Our Great RV Adventure

We have been away from home since August 11th, 2013. We had just spent two days at Sugar Loaf State Park,near Glen Ellen, California camping in our trailer. We (the Sonoma County Photographers Group) were invited to shoot the dress rehearsal of Transcendence Theater's production of Dancing Through Life. It was a fun experience. The company of singers and dancers are Broadway performers. I recommend you spend an evening out among the vineyards of Jack London State Park in the Valley of the Moon and take in one of their shows.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NnFFKLll0g




We returned home and had two days to prepare for our 7 week adventure. Then off we went to South Lake Tahoe for at week at the Intense Spanish Summer Institute. Six hundred students of español together for five days of intense study. It was everything I had imagined and more. I entered at the high beginner level. There are 12 levels from low beginner to high superior. I plan to return next summer. It was fun, and intensive. I was able to meet up with some old buddies of mine who spend a lot of time at Tahoe. We go back to the golden days at Harrah's. We worked as stage hands in the South Shore Room when the biggest entertainers appeared and were treated like royalty. Bill Harrah was famous for his automobile collection and his hospitality. Dana, Redlein and I were very fortunate to be a part of that era. We traded stories of the many experiences we shared and people we worked with in ''show business''. Great fun... The final high-lite of our stay at Tahoe was dinner at Nancy and Doug's home. We enjoyed a great bar-b-q and lots of fun with Dylan and Dustin, the grand-kids.


We then set out on US Highway 50 across central Nevada. It is labeled as the ''Loneliest Road in America''. We stopped for a few nights in Fallon, Nevada the home of the Navy's Top Gun school (Fallon Naval Air Station). The vast desert is a natural amphitheater to train pilots. The town has grown a lot since my last visit (1966). We had a very nice stay. We did not get to hike nearby do to weather. If you visit, check out the Still Water National Refuge.

US HIGHWAY 50 ''The Loneliest Road in America''

We started our way across the Lincoln Highway (US 50) and the weather was perfect. Some people who cross central Nevada think it is desolate. It can be, but to me it was a beautiful drive. Even though I was born and raised in Northern Nevada, I had not driven this route. Nevada has a rich history. The state motto is ''Battle Born'' because it became a state during the Civil War. The rich mineral mines provided a source of funding for the Union. The us Government still controls 87% of the land in Nevada, the highest percentage of any state.


Between Fallon and Austin, look for the Pony Express Historical area. It is a welcome stop to stretch and it also has restrooms. There you will find a tribute to the mail service that lasted only 18 months (1860-1861). The history and route are shown by pictures and text. The trail can be seen if you walk around a little. The display is located on the site of the Cold Springs way station. Here a lonely station operator lived and maintained the horses used by the riders. He was as important as the riders and in danger of Indian attacks. The way stations were located near water sources. In keeping with the name of Highway 50, it was a ''lonely existence''. It only takes 10-15 minutes to experience the solace of the station operator.

Austin, Nevada

We stopped in Austin for gas and lunch. A great little town rich in mining history. The residents are mostly descendents of the gold rush days. As in all small Nevada towns, the people are friendly and helpful. We had a very good lunch at the Toiyabe Cafe. Simple menu but the food was fresh and tasty. On our crossing of the Austin summit, we encountered the Nevada Highway patrol escorting a group of three HUGE ore haulers headed for Ely. Unfortunately the semi-truck pulling the large flatbed had broken down and they were in the process of a repair. One must get next to these huge ore haulers to really understand how big they are. {see picture} Well, they are big for a reason. Would you believe each load is approximately 300 tons of ore. Caterpillar makes a 400 ton ore hauler (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caterpillar_797F). The drive across the high desert is a total joy (if you have the weather on your side.) There are mountain ranges running north to south with vast plains of alfalfa and sagebrush and an occasional river or creek. There is water underground and most farmers rely on wells to irrigate. Cattle and sheep ranching occupy the majority of the developed land. Mining is also a major private economic element. The rest is managed by Department of the Interior(US Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Land and Minerals Management, USGS and Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs) and of course the Department of Defense. Lots of departments with loads of responsibilities.


Those of us who live in California are aware of the Eureka we have in the north. Since I'm a transplanted Nevadan, I was aware of Eureka Nevada. What a pleasant surprise to discover Eureka, Nevada. In the 18+ years I lived in Nevada, not once did I visit Eureka. If you travel the Lincoln Highway through central Nevada, you will understand the reason. Each rural county is large enough to be a European country and each has it's own micro-economy. Our high school teams did not play in the same league as Eureka, so I had no reason to travel there. On this trip, I enjoyed discovering Eureka.     


Eureka is an unincorporated community in and the county seat of Eureka County, Nevada, United States.[1] Eureka is by far the largest community in Eureka County. Attractions include the Eureka Opera House (built in 1880 and restored in 1993), Raine's Market and Wildlife Museum (built 1887), the Jackson House Hotel (built 1877), and the Eureka Sentinel Museum (housed in the 1879 Eureka Sentinel Newspaper Building). --- From Wikipedia



Because of our delay over Austin pass, we hit town about 3:30. Luckily the museum was open. What a great collection of memorabilia. {see pictures insert link}. The store fronts still speak to the gold rush era. Mining was the chief source of wealth. Now that the larger mining operations are dominating the industry, Eureka is a trip to the past. Well worth a few hours to stroll, photograph 19th century architecture and visit with friendly locals. Eureka is in a time capsule. The locals are isolated from the ups and downs of the big city economies. Most have employment and even though things change, they survive as they always have. They rely on each other to provide what is needed. Tourism is not so prevalent, only one casino for the locals (at the hotel). The museum curator informed us that it is a good quiet life in Eureka. Eureka a famous exclamation attributed to Archimedes {from Ancient Greek ?????? (heur?ka, “I have found”) and the Eureka effect, the sudden, unexpected realization of the solution to a problem. If life is giving you problems, a trip to Eureka just might help.


On to ELY and the end of our Highway 50 experience. In grade school, I was required to learn the history of Nevada. One particular fact stuck in my brain. At one time the Kennecott Copper mine in Ruth, was once the largest in the world (1950's). I believe Chile now has the largest, but the mine is still a wonder to behold. Ely and Ruth are not the only attractions in Ely. It is also home to one of the best railroad museums on the planet. The Nevada Northern Railway is a National Historic Landmark and is home to several rare locomotives. It is an operating railway where you can ride a steam or diesel powered train out to the copper mine and side track to other local historic sites. The trains are operated by volunteers. The tour of the shop and storage barn is very interesting. The several locomotives are maintained and repaired by craftsmen and craftswomen who have learned their skills from master mechanics and machinists. Truly a world destination for train lovers.


We finished our stay in Ely by visiting the old Nevada Hotel downtown and taking a trip out to Cave Lake. We hiked the area along Steptoe Creek. The outdoor recreation possibilities are numerous. .