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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No words, just sheer beauty

26 05 2015

Words cannot adequately describe the stunning beauty of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks near Moab, Utah. I was there for the first time the other day, and I think I must rank them up there with Grand and Bryce Canyons as some of the most magnificent, breathtaking places on earth. So I will spare you the words today, and just offer up a bunch of pictures. (If you click on each of the pictures, a high-resolution file will open up in a different window.)

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The biggest rip off in America

24 05 2015

 

Because there has to be one, right? And I found it.

 

Step right up to the world famous four corners.

Step right up to the world famous Four Corners.

Four Corners is an arbitrary point on planet earth where four U.S. states meet – the only spot like this in the lower 48! – because surveyors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries decided it should be so. And thus created the crappiest, biggest rip off imaginable. For the geographically challenged: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona (clockwise, starting in the upper left-hand quadrant) are the fantastic four we are talking about here.

The actual point of interest, called, appropriately, Four Corners, is where these four states meet. It is situated on a piece of land belonging to two native American tribes, the Ute in the northeast, and the Navajo everywhere else. The drive to the “national monument” is up a dirt road on Navajo land in New Mexico. The entrance fee is $5 per person. There is no printed information or map (as one would usually receive when, say, entering a National Park run by the Department of the Interior) but rather a tourist brochure dated “Summer 2012.”

Once inside the fenced-in enclosure (be sure you don’t throw out an axle on the pot-holed muddy driveway) this here is what people have come all this way to see.

Yep, that's it.

Yep, that’s it.

Around this arbitrary point on the ground are amphetheater-like rows of benches and low balconies, one in each of the four states, so that tourists can have themselves photographed with whichever of the four state names and state seals they wish – or all of them! (And sit as they watch others be photographed.) Beyond the benches, on all four sides, are stalls with hawkers hawking original Native American arts and crafts (Made in China?) and food that would give you (and your cardiologist) a massive heart attack. I did not visit the outhouses so I can’t report on their ambiance and cleanliness or lack thereof.

It’s a place where someone a long time ago said: “If you build it, they will come… and they will even pay good money for the privilege.” And they actually, do come in droves for the opportunity to pay $5 a head in order to stand in line to get themselves photographed with their two feet in four states simultaneously. Or doing a pushup, with each limb in a different state.

How… um… exciting.