Cowboy Onsen

Lock down in San Francisco. I find nothing in the rules about not traveling and so I decide to head off into the high hills of Northern California and the lost deserts of Nevada. The goal is to soak in natural hot springs overlooking thousands of square miles of emptiness. Cowboy Onsen.

We drive through orchards, cattle farms and vast spaces. I cannot remember where I stayed the first night but I do remember it being very cold. As usual the camper’s furnace is not working but just in case I had bought a small internal propane heater.

Now my best friend

The next day we bumble through fantastic remote country. We see eagles, real cowboys, countless deer and end up camping at the idyllic Blue Lake.

I never see a soul.
So beautiful but frozen in the morning

The next day I search for hot springs. I have little success. I have a book, but it is woefully out of date. The first 4 I found are now closed off with barbed wire. The 5th just did not look appealing.

It is now very grey and cold. I do not want to take my clothes off.

I search around for somewhere to camp and find a great spot under a tree. The sky gets darker and soon it is snowing heavily. I am very snug in the camper but the problem with snow is it covers up the tracks of you coming in and on the way out, it is so easy to drive off the road into terrible trouble.

Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise.
Good selfie conditions. You can cover virtually all your face.
7:00 am. Really cold

The radio announces very heavy snow and so I abandon cowboy onsen project and turn for home.

I see another truck
Long road home.
Pyramid Lake.

I stay just ahead of the snow and get on I 80 at Reno. Up into the mountains, past Donner Lake, Truckee and into California. I swoop down the west slopes of the Sierras knowing that in just a few hours I will be home. I sing like Yves Montand in the last scene of Le Salaire de la Peur. Actually he doesn’t sing but hums along to The Blue Danube.

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3 Responses to Cowboy Onsen

  1. Mike says:

    Don’t miss the Goon Show remake “The Fear of Wages”.

  2. Bill Parrish says:

    Neil, be very, very, careful with that unvented propane heater inside your camper. Here in Michigan, where winter comes in September and lasts until the 4th of July, every year we have deer-hunters asphyxiate themselves in their hunting blinds with propane heaters.
    Best regards,
    Bill, Scaffie sailor

  3. Dear Bill, Thanks for the very sound advice. I did not understand the dangers of using the stove in confined areas, like the camper. Luckily I was bragging about the heater to a camp site host before the first night. He put me right.
    You have a Scaffie! Conratulations! I miss mine a lot. I have a bigger boat now but the Scaffie was so easy to use and such an excellent sea boat. We had some great adventures together.
    Stay well in Michigan!

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