Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Friday, October 30, 2015

September 2014 part 2: stranded in the desert

It's sort of fun going back through my photos from last year to see what I took photos of, which means documenting what we were doing. We had adventures!

We've been thinking about buying a plot of land in the Nevada desert. It's super cheap if you don't mind being hours of driving from somewhere, which is fine with us. Our destination was sort of the middle part of northern Nevada but we left a bit later than we planned and ended up staying the first night on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land somewhere around Elko, Nevada. We arrived at our spot on the dark so couldn't really see what we were getting into, but somehow managed to put up our tent and get a good night's sleep in. When we woke up, this was our view:

If you've never been desert camping, I highly recommend it. It's dark, quiet, and has no mosquitoes. Also the smell of desert sage is lovely. Sure you have to watch out for snakes and scorpions at higher elevations, but that hasn't been an issue for us. On this particular morning, it was so lovely to just get up, put on some shoes, make coffee and sit in my camp chair.

Some sort of ant hill?

While I was sitting in my camping chair, drinking my excellent camp coffee, a couple of antelope pranced by and one came close enough to say hello! It was quite a magical moment.

Mr. Cupcake checked out the cactus.

Oh hey don't mind the cattle moseying by.

We put the truck in 4WD and climbed some pretty steep terrain to check out this plot but we decided it did not suit our needs. It was interesting though, there was evidence of some structure built out of rocks on the top of the hill, long since unused but you wouldn't be able to see it until you are 20 feet away from it.

Don't worry, dead snake is dead.

Well then we packed up and headed west towards Battle Mountain. There were some properties just south of the town we were going to go look at. We were about 11 miles out of the town when suddenly we realized the AC stopped working (which is a problem when it's 85 degrees in the desert) and then Dan knew we were doomed. The battery wasn't charging which meant that we were minutes away from not being able to drive the truck.

We turned around and got not very far when the truck died. It was a Sunday, 1:30pm. The only auto parts store in Battle Mountain that was open on a Sunday was Napa and they closed at 3:00 and they don't deliver. What do we do? With no truck battery we also had to conserve our cell phone batteries. We weren't there long when a grumpy old timer came by to see what we strangers were up to, gave us a boost and advised us to drive as fast as we can into town. Meanwhile, Dan called back to the unhelpful Napa guy and ordered & paid for a battery and alternator, please leave it outside, we'll find some way to get it. So we got about three miles towards down on the charge from the old guy before the truck died again. Now we were only eight miles away. Stranded. 2pm.

This was a lonely country road with not much traffic. Still, you'd think that people driving by seeing a vehicle with their hood popped and then two people walking towards town who are obviously not from the area would maybe, maybe! stop and say "hey do you need any help?". Now to be fair we didn't stick out our thumbs or anything but already Battle Mountain seemed like quite an unfriendly place. Not even the cops who drove by twice stopped to investigate.

So we walked for 5 miles on a Sunday afternoon in 85 degree weather. We had about a litre of water between us. After walking for an hour and a half on a hot gravel road, I had severe blisters on my feet so when someone finally stopped and offered us a lift into town, of course we gratefully accepted.  The guy lived outside of town, was just running in to the grocery store, and on hearing our story, gladly gave us a lift back to our truck with the 40-pound battery and alternator. He wouldn't take any money for his kindness (so there is one nice person in Battle Mountain).

Dan had the tools to get the new battery in but not the alternator. We drove to the O'Reilly in Elko (Dan knew they would be open late on a Sunday), borrowed tools and the tester, only to discover Napa had given us a faulty alternator. At this point, we were dirty, dusty, sweaty, hungry and tired, so we decided instead of camping again we'd get a motel room and finish dealing with the truck in the morning. Meanwhile, I could barely walk for the painful blisters on my feet, so I was happy to have a bath.

The next day (Monday now) we went to the Elko Napa (much more friendly) and they not only replaced the alternator and provided tools for the installation, but they also upgraded the alternator to a better quality one at no extra charge.

Then we drove home. The end. 

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