Jan 052010

Terry and I have been dry camping at Mike and Pam Steffen’s place in Salt Flat, Texas for a couple of days, swapping lies, playing with their herd of dogs, target shooting, and admiring the star filled sky above us at night. In another life, that would be called goofing off, but in the laid back RV lifestyle, it’s called….. okay, I guess it’s still goofing off. But what’s wrong with that?

Mike is a well known and respected RV columnist for Trailblazer magazine, and his work is also familiar to readers of MotorHome magazine, Trailer Life, Woodall’s, and most other RV publications. Mike has been presenting seminars at RV rallies for longer than Terry and I have even been RVers, and I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.

Salt Flat is located on U.S. Highway 180, about 60 miles east of El Paso, and seventeen miles from nowhere. To get to Mike and Pam’s place, you turn north at the cattle guard, drive eleventeen miles down a dirt road, cross a couple of dry washes, take a right at the scorpion crossing, bear left at the pile of cow flop, and then drive for six days and nights. Eventually a wild menagerie of friendly dogs will run out to greet you, and you’re there. Do you get the picture?

This is rustic dry camping. Our Verizon cell phones and air card don’t work way out here, but we arrived with a full tank of fresh water, a full propane tank, empty waste tanks, and our Onan QuietDiesel generator gives us all the power we need. Mike and Pam are so far off the grid that they’re not even in the same galaxy. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re roughing it. When the sun hides behind the clouds and his large array of solar panels doesn’t work, Mike ties a key onto a kite string and pulls power right out of the sky, and if that doesn’t work, all he has to do is harness a couple dozen of his dogs and put them on a treadmill and they’ll crank out some power!

Okay, so it’s not a four star RV resort, but how many of them have a private shooting range where I can play with my toys? Not many! Yesterday I hauled a couple that I had not tried out yet across the yard to Mike’s range and put them through their paces, and after I got a bit familiar with them, I even managed to impress myself.

I love dogs, and this is a great place to get a puppy fix. Mike and Pam have a bunch of lovable mutts, and not a poodle in the lot! I have been licked, nuzzled, and snuggled enough to hold me over for a couple of months, and I’ve scratched behind enough canine ears to send a battalion of fleas across the border into Mexico.

As you can see, we’ve had a great time here, but today we’ll get back on the road and head for the Escapees Dreamcatcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico. Coming across west Texas on Interstate 10, I fell in love with the big 350 Cummins engine in our Winnebago all over again. It just eats up hills and doesn’t even seem to notice. Today will be its first real test. We’ll avoid all of the traffic in El Paso by taking the 375 Loop through Fort Bliss and over the Franklin Mountains to Interstate 10, just south of the New Mexico state line. Called Transmountain Drive as it crosses through Franklin Mountains State Park, the road has some pretty steep climbs and descents. We came over it in a gas powered motorhome years ago, but we never attempted it in our old bus conversion. I don’t think it’ll be a problem with this rig.

On another note, we have received e-mails from several Gypsy Journal subscribers complaining that pages 7 and 30 of the new issue are unreadable due to a problem with the printing process. If you get a bad paper, please e-mail me, and we’ll send you a replacement.

Thought For The Day – Each of us has our own individual Heaven and Hell.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  7 Responses to “Dry Camping At Salt Flat”

  1. That was funny! your description on how to get there was simply great. I actually laughed reading it!

  2. Sounds like you’ve gotten some MUCH needed “down time”. Good for you!
    Keep on keeping us informed Nick, and give Terry a -squeeze- from us.

  3. Mike and Pam’s place sounds great. Would have loved to seen some photos of the area.

  4. Hi Nick,
    Mike and Pam sound like my kind of people! I LOVE dogs and would enjoy throwing some fleas around. Thanks for your post, I LOL.

  5. Nick, your mention of Ft. Bliss brought back many memories. Exactly 55 yrs.
    ago Christmas we had our 1st baby at Ft.Bliss (actually at Biggs AFB). We are
    now in the Rio Grande Valley for 3 months. We never did get back to
    El Paso. Our home the rest of the year is in :Michigan so this is as far as
    we go. Hope your paper gets forwarded to us.
    Happy trails to you. See you in Elkhart .

  6. Glad to find you in such wonderful country and company. Your description brought memories of one of my favorite landmarks; Guadelupe Peak. What a lovely drive through our gorgeous country.

    By the way – we found that our $5 fee at Carlsbad Caverns was good for TWO days! We went back on day two with tripods for our digital cameras and shot time exposures (10 sec. or so). The results look like National Geographic! What fun!

    See you in Yuma.

  7. Now, that sounds like my kind of place, especially the dogs. Love dogs:) We have been curious about the 375 loop and wondered how mountainous it was. With no prior info or experience, we opted not to try it. Will be curious how you do.

    Travel safe!

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