As we moved south into California with the goal to reach my parents house in time to celebrate an early Thanksgiving before my Mother left on a vacation, we found ourselves concerned about gas and weather. Winter has been at a slow creep on the west coast of late and we had been fortunate to leave Christmas Valley when it was still relatively warm, however, as we moved down the 395 we started to see winter gathering in the mountains and chasing our tail.


Our second campsite (I have developed an idiotic habit of mixing “website” and “campsite” up when speaking quickly.  I have the dumb -.-) was chosen while on the road.  Our time on the road is limited by the light of the season:  we wanted to make sure we had plenty of daylight to set up camp and make dinner before the sun set and the cold attacked, so I searched for camping places by distance. After about 5 hours we found ourselves just above Reno and pointed at Conklin Park Campground (Our review is up at that link on Campendium). This was a gamble as there were no reviews on Campendium for this campground yet and only the most basic information was available online.

img_8852If you ask Jaime about this camp, he insists it was terrible and horrible and not worth it at all.  If you ask me, it was awesome and I want to go back.

Jaime’s opinion comes from the navigation to the site.  The GPS did not tell us the smoothest most pleasant route, rather it gave us the “straight up a mountain on a gravel road then try to convince us that an atv trail is a road” route. As the driver this stressed my poor boyfriend the heck out.  The whole way up he repeatedly told me “Babe, we gonna diiiie!” while I tried not to grin because it was gorgeous outside and the gravel road wasn’t actually so bad and the trees!  TREES! (we’ve been tree deprived living in the desert the last long wimg_8855hile). Yes, it was probably not a great idea lugging the van all the way into the mountains as we were trying to conserve gas money and I couldn’t exactly work when there was no reception whatsoever, but my inner dirt-smeared camping obsessed child was thrilled.

The campground was empty and quiet and well maintained.  Not huge
with only 9 sites (some right next to a creek). There was one bathroom with a drop toilet that actually smelled good (the bathroom, not the toilet, I don’t generally sniff drop-toilets) thanks to someone clipping a dryer sheet to the air vent.

img_8861Each campsite had a new-looking bear box a fire ring with a cooking grate over it and a picnic table.  There was a storm in the mountains just north of us but the mountains around the sight and the huge trees kept the site sheltered and pleasant.  I couldn’t help imagining bringing a group of friends back there to share the campground sometime, it had a nice community feel to it where each site could be private but still wave and yell to a buddy on the other side of the campground (if you are quiet hating jackasses).

Camping here was easy, which was good.  We didn’t know if the snowimg_8856 storm was going to hit us so we set up quickly and it went very fast.  We were able to put our excessive food supplies in the bear boxes which got them out of the way quickly and then we

The dogs were tied to convenient trees on their long cables so they got to wander and smell all the things and play and run around a bit more than usual (most other sites are too small for the long cables and we are careful because of the risk of an exceptionally stupid hunter thinking they are wolves). We were able to put our excessive food supplies in the bear boxes which got them out of the way quickly and then we pitched our little tent and put all our non-food supplies in their so we had room to set up our unfortunate air mattress.

The previous night after getting onto the mattress it quickly deflated resulting in an uncomfortable lumpy back-hurting kind of night. This told us that it was time to find more permanent bedding, but first? Patching.  Earlier in the day we had hit walmart for some supplies and we’d grabbed a tube of RV Goop. So now with the right amount of space we were able to locate the slash in the air mattress(I blame the dogs) and goop the hell out of it.  To give it time to cure and be most effective, we elected to shove the inflated mattress into the tent for the night and sleep without it (sadness and despair). I laid out the foam tiles I’d used as a floor in my desert tent living days and piled the sleeping bag and blankets high. While Jaime made yummy burgers for dinner.

img_8862All our activities were seasoned with periodic ducking and covering as the wind above picked up.  Rain sprinkled here and their but mostly the wind we didn’t really feel loosened up giant pinecones above that would come hurtling to the ground in a loud alarming way.  So that was fun. No one died though. After a little bit we all climbed into the van for an early night intersperced with back discomfort and Korra waking up periodically to lick the condensation off the windows so she could see outside.  It was actually quite warm and cozy though, so when we woke up the next morning I was surprised to see a smattering of powdered snow had made it to the ground in places.

Packing up was faster than ever and very soon we were on the road.  I img_8868had, in the interests of saving Jaime’s nerves) found a cattle/logging road that was completely scenic that would get us down to the tiny town of Beckwourth and the 70 that got us back to the 395 alive. Onward we went and the storms chased behind.

Read Vanlife Maiden Voyage Pt.1



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