We have been living in the RV for over 6 weeks– and on the road for 9 days–but yesterday felt like the real beginning of our trip. Yesterday morning I woke up to Jordan jumping out of bed— around 6AM— talking excitedly about the sunrise, and the tripod and the camera… and I may or may not have spit out a few half-awake angry comments at him before reluctantly dragging myself out of bed. I hooked the dogs up to their leashes and went outside to find him ankle deep in a hot spring stream, just to the left of our campsite, angling the tripod just right as he urgently tried to capture the red and orange of the sun rising behind the Inyo mountains. To say that I quickly regretted my bitter morning comments would be an understatement. My groggy state inhaled the beauty while the dogs sniffed through the wet grass.
When the camera died, Jordan made us coffee (smart man) and we walked the dogs through a patch of high desert sage, to a wild hot spring pool. A warm cup of coffee in my hand and legs thigh deep in a rushing hot spring… what a way to start the day.
As we walked back to our campsite, we smelled rain and saw dark clouds to the east. We had an appointment at 8AM to get the RV’s brakes checked and oil changed, so we had to quickly pack up and head towards Bishop. The rain started to fall as we pulled away, and as we headed towards Bishop I looked back at the Eastern Sierra’s to see their peaks covered in white. Snow, where there had been no snow.
It felt fitting and poignant that on the last day of summer, blessed by the first snowfall in the Sierra’s, we drove out of California for good. We had to wait around Bishop until 3 while the RV was getting fixed up. We have grown so used to having everything we need in our vehicle that we were catching ourselves all day in the Saab… going to grab something and then realizing it was in the RV. Before we got the RV, I had an image that we would be roughing it… having to give up a lot of security and stability as we left our solid home and moved into the transient motorhome. It has turned out so different. I feel so safe and secure in our moving home. Yes, there are ways we have to rough it. We have done a lot of dry camping where we have to be extra cognizant of water use, electricity use, etc. But that has not bothered me at all… and that has surprised me.
We tooled around Bishop for the day… picking up a couple loaves of bread at the famous Schat’s Bakery. We brought the dogs to the park, went on a walk and spent way too long in a Kmart. Finally we were able to pick the baby up at 3, with new front brake pads and a super clean bill of health and quickly hit the road as we had already lost most of the day. As we approached the Nevada border, it really sunk in that we were finally leaving California. I got a little teary eyed, and made a grandiose statement about us officially moving out of California which made Jordan smirk and roll his eyes but I think he felt it too. We followed these beautiful White Mountains towards the border.
Our trip had finally begun as we set off into the unknown of Nevada and beyond. We didn’t really have a set destination. We had a few options in mind— free rest stops or possible places to park when we were too tired to drive. Our late start to the driving day made us want to push a bit harder into the night. As we climbed a moderate pass in Nevada, we saw dark storm clouds to our north and east, the same system that had covered the sierras in snow that morning. The dark clouds spreading rapidly over Nevada’s bare landscape was ominous, to say the least. The storm caught up to us quickly, rapidly lowering the temperature of the air and showering us with hail and slush. We drove through it for a while, but when the thunder and lightning started and the hail and slush began to fall more heavily, we decided to pull over to let the storm pass. We sat quietly while lightning bolted to the nearby mountains; a growing stream of rainwater rushed down the now muddy hill to our left. After about a half an hour the storm had quieted so we moved on, heading towards Tonopah on Rt 6. I learned today that Rt. 6— a road that I am very familiar as it is the main highway on Cape Cod— used to be the only transcontinental highway… stretching from Bishop to Provincetown. I did a double take when driving in Bishop yesterday and seeing a sign for Provincetown… 3000 something miles away.
Maybe you’ve heard of Route 50— nicknamed the loneliest road— that runs through Nevada. Route 6 is said to be even lonelier… and for the almost 200 miles between Tonopah and Ely, NV, there are no services (in other words, fuel up in Tonopah or you’ll be up shit creek without paddle or gas). So by the time we got into Tonopah to get gas, it was dark and it was in the 30’s. We passed this eerie Clown Motel (seriously?) in Tonopah… which I hope adequately demonstrates the mood of a town on the edge of nowhere. At that point we made the call to spend the night at a trucker-free rest stop 25 miles east on 6.
It was nearing 8PM, and I haven’t mentioned this yet but it had been a super stressful day with the dogs as Hazelnut (who is just a little bit neurotic) had been super spooked by our day roaming around in the Saab, the storm we had to wait out, and the driving we had done that day. We even gave her a couple Benadryl to no avail. So we were tired, and weary, and the last 30 minutes of our drive made us feel rugged and baddass as we careened into the night, on an unknown road, heading towards a rest stop that someone had noted on a free campsite website in 2012. And then it started to snow. Did I mention how cold it was? Luckily we found the rest stop— and were the only people there. We quickly walked the pups and settled into warm clothes, had gin and tonics and tea for dinner and tucked into our warm down blanket hunkering down for the night.
This morning started much like last morning, jumping out of bed to catch the sunrise. Except this morning I was excited because we had no idea what our surroundings looked like. We rushed out of bed to an orange sky, snow covered peaks and miles of sage and brush.
We were still the only people at the rest stop, and I let a happy Hazelnut run free (and run she did) while Jordan climbed up on a mound that looked eerily like a fallout shelter. The rest stop was such a random place and was relatively mundane… but something about there was just something special about it and I don’t think I’ll ever forget how it felt to wake up to pink skies on that cold morning in the middle of nowhere.