Today was a loooong day so the post is going to be looong as well. If you don't like it, go read one of your favorite cats-are-cute blogs. YOU KNOW YOU HAVE ONE.
I got up bright and early in Ely and had breakfast in the casino. I have yet to have a meal not at a counter (rather than a table) and now that's one of my plans: to go the rest of the time without sitting at a table for a meal. Six-dollar steak and eggs to give me energy for the road. I was on my way to Great basin National Park but I took a side trip to Ward Ovens State Historical Park. The ovens made charcoal, which I thought just came out of the ground and got into bags and went to the grocery store. BUT NO! That is not the case. Back in ye olden tymes, they burned acres of piñon pine to get sixty bushels of charcoal and they did it in these beehive-shaped ovens. This was a really cool place, kind of spooky, and they had pictures of rattlesnakes everywhere - which I think they shouldn't do because then you look at the ground the whole time and don't see anything - and worth the hour-long detour. I art-ed up one of the shots for you because I can do that.
Then I headed sixty miles to Great Basin, our youngest National Park - at least that's what the book says. I would also argue that it's one of the ten least visited and that's really a shame. It's a gorgeous place, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, and there's no way to get to it easily...which I guess is why it's not very visited. I drove up Wheeler Peak and hiked the Alpine Lakes loop, an easy 2.5 mile hike, but my time constraint kept me from going further....I think I could have reached the summit if I had planned more time for this park visit. The lakes were really pretty and the water comes straight from a tiny snow field up on the peak. They call it a glacier because it moves stuff, but I thought that was really splitting hairs....but apparently it gets regulated differently if it's a glacier, so I'm sure my tax dollars are at work.
Then it was on to Utah, where they give you a wife just for crossing the state line! Utah kind of freaked me out right off the bat - it seemed designed to intimidate me...105 degrees! "No services next 185 miles"! TURN BACK NOW! And then there are salt flats for miles and miles, which just made me think if I had to walk ten feet on them, I would actually die from dehydration in five minutes.
I stopped in Salina for cherry pie. Another counter seat. A glass of milk. Not the best pie I've ever had, but it was good pie.
I was mad about having to hop on the interstate - I'm trying to stay off of them until Tulsa. But then! It turned out to be the most dramatic interstate in the world with all this crazy stuff to look at. They should put that on the Utah license plates: "Lots Of Crazy Stuff To Look At."