A Roaming Duo in Distress

Dealing with Sudden Changes!

Our last post ended with the news of losing three weeks of housing in Portland since the owners had to return home early. They graciously supplied us with a hotel room for three nights and also offered to let us stay in their sister’s house near Phoenix, Arizona after that.

We thought we wouldn’t need to go that far afield – surely something else would come up a little closer. We’ve been known to drive long distances sometimes, but that sounded impractical. Thanks, but we’ll see what else we can do.

Luckily, we scored a return engagement in Vancouver Washington with this feline fellow, so at least we had a roof over our head for a week.

cat on his back waiting for affection

Squirrel City

Officially, this house came with only one cat to care for, but unofficially it also came with squirrels, lots of squirrels. They came up the stairs to a deck off the back door and helped themselves to a tray of peanuts. It was a treat to see them so close!

In between feeding the squirrels and caring for the cat, we obsessed about how to fill the next two weeks.

squirrel on a step holding and eating a nut

The Big Problem

We had committed to two other homeowners in Portland after those two weeks so leaving the area and canceling on those homeowners wasn’t possible. I checked the house-sitting websites regularly, but nothing was happening on that front.

The additional problem was that we couldn’t camp anywhere in the State of Oregon! All the campgrounds were closed for the winter! Well, there were a few open along the coast, but that would be a hopelessly wet situation and not endurable for two weeks.

pink, yellow, and green leaves on a tree

Okay, Another Road Trip

It quickly became apparent that going to Phoenix was the best option and we took the homeowner up on their generous offer.

We made all the arrangements and headed south for a very unexpected adventure! Our plan was to follow back roads through Reno and Laughlin, Nevada and then on to Phoenix.

a rain cloud over a portion of a lake

The photographic documentation of our trip starts at Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon. There must be interesting parts of this lake, but they are not along the west side on Highway 97, we can tell you that!

a rain cloud over a portion of a lake

There is not a single place to stop anywhere along the massive lake. That means I took these photos from a car going highway speeds. Isn’t the rain pouring out of the clouds grand?

a road through northern california

The above photo might look vaguely familiar to our readers. If you are driving south in the far eastern part of Northern California, this is what you see! We could have revisited Lava Beds National Monument, just by turning right, but decided against it! Eventually, we made it to Reno and got a hotel room for the night.

storm clouds in the distance

Ain’t We Got Fun!

Next morning, we headed southeast, taking back roads through Nevada to a hotel in Laughlin. Going this way meant driving diagonally through almost the entire western half of the State which we had never seen. It turns out we weren’t missing much!

vast, empty nevada desert

A lot of brown, barren, and lifeless scenery! Did you know there isn’t a ‘direct’ route from Reno to Las Vegas? The road bends and turns every which way and makes the journey twice as long as it needs to be. And it seemed twice as long as that! But it was the only way that made sense for us.

vast, barren nevada hills

At this point in our journey, we were on Hwy 95 going south, and that’s about all there is to share.

vast, barren hills in Nevada

Suddenly, we saw a lake in the desert. “That must be a mirage.” No, it was real and shocking. Walker Lake is one of those lakes that gets runoff from mountains on all sides – and none of it leaves. It’s just a bowl of water. A big bowl of water at that.

Walton Lake in Nevada

Bunkers Everywhere

If you’ve ever wondered, as we have many times (ha ha!) where the Army keeps all its ammo, wonder no more. You can find the biggest ammo depo in the world right along the highway in Hawthorne, Nevada!

Miles of bunkers, mostly underground, but with their heads poking up into the desert. You figure all of it has to be somewhere – but here? OK, you wouldn’t want all this nearby, but this place defines remote.  Must have got a deal on the rent.

vast, barren landscape in Nevada

This was one of the eastbound legs of the trip. What in the world were they doing? 

By the way, we do understand that these photos are not interesting or beautiful, but it’s what we experienced, so you get to as well.

Fun Times in Nevada

About half way between Reno and Las Vegas lies the town of Tonopah. What a ridiculous place – Tonopah, Nevada – population – less than 2500. You couldn’t pay either of us to stay at that hotel. How about you?

Sign for the Clown Motel

Another hour and then another small ‘village’ called Goldfield. Or was it a ghost town?

Goldfield, Nevada

This may have been the strangest collection of miscellaneous items we’ve ever seen.  It went on like this for a block.

Goldfield, Nevada

At last, we began entering real civilization and the outskirts of Las Vegas. We had driven through Nevada nothingness for six hours with only a couple of very brief stops. It was time for some civilization!

Joshua Trees near Las Vegas

Hopefully, we won’t ever have to do that again. Still, now we know what that’s like! Phoenix here we come, well, Laughlin, here we come. Phoenix would have to wait. 

traffic sign for Phoenix, Arizona

We’re Back in Laughlin

It’s not a long drive from Las Vegas to Laughlin, and we’ve spared you more desert photos of the journey. We used to think of Laughlin as remote and unknown. What did we know? We’ve talked with tons of people who’ve made their way to this spot along the Colorado River.

Sign for Laughlin, Nevada

The photo below is from Harrah’s hotel on the Colorado River facing east at sunset.

Colorado River in Laughlin at sunset

Looks fancy in that photo, right! Maybe, maybe not. They do have beds though, and that’s all we were looking for at that point in the day.

Harrah's hotel in Laughlin, Nevada

Early the next morning, Harrah’s sent us on our way with their best wishes, and we set off towards the western outskirts of Phoenix.

sign saying vaya con dios

Northwestern Arizona

There were three ways to get there, and we chose Highway 93. It’s the diagonal route instead of going to Flagstaff and then south or south to Interstate 10 and then east. It’s the quickest way and a new road for us.

sign for Wikieup, Arizona

I just had to stop and take a photo of the sign. That’s one of a kind for sure. We can also share that the sign was more interesting than the town!

There’s a long stretch from Laughlin all the way past Kingman where the road goes through mountains, then hills and finally right into the desert – flat, dry and huge. The scenery can get rather tedious after a while. 

sign for Joshua Forest Parkway

Once we turned onto Hwy 93, we saw different landscapes and did stop to walk around over a few hills. Desert plants are starting to grow on us. No, not like that. But there is a lot of variety and color to find if you look for it.

a large cactus

And keep an eye out for the little legless bastards. Signs all along the way warning of rattlesnakes in the area. No wonder we had the desert to ourselves.

hills in western Arizona

Here’s what it looks like if you just stare out the window.

hills in western Arizona

This is what it looks like if you get out of your car and get close up. Fascinating, the plant life in the desert.

close up of tree with green bark

At long last, we arrived in Phoenix, about midday, and found our way to Peoria and our home away from our home away, and a long way from Portland. We’ll tell you all about it in the next post.

close up of a Joshua tree

What’s Next – Arizona desert living

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