Washed out roads, aliens and freezing cold

Posted by | Filed under Nevada | Jan 9, 2011 | Comments Off on Washed out roads, aliens and freezing cold

Oh, I am looking so forward to 40 F weather. I really cannot believe I am putting myself through this. I had not in the wildest dreams thought that I would find myself in a place with temperatures at around 12 F (-11 C). I arrived in Tonopah, Nevada, not Arizona, where the wind has been blowing at 20 mph and the temperatures have been steadily dropping. Tonopah is roughly 5,500’ (1,600m) above sea level and it shows. I taped up the inside of my door with plastic trying to keep the frigid air outside. It hasn’t helped a whole lot, but thankfully the wind has shifted.

highway 375 - Extraterrestrial Highway

Before I arrived here I spent the night in alien land aka Rachel, Nevada (pop.100) along the Extraterrestrial Highway or hwy 375.

UFO - really

The highway got its name after bright lights had been spotted in the sky. No surprise there, the highway runs along the Air Force Nevada Test Site. Fortunately, I made it thru the night without any incidents.

Rachel and hwy 375 - Extraterrestrial Highway

The Little A'Le'Inn - Rachel

The 110 mile drive from Rachel to Tonopah led through the desert with no gas stations, grocery stores or many signs of human life. I encountered maybe a half dozen cars on the 2 ½ hour drive. A sign at the beginning of the highway warns that there is no gas station for the next 150! miles.
The highway had 40 mile stretches that were straight as an arrow. Picture driving from Manhattan to the middle of Westchester without any cars, houses or trees; as far as you can see nothing but open space and mountain ranges. To give you a better idea of how large and empty Nevada is here a little comparison. Nevada has a population of 2.6 million people who live on roughly 110,000 square miles, compare that to New York City where over 8 million people squeeze into 310 square miles. Even New York State is only half the size of Nevada.

Rainbow Canyon

This post is going backwards. Before I left Caliente on Saturday I managed to drive down the Rainbow Canyon Road to the 1920 one-room schoolhouse in Elgin. The schoolhouse, now a historic site, has been closed to visitors since 2005 when the road was washed out.

1920 Elgin one-room schoolhouse

I ignored the “Water on Road” and “Residence Only” signs and made my way down a very pretty stretch of road. As the name implies, the mountains were of the colors of the rainbow, well almost. You had your standard gray and green and some really deep reds, very nice. The road was not bad either, except for the parts where the two lanes all of a sudden were reduced by Mother Nature one lane. The force of water is incredible. Don’t mess with Mother… Nothing stopped me; only when there were no lanes at all I decided it was time to turn around.

Washed out hwy 317

Disappeared road

In my last post I mentioned wild horses. I finally saw some. Unfortunately, they were not doing anything too wild. They were just grazing along side the road. I really would like to see a herd galloping across the prairie, guess I have to rent a movie for that.
More ghost towns tomorrow and then I’ll be heading back south to slightly warmer temperatures.
Stay warm.

Tonopah Test Range

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