Saturday, April 25, 2009

10-2009 Panaca to Ely Nevada

Panaca NV

Ely NV

Cathedral Gorge State Park: Campground, $14 per night, no hook-up. Water and dump station available. Super quiet, no car sounds, no trains, not even planes flying overhead.

Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall: Campground, $16 per night, full hook-ups. Includes a free margarita each day.

Tons of photo's have been uploaded by my Picasa site:
I must start out by apologizing for the abrupt end to last weeks stories. I would usually end my reports a little bit better, but when I found a free wi-fi site in town at Sweets restaurant, I had to rush too get the report out and include some pictures.

Before leaving The Valley of Fire St Pk. I went on a nice hike past white dome monoliths, remains of a movie set and through a slot canyon. What a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Back at the campground, I enjoyed an evening campfire over at Connie and Rick’s campsite. We sat under a blanket of stars with just the inky black outline of the sandstone mountain range silhouetted against the starry moonless sky.

I got up early on Monday morning to pack up and head out to my next destination. I opened all the shades in the camper and what a surprise, I saw three big horned sheep coming across the red sandstone boulders , not more than 20 feet from my camper.
There was no chance of seeing them over the past few days because the campground was so full and so many folks had barking dogs. But on this last day, it was quiet and there they were, just wondering along the edge of the campground. Really made my day.

I headed out along HWY 93 which winds it’s way through the eastern side of the Nevada mountain range, Utah and the Great Basin National Park, the newest of the National parks. I’ll head through it in a couple of days, for now, I had thought I’d already driven through it, as there are some huge basins on the southern end, in the shape of shallow bowls that climb up gradually onto the mountain ranges that encompass the basin. (Later I learned the Great Basin encompasses all of Nevada!) Driving along 93 I saw tons of wild flowers, mostly yellows, whites and oranges. Then as I gradually gained elevation, there were whole fields of bright neon canary yellow flowers. They occasionally lined the sides of the highway and were just brilliant.

The majority of Nevada’s state parks are on the eastern side of the state and for good reason. It’s higher elevation and there are lakes, dams and reservoirs to enjoy as well as the mountain scenery. Nevada has the most mountain ranges of any state in the country.

There are just a ton of things and places to explore out here. I’m sure I’ll have to come back to see all of it. Archeological sites, 5 state parks, wildlife refuge sites, ghost towns, you name it they have lots of stuff to do outdoors. Today I drove over to Pioche, 1869, a silver mining town, dotted with mines throughout the area, it was wilder than Tombstone or Bodie. With more than 70 killings from gunshot wounds before a single person was buried from natural causes. This was definitely a part of the Wild Wild West. There’s still tons of evidence to show it was a mining town and oh, it has three commercial campgrounds right in town, all no more than $15-$16 a night full hook-ups some with cable tv. Two of them are for sale, so if you want to start your own business, check them out.

Headed out on Wednesday for Ely NV along hwy 93. More of the Great Basin Highway. What a unbelievable highway. Running through the Great Basin, each section over 100 miles visible with snow capped mountain ranges surrounding this awesome landscape. The first 30 minutes of driving along the highway, I did not see more than 2 or 3 vehicles. Like having my own private highway. Miles and miles of sagebrush covered range land. Not a single house or man made structure except for the miles of fences along the highway. No houses, barns of any kind and definitely no services along this 117 mile route. The road straight as an arrow, gradually decending into the bowl and then rising eventually on the far end of the valley. Climbing gradually to 7,500 feet, I’m almost horizontal with the snow capped mountains. Wheeler peak is 13,063 feet. It’s a comfortable 65-70 degrees today, expected to get cooler as the week goes on.

I’m able to pull in 12 TV stations from Utah and Nevada, but nothing worth watching is there. Still nice to have it if I want to veg. out and just watch stuff. I’ll be here for a couple of days to waiting to pick up my mail via general delivery at the post office.


I’ve made arrangements to fly back to Fla to get my
drivers license renewed. I’ll fly back to Florida on Sept 3rd and return on Sept 9th. I’m also seriously thinking of making arrangements to take the camper and truck on a ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert Canada on my way back from Alaska.

It’s all so hard to commit to plans so far in advance, but this is one trip that is requiring me to do just that. This will mean that I will not be coming back to Florida for the winter, but instead spend one more winter in Tucson. I know all my new Winter Tucsonans will be glad to hear that. Hopefully I will be able to visit with all my Florida friends this coming Sept.

Back in Ely, I’m enjoying this small western town. This is where everyone
goes fishing, hunting and all those other outdoor sports. Not a single
Wal-Mart, K-mart or other big box store in sight. Only local stores and lots
and lots of hotels and motels, most having their own mini casino attached.
I’d love to go exploring some of the many ghost towns in the area and tried
to get to several in the Humboldt Forest. Got all of 5 miles in on a fairly
good dirt and silt road, but as the road got narrower and higher in
elevation, snow banks still on the mountains, I realized I would need a 4
wheel drive to go much further as the road started to get muddy and
slippery. Darn, yet another thing I’ll have to purchase in the future. Never
knew how much I could use a 4-wheel drive truck.

They have a big train museum here as well as a train ride. My buddy Raul (Ray) would really enjoy spending some time out here. They even provide behind the scenes tours as the mechanics work on the engines and train cars. I was given a private tour of the train station museum with all it’s original telegraph equipment and office equipment. The place is in original condition and a great way to experience a time when trains ruled transportation across the country.

Speaking of transportation, Ely is the location of the final completion of the Lincoln Highway. The original and first highway to go from New York to San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway was the idea of a group of Indiana Automobile Manufacturers as a way to encourage people to buy cars and travel the country. A number of the 3,000 original concrete signs still exist out here. They were put up by the Boy Scouts back in 1928. Cmdr. Eisenhower took a military convoy across the Lincoln highway to prove one could travel the county in vehicles. Of course his convoy took all their own supplies and repair equipment with them. Later as President of the U. S. he would develop the Interstate Highway system.

Final note: IT’S SNOWING OUTSIDE! I went to sleep last night to rain. I woke up this morning to 31 degree weather and snow coming down. Everything is getting all pretty and white outside. It’s cozy warm inside, so I guess I’ll be staying here for a couple of days until it clears up. This is a good test for the camper to see how well it holds up to really cold weather. PS I took in the water hoses etc yesterday in case of a freeze.

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