Escaping Smoky Skies in Nevada – Part 2

Continuing with our 2018 Summer Tour, we visit a historic railway, Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park, Cave Lake State Park, and a mining town, all within a short drive from Ely, Nevada.

 Nevada Northern Railway Museum, a National Historic Place and a National Historic Landmark District

Originally owned and built in 1905 by the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company, the railroad and yards served the copper mining region of White Pine County.

Nevada Northern Depot
View of railroad yard at Nevada Northern

The depot, built in 1907 in the Mission Revival and Renaissance Revival, provided service for both freight and passengers.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

Kennicott Copper Company took over the mining operations in 1933 and gained control over the railway, yards, and depot. Kennecott discontinued passenger service in 1941 although they continued to occupy the offices until 1985 after donating the yard and railway to the local non-profit for preservation.

Not only did Kennecott leave behind train engines and cars, they also abandoned office equipment and all of the accounting records dating back to the inception of the Nevada Consolidated Copper Company. The state of Nevada then acquired the depot for the museum in 1990.

After riding the rails in Skagway, Alaska, and the Black Hills of South Dakota, we decided a guided tour of the machine shop might be more interesting to us.

Waiting for the train to cross
All Aboard

On the tour, we saw building after building of old train engines, train cars, and all the equipment needed to keep them in working order.

Engine 40 at Nevada Northern
A cat named Dirt is the mascot of the maintenance yard
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Dies for casting various wheels
A 200-ton steam-operated press
Maintenance building with a crane and a complete machine shop for restoration and repair still in use today
View from inside maintenance building looking out

We’ve seen recreated and renovated train depots before, but never have we come across one that contained mostly original furniture, office equipment, and documents that date back 100 years. It was a researcher’s treasure trove of payroll and other accounting records. Genealogists would be in heaven if they wanted to fill in the story of an ancestor that happened to have worked for the railway in the past.

The docent who gave us a tour of the offices
Supply room with office equipment and supplies
Note the ergonomic desk. I didn’t know they made them like that. I sure could have used one when I worked in an office and typed all day.
Mimeograph, check printer, and rubber stamps of all kinds

Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake is a 32-acre reservoir open for fishing and boating for catching rainbow and German brown trout. The no reservation camping facilities looked nice with a fire pit and grill, a table, and space for parking. Showers and flush toilets, but we didn’t see any sites with hookups so campers need to come prepared.

Cave Lake and dock
View of canyon driving to Cave Lake

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The Ward Charcoal Ovens are accessed on a seven-mile gravel graded road about 10 miles outside of Ely. When I see gravel roads on the map I cringe, but there is no need for shying away from Nevada graded roads. They are sometimes in better condition than our California concrete or asphalt roads.

Charcoal Ovens

So what was the purpose of these beehive structures? The 27-foot diameter and 30-foot high ovens, constructed during the mid-1870’s, were stacked with up to 35 cords of wood which was burned for 12 days to produce 50 bushels of charcoal per cord. The smelters required 30 to 50 bushels of charcoal to separate silver and lead from one ton of ore.

View from inside a charcoal oven

In three short years, the silver boom went bust, the trees were stripped from the mountains, and the need for charcoal ended. Prospectors, stockmen, and maybe even a few stagecoach bandits, used the ovens for shelter until it became a State Historic Park.

We took a short trail to the remnants of kilns, and along a stream that gave us great views of the valley.

Remnants of a kiln
View from Charcoal Oven trail
Equipment found along the Charcoal Oven trail

Today the ovens stand as a reminder of Nevada’s history and allow us to peek into the past.

Ruth Mining

Someone recommended that we drive out to the town of Ruth where mining operations are still underway. I’m not sure what I expected to see in Ruth, but the last thing I thought I’d see is a town looking to be swallowed up by the stair steps of a mine.

A neighborhood in Ruth, Nevada

Ruth was founded in 1903 as a company town for the Robinson open-pit copper mine, which as of 2018 was still in operation. In 1955, the houses were offered for sale to the occupants who had been renting. In 1978 Kennecott closed the mines in Ruth and the town went into decline. The mine reopened in 1996 only to close in 1999 and reopened again in 2004.

While some of the homes showed signs of pride of ownership, other buildings looked like they were sitting there waiting for the bulldozer to show up.

This old church has seen better days

Where did that deer come from?

We didn’t expect to see deer near here

Current mining operations not far from the town continue in 2018.

And the mining continues as of 2018

As much as we enjoyed our visit to Ely, Nevada, it was time to pack up and continue our forward motion toward Colorado. Next up, we move out of Nevada and into Utah where we make our first stop in Fillmore.

Safe Travels

Escaping Smoky Skies in Nevada – Part 1

While in Mammoth Lakes, smoke continued its invasion into the Eastern Sierras making the sky look as bad as when we drove through Yosemite a week earlier. On July 28, 2018, we headed north on Highway 395 toward Carson City, Nevada. A four-night stay at the Silver City RV Resort in Minden would afford us time to clean out the trailer, wash our clothes, restock the pantry and fridge, and plan our route to Colorado.

We gulped the clean air free from wildfire smoke when we got to Bridgeport, only to be disappointed to roll into Minden, Nevada, where a layer of smoke hung over the valley. Each day the foul air from California consolidated with that from a fire north of Reno.

We scrapped our sightseeing plans around Carson City, turned on the AC, and stuck close to the trailer to avoid breathing in the particulates. The highlight of our time in Carson City was seeing Bobby Freeman’s 1959 Rockin’ Piano in the RV Park.

Rockin Piano

The owner turned it on and played a couple tunes for the other RVers in the park. He was on his way to Hot August nights in Reno/Sparks, which is held each year during the early part of August.

By August 1, the smoke was at its worse as we drove east on Highway 50 toward Ely, Nevada. The smoke finally started to clear a few miles past Fallon allowing us to make out puffy white clouds in the sky. We stopped in at the Toiyabe Café in Austin, Nevada, for lunch where we found space to park and enjoyed a good old-fashioned hamburger and salad.

The weather was cooler in Ely than it was in Minden and much less smoky. Lightening streaked across the sky with very little thunder and no rain. The KOA was a perfect place to stop and explore the area. I loved waking up to the sound of doves cooing and we had a clear view of the goat pen where we could watch the animals play king of the hill while we ate our breakfast.

With air that we could breathe, it was time for some Ely, Nevada, sightseeing.

City of Ely and Renaissance Village

With murals decorating sides of buildings and statues planted out front, visitors get a sense that the City of Ely celebrates the arts. The city also celebrates its heritage with restored historical buildings. The art focus is thanks to the Ely Renaissance Society, which was founded in 1999. They commissioned the murals to depict the history of the city.

Mining Mural
Train coming to town
Communication past and present
Tsaam Pll Wai Hyunna Yewekante (“Living Well Because of Mother”) by Joe Pachak
White Pine County Courthouse
Garnet Mercantile Restored in its 1920 Art Deco style

The group also purchased a piece of property made up of 12 shotgun houses and a barn that we were told once housed brothels. Each of the houses is decorated with a different nationality.

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Village General Store

Living history presentations and re-enactments are held in the village. Although the village was closed on the day we visited, a woman watering the beautiful gardens opened a few of the houses so we could peek inside.

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Shotgun house bathroom
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Shotgun house kitchen
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Shotgun house living room

Not all of the buildings in town have undergone renovations and gambling and bordellos continue to draw people to the city. This is Nevada, after all.

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A little TLC, please
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Local Saloon & Brothel
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Hotel Nevada Gambling Hall

It may not look like Ely, Nevada, has much to offer while driving by. Digging a little deeper, though, we came to embrace the small town charm that brings tourists in to stay awhile and visit. There are no fancy highrises or gourmet restaurants, just good old-fashioned western establishments that bring to mind American history and a slower pace of living.

Next up we continue exploring the area around Ely, Nevada, visiting the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, Cave Lake State Park, the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park, and Ruth Mining.
Safe Travels

 

On the Road Again and an Upgrade Update

On The Road Again

We retrieved our trailer from Happy Daze RV on June 6 and on June 8 we were back on the road pointing the GMC Denali toward the South Dakota Black Hills. We had a few stops to make before we arrived at our destination point.

With the fifth wheel and truck sporting washed and shiny exteriors, the weather and road conditions decided to pour rain and kick up muddy water as we drove across the Sierra Nevada’s on Interstate 80. Both the Truckee and the American Rivers filled their riverbanks at levels we have not seen for a number of years and we glimpsed a few waterfalls gushing from the hills. A great sight to see after more than five years of drought.

When we stopped a few miles outside of Truckee, I enjoyed breathing in the fresh clean evergreen fragrance. Besides water gushing in the rivers, we took note of the snow that capped the mountaintops and nestled under the trees like dirty white blankets. A fierce wind buffeted us when we arrived at Sparks Marina RV Park but by 11:00 p.m., it had subsided and a gentle rain pitter-pattered on the roof lulling us to sleep.

This was the view from our kitchen at the back of the fifth wheel.

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View from Fifth Wheel at Sparks Marina

Apartments will soon block the lovely view. A housing shortage, caused by the influx of workers to Google, Amazon, and Tesla, has spurred construction of apartments and new homes in the Sparks, Reno and surrounding areas.

The next morning we woke to no wind but a few drops of rain. As we headed to the Sparks Marina for a walk around the lake, Jon found a slice of mountain scenery in the city.

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A Slice of Wilderness in the City

Sidestepping the duck and goose droppings, we stopped to watch the squirrels scurry across the sidewalk from their homes in the rock retaining walls to the grassy area next to the lake and the yellow-headed black birds flitting in and out of the shrubs and trees.

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Geese Make the Lake Their Home
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Yellow-Headed Black Bird

After our walk, we relaxed on the patio of Lighthouse Coffee with a cup and a scone while enjoying the view of the lake, mountains, and skyline.

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Sparks Marina
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View of Mountains From Lighthouse Coffee
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View From Lighthouse Coffee

Then it was time to plan our route to South Dakota and book our reservations for the next few days. We rarely make advance reservations, which sometimes doesn’t work out so well for us. Other times it works to our advantage.

The next morning we started out for Iron Horse RV Resort in Elko, Nevada, where we spent two weeks last year waiting on GMC to fix the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) system under warranty (see our posts Elko, Nevada Parts 1 – 3). We had seen enough of Elko to last us for years if not decades, but we couldn’t miss out having an early dinner at the Coffee Mug Family Restaurant, our favorite café in town.

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Our Favorite Restaurant in Elko, Nevada

On our way to Elko, we stopped at the Cosgrove Rest Area and encountered a cluster of unidentified insects. I tried to find them on the internet, but couldn’t locate any images that resembled these guys that did not fly. Does anyone have a guess as to what they are?

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What Kind of Bug is This?

Update on MORryde Heavy Duty Shackle Kit – By Jon

As soon as we picked up the trailer, after having the “Wet-Bolt kit” installed by Happy Daze RV in Livermore, I thought it felt more stable. However, the drive from Livermore to home is only about 15 miles so it wasn’t conclusive. Now that we loaded it for the road trip and are on our way, the trailer is indeed quite a bit more stable. The amount of chucking (sort of like bucking) has also decreased considerably. Once we got to our first destination, we realized an extra bonus after setting up in a camp space. The trailer now has much less movement when we are walking around inside. So overall, it was well worth the money to ensure our safety on the road.  Especially when I saw how much wear had occurred on the O.E.M. bushings and shackles.

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Worn Bushings and Shackles After 13,000 Miles
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New MORryde Heavy Duty Shackle Kit

Time to move on to our next waypoint, Salt Lake City.

Safe Travels.

Elko, Nevada – Part 3

Always on the lookout for a tour of some kind, Jon and I lucked out getting reservations for one at a working gold mine. We met the bus and tour guide, Derek Sikes, at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko. Derek showed a short video of how the Newmont Mining Corporation produces 60-pound gold bars from tons of earth that contain microscopic traces of gold. We boarded a bus that took us to the Gold Quarry Mine thirty miles west of Elko and north of Carlin. Once the bus entered the gate, traffic switched to the UK pattern of driving on the left side of the street. This is so the drivers of the earthmovers can see objects in their way. I found it disconcerting to see these giants lumber toward our dwarfed bus in between tall berms that mark the streets’ route.

The bus pulled up next to one of the gigantic earthmovers, and we all got out marveling at the big yellow beast with tires almost twice Jon’s height of 6’ 2”. A petite young woman climbed into the driver’s seat, started the motor, and caused the behemoth to shimmy like an elephant wearing a tutu. Then she raised the bucket to simulate how the ore is dumped.

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Perspective – JT is 6’2″
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Two-story Earthmover. The berm in the background conceals a road on the other side.

Our next stop was the pit where the company started its mining activity in 1979. Since then this site has produced 20 million ounces of gold and estimates show an additional 7 million remains. The pit is 1.5 miles across and 1900 feet deep. Production plans call for them to dig down another 300 feet.

On the left side of the pit, are terraced walls while on the right side the wall slopes evenly. This is due to a slide that occurred. Engineers monitor sensors that detect such an occurrence. Fortunately, the company was able to stop activity at the mine so no one was injured during the slide.

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Gold Quarry Mine Pit
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Earthmovers waiting for a load on the other side of the pit.

Newmont is also working an underground mine at this location. Buildings, a tractor, and an entrance to a tunnel are shown here. From the rim of the pit, the tunnel entrance appeared small but after watching one of the earthmovers disappear through the dark hole in the side of the mountain we got a sense of its size.

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Underground Mine Tunnel

The technology of mining for gold sure has changed since the Gold Rush era when men waded up to their knees in a river and sifted sand and pebbles with tin pans to find little nuggets.

The next day we took NV-225 north from I-80 on the way to Tuscarora Ghost Town. Left at NV-226 took us through canyons, rolling hills, and sagebrush where ranches sprinkled the landscape. The turn off at County Hwy-723 made us a little leery about driving on the gravel road, but we found that it was in better condition than many of our California paved roads. Although considered a ghost town, people still live and even work in Tuscarora.

The Tuscarora Cemetery greets visitors on the right and as the road curves into town, the post office sits on the left. Next to the post office is the museum, which is only open on Sunday. Evidence of old mineshafts is marked with mounds of dirt used to cover the gaping holes. Many of the lots contain ruins of homes, rusted out cars and trucks. Even tin cans and bed springs litter the grounds of what once was a large house or hotel with facing fireplaces. Although some of the buildings look like rundown shacks with their weathered wood siding, tin fences, and overgrown grass, a few residents inhabit other homes, and modern cars seem out of place in this once thriving community.

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Tuscarora Nevada Cemetery
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Gas Station Ruins Tuscarora Nevada
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Tuscarora Nevada Museum
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Bed springs and tin cans littered the area near the fireplaces
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Facing Fireplaces. Was this a house or a hotel?
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Tuscarora ruins or occupied cabin and trailer?

Whenever I cross paths with a cemetery, a desire takes hold to stop and wander among the mausoleums and tombstones with etched names and dates on granite or simple crosses, and around the protective wood and iron fences. I wonder about the lives of the people laid to rest. Take the simple markers for Kate and T.C. Plunkett. Who was this couple, when did they come to Tuscarora, was James their son, and what was the secret to their long lives?

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Tuscarora Cemetery Gravesite
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Plunkett Gravesites Tuscarora Cemetery

The town boasts The Tuscarora Summer Pottery School where a person can spend two weeks learning about and creating pottery. Our friendly tour guide, one of the students, said she had made some 60 pieces so far. Simple but comfortable accommodations are provided in the once-upon-a-time hotel, along with three meals per day.

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Tuscarora Hotel and Pottery School
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Students at Tuscarora Pottery School
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Tuscarora Pottery School Kiln
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Finished Pottery Pieces
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Art in the Garden Tuscarora Nevada

Not interested in making pottery? Nancy Harris McLelland, a retired writing teacher from Mendocino, offers one-on-one writing retreats. Her accommodations include a vintage Airstream  trailer or a cozy sheep wagon. Click on Nancy’s name above for more information.

We had been in Elko for six days, and every night we counted the RVers that pulled into their site and set up for the night. Each morning, the couples and families coiled up their electrical, water, and sewer hoses and stored their camp chairs and stoves before driving up the steep hill to the main road. I wanted to shout, no, don’t leave, stay awhile and explore. I was somewhat glad we ended up stuck in Elko. We would have missed a lot had we just passed through.

On Saturday, we took in a little local culture at the Nifty Fifty Family Fun Day held at the senior center. The advertisement announced a carnival, ’50s music, a soda shop menu, and a car show. We didn’t expect the show to be as big as the events produced by the GoodGuys four times a year at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, but we expected more than nine cars.

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Nifty Fifty Family Fun Day Elko Nevada

We decided to skip the outdoor 1950s movie night at the museum and headed out to Carlin Canyon. The National Historical Trail and wayside interpretive kiosks provided us another opportunity to visualize ourselves camping along the Humboldt River on our way from Missouri to California.

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A short stop at the Chinese Garden Nature Study Area and its algae infested pond completed our trip for the day.

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Pond at Chinese Garden
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Purple Thistle at Chinese Garden

On Monday, July 18, we arrived early for our appointment at the dealership and dropped off the truck with the anticipation we would be back on the road by Tuesday or Wednesday. No such luck. It would be another week before the parts would arrive. We enlisted help from General Motors customer service whose function is not to provide service, only to listen to complaints and pass them back to the dealership. At first, I was okay without having a vehicle to tool around in for a day or two. It gave us time to relax after our long drives to see the sights and catch up with the clothes washing. By the fourth day, however, I had developed camper fever from having our travel radius restricted to only a couple of miles. Finally, a loaner came in. My attitude improved markedly when I snuggled into the soft leather seats of the GMC loaner pickup. Yeah! We were free to roam again.

Now that we had wheels again, visiting a few more sights was in order. First up was a drive to Ruby Lake on the other side of Harrison Pass on County Road-718. We didn’t actually see the lake, though. A miscalculation of the fuel range in the loaner truck required us to turn around so we would make it back to town before running out of gas. The drive wasn’t as beautiful as Lamoille Canyon. It’s more of an off-roaders dream with different routes to explore the Ruby Mountains.

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Ruby Mountains Rock Formation

Our next drive was to Rio Tinto, another ghost town, and an abandoned National Forest Service complex on NV-225.

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Rio Tinto Ruin
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Abandoned Forest Service Complex
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Well House at Abandoned Forest Service Complex

The highlight of the ride was Wild Horse State Recreation Area and reservoir. The campground (not shown) looked like a great place to spend a couple of nights.

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Wild Horse State Recreation Area

Two weeks had been a week too long to stay put in one place. Now when I saw the RVers loading up and driving away, I wanted to shout, wait, take me along. We wished, hoped, prayed, and crossed our fingers and toes that we would be back on the road Tuesday morning.

 

 

 

 

Elko, Nevada – Part 2

Western movies and television shows sparked my interest in early American history. Stories about families loading up their possessions and joining a wagon train to travel 2,000 miles from Missouri to California are among my favorites. Hollywood rarely invests in this genre anymore, but the Bureau of Land Management’s California Trail Interpretive Center allowed me to imagine what life was like on the emigrant trail.

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California Trail Interpretive Center

The building sits above Interstate 80 on the west side of Elko, Nevada. Easy hiking trails behind the building take hikers to overlooks of the Humboldt River, South Fork, and the California Trail.

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JT reading California Trail outdoor display

A replica wagon train camp illustrated life on the trail. I tried to picture myself wearing a dusty and dirty petticoat, cotton dress, and bonnet, cooking the evening meal over a hot fire fueled by chopped wood or cow pies.

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California Trail Interpretive Center Wagon Camp
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Wagon Camp Cooking Pit

Inside, dioramas depict the daily chores and entertainment engaged in by the emigrants. Pioneer letters, lists of provisions, statistics on deaths, maps, timelines, and other information, rounds out the displays. I have to admire the courage of the emigrants who dared to make the 4 1/2-month trek, suffering disease, tragic accidents, starvation, and even death along the way.

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California Interpretive Center Diorama

Today we zip along the highway at 70 miles an hour tugging our mobile house with a bathroom, galley, refrigerator, and soft mattress. The next time an urge to complain about how far we have to drive, the trailer’s tiny bathroom, or my stuffed closet, takes hold of me, I’ll think about the emigrants walking next to their oxen and wagon and be thankful for our modern conveniences.

***

On Wednesday, a loop drive on Highway 229 took us through rolling green hills, another beautiful canyon, and cattle ranches.

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Lush Canyon Vegetation – No water shortage here

We marveled at the blue sky we encountered everywhere we turned. The rolled bales of hay, fermenting in the sun, dotting the wide-open landscapes were an unfamiliar sight. We were used to the rectangular bales.

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Rolling Green Hills and 900 LB Rolled Bales of Hay

In front of the gated Mustang Monument property was a perfect place to stop and eat a snack. We could see a few buildings in the distance but no farming equipment, no horses or other farm animals, and no other type of activity. My curiosity was peaked. It was time to search the internet. If you are in the market for an eco-resort or American safari, you can tailor your adventure to your liking for the reasonable price of $1950 a night for a cottage or $1650 a night for a luxury tipi. All meals, alcohol, and adventures are included. I wonder if we could get a discount for bringing our own accommodations.

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Mustang Monument Eco-Resort

We gave the truck a work out on Highway 231 for the 11 miles up to Angel Lake, our last stop on the loop drive. Waterfalls feed the small alpine lake at an elevation of 8,500 feet where fishing and canoeing are popular. Several picnic areas near the parking lot are tucked in around the vegetation, giving visitors a sense of privacy. Angel Lake Campground is adjacent to the lake, and Angel Creek Campground is down the hill at an elevation of 6,800 feet for campers who wish to stay overnight.

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Angel Lake Waterfall
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View of Angel Lake from Trail to Waterfall
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Angel Lake after Sunset

The truck continued running at full power. We had four more days traipsing around Elko. Would we find enough to do?

Elko, Nevada – Part 1

On Sunday, July 10, we left Sparks in our rearview mirror and headed across the desert toward Elko, Nevada, with a quick stop in Lovelock for lunch. The courthouse parking lot gave us plenty of space for our rig in this quaint town.

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Lovelock County Court House
A walk around the building to stretch our legs seemed like a good idea and what should we see but clusters of locks hooked to chains stretched between short pillars.

img_8918There must have been thousands, from old rusty locks to shiny new locks, engraved locks, and plain locks. Name a brand. I’m sure it’s represented somewhere in Lovers Lock Plaza. Had we brought along our own lock to add to the bunch, I’m not sure where it could have been clipped.img_8922

We pulled into Iron Horse RV Resort where we planned to stay for three or four nights. Iron Horse is unique in that customers also have access to the Hilton Garden Inn up the hill, including a discount for a hot breakfast. Although they advertise a pool at both the RV section and the hotel, they are not large enough to propel your body for more than one stroke. We did, however, make good use of the treadmills and dumbbells at the inn, using the walk up the steep hill to the Hilton as our warmup.

Let the sightseeing begin.

Anxious to start poking around, we packed a lunch and hit the road the next morning. A few minutes later, a check engine light flashed on the dash. Now what? A quick look in the manual revealed a possible problem with the deisel exhaust fluid (DEF) system, which is the equivalent of smog control for diesels. Great! The situation wasn’t critical so off we drove.

What a surprise to find an oasis like Lamoille Canyon after 290 miles of crossing the flat and rolling desert hills from Reno.

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Ruby Mountains – Still snow on them hills

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View of valley from overlook
The geology, flora, and fauna of Lamoille Canyon reminded me of sights in Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes.

The canyon, twelve-miles long, is the largest valley in the Ruby Mountains and includes waterfalls, sparkling pools, snow-dotted peaks, campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails. I felt sorry for all the travelers up on Interstate 80 missing this experience. It’s a perfect respite from the monotony of driving through the desert.

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Indian Paintbrush
Large sections of tree stumps showed evidence that beavers had been hard at work.

 

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Beaver Chew Marks

Except in pictures and movies, I had never seen a pond built by beavers. This one reminded me of an infinity pool.

 

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Beaver Infinity Pool

When driving through Elko, Nevada, the short detour through Lamoille Canyon is a great place to break up the monotony of freeway travel.

 

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Hanging Valley

 

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Canyon’s End

Back in town, it was time for a visit to the local GMC dealer. The service writer hooked up his diagnostic scanner and confirmed there was an issue with the DEF sensor(s). The fix usually results in pulling and replacing the reservoir. “The earliest we can get you in is next Monday. The worse that can happen is the truck will lose power.” What? That didn’t sound good. Losing power while pulling 8,000 pounds up a hill, was not something we wanted to tackle.

We were stuck in Elko for at least another week. Everyone we talked to before our trip had encouraged us to make reservations. We were glad we hadn’t listened. No reservations, no need to cancel. We prefer to keep our options open to explore a place in more depth, leave when we want, or pivot when complications arise beyond our control.

A week wasn’t so bad. We had more time to explore.

 

Sparks Nevada

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We began our forty-four-night journey on July 6, 2016. Yellowstone National Park was our primary objective, and we would try to include the southwest corner of South Dakota if time permitted. Our first stop was Sparks, Nevada, to spend a few days visiting with friends and exploring the area. The Sparks Marina and RV Park served as our home base. We had found this spot during our last stay in Sparks. The paved roads, cement pads, artificial turf, and wide spots all within walking distance to the marina and lake impressed us. Our visit, this time, did not disappoint. We enjoyed walking along the two-mile marina and lake trail, greeting pet owners and their dogs, and watching the ducks floating in the water before fresh baked pastries and brewed coffee enticed us to stop at Lighthouse Coffee for breakfast.

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Paddleboards on Sparks Lake

 

Their patio had a great view of the paddleboards and kayaks (available to rent) skimming across the calm waters. Volleyball courts and playgrounds for children, along with the water sports, make this park a favorite place for everyone.

 

The next day we visited Pyramid Lake and Museum making a loop northeast out of Sparks on Route 445, then back down Routes 446 and 447 to connect with Interstate 80. The lake is within the 475,000 acres of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s Reservation and home to five different species of fish including the Cui-ui and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

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Used through Creative Commons License 3.0, #81876: Sunlight on Pyramid Rock, copyright 2015 Tanya Wheeler, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/81876

This is an excellent place to get away from the city for a day of fishing or to stay awhile and camp. Pyramid Lake Marina and RV Park offers twenty-five sites with full hookups or beach camping with no hookups. It was refreshing to see that development of hotels and casinos had not spoiled the natural beauty of the shoreline. The tribe focuses on preserving the recreational and cultural resources of the reservation, which includes the lake and related fisheries.

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Front of Pyramid Lake Museum

The  Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center in Nixon has informative displays and exhibits about the tribe.

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Rear of Pyramid Lake Museum

 

 

 

 

 

While driving the roads to the lake and back, we commented on the bumpy ride and questioned what the department of transportation did to make the roads like washboards. Were they like this because of the snow?  When we hit the freeway, we knew what was wrong. We had experienced the same bumpy ride twice on our trip to Texas earlier in the year. This time, both rear truck tires had bulges that looked ready to burst, evidence the tires had separated.

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At least, we could get them both replaced at the same time. Goodyear sent us to Discount Tire for the warranty adjustments, which took most of the next day. So much for sightseeing around Reno and Sparks.

Next stop? Elko, Nevada.