I woke up yesterday morning and thought, wow, this looks like the scene of a crime. If I mysteriously disappeared, I wonder what the police would think when they investigated? It would have been a perfect location for it, too: the campground at Calico Ghost Town, a little east of Barstow, CA.

Calico cemetery sign

The cemetery would be an excellent spot to discover a dead body. Or rather to have a character discover a dead body. In real life, I’d really rather not stumble across any corpses.

At a busy time, the campground would have been the kind of place I hate: sites close together, basically a parking lot, with minimal outside room between one site and the next. But on a Sunday/Monday in September with no special events at the ghost town, there was plenty of room. I think there were about six campers/tents total in a campground with room to accommodate a couple of hundred. Perfectly comfortable.

And a deserted desert campground next to a ghost town? It’d be an excellent paranormal/horror setting. Or even a mystery/thriller. The town is cute enough that you could even do it as a cozy.

Or course, the real story of my personal crime scene was nothing so interesting (or depressing, I guess, depending on how you look at it.) As pretty much everyone I spend time with discovers, I am prone to bloody noses. Generally, my nose just starts dripping blood, a little gentle trickle. I feel a hint of wet, touch it with a suspicious finger or two, and yep, blood. It’s happened in stores, in restaurants, in friends’ cars, anywhere, everywhere. FYI, if you start dripping blood all over the floor in a public place, otherwise lackadaisical sales clerks will run to get you tissues or paper towels. It’s usually not a big deal — a couple tissues and it quickly stops.

Exception: the night before last. I think it might have been because the air was very, very dry in southern CA, but in the middle of the night, the blood just started gushing. Of course, it was dark and I couldn’t find the tissues and I was camped at a place where the van wasn’t connected to water, so I couldn’t just turn the sink on, and the dogs were underfoot — I wasn’t worried about it in the middle of the night, but in the morning… yeah, it was gross.

It really would have made a good fake crime scene, though. Especially because I also had my vacuum sealer out to store some chicken for later sous vide cooking. Vacuum sealers are great for storing food and really handy for sous vide cooking, but as I learned in Arcata, they’re also an essential tool for major drug dealers. Ha.

But I cleaned it up, of course, then took a shower (with much gratitude at being in a place where I could easily take a shower!) and dumped the trash with its excessive quantity of bloody tissues and paper towels, then headed out. We started with a visit to the ghost town, Calico. I’d arrived the afternoon of the previous day but it had been so hot that I just plugged into the electricity, turned on the AC and waited for it to cool down. A metal box is not a good place to be when the temps are in the 90s. But pets are allowed in the ghost town, so before moving on, we went and wandered around a little. It didn’t feel very ghostly. Mostly because even early on a Monday morning in September, it was filled with tourists — two busloads of them beat me there!

By 10 AM, I was in the van, ready to move. Suzanne and I had mapped out a route to the Grand Canyon back in Arcata. At the time, it sounded fun to take the scenic routes. And I’d thoroughly enjoyed at least some of said scenic routes — 89 around Lake Tahoe was well worth driving. But I was starting to get really tired of spending days behind the wheel. And I was also seriously mourning gas prices. It was over $4/gallon at places in CA as I drove south: in a vehicle that gets about 15-17 mpg, that starts to add up fast.

Plus, it occurred to me as I looked at my GPS, if I gave in and let the GPS take me where it wanted to go, I’d drive through Nevada and Utah, adding two more states to Serenity’s total. That’s a silly reason, I know, but… well, it amuses me. I’m up to 36 states as of yesterday. By the time I make it back to the east coast, I’ll only have 6 left in the continental United States that I haven’t driven though in Serenity: Delaware, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan.

So, in the interest of gas prices, less driving time, and a meaningless checkmark on a list of states, I took 15 up through Las Vegas and across to Utah. In St. George, I started trying to figure out where I should stay. Alas, I fell for some wishful thinking. The Reserve America app, my favorite app for finding cool campgrounds, said that walk-ins might be available at the campground inside Zion National Park. I took a chance that they were right, had an absolutely beautiful drive, but gave up before I even made it to the campground.

The park was packed with people. It was Mt. Rushmore all over again, not quite so kitschy, but definitely an absolutely thriving population of tourist attractions. Nice ones — in a different life, one that included more money, cooler temperatures, and an assurance of dog safety, I would have loved to wander around the town that leads into the park. As it was, I stayed stuck in traffic long enough for all my appreciation of the incredible beauty to turn into grouchy annoyance and tired frustration. Then I made a u-turn and drove back to Hurricane, Utah, trying to figure out a good place to spend the night.

A good place to spend the night when the temperatures were in the high 80s needed to include enough privacy that I could run the generator to keep the dogs cool without feeling guilty about my neighbors or an electric hook-up.

Long story short, I found it. Electricity and more! But I will write about it tomorrow, because somehow it has already become mid-afternoon. Where do the hours go?!