Our sweet new site on Northern Lake Mead, NV

Our sweet new site on Northern Lake Mead, NV

On Tuesday we raised the jacks and motored a whopping 45 scenic miles north on Lake Mead to our second boondocking spot in the area. Despite being only around an hour away from Las Vegas, this site has a totally different feel. Northern Lake Mead has the same golden rock shoreline and blue waters as the Southern shore, but it’s less developed and thus feels much more remote and quiet (ahh!). There are only a few rigs out here (amazingly that includes one of our blog readers Papa’s Travels!) and lots of space to spread out. We snagged a relatively private and prime site with full water views and hunkered down for the big storm.

You see it’s spring folly in the desert and that means everything is in flux. This time of year unpredictable hot days in the south collide with unpredictable cold storms up north forcing winds to blow and the weather to to flip-flop between extremes. Right here, in the southern desert is where you see the big switch. Some days Mother Nature lies eerily still and bakes you in the first tease of heavy summer heat. Other days she’ll laugh away with brutal winds and drop the temps to winter chills. In-between she’ll throw you sprinklings of rain, snow and everything else….just to keep you on your toes.

We typically keep a very close eye on the weather this time of year, especially while travelling north. Last year in Utah we saw the whole gamut of spring folly from heat to wind (and even snow!!), and it looks like this year in Nevada is going to be very similar.

Weather is tricky in spring (map from Weather Channel)

Weather is tricky in spring (map from Weather Channel)

We’re actually biding our time here at Lake Mead trying to figure out the best week to travel north into no-mans land of central Nevada. You see once we leave this area we’re driving into higher elevations and deep boonies with (very likely) zero internet until we land somewhere up north. So, we’ve got to plan everything. We’re keeping a close eye on the long-term forecasts (via Wunderground and our WeatherBug App) and I’m planning every stop, dump, water, grocery, gas & sightseeing spot by hand including back-up stops & alternate routes in case we get caught in something unexpected (honestly, how did people survive without Internet?). It’s a tricky business this travel stuff.

But no matter how carefully I plan we’re bound to hit a few spring storms.

Chilly, windy & wild!

Chilly, windy & wild!

Dark rain threatens "the beast"

Dark rain threatens “the beast”

Wednesdays folly was no exception and it came right out of nowhere. The winds started kicking up in the early AM, gusting and shuddering the RV from the south. We pulled in our slides, made a cup of hot coffee and hunkered down to watch the show. The morning passed rocking and rolling as the wind moaned and clouds of dust swirled from the dry desert floor. The deep blue of the lake whipped up into a light aqua, frothing & greying from the gusts. It was quite the event.

Then Mother Nature decided to turn it up a notch. Suddenly the wind shifted and the sky darkened in a unexpected change. From the west the clouds rolled heavy with rain, pounding the mountains to our left and threatening our site. At this point one of our RV neighbors got spooked (?) and decided to leave, driving right into the heart of the maelstorm (seriously??). Desert rains rarely last long and as long as you’re on high, stable ground staying still is waaaay safer than moving on. Don’t do this at home folks.

The rest of the day pretty much rolled on the same way. Wind, gusts, shudders and drops of rain intermixed with shifting colors on the lake and sky. As we shared our evening cocktail the show came to it’s peak. The dark skies had moved to the north, blue was opening up behind us and the sun peeked out for a last hurrah. RAINBOW!!! Right there from our RV window across the lake, the brightest double rainbow I have ever seen burst into flame. It blazed triumphantly for a few minutes and then disappeared leaving only the residue of fantastic colors burned in our mind’s eye. Wow!!

We’re back to usual today and even made it out for a hike to see another kind of rainbow, but that is another story for another blog post. This morning, nature’s folly is dormant and we’re relaxing in the relative calm of our gorgeous view, but I know it’s just a temporary truce. Tis’ spring after all and the show must go on….

P.S. I didn’t enhance the colors on that rainbow shot. That’s exactly how brilliant it really was!! As with all my pics, if you click on the pic you’ll get to see a bigger version on your screen.

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54 Responses to Spring Folly, Storms & Rainbows – North Lake Mead, NV

  1. Papa says:

    Glad we made through that one…..

    Winds wipe me out so I to just lock myself in…..some how I missed the rainbow, God’s little gift.

    Yesterday I had unexpected friends show up so I missed happy hour…..today maybewould be nice if that’s ok.

    Thanks for the shout out by the way.

    Papa
    http://www.papas-travels.blogspot.com

  2. Sue says:

    Wonderful post again Nina, and those pictures!!!! Gotta love the serendipity of life. Scary storm, terrible winds, spectacular rainbow and watching it all unfold while you’re snug inside the beast with your honey. Pretty neat.

    We’re waiting out a strong storm here in Florida right now. Trying to decide what to wear to a wedding on the beach during a tornado watch…… Love to you both, Sue

    • libertatemamo says:

      You guys have had a pretty crazy winter in Florida. Seems the weather out there was more temperamental than usual. Hope your rain-storm is just one of those quick FL dumps & it clears up for your friends wedding.

      Nina

  3. Paul says:

    It is an easy drive from where you are to Valley of Fire State Park. Definitely worth a visit if you have not been there. Your Class A would fit in the more developed campground loop.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’ve been and will be reporting on it shortly. Totally agree that it’s an amazing place and not to be missed!

      Nina

  4. locoBob says:

    Paul and Nina,
    I have never posted on your site but am a regular reader. I am a boondock enthusiast as well and would like to offer my 2 cents worth for making the haul through Nevada. If you are travelling north on US 93 towards Ely you might consider using the Nevada 318 route from the 3 way junction at Crystal Springs. It is lower in elevation than the Lake Valley route on 93 and the pavement is new and smooth ride. It also has some great blm boondocks which you can sniff out easy enough but don’t miss all the rock art sites around Hiko and Key Pittman wildlife area. The fellow who you linked to in vegas about hikes around lake mead and vegas has a link to the county site about accessing the sites. The one in white river narrows is real photogenic and easy access. Once you get to Ely Us 50 between there and Austin is pretty nice also and if you have time there is a emigrant trails museum in the Elko area that is worth a look. Whatever you choose it will be fun but it is just a dry cold from the Ely area north to about Twin Falls in Idaho due to the basin Range topography of the area.
    Safe Travels!

  5. Gunta says:

    Oh lordy, you’re making me miss them fabulous desert storms. Great rainbow shot. Reminds me of scenes from our fantabulous bow window looking out across the Cedar Valley in Utah. My favorite was watching the sheet lightening in the summer. Loved that location, but the temperature extremes and snow were the pits.

    • libertatemamo says:

      There is nothing quite like a spring storm in the desert. I love them too, but agree that the temp extremes make it hard to linger.

      Nina

  6. Jenny Waters says:

    I love your storm pics, Nina, especially the rainbow. It looks like you guys are having lots of adventure as usual. Where did you find the crystals?

    • libertatemamo says:

      The crystals were in a huge seam right by the water. Wish I knew more about them coz they were pretty cool-looking.

      Nina

      • Jenny Waters says:

        I mentioned your storm weathering to my husband and he had a good question. Why did you have to put the slides in? Are they vulnerable in storms? We have noticed that in some rigs you wouldn’t even be able to walk around inside if the slides were in (which must be awkward when you stop for a night in a place where you can’t put them out). Do you have any advice for times like that?

        • libertatemamo says:

          We pull our slides in because of our slide toppers. They billow like a sail in the wind which not only makes alot of noise, but can actually cause them to be damaged and/or tear. So, we pull them in.

          Thankfully the layout of our rig allows us to use the entire rig (including bathroom, fridge, kitchen etc.) with the slides in. That was one of our requirements when we bought it. It’s not super-comfy w/ the slides in, but it’s usable.

          I highly recommend looking at this (= how usable your RV is with the slides in) when you buy, esp. if you are planning to fulltime. Two years ago our big slide leaked and we had to travel for a month w/ the slide in before we could get it fixed. Having usable space was super-important. If you have a slide issue on the road, that’s your only option…live with it until you can fix it.

          Nina

          • Jenny Waters says:

            Thank you Nina, that is good information. Some of the rigs we have looked at would be about as roomy feeling as a Prius without the slides out. :) Though I suppose they would not likely break all at once (you would hope). We will definitely consider that when we choose a rig.

  7. Didn’t see my comment posted so try again. Sorry if I am duplicating. Just thanking you for the great blog. Hard work but much appreciated. We are just west of you now. Give a shot or wave before you leave and keep writing and safe travels.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You guys must be hanging at Valley of Fire. Gorgeous spot!! We’ll wave when we drive by on our way out.

      Nina

  8. Jerry says:

    Since u r heading to northern Nevada, if u haven’t been, Great Basin NP is worth a couple days.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We backpacked there several years back and loved it. Probably won’t be part of this particular trip, but we do love the area.

      Nina

  9. Smitty says:

    Surprise – More cool pics from Nina:)! Very nice…

    So, did Paul pull out a Windsurfer and get some air on the waves of Lake Mead?

    Fun way to watch a storm. And spot on and thanks for sharing the wisdom to hunker down in a safe spot to ‘watch the show’.

    Best,
    Smitty

    • libertatemamo says:

      No windsurfing unless you count the rig rocking and rolling :) I’m always amazed at people that choose to drive big rigs in big wind. I realize some may not have a choice, but if you do it’s so much safer to stay still. Big rigs are just so hard to control in high winds.

      Nina

  10. LuAnn says:

    I miss those springtime storms out west. We were under tornado watch today but nothing materialized. Awesome rainbow capture. It reminds me of those that we saw so often when we lived in Sedona. Safe travels to the two of you.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yeah…Sedona is another of those magical spots for desert storms. Very happy to hear nothing came of your tornado watch out there. Scary stuff.

      Nina

  11. Susan says:

    Nice Rainbow !! And I just love the photo of the kitty enjoying the day !

    • libertatemamo says:

      That shot of Taggart was one of my fav pics (besides the rainbow). Can you believe she’s getting on 14 years old? She looks like a young kitten in that photo.

      Nina

  12. Great advice about windstorms–Wunderground & Weather Bug look really helpful. We had rainbows here last week too–we liked to think they were for victims of the Oso mudslide. Take good care; happy trails.

  13. Sherry says:

    I’ve never had the Pleasure??? of a desert storm but am storing your advice for future. WOW what a rainbow! How I love them. Such a special gift for enduring perhaps.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m always impressed by rainbows. They’re a rare gift..the double ones even more so. I always feel particularly blessed to see them.

      Nina

  14. TenaciousBago says:

    Hey Nina…why did you guys pull in your slides to hunker down? Was it cause of wind damage to the the slide toppers/awnings? You guys are really making desert boondocking irresistable! Lol! Beautiful pics.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Exactly right. The wind billows up the slide toppers which not only makes a ton of noise, but can actually damage/tear them too. Everything is a lot quieter and safer with the slides in.

      Nina

  15. peter says:

    Nina…We were going to go north on 95 but the weather made that choice questionable so we opted to go 178/127/15/58/5 out of Pahrump and maybe cut over to the coast and on up to florence. If we didn’t have to be home, we would hang out like you guys….Peter

    • libertatemamo says:

      The alternate route makes sense. We’re currently watching snow fall on the satellite pics just north of us….brrrrrr! Not sure when we’ll see a break in this crazy weather. I know a lot of the Canadian snowbirds are looking at those same forecasts right now and hoping for change.

      Nina

  16. Excellent site. When we set out in 2008 for 9 months around North America it was a very challenging and exciting time. Having reviewed some of your posts and notes brings back a lot of memories. We would like to get back again but have to settle for trailering presently as we decide what to do next. Your blog has shown how far the industry and technology has come in such a short time since our trip. Keep on keeping on and travel safe….

    • libertatemamo says:

      Sounds like you have a taste for the lifestyle for sure. The internet has no doubt made this RV stuff sooooo much easier. Plus getting online while on the road is easier than it used to be.

      Nina

  17. linda manzon says:

    do you have directions for the northern lake mead site? we hope to be there easter weekend – from canada

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’re at Stewards Point. There is more free-camping just north of us at Overton too. If you go onto freecampsites.net you’ll find the details there.

      Nina

  18. Kathleen says:

    Are you at Stewart’s Point? We were there five weeks ago when the winter weather was still “normal”! Decided to bypass Government Wash and head straight to the Point. Glad we did. Only a couple other boondockers there. Quiet and beautiful. We also had a great day and one night at the Valley of Fire. Anxious to see your post on that. Hope you hiked the Wave. Enjoy Nevada. It was still too cold to go farther north then, so we will get back at a warmer time. Looking forward to your comments on the route north. As always, a great site! We check yours before anyone else’s when we are looking for places to boondock!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, that’s exactly where we’re currently hanging. There are probably a few more rigs here now, but it’s not too busy. Weather is actually looking even worse up north so may end up here longer than expected.

      We spent a whole day at Valley of Fire, but didn’t find the Wave? Argh!!! I’m going to have to go back!!

      Nina

      • Kathleen says:

        I think they just opened the trail to the Fire Wave because it doesn’t appear on their maps. Ask
        in the visitors center and check the wall map there. It is on the right side of the road before you get to white domes. Parking lot across the road and a sort of temporary sign marking the trail. Definitely worth it, but I don’t know if dogs are allowed.

  19. Rowanova says:

    Nice post with a lot of great photos, great to see and enjoy. Thanks for sharing. Hope the wind storms settle down for you.
    Stay safe and keep having fun.

  20. Looks like quite the stormy adventure! We are in Salt Lake and had to put our slides in for the night as well as we were being pounded by the wind. I am curious, do you have a dish mounted to the top of your rig and if so do you lower that in the high winds as well? I lowered mine yesterday when the trailer was rocking, not sure if I needed to but it made me feel better.

    Jim

    • libertatemamo says:

      No, we just have a dome up there, so nothing to lower. If we did have a dish I would probably have done the same. We saw the weather your way on WeatherBug….looks like you also got snow? Hope these crazy storms settle soon.

      Nina

  21. […] Spring Folly, Storms & Rainbows – North Lake Mead, NV […]

  22. Papa says:

    Hi guys, looks like one more day of wind and then maybe 30% showers in a few days.

    I took advantage of the nice morning we had yesterday and got some chores done, that sure felt good.

    By the way I enjoyed getting to meet the 2 of you, hope to visit again.

    Papa
    http://www.papas-travels.blogspot.com

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, we may actually move to the rig to higher ground today. They’re now forecasting thunderstorms tomorrow which could turn our current spot muddy. We’ll wait and see how the forecast pans out. Ah, the joys of spring :) do feel free to come by if the wind stops blasting.

      Nina

  23. Papa says:

    Sunday there is a car show in Boulder….
    https://m.facebook.com/184572958282573/photos/a.184580598281809.46608.184572958282573/627531797320018/?type=1&theater

    I hope to be able to head over and check it out, it is supposed to be a good one.

    The area by me shouldn’t get muddy…I found an easy way in that avoids the mud hole. There’s plenty of room still.

    Oh by the way my blog hits spiked after you mentioned it :0

    Papa
    http://www.papas-travels.blogspot.com

    P

  24. Betsy says:

    I boondock vicariously through reading your blog and other brave souls like you. It’s my goal some day to get past the fear of being without the comforts of a FHU. Great photos! What a rainbow to enjoy. Interesting info about pulling in the slides during a wind storm. In our 5er, we’d have access to the head, the galley and could crawl into bed, but there would be no comfortable place to enjoy happy hour while watching a storm. Will keep that in mind when we get a chance to upgrade.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We actually end up pulling our slides in quite a bit during the high wind months of Spring. It’s the windiest time of year, for sure! Not super comfy with the slides in, but we make do and it really does help that we can access everything in the rig with the slides in.

      Nina

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