Sunday, June 17, 2018

Topaz Lake Nevada to Elko Nevada - The Loneliest Road

We loaded our gear in the car and drove over to the Lodge for breakfast at 7:00 AM. Six Pack, Lonnie and Carl's bikes were already gone, indicating they had made their planned early departure. Phil was waiting in the Lakeview Coffee Shop where we had a nice last breakfast of the rally. It looked like he would have a chilly ride over the Sierras back to his California home. The heat wave had broken.

After saying goodbye, we headed out at about 8:30.

Scene of the Lake Topaz Lodge mudslide last month

The concrete barriers are supposed to protect against a recurrence

We went a short way north on US 395 before  heading east on Nevada 208 at Holbrook Junction.  This took us across Smith Valley, through Wilson Canyon and up to Yerington. I had forgotten how impressive Wilson Canyon, carved by the West Walker River, was.

Scenes from Wilson Canyon, Nevada

Yerington was characterized by a textbook tailings line and a flooded open pit, evidence of past mining and milling operations. From  1952 to 1978, this was the Anaconda Copper Mine. Later, Arimetco ran a leaching and electrowinning operation until their bankruptcy in 1997.

Familiar looking tailings in Yerington Nevada

Coming out of Yerington on Alt US 95, we were following a very slow moving pickup truck loaded with a variety of items. Just as we encountered the first opportunity to pass it and I pulled out, some large appliance fell off the back of the truck into what would have been my path. They say timing is everything.

We followed Alt US 95 to Silver Springs where we turned east on US 50, The Loneliest Highway in America. OK, it wasn't all that lonely this morning.

Alt US 95 from Yerington to Silver Springs Nevada

On US 50, the Kit Carson Route, we passed the Lahontan Reservoir before reaching  the town of Fallon. Also known as Lake Lahontan, it was created when the Lahontan Dam was build across the Carson River. A portion of the Truckee River was also diverted here.

The Lahontan Reservoir in the distance

The water level looks high

We stopped in Fallon for fuel (as the late Chuck Burt always said: see gas, buy gas) and (you guessed it) a McDonald's smoothie. On a trip to HSVROC from the WWR in Cortez, Colorado back in 2010, we stayed in Fallon with Jamie T & Trouble, VSP and Sherm. We were joined by Nite Lite and Linda and continued on to Topaz the next day. A sign suggested that the Overland Hotel was still serving Basque food.

A7 Corsair II honours Fallon Naval Air Station - Home of TOPGUN

Now we started the lonely part. US 50 went past dried lake beds, the singing sands of Sand Mountain and the spot where the mighty Shoe Tree once stood.

Scenes Along US 50 in Nevada

The Shoe Tree was quite disturbing. In December, 2010 (not long after our last time through) some vandal(s) cut down the original Shoe Tree. While people have been throwing shoes into another nearby tree since then. it was rather sparse compared to the glory of the original shoe tree.

The new Shoe Tree

This tree is smaller and more sparse

There are not nearly as many shoes

The stump of the original tree

A piece of the original trunk

This was VSP in front of the original Shoe Tree in 2010

We continued across the lonely desert dodging bicycle teams and stopping to look at a sign at Cold Springs Station dedicated to the Pony Express, who rode through this area for a year and a half. Localized rain clouds were developing in some areas. It was 66 F, a good temperature for the bicycle riders.

US 50 from Middlegate to Austin Nevada

We did not stop in Austin because there were already a lot of people there. We drove through slowly and then climbed the hill east of town to a 7,484 foot pass before starting to descend back to the desert floor.

Once we were back on level ground, we looked south and saw quite a bit of rain to the south, where the road to Tonopah lay. Some started to fall on us for a short way. The rest of the way to Eureka, we had a mix of rain clouds and blue skies.

Just before Eureka, we tuned north on Nevada 278, which would take us to I-80 at Carlin. This really was a lonely highway. There were rain clouds to the west and blue skies to the east. Enough rain caught us that I was glad I wasn't on the bike, especially since the temperature dropped to 49 F before we reached Carlin.

On the 2008 ride from HSVROC in Topaz Lake to the Aztec Rally in South Dakota with Sherm, VSP, and Slammer, we went through Carlin. I told Sherm on the CB that it was funny because I was listening to a George Carlin routine on my MP3 player. Sherm said he was listening to a NASCAR race on XM radio and one of the announcers was named Carlin. We laughed about coincidences. When we got to Elko and I checked the news, we got word that George Carlin had just died. Cue the Twilight Zone music.

This time, we made a bathroom stop at the Pilot Truck Stop in Carlin and then continued to the Travelodge in Elko. The Travelodge and Super 8 are actually one facility, something I have never encountered before.

I-80 from Carlin to Elko Nevada

We decided to go for supper at the Red Lion Casino. Sandy had a chicken Caesar salad and said the chicken was very tender. I had a chef salad with more than enough meat and cheese to keep me happy.

After supper, we drove through town. I needed fuel but we mostly just wanted to look around.

The white bear is an Elko landmark

We have stayed at the Thunderbird Motel a few times

Known for excellent Basque dining, The Star was closed today

It looks like coloured cowboy boots are their thing

Another one

And yet another

Elko has some other pastimes as well

These establishments are confined to a small area of town

Sandy got a salted caramel truffle Blizzard from DQ

Now for the gas. What is wrong with Chevron? These photos were all taken on the Elko strip. The Chevron was closest the the I-80 Elko East exit, but the gouging was excessive IMHO. This wasn't the first time we had seen Chevron asking an exorbitant price. I fueled at the Maverik.

I didn't get this post finished before I went to bed. the WiFi was fast when it worked, but it was annoying me when it didn't. After I got the photos sorted and loaded (using my phone as a hotspot) and my notes transcribed, I turned in.

Today's Route (384 Equinox miles):

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