Wednesday, April 13, 2016

usbackroads trip--Benson, Arizona to Wenatchee, Washington

usbackroads trip--Benson, Arizona to Wenatchee, Washington.

travel dates: March 20-24th, 2016

The trip down to Benson was along the mother road known as I-5.  It took five and half days and was not fun.  The return trip was routed through central Nevada on Highway 93. Total travel time was four and half days and it could have been easily done in four days, but I did want to stop at Bruneau Sand Dunes and take Highway 82 south of the Snake River in Idaho.

As typical the expected departure time of 8:00 am ended up being closer to 10:00.  The objective for the first night was Blake Ranch RV Park.  This meant driving through Tucson, by passing Phoenix by taking I-8 all the way to Gila Bend and then heading north to Wickenburg and finally stopping this side of Kingman. The late start was bad enough, then TWO wrecks west of Tucson.  The second wreck was caused by first wreck and driver inattention.  So it took well over an hour to get around that wreck. I thought about going through Phoenix, but decided I had enough of traffic.

Heading north on 93 to Kingman there was a steady stream of traffic from Las Vegas headed back to Phoenix after the weekend. I was good and tired when I pulled into the RV Park.

The objective on the second day was to by-pass Las Vegas. After crossing Boulder Dam you turn past the Lake Mead Visitor Center and continue past Boulder Beach campground. You can camp at the campground or head north for dispersed camping at Las Vegas Wash. I headed north wanting to see the Overton Arm. It was a small, lovely Morman town in 1977. Not quite the small town these days.  There were some campsites just as you left the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and also at a Nevada Fish and Wildlife site just south of town.

The Valley of Fire State Park is just off the road and worth the visit. The drive through the National Recreation Area was very pleasant with the 45 mph speed limit and very light traffic.  I highly recommend this by-pass of Las Vegas. The desert wildflowers were just starting to bloom. It was in late April 1978, when I quit the National Park Service at Lake Mead and headed north to the Forest Service in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  April, 1978 was a great desert wildflower show.

From Overton it was a fairly short drive to Alamo, Nevada. You can camp at Pahranagat National Wildlife Area. Note, you cannot run your generator at this site.  Here is the official site for the wildlife area;  Pahrannagat National Wildlife Area. We have stayed in Alamo, and if you like ice cream or "city" services this campground is ok.

If this is your first time in Alamo, Nevada it is worth stopping at the hot springs just north of town.  Ash Springs is a pretty special BLM site, and very popular for being in the middle of somewhere.  There is a Shell Station DIRECTLY across the highway from the hot springs.  Don't drive into the parking area with a trailer, just park at the Shell Station or on the highway shoulder.

My objective for the night, however, was the Ward Mountain Campground located just outside of Ely, Nevada on the Humboldt National Forest.  We stopped here on the way down last September.  Nice campground, with a 4 bar signal from Verizon and 23 stations on the antenna!! Since this was Nevada I was hopeful that the campground would not be gated.  The back up plan was the trailhead across the highway.  No gate. Campground toilets locked and water turned off, but it was perfect for me with the Casita.
I was the only person camping there that night. Somebody did drive in and took one look at Bugaboo and me and decided to camp elsewhere.

The National Weather Service promised snow in the higher elevations by mid-morning and rain in the valley floors. When I woke up at 5:00 am it was snowing. Towing in the snow is never fun, so I quickly packed up and headed down to Ely and hopefully that valley rain.

The picture doesn't show it well, but the Casita was caked with mud and ice kicked up from the road in fairly short order.

That predicted rain never did show up.  It was snow showers, sometimes heavy, all the way from Ely to Twin Falls. Finally broke out of the snow showers just south of Twin Falls.  The fortunate part was the termperature had been warm for several days before the snow so the road remained clear as all the snow melted as soon as it fell. Once the truck threw it up in the air, with an air temperature in the 20's, it quickly froze once it hit the Casita.

For Bugaboo, I reminded him that we would stop and visit his friend the Pony Express rider.  The previous two times the Pony Express Rider was riding through sunny weather.  This time, he was earning his paycheck.

Notice the snow on the horses back and tail. The rider seems to have accumulated some blowing snow.  This was the alternative campsite to Ward Mountain. It was calm at Ward Mountain during the night.  Looked a bit more interesting down here.

This nights campground was at Bruneau Sand Dunes State park.  That is the picture at the top of the blog posting. The "rush" north slowed down significantly at this point. Next posting will be Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park.

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