Category Archives: Nevada

Things you find in the desert and more

As promised in my last post this one is about my travels, mostly.
I had to go back to Las Vegas to get my camper re-fixed. The first repair job had a couple of flaws that needed to be fixed.
From Tonopah I headed south on highway 95 to Beatty. Once again, it’s a big state with a very sparse population.


My first stop was Goldfield, one of the old mining towns of yesteryears. The town once boasted a population of 15,000, now there are only 350 left, that’s half of the entire county population. Goldfield is the county seat for Esmeralda County. Never sure which homes are lived in and which are completely abandoned.

Downtown Goldfield

Goldfield is home to a great county courthouse and that’s about it. Efforts are being made to restore the old 1920 high school, a great brick building.

My camper 40 years ago?

Another great building is the now empty Goldfield Hotel. Most other buildings, commercial or private, are in bad shape. I am always surprised to see how little respect people have for their own property.

Dilapidated home and trailer

Junk everywhere in the front and back yards. This disrespect is unfortunately also found in nature where people leave all sorts of garbage behind, no matter how remote. Trailers and mobile homes are a constant in these communities and most look like they have not been fixed or taken care of in the last twenty

Dresser and radio

years. I am currently staying at a mobile home & trailer community and let me tell you, there are no homes in disrepair here.
I spent an hour walking around and taking pictures before I continued my drive.


As you might know prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada and you might also have heard about brothels. I had been wondering where those brothels might be, not that I wanted to frequent one. Then there it was, a big sign along side the road in the middle of absolutely nowhere advertising the brothel a couple of hundred yards off the highway; nothing fancy, just a mobile home or two. I “ran” into another one further south near Beatty.
One of the reasons I headed for Beatty was the “ghost town” of Rhyolite.

Rhyolite school

I had been told about it back in November when I visited Death Valley (another story I need to tell) and then again by friends here in Overton. Ghost town seems way too fancy for most of these places. Often there is not more than the foundation of a handful of buildings left. Rhyolite is a bit different and in many ways the same. Someone actually made the effort to supply some information about the remaining ruins and there are even photos of what this place looked like back in the 1930s.

Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot

The town once housed 8,000 people, but all that’s left are ruins of half a dozen or so commercial buildings and just one or two residences. People lived here up to the 1950s! The only structure with a roof is the Las Vegas & Tonopah train depot which has been fenced in to keep vandals out. Most of the buildings used to have two or three floors, but none of those remained. The marble floors somehow disappeared into thin air. People have etched their names into the plaster of the remaining walls. That’s what is called “Protect your history”.

The Last Super by Albert Szukalski

Next to the “official” ghost towns there are the strange things you can find in the desert. Right next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum, home to some interesting art projects.

Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by DR. Hugo Heyrman and Sit Here! by Sofie Siegmann

A few miles away you can find the remains of a cement company that never went into production. You won’t know this thanks to some signs, you have to actually research it on the internet.

Ruins of the 1930 Elizalde Cement Company

Crucified Jesus, near Beatty

More ruins

Maps can be misleading, better to always have a full tank of gas and food. I have seen plenty of times dots and names on the map just to find some empty buildings or just a collection of mobile homes without any stores of any kind in sight. I have been lucky so far, I only almost ran out of gas twice. You would think I’d learn (again, another story).
As I said, I had to go back to Vegas. Good thing I only had to stay for tow nights, one in my camper and one in a hotel. I made the best of my stay and visited Red Rock Canyon just to the west of Vegas. Beautiful place, great sandstone formations and a total contrast to Sin City. For my taste already too many people. Since I am always grocery store deprived I was very happy to find a Whole Foods store where I could stock up on some good cheese and other stuff.
From Vegas my trip went even further south, yes there is life south of Las Vegas, not much but some. Destination Searchlight, one of those dots on the map, but with two RV parks. I “mistakenly” ended up at the Cottonwood Cove RV park on the banks of the Colorado River, Lake Mohave more precisely; beautiful, quiet setting. I just wanted to check out the town before I settle in and found myself on the road to the river. The road was twelve miles long and it was going down hill for the most part. I knew it would take me a long time to drive back to the main highway and across the street to my “preferred” RV park. By then it would be dark. I had no choice but to settle for a place by the water. It did take me half an hour the next day to drive the twelve miles uphill.

Pioneer Hotel and Casino, Laughlin - holding on to the Old West

I left my camper at the RV park and headed to Laughlin, big casino town along the Colorado River. I crossed the river into Arizona and checked out Bullhead City. Not much happening there either. Got some cheap gas and had my truck washed and headed back to Searchlight.
Last stop on my circle tour: Boulder City, home to Hoover Dam. I am not a fan of tourist attractions, too many people. The dam is impressive.

Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Bridge (Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge)

There is also a new bridge that crosses the Colorado River just south of the dam. I walked across the bridge and got a nice view of Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, you can’t admire the impressive bridge span from this vantage point. The dam is all concrete, enough to build a 16’ wide 8” thick highway from New York City to San Francisco. I also walked across the dam, lots of people. There are two towers on the dam that house public restrooms great 1930s Art Deco exterior doors, reminded me of the Chrysler building in NYC.

Hoover Dam sculptures by Oskar J.W. Hansen

There were also two bronze sculptures that reminded me more of 1938 Germany.
I liked Boulder City. What I first noticed was how clean it was, sad sign.
On my way to Boulder City I stopped by (ten miles on a dirt road with the camper) one more ghost town. I think this was the last one for me. A handful of

Nelson front yard

people live in Nelson and everything is marked with “No Trespassing” signs.
Back home to Overton via the very scenic Northshore Road.

Northshore Road

At this point I have a bit of desert and ghost town fatigue. I’ll be leaving Overton soon, heading towards Arizona, another desert state :(.

Just a few facts:
My “little” circle 13 day tour of Southern Nevada: 1,300 miles
Total miles driven since I left New York last March: 25,000 – I slowed down since November.
Gallons of gas pumped: 2,100 – I wish I’d get better mileage
Will I be back in April? No.

Simple things are simply the best

I am back in Overton, Nevada where the weather has been wonderful. I have defrosted and I am sitting in the sun, in the back of my truck atop the Mormon Mesa as I am writing this.
I have been on the road now for a little over ten months and I am suppose to be back in New York by April. I just can’t picture myself back home without a camper or truck and without the freedom of traveling whenever and wherever I want. I don’t want to give up this lifestyle. Unfortunately, everything comes down to that pesky little thing called money. So, the other day I tried to figure out how much money I had spent during this trip and how much longer I could go on. There were no big surprises where the money had gone; gas, campground fees, car payments, insurance and food. I was a little surprised at the amount of money I spent on “dining” out and how little I had gotten in return. I recall maybe a half dozen meals that were really good and satisfying. I do travel mostly through small towns and the fact that I don’t eat meat makes it more challenging to find a good meal at a restaurant, diner or even cafe. I had the best cup of cappuccino in Bandera, Texas at the Dogleg Coffee House way back in July. It was so good that I had two cups and couldn’t go to sleep that night. I finally stopped wasting my money on watered down coffee and bought a French press.
I am not a great cook who comes up with fancy recipes, but I enjoy cooking. That evening I had bought some Brussels sprouts (I know not a favorite for many) and some red potatoes. I steamed the Brussels sprouts and boiled the potatoes. When done I added some fresh butter to both, a little nutmeg to the sprouts and some rosemary, from my friend Faith’s garden, to the potatoes. I can’t tell you how yummy this was. Home cooked meals ARE the best. Coming to think of it, the very best meals were the ones prepared by/with friends and eaten with friends.
At this point I have come to realize that I don’t need a fancy big apartment (not that I ever had one) and a ton of stuff. I am very happy in my camper that holds all the necessities I require. I have met some very nice people and have reconnected with old friends and in some cases deepened my friendships. I could, however use some more good grocery stores along the way.
Do I miss New York City? Not really. I miss some friends, but there is always the phone or internet to connect. New York is a great city with a lot of conveniences, but it is also a very hectic and stressful city. Have I found another place where I would want to live? No.
Hopefully, I will figure out a way how to continue living the life of a vagabond.

Next time, more about my travels.

P.S. Are you working on making your dream a reality?

Quick trip to Manhattan

Yup, it’s been too long. It was a relatively quick ride. I did, however, get stuck in the snow on my way to Manhattan, but don’t blame Mayor Bloomberg.
OK, let’s clarify. I did drive to Manhattan, but the Manhattan in Nevada, population 28. Yes, there was a Manhattan Storage, just a bit smaller.

Yes, there is another Manhattan

Before I went to Manhattan I had to stop by another former gold town now ghost town. I am still hoping to find my gold nugget. Unfortunately, Belmont was covered under about 14” of snow and I didn’t feel like wading through the snow never mind digging through it. The main street in Belmont was plowed, but not the two or three side streets.

Belmont Saloon

I tried to make my way to the intact looking courthouse when I realized that I wouldn’t make it on that road. I tried to go backwards, but just started to slide sideways towards the edge of the hill. The good old rocking back and forth didn’t get me anywhere. I had hit a patch of ice. Belmont has a year round population of seven and I was very glad that at least two of them were in town.

My rescuers, Henry & Ryan

I had gotten stuck in front of the Saloon and fortunately, Henry was in and helped me shoveling out the truck. Good thing I had my gold digging shovel with me. Despite the shoveling I still didn’t get anywhere. Thanks to the second resident, Ray, who pulled me out with his truck, but only after he put on some snow chains on his rear tires. Thanks guys!

There is not very much left of the old Belmont; mainly sidewalls of stone buildings, no roofs.

Ruins of the old mining town and the Belmont Courthouse

There is also an old brick smelt smokestack at the north end of town. The ruins are surrounded by some old mining equipment and the obligatory old rusting car. It is not all ruins; there are some new homes and stores which must come to life during warmer months.

The road to Manhattan was plowed and had only a couple of icy patches. There was not much happening in this Manhattan.

Manhattan Country Store

Couldn’t tell which buildings or businesses where occupied. It was late afternoon on a cold winter’s day and people stayed in.
I have to say, I was glad when I was back on black top and off dirt roads.

Both of these towns are about forty miles northeast of Tonopah.



Tonopah store signs

Tonopah is still a mining town, but its boom time is long gone. Did you know that Nevada is the third largest gold producer in the world?!? Only South Africa and Australia have a larger output, who knew.
Heading south in Nevada where temperatures are above the freezing mark.

Washed out roads, aliens and freezing cold

Oh, I am looking so forward to 40 F weather. I really cannot believe I am putting myself through this. I had not in the wildest dreams thought that I would find myself in a place with temperatures at around 12 F (-11 C). I arrived in Tonopah, Nevada, not Arizona, where the wind has been blowing at 20 mph and the temperatures have been steadily dropping. Tonopah is roughly 5,500’ (1,600m) above sea level and it shows. I taped up the inside of my door with plastic trying to keep the frigid air outside. It hasn’t helped a whole lot, but thankfully the wind has shifted.

highway 375 - Extraterrestrial Highway

Before I arrived here I spent the night in alien land aka Rachel, Nevada (pop.100) along the Extraterrestrial Highway or hwy 375.

UFO - really

The highway got its name after bright lights had been spotted in the sky. No surprise there, the highway runs along the Air Force Nevada Test Site. Fortunately, I made it thru the night without any incidents.

Rachel and hwy 375 - Extraterrestrial Highway

The Little A'Le'Inn - Rachel

The 110 mile drive from Rachel to Tonopah led through the desert with no gas stations, grocery stores or many signs of human life. I encountered maybe a half dozen cars on the 2 ½ hour drive. A sign at the beginning of the highway warns that there is no gas station for the next 150! miles.
The highway had 40 mile stretches that were straight as an arrow. Picture driving from Manhattan to the middle of Westchester without any cars, houses or trees; as far as you can see nothing but open space and mountain ranges. To give you a better idea of how large and empty Nevada is here a little comparison. Nevada has a population of 2.6 million people who live on roughly 110,000 square miles, compare that to New York City where over 8 million people squeeze into 310 square miles. Even New York State is only half the size of Nevada.

Rainbow Canyon

This post is going backwards. Before I left Caliente on Saturday I managed to drive down the Rainbow Canyon Road to the 1920 one-room schoolhouse in Elgin. The schoolhouse, now a historic site, has been closed to visitors since 2005 when the road was washed out.

1920 Elgin one-room schoolhouse

I ignored the “Water on Road” and “Residence Only” signs and made my way down a very pretty stretch of road. As the name implies, the mountains were of the colors of the rainbow, well almost. You had your standard gray and green and some really deep reds, very nice. The road was not bad either, except for the parts where the two lanes all of a sudden were reduced by Mother Nature one lane. The force of water is incredible. Don’t mess with Mother… Nothing stopped me; only when there were no lanes at all I decided it was time to turn around.

Washed out hwy 317

Disappeared road

In my last post I mentioned wild horses. I finally saw some. Unfortunately, they were not doing anything too wild. They were just grazing along side the road. I really would like to see a herd galloping across the prairie, guess I have to rent a movie for that.
More ghost towns tomorrow and then I’ll be heading back south to slightly warmer temperatures.
Stay warm.

Tonopah Test Range

Gold rush

Things you need to search for gold:

1 – a place where to find gold
2 – a shovel can be helpful
3 – a flash light
4 – a healthy dose of adventure spirit

The good news, I had three of the above ingredients. The bad news, I didn’t find any gold. But, I had fun trying. I did find some cool looking quartz and they say where there is quartz there is gold…
The flash light would have come in handy when I stumbled across this great long mine shaft (ground level). Without light I didn’t dare to go in very far. Shot some pictures in the dark. Turned around just when the shaft spilt in two.

Two mine shafts

Looked like the kind of place I would like to check out more closely, but that won’t happen; leaving for the Extraterrestrial Highway tomorrow. That’s Nevada for you.

Delamar - ghost town

The place I was checking out is called Delamar. Delamar, now a ghost town, is located fifteen miles off the main highway on a dirt road in the hills. The road is not bad up to a point when it runs uphill, gets narrow and very rocky. This used to be a mining town about a hundred years ago. Now all that is left are some stone walls of the old buildings. Unfortunately, the buildings didn’t just fall apart, no they were vandalized. Parts of the mining operation and mining shafts are still standing.

Mine shaft

I did consider climbing down a ladder into one of the shafts until I checked out the steps of the ladder and decided it would be wiser to stay above ground.

Entrance to mine

One thing I saw a lot was horse or mule manure. However, I didn’t see either. The area is known for wild horses. It would have been neat to see some wild horses run across the prairie.

I’ll be checking out some other old mining towns on this excursion, maybe I’ll have more luck the next time around.

Cathedral Gorge

Cathedral Gorge

Cathedral Gorge

Not quite what I had expected, yet beautiful. I dubbed it “Little Bryce”. The great thing was that there was no one else around. No sounds except for some birds and the crunching of the snow under my feet; bliss.

Tomorrow I am off digging for a little gold . I’ll keep you posted.

On the road again

Joshua trees in the Delamar Valley

After staying put for two full weeks, it was time to go on a little road trip. I get antsy when I stay put for too long. So, I decided to drive a big circle through Southern Nevada, visiting ghost towns and looking for gold. This used to be the place of big gold and silver mines back in the 1800s and early 1900s. Keep your fingers crossed, maybe I get lucky.
I had looked at the weather in the towns I am planning on visiting and the temperatures had not been too inviting (2 F / -17 C at night). Don’t ask why I went anyway. At least there is no snow on the roads and my little space heater is doing a great job. I do, however, remember having said way back when that I did not want to spend any time in freezing cold weather. Oh well, things change.
The landscape of this country never stops to surprise me. The drive was basically through the desert. Sagebrush and the usual desert shrubs to the left and right; fenced in only by mountain ranges in the distance.

Pahranagat Valley

Before I knew it there were pinon pines and cottonwood trees. The pines were atop the hills and the cottonwood trees grew along the Muddy River together with some kind of grass. The scenery on the other side of highway 93 had not changed. I think the last time I had seen trees was back in Santa Barbara, except for some palm trees. The mountains in the distance showed a dusting of snow.

Desert snowman

That dusting quickly moved down to road level. That’s when it hit me; it’s going to be really cold. In other words, it’s going to be an adventure. This is roughly an eight hundred mile excursion which will end where it started, in Overton where there are still plenty of places to visit.

Having fun - Valley of Fire

New Year’s Eve

12' in back and 20' in front to the edge

Well, I hope everyone made it OK into 2011.
As I wrote in my last post I spent the night atop a mesa not too far from town. I arrived at my spot just in time for sunset which was a great way to bid farewell to 2010.
It just felt right to me to spend the end of the year in nature which I have come to appreciate more and more over the past year. I had hoped to be surrounded by total darkness. Unfortunately, the lights from Overton were not far enough away and the sky further north was a glow by the town of Mesquite and down south Las Vegas left its mark in the sky. Nevertheless, I was able to see the Milky Way. I didn’t know if I would stay awake until midnight, so after dinner I climbed up on the roof of my camper with a cushion and a warm blanket and I stared into the stars. I was lucky, I saw two shooting stars. The first was short with an orange tail. The second shooting star came down at 9 PM, or midnight New York time. It was really fast and long, and no, neither were satellites. I don’t know much about our solar system, but I just love gazing into the stars. There are some really bright stars I dubbed “LED” stars and some appeared orange. When I stayed at an Arizona State Park back in October the ranger arranged for an astronomy evening and it was just fascinating. They had two big telescopes and a pair of 80x binoculars. I just loved scanning the sky with the binoculars. Spotting and following satellites and getting a closer look at star clusters.

First sunrise of 2011

I didn’t make it quite to midnight, but I woke-up just in time to witness the first sunrise of the year. I didn’t even have to get out of bed, only had to turn my head. After I took some photos, I turned my head in the other direction and went back to sleep.
After breakfast I went for a three hour hike through the foothills and canyons of the mesa that I had camped on. I felt like an explorer, climbing over mud hills, walking through muddy washes and stumbling across hills sprinkled with rock gypsum. I was just happy that I did this in the winter and not during the summer months when temperatures around here easily reach 110 F.

Rock gypsum

I have been on the road now for over nine months and I can’t see myself giving up the life of a vagabond by April. When I talk with people they usually say that they envy me and that they always wanted to travel cross-country. All I can say is: Don’t wait to make your dreams become reality. Do it now, you never know what tomorrow brings. We too often say “oh, I’ll do that tomorrow.” Or “I’ll travel when I retire.” And we never get around to doing any of it. I have driven past things I wanted to photograph and I said, next time. There might not be a next time. I have lost three friends under the age of fifty in 2010. Make it your New Year’s resolution to make your dream reality.

Happy New Year

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2011.

Mormon Mesa

I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in this wonderful place near Lake Mead. Of course, I had to pick the coldest night to dry camp. Yes, even here in Southern Nevada the night temperatures drop into the 20s.

Overton Ridge

Have a safe and peaceful New Year.

Culture shock

Wow, last night I spent a couple of hours on the Las Vegas strip. What a difference to the places I visited the last month. Coming from very quiet and remote places, Las Vegas was just a little bit too much for me.
Between the crowds, the noise and the not so pleasant smells (BO, chlorine, booze and cigarettes) I was happy to be back at my camper after two hours on the strip. I thought I might gamble ($5), but after walking through one casino, the cigarette smell was way too much.
Vegas is an interesting place. The casinos and everything around them is huge. It takes forever to walk from the back to the front of any given place.
The good thing is that the temperatures are back in the 70s. No more fleece, long johns and wool hats.
I am off to Death Valley where the temps will be just as pleasant.

Grand Canyon - North Rim

Grand Canyon - North Rim

I made it - atop Vermillion Cliffs

Too much for me - in front of the Bellagio

Las Vegas - The Strip