ValleyOfFire2012-138

After spending a few months in Southern California, we hitched up and drove back to Las Vegas. We’ve spent a lot of time in Sin City this past year and, trust me, it’s not because we’re attracted to the strip, the lights or the LV nightlife. We always seem to converge with great friends there, and it’s also an easy city to fly from when we need to travel by air. This time, we were preparing to go to Hawaii, but arrived a week before we were to fly out.

We spent a few days hanging out with our friends Steve, Beverly, Eddie and Judy, which was great. We often catch up with Eddie and Judy at events and conferences like Photoshop World, but it’s always such a rushed meeting. It was nice to get a good amount of one-on-one time.  We also spent a lot of time trying to deal with the finicky generator on the bus. (Like how I said “we” there?. “We” actually translates into “Ben and our friend Sean.”) Since I have lived on the bus, the generator has been a source of frustration. It’s great when it works…. but that doesn’t really happen that often. This has really put a hamper on our lifestyle, because when the genny isn’t working, we’re locked into expensive RV parks and can’t really explore all the interesting places we’d like to. Ideally, we’d like to be able to boondock whenever we want. If you’re not familiar with the word “boondock,” it means parking the motorhome at a place that has no hookups for water or electricity. (A state park, national park … or the occasional Walmart parking lot! So classy, I know. )

Sean checks the temperature of the generator on the bus. One of the reasons it kept quitting is because it was overheating.

Our great friends and fellow full-timers Sean and Louise happened to be in the Vegas area in their super-awesome Odyssey bus. Sean has got the engineer kind of head and has helped us SO MUCH in the past with bus issues (I might start calling him the bus whisperer). He and Ben spent a lot of time leaning over the generator. I felt kind of guilty that I couldn’t help in any way other than pouring them some post-work beers.

Sean, Louise, me and Ben at our boondocking spot on Lake Mead.

Since we all wanted to test the generator in a boondocking kind of situation (and I was dying to get out of Las Vegas), the four of us headed over to Lake Mead, which is far enough away to feel like we’ve left the city, but still close enough to see the light beam from the Luxor hotel reaching into the sky. (I’ve actually heard that the Luxor is the only building identifiable from space.) I must say, it was VERY relaxing. Sean and Louise picked out a perfect spot for our two buses. It was on a little peninsula of land, so we had water on all three sides of us. They even set up their portable hot tub right on the water!

Since our generator was misbehaving a lot, the two buses shared something of a symbiotic relationship while we were parked there. We were connected by a long cord, and when our generator was off, their batteries would help give us power. When our generator was ON, it charged their batteries back up. You can see a view of our two rigs at the top of this post. During much of our visit to the lake, “we” worked on the generator, spent time on other projects and shared meals/happy hours in the evening.

The two shots above are from Valley of Fire state park.

One day, we all hopped into the Mini for a little trip to the Valley of Fire, which is a state park about an hour away from where we were parked. It was a good time of the year to go because we didn’t actually FEEL like we were on fire. This place probably peaks up at about 115-120 degrees in the summer time! We went on a nice hike there, and Ben and I shot some photos. The drive was also beautiful, and even if we didn’t get out of the car, it would have been worth it just for the view. It was also the first time I got the new Mini out on some open, curvy roads, which is where it really thrives. I was having a blast driving … until I saw the flashy lights in the rear view. Awesome, right? Luckily the cop was feeling generous and let me go. Whew!

We eventually headed back to the city right before we had to fly out to Hawaii. More to come… from the Aloha state!

I got this shot of the new Mini Countryman right at our parking spot on Lake Mead.

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