Camping Trip to
Pine Valley
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen
August 25-27, 2021

You can see the forest for the trees!
(Click to enlarge)

I have to admit that I feel a bit guilty for taking this camping trip, let alone posting a narrative about it. With wildfires out of control on the west coast, a hurricane devastating the Gulf Coast, the hottest temperatures on record this summer, horrendous floods worldwide, and the ridiculous resurgence in COVID-19 infections, I’m embarrassed to be able to take some R&R while so many others are suffering the escalating effects of the climate crisis and the pandemic. My one justification, I suppose, is that getting away in nature, albeit only briefly, helps me retain my sanity in an increasingly insane world so that I can continue to advocate for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and protecting those natural surroundings.

Not longer after I got my second vaccination for COVID-19, I resolved to finally emerge from lockdown and went camping by myself in the McWilliams Campground near Mt. Charleston, Nevada. Our entire clan, however, had not taken such a trip since we camped in Kodachrome Basin two years ago in 2019. We therefore decided to reserve a camp spot in Pine Valley for three days and two nights, and the getaway proved a welcome reprieve. Below our several movies and photos of the short vacation.

NOTE: You can click on the following photos to enlarge them, and the movies to play them.

All packed up and ready to hit the road. This was Moxie's first camping trip and we were curious to see how she would handle it.

I reset the roadtrip odometer, and the battery gauge showed about 239 miles of range in the battery from an 80% charge. I set the navigation to guide us to the Pine Valley Campground, nearly 40 miles north of our home.

The energy gauge estimated that we would arrive there with a 60% charge in the battery.

Moxie planted herself in her favorite spot in front of the rear air conditioning vent, yet seemed somewhat perplexed and disoriented by the roads we were taking.

In this introductory video, I explain where we’re going and describe the area we’re driving through.

Here I indicate that we’re driving through the small town of Gunlock, and then the video jumps to when we're on Highway 18 headed toward Central, where we'll turn to continue climbing to Pine Valley.

We're now on the road to Pine Valley, as you'll see in the surroundings.

Finally, we arrive in the town of Pine Valley and turn left to get to the campground.

This is a view of Pine Valley as we were approaching the town.

And here is the ranger station at the entrance to the campground.

Now we're driving on the campground road to find the Dean Gardner section where we reserved a spot.

Made it! We’d driven 39.3 miles, yet the battery gauge shows a range of 159 miles, i.e., 79 miles less than when we started. Climbing 3,719 feet in elevation while towing a trailer takes its toll!

And sure enough, according to the energy gauge we arrived with 54% in the battery rather than the 60% predicted at home.

This video is for those who are curious about our minimalist camp trailer. I demonstrate how easy it is to set up.

Moxie was feeling a mixture of intrigue from all the wildlife smells, yet also wariness from the unfamiliar surroundings.

I then attached the trailer’s canopy and screen room, and we were all set!

Here's another view of the screen room, a great accessory that gives us more room while thwarting any mosquitoes or bugs.

Moxie was quickly warming up to the campground, longing to sniff all the twigs and pine needles: "Squirrel!"

This is a view from the front of our spot, which had plenty of room for the trailer, its screen room, and Correcaminos.

I unloaded our camping periphernalia, including camp chairs for the screen room.

Now Moxie was begging to take a walk.

We strolled down the trail to the dam for the fishing lake.

Tamara and Moxie posed for me on one of the benches along the trail.

This sign explains how the watershed from Pine Mountain provides drinking water for the St. George area. Gotta not waste it in the drought we're in right now!

Here is a video of Moxie on the trails, on our way back to camp. To reward for being such a trooper, we gave her a piece of elk antler to gnaw on. They are her favorite chew, and really help keep her teeth clean and strong.

Here's a photo of her with her antler.

I was amazed and pleased that she liked her own small camping chair so much, but I guess it is more comfortable than just lying on the ground or asphalt.

As the sun set, and it started to grow dark, she was ready to call it a night.

The bed in the trailer was a new experience for her, and during the night she kept trying to find the most comfortable spot, moving from between our legs to our pillows to the side of the tent.

After breakfast the next morning, we returned to the fishing lake.

We walked across the dam to the opposite side.

The scenery from that side was wonderful to contemplate.

Tamara took this photo of Moxie and me on the fishing dock there.

Back at our camper again.

Ready for a bit of lunch and relaxation in the screen room.

We noticed that Moxie was panting rather hard after her hike.

We therefore wet her down so that her coat would serve as an evaporation cooler. It did the trick!

Several years ago, one of my daughters had given me a portable, foldable solar device, but this was the first chance I'd had to use it. It charged our iPhones and iPads like a charm!

On the last morning we took a stroll around the campground loop, and Tamara quickly spotted a wildfire.

Then she spotted amother one.

Here is looking up the road that winds back around to our camp spot.

These are the peaks to the north that loom above the campground area.

I have always loved the sound of the breeze as it whispers through the pine needles, something I grew to appreciate while growing up and camping with my family.

This is just a short clip of walking up the road, with Moxie deviating to one side or the other to check out the smells.

We cut across the middle of the campground loop to get back to the trailer, and I started to dismantle our set up.

All taken down and ready to roll again.

Shortly after we left, I remembered to take a photo of the energy screen, which displayed that we would arrive home with a 44% charge.

During the night, Moxie had woken up and barked, sensing that there was something moving around outside. We found what that something was on our way out of the campground: not exactly what we would call "wildlife"!

In this video we’re heading back down the road toward Central, where we'll turn south onto Highway 18. At Veyo, we again took the Highway 91 backroad to Gunlock, and Tamara added a bit of narration this time.

After driving through Gunlock, we pulled over to see how Moxie would react to some horses and a donkey. Is the latter named "Hoatie," d'ya think? Hahaha! I then add my 2¢ worth as we drive past Gunlock reservoir.

Toward the bottom of Gunlock Canyon, the highway drives through a section of the Shivwits Paiute Indian Reservation.

Finally, we could see the red cliffs that serve as a backdrop behind our community.

When we pulled into the driveway, the touchscreen displayed that we had driven 39.4 miles, yet the battery showed 109 miles left in the battery —as though we'd only driven 17! Regenerative braking makes all the difference in the world when descending from higher elevations.

The entire round trip clocked 78.7 miles, using 21 kWh. That translates to 3.75 miles-per-kWh, just a smidgeon lower that the EPA rating of 3.85 for our Model 3. As for the energy graph, it showed that we had arrived with a 37% charge in the pack —not the 44% predicted. That's not bad at all while towing a trailer!

The camping trip was short —too short for my tastes— but a welcome break from the stress of being surrounded by people who refuse to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a plethora of wild, imagined, paranoid conspiracy theories. It was so nice to breathe the cool, clear mountain air without worrying if it was laced with a lethal virus! Unfortunately, the wildfire smoke from California has now shifted over our area again, reminding us that the planet is in a worsening climate emergency. Sigh…! C’mon, folks: get rid of your tailpipes and drive an EV. Unlike what the fossil fools tell you, they do not undermine your ability to get some enjoyable R&R on camping trips.