On June 15th we headed north in the Promaster on what would be a four month Solo trip leaving the Chevy in southern Nevada.
During the drive north, on a lonely 2 lane Nevada highway, we had what we are calling our Turkey Vulture episode. Cari was driving the Promaster at the speed limit when a turkey vulture eating on the roadway got spooked and took off flying into the front windshield striking the A pillar area on the driver side. The strike was quite the shock to both of us and Cari found a spot to pull over. The damage covered about a foot high along the pillarglass and nine inches into the windshield. I knew that a check in with State Farm to replace the glass was first on the To Do’s once again we had cell service. Once we decided on where and when to replace the windshield it was an easy hour job by an installer and we were on our way again.
The next day we visited the Alaskan factory and had a nice time with Bryan Wheat who was a wealth of information and showed us several units they were in process of completing. We came away with the idea that he was a Can-Do sort of guy and we could have (at a cost. The 8’ cab-over we specked out came to about 39k) nearly anything we desired in one of the Alaskan’s within the design limits.
Since we had decided to spend the summer in the forests of the PNW we included the idea of a visit to Coeur d’ Alene Idaho, so we ventured east on Highway 12.
The first stop of note after the Alaskan Truck Camper tour was at Riff Lake in Washington about an hour’s drive from the Alaskan factory. The dispersed camp mentioned in Freecampsites.net held true to the reviews…I’d rate it a 2 to 3 out of 5 stars as the area is littered with trash and not particularly scenic. And while i did take photos they are not worth sharing!
We then headed to Spokane as I had made an appointment for an oil change at a Promaster dealership. After the appointment we drove to Coure d’ Alene and spent three nights at a couple different dispersed sites that turned out to be basically turn outs on the road above the lake. Each day we were visited by locals hiking up from the lake. And while they were polite in their inquiries of our “camp” the unspoken vibe was that we were intruding on their turf and not welcomed so we moved on.
The next day we were in Yakima on a resupply run and did laundry and shopping. One the way out of town we stopped at the local US Forestry station in Naches on the way to the dispersed camping area on Highway 12. That night we were at one of what would turn out to be a six week stay in the area at several camps. The area for dispersed camping in the Rimrock Lake Recreation area is a well maintained beautiful area along the Tieton River a half hour’s drive from shopping in Yakima, though the only cell reception we were able to get in the camps was an infrequent bar or two of extended network which we could send text message updates to family and friends.
After our stay on the Tieton River we got the bug to venture further west in the White Pass area on Highway 12 and located a beautiful area of dispersed camps a mile from the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Cell reception is basically non existent in the area so plan accordingly. We sent GPS camp locations and 2-way text updates to our kids for each new camp with our Garmin InReach Mini transceiver.
In late August we said farewell to the forested camps we had enjoyed during our PNW visit and drove south through Oregon to Eagle Lake located north of Susanville California. We stayed at the lake for over a week and enjoyed the change to high desert and its sparse terrain. There were only two other campers at the lake we ran into during our stay. We enjoyed daily hikes in the mild 70 degree weather, which had been the norm during the entire summer with only a couple days in the 80’s and most nights in the 50’s. Overall a wonderful first summer on the road in the van(s) (we were still solo at this point in the Promaster since mid June).
After we broke camp from Eagle Lake we made the eight hour trip to our property in Pahrump and stayed a night. With forecasted daytime temps still in the high 90’s we decided to make a quick resupply and laundry run in town and then drive the 90 minutes to the east side of Mount Charleston to camp at the ~7500ft elevation, beating the high 90’s heat of the valley ~5000ft below…such a beautiful area in our “neighborhood”…