The loneliest road

29 05 2015

There are a lot of lonely roads out there criss-crossing the United States. But the LONELIEST road in all of America, as noted in our Rand Mcnally Atlas, is Route 50 which goes east-west across much of Utah and Nevada.

There's even a sign that says so.

There’s even a sign that says so.

What is there to say about this particular route except that… it really is lonely out there. We spent maybe 8 hours on this road in total driving west, and saw just a handful of other living souls amongst the herds of free-range cattle that inhabit this part of the world (I call them “lucky cows”). There are old mining towns along the way, not quite abandoned, but also not quite alive.

Not much there.

Not much there.

Ely, in central Nevada, is the biggest town for miles, a three-hour drive to the next municipality of any significance. It’s hey-day ended in the 1970’s, it seems, when Interstate 80 was built about 140 miles / 310 km to the north, and passed it by. It’s a place you drive through and remark, “Gee, looks like this is a place where time really has stood still,” and wonder why one would ever consider spending more than an overnight here. It has a bunch of run-down motels and a few casinos where you can play blackjack for $3 a hand. (And we did. It was entertaining. But the house still won.)

Then about 150 miles later you run across the community of Eureka, Nevada, which (unbelievably) boasts a completely renovated Opera House, apparently with an arts community to use it.

Who would have thought?

Who would have thought?

And just FYI, if you are thinking of retracing our steps on this particular section of our cross-country journey, travel on The Loneliest Road in America also requires some careful advance planning.

Meaning: Gas, food, toilets. You have been warned.

Meaning: Gas, food, toilets.

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

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Surprises on the road

17 09 2010

We just got back from another epic journey in the American west. Jetlag has attacked with a vengeance (I am having more and more trouble with him as I get older, it seems), and I am up at all sorts of ungodly hours, writing. But I have to say that we had a grand time – as expected. It was also a learning experience, my second such educational tour in the western part of my own country. There is so much to discover out there and I am sure I haven’t learned nearly all I want to know.

So I decided to compile a list of things I didn’t know before I went, as well as vignettes and facts that surprised me during the 12 days we traveled through northern California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Nevada. Maybe you were ignorant of these as well (but probably not).

If only I could put all my cool experiences in a box and take them with me everywhere, to open and enjoy whenever I want to.

Here is my list of interesting & fun stuff (in no particular order):

  • There is a lot of desert in Oregon.
  • There is a sign at the side of the road whenever you cross into a new time zone.
  • Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park blows every 93 minutes, like clockwork. Almost.
  • San Franciscans have thoroughly embraced the Smart car.
  • Bison can swim?

"Yes we can!"

  • Buffalo wings have nothing to do with these buffalo because they come from Buffalo, New York.
  • The LDS-church temple in downtown Salt Lake City (from which non-LDS-believers are banned) is pretty small. And downright insignificant when you compare it to many European cathedrals built 600 (or more) years ago.
  • A Jeep Grand Cherokee is also called a “Laredo.”
  • New quarters will be minted with motifs of the national parks, in the order in which they were established. Yellowstone (founded in 1872) is the first to be commemorated on the back of a quarter – and I have one.
  • Coast Redwoods can get to be 2,400 years old.
  • While looking for change in my wallet at a Starbucks in Bend, Oregon, the Barista told me, “Sorry, we don’t take Euros.”
  • There is actually a place called “Jackpot” in Nevada.
  • There are many onions in Idaho.
  • Sarah Palin was born in Idaho.
  • West Yellowstone, Montana is the self-declared “Snowmobile Capital of the World.”
  • It takes eight hours to drive from Salt Lake City to Reno, Nevada (520 miles / 800 km), across a whole lot of nothing.
  • If you come to live in San Francisco, you will never leave. As a friend put it so aptly: “How can you be miserable in such a beautiful place?”

She's right, you know.