Sunday, 27 August 2017
Orem, Utah to Carson City, Nevada ~570 miles
We tried to get off to an early start (you may be noticing a pattern here) and were excited about going to Guru’s for breakfast before hitting ‘The Loneliest Road in America”. It was amazing how little traffic was on the road in Orem and Provo, compared to what we had seen the night before. We pulled up to Guru’s and found a primo parking place; alas, it was closed on Sunday. As was almost EVERY place around! We decided to move on, wishing we had taken advantage of the free breakfast at our Hampton, and were just about to get on the highway when we saw a diner that was open. Hold the bus! We didn’t even have to wait to get seated at Café 300, housed in a gleaming chrome building just like diners of the past. Soon we were fortified and ready to tackle the desert.
We still had quite a way to go to get out of Utah before we were actually on US 50 in Nevada, and we knew we needed to start that part of the trek with a full tank of gas, so we went ahead and filled up in Nephi, UT with plans to fill up again in Ely, Nevada. At the gas station in Nephi, we ran into a whole group of antique car owners who had been to a big rally in Bryce Canyon. Man, those cars were something else! We drove through the smallish town of Delta in Utah, where we picked up US 50, and saw some decent-looking motels – we were a little bit sorry we hadn’t kept driving the day before, until we remembered our wonderful dinner at Communal. Driving along US 50, we passed a couple of interesting looking brick structures, so Kim u-turned it so we could check them out. The highway sign said they were ‘Burining Pits”, but we are pretty sure that was a typo. The beehive-shaped charcoal ovens were used from 1876 through 1879 to help process rich silver ore that was discovered in Nevada. Once mining ended, the ovens were used to shelter travelers and even had a reputation as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. We were glad we stopped to investigate! It was a warm sunny day, and one of us, not the driver, may have dozed off for a little bit… The road was long and straight, except when it wasn’t, usually because we were going through a mountain pass. We stopped briefly at the Nevada state line to take some pictures (but not to play the slots) and then went on to Ely and stopped to gas up.
Ely (pronounced eely) looked like a neat little town, so we went to the historic district and walked around a bit until it started raining on us. There was a pretty park, some great murals, a duck pond with a man on a bike with a big sack of bread for the eager pigeons and ducks, a library, and the semi-famous Hotel Nevada. It was nice to walk around a bit! Ely is also the closest town to the Great Basin National Park, which we considered visiting until we realized how far off the route it was. We definitely got the feel of being in a great basin, ringed completely by mountain ranges. It reminded us of the Midland/Odessa area of Texas in the Permian Basin.
The only towns of note between Ely and Carson City are Eureka, Austin, and Fallon, so we didn’t anticipate too much excitement today. We passed one bicyclist and two different walking people (who looked like they were walking across the country), and there were more cars than we expected, but it was a pretty uneventful drive. We saw a huge archway made of antlers and we passed a large windmill farm. We stopped in Austin because there was a little restaurant advertising “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” and ice cream; unfortunately, it closed at 4 PM (early dinner, I reckon!) and it was 4:20 when we arrived. Fortunately, the door was unlocked, and when we and a local father/son combo came in, they relented and sold us some cones (only vanilla, only small cones!) so we did have a little break. Between Austin and Fallon, we passed some really sandy areas with some dunes and a lot of quicksandy-looking places right next to the road. We didn’t stop to see if they were really quicksand though!
Fallon is the home of the NAS (Naval Air Station) made famous by the movie Top Gun. We drove right past it but didn’t get to see any fancy flying going on. We did get behind a driver who was either drunk, sleepy, or texting though – we kept our distance and finally called 911. It was pretty bad! Fallon also had a unique irrigation system full of small dams and spillways right next to the highway.
Sooner than we thought, and before dark (YAY!), we arrived in Carson City and made our way to the Hampton Inn. They even had covered parking there, and in the light of day, it appeared that the covers were actually solar panels. Very clever! We got a great recommendation for dinner and showed up slightly underdressed at Glen Eagles, where there were white linen tablecloths! We sort of got a dining room all to ourselves, and we had HUGE portions of pasta Pomodoro (Kim) and scrumptious pork chops (not one, but TWO) perfectly grilled chops for me, along with mashed potatoes and veggies. I could only eat one chop – so good!! – but we did get a French Silk pie to go and then didn’t eat it that night!
We were excited to spend the next morning exploring Carson City before meeting our new friend Laura, who had invited us to stay at her place at Lake Tahoe! Our excitement was tempered by seeing the reports coming in about the horrible flooding taking place in Houston and the area between Houston and Galveston, as well as much of southeastern Texas. I’d be lying if I said I wish I had been at home, but it sure seemed surreal but very believable and sad to see the damage and reports from afar.