Down the Mountain and Around the Bend
If you live within Las Vegas and the surroundings, there are plenty of places to camp that reduce drastically when the temperature begins to climb to the triple digits. This is truer for RV campers due to the A/C competing with the heat index (not to mention the fridge). While there are ways to combat this, your best bet is to travel to such areas before the onset of the annual apocalypse known commonly as “summer.”
One such location is Davis Camp, located near Laughlin, NV, along the Colorado River in Bullhead City, Arizona, about two hours south of Summerlin. Upon arrival, there's a large, long-term trailer park to the far left; short-term camping with hookups immediately ahead on the slight left; beach access right in front of us; and day camping (dry) to the right. Easy as pie.
We have been to Camp Davis several times over the past few years and witnessed noticeable improvements. Day-use sites have shelters that have been replaced and ground maintenance has improved. There’s less trash in the sites than when we first started camping there, which I’m grateful for.
A Gentle Wander
When camping on a weekday, the noise level is decreased since Camp Davis is more frequented on the weekend with families. For our purposes there is a better chance for the sweetness of calm that we always look forward to during the earlier portion of the week. In the cooler parts of the day, particularly between 8:00-10:00 AM, Jamie and I usually take a long stroll near the day camp sites to the end of the row near the government-restricted area, turn at the end and return on the higher road. As we reach the beginning again, off to the left are a collection of petroglyphs that the quick adventurer might miss as they are just behind the fenced-in area, but close enough to see. A historical board also provides information on what Arizona was like when the river was fuller and the grounds were more marsh-like—quite the far cry from the dry desertscape we see today.
Facing Laughlin, the lights of the neon giants casino signs and the frequent riverboat advertising illuminate the evening sky, creating a rosy glow as part of the backdrop that lets the clouds unfold against purple and pink. There’s not too much noise from either of these; mostly just from the motorboats and related activities, though it doesn’t detract from the experience.
Taking a step back from this is the settled, long-term camping area I would any considerate traveler to walk through. It invites a slower walk in life; removed from the rowdier crowds of the day-use area. Many campers are in good shape though some have built miniature yards and gardens to create the essence of a permanent home. Some of which, are quite lovely. One in particular that resonates is a rig with an attached area that reminds me of a nightclub on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood, not too far from The Dragonfly. It is covered in fake ivy and appears to have upper and lower regions. I would imagine the owner(s) came from set design in the entertainment industry. It was spectacular, and I found I had to resist the urge to take a photo as that is someone’s home, after all.
Continuing 'round the park, bearing left through the long-term grounds, is a minor road just short of the main drag. A few houses line the street, including one where a park ranger lives that is often out working on his car on his days off. We’ve run into him a few times, and he’s pleasant to interact with. It sets the tone for what could often be overlooked as a good place for the night.
Returning to Camp
On this excursion, the wind picked up just enough to be bothersome. While it puts a damper on barbecuing outdoors, it does offer an alternative that smells as much of home as any other. Pulling ourselves inside I lift the range lid and place my trusted New Orleans hardware store cast iron skillet on top that I managed to lug back in a suitcase amidst tank tops and flipflops some thirteen years ago. The light is spilling in the window at the tail end of the Airstream, emitting a soft glow while I get to work heating the oil, chopping the onions, and carefully adding vegetables rescued from the refrigerator.
Skillet dinners have long been a favorite of mine, and each time I cook these, I find I’m reminiscent of my youth when my father would marry the forgotten items of the week into a pan for a filling and savory dinner so nothing would be wasted. It was usually a combination of onions, various vegetables, chopped tomato, and protein that turned themselves into some quasi-casserole. A balance of color and flavors: sweet, salt, acid, and fat. The kind of dinner where you grab a bowl and slink off into a corner so you can finish the chapter book you are reading in peace.
A Stitch in Time
After washing up, there is still an hour or so till the sunlight dims beyond the point of usefulness before the spotlights and generators startup, canceling the evening ambiance. It’s the perfect time to place the last few stitches on a project I have carried in many shapes and forms for as long as I can remember. Many years ago, my great-grandmother, Kate started and never completed a quilt topper from shirt scraps during the 1930s. It has been balled up, washed and separated, repaired and backed only to be dismantled and re-backed again to what is its final state. The very fact that it has not disintegrated into millions of broken fibers is nothing short of miraculous. Keeping my hand off the spirit of wasting nothing, I spent hours at home tacking and basting an old sheet to the back of the topper, sandwiched with a warm, yummy cotton batting that crinkles gently when washed. The edging came from an old, heavily washed pair of night pants long past the point of wear without embarrassment.
“A finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt.” Advice I’ve heard more than once, and this would be just that. The stitches are loose and follow the pattern, which has warped and stretched over time, and some of the stitches are longer depending on my sitting position and determination to complete the project. In other words, it’s the perfect thing to bring on the road and get lost in the inner details. Carefully folding each band of the edging, I close up the last two ends and finish the corners. At long last, she’s complete, and so is the day.
Gently folding her up, I place this family heirloom into my sack to transport home to our living room. It’s a careful memory that, over time, anything can be completed; sometimes, the longest road is the best choice. Drifting off to sleep with a now cooling mug of chamomile tea next to me, I feel accomplished with a slight sense of pride. We’ll be on the road again tomorrow with another 400 miles to notch on the post, but for now, we unhitch, unplug and unwind.