Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pure Landscape With A Few Towns Along The Way

No billboards. Only a few small villages with high desert grasses in between eight summit passes in the 7,500 foot range.

U.S. 50 cuts Nevada in half, cutting a nature-only swath from Utah to California,

You want some alone time and some peace and quiet? Drive U.S. 50 from one side of the state to the other. Some guy dubbed it, "The loneliest road in America."

And the small towns like Ely, Eureka and Austin ran with this loneliest theme. About 70 miles of desert scrub and some scenic national forest passes separate the settlements.

This morning, I started on U.S. 50's eastern side in Nevada at Great Basin National Park. I shared some of the scenic views along the Wheeler Peak scenic drive, which climbs from about 6,700 feet to nearly 10,200 feet.

By afternoon, I was ready for the Lehman Caves tour -- made enjoyable by a veteran ranger by the name of Ranger Dick (reak name, not being snarky) who was a fine schmoozemeister and joketeller. He was in great Seinfeld mode for the hour tour, delivering yarns like the one big area in the cave being a speakeasy and a party hangout for a men's club from Ely. .

There were 21 of us on the tour, including about five kids who loved the part when Ranger Dick shut off the lights to show how dark it was in there.

As the story goes, some guy named Lehman and his horse stumbled upon a hole in the ground where a blast of cold air shot out while he was looking for gold in the area. He marketed the caves in 1885 for a buck per tour and the rest is cave history.

It's living art and the forms are amazing.

After the tour, I drove in the late affternoon and early evening list to Austin, where I had a reservation at the Cozy Miountain Motel. Cindy the owner was great, and she takes her sweet motel very seriously.

She ended up giving me a room with two queen beds, with the second room actually three steps down from the first room. Lovely quilted covers adedd a nice touch. I highly recommend Cozy Mountain Motel.

It's gorgeous fall-like weather here now. Super cool in the morning with temps in the 40s, with mid 70s later after the sun gets higher in the sky.

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