Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

The Loneliest Road in America

There was some traveler/poet that wrote that about I-50, which heads straight across Nevada, and the route has taken on the theme with a vengeance. There are a lot fewer amenities along this path compared to 90, 80, or even 70 that all go east-west. We've done 90 (Montana and the peaks of Idaho) and 80 (Reno and Salt Lake and Cheyenne) multiple times, and never ventured this way before.

It's been worth it, though the distances are pretty vast between towns, the views have been utterly breathtaking and the roads go to the horizon.

To the Horizon
While John had to give our address to someone to get the broadband stuff working, he completely and utterly blanked on our address. He just sat there and had to dig up his wallet and his drivers' license to actually figure out what our address actually was! I guess we've been on the road long enough that we've forgotten where we live, so maybe it's time to head back home.

One of the 20-somethings at the Lake was reading a book called Bury Me Standing, which is about the Gypsy way of life, starting from the Egyptians all the way through the present day political bind the European nations find themselves in while deal with the Gypsies that travel through their lands and spaces. Racial injustice, grinding poverty, and the usual problems of generational poverty, there's also a gleam of a certain kind of story that only they can tell of a long road which has no destination, no ending, no home to end up at with a welcome. It's interesting, on this long long road trip to think about just what it would mean to have a life where there is no end to the road. It was telling, perhaps, that a few days ago, I think I could have just kept going, but now I really am glad we're heading toward home.

We took a while this morning to just regroup. Having gone to bed after 10, Jet didn't wake up until nearly 9 am, when the hotel's breakfast was about to shut down. I managed to write a little before breakfast, but really got down to it after. John and Jet went into town, in Susanville, and bought sandwiches from Safeway for our lunch, hit the Dollar Tree so that Jet could buy some car toys for a dollar or two, and then John found index cards, 200 for a dollar. I liked that and the LED reading light he found. LJ was still hosed this morning, so I just gave up and posted everything to dreamwidth instead, and managed to get all the pictures up to Flickr without any protest or problems.

While he was waiting on me, John found a place out past Fallon, NV, and not quite as far as Ely (yes, Incandescens and archangelbeth, Faber really perked up at the idea of finding Eli... *laughs*), that had a lovely little motel with two Queen-sized beds in two rooms that were remodeled to be connected together. It ended up being in Austin, NV, which is actually named after the ciy in Texas, but it's tiny, built on a hill overlooking a huge valley and plain, and was a good eight hour drive along I-50, the "Loneliest Road in America". We're heading east as well as we're able, and want to cross the mountains where we can get to Glennwood Springs and take advantage of the hot springs and swimming pool on the way home.

We started in Susanville, meandered through Reno, and then went up to Virginia City, which is supposed to be a fairly well preserved town from the Nevada Silver Rush, and the Comstock Lode, which produced 240 million dollars' worth of silver during its lifetime. It paid for San Francisco before and after the fire, the telegraph, for Nevada to become a state, for a great deal of the Union Army for the Civil War, and for much of the railroad across the West. All that's left of Virginia City is mostly a tourist trap, though it was a very pretty one. There was all kinds of shops and museums, including one for firearms, firemen, trains and railroad building, mining (including a place where you could pan for gold), and three or four self-style museums on various aspects of the city's history, including the Suicide Table, the city's visitors' center, the first car built solely to transport precious metals, and the local ice cream parlor.

We got to see a lovely shop filled with real Western Wear, boots, leather, and a whole roof filled with hats of all types. There were half a dozen 'olde time picture studios', and plenty of bars, restaurants, and candy/ice cream stores. The post office proved to be a fun little trip, as I bought postage for my post cards, John and Jet really liked seeing the old-style post office boxes, with brass and windows. It was nice to just sit on a public bench, in the shade, and eat our sandwiches instead of going for the high-priced meals there, but we weren't too proud to spend some money at the old fashioned candy shop, that sold it all by the pound. All three of us ended up with various bits of taffy, and I found these amazing ginger bites that were fiery hot with ginger. I now wish I'd bought just a pound of those.

The drive out from Virginia City had a 15% grade, and it swooped past thousands of tailings from just as many mines, and dozens of No Open Pit Mine signs by all the locals. While John was looking through Google Maps, he would happen upon a feature of the landscape and suddenly realize it was just the open mouth of a huge mine. They're still out here.

The land out here is nearly all sage brush and low scrub, arid and dry and anywhere a lake was or a stream, all the trees were gathered. We saw one lake where nearly all the trees were underwater because the lake bed was usually dry, but this year, there was enough water to cover the roots and feet of most of the trees!

We saw a salt flat, with a small salt mill at the far end of it. We also saw a huge lake called Eagle lake that seemed to go forever, and at one corner of it was an entire flock of seagulls.

John had only one via point for the trip today, and it included the ruins of an old Pony Express station, the Rock Creek Station, that was converted to a telegraph office for a while and built in stone. I had one goal, which was to cut some desert sage for a few folks I know that use it on a regular basis. I'd figured out which variety was the stuff that was used in smudges when I went up to Wyoming to pick native grass seeds for restoration and presevation purposes, so I know the really fragrant desert sage used for smudge sticks and cleansing rituals, how it grows and what it looks like. I stopped once by the side of the road and couldn't find any, but when we got closer to the Pony Express station, I was hopeful as I saw a lot of it just by the side of the road.

Sure enough, when we stopped at the station, I hopped out, found the pocket knife that Amy and Karina had given me, and I found lots of big clumps of sage right then and there, by the road-side parking lot. There was lots of other stuff there, too, and I really truly looked for rattlesnakes before I put my feet down anywhere. *laughs*

It proved to be safe enough, and I had a big handful of the stuff very quickly, just taking a few branches from each plant so as to not damage them too much.

From there we headed to Austin. It was just flat driving, with so few trucks and cars that I passed, maybe two other vehicles, and there was no opposing traffic to even worry about. I saw a car passing another down a slope coming toward me, and there might have been ten miles between us when they did it. It was lovely road bed, too, smooth and well maintained.

Cozy Mountain Motel
The motel looked, from the outside, like one of those little round-up motor hotels from the 50's, but the Cozy Mountain Motel turned out to be very cozy indeed, with wifi, flat panel TVs by every bed, remodeled interiors, brand new Queen sized beds, and remodeled bathrooms with all the modern amenities. Each room has a fridge, a microwave, and A/C, and before dinner time, the parking lot was completely filled with contractors that work here during the day at the mines or in construction, and go home on the weekends. They all picked this one spot, of the few that are in town, so I think we got to the right place.

Dinner was pretty easily determined, as there are only two places open in town, and one of them had A/C and it was over 90 outside. So we hit up the place at the top of the hill, with A/C, and had a lovely diner dinner. John had the fish and chips as he's been used to doing. John got a lovely fried chicken dinner, and I debated between the liver and onions and just a chili dog with cheese and onions. The chili dog won, and it was deliciously gooey with a huge half plate of crisp fries next to it. That was really nice. I enjoyed it greatly and had enough room for a good portion of a blackberry sundae as well. There were even whole blackberries in the syrup, and it was just delicious.

After that dinner, we walked to the little QuickMart next door, bought milk for our cereal in the morning, and headed back to the hotel's fridge. A half a mile beyond the hotel was a walk up to Stoke's Castle, built by one of the local mine owners of native stone and steel and train track trestles as well as clay and lots of labor from the local work force. It's four stories of history, and was only lived in for one summer, but it's still up on the hill overlooking the Reese River valley below.

A raptor was up there, hunting, riding the thermals, and watching us as we walked up and took pictures and more sage and walked back down again. The low light was beautiful.

We played a bit of Jet's Munchkin Impossible, and he went quietly to bed while I downloaded pictures and wrote this. *laughs* The rooms being adjoining, but splittable has made it so that I can write with light while he sleeps. That's been very very good, as he's been sleeping a lot more in the mornings when he goes to bed as late as 10.
Tags: travel

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