Saturday, March 22, 2014

Loneliest Road Trip Day 5

Day 5 of my Loneliest Road trip.

I hit the road from Topaz Lake about 9 and headed south on 395.  I stopped at Mono Lake to look around and take some pictures... truly amazing!  I did not take time to go to the South Tufa area, which supposedly is more impressive, but what I did see on the shore and at the visitor center was pretty amazing.

Headed south again... the mountain views were breathtaking.  Got into Bishop and gassed up and got some lunch, then south to Big Pine where I turned east onto CA 168.  This is a narrow, curvy mountain road that goes up and over the White Mountains to Deep Springs Valley, then up and over more mountains to meet up with 266.  It was a really fun drive! It reminded me of 191 in eastern Arizona -- lots of hairpin curves and switchbacks.  At one point, for about 100 yards it was one lane!  Eeep.  A few miles in I caught up to a car in front of me... was thinking Crud! Stuck!  But after a mile or so the driver pulled over and let me pass, which I really appreciated.  Anyway it was a really fun drive!

266 to 95 was not as exciting but it was pretty.  Then I took 95 to Vegas and 93 home to Phoenix as usual.  I got home about 10:30 p.m.

It was a great trip! I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Loneliest-Road Trip Day 4

Day 4 of my Loneliest Road trip.  Today I actually drove the Loneliest Road!

I left Ely, NV about 9 a.m.  Stopped in Eureka and got my Guide stamped at the Opera House.  What a cool building!  I really like Eureka.  It's small but it's really charming.

Onward from Eureka to Austin.  US 50 from Ely all the way to Austin traverses a large number of basins (usually 10 - 20 miles wide) separated by mountain ranges.  The basins are at probably 6000 feet and the mountain passes up to 7500 feet, so you really feel like you are at the top of the world.  While the surroundings will definitely make you feel "lonely" as there are almost no human habitations at all outside of the two towns, in another sense it's not that lonely as there was certainly enough traffic (usually going the other way) that I didn't feel particularly lonely.  It's true that I very rarely caught up to anyone in front of me or saw anyone behind me, though, in spite of setting a new GZ land speed record (classified).

Austin is on the western slope of a mountain range -- well, really in a ravine.  It's pretty narrow and US 50 is the main street and all the other streets are on the hill on either side.  I stopped for lunch and got my Guide stamped again, took some pictures of some quaint buildings including three pretty impressive churches and the Stokes Castle.  Then on into a verrrry wiiiiiide basin that went on for ever, seemingly.

Austin to Fallon is about 110 miles (further than the other towns which are spaced 60-70 miles apart).  A bit after Cold Springs (a Pony Express station and there's a little store there) the landscape changed pretty quickly as the road descends from the previous 6000 ft or so average down to more like 4000 ft.  So instead of a slightly green high desert with snowcapped peaks all around it was a very brown desert with mostly brown peaks (some had a little snow, but not much).  About 20 miles from Fallon I stopped to look at the remains of the Sand Springs Pony Express station (kinda cool!) and also Sand Mountain. Sand  Mountain is very very cool and I took some video of the crazy people driving their buggies and even cars up it.  Yikes!  Also saw several Navy jets from Fallon flying overhead returning from the range.

Coming into Fallon the last 10 miles or so the road is going through a somewhat residential area and it's slower.  Got into Fallon and got my Guide stamped at a Chevron station, yay!  I originally was going to stop at the Chamber of Commerce but it was closed?  What the heck?!

On from Fallon and I almost missed the turnoff as 50 turns into Alt-50 to Fernley; you have to make a left to stay on 50 to Carson City.  A fairly uneventful drive although I was surprised at the suburbs (I guess that's what they are) like Stagecoach where they are building houses left and right even though it's like 20 miles from Carson City.  Weird.

Got into Dayton and I wanted to get my Guide stamped (even though I already had the requisite 5 stamps) but couldn't find the Chamber of Commerce.  There was a roadsign but I couldn't find it.  I decided to go for the other option, the Dayton Museum... only to discover it was closed.  So I went looking for the C of C again, and even stopped at a nearby store and asked for help.  Finally  I found it hiding in plain sight -- it was where the sign was, but it was inside a bank building.  There was a very small sign outside not visible from the road.  Of course with my luck, it was only open MWF 9-2 so I missed out.  By now it was like 4:30 and I hit the road and hightailed it to Carson City hoping to get one more stamp, at the C of C there.  I got there about 10 to 5 and though it said it was open M-F 8-5 it was, of course, already closed.  GRRR!!

Continued on to Topaz Lake, where I had gotten a great deal on a room at the Best Western.  It's really a pretty place although, like every lake in CA (-ish) the level is quite low due to the drought.

Tomorrow I'm heading south on 395 to Big Pine, then over to 95 and back home (if I have enough energy) via Vegas and Kingman.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Loneliest-Road Trip Day 3

Still road-tripping!

Today I left Ogden about 10 or so and headed down I-15 to Nephi, where I took Utah 132 west to the junction with Highway 6.  From there I headed to Delta where I gassed up again and had lunch.

The drive from Delta to Ely was quite striking.  Delta is a cute little town with one stop light. From Delta to the Nevada border was mostly flat with a little bit of mountains and a lovely view of Sevier Lake, a mostly-dry lake that does have some water in it now it looked like.  Right after I spotted a small flock of sheep in the road, about 15 or 20 of them.  I was rather surprised to see them since I thought it was mostly a cattle area. I did set a new land speed record for me of 111 mph.  Not going to do that again but it was rather exciting. 

At Baker (on the Nevada border) I stopped at the Border Inn and got my first stamp in my Loneliest Road Survivor's Guide.  Yay!  From there I went on to Ely, going through a couple of mostly deserted valleys separated by snowcapped peaks that were just breathtaking.  Gorgeous, really.

I got into Ely just before 4.  The motel is not the greatest, but it's clean so that's enough.  I ran over to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  Way cool!  And I got my Guide stamped for Ely.  The deal is you have to get it stamped in 5 different towns to get your "I Survived" certificate.  Ha!  I think it's fun.

After the museum I gassed up the car and wandered around Ely a bit, then came back to the motel and relaxed and surfed the web a bit.  About 7:30 I went and had dinner at Racks Bar and Grill just down the street.  Not bad. 

I'm going to relax and do some reading and try to get to bed early so I can get an early start.  Tomorrow it's all the way across Nevada to Carson City and a little further, down to Gardnerville.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Loneliest-Road Trip Day 2

Still road tripping..

Today I got up, checked out of the hotel and went over to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center and toured the Glen Canyon Dam.  It was really awesome!  I love dams.  I've seen Hoover (of course), Grand Coulee, Bonneville, and the Coolidge Dam.  There are a number of dams in Arizona that I've not seen since I was little so I don't count them.

After the dam tour I gassed up and got some food, then hit the road up 89.  Pretty country!  At one point I was heading up a hill and saw a passing lane open up with a (slowish) truck so I hit it to get around him before the lane ended... got the Mazda6 up to 97 (going uphill!).  Seemed like it was capable of more but there wasn't space or time and anyway I worry about getting a ticket.

Got stuck for 15 minutes or so in Panguitch waiting for a pace car to take us through construction... then on up until I got to the highway 20 turnoff.  20 is fairly short but it was fun with some nice curves.  Then on to 15 and boring driving -- although the speed limit was (usually) 80!  That was nice.

Coming into SLC I almost got rear ended... traffic got really busy and all of a sudden the traffic in my lane (left lane!) stopped short, and I stopped, and the guy behind me stopped (phew!) but then I hear screeching/squealing and I was waiting for the impact... which didn't happen, thank God.  The car behind the car behind me couldn't quite stop in time but he was smart and lucky and pulled over into the HOV lane and stopped about half a car length alongside the car behind me.  Smart to have pulled over, and lucky that the lane was empty.  Geez!

Got into Ogden and had dinner with a friend, then websurfing and off to bed soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Loneliest-Road Trip Day 1

I'm on a road trip!

 Here's the route..

Today I left about 2 p.m. and drove up 17 to Flagstaff, then on up 89 toward Page.  I love the scenery north of Flagstaff; it's a huge volcanic field with more cinder cones (similar to the area east of Springerville).  Due to a road outage there's a detour  (Navajo 20, signed as "89T" (Temporary)).  A landslide took out part of 89 so ADOT got $ from the Feds to pave N20 (it was dirt/gravel).  It's pretty nice, really.  Got into Page just before dark and found the hotel, then took my friend Kirsten's recommendation and went to the Dam Bar and Grille for a really awesome steak.  Yum!