Friday, June 8, 2012

Utah Basin To The Lonliest Highway in Nevada

If you ever, I say EVER, feel the need to get away from it all for awhile, please drive from Bryce Canyon, through the Utah Basin and on into Ely, Nevada, the first stop on what Time Magazine dubbed "The Loneliest Highway", US RT 50, which more or less follows the former route of the Pony Express. We were so alone for most of this trip that we actually felt excited if we saw another vehicle coming at us from the other direction! That, after all, suggested that we actually WERE going somewhere. I sometimes find reason to take exception to declarations made by Time Magazine, but they sure nailed this one! I tell ya it made you want to sing Mr. Lonely all day long. Now the scenery mind you, was pretty terrific, which is what makes it all worthwhile, but you need to see the scenery and not photograph that scenery because it isn't very often that there is anywhere to pull off for that photo-op. It was so bad (and so lonely) that at one point I just stopped dead in my lane of the road to walk back and use the bathroom...and that did NOT create any road hazard because at that point you could see a good "20 minutes" in either direction, and weren't nobody comin'.

There were some sections of the road posted to watch for wildlife but we saw absolutely nothing...and it certainly was not because of humans encroaching on wildlife habitat. There were none of them either! There was a short time of hyper-excitement, as we climbed the far side of the basin to climb out of the bowl we had been driving in, I about ran out of gears to get us up and over the top- I climbed the last 1/4 mile in first gear, and that was touch and go.

Tonight we are nestled into a small KOA at the outskirts of Ely (pronounced Eel-ee), Nevada. The first picture of the post is our unencumbered view out the front window of the coach. It looks like a western line Hallmark Card and while there is not much out there either, it is quite lovely to look at. True, the wind is gusting to 50, but that doesn't block the view, now does it?

For the record, we are now still in The Great Basin- a portion of the country that does not drain into any ocean. I have come to think of it as a gigantic stone bowl. From the bottom of the bowl the mountains are magnificent. From the ridge of the bowl, the valleys are spectacular in the distances below. From the downside of the bowl, you better hope the engine break keeps working and that you don't need the run-away-truck-ramp that is sure to be provided because it is necessary at times. And on the up-the-side of the bowl, well, be glad you have a first gear and hope the engine doesn't stall out. I guess I've come to think of it as the real "sport of bowling."

We visited the Chamber of Commerce in Ely this afternoon. Yes, they have one; it is a nice little town which we will explore along with its surroundings this week. We picked up a registration card of sorts- you get it stamped here and at each of the other five small towns along The Loneliest Road and then the state sends you a certificate for having survived the challenge of learning about the history of The Loneliest Road. We hope to earn one as we continue on our way after our stay here.

On this next image, you can see our walking sticks, which we made from Diamond Willow, harvested courtesy of Chicken Gold Camp, Chicken, Alaska, strapped to the front of the ATV. It never ceases to amaze me how many comments we get when we are using them- mostly from admirers who want to know what they are and where we got them. Linda Duke, showed me how to strip it, age it, and finish it- a process that takes the better part of a year. Light. Strong. Aged to perfection!

Here's a look at Tropic Reservoir- out in the boonies and located by an ATV ride from Ruby's back at Bryce Canyon. Water features like this are always a pleasant surprise in such an arid area.

On the way to Tropic Reservoir we passed a flat area known to be the location of a prairie dog village. We love visiting their little communities.

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