City Hall, St. Helens, OR
The Spirit of Halloweentown in St. Helens was voted that best Halloween celebration in Oregon.

Spirit of Halloweentown takes place every year for the month of October in St. Helens, Oregon. There isn’t much that is unique about the town in general – until you visit their old town. The  Historical District is charming, and would have been a lovely visit even if it wasn’t during the Halloweentown festivities.

The Historical District of St. Helens takes their Halloween celebration quite seriously!
“Scarecrows” line the streets…
The businesses in the historical district really go all out for this yearly celebration.
Milo and Rusty were pretty excited about Halloweentown, too!

There are tons of activities on the weekends in October, including meeting with some of the actors from the movie.  There are skits, concerts, photo-ops galore, people in costumes, kids all dressed up, haunted houses, food court…St. Helens has fully embraced their claim to fame by being the town that Halloweentown was filmed in.

A lot of the houses in the historical district play along too!
Need a ride?
This little girl loved this little fluffy puppy…
Just some skeleton critters climbing a tree…
Animal skeleton, human skull, with a rat in its mouth. Hello nightmares.
And the band played on…
Rusty and Milo trying to hail a cab…
“Why don’t we talk about how illegal it is to drive without eyeballs?” – Dylan Cromwell, Halloweentown
Michael Jackson made an appearance.
Jack was hanging out there, too.
Views of the crowd – and it was a slow day.
This lovely lady, Winnie, was doing a little Hocus Pocus right in front of City Hall!
Sarah and Mary hanging out behind their big sis…because she is slightly terrifying…
See? Just slightly…

The Spirit of Halloweentown was a very cool experience, and I highly recommend going, especially if you have kids that are fans of the movie! You can find more information on their Facebook page.

Stonehenge – Maryhill, Washington

While staying at Cottonwood Canyon State Park in Oregon, we decided we were interested in visiting Stonehenge. Wiltshire, England seemed like too far to go, so we went to Maryhill, WA which was only about 30 miles away.

Stonehenge Rocks
Did you know that Stonehenge was made by Chuck Norris stacking blocks as a baby?
Is there a Paperhenge? Scissorhenge?

The Maryhill Stonehenge, built by Sam Hill, was the first monument in the United States to honor the dead of World War I. The center altar stone is lined up with sunrise on the summer solstice. Hill had incorrectly believed that the original Stonehenge had been used as a sacrificial site, therefore constructed the replica as a reminder that humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war.

“Hello, Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandorica, takes the universe!” – The Doctor
“Stonehenge, where the demons dwell Where the banshees live and they do live well Stonehenge, where a man’s a man And the children dance to the pipes of Pan.” – Spinal Tap
“In memory of the soldiers of Klickitat County who gave their lives in defense of their country. This monument is erected in the hope that others inspired by the example of their valor and their heroism may share in that love of liberty and burn with that fire of patriotism which death can alone quench.”
The memorial is worth the drive over the Columbia River, and most certainly worth the time to appreciate some of those that gave all.

If you are interested in visiting other Stonehenge replicas in the United States you can find a Roadside America map here.

Cottonwood Canyon Biking – Wasco, Oregon

Guest Blogger – Michael Parker
 (He’s the husband and has to do what I say, so not really a guest, but it sounds cooler)

Take a moment and close your eyes… I want you to imagine something with me (I know you’re peeking – How else could you still be reading this?):

It is millions of years ago and a young river has begun its work sculpting out layer after layer of rock to create a canyon filled with prairie grasses tucked between basalt peaks.

Okay, you can open your eyes now (stop faking it, I know you didn’t really close them – we already talked about this). Did you see it? No? Well, then here’s a few pictures.

The John Day is the the third longest undammed river in the U.S. But I believe that if you ain’t first, you’re last…so coming in third is just not good enough.
A bike path running along side the river.

Let me tell you what you’re looking at; this is Cottonwood Canyon in Oregon. The canyon was carved out by the John Day River so the state park we stayed at could be built. The state park, conveniently named Cottonwood Canyon State Park, has bikes you can check out to cruise some of the trails

Go ahead. Take one for a ride. … … … … It’s too easy to make this awful, so I’m going to leave it alone.

So I went for a ride on a bike that turned out to be a time machine.

The chameleon circuit has finally been sorted.

The history of the formation of the region is laid out before you on these trails. Like an enormous novel that took thousands of years to write each single page, the canyon tells the story of a time when Mother Earth was a bit more feisty and stressed out; throwing lava around, shoving piles of subterranean rock into mountains above the surface, all while stripping chunks away with water. What we are left with is an amazing , awe-inspiring display created by the grandest architect of all – nature.

I just can’t explain how much this wall rocked.
Mother Earth would like you to take notes on this geography lesson, so she doesn’t need to cause a rock slide to teach you the lesson.
The Cliffs of Insani…..uh….Slightly Scary!

Whether you decide to hike them, or bike them, when you stroll down these paths take your time. Mother Nature took around 16 million years to design this canyon – don’t be in such a rush that you miss the details she put into it.

This path took millions of years, plus a couple more with a park ranger.

Footnote about what I learned about myself:

This was my first trail ride on a mountain bike in many years and I am glad it was an easy ride because I am now very aware that I am still overweight, out of shape, and getting older everyday. Thankfully they had a few spots along the path for break. I used every one of them.

I tried out each of the resting areas to make sure they are all in working order for our readers who decide to visit.

Astoria, Oregon

After the awesome (yet CRAPPER), time at Fort Stevens, we took a drive through Astoria to see the sites.

The Wildlife
As we were pulling out of Fort Stevens State Park there was a small group of elk leisurely grazing right next to the road.

This one was pretty gimpy – if you look at his right back leg, it looks swollen.
These elk were just a few feet from us.

The Astoria Column
The Astoria Column was finished in 1926. The Column is a historical monument which tells the story of the discovery and settlement of the Columbia River until the arrival of the railway.

I’m sure the men that constructed this did not intentionally create a phallic symbol….

The monument only costs a few dollars, but it is good for the entire year in case you want to visit again – or gift to someone else that is going. (I don’t know if you are really supposed to do that, so you didn’t hear it here!)

The phallus is a symbol of power and male sexuality. — You know what they say; Big column, little….
The men of the phallus.

The Goonies
The Goonies was filmed on the northern Oregon coast, including locations in Astoria. The old Clatsop County Jail was in the movie, and it is now a Film Museum. We also sought out the house from the movie, but sadly they do not welcome guests anymore.

There will be no truffle shuffle here.
You schmuck! Do you really think I would be stupid enough to kill myself?
Goonies never say die.

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
The Peter Iredale shipwreck was also in a few movies, including The Road starring Viggo Mortensen. The novel, The Road, was written by Cormac McCarthy and is an awesome read! The story takes place after the apocalypse, telling you about a man and his son trying to survive.

Scene from The Road.
View of the Peter Iredale Shipwreck
The wreck waits for the apocalypse to bring the rest of the world to the same condition.
Wear your life preservers in case of sinking ship.

Astoria is lovely with views of the Astoria Bridge from most of the town. Over 75% of the homes in the city were built prior to 1959. The old homes are large and beautiful, with attention to details. 

Gorgeous homes!
The Astoria Bridge.

Visit the City of Astoria. 

Oregon’s Central Coast

Oregon’s Central Coast

I have managed to wrestle the computer away from the dogs so that I could get back to work on my own blogging, but I imagine that they will take over again! Once they learn a new trick...

Beverly Beach State Park is about five miles north of the city of Newport along the central Oregon coast. I would love to tell you wonderful things about the park, but we barely left our trailer because they have mosquitoes the size of tanks.

Actual Size.

The one thing we did notice at Beverly Beach is some really cool trees they have there. These high-rooted trees grow this way because of high water in the soil.

The trees make the park feel like a magical realm where gnomes and fairies could be hiding.
Sir Didymus awaits your arrival to help guide you through the bog of eternal stench.
And none may pass without my permission!
A wraith guarding the tree nymphs
A gnome home.

Tillamook Cheese

If you are traveling the Oregon Coast, Tillamook Cheese Factory is a required stop. I have an unnatural love for cheese – and free cheese really tickles my pickle. 

Slug Bug

Once inside, at first glance, I thought I was going to get to pet some cows – but, sadly, they are just plastic, which explains why it doesn’t smell like cow crap inside the cheese factory.

Not a real cow.

There are a bunch of displays explaining how the milking process works, along with information on how they make (and age) their cheese.

A farm milking station – or maybe something from the farmers pleasure room. I try to not judge what tickles someone else’s pickle.

This huge line is for free cheese.

Because Free Cheese.