Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Camping in the Quiet

Written by Karen.
We are completely alone.  Way off the beaten track with no electricity, running water or cell phone coverage.  We had been looking for a campground to set up before it got dark.  And cold.  Temperatures here in the high Nevada desert will drop to the low 40's once the sun sets.  

We saw a sign for Ward Charcoal Oven State Park outside of Ely, Nevada and turned off Highway 50 and onto the rutted gravel road.  We have found that distance markers tend to be an estimation, and sure enough, the stated ten miles turned into thirteen miles before we reached the Willow Creek Campground.  Jostling and bouncing slowly down the rutted road, the extra three miles adds another thirty minutes to our drive.  I look back occasionally at the large plume of dust that Chinook is kicking up and wonder how we will ever know if any engine parts fall off.  

The campground is set high on the slope of the mountain with a forever view of land and sky.  The pygmy forest that surrounds us provides some shelter but isn't tall enough to block our unimpeded view.  

There are absolutely no lights for miles and when it gets dark the night sky explodes with a million pinpricks of starlight.  You can clearly see the stars that make up the Milky Way and the Big Dipper.  I can recognize the shapes of other constellations, but can't remember their names. You start to feel very small when you are under such a very large cosmic umbrella.  

It's very quiet, almost disconcertedly so. The night sounds are infrequent: a coyote yowling from an indeterminate distance, the sounds of thunder from afar, and the comforting sighs of the pygmy pines that brush up against Chinook during the night. 

We fall asleep instantly after darkness falls and don't wake until the rays of the sun slip gently over our faces.  Soon after, we drink hot coffee with our fingers laced around our mugs to keep warm as we stand and stare at the bigness and the silence that unfolds around us.  

It has taken us a few days to learn how to travel slowly with Chinook.  How far and how hard to push him as we slowly meander up and down mountain passes, across and around Highway 50 and surrounding vicinities.  We are getting reacquainted with his idiosyncrasies -  for example, realizing the fuel gauge drops like a stone towards the nether regions once you reach a half a tank of gas, and making subsequent adjustments. 

But despite any future adjustments that we will make or any possible mechanical issues that we may face with Chinook, the payoff right now is to be able to stand on the edge of a hilltop in the middle of the Nevada desert and watch the world as far as we can see slowly wake-up.  Good morning!  

As we pulled off the two-laned Highway 50,
the rutted gravel and dirt road that led us
to the Willow Creek Campground.
Views from our campsite 

Tiny carpets of wildflowers

A fast-moving storm making its way across the valley
After the storm


Anonymous said...

Fantastic!!SJÅåååå.:-)The plants must be
succulants. its similar to one I have inside my home `.
You write, and describe, as an author. I really enjoy following you. Hug from Gunna ,in trepical Elnesvågen, 27 C for some days.

Observers of Life said...

Hi Gunna!

I think you are right - they look like succulants - very small, delicate plants. Thanks for the kind words! Take care - keep warm! :)


Kelly said...

Hi Karen.
I am very envious of this leg of your journey! There is so much to see in the US and you have just begun! Woo too!

I love the picture you are painting with your words. I can see that night sky! And, the photos are fantastic.

Observers of Life said...

Hi Kelly!

Thanks! :) Get a Vanagon and join us! ;)