Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015-29 Wandering the back-roads in Nevada


Austin Nevada
Middlegate Nevada
Tonopah Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

Campground:  Middlegate.  Free dry camping, or $15 if a campsite is available.  I lucked out and got the one campsite available.  Full hookups, 30 amp.  They use a powerful generator to create their own electricity as there are no power lines out here.  Verizon signal is good.

Campground:  Tonopah.  Dirt parking lot next to the Banc Club Restaurant/Casino.  Free, dry camping.

Campground:  Duck Creek RV park, Las Vegas.  Cost $13.50 with my Passport America card.  Full hookups w/50amp service and about 40 over-the-air TV stations.  And I’ll need it, they are having a heat wave:  107 degrees today.  Don’t you know, both my a/c s are running.

I’m checking out a couple of sites along the Loneliest Highway, also known as hwy 50 the Lincoln Highway.  It was the first paved highway to go from Coast to Coast in the U.S.  How lonely is it?  Well, as I was driving from Eureka to Austin  I stopped at a rest stop along the way.  Having only seen a couple of vehicles pass me during the hours drive so far.  As I pulled into the rest stop, surrounded by prairie grass but mainly sage brush as far as the eye could see and mountain ranges off in the distance, I was struck once again by a place that held silence.  Not a car, train or plane.  No critters or birds chirping.  Total silence.  Even as I walked about on the paved way-side stop, even my shoes were silent.  Not making a sound.  Stillness, quiet, silence…..  Peaceful.  I hated to get back into the truck and continue my journey.

a wayside stop, silence.....

hwy 50, Lincoln Highway marker
Down the road I stopped in Austin.  A mountain mining town, since made almost a ghost town along this lonely highway.  I dropped my camper off behind a gas station and drove a mile or so down a dirt mining road.  It edged along the edge of the cliff and being only one lane, I was glad I’d dropped off the camper first.  I wanted to see Stokes Castle.  In reality it’s a tower and was always meant to be a three story tower/home.  Mr Stokes came from a well known eastern family and was out here in the mining business.  He built it as a summer home for his sons and it was used for two months before being abandoned.  It would have had two large balconies on the second and third floors and plate glass windows.  I’d love to see it restored.

Stoke's Castle, or Tower as it was designed to be.

would love to see it refurbished

Austin was my plan A as I thought of possible staying here for a night, but the town is so worn down as many of these old mining towns are, that I decided to drive another hour and get to Middlegate.  Rather than take the usual Lincoln Highway (hwy 50), I was told about hwy 722 which was I’m told the first highway through this area.  Being adventuresome, I took that route.  Talk about lonely.  I think one could call this route, “The forgotten Highway” as I saw perhaps 4 vehicles the entire distance traveling on it.  One young couple flagged me down as they had run out of gas.  I told them I’d send for help as soon as I reached Middlegate.  As it turned out one of those other trucks stopped and towed them back to Middlegate, put $20 worth of fuel in their tank and went on.  Wonder what their story was?  Run-aways from home perhaps.  She a white gal around 19 or 20, he a young man of color as they say these days.

Hwy 722 (I call it the Forgotten Highway)
So here I am at Plan B, Middlegate.  I’ve passed through here once before and dry camped.  This time I was able to get a campsite with electric.  $15 for the campsite, a nice lunch and later a little something to wet my whistle.  Not bad for being out here in the middle of nowhere.  By the way, they have to generate their own electricity for the dozen rv’s/mobile homes, bar and cabins.  No power lines reach this far out into the desert.  But surprisingly, we have a fair Verizon signal.

Middlegate, the Middle of Nowhere

own their own generator, no electric lines come this far out

always fill up, or you might be stranded like this fella
Distance Traveled:  105 miles

Tonopah Nevada

Darn those long distances out here in the west.  I thought I had ¾ of a tank of diesel fuel and thought I’d be able to fill up easily before getting to Tonopah.  It wasn’t to be.  I had planned on taking a tour of the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park.  It’s 20 mile in from the main road hwy 361.  Round trip that would add an additional 40 miles to my journey.  When I got to the next little town, Gabbs, I discovered everything was closed up.  Gas station, motel, restaurant, you name it.  It’s like Rip Van Winkle came to town and it’s been asleep ever since.  Should I try going to the state park?  With a couple more T-tiny towns coming up before Tonopah and no indication they would have fuel, I decided to bypassed the adventure that I was so looking forward too.  As it turned out, besides Gabbs, I drove through Goldyke and Pactolus, not a gas station remained open.  Making the final stretch over 100 miles without a gas station.  A total of 211 miles on one tank of diesel.  And I was down to just a couple gallons of fuel at most by the time I reached Tonopah.  Where they have about 6 gas stations right in a tow.  Take your pick, they’re all expensive.  So why not dry camp for an evening and save a couple bucks.  Besides it’s a pleasant 75 degrees out today.

boarded up and closed, and yes, this is a SPEED TRAP.
I saw many getting pulled over in just one day. speed:  25 mph

even many of the casino have closed down

once a casino, now a liquor store

beautiful restored hotel

most of the town is closed and locked up

the Rare Jack-a-Lope "grin"
Tonopah is even more desolate than the last time I drove through, which wasn’t all that long ago.  More shops have closed, only a couple casino’s remain open.  I did find a nice book store to browse around.  I’ve decided to stay in a parking lot for the evening, dry camping.  Why pay good money since most of it has gone to paying for fuel these past couple of days of more intense driving which I rarely do, but with not much to tour in this area, barring the one missed opportunity because I only had ¾ of a tank of fuel instead of a full tank, I’ll continue my journey south.

What does it mean to dry camp?  In my case since I don’t have a full set of solar panels and inverters on the camper yet, I don’t have use of the a/c, microwave, toaster, coffee pot or TV.  With mild weather, it’s not a problem.  I can keep all the lights on, use the radio, furnace if it gets nippy out at night and the water pump, gas stove and fridge work just fine.  Kind of nice to be “unplugged” for a day or two.

Distance traveled:  273 miles

a good sunset will make any place look like a palace

Goodness.  What was I thinking.  I never travel that far in one day.  Well to tell the truth, I finally got tired of the very small towns I’d been traveling to over the past week and made a bee-line for Las Vegas.  All the conveyances you could ask for and of course I have a great price on my campsite for a week.  Imagine, only paying $13.50 per night.  Though I understand the rates are going up in October to $16 a night for PPA members.

Warm Springs, closed years ago after a major fire

Entering the Extraterrestrial Highway

near Area 51
could the stories be true about the Roswell Incident?
I think so.....  
So rather than taking the normal hwy 95, always a favorite route, I decided to take a more adventurous route through more barren desert and mountain ranges, with passes around the 6,200 ft range.  I would then start heading south on Route 375, “The Extraterrestrial Highway”.  So named because it passes by Area 51 which is on the Nellis Air force Base.  Believed to be the location where the military took the remains of a crashed UFO and it’s alien beings.   Nellis is a huge base out in the desert and of course one can’t really see anything, but still kind of exciting to be that close to where history might have taken place.  Signs do warn of Low Flying planes in the area though.  Of course I also stopped in the only commercial establishment along the route, at the “Little Ale’Inn” and restaurant.  Had a nice chat with the locals and owner of the place.  It’s the type of place where the owner and a few workers were sitting outside having a cup of coffee, waiting for 10am when they would officially open for business.  No rush out here in the desert.

Joshua Trees

After passing through a forest of Joshua Trees, I headed south for another hour and a half and made it to Las Vegas by 1:30 in the afternoon.  Glad I have a campsite with 50amp service as they are having a major heat wave here and I‘ll be running both a/c units for the remainder of the week .  Reached 107 degrees today.  Supposed to be this way for the next couple of days before cooling down.

And that’s enough for the week as things are going.  While in Las Vegas I have a few chores I need to take care of.  You know, oil and filter changes, laundry, planning for the coming next couple of weeks.

Enjoy the day, just because you need to get “stuff” done, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun as well.

On the road, with Doug P

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