Camping in Nevada…in July. I don’t know whose idea this was (okay so maybe it was mine) but summer camping in the Southwest is suicide. I beg of you: don’t do it!!!
All I have to say is, we will never EVER be returning to Lake Mead or pitching a tent in Nevada during a record-breaking drought. Heinous. Our entire camping experience was a heinous nightmare. And I do mean nightmare.
Lake Mead is 25 miles from our apartment, so you may wonder why it took FOUR HOURS to get there. We got lost. Two minor navigational errors on top of serious roadway construction leads to three and a half hours of unnecessary travel in a ridiculously hot car during the hottest time of the day. (We’re off to a great start!)
One of our navigational errors landed us in a different time zone (and I wasn’t even driving!!). But it’s good to see new places, and we got to check out the Hoover Dam (which, after all the hoopla, is no where near as big as you’d think it would be). Arizona seems like a nice state, perhaps a tad greener than Nevada…but not green enough to convince me to make the four hour drive again anytime soon.
We finally get to the Lake and check out a few of the campsites, which are unstrategically positioned at 50 mile intervals around the lake. (Hello, I thought this lake was only 20 miles long?!?!) Whoever designed this park was a total moron if you ask me–the road running around the lake is no where near the water and instead winds through the desert at a random fifteen miles away from the shoreline. And to top it off, all of the camping plots are at least a mile away from the water!! WHO DESIGNED THIS LAKE?!?! Isn’t the whole point to go camping ON the water!?
Fantasizing about a cool, refreshing swim in aforementioned lake, we pick the best spot, pitch our tent, don our bathing suits and–loaded with an at-least-adequate amount of alocholic beverages–begin the hike to the water.
There’s a freaking field of prickery desert cactus between the campsites and the lake.
Great. We pick the prickers out of our feet and continue on–determined to persevere no matter what.
Feeling like we just traversed the Sahara on a bed of nails (did I mention it’s 104 degrees?), we arrive at the water twenty minutes later.
It REAKS!!! I don’t know if this is an ancient animal burial ground or what, but lots of something died here recently. The sand is actually ash or some sort of extremely finely ground stone (or perhaps animal bones) instead of the beautiful white sand we were expecting, but what can you do? We arrive just in time for a mini-wind storm, so we get to really become one with the beach as the pseudo-sand flies up our nostrils, between our teeth, into our eyes, hair, elbow creases–you name it. Oh Billy, it just keeps getting better.
Trying hard to stay positive, we decide to go swimming. Two steps into the lake we realize that the swim we’ve been dreaming about all day won’t be happening. The bottom of the “lake” is mysterious mucky quicksand. You step in and sink to your knees in gunk. I like to think I’m pretty tough as far as girls go, but this is absolutely disgusting. And because the lake is man-made, the water stays shallow for at least 20 yards, so you have to walk out really far to even be able to swim.
It’s 107 degrees now, the ash is still blowing, our feet are bloody and throbbing, we’re sweating like Arabian Knights, the water smells like a garbage dump, and we’re knee deep in quicksand. I ask you, does camping get any better?
Determined to leave immediately, we down our drinks and head back to the primitive campsite (primitive because they don’t even have an outdoor shower for us to hose down with). During our return trip through the pricker bushes, the heat gets to our heads and we decide that we’re going to at least stay the night. We’ve come this far, we might as well stick it out.
Dinner requires making a fire. MAKING A FIRE IN 107 DEGREE WEATHER. Oh, Lord. So we wait until it gets dark, hoping it might cool down a little and then build the smallest fire possible that will still cook our chicken. We only have two candles for light, so it’s pitch black and we can’t really see what we’re doing, but hope that everything is cooked enough to eat it without killing us. The local mice, which live in the bush next to our tent (great) join us for dinner. I guess Siegfried and Roy must have camped here not too long ago, because the mice are so well trained that they sit at our feet and wait for us to throw scraps (which we refuse to do). At this point, even s’mores can’t improve our mood.
Sleep is elusive when camping in Nevada in July in a two man tent with three girls and nylon sleeping bags. Oh, god, it must have been 120 in there. The heat RADIATED from the earth. Suzanne soaks a towel in the melted ice from our cooler and Jen and I bathe ourselves with the few pieces of ice that haven’t already melted. But it’s no use. The night is long and miserable. I think I have some exotic heat disesase because I throw up around 2 in the morning. At some point we have a water war and laugh/cry hysterically until we collapse with heat exhaustion. It. Was. Just. Horrible.
We get up (having never acutally fallen asleep) the next morning and are home by 8am. Good-bye Lake Mead.