Ramblings of a Techno-Viking

Terrible Pahrump

(This post is out of order, I stayed in Pahrump, Nevada between Lake Mead and Palmetto.) While there is reportedly much BLM land around Pahrump, exactly where to spend a night or two was not obvious, so I decided to stay a night at an RV park. Terrible's Lakeside RV park is a couple of miles from the highway, but not hard to find. (Terrible's is a chain of cassinos.) I forgot to check if they took Passport America so I didn't get the cheapest rate, but I did join their club to get a better discount than the Good Sam one. You can also turn in receipts from Terrible's other businesses including their gas stations (the "Country Store" one had better prices than anyone else in town, but the ones at the casinos were significantly more) to earn benefits like meal discounts and free days in the RV park.

The "Lake" was more of a manmade pond, but the RV park was nice with grassy areas between sites. I noticed a lot of Rexhall RVs, and found out that a Rexhall club was meeting there. No cable TV or TV reception, Verizon signal was good. The casino itself was quite small, the buffet had little in the way of selection and the pie slice I had was not very good. Most buffet restaurants offer a better value.

Posted Thursday 03 May 2012 00:46 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 12 February 2014 18:54 UTC

Carson City -- State Museum, Capitol Building, and Nugget Casino

The Carson Nugget Casino allows overnight RV parking in their lot #4, which has lines marked for 35' RVs. You need to ask for a parking pass from their security office. The casino is in downtown Carson City, near the State Museum, Capitol Building, various state offices, two smaller casinos and at least half a dozen restaurants. There was no buffet when I was there. I ate breakfast in their Cafe, reasonable but not exciting.

The old Carson City Mint building is part of the State Museum. It is catty-cornered from the Nugget. The museum admission is $8, and it has displays on mining, minting, a ghost town, slot machines, natural history, minerals, native americans, and other things as they apply to the state. I was unaware of the border war between Nevada and California. The display on atomic testing was disappointingly small. It took me about 3 hours to see the museum.

The Capitol building has a free small museum in the old senate hall, mostly about the building itself and the politics of the state.

Posted Friday 04 May 2012 23:03 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Modoc National Forest

About 50 miles north of Susanville, California I camped one night in the Modoc National Forest. I took one of the gravel roads from highway 139 for about a mile and parked at a wide spot in the road. Not a good spot for solar panels, too many trees. It rained in the evening, then snowed as I was leaving in the morning. No Verizon signal.

The campground not much further down the highway was still closed for the winter. As I drove further north, I parked for a while since the snow was building up on my windshield. (More than the windshield wipers and defroster could deal with.) I check my email and continued on after half an hour or so.

Posted Saturday 05 May 2012 00:04 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Lava Beds National Monument and Indian Well Campground

Lava Beds National Monument is in north-eastern California, close to the Oregon border. It covers a portion of the Medicine Lake shield volcano, which is still potentially active but has not erupted for 900 years. The southern half of the park has many lava tube caves, a couple of dozen of the over 300 are named and have trails to them. I spent over two days in the park, and still had to skip some of the caves. The northern portion has other volcanic features and battlefields from when the natives where removed from their land.

Indian Well Campground is near the visitor center and cave loop. It has 43 sites on two loops, picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, trash and recycle cans, and water. There are no RV hookups, and 30 foot is the recommended maximum RV size. Each site is $10/day, (half price with senior or access pass) bring exact change. While the sites are reasonably large, most are not very private. There is a 0.2 mile trail to the visitor center from the upper end of the B loop. I used site B18, near that trail and nicer than many of the other spots. There are no reservations other than the single tent-only group campsite.

Mushpot cave is the only artificially lighted cave, it also has signs explaining various cave features. It is a good first cave to explore, only a little stooping is needed. Indian well cave had some interesting ice features in the bottom, where scrambling over rocks was needed to see them. A practice rescue was going on when I visited Valentine Cave.

It took me a full day to do most of the caves on cave loop that were not closed, skipping most of the crawling needed to explore some of the caves. My motorhome was left in the campground, and I walked the loop.

Hepe Cave is the only one that is off of a dirt road. The trail in the cave was slick with ice. There were ice features in this cave as well. Most of what was though to be permanent ice in Merrill and Skull Caverns has melted, and there are locked gates to protect what remains. Merrill Cave was used as an ice rink before the site was declared a national monument.

Big Painted Cave and Symbol Bridge, on the same trail, are the only two marked caves with pictographs. The ones at Symbol Bridge are much easier to see. I did not visit Pictograph Point, where there are more pictographs on a hillside.

South and west of Lava Beds is national forest, and to the north is Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge. There are more caves and other volcanic features in the forest, and the refuge has many birds.

Posted Wednesday 09 May 2012 19:02 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC

Bedroom Remodel part 1

The original bedroom layout in my motorhome did not work well for me. It had a "walk around" "RV king" bed, two shirt closets too short for shirts to fit in, six small drawers in two nightstands, a mirror/shelf, over-bed cupboards that could only be reached by standing on the bed, and some difficult to get at under-bed storage. Half the top of the bed wound up being used as additional storage, as did the walkways that were too narrow to walk in.

Since I was staying a couple of weeks at a relatives house with a 30-amp outlet and water available, I took the opportunity to get as much of the remodel accomplished as possible.

The first stage was the tear out. The mattress came out, one of the nightstand was removed, the shirt closet above it was cut down, and the bed support and from was cut down to the partition between the water tank and the under-bed storage. While a lot of the construction was done with screws, not all of them could be reached and some of the tear out was done with a three-pound hammer damaging some of the parts I had hoped to save. I wound up using my circular saw, sawsall, jig saw, and a hammer and chisel to do the tear out. (The hammer and chisel could reach places that the saws could not.)

When I found the bed support was a couple of sheets of thin plywood separated by small boards and foam insulation, I wound up cutting a few more inches off and putting a 5/4 by 4 board across the outside edge, attached to the small boards with flat angle and T brackets. To make the new bed support over 75 inches long, a frame of one by sixes was constructed and screwed to the floor and the existing frame. To fit a twin mattress 39 by 75 inches, I tried to make the support at least 40 by 76. The section over the water tank wound up being 44 inches wide.

To fill the eight inch gap to the wall, I started construction on a shelf unit. One 1x8 was screwed to the back wall, and another to the side wall with angle brackets. A single shelf has been installed so far, at about the height of the bed frame.

A piece of thin oak-veneer plywood was screwed to to bottom of the former shirt closet, with the back rear corner resting on the board screwed to the rear wall. Two of the drawer glides recovered from the destruction of the nightstand were screwed in, and the smallest drawer fits nicely and opens at about head level over the window.

Lessons learned:

  • It takes a lot of screws. A full box of 100 #8x3/4 inch screws were used, as well as all of several other sizes I had.

  • Nothing is square. Measuring four times and cutting twice is frequently not enough.

  • It's worth the extra money for straiter lumber, even if knots, etc. in cheap lumber won't show.

  • Everything takes longer and costs more than expected. (Actually, I knew this, but the project reinforced it.)

  • Home Depot seemed to have things that were a better match for my project than Lowes.

  • Home Depot will give refunds for unused things without much question, so buying extra and returning may mean fewer trips to the store.

  • It's worth buying a sharp saw blade.

  • Add two inches to the measurements from the longer of the short sides of my T-square.

Posted Thursday 24 May 2012 23:36 UTC
Last edited Wednesday 24 October 2012 04:12 UTC

McNeil Campground, Mount Hood National Forest

Mount Hood National Forest (in northern Oregon) is where I will be spending my summer as a campground host. Since the campground I will be at is still snowed in, I am currently at another campground, helping with it and getting others ready for the summer.

McNeil campground is several miles from the Zigzag ranger station, near the Sandy River. At $15/night ($8 for an extra vehicle) it is one of the cheapest my company manages. Each of the 34 sites has a picnic table or two and fire ring, and there are two sets of vault toilets in the campground. Some sites have enough room for an RV, others have the table and fire ring separated from the parking area by up to 50 feet. The sandy soil is mostly covered in moss, and there are many pine and other trees. There is no water in the campground, and while the river is close it isn't easy to access. There are hand pumps for water in the nearby Riley Horse Camp. There are no reservations at McNeil campground, but has not been busy so far.

Posted Wednesday 30 May 2012 22:53 UTC
Last edited Monday 10 December 2012 04:16 UTC