The 2018 Road, Day 4: Not So Lonely Highway


May 30, 2018, Salina, UT-


She was not happy that I left, before she got out of school.  I sent a message that I would try to return, weather-permitting, during the winter holidays.   There are souls who I have known forever and souls with whom I have found a bond, almost instantaneously, in this lifetime.  B is of the latter category.

Some could say it is tricky, for a man in late middle age and a child, especially a girl, to be thus bonded.  There is no skeevy factor, no EEEEWW.  I am here strictly to foster a very keen mind, to stoke dreams that will someday raise at least one person’s section of the world to a whole new level.  My friend J.R. Cline knows of what I speak.

I made the drive east, along U.S. Highway 50, whose Nevada portion is billed as “The Loneliest Highway in America.  It was too soon after breakfast to stop at Susie’s, so I went past Fallon.  Lake Lahontan also seemed to be at or near the same level as last year, so no stop there, either.  In the usual spot at the base of the mountain leading up to Pony Canyon, and Austin, there was another stranded vehicle, as was the case last year.  This time, the couple were headed west and had already called a tow truck.  I continued on, and enjoyed a simple, but satisfying burger and cup of soup at Toiyabe Cafe.

Through the Toiyabe, past Eureka, through Ely, I went.  Silver State Restaurant, which I patronized two years ago, has gone belly-up.  That’s a big hole, on Ely’s west side.  I wasn’t ready for dinner, though, and I was planning on enjoying my salad greens, anyway.

After briefly checking out the nearby town of McGill, I headed south and east.  That brought me here, to the veteran-owned Ranch Motel.


So, here will begin Day 5, and I will get at least as far as the Front Range, on the never-lonely I-70.

Highway 50: Loneliness Is All In The Mind


June 2, 2016, Ely-  Sitting in the spare, but comfortable Silver State Restaurant, in this little anchor-town of the White Pine country of eastern Nevada, I had a bit of time to reflect on “America’s loneliest highway”.
I got on U.S. Highway 50,  in the eastern edge of Carson City, around 10:30 this morning, saying goodbye to my Baha’i sister, and her new home across town.  Gradually, the wonders of the Silver State itself unfolded:  The exit to Virginia City, the Comstock Lode historic site of Dayton, and the small commercial hub of Fallon, which serves as the western anchor of the so-called Lonely Road.

Fallon was rather quiet, on this first of many hot days to come.  It did have its share of business, though, and some of that filtered in to Susie’s BBQ, where I stopped for lunch.


Susie’s BBQ, Fallon, NV

I opted for brisket, as it was not really a sausage kind of day.  A Big Heat has taken the West under its wing, probably for the next seven or eight weeks, so we move, eat and adjust accordingly.

On my last ride across Highway 50, in 1980, my driver pointed out an expanse of salt flat, a remnant of ancient Lake Lahontan.  This was a massive body of water, stretching from the Sierra Navada to the Toiyabe Range.  Its remnants include the much smaller Lake Lahontan, east of Fallon, plus Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and Pyramid Lake.  I did not, given the nature of my visit, go to any of the three western lakes, and there is intensive road work around the present Lake Lahontan.  Thus, here are some surrealist, filtered scenes of the Carson Lake Salt Flats.






Notice there are some graffiti, inscribed by local lovebirds and various passers-by, who find romance in the desolation.

My next focus was on the Toiyabe Range, one of three mountain ranges that stretch north to south, in central Nevada.  The Toiyabe and White Pine mountains, like the Sierra Nevada, are still somewhat snow- packed on their summits and high ridges.


Toiyabe Range, central Nevada


Toiyabe Range, Central Nevada

Austin is one of those little towns that used to be a link on the Pony Express, as well as where silver, lead and zinc were mined.  Silver still can be found, here and there. Lead being largely out of favour these days, for health concerns, is cause for several closed and shuttered mines.  The few folks who live here tend to be flinty-eyed towards anyone wearing shorts and a camera, but I find places like Austin intriguing, nonetheless.


Main Street, Austin, NV


St. Augustine’s Church, Austin, NV

The back streets have their appeal, as well.  Virginia Street alludes to the Mother Lode.


Lander County Courthouse, Austin, NV

Back on Main Street, the courthouse and visitor center(closed at the time) give Austin a bit of gravitas.

The walls in back of the main properties were built to last, with land slides always being in the back of people’s minds.


Retaining wall, behind Courthouse, Austin, NV

The old city hall was taken over by the American Legion, as John F. Hiskey Post 45, in 1947.


Old City Hall, Austin, NV

Crowning the heights above Austin is Stokes Castle.  Anson  Phelps Stokes, The Elder, was an industrialist and entrpreneur in the late-19th Century.  He built the edifice as a summer “tower”, but only actually used it for two months, in 1897.  After that, the Stokes family abandoned the place.  Austin’s citizens have fenced the structure off, and it is indeed unsafe to enter.  It remains, though, as a testament to the town’s glory days.


Stokes Castle, Austin, NV

An hour or so east of Austin lies Eureka, where people smiled, flashed peace signs and seemed quite relaxed, as their work day was coming to an end.


Eureka Opera House, Eureka, NV


Eureka County Courthouse, Eureka, NV


A westward look down Main Street, Eureka, NV

I had miles to go, before I slept, so on east it was, to Ely, NV, a more contemporarily- built, commercial hub, at the end of the “Loneliest Road”.  I had dinner at the aforementioned Silver State Restaurant, then gave my camera a rest- until I came to the White Pine Range.  These mountains are named for the light-coloured wood of the local evergreens.


White Pine forest, south of Ely, NV

Wheeler Peak, not to be confused with the mountain of the same name that is New Mexico’s highest peak, is the crown of the White Pines, and second only to Boundary Peak, (in western Nevada), in terms of high points in the state.


Wheeler Peak, White Pine Range, south of Ely, NV

Thus, as you can see, loneliness is a definite state of mind.

NEXT UP:  Pioche, Panaca and the amazement of Cathedral Gorge