The day finally ended. I usually don’t think that way, but today was far longer than I anticipated, mostly because I used only one GPS and followed the main road, even though the map indicated the main road made no turns. Wrong! I thought that the main road was easy to follow, it wasn’t. Sometimes you shouldn’t go with the flow, you should pay attention.
The day started out great, even though it was raining. We didn’t leave too much out in the weather, and what we did, had a storage place where it didn’t matter. The people camping behind us had been out on a along hike, and when they returned, they left their sandals and sneakers out behind their RV. Glad I wasn’t them. We had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs coffee and toast, as it wasn’t past generator time, and then we were off. A stop at the necessary lightened the load, and we headed down the mountain.
It’s always easier to leave a place when it’s raining. The mountains were cloaked in clouds and the views weren’t anywhere near as good as we would have liked, but we’ve been down the Tioga Pass before. We stopped for fuel in Lee Vining, and then made a quick stop at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center. We’ve been there four times, but it’s only been open twice. A pin for Louise, a walk on the terrace and we were off for a National Forest Campground near Ely, Nevada.
I always wondered what unknowns laid to the east of Mono Lake and I was not disappointed. The road turned behind the Mono Craters, a series of pumice and obsidian volcanoes to the south of Mono Lake. We stopped in the vicinity of the volcanoes and looked around. The area was covered in widely scattered pines with cinnamon colored trunks growing in a field of sand. It was very beautiful.
The road was more of an amusement ride than a road, and the speed limit was 60 MPH, an impossible and unsafe speed. We cruised along, enjoying the scenery, that gradually gave way to the same kind of forest, except the under story was all sagebrush. What a wonderful combination of colors, and a forest combination that I’ve never seen. We were taking Route 120 East and the scenery was spectacular. The road was a ribbon of asphalt laid across the landscape and none of the dips in the terrain were removed. There were occasions that I slowed significantly on the crest of a hill because I had no idea how steep the road would be on the other side. Exhilarating, but slightly scary because it wasn’t an amusement ride, it was real.
There were reddish gulches, green grasses and sandy covered areas. If we had stopped to take a photograph every time we saw a great view we would still be driving. Route 120 gradually gave way to Route 6, and the terrain became more arid, although very nice. We stopped for lunch at a rest stop name Millers. The rest stop had water, a dump station and you were allowed to stay for 18 hours. It was really nice considering the location. There was really no vegetation to describe as far as the eye could see, and the stop was a little oasis. Apparently Millers was a thriving town and railroad water stop, with several thousand residents, but everything went away when the mine closed. Only the rest stop remains.
The area we were traveling through was wide open with no development. Things went smoothly until we arrived at Tonopah Center where the main road turned into Route 95. The driving was easy, the road was good, and I was enjoying the drive. We had passed several abandoned towns, two of which had the only business burn up, and were abandoned, so I was looking for signs to see how robust the economy was, so I guess I was distracted.
There were several motels closed in Tonopah Center and one large chain motel was open. The town was about 60% closed, including the largest structure in town the Mizpah Hotel, which is reported to be open. Had me fooled. I continued on to just south of Goldfield, when I noticed that the distance to destination on the GPS was getting bigger, and our destination time was getting later. I made a 40 mile mistake. This part of Nevada isn’t like New Jersey. Goldfield is the next town on Route 95 after Tonopah Center. I pulled out the third GPS, determine the correct route and turned around back towards Tonopah Center, where we fueled up after the manager set the pump so I had to give him my credit card. Appropriately, he was an Asian Indian named Ball. Enough said.
We headed into the unknown down Route 6 through some of the most empty and beautiful landscapes we’ve seen. Since we were already late, we stopped twice at interesting locations. The first was at was the town of Warm Springs. The town consisted of a bar and grill, a structure across the street and a stone corral. There was a gate that said please close gate after use, so I used it. There was a building enclosed in a mostly fenced in area containing a pool.
The outflow of the Warm Spring, up in the hills, led into a highly calcified beautiful green blue swimming pool inside the enclosure, of an origin probably sometime in the early 60’s. There was an outflow at the other end of the pool where the water continued behind the old Bar and Grill and then under the road to points unknown. I found the channel and figured he water was about 120 degrees. A soak in the pool would have been rally nice, but I get caught at everything, so soaking in the local lockup had no appeal, and I was positive that one foot inside the fence would coincide with the local sheriff going home for dinner.
We also stopped for a photo and an investigation near a volcano. The volcano apparently has laid down a substantial layer of cinders which was then covered by dirt. There is enough geology in the area, that anyone could have any number of dissertations available to them for their doctorate. The terrain gradually gained altitude and the landscape became covered with Juniper instead of dead grass and sagebrush. We found the campground with little difficulty and selected a site. There appears to be no restrictions on generator use, and there is essentially no one here, so it wouldn’t matter.
We have a great view, and had a great dinner of grilled pork chops and the fixings. For some reason, there is cellular data, so It’s nice to get a little caught up on things. Tomorrow promised to be an equally long day with less certain promise for a campsite on Moab. I have some plans, but we’ve hit the point where East Coast schools are out, so all bets are off in regards to finding a place to park for the night. We may be spending our first night at Wal-Mart. All things in time. It is for certain that we will see some great scenery and have a great time.