Livin’ the Dream … The Diaries of a Madman

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KOWBOY

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By Kevin ‘Kowboy’ Holt

Prologue

So what is the dream? Fair enuf question I reckon. All started many years ago in Baltimore, MD. At a bar ... imagine that. Sittin’ there over a few beers with some friends from work and the lottery was big at the time. So we all bought tickets. Naturally the conversation went to what we’d do if’n we won. My answer was the simplest of all. Roam the Western U.S. No agenda, no plans. See all there is to see. And wear shorts and a light jacket ev’ry single day. Never be hot … never be cold. Control the temperature with changes in altitude or latitude. Be mobile and as free as the wind. Have a rig capable of takin’ me away from the tourists. I hate tourists.

At the time I was burdened with land, home, many vehicles, etc. But the more the idea churned itself over in my mind, the more I realized I didn’t have to win the lottery at all. Just had to regroup some. Liquidate my assets. Simplify my life. Build up a rig. Without a doubt, I got sidetracked a bit and started followin’ some wrong paths. But the dream never died. And I think I’m now where I wanna be. Reckon not too many Folks can even say that.

What follows is a collection of daily entries durin’ my travels. In addition to enjoyin’ travelin’, sight-seein’, four-wheelin’, campin’, hikin’, bikin’, and crude photography … I enjoy writin’ as well. A great way to unwind in the evenin’ time is to peck away at the keyboard and record my thoughts for the day … and occasion’ly just some random thoughts as well. Maybe even a real-world review of a bar or two along the way. Throw in some pics and the saga is complete. Forever recorded. And I think that’s cool. I’m sure I’ll go back and reread this stuff many times while I’m back at work. A pleasant reminder of why I work.

As stated above, I do this for my own enjoyment. Perhaps some of y’all mite enjoy readin’ this stuff as well tho. Maybe provide some motivation to chase one of your own dreams. So I’m gonna post it up here on our lil’ forum. Follow along if’n ya like. Spread the word if’n ya like. Or not. This is for me. And I do not seek accolades, criticism, or even opinions. Therefore this thread is closed so there can be no replies. It’s just best that way.


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KOWBOY

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CHAPTER 1

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

‘Tween the combination of the excitement of startin’ a new lifestyle with the truck and camper and the two hour time change, I was wide awake at 0400. Headed downstairs to the parkin’ lot at the Hampton in Brighton, CO and fired up the truck. Reeled in the umbilical cord. Cold. 12 degrees. On the road at 0430 and headin’ over the Rockies on I-70. Roads were clear and dry on the East side of the divide and no traffic whatsoever.

Camper came in at 2,150 lbs wet weight. 28 gallons of water in the tank, 4 gallons in the water heater and 1 gallon in the s***ter. 25 lbs of propane. So figure dry weight ‘round 1800. I was figurin’ on the wet weight bein’ round 1800. No biggie tho … kinda like just haulin’ ‘round an extra fat chick all the time. The truck don’t feel it. At all. No effect to acceleration, brakin’, or handlin’. Very nice. I believe this to be an excellent combination of truck and camper.

Anyways … truck pulled the pass without much strain. Kicked off the overdrive, pushed ‘bout 14 lbs of boost on the turbo and held the exhaust gas temp ‘round 1100 degrees. Put me at 60 mph all the way to the top. This made me happy. The ice on the road just before the Eisenhower Tunnel, however, did not.

Caught me off guard. A damned rookie mistake. Put both feet flat on the floor and both hands on the wheel. Start prayin’ to whatever god it is you believe in … and ride ‘er out. Got right crazy there for just a bit. The big Toyos bounced off the snow banks like a pinball off the bumper rails … and waitin’ for the ‘tilt’ alarm. At the openin’ of the tunnel I was still a good bit sideways … but I was in the middle. That’s just good livin’ right there … ain’t no other way to look at it. Soon as I got to the West end of the tunnel I eased ‘er to the side and stopped ‘er. No, as a matter of fact, I did NOT s*** my britches. But I was shakin’ bad. Had to get outta the truck and walk around. Cold. 4 degrees.

Eased my way down the West side ‘round 25 mph. Road was a friggin’ mess. 3 cars passed me. All 3 spun out. Can’t be in a hurry in this stuff. And all this was ‘fore the lazy-ass sun even come up.

I was glad when the sun did come up. ‘Cause my lights suck. I got good money in the fancy headlights and two sets of PIAA’s in the front bumper. I had visions of havin’ clear vision. I don’t. Not at all. All three sets of lights suck. Barely sufficient to even drive along at night.

Note to Self: Things to avoid when Livin’ the Dream:

1) Cold nights … ‘cause the truck won’t start.
2) Dark nights ... ‘cause ya can’t see the friggin’ road.

Started to see some signs of sunrise ‘round ‘bout Vail. Cold. -3 degrees. But oh so pretty. Road condition gradu’ly improved where I could ease along ‘bout 50 and enjoy the scenery. And then there’s Glenwood Canyon. Done seen a show on the tee-vee one time ‘bout buildin’ the interstate thru there. Amazin’ stuff. Hands down the most spectacular stretch of interstate in the country. I enjoy it no less each time I’m there and this was no exception.

Which then put me down in the flats thru the canyon country. A few inches of snow cover made for one breathtakin’ view after another. Utah was one big Chamber of Commerce post card. I love the West. Big, open spaces for big, open dreams. I’ll be back to this area when it’s warmer. Cold now. 5 degrees.

Decided I was gonna drive till there weren’t no snow. I-70 ends well south of Salt Lake City and dumps a fella onto the 15. The Vegas Express. Been takin’ Mormons down to sin for decades. Ain’t been on this stretch of road in a real long time. Actu’ly forgot it cuts briefly ‘cross Arizona. Then there’s Nevada. And no snow. Pulled off at the border town of Mesquite and followed the signs to “The New RV Park”. Lil’ bastard wanted 32 bucks to plug in my camper for the night. I hate Nevada border towns. Designed and built to fleece the pockets of the travelers from the neighborin’ states that come in hopes of winnin’ their fortunes. So back on the highway and goin’ deeper into the state as the sun was settin’.

Took state highway 169 south towards open country. But I was tired. Real tired. Drove too many miles. 734 of ‘em got me to Overton, NV. I wanted outta the truck and somethin’ to eat. No mood for lookin’ ‘round in the dark for someplace to friggin’ camp. Got to the main drag and seen a buildin’ with a big, green, neon fish stickin’ out that said “Sportsmans” … and had neon beer signs in the windows. Perfect. ‘Tween the bartender fella and the elderly couple at the bar, I got the lay of the town for tomorrow. NAPA for some spare fuses. Grocery store to stock in some grub. Hardware store for some miscellaneous crap. (“Some for’iner from outta town just bought the True Value Hardware so you need to go to the Ace store instead”) And for tonight, an RV park and a joint to get a burger and a beer. All within a few blocks. What a great lil’ town.

The office was locked up at the Robin’s Nest Mobile Village (With sign proclaimin’ “Overnight RV’s Welcome.”) But another sign on the door said to pick a spot, make yourself at home, and slide 20 bucks thru the mail slot. Sweet. I did just that.

Then walked back down the road to Sugar’s Restaurant and Bar … as featured in “Nevada Magazine” accordin’ to the sign. Ice cold Coors and a bacon cheeseburger. Burger was mediocre at best. But the young barmaid had a bum leg that made ‘er limp and a phenomenal ass. A combination that I studied on for many beers.

Time to make up this bed and crawl in it.


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KOWBOY

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Thursday, 12 December

Damn … I forgot how aggravatin’ it is to make up a bed that you gotta be on at the same time in order to do it. Remembered a few tricks from my days of my big-ass Lances tho and got thru it. Sealy Posture-Pedic memory foam mattress pad, Egyptian cotton sheets, silk blanket, and topped off with a Cabela’s Mountain Trapper sleepin’ bag. Extra firm Laura Ashley pillow under my noggin’ and two Laura Ashley body pillows to squeeze between. (I love shoppin’ at Bed, Bath, and Beyond!) Put the furnace on low and slept like I was back in my coma.

Still had crap just piled into the camper. Aggravates me. Gonna be a good chore for the afternoon. Space is just too small to be cluttered. Can’t step out the door and piss in the middle of the ol’ Mobile Village. So did clear a path to the s***ter. Real nice s***ter too. Thetford Cassette toilet so no holdin’ tank. Very efficient flushin’ and very sanitary. Can’t beat a good indoor s***ter. Still tryin’ to dial in the furnace. Such a small space that it’ll drive ya outta here right quick. But then gets cold ‘fore it kicks on again. Thinkin’ I need to look into a better thermostat for the thang.

So up and at ‘em and walked down to the Golden Arches for a good healthy breakfast. Back to the park to pack up the camper. No biggie. Put the DeWalt 20-volt Lithium Ion cordless drill on the crankin’ knob and takes ‘bout a minute to lower the top. Secure the 4 latches on the corners and ready to go. Unplug the block heater and head out. Back tracked quite a few miles to get to a much-needed carwash. Looks better clean and needed to get all the chemicals off ‘er from the snow melt on the roads. That crap can’t be good on the paint.

Back into Overton for my shoppin’. Topped off the tank with diesel. Bank of America for some cash. Napa for some spare fuses. Had a blown one on the chargin’ circuit for the camper when we did the install. Ford uses some strange square friggin’ thangs that are expensive. Also got some normal spade fuses for the truck and camper as well. Nice lockin’ hitch pin by MasterLock so can lock on the bling recovery thang in the rear hitch and look really cool. And a 3/8” drive allen head socket deal for tightenin’ up the beadlock rings. Nice Folks there.

And on to the Ace Hardware store. What a great lil’ store! They had stuff piled everywhere and so close together it was difficult to navigate the buggy without a spotter. Step ladder so I can get into the camper, water hoses for fresh water, and sink drain. 5-gallon plastic jug for the sink drain. 2nd extension cord, ratchet straps, trash can, ice trays, tire pump for my bike, RV s*** paper and s*** tank juice. 30 amp to 20 amp plug converter. Floor mat for the entry. And 50 rounds of ammo … in case I meet someone with a poor attitude. Cute young lady helpin’ me find stuff. ‘Cept she had a giant chrome thang stuck in her tongue that I found quite distractin.’

And then on to the Mom and Pop grocery store. Grubbed up for a week or two and they had ev’rythang I needed. Includin’ two cases of beer.

All my errands coulda been done at the Super Wally World in Mesquite with one-stop shoppin’. But I hate WalMart. They destroy peoples dreams. I spent a wonderful mornin’ in dif’rent stores that are owned by real people and have real people workin’ in ‘em. Overton, NV is a really cool town and I’ll be back.

So time to go campin’!!

Headed south on the two-lane towards a State Park I been wantin’ to see for a long time. Only 15 miles or so down the road. But I didn’t make it. Got ‘bout 5 miles outta town and started headin’ up a pretty fair grade. And on the top linin’ the bluff I could see RV’s parked on the edge. Check this s*** out. Left turn at the top of the grade onto a dirt road and there’s folks just parked here and there. I love the West. Found me a spot on the edge with no immediate neighbors and parked the truck. Just like that. Sunshine. 55 degrees. I set up my Browning camp chair and Alps Mountaineering table. Got out my vegetable tray with ranch dippin’ stuff … and a few beers. Set there for hours baskin’ in the warm sun and watchin’ s*** down in the valley. Nice.

Got right chilly once the sun went down so I crawled up in the camper and got all the stuff put away and organized. Had the MP3 player plugged into the stereo for some fine Texas tunes. Still got empty spaces in the camper. Ain’t got much to put in ‘em.

Can’t quite get the camper level. Driver’s side air bag ain’t doin’ right and seems to lose air over time. Instead of expandin’ straight up when ya inflate it, the middle just wants to pooch out sideways. Maybe look into that tomorrow.

Think I’ll stretch out on my dinette, turn on the LED readin’ light and fire up my kindle white readin’ thang. I believe a Zane Grey western is in order.


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KOWBOY

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Friday, 13 December

I love a sunrise. Means so much on so many levels. First and foremost, means ya didn’t wake up dead … ‘cause one of these days you’re gonna. It means light and warmth. It’s also a fresh start. Yesterday is dead and gone. A new beginnin’ each and ev’ry 24 hours. The sunrise presents to a fella yet another opportunity to excel. To face a new challenge. To enjoy another day.

And there ain’t no better sunrise than in the desert.

Also means my bad-ass solar panels start chargin’ my bat’ries back up. So far they seem to be performin’ exceptionally well. They charge from the very first light right thru the very last. Bat’ries have yet to even get down to 12 volts. Furnace blower motor, fridge, water pump, stereo, all the LED interior lights … all 12 volts comin’ from the bat’ries. And my Tripp-Lite 375 watt inverter for chargin’ my DeWalt, Walkman, kindle, and powerin’ this here computer. I can hear my distant neighbors runnin’ gen-sets in the evenin’ time. They either got more complex needs than I do or they got s***ty solar systems.

I like my kindle thang. Wasn’t sure what it’d be like not to hold a real book and turn pages. But the convenience of it is awesome. Very easy to read and I downloaded a ton of books ‘fore I left civilization. Got an LED light installed right above the dinette that’s perfect for readin’. Great set-up. Comfortable seat, good light, good Zane Grey novel, and a Vanilla Icin’ scented Yankee Candle made for a nice evenin’.

Meanwhile, sunrise brought on a hunger. Time to try out the new galley. Right off the bat, the lil’ sparker dealies on the stove suck. But most do and I was prepared with a couple Bic flamethrower devices. Got the coffee goin’ in the Cabela’s percolater and threw some bacon on the griddle. Need to buy me a smaller griddle but made it work. Made it work for some eggs and pancakes to boot. Bacon, eggs, pancakes, coffee, milk, and juice …I ain’t exactly sufferin’ here on this mesa.

Stove has excellent control of both the burners and is easy to clean. Close the cover down and it’s flush mount with the counter. Sink’s nice too. Precise temperature/flow control and deep enuf for doin’ dishes. I’ll try to get some pics one day. Fed and dishes all done, time to venture out.

The sunrise brought a glisten of light off a body of water down below and across the valley. An oasis in the desert. An excellent destination. Tightened up the Salomon hikin’ boots, threw on the North Face daypack, and headed down off the mesa. Some very rough terrain. The desert is harsh in its own beauty. To wander straight out into the Nevada desert is to learn the difference ‘tween “sense of solitude” and “true solitude”. Took me over 4 hours of vigorous hikin’ to make the round trip. An excellent day.

Slap worn out when I got back to the Mobile Home. Time for some more veggies and beer. Breeze picked up pretty good so came on inside.

My adventure for the day is done … time again to enjoy Zane Greys.

Today I hiked, tomorrow I bike.


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KOWBOY

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Standin' next to my home on the edge of the mesa and lookin' down at the distant lake in the valley below.


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KOWBOY

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Typical mesa resident enjoyin' the free livin'.

Harness the sun ... protect from the sun.


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KOWBOY

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Saturday, 14 December

Breeze turned into a friggin’ gale last night. Had the camper rockin’ to and fro with earnest. Not a restful night. At some point it petered out some and I got some sleep. No damage or ill effects on the camper. My step ladder was a good bit away but I faired well. Obviously a reg’lar event on top of the mesa … some of the mesa residents got wind generators in addition to the solar panels. Don’t care much for strong winds myself.

Thangs didn’t get no better quick neither. A check of the monitor panel showed I was outta water. Still comes outta the faucet but must be real low I reckon. That sucks. Prob’ly squeeze outta another day tho with some hardcore conservation-type action. Got breakfast cooked and cleaned up and feelin’ giddy ‘bout a ride on the mountain bike. Knew the front tire needed air so got out the Ace Hardware pump. Damn. Didn’t realize the pimpin’ bike has presta valve stems instead of schrader stems like the pump is for. No problem. Just have to use the lil’ trail pump that attaches to the frame. Just lot more pumpin’ action required. Fawk. It don’t fit a presta valve neither. Now that’s just flat-out aggravatin’. When I bought the darn bike, I tried to get the fella to throw in a free pump … since I just spent well over 3 grand. He wouldn’t budge. Then evidently proceeded to sell me a pump that ain’t right. Reckon when I see him in hell I’m gonna have to bitch-slap ‘im.

So I’m livin’ in a wind tunnel, got no water, and can’t go for my much anticipated bike ride. But I’m like them fellas in the hard-on pill commercials … “at the age where I know how to get thangs done.” So I made quick work of packin’ up the Mobile Home and became mobile. Back into Overton to my favorite Ace Hardware store. And I’ll be damned if they didn’t have a presta to schrader a-dapter kit. $3.15 out the door. Aired up the tire right in the parkin’ lot so knew no more issues.

Fired up the truck and headed to the Valley of Fire State Park where I had originally been headin’. Know they got water and RV dump station and figure would be outta the wind. What a unique and beautiful place. Got to the visitor’s center to get orientated and had signs all over that said “no water … system down”. Bummer. Mize well check out the campground while I’m here. The RV dump station was at the entrance to the campground and there was a Park Ranger truck sittin’ there. Need to get the scoop. Shut down the clankity-ass diesel and walked up to the Ranger truck as she was getting’ out. She said I had a purdy truck … I said she had a purdy smile. Anyhow … she said she was actu’ly there to turn ev’rythang back on ‘cause they got the well pump fixed. Perfect. So where’s the mountain bike trails? She pointed out the location of the hardcore trail and the long trail on the map (trails weren’t indicated for some reason). Said the hardcore trail is steep and most difficult. Get to the top of the pass and turn around to head back down. Other trail’s much longer and more moderate difficulty level. I thanked her and invited her over later for a beer. She never showed. Musta been a lesbian.

Nevertheless, got the truck parked in a beautiful spot in the campground. 10 bucks for daily use fee and 10 bucks for a campin’ spot. Got a big bathhouse with flushin’ toilets and nice showers. Water right at each site. Unloaded the bike, threw on the pack, and off I went for the hardcore trail. It was indeed hardcore. No … I ain’t got the mad mountain bike skills I once had … or the youthful energy and strength. But I tried By Gawd. Parts of the trail were just too steep for me so had to walk ‘em. And crashed a coupla times too. But no damage and I made it to the top. Took me a good while no doubt but I made it. That climb mighta been right ugly, but I’m out here doin’ it. And I think that’s pretty cool.

Ride down was exhilaratin’. And then kept ridin’ ‘round on the blacktop to see some of the sights. Got lots of pics. Area certainly reminds me of Canyonlands but much more rugged. And a deeper shade of red.

Got back to the Mobile Home 4 hours later as my legs were ‘bout give out. Time for a beer. Figured I’d better go ‘head and fill up with water. Typical campground faucet that ain’t got no hose threads and ya gotta hold the knob on for the water to flow. No problem. Plan was to fill my water can and then pour it into the camper tank. Repeat until full. Whoopsie. Didn’t realize the Scepter water cans have a bigger openin’ then the fuel cans. So my new funnel won’t work. Can’t get the water from the can to the camper. So fired up the truck and eased on down quarter mile or so to the dump station. Never even put the camper top down. Hooked up the new Ace Hardware water hose and filled the tank up. Figured mize well dump the cassette thang for the s***ter while I was there. Gotta say that the design is most excellent and dumpin’ the lil’ tank is not a gruesome task at all. Very sanitary. Big fan of my s***ter.

Got the truck parked back in the spot and settled in. Gained quite a bit of elevation compared to my mesa spot. Right chilly so came inside. Took the time to decorate my new Christmas tree. I think it turned out real nice. Couldn’t get a picture that showed the lights on with my cheesy camera tho. Chargin’ the bat’ries on my kindle, Walkman, and cell phone on one of the 12-volt outlets. Also got the tree plugged into the inverter with my computer in the other 12-volt outlet. Got lights on and the furnace. Be interestin’ to see what the coach bat’ries are readin’ in the mornin’.


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KOWBOY

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Arch Rock is right on the side of the road by the campground entrance.

In my opinion I had the absolutely most bad-ass rig in that campground. They sure had some purdy spots there to camp.

And a rock feature right behind my camper.


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KOWBOY

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Sev'ral nice hunks of petrified logs layin' round. Most just a short hike from the road.


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KOWBOY

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Petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock ... by the campground entrance.

I've noticed one distinct feature of all the petroglyphs I've seen in the Southwest ... all the artwork sucks. Seems like there woulda been one friggin' caveman somewheres that could draw a decent picture on a rock. Bet he woulda scored big with the cavewomen.


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