We RVers have a saying…



Yes, that is surely one of them…But the one I really meant was “Plans are made in Jello.”   Such was the nature of my exit from Prescott on a Friday afternoon.

I was 20 miles outside of town when the “Check Engine Light” came on.  This was my first experience with this, and I was woefully unprepared.   What does a dayglow orange outline of a crankcase mean exactly?   “Check Engine?  Yes, I have one.  Could you please be a little more specific??”

Having no idea whether this meant “Have it checked at your next opportunity” or “Call a tow truck now,” I pulled into the nearest parking lot that had entrance and egress, since I can’t back up with my tow bar.  That happened to be the Presbyterian Church.  I started to knock and see if I could go in and pray!   Instead, I went to the altar of Facebook, more specifically the View/Navion group, and posted the above picture.   Within a matter of minutes, I had a dozen responses that led me to my next clue in the scavenger hunt, “Get to an Autozone.”  They had a gadget that could read the code that would give me my next clue.   Now I know why all the guys on the forum talk about a “ScanGauge.”   Before, I thought it was just more gadgetry for boasting rights.  Now, I understand why I need one.  Mercedes apparently assumes no owner can be bothered with looking up codes, and instead just tells you to stop by your dealer at your convenience.    That might be convenient if you have an S-Class Coupe in your garage.  Not so convenient when it is your rolling home and you are miles from nowhere.

With a little help from my friends, I find out there is a Mercedes Service Center in Henderson, Nevada which is right on my way.   I make an appointment for Monday morning, and decide to tuck in for the night at the Prescott Fairgrounds RV Park to get an early start toward Henderson first thing Saturday morning. ($15 a night w/PA, thanks Lynne!)

When I wake up at daylight, it’s hard to tell if the sun is even up.  It is raining, and fog is so thick I can’t see the road beside the park.  Soon the wind picks up, the rain turns to sleet and snow flurries, and the wind is shaking my rig like a toy.   Weather.com says the temperature outside is 31.  It was 82 here yesterday!

I sleep in for a little while, but the wind seems to be getting worse as the morning goes on, so I decide to brave it.   It is slow going bucking 28mph headwinds, and giant snowflakes are hitting my windshield as I leave Prescott.IMG_2308

It takes what seems like forever to reach Nevada, where the weather improves but the winds do not.  Crossing the new high bridge over the Hoover Dam at sunset as the western sun is burning right into my eyes, I make out flashing signs warning “High Profile Vehicles Move into Left Lane Now!”  Oh, my God, that’s meeeee!!

I white-knuckle it over the damned Dam, and miss my turn onto Lakeshore Drive.   I am trying to get to “Government Wash” which was recommended in one of the blogs I follow religiously, Nina’s “wheelinit.”   Her directions are superb, but I can’t make the google maps app find my current location.  How can it tell me how to get there from here if it has no idea where “here” is?  Meanwhile, it is getting darker by the minute…

So I try plugging in Nina’s GPS coordinates, but her coordinates have a whole lot more digits than mine.  I think “Fine, I’ll just round.”   But when I get to the “W,” her first number is an 8, and everything above a 4 on my GPS is GRAYED OUT!  What’s up with that??

I use the screen shot feature on my iphone to capture Nina’s map image, then stop alongside the deserted, darkening road every 10 minutes to compare it to my navigational apple map to make sure they look the same.  It doesn’t help my stress level that I am down to a third of a tank of diesel.  I haven’t seen a fuel station for what seems like miles (perceptual narrowing.)  I set a “point of no return” limit.  If I am not to Government Wash by the time I reach 225 on the odometer, I must turn around.

Finally, at my exact odometer reading of 225, I see the turn-off for Government Wash!  WHEW!!  What a relief!!   But the gravel parking lot is empty on a Saturday night.  Nina said to expect weekend crowds.   Am I even in the right place??  I can see the same bathroom building from a photo on Nina’s post, so this must be right.  It is PITCH DARK now, and only one other car in the lot.   I pull along the fence pointed toward the exit of the lot, and turn my engine off.  I just sit for a while, trying to release the stress of the day, and assess the situation.  It’s deafeningly quiet.  A bit unnerving being so far out and not being able to see my surroundings.  By now, I am kicking myself.  What on EARTH am I doing looking for my first solo boondock in the DARK??  BUT!  I have both a strong AT&T and Verizon signal, so I am not completely adrift!

I leave my keys and flashlight in a convenient spot in case I need to bolt during the night, then I try to get some sleep…in my clothes.

Parking area entrance at Government Wash

Parking area entrance at Government Wash

Creative way to save a site…

Some sites have built-in stone fireplaces.  ;-)

Some sites have built-in stone fireplaces. 😉

I awake at first light and walk the rocky gravel road for about a mile to be sure the Winnie can handle it (to be sure my NERVES can handle it!)  I found a very nice bluff overlooking the lake with an incredible view out my bedroom window.

My first (solo) boondock!

My first (solo) boondock! Government Wash overlooking Lake Mead

View from my bedroom window.

View from my bedroom window.

A long way down for a picnic...even longer back up!

A long way down for a picnic…even longer back up!


I make a nice breakfast — Spanish omelet and a Bloody Mary, and go back to sleep for a nap following a fitful night.   I read a while, work on the blog for a while, take a long walk down by the lake, and enjoy the solitude at sunset.   My second night of boondocking has a whole different feel to it altogether.   I could get used to this….

I am well rested to do battle with the Mercedes Service Center come 8:00am tomorrow!

Reflection in the Winnie wall...

Reflection in the Winnie wall…

7 thoughts on “We RVers have a saying…

  1. Yup, I have that saying! Pretty stressful day – thank goodness those are few and far between, followed by many gorgeous days, with gorgeous spots, gorgeous views, and peaceful quiet. At least if you’re a boondocker. That’s a great place! I hope everything turns out well at the Mercedes place. 🙂

  2. And a boondocker is born! It just gets easier from here! Nice spot you got there, too.

    Good luck with the check engine light. I travel with a ScanGauge now, too.

  3. Ridiculously high winds and an increasingly dry gas tank are enough to stress anyone out.

    Add to that the Check Engine Light and, well, you just want to stop on the side of the road, pull the covers over your head, and fall asleep fully clothed.


  4. Well I’m very happy you made it to Government Wash in the end! As I was reading your post I was thinking “oh no, my directions sent her to the wrong spot”…but I’m glad it worked out. Not sure why those GPS coords don’t work. I just plug them into my Google Maps and they show right up. Hope the check engine is an easy fix.

  5. Oh goodness, you had me on the edge of my seat. I’m with you about the ridiculousness of a “check engine light” and nothing beyond take it to a dealer. This minute??? Next Month? I got a code reader too for just that reason. Little that I dislike more than high wind warnings. I’m in awe of your dealing with all of this so well and of all the help you were able to get so quickly. Congratulations! Hope the fix is itty bitty.

  6. Hi Barb — You are so right. The gorgeous spots and views make it all worth it! If life had no hills and valleys, the scenery would get very boring. 😉

    Annie — yes, a boondocker will be even more born if I can ever get “solared-up.” Look out next time….I may move in next door to your riverside patio!

    Kim — Yes! I believe I even sent an email to Lynne that night saying “I want my blankie!” haha!!

    Nina — Thanks again so much for the great directions! I would have never had the guts had it not been for your “triple coverage” of a map, photos and coordinates. I think my problem was trying to enter them into my “antique Garmin.” I need to learn how to use them with Google Maps soon.

    Sherry — Yes, the spring winds are starting to wear on me a bit. But it won’t be long until we are saying “wish there was a breeze!” 😉

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