I’m a few days behind on reading everyone’s blogs, and attempting to write a blog that someone may read. So I just saw this neat little writing challenge, which is something I have been meaning to do. I have just never been sure of the format, so as usual, I am going to wing it. If you haven’t guessed already, I just sit down and start writing, I never have a plan. I could go in to more detail about this trip, but this will be long enough as is.
As I previously said in a post, I love my car. Not long after I got my car, I went through a really tough time. Heartbreak (I’ll end up talking about that in another post), health issues, friend of mine killing himself, and getting in a lot of trouble at work for losing my temper. This was all in about a 3.5 month period. So, in the spring, I decided to take a road trip in my new car. I wanted to travel some of the back roads of Nevada, and I especially wanted to travel on the Extraterrestrial Highway and see the dinky little town of Rachel, and basically drive around the whole Nevada Testing Range, Area 51, etc. My brother decided to go with me.
Here is a map of the whole trip, all 1,100 miles of it.
I will break it down for you so it is a little bit easier to see just where we went.
We left Ridgecrest (where I have lived for the last 15.5 years) and drive North to Bishop, where we had a late breakfast at the world famous (literally) Erick Schats Bakery. This trip was high desert, going in to mountains, and is quite pretty.
Afterwards we left Bishop, we headed up up Route 6 through the Chalfant Valley, and eventually the town of Benton. Not much in Benton except an overpriced cafe/gas station and a trailer park type community. From Benton we headed East and over Montgomery Pass , down in to the Nevada desert, and then on to Tonopah. I may blog more about Tonopah one day.
After getting gas and a snack in Tonopah, my plan was to head on to Rachel and hang out for the rest of the day and night. I wanted to stay in the trailer park hotel, drink, and look for UFO’s. My brother asked if we could take a detour to Austin; “It’s not that far out of the way, and I’ll pay for gas” was his argument. He also said that I could really open up my car on the road to Austin, and if I got a ticket he would pay for it. Hard to argue with that. So we headed North up the Big Smokey Valley towards Austin. Now, this is a long and lonely drive. I think I saw two other cars, which on these Nevada back roads is not uncommon. It is a pretty drive, and I don’t think I did less than 95 mph the entire way there 🙂
Austin was actually a neat little place, I wish we had explored it a little more. I will probably head back one day to do so. After looking at the airport in Austin (my brother is a pilot and is looking at remote airports for a business venture), we headed back down to Tonopah. While there we grabbed another bite to eat, gassed up, took a wrong turn, and headed to Goldfield before we figured out we went 30 miles the wrong way. We were paying very little attention, just enjoying being brothers on the open road. We could have ended up in Florida if we had been paying a little less attention!
Goldfield is a spooky place, you can feel the weight of the dreams that went there to die. I have been there before, and I never wanted to go back. We turned right around, went back to Tonopah, and then went up and around the Tonopah Test Range, and on to the E.T. Highway and then Rachel.
The E.T. highway should be named the Cattle Highway. It is all open range, and absolutely LOUSY with cattle! So here I am, at night, on an unfamiliar road, driving about 25 mph, and dodging cattle. What should have been a little over an hour drive, ended up being closer to three hours. Good times 🙂 We finally reached Rachel about 9:30 PM, and quickly decided we were not going to stay in this place. Though we did stop for a drink and talk to some very odd locals.
My brother said if I was willing to make the drive, he would put me up in his favorite hotel in Henderson, which is on the other side of Las Vegas. My brother has a business based out of Henderson, but never goes in to Vegas proper, not his style. So, we (I) made the drive to Henderson. I think we checked in to the hotel room some time between 1:00 am and 1:30 am.
The next morning, after some great sleeping in and a late breakfast, we drove down to Boulder City to see the Hoover Dam. What gave this part of the trip some extra spice was a convention in Boulder City. The Mongols Motorcycle Club was having it’s convention there, and the police looked nicely out manned. If you want to read up on the Mongols, go ahead, you will get an idea of why the cops were crapping themselves.
From the Hoover Dam, we decided to drive on to Beatty, stopping only in Indian Springs (home of Creech Air Force Base and a squadron of Reapers) to grab lunch and converse with a really cute waitress.
From there we went on to Beatty. The only things to do in Beatty are eat, drink, gamble, and sleep; which we did. There are also a couple of brothels…..but I don’t think I will ever be desperate enough to go to a Beatty brothel. Those are some scary women. I also got hit on by a chubby drunk indian girl off of the reservation. I told her I was gay.
The next morning we had breakfast, and headed over to Rhyolite. Rhyolite is an amazing ghost town, and if you have never been there, you should. I encourage you to read more about it, and visit it. The header picture on my blog page was taken there.
From Rhyolite we went up the Daylight Pass Road, which goes up over the Amargosa Range, and in to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. I think the road goes over the foot of a sub range of the Amargosa’s, named the Funeral Mountains. I’m not sure, I just wanted to put Funeral Mountains in my blog 🙂
Long story short on Death Valley; a bunch of 49’ers took a never before taken route to California, went through an unmapped, unknown, and inhospitable desert, and most of them died. The only thing that kept them going was some big black mountains in the distance, which they thought were the Sierras. Unfortunately it turned out to be the Panament Range, which borders Panament Valley…another desert. They eventually made it just North of Ridgecrest, to what is now the Indian Wells. Most had died off at that point though. Fortunately for my brother and I this is not 1849, and instead of being on foot (the 49’ers had ditched the covered wagons, at the oxen, and even resorted to drinking ox blood while traversing Death Valley), we were in a Dodge Challenger. So from Stovepipe Wells we went on in to Panament Valley, through the town of Trona (another place where dreams died hard), and back home to Ridgecrest.
Over 1,100 miles of driving lonely back roads, mining towns, cattle towns, Vegas, and bikers. Near Area 51, nuclear test sites, and Reaper Drone squadrons. I was home, and ready for a nap. My car was ready for an oil change, and my brother was ready for a shower.
Edited Post Script: Seems the maps didn’t turn out too well 😦 I’ll have to play around with this later and see what happened.