Days of Nights

in search of dark skies

Category: culture (Page 1 of 2)

Yavapai County AZ.

towards Sedona

Humphrey’s Peak

Jerome

Verde Canyon Railroad. Clarkdale

Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot facing north

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Well National Monument

Wet Beaver Creek. Montezuma Well National Monument

After visiting these three ancient dwelling sites I feel a much deeper connection with the landscapes, both terrestrial and celestial. When I set up a new camp I try to determine true north and identify prominent features of the horizon. If Polaris is visible at night then I can adjust my intuitive daytime guessing. My morning yoga routine is done facing north. If I am going to be stargazing in my lounge chair I try to have it facing south. Sources of light pollution force me to adapt. From this site even with light glow from Phoenix I was able to see stars down a magnitude of 5.3, the Milky Way, Praesepe, and Coma Berenices. For the first time in many years I have been able to witness the brightening of the variable red star Mira in the constellation Cetus. An added treat is Jupiter and Mars rising before sunrise, followed by a thin crescent moon, and Saturn and Mercury. Very nice.

There is record of human habitation in the Verde Valley for 13,000 years. The so-called Sin Agua people who built these stone dwellings apparently migrated from the south 1500 t0 2000 years ago. They farmed along the rivers growing corn, squash beans, and cotton. They were excellent weavers and pottery makers. They abruptly left the area about 600 years ago for unknown reasons most likely to higher elevations to the northeast. The people who claim to be their descendants say they will some day return.

The People of the Verde Valley now are the Yavapai and the Apache.

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. Lincoln County NV.

Las Vegas NV.

I overlooked posting this 4-day visit to Las Vegas, the week before Christmas. Primarily to attend the Duel in the Desert women’s basketball tournament at UNLV. Besides the host Lady Rebels, Oregon (ranked 10), Mississippi State (7), Syracuse (23), Texas A&M, and the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine. Six games in three days for $15.00. Not at the Thomas & Mack but next door at the Cox Pavillion. Also an opportunity to take care of some business. Stayed at the Sam’s Town KOA with full hookups for $24 a night.

Pahrump Social PowWow

Zabriskie Point. Death Valley National Park.

Pahrump NV. 02

Pahrump NV. 01

I am halfway through a one month residence in a trailer park in Pahrump NV. This was in order to secure my permanent Nevada driver’s license, and to establish a residence in Pahrump. I probably would have arrived here a few weeks later were it not for the license. My permanent one got lost in the mail. My temporary was expiring so I headed to Pahrump to apply for a new temporary and get the process for the permanent going. Four hours at the DMV. Wow. But it was an opportunity to study a population of Pahrump. Mostly older White people. Some Asians and Latinos. I was surprised to see as many African Americans. A common condition I see is obesity. Both in the older, but in the younger too. It is sad to see people who have lost the ability to walk well. I got my license in a week. The Elko Post Office had returned my original one “Unknown. Unable to Forward.” I was in that office checking for my mail twice a week from the first of August until the first of October. Wow. The next order of business was to travel over to Las Vegas and see if could get the insurance on the trailer I had had, and also see if if I could get the truck covered by the same insurer and have my existing policy with another company cancelled. Las Vegas is about hour east of Pahrump. Across some desert and over the mountains. Quite a different world. You can get anything you want in Las Vegas. Several times over. That was all accomplished quite easily, in a pleasant and professional atmosphere. And not too expensive, though more than Utah, for some reason. There are three Costco’s and six Sprouts in Las Vegas. Wow. And I had to drive by Thomas & Mack Arena and Cox Pavilion at UNLV. I will be back in awhile. What still remains for me is to purchase a Medicare supplemental insurance plan. I don’t like what I see but I have to get something.

On my way back to Pahrump I drove by Red Rock Conservation Area. I visited here in 2011 and promised to return. I will probably be staying here for a few days after I leave Pahrump. Also investigated Lovell Canyon in the Spring Mountains Recreation Area. A paved road that goes up into pinyon forest with decent spots to park a trailer. Worth checking out. The following day I headed up into the Spring Mountains from the Pahrump side. The pinyon forests are very pleasant places to spend time. Pulling the trailer up here is feasible but not the best idea. A good trip in the truck up to Wheeler Well, beyond which I did a little exploratory hiking. Pinyon forests are cool because they are so open walking through them is not a big challenge. And then on to Wheeler Pass. That was a challenge. A road more suited for dirt bikes and ATVs. But we made it. Good views from the pass. Very windy. There are wild horses grazing among the Joshua trees on the slopes east of Pahrump. They seem very docile.

Walker Lake NV

Virginia City NV

From Reno the approach to Virginia is up a steep, windy road into the mountains. The highway hugs the western side with dramatic drop-offs and panoramic views. A bit scary for this novice truck and trailer driver. Plenty of turn-outs which I used frequently. Even got a toot of appreciation from one passer-by. The city owes its existence to productive silver mines. It is now a tourist attraction. It reminds me of Park City, without the ski areas. I continued on the route I missed on my way to Reno by coasting down Six Mile Canyon. Much easier to take, with a lot of color in the cottonwoods. Hwy 50 towards Silver Springs, then Hwy 95 to Walker Lake. I didn’t have to go back to Fallon after all. Passed by the Buckland Pony Express Station on the Carson River, but did not take the time to stop. I clearly have sites to revisit on a more leisurely journey.

Walker Lake NV

There are some pretty desolate stretches of Hwy 95 that rival Hwy 50 for loneliness. Just north of Walker Lake I pass through the Walker River Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Lands. The southern end of Walker Lake is US Army Ammunition Depot. The largest in the country. And the town of Hawthorne. The rest of the land around the lake is BLM. There are three established camping areas right off Hwy 95. Two are dispersed areas and are free, the third has designated sites with canopies shielding the picnic tables from the sun and wind. There is also a boat ramp there. A nightly fee is charged. I chose the first campground because it had come with acceptable reviews on the Internet. These reviews also came with strong warnings about the sand. And what did I do but got stuck in the sand almost as soon as I had pulled into the campground. Second time in two weeks. Duh. I thought I had learned my lesson at Sand Mountain. My only neighbor at the time witnessed the whole event. After I had talked with him as I evaluated the approach. And this time the trailer was attached to the truck. Sand to the level of the hitch and the rear axle of the truck. I did the only thing I could do and managed to jack up the hitch and uncouple the truck. The truck came out easily by itself. The trailer itself was not stuck in the stand. But in order to move it to firmer ground, reconnect it to the truck, and move it to a suitable camping site I would have to pull it away from the soft sand backwards. And I had nothing to tow it with. Hawthorne is 20 miles away and has an Ace Hardware. I got what I thought I needed fortunately. Tying the towing strap to the rear bumper of the trailer and hooking it onto to the chain hooks on the rear of the truck I was able to drag the trailer about 100 feet up the road. Re-attaching the trailer and backing into a nice firm gravelly site was very straight forward. The only casualty was the Tongue-Twister and that could have been avoided. Also easily replaced. My neighbor was as helpful as he could be, assisting me in digging sand with his shovel. Offering words of encouragement, and recommending the store in Hawthorne. After that it was like nothing had happened. A perfectly normal camping experience. Sort of.

 

Reno NV

It was important for me to go to Reno before heading south. My daughter was coming over from the Bay Area with my grandson to compete in a bowling tournament. I parked the trailer at the Boomtown KOA. Nice location. Sort of. My brother has a second home near Donner Summit. I drove up there to visit him and meet my daughter and grandson. I watched her bowl at The Bowling Stadium twice. So I got to spend good time with them. I also needed to be in Reno to take care of some business. I haven’t received my permanent Nevada driver’s license. It wasn’t with the mail my daughter brought with her. A visit to the Reno DMV informs me that the license was mailed to my PO Box in Pahrump on September 06. I will have apply for another temporary, when I get to Pahrump and wait there until it shows up in my mailbox. I picked up a prescription my University doctor had forwarded to Reno. Since I don’t have prescription insurance this was going to cost me $230. My drug store membership reduced the price to $130. I am used to paying $15. And I needed to have the slow leak in one of my truck tires repaired. I had to wait 2 hours at Costco for them to tell me the tire was beyond repair. They will not replace just one tire on a 4WD so a new set of tires was going to cost $600. I also got my laundry done and paid a visit to Sprouts and REI Coop. A little reflection prompted me to search for some Yokohamas. I was very happy with ones I had on DaNeZeWa. Costco doesn’t carry them. Discount Tire does, but they didn’t have any in stock. I wasn’t going to wait until the end of the week for a special order. I took what the salesman offered me as an equivalent to Yokohama. I have to trust him. I can already feel the difference on the road. I was kind of dubious of those Michelins from the beginning. But they seemed all right going into this in April. So I stayed 2 extra nights in Boomtown. Took a scenic tour of Verdi after I didn’t have anything more to do. Full water tank. Full propane tank. Full tank of gas. And brand new tires.

Hickison Petroglyph Site

Antelope Mtns. Hickison Summit

 

Toiyabe Mtns.

the perfect pinyon

the perfect rock

the perfect juniper

Oh So Lonely.

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