This is going to be a long post because I did a lot. If you have a problem with that, here's the short version: eggs, sand, prehistoric doodles, deserts, mountains, a castle, a hamburger, Pier 1 Imports, Eureka!, a neon cowboy. If you want to read the in-betweens, read on...
Today was all about Highway 50 across Nevada, the "Loneliest Road in America." It's not a fake name I just made up: it's on all the signs. It's also true. I counted and in almost three-hundred miles (not counting the two towns Austin and Eureka), I saw nine other cars.
After eating a skillet full of wok-charred broccoli covered with fried eggs (don't ask), I left Fallon around seven and was at Grimes Point just east of Fallon in a few minutes. Grimes Point has a trail that loops around that features some petroglyphs that predate Christ (IF HE EVER EXISTED) by about 5000 years - so suck on that, Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a short half mile loop but really interesting. You do wonder what they all mean - no one's really sure but I think they were meant to remind themselves where the good hunting was. Like the loopy figure eight thing means jack-rabbit or something. Or maybe it means "here's where stupid Ungoohoo with the glasses got speared himself in the foot and died." I don't think it's really words. Anyway, did you know you aren't supposed to remove any of the rocks with petroglyphs on them from the site? WELL YOU'RE NOT. And even if you were, they're really heavy. I HEAR. But the light colored rocks with the honeycombings are pick-right-uppable. ALLEGEDLY.
Just thirty more miles got me to Sand Mountain, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a HUGE - 600 feet tall! - sand dune mountain and at the base of it, there's like this camp of dirty-looking boys, all on ATVs trying to ride up the thing. I didn't see a single lady, but that just proves what I've always known: women are smart. Anyway, they were like a secret society, like that stupid Knightriders movie where Ed Harris led a Renaissance Faire motorcycle gang. They all looked at me funny, but maybe that's because I was prancing around in my plaid flip-flops taking pictures of a big pile of sand with Dolly Parton blaring out the open door of the Beetle.
Okay, so then just a mile or so away was Sand Springs, which was a Pony Express station back in the whenever. This one was under sand until 1978 or something, when it was discovered. So that was neat. I gotta say: the Pony Express looked really hard. The way I'm going had a lot of Pony Express stations and they were all so desolate and lonely-looking. I bet all those station masters drank like nobody's business. I started thinking how if somebody was smart, they'd buy one up and fix it up and turn it into a coffee bar called The Pony Espresso. Now that I've said that, you watch: I'll see one tomorrow.
Okay! So then a few miles later was the Shoe Tree, a tree full of shoes. I have no idea, but it's the exact sort of dumb stupid thing I slam on the brakes for, which is exactly what I did and then the cooler full of wine tipped over and a bunch of ice went all over the place so I hate the stupid Shoe Tree.
The next stop was Austin, whick is just a hair off being the geographical center of Nevada, but I can tell you this: it is in the exact geographical center of Nowhere. It's a tiny old west town that hasn't been all fixed up like the ones in California; I didn't see a single scented candle or jar of apple butter for sale. I did see a hamburger, however, at the International Hotel and Cafe.
I also visited Stokes Castle, a faux medieval tower built in the late 1800s for some dumb reason or another. Look it up; I can't remember. It looked out over the amazing Reese River Valley, though, so I was all for it. When I got out of the car, I couldn't figure out why it smelled like Pier 1. Then it hit me: piñon pine. Remember when they used to sell piñon pine incense? Anyway, that's what it smelled like. I was looking around for a papa-san chair as well.
I also went to the Gridley Store, mentioned (scroll down to Chapter XLV) in Mark Twain's Roughing It. It's a complicated tale, so you can read the pertinent chapter here, except for Chicago Meg, who hates Mark Twain for some reason. Frankly, I think that's like hating air or Emma Thompson, but okay whatever. Anyway, it's an interesting sidebar, the chapter from Roughing It. I still don't get why anyone would buy a sack of flour that had already been sold.
Just a few miles past that was another set of petroglyphs at Hickison Summit. Still interesting, though I got a definite snake vibe from this trail, so I didn't dilly-dally. Because if I see a snake, I will abandon my mother's car immediately and fly home.
Then, a quick drive through Eureka. I didn't stop.
But I did see twin dirt devils, which was pretty groovy.
And now I am in Ely, on the eastern side of the state - you should check back because I think Ely has a happening nightlife...I mean, there is a neon prospector on the side of the hotel I'm staying in and so far, they've called me twice to see if I'd like my free margarita yet. The middle of Nevada is crazy extreme but also really beautiful. It might contain not only the loneliest road in America, but also the loveliest. I'd come back in a heartbeat.