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First 2 weeks of Camping in NV & CA – July 2023

July 3rd, 2023

We left Serena and Kurt’s place around nine in the morning (they had already left for work) and made our way eastward along the I80 back to Fallon to the storage place.  The trailer looked in good shape from what we could tell after nearly four months except for a loose piece of molding along the front roof line.  Doug dropped Fran at the trailer and went over to our storage unit to drop off a few things and pick up a few others before hooking up the trailer to the truck.

Fran was inside the trailer trying to do some organizing and putting away so that trailer could be moved.  This took us till around noon.  First order of business was getting our water tank filled (which we did at a local gas station) and then groceries.  While filling the tank, Fran saw a section of the underside soffit was coming loose so that will need fixing and worse than that: the left signal wasn’t working again – this is the one that we had such trouble repairing back in Mexico after the accident – Doug was sure it was working when he first hooked up the trailer though.  We did a shop at the local Walmart and by now it’s pretty hot and we feel we need to have power tonight to run some AC and help get the fridge cold as using propane will use a lot since it’s not been on for over three months and it’s HOT outside.

When we dropped off the trailer here last March, we had used the dump site at the local fairgrounds here in Fallon and Fran remembered that there were RV’s parked there too.  She found a number and called and said yes they have sites, first come first serve and it’s self-pay for $35 a night with hookups.    Okay that will work – bit pricier than we like and no showers, bathrooms or Wi-Fi but we can’t be choosy at this point as a “real” rv park would be much more.  We drove over and many of the sites were flooded (?) but we took the best one and got situated.

After hooking up, Fran went inside and had no access to water!  After playing with both city water and our water pump, Doug remembered the hot water tank needed to be filled first.  After doing that (including replace the anode), all was good.  Then he began to work on the tail light with no success.  The unit has power but the bulb wouldn’t light up!  That will have to wait a bit then.  He then checked the trailer batteries which needed to be topped up with distilled water of which we did not have enough so we’ll have to get some.

We enjoyed a cool night with our AC and slept pretty good.

Happy Fourth of July!

Since there is not much around here and we are itching to get moving somewhere higher up in elevation, we left that morning heading towards Carson City.  We topped up the water tank before leaving but didn’t dump for two reasons; they wanted another $5 for it AND we’d only used the toilet for one night so we could last much longer.  We had showered this morning and just dumped the grey water at the site (looks like the rest of the campground now). We do not want to travel long distances pulling the trailer and we have six weeks, so we want to find a few places where we can hunker down for several days at a time, hopefully high enough that we won’t be so hot but they are across the state line in California. Before leaving Fallon we got some distilled water at the Safeway grocery store and a cold drink for the road.

As we drove along the Carson City Highway, we watched for places and used our apps as well to no avail when looking for power without paying $75 and up at RV resorts (we actually passed by one that charges that much in Dayton and it look quite dumpy).  How they can ask that much, we don’t know.

Fran saw a state park north of Carson City that offered power at less than we paid last night and it had hot showers and bathrooms but again first come first serve so being the Fourth of July we hoped people were leaving and there’d be room.

Washoe Lake State Park has two loops: A and B with the former offering power and water hookups.  We called anyway and they said that as of the morning, there were 4 empty sites but we couldn’t reserve.  Well, we lucked out and there were a few to choose from.  We pulled into the best one that had trees that could shade the trailer to help keep it cooler.  Doug went over to use the restroom and Fran realized that spot was taken as there was a tag on post saying it was taken till tomorrow – dang.  We went a bit further down the loop and found another that although it had trees for shade, they wouldn’t shade the trailer but would be a place to sit (site number 10).  Each site has a picnic table with a roof over it and plenty of room to park both the trailer and the truck.  The sites are not packed in like sardines and this site had a nice view of the lake and mountains.

you can just make out Washoe lake below the mountains and across the sage brush


We got settled in, and Doug worked on the molding (we had a spare roll) and then worked on the battery water filling.  While he was up on the ladder Fran noticed that the LED string of lights that is SEWN to the awning was nearly falling off.  As we rarely used these lights and cannot see how to re affix them to the awning, Doug pulled them down completely.

We had happy hour in the shade and a quiet night that cooled off enough to not even use the AC – this really surprised us; must have been the breeze off the lake (the locals call this wind the Zephyrs).  We found out that the lake is not safe right now due to an algae bloom so we won’t be going in the water here.  We also learned the dump station is closed due to high ground water but there are two gas stations in nearby Carson City with free sani dumps that we can choose from when we leave.  If we use the restrooms here instead of the trailer and use the campground’s showers, our tanks should not fill up too quickly.

During the night, when Doug used the bathroom, he discovered water on the floor – we had a leak!  He put towels down and turned off the water for the rest of the night.  Next morning after checking in a few different places he found the source – a fitting under the bathroom counter; he fiddled with knob and it seemed to stop but to be safe decided to get some spare parts.  Fran put a towel underneath while he went to the hardware store and it didn’t seem to leak anymore.  While at the Home Depot, Doug phoned Fran for more pics of the pipes and knobs and realized that the knob was a drain valve and he’d probably tightened it so in theory, it should be fine.  He picked up a few other things we needed at the hardware store as well (gorilla tape, washers and fuses as well as the parts he’d need if the leak returned).

While he was gone, Fran saw the people in the site we had wanted yesterday packing up.  At the pay station were two park rangers and Fran confirmed with them that if we put a tag on the post showing we’d paid for the next couple of nights AND put something on the site to save it till Doug got back, it would be fine.  The current occupants of the site were fine with that and lo behold, we had one of the two the best sites in this loop.  We opted to pay for two more nights and will decide if we want to stay longer tomorrow.

Fran got the trailer ready (and did her exercise) and when Doug was back, we “moved our living” over to Site 1 which is also closer to the bathrooms and showers.

The leak did not start again so we think that’s fixed and even better, when we hooked up the trailer to move, the signal was working again!  Woo hoo!  It’s the little things in life, right?

We had breakfast and that afternoon Doug exercised and Fran went for a walk to check out this “poisoned” lake.  It was about a half mile walk from our site through the sand and sagebrush and while it was hot, there was a great breeze off the lake.

There were two ponds before the lake and one had a wild horse on the other side (phone photo so hard to see it)

There was a huge sand dune before reaching the lake shore.

And here she saw the yellow water lapping at the shoreline:

But the views across the lake and mountains beyond were beautiful.

We are still struggling to get the final monies from our Mexican insurance for the towing and impound fees and Doug reached out once again today.

We are really enjoying the quiet and all the down time we are getting here – there is not much around us and it’s very relaxing.  After three weeks of visits in BC and that fast road trip out to South Dakota and back, we want some chillin’ days.  You are allowed to stay here up to seven days in 30 and we’ve now decided to do just that.  We are in no hurry and still have five weeks left before we put the trailer away again.  We plan to spend a couple of the last nights with Serena and Kurt camping too on their days off.

It’s another scorcher today and it supposed to continue for the next several days – summer in Nevada.  We are glad we have power however, we have to say, it’s hot in the trailer during the afternoon (so we turn on the AC for a few) and by early evening the wind off the lake picks up and the temperature cools off outside.  So we turn off the AC and just run a fan pointed toward the bedroom.  We only have one window in the bedroom so there’s not a lot of circulation once you close the door for the night.

Friday was Fran’s birthday and we decided to head up to Virginia City, an old mining town for a few hours and get a bite to eat.

a loud flock of pelicans flew over us while enjoying our morning tea on Fran’s birthday


Virginia City developed as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, with numerous mines opening. The population peaked in the mid-1870s, with an estimated 25,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878, and the population declined as a result. As of the 2020 Census, the population of Virginia City was 787.

Peter O’Riley and Patrick McLaughlin are credited with the discovery of the Comstock Lode. Henry T. P. Comstock’s name was associated with the discovery through his own machinations. According to folklore, James Fennimore, nicknamed Old Virginny Finney, christened the town when he tripped and broke a bottle of whiskey at a saloon entrance in the northern section of Gold Hill, soon to become Virginia City.

After the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, the town developed seemingly overnight on the eastern slopes of Mount Davidson perched at a 6200-foot elevation. Below the town were dug intricate tunnels and shafts for silver mining. The Comstock Lode discovery and subsequent growth of Virginia City was unequaled by the history of other precious metal discoveries.

Virginia City’s silver ore discoveries were not part of the California Gold Rush, which occurred 10 years before. At the time of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, silver was considered the monetary equal of gold, and all production was purchased by the federal government for use in coinage. In 1873, silver was demonetized by the government, in large part due to the flood of silver into international markets from the silver mines of Virginia City.

Virginia City far surpassed all others for its peak of population, technological advancements developed there, and for providing the population base upon which Nevada qualified for statehood. The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West.

Virginia City population increased from 4,000 in 1862 to over 15,000 in 1863. It fluctuated depending on mining output. US Census figures do not reflect all of these frequent changes. Nonetheless, Virginia City overnight became one of the largest cities in the American Southwest. For the 1880 United States census, Virginia City was even larger than some of today’s largest cities of the entire US, such as Phoenix, San Diego, Jacksonville, and even Dallas. The city included gas and sewer lines, the one hundred room International Hotel with elevator, three theatres, the Maguire Opera House, four churches, and three daily newspapers. Many of the homes and buildings were made of brick.

Between 1859 and 1875, Virginia City had numerous serious fires. The October 26, 1875, fire, dubbed the Great Fire, and caused $12 million in damage. “The spectacle beggars description; the world was on fire…a square mile of roaring flames.” When a church caught fire, Mackay was heard to say, “Damn the church! We can build another if we can keep the fire from going down these shafts.” Though the Con. Virginia and Ophir hoisting works burned, the fire did not penetrate the Con. Virginia shaft and only reached 400 feet into the Ophir shaft. “Railroad car wheels were melted”, “brick buildings went down like paper boxes”, and two thousand were left homeless.

In ensuing months the city was rebuilt. A majority of the area now designated as the National Historic Landmark historic district dates to this later time period. However, the bonanza period was at an end by 1880.

We parked when we reached the main part of town, right on the main drag.  It’s a very touristy place with old time shops and bars on either side of the street on covered wooden sidewalks.

We had wanted to eat on an outdoor patio but the nicer one only served bbq ribs and the like and the other one was more like hot dogs and ice cream.  After checking out a number of interesting look shops with old timer things, lots of candy shops and bars, we chose an ice cream and fudge shop with a sandwich bar in the back.  It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t licensed but, boy, were the sandwiches fresh and tasty.

There is a Mark Twain Museum here in Virginia City – here’s why:

Why is Samuel Langhorne Clemens known as Mark Twain? He adopted the pen name in early 1863 when he was a newspaperman in Nevada. It referred to his steam boating days, when the measure of the depth of the water was expressed with a crewman’s cry “mark twain!” meaning two fathoms, or 12 feet.

That morning, Serena had called to say happy birthday to Fran and said they’d like to drop by if we were still around.  We told her we were extending out stay and her and Kurt came over with the dogs around six.  They had already eaten so they joined us for some dessert. The wind really picked up and actually by 7:45 it got too cool to sit outside!  We moved indoor for a bit and then they left as they both had to work the next day.  They both get Thursdays and Fridays off so it was they end of their “weekend”.

Saturday, Doug went for a long run despite the pain (his butt has still been bothering him) and we hung around the site the rest of the day.  Fran did a bit of laundry by hand in her “Scrubber” bag and it was dry in no time between the breeze off the lake and the warming day.  It got hotter today; yesterday was the coolest day we’ve had at 31C / 87F but it didn’t’ last.

Sunday morning was our monthly Kitojo group meeting and since the cell signal is not that strong here in the campground, we drove into Carson City to the McDonald’s for it.  If anyone is interested, we are looking for sponsors to send graduating primary school girls on to high school next year.  Please reach out if you are interested in sponsoring a girl to get higher education.  Thank you for considering it.

We spent the rest of the day at the campground.  It’s definitely busier here on the weekends but not noisy at all.

Monday Doug went for a marathon walk and Fran drove into Carson City to use the library Wi-Fi for a while.  We are planning our trip to the Greek Islands for our return to Europe in September and searching a laptop is easier than on a phone.  We will be meeting up with our good friends, Christine and Mark, for this two week period as they are flying to Italy in August and then on to Greece.

Well on Tuesday morning after seven nights here at Washoe Lake State Park, we had to pack up and leave as you are only allowed 7 days in a 30 day period.  It was sad to leave such a great quiet spot but we do also have a bit of an itch to move.  It’s still quite warm and supposed to be a scorcher this weekend so we hope to be up at high altitudes by then.

We left our fave site one around 9 am and made our way to the free dump station in Carson City (there are actually two), went to Walmart to stock up, decided to do an early breakfast at Jack-in-the-box (they have a nice sourdough egg, cheese and meat sandwich).

We were on the road again before noon, and stopped in Gardnerville to fill up the tank and one of the jerry cans (we’d topped up the tank from it once and then put gas in the generators as well).  We continued southwest through some hills that had seen some fires in recent years:

We ended up at Topaz Lake just before the Cali border and there is a casino here that allows you to spend a night in the parking lot.  It’s got a lovely view of the lake itself too:

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal of shade but we saw that by late afternoon the large tree beside us would cast a shadow and the sun would drop behind the hills on the west side earlier than we’d been experiencing.  We went for a walk down the lake but there was no beach access.  We returned to the trailer and sat outside in some shade where there was a breeze off the lake and chilled.  Before dinner we went into the casino and played penny slots for a bit spending a whole three dollars for about 30 minutes entertainment!

The sun did go done as we thought it would and it cooled off some but we had to run the Fantastic Fan all night (which we’d been doing recently anyway – it runs on 12V).

Doug heard from his doctor yesterday and was told he could stop taking baby Aspirin and cut his statin dosage in half so that was good news.  These recommendations were based on the results of the CT scan he done in Salt Lake City.

Wednesday morning we both did our exercise and happily saw the batteries were well charged up already despite running the fan all night.

We had a spot in mind that was up high but there was no cell service at the turnoff and hadn’t been for a number of miles so we passed on it and went to some BLM land on the Bridgeport Reservoir.  Here at 1970 m / 6463’ we had a spot all to ourselves with four bars of a 5G cell signal (but for whatever reason, we couldn’t hot spot off it…..).  It’s about a three minute from a boat ramp with a parking lot and bathrooms.  There were also a number of picnic tables and shade which we didn’t have at our camp spot.  Like a Washoe Lake, the breeze picked up in the afternoon and it was quite bearable as we’re much higher than last night.

our “cool” spot in the shade of the trees at the boat ramp:

That night we didn’t even need to use the fan for sleeping and it actually got cold overnight – temps went down to 4C / 39F!!! We needed extra blankets; it did warm up quick once the sun rose higher in the sky.  Today’s high is just slightly warmer than yesterday but the overnight lows will be slightly higher.  Temps are supposed to get much higher this weekend.

Thursday we unhooked the trailer and took a day trip out to drive the Sonora Pass.  We had a destination in mind: The Columns of the Giants about 30 miles down the road after the summit.  Upon turning onto the Highway 108, we picked up a hiker who was headed to the summit at 2933 m / 9624’ to do a long trail through the Sierra’s – good luck, Joshua!

It’s amazing how much snow is up here at nearly 3048m  / 10,000′

We arrived at our destination before lunch and did the short five minute walk to the end of the trailhead to see the basalt columns.  This site is claimed to be second only to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland for basalt columns.

To access the site, you cross over a pedestrian bridge over the Walker River:

While impressive in the length of the area covered, you cannot get up “close and personal” as there is far too much scree to climb but it was a sight we’d not seen.  This whole Highway 108 has been quite scenic – it’s a beautiful alpine drive made more so by all the snow left around the high altitudes due to the massive amounts of snow this region received last winter.

The highway travels alongside the Walker River quite a ways:

After turning around we stopped along the side of the road for lunch and cold beer that we stuck in the snow!

Our view while eating:

we’re not sure why, but the snow has a pink tinge to it


One final stop along the 108 was the Leavitt Falls overlook: quite impressive for July given that normally this region is so dry but due to the snow, the rivers, creeks and waterfalls are just roaring!

Before returning to our trailer, we stopped in Bridgeport at the library to get on the Wi-Fi.  Upon entering the building the sign said the internet was down so we thought well maybe the cell signal is stronger here in town and we were able to hot spot.  Fran tried the Wi-Fi after five minutes and it WAS working so that was even better.  We spent a couple of hours here; Doug is working on improving the nutrition for the girls at Kitojo School and is researching food groups and healthier food options with the limited budget the school has.

That night the breeze was less than the day before and it got warmer in the trailer but still cooled down quite nicely overnight.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes.  We’ve decided we’ll probably hang here until Monday or Tuesday; it’s free, we’re alone and we have all we need for a few more days.

Friday morning after doing chores, Doug walked into Bridgeport back to the library to continue his project; Fran hung back and got a few things done before driving into town to join him.

It definitely is warmer today and looks hotter for the weekend.  After Doug’s run on Saturday we were going to head out for the day when a German man and his Mexican wife walked by asking about parking their motorhome near us.  After some discussion, Doug drover their 27’ RV in beside us and we invited them to join us for our outing.

About 10:45 we headed south to the ghost town of Bodie.

Bodie is a ghost town in the east Sierra Nevada mountains. It is about 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe, and 12 mi (19 km) east-southeast of Bridgeport.

Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors, including W.S. Bodey who died in a blizzard the following November while making a supply trip to Monoville, never able to see the rise of the town that was named after him. According to area pioneer Judge J. G. McClinton, the district’s name was changed from “Bodey,” “Body,” and a few other phonetic variations, to “Bodie,” after a painter in the nearby boomtown of Aurora, lettered a sign “Bodie Stables”.

In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp comprising a few prospectors and company employees to a Wild West boomtown. Rich discoveries in the adjacent Bodie Mine during 1878 attracted even more hopeful people. By 1879, Bodie had a population of approximately 7,000–10,000 people and around 2,000 buildings. One legend says that in 1880, Bodie was California’s second or third largest city, but the U.S. Census of that year disproves this. Over the years 1860–1941 Bodie’s mines produced gold and silver valued at an estimated US$34 million ($85 million in 2021).

The last mine closed in 1942, due to War Production Board order L-208, shutting down all non-essential gold mines in the United States during World War II. Mining never resumed after the war.  Bodie was first described as a “ghost town” in 1915. In a time when auto travel was on the rise, many travelers reached Bodie via automobiles. By 1920, Bodie’s population was recorded by the US Federal Census at a total of 120 people. Despite the decline and a severe fire in the business district in 1932, Bodie had permanent residents through nearly half of the 20th century. A post office operated at Bodie from 1877 to 1942.

In the 1940s, the threat of vandalism faced the ghost town. The Cain family, who owned much of the land, hired caretakers to protect and to maintain the town’s structures. Martin Gianettoni, one of the last three people living in Bodie in 1943, was a caretaker.  Also registered as a California Historical Landmark, the ghost town officially was established as Bodie State Historic Park in 1962. It receives about 200,000 visitors yearly.

We spent about an hour wandering out and learning about life during Bodie’s heydays.   There is a building where you watch a 28 minute film as well.

It was getting on well past 12:30 and we were all hungry.  Our plan was to go to scenic Twin Lakes on the other side of the 395 for lunch and Jenz and Maria joined us.  We paid for the entry to the Bodie State Park and they bought us lunch at the Mono Village Café by the lakes.

Twin Lakes is a set of connected lakes at the base of the southeastern slope of Mammoth Mountain, in Mono County of eastern California. They are in the eastern Sierra Nevada, and within the Inyo National Forest. Twin Lakes are the lowest lakes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

Fran had expected we’d be able to enjoy the views from the restaurant but it was situated the wrong way.  We did enjoy a yummy lunch and then went outdoors to take photos.  It was a beautiful setting that could have been in Europe with snowy peaks and lovely lakes.

We returned to Bridgeport, looked for a laundromat our maps had shown us was supposed to be there, only to learn it was no longer in operation so laundry will have to wait awhile.

Upon returning to our campsite, we had a happy hour with our new friends and then settled in our trailer for the night.

Sunday we spent at the “campground” with Yenz and Maria; when it got too hot by lunchtime, we moved over to the boat ramp area to sit  under the trees and chat.  After a second happy back at the site, we all went into our respective homes and had another quiet night.  It’s been quite hot the past two days and it takes a little longer to cool off at night.  Last night we ran the fantastic fan all night to make it easier to sleep.

We had planned to stay another night or two but turns out the library is closed on Mondays (that was what we wanted to spend the day doing) and there was a chance of rain in the afternoon.  As we didn’t want to get stuck in the wet sand if it rained a lot, we decided to push on down the road.  We stopped at the General Store in Bridgeport for some groceries as our Walmart supply from way back in Carson City was dwindling.

We stopped at the Mono Lake overlook along Highway 395:

We had a campground in mind in Lee Vining but upon arriving (it was about 10:30) we were told we couldn’t check in until 1 and it would be $47 a night.  Seemed ridiculous to us as there were several empty spots but since the price was higher than we had anticipated (by $10) we passed and went to the Mobil station nearby that had a dump and potable water for $10 so we could continue wild camping.  Turns out the Mobile station was at the intersection of Highway 395 (the one we were headed south on) and the 120 which is the Tioga Pass road into Yosemite.  We’d read that the road was closed and that you couldn’t enter the park but we thought we’d go as far as we could.  After dumping and filling, we drove to the side of the station where two hour parking was allowed and unhooked the trailer.

The road was open right up to the edge of the national park but you could not drive in.  This was a distance of about twelve miles and it was a beautiful scenic drive.

We stopped at a few pullouts on the way up and then a couple of the way back.

First was a lookout with waterfalls and the back side of the Sawtooth Mountain Range:

Then at Ellery Lake:

Tioga Lake was just before the park toll booth:

We got videos on the way back down because now Fran is on the correct side of the truck to take them:

The little detour took us just under an hour and after hooking up the trailer again, we continued south to a wild camp spot on BLM land that we hoped would have a signal.  Lee Vining itself had no T-Mobile reception for us at all so we weren’t sure.  As we approached the turn off to the spot we had in mind from iOverlander, the 4G bars began to appear and at the site, we had 3-4 bars BUT they wouldn’t connect! Since we are alone, we can run our gennies to get the AC going to keep us cool.

Fran went for a little walk hoping to get some actual cell reception but it never worked.  We sat in the shade outside the trailer and read for a while and we began to see some dark clouds coming.  Doug moved the gennies under the awning, turned them on (we run two in parallel to run the AC), we went inside as the rain began and we stayed cool.  Here we are at 2095m / 6873’ of elevation, so not much higher than in Bridgeport. The outside temp went from 33C down to 24 by the time the sprinkle of rain that last about fifteen minutes was over.  We turned off the AC and it was just comfortable inside for about 30 minutes.  Lo and behold, the cell signal began to work – slow but it worked.  (It was better the next morning.)

In that time the outside temp had risen to 31c / 88F and the wind was gone.  The sun did not come out but that didn’t stop the heat.  We turned the AC back on again for a little while during the evening and ran our fantastic fan all night to sleep.

As Doug needed Wi-Fi again to continue working on his nutrition project for Kitojo, we closed up our home and drove to some BLM camping just outside nearby June Lake.