Showing posts with label Nevada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nevada. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On a Long, Lonesome Highway: To Stop or Not?

The High Plains Drifters left Jackpot, Nevada in the nippy early morning hours on Day 2 of our winter road trip through the Southwest. It was to be another day of traveling over long, lonesome highways as we crossed this state best known for the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. 

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But away from Sin City there’s simply land; lots and lots of land.  One AAA Guidebook says of Nevada road trips, that you will either see miles of nothing or miles of everything – it’s all in your attitude. The first time we drove through the state, I’ll admit I thought it was the most God forsaken place I’d ever seen. . . it’s captured me now – this high desert landscape is lovely and lonesome.

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We reached Ely, Nevada (a place deserving of its own post soon) by noon; a short break for lunch and we were back in the car en route to Utah, where we’d spend the night in St. George.

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We passed a road sign that warned again picking up hitchhikers because there was a prison out there somewhere in the vast wilderness.  More miles and minutes ticked away and we were entertained by views of Wheeler Peak, 13,032 elevation, pictured above.  Our route looped around this stunning peak (there’s a 12-mile scenic drive that takes you to the 10,000 foot level on the flank of the Peak, which would have been spectacular, I’m sure) but once around the Peak our road again became. . .

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. . .the long ribbon of empty highway. A place so remote that neither  ‘dumb’ or ‘smart’ phones work. They whirl endlessly searching for service. 

Joel, after some time and many miles, asked if I could recall the last time we had passed a car. Hmmmm, one, two hours?

He’d no more than asked the question when in the distance we saw a car pulled off to the opposite side of the road.  A man started waving his arm to flag us down, a woman stood by the SUV with its engine hood raised. . .
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To stop or not to stop? 

Joel slowed, crossed the road to where the man was standing but kept our car in gear, foot on the brake.   Turns out this 40-something-year-old couple, who lived in a town a hundred miles away, were on a day’s outing to go ‘prospecting’ in the hills when their car broke down.  They couldn’t call for help – no cell phone service. It was too far to walk.  They’d tried flagging down the  few cars that had passed (obviously long before we arrived) but as the man said, “You know how it is. In this day and age, they don’t stop.”

I can’t tell you how profoundly grateful they were that we had pulled over.

We took all their information (their GPS, by the way, showed them on the wrong highway – luckily our old ‘paper map in the lap’ showed the road we were all on).  It was many miles down the road before we reached a place we could call 9-1-1. The dispatcher assured us he’d ‘get someone right out there’.  We suspect he did!

How sad, that we actually have to think twice about stopping to help someone these days. On this Travel Tip Tuesday, we ask the question:  To stop or not to stop?  What would you have done?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Heading North through Nevada

             Nevada Highway
The High Plains Drifters head north today through the high desert and Great Basin in Nevada. Reno is our first night's destination on the anticipated three-day trip back to the Pacific Northwest.  We avoided the 107-degree afternoon temperatures at poolside and opted to research destinations.  Best deal found: $49 a night room at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino so there we will go.

Expedia and Google maps tell us our travels will cover 452 miles and it will take eight hours.  I'll let you know how close they are to accuracy.

           Herbie and our Camry
Tara asked on an earlier post if we were driving Herbie, my 69 VW Bug (that my dad bought used in '71 for my college car)  and after several years and dollars spent on restoring my dear old car, I just chuckled at the thought. 

Well, I chuckled until we reached Tonopah on our trip south.  Because at the service station where we stopped to fill up our Camry, we saw this ol' boy, a 70 VW Bug that the owners assured me had served them well. 

              Herbie's cousin
Maybe it is time to have a bit more work done on Herbie - for the next road trip!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekend in Mesquite

The High Plains Drifters reached Mesquite, Nevada, in the early afternoon when thermometers read 106-degrees and the odometer told us we have traveled just over 1,000 miles.  We'd had two and a half days in the car on our road trip through the western United States.  It was hot in this Great Basin area of eastern Nevada, but that's what we had been seeking when we set out.

We'd left our home in Washington State's Puget Sound because our continuing cloudy, rainy, not-yet-reaching-75-degree weather had driven us to seek sun. We were en route to Las Vegas and chose to spend the weekend in this small town 85 miles away because it looked charming and weekend hotel rates were far better than Vegas' rates.   

So here we were in Mesquite, settled in at the town's Casablanca Resort with its palm-tree shaded lush pool area (home of Saturday afternoon limbo contests), 18-hole golf course (one of 9 in town) and European-style spa.  We'd nabbed a room on Expedia for $65 a night.  Meals in its Purple Fez cafe were some of the best food we've eaten and our dinner prices hovered at $16 - $19 for two.

Exploring beyond our plush resort, we found that Mesquite sadly reflects the economic downturn in our country. One of the four sprawling casino resorts that anchor the entrances to this city from I-15 was shuttered and scheduled for demolition according to the local newspaper.  Empty store fronts dotted the many strip malls that lined Mesquite Avenue, the town's main drag.  Homes -- beautiful, recently built, gated-community, overlooking lush golf courses -- are on the market at reduced prices; foreclosures and 'bank-owned' properties fill real estate listings.

The locals we chatted with seemed interested in knowing where we were from, what had brought us to town and offered suggestions of nearby places we needed to visit including St. George, Utah only 30-minutes away from Mesquite on I-15. The drive there, they said, was through beautiful canyon country, a teaser I guess for nearby Zion National Park.  But the heat had slowed our pace, we put that on our 'next time' list and headed back to the pool.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tonopah, Nevada - a gem of a mining town

Tonopah, Nevada
The High Plains Drifters spent our second night of the road trip in Tonopah, Nevada, an old silver-mining town in the central part of the state that got its start when in 1900, a prospector by the name of Jim Butler took shelter from a thunderstorm under a ledge. . .yup, he whittled away at that ledge and sure enough struck silver. (Need I say there's a hotel in town that carries his name as do festivals?)

The town's prosperity peaked in 1913 when mining had netted some $9.5 million.  These days the mining still continues.  Turquoise jewelry sold in one of two gift shops in town was mined from the nearby hills, we were told.  In fact Nevada is the fourth-largest gold producer in the world and is responsible for 80 percent of all gold produced in the United States.

Tonopah is but a wide spot on the vast Nevada countryside offering a half dozen hotels (and two shells of what were once vibrant multi-storied hotels), a few watering holes and eateries.  But it is a charming wide spot - we planned this trip so we could spend a night here, having spent a night several years ago at the Best Western.  This time we stayed at Tonopah Station, the Ramada Inn, with an over-the-top Wild West decor. At this hotel you roll dice to see if your room is free -- it is Nevada, afterall -- and they told us that usually twice a day people win their rooms; sigh, we didn't.

                      Cabin at the Mining Park
And the hotel's parking lot lights were so bright I never did do any stargazing.  We may have to go back just for the purpose of Star Gazing now that we have a map of the areas best star gazing trails.  We also plan to visit the sprawling Tonopah Historic Mining Park where we can take a self-guided walking tour of Jim Butler's original discovery sites.  The "Burro Tunnel Underground Adventure," opened in 2004, takes you into the original mine and at the end, you can step into a steel viewing cage, suspended over a 500-foot mine slope.  Maybe we will do that part. . .

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just west of Las Vegas we hit the Jackpot!

Mother Nature provided this win just a few minutes drive and a world away from Las Vegas. Because we had a rental car for the road trip from Santa Barbara, we were able to get away from The Strip and see what else Vegas has to offer. It may have been the first time we visited the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area but it certainly won't be the last. And next time we'll bring our hiking boots!

Visiting the Canyon on an early Saturday morning, we paid the $5 federal entrance fee and then joined a parade of cars winding our way through the canyon on a 13-mile, one-way scenic loop. Shutterbugs like me couldn't resist stopping at each of the overlooks scattered along the route and conveniently each overlook provided ample parking - a plus for Joel, the driver.

There are some 19 hiking trails that lead off into the canyon from the overlook parking areas, ranging from easy walks to more 'strenuous' routes both in terms of distance and elevation changes. Having arrived without food or drink, we skipped the picnic area at Willow Springs about half way through the drive. It's a fabulous setting though for outside dining. And climbers around the world come here to hoist themselves up and down the sheer rock surfaces on more than 2,000 rock climbing routes. Permits are required to climb.

Managed by the Bureau of Land Management the Red Rock National Conservation Area encompasses nearly 200,000 acres. You are reminded of the expansiveness from several points along the scenic route. A new Interpretive Center has just opened and is a good place to start your visit.


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