Day 10. 473 miles in a single day. We saw a whole lotta nothin' today as we crossed from one side of Nevada and out the other into Utah. We took the long way round Area 51, something to do with my allergy to the Interstate, using the E.T. highway as we did so. We journeyed past the Great Bowl and roads so long and straight we started playing guessing games for how long until the next corner. The record? 17 miles!!! Arrow straight through mile after mile of desert, no wonder people start seeing things out there, all alone!
Today redefined the concept of distance, of space and of just how big the USA really is. We woke and left behind our Airbnb by 8.30am and headed for Rhyolite, a ghost town nearby.
This abandoned town was left to decay in the desert in the 1940s. What's left are ruins of the bank, some outbuildings and the railroad station.
In truth, there isn't a whole lot to see here but it's only a short diversion off the main road and only a few miles from Beatty. Worth a look at least if you're in the area.
Opposite the station building there is a Caboose emblazoned with the Union Pacific logo. Old, wooden and decaying I thought it made for an interesting photograph.
Only 9am by now we needed breakfast. The casino in Beatty had a Denny's. Casino breakfast? Why not! Next up, we set the GPS for Goldfield and the International Car Forest of the Last Church.
The guidebooks say that Nevada is quirky. They aren't wrong. This place? Weird. Totally weird but uber cool too. Some guy has decided to bury a bunch of cars in the desert as if they fell from the sky.
Goldfield itself was pretty interesting. The biggest goldrush town of them all in its day. $90 million worth of gold was extracted there, $2 billion in todays money. 5 railroads were in the town at one point if you needed any idea as to the sheer volume of material extracted. It's not a ghost town in fact, 200 people still live there - a bit less than the 15,000 in its hey day. A few shops and that's about it but there are quite a few mine pulls still around.
We headed North to Tonopah and started down Highway 6. As we left the town behind us a sign informed us the next gas station was 114 miles. 114 miles. That should have been a clue as to what lay ahead. Nothing. Almost absolutely nothing, save for a cow which had us slow from 70mph to a complete stop before it decided standing in the road was boring and moved on. You can see behind the Cow the road disappearing into a heat hazey nothingness. It continued this way for mile after mile, hour after hour. If driving through nothing is your bag, then I recommend this drive. I mean, you must make sure you're prepared with lots of water, food and gas as being stuck in the desert without cell coverage for over 4 hours at 70mph is not my idea of fun.
As you can see in our route map above we had to go the long way round Area 51. The Nevada test site they used to test the a-bomb and who knows what else. Pretty amazing to have such a huge amount of space to work with. What small settlements there were along the road made the most of the E.T. connection.
As we reached Caliente we stopped for Gas even though we had more than half a tank. $25 for 300 miles. Ugh, sickeningly cheap compared to the UK. And that's in our gas guzzling SUV which gets around 35-40MPG.
Finally. After 4, maybe 5 hours - I really lost track tbh - we got cell service back and soon after ended up in Cedar City, fast food capital if the USA!, flanking I-15. We flipped a coin and chose our route to Tropic, UT where our Airbnb is situated for the next couple of days ending up taking the road up through the dramatic Cedar Canyon. We crested the hill at 7000ft and were rewarded with a stunning view for 100 miles or more towards Zion. Didn't photograph well but it was very impressive.
The road to Tropic was pretty dramatic, even the half light after sunset plunging through a series of these arches as it climbed out of the valley. Our Airbnb tonight is really, really cool in the desert under the stars but I'll save the details for another post. Tomorrow, we plan to take a hike round Bryce Canyon.
I had a great day today, even though we did bugger all except drive, drive and a bit more driving. We crossed a whole state and a time zone too. 470 miles in a single day in the UK would take you from Cornwall most of the way to the tip of Scotland and with a darn sight more traffic. The main portion of the highway that felt isolated and desolate was that passing the Great Bowl. We stopped to switch drivers and for me to futz around with the drone for a bit and went 10 minutes easily seeing only 1 other car. The desert is no joke.