When you travel about the country in a big ol’ RV, with a cute orange truck tagging along, you have to be careful about planning your road choices. Pretty much we try to avoid large cities (we can’t always do that, but at least we try to avoid them around rush hour!) and toll roads, and when possible we like to stay off interstate unless we just plain have to get somewhere and don’t care so much about checking out interesting sights along the way. So, when we were planning our drive from the Bryce Canyon area of Utah to Nevada City, CA (near Lake Tahoe), we looked at the map carefully. I80 was far to the north, but to be quite honest, there wasn’t much that went across the state of Nevada except Hwy 50, and to get to that we had to travel on what looked like an even smaller road, Hwy 21 in Utah. Another trick we have learned is to check with some “locals” about road conditions – is it “good road”, and is it OK for big rigs. (Believe me, our trusty GPS does not take into account the “big rig” factor at all!). When I asked about the 21, the answer I got from girl was that it was an OK road, but man, there’s not much out that way. Her final comment was – “It’s a lonely road”. Gary checked with a fellow by the fuel pumps about Hwy 50 – and he got pretty much the same answer. The towns (and I use the term lightly) are between 50 -100 miles apart, but it’s good road and not much traffic.
So as we set out on “the 21” we kept commenting that yes indeed, this was a lonely road.
What we didn’t realize was that we were about to embark on a trip across Nevada on the “Loneliest Road in America“, so named by Life Magazine in 1986. And what we also didn’t realize was that we were traveling through the Great Basin. Now put on your 5th grade US geography hats and see if you can remember what the Great Basin is. Has it come to you yet? Here’s a little help –
Pretty much it’s long (10 miles or so) flat arid valleys followed by a mountain range, followed by long flat arid valleys followed by a mountain range, followed by a long flat arid valley followed by…….
Here are just some of the summit signs I managed to capture as we crested the different hills –
And looking out the side window really drove home the “we are alone” feeling –
But don’t think this road wasn’t without some POIs along the way. When I noticed a tree close to the road in the distance I figured it would be a good photo op (you know, contrasting the tree with the otherwise stark roadside).
As we got closer, there seemed to be some sort of moss hanging from the branches.
Some strange desert/mountain growth?
Nope. Sneakers. Of course.
Then there was Sand Mountain
Looked like God had just decided that HERE would be a good place to dump a humongous pile of sand.
There were also the salt flats, that stretched on for a couple of miles –
Along much of the shoulder folks had been writing their names or messages with stone –
We did not stop to add our names – looked to us like finding the rocks would have been a lot of work!
We discovered Hwy 50 loosely followed the Pony Express route and there were several ruins along the way with historical markers, but unfortunately we didn’t stop at any of them. And now we know we could have picked up a Loneliest Road Survival Kit before we set out. Even our road atlas has Hwy 50 marked as the Loneliest Road.
All I know
is that it seemed
to go on