We took a chance on a detour. It was late and we needed to figure out our endgame for the day’s travel. But we’d done a poor job of route planning. So we found ourselves in rural northern Nevada with no reasonably good choice for an overnight stay.
This was our first attempt to leave the Carson City area in over three months as the pandemic shutdowns eased. We were woefully out of practice in managing our transit legs. Our sights were on the Mackay, Idaho area—a two-to-three day transit for us depending upon how things went. That was Plan A.
The goal was to find a quiet place to stay for a couple of weeks surrounding the Independence Day holiday. We wanted to be away from the partying and noisier kinds of holiday campers who harsh the vibe of mellower outdoors-people like us. No doubt that gap in camping mindset would be greater than ever as the population as a whole released their pent-up pandemic fatigue of staying home.
As we trudged our way toward the northeast corner of the state we were scrambling to solve our transit dilemma. Then J suggested Wild Horse State Recreation Area. It’s a place we’ve both always wanted to go. But it was a significant detour and risky. We’d be arriving at the end of the day and there was a good chance there wouldn’t be any sites left.
We settled on that as Plan B and went for it. There is BLM land for boondocking nearby if our craphsoot failed and we had to wait a day or two to secure a site at Wild Horse Reservoir. So at least had a Plan C, too. We also decided if we were going to make that big of a detour, it wouldn’t be for an overnight. We’d stay several days to decompress and enjoy the park.
That had other implications, though. We’d be bumping up against the big holiday weekend and ran the risk of not securing what we wanted in Idaho if we lingered too long at Wild Horse.
The post-risk reward
Turns out, our luck isn’t all bad these days. We rolled into Wild Horse, nabbed a fabulous spot, and dove into a hard-earned happy hour. By mid-morning the next day, the next decision had already made itself. There was no need to push to Idaho. This glorious park would do just fine for the next two weeks, thank you very much.
We couldn’t believe we’d finally had a stroke of good fortune in our problematic travels. We even scored one of the best sites in the park a few days later as another camper left. With an unobstructed view of the reservoir as well as being on the loop with the showers and flush toilets, making the move—or what we call a campsite fire drill—was a no-brainer.
For the first time since going full-time, we truly felt like we were getting somewhere. Traveling. Relaxing. Finally—going to a place we’ve been wanting to visit for a long time, finding a work rhythm again, time behind the camera, recreational reading, dog walks with gorgeous views, and a couple of motorcycle rides, much to our amazement. We were living again, not just surviving. This is what we were trying to achieve as we set out on the road.
Wild Horse Bliss
Wild Horse SRA is breathtaking. We basked in the vistas on our daily walks. It was hard to know whether to keep watching the mountains and sky, look down to marvel at the diversity of summer wildflowers and grasses, or peer into the meadows to spy grazing pronghorn.
In its own right, Wild Horse is a remarkable place. Oftentimes though, when we visit a place, it becomes more than a beautiful destination. It becomes a broader experience because of what we bring to it, what we were going through, and what we were feeling at the time. Wild Horse will always be one of those places for us. We will return for its beauty and outdoor opportunities, but also for what it means to us personally—what it gave us when we needed it most.
It was nice while it lasted
I wish I could say our good fortune held. It wouldn’t be 2020 if it did, right? During our stay at Wild Horse, our roof began leaking during a heavy storm. It was soaking our bed back in the “sleeping pod” as we call it while we were at the other end of the trailer (“command central”) for the evening.
As we headed to bed late that night, we got a nasty, soggy surprise. And there we were, in rural northeastern Nevada, 65 miles outside of the only decent-sized city where we might find help.
More on that later. Right now, it’s time for happy hour.
In the meantime, here are some time lapses Val shot at Wild Horse. Cheers, friends!
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