Fair warning, Friends & Family! This post is a long one with lots of photos. It covers our 2-month excursion through Nevada, and gets you all caught up to where we are today. I hope you enjoy it...
From Lake Havasu City, we drove north to Las Vegas on Monday 2/20. We stayed in Las Vegas for a week and a half, from 2/20 - 3/3. Originally, we were headed to the Henderson Elks Lodge, but didn't like the neighborhood when we got there. So, the first 4 nights we parked in the trucker/RV area at South Point Casino.
On Tuesday, I had the great pleasure of introducing Mike to my Uncle Craig, Aunt Pat and Cousin Jai. We all really enjoyed seeing each other again.
One morning at South Point, we woke to find two of the longest tractor-trailor combos we've ever seen, parked on either side of us. One trucker was delivering a brand new rock crusher.
It was amazing to watch that rig pull away. Compare it to the regular-sized tractor/trailer in the background for scale...
We needed to wash clothes and dump our tanks, so we moved to Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort for the weekend. The Oasis is really the only RV park for a Class C motorhome on the south side of town. It's a nice place to stay; just a little more crowded than we like.
The Oasis has more than 650 sites and the campground was almost completely full. We were lucky to get a space; they told us they are usually booked solid during March and October. I was uninspired to photograph this campsite. It was just a place to wash clothes and park for the weekend.
One of the highlights of our Vegas visit was going to see "O" at the Bellagio. I never saw that show the whole time I lived in Vegas because the tickets were expensive and never discounted for locals. When Mike asked if there was anything I wanted to do this trip, the time had finally come to see "O"!
It felt good to be "back in Vegas" again. The Bellagio was as beautiful as ever. Its Conservatory was all decorated for Chinese New Year:
We saw the Sunday 2/26 performance of "O'. It was a great show and well worth the price of admission. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Some friends of ours invited us to park in their neighborhood for a few days, so we moved from Oasis RV Resort on Monday 2/27. It had been several years since we'd seen Bob & Mimi and we really enjoyed catching up with them.
Because our parking spot was well-shaded and we didn't want to run our generator in their neighborhood, our batteries became depleted over the next 3 days. We desperately needed sun on our solar panels. So we said our goodbyes on Thursday 3/2 and moved to the Cracker Barrel parking lot near the Silverton Casino to soak up some sun.
During our last day in Vegas, I visited my accountant and got my taxes done (Yay!). Mike & I also took advantage of some last minute shopping before we hit the road. The next morning, we left Las Vegas and headed north in search of a new home base.
What? No, we're not giving up on RV life already...
Since we don't live in California anymore, we needed to choose another state to "belong" to. It's called "establishing a domicile state". I'll write a separate post to explain how we did it, step-by-step. For now, just know that we needed a receipt for one month's rent from somewhere in Nevada...
The first stop on our Nevada tour was Pahrump. It had been more than 10 years since I'd been to Pahrump - it's grown into quite a nice little town! We spent Friday night there in the Gold Town Casino parking lot. The weather was so nice we wanted to stay in Pahrump a little longer, so we set out to find a new campsite on Saturday morning.
We found the Pahrump Elks Lodge, but their parking lot wasn't very level. We looked at a couple of unremarkable RV parks, and then we found the Escapees Co-Op of Nevada Inc Pair-A-Dice Park. This is the ultimate full-timer's RV park!
Pair-A-Dice Park has everything a full-time RVer could want; a community of like-minded individuals, an air conditioned clubhouse with a library, crafts room, exercise equipment, TV room, game area, dining room and commercial kitchen, a fully-equipped workshop with every tool imaginable, and an area where you can service and wash your vehicles. Each site includes a small storage shed/living structure and is owned by a member of the Escapee's RV club. Pride of ownership is apparent everywhere. The permanent residents were very friendly & welcoming.
With access to water, plenty of sunshine and a dump station, we elected to boondock there from Saturday 3/4 - Monday 3/13. Our solar panels, charger/inverter and battery bank did their jobs and we lived comfortably off-grid in Pair-A-Dice.
One of the day trips we took from Pahrump was to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. This is the largest remaining oasis in the Mohave Desert very near Death Valley National Park. Here more than 10,000 gallons per minute flow from underground springs year round! This refuge is home to more than 25 species found no where else in the world. It was amazing to see so much water in the middle of the desert!
We intended to spend some time in Death Valley National Park, but by the time we were ready to leave Pahrump, it was too hot in Death Valley, so we continued north instead. We'll visit Death Valley some other time.
If we had been able to stay for a month at Pair-A-Dice Park, we definitely would have. But they didn't have a space we could rent for that long, so we had to keep looking. We said goodbye to Pair-A-Dice Park on Monday 3/13 and headed north on Highway 95.
We drove through miles and miles of desert as far as the eye could see. We finally reached Goldfield, once the largest town in Nevada. Now, it's barely more than a ghost town in the middle of nowhere. Here is where we really began to feel like we were going back in time.
Remnants of mining operations were scattered near town and historic old buildings lined main street. We would have stopped here for the night if it had looked more inviting. But Goldfield seemed just a little too sleepy for us. So we continued north on Highway 95. The further we went, the higher in elevation we were. We had left the 80 degree days behind.
We arrived in the cute central Nevada town of Tonopah a little while later. This town was established in 1900 when one of the richest silver strikes in history was discovered here. This silver discovery saved Nevada from bankruptcy and gave the state it's nickname, "The Silver State". Many old buildings had been restored and evidence of its mining history were everywhere.
As we made our way through town, we noticed several places that allowed free overnight parking. We had reserved a campsite at Tonopah RV Park, but we didn't need a dump station and had plenty of water, so we decided to boondock for the night instead. It was Monday, 3/13.
We were delighted to find an Elks Lodge in Tonopah! Within seconds of pulling in to the small parking lot, Brother Elk Bruce appeared and gave us a tour of the Lodge. Although there is no official campground there, Bruce gave us permission to park in an adjacent lot for as long as we wanted to. This was in a much better location for a walking tour of downtown.
It was funny to be camping within sight of a Tesla charging station in the middle of the desert. It certainly seemed out-of-place amid the old buildings and abandoned miner's shacks. You can barely see our RV in the distance..
Bruce was a wealth of knowledge about Tonopah. One of the sights he recommended seeing was the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility just north of town. That afternoon, we took a drive to find it. The facility looked like something out of a science fiction movie. We weren't allowed past the gate, but there was an information station just outside the fence.
This method of energy production is not trouble-free, though. We overheard a conversation between two locals that tank corrosion is a continuous problem, as might be expected when using liquid salt.
Our new friend Bruce highly recommended the self-guided walking tour of the Tonopah Historic Mining Park on the northside of town. The next morning, we took his advice and spent a few hours roaming the park. It was very interesting to see how the miners lived and worked in the early days. We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon here.
We still wanted to explore the Mitzpah Hotel and some of the other buildings downtown, so we decided to spend a couple more nights in Tonopah. As we walked along Main Street, we learned that Tonopah considers itself the "Home of the Stealth". The Stealth Fighter (Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk) was based at the Tonopah Test Range Airport and was a common site in the Tonopah skies while it was still a classified aircraft.
The Mitzpah Hotel has been beautifully restored and renovated. It's a member of Historic Hotels of America. The bank vault in the lounge is evidence of the banking office that once occupied the hotel lobby. The antique furnishings were beautiful and, of course, no Nevada hotel would be complete without some one-armed bandits.
Supposedly, the hotel houses a ghost named "the Lady in Red". Legend has it that she is the ghost of a prostitute who was beaten and murdered on the fifth floor of the hotel. Apparently, the hotel staff hides a mannequin dressed in red inside various guest rooms and offers a discount if you find it. One guest told us the mannequin scared the bejesus out of her when she opened the closet door in her room. :D
We were pleasantly surprised by Tonopah. We might have stayed longer, but we were at 6000 ft. elevation and a storm was coming. Temperatures were predicted to be below freezing, so we decided to continue north on Highway 95 toward Reno on Thursday, 3/16.
I had identified a couple of rural Nevada towns that might be suitable as our new home base. I'd never been north of Pahrump, so had to rely on what I could see through Google Earth and Wikipedia. I was looking for an acceptable campsite that we could rent for a month.
There was an outside possibility that Mina might work, but the "RV park" there was a joke. We continued on.
I had high hopes for Hawthorne, but once we got there, we couldn't leave that area fast enough. Hawthorne is home to the "World's Largest Army Depot" and is surrounded by thousands of ammunition storage bunkers. It was creepy. We didn't like the vibe in that town at all.
Another town I thought might work was Yerington, which was almost perfect. But the only RV park in town turned out to be very depressing. We couldn't see ourselves being happy there for a month. We ended up boondocking on a side street Thursday night.
The next morning, we had a look at the map and considered our options. I felt certain we find an acceptable RV park somewhere in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. Mike did some research and found an RV park in Dayton, NV that might work, so he called and made a reservation for Friday, 3/17.
Dayton RV Park turned out to be exactly what we were looking for! It's a very small, well maintained and cheerful RV park. Cute as can be. There is one very good grocery store just a mile or two from the RV park. For everything else, there's Carson City. The Nevada state capital is just 10 miles away. And if you can't find what you need in Carson City, Reno is just 45 miles away.
Dayton is where gold was first discovered in Nevada in 1849. Old Town Dayton is full of historic old buildings dating back to the early 1900s.
Our overnight stay turned into a week at Dayton RV Park, and we began to explore our surroundings. We made the short trip to Carson City and saw our first herd of wild horses! It was incredible to see them roaming freely and living off the land.
On the first day of Spring (3/20), we went to Virginia City. It was a quiet Monday morning and we had the place almost all to ourselves. What a trip back in time that was! I grew up watching Ben Cartwright and his boys visit "Virginia City". It was a surreal experience to be there myself.
Virginia City was a mining boomtown that sprang up almost overnight in 1859 after the discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver ore. Many of the original buildings are still standing today. It was a lot of fun walking around this old western town.
One day we took a trip over the Sierra Mountains to see Lake Tahoe. It was about a 45 minute drive from Dayton. Snow was still on the ground in the shady spots, but the road was clear. Mike couldn't stop himself from taking a minute to play in the snow,
It was still cold on the lakeshore, too. I can imagine how nice it is there in the summer. On our way back, we had a beautiful view of Eagle Valley and Carson City.
There was still snow in the higher elevations surrounding Dayton. Daytime temperatures in the valley were generally in the mid-60s, though. It was very pleasant between storms. I don't know if the weather has been normal for this time of year, but storms have been blowing through here on a weekly basis. And when I say "blowing", I mean winds of up to 25 mph! We were shocked to wake up one morning to a snow storm!
Luckily, the storm was short and the snow didn't stick.
As our first week in Dayton was coming to an end, we asked the RV Park manager if we could stay for a month. We were in luck and obtained a rental agreement for a month; our first step to establishing Nevada residency!
We've been living at Dayton RV Park for more than a month now. I'm happy to announce that we have officially become Nevada residents! Now that our business here is taken care of, we're free to move about the country! We're both ready for a new front yard.
Here's a map showing our journey through Nevada:
Our next destination is Moab, UT. We're going there to meet a few friends for some Powered ParaglidinG fun. It'll be exciting to explore Utah for a while! Can't wait to tell you all about it.
My next post will be a step-by-step guide for nomads about "How To Establish Nevada As Your Domicile State". If you're interested in following along with us, please subscribe to Our Permanent Vacation by clicking this "Subscribe" link. That's all for now!