We managed to get a decent sleep last night even though it was broken. Julie woke at 11pm bright as a button but managed to go back to sleep an hour later. I woke at 1am and read for a few hours before falling asleep again at 4am, and we both woke at 7:15am. It’s been about 30 years since I’ve woken at 7:15am so it was a strange feeling. After a cooked breakfast at the hotel and check out, it was time for the road trip. When we cleared immigration at SFO yesterday the officer asked us a lot of questions – one of them was how far it was from SLC to Elko. I said 280 miles, though its actually 230 miles. I think he was testing us to see if our story stood up. Probably wondered why two Australians would be going to Elko, Nevada. (Since we’ve been here we’re wondering why you wouldn’t come here; it’s great!)
So after a few turns from the hotel we were onto the Interstate 80 heading west for Nevada. You can see why they call it Salt Lake City; the place is full of salt lakes, some of which have water, others just salt (though obviously there was water in them previously). There were a few salt processing plants off the interstate, many of which had piles of salt destined for where ever piles of salt go. The speed limit is 80mph though I settled for 70mph. There is about one truck for every car on the road though most were doing the same speed limit as us. The road is mainly straight, long and not that exciting, with a few occasional bends. The snow-capped mountain ranges in the distance make it seem quite an odd place. Without them you’d think it was hot outside as the landscape is mainly sandy with low shrubs. But add in the snow-capped mountains and it has a weird alpine look. Much like the South Island of NZ on the drive from Twizel. The road is dotted with dead rabbits, obviously Nevada’s version of dead kangaroos.
At Wendover where Utah gives way to Nevada the real Nevada starts, complete with about three casinos. Julie wanted a Starbucks coffee but it was in the casino complex; an obvious ploy to get you inside. We settled for a McDonalds coffee and a banana bread from the truck stop just further on (complete with it’s own mini casino down the back). From Wendover the road started to get a little more exciting as it climbs up into Nevada itself. At one stage we went through a pass at 5950 feet high and the snow was beside the road. There were a few signs with flashing lights warning us of frequent deer crossing, and although we didn’t see any live deer, we did see a dead one that had obviously tried to outrun a truck.
We knew we were starting to get close to Elko when we saw the tall mountains covered in snow loom on the horizon. Before we knew it we were in Elko. It looks different to Google Maps street view mainly as you can’t get the same perspective as driving through the town itself. It’s quite spread out with the tallest building being our hotel (4 floors) and possible a few others down the street. The Newmont building is right across the road from the hotel.
It was time for lunch so we decided on the Gold Dust West casino which is about 150m from the hotel. It’s much like an RSL at home with about 250 poker machines, a few tables and two dining options. Julie and I decided on ordering a starter this time given the meals here are so huge. Even as a starter the taco salad was huge! We didn’t see a drinks menu so had to ask. There was wine and beer available so Julie got a Chardonnay and I order a Budweiser. She thought I said water – must be the accent. Julie has already had her first win at the pokies after putting $5 in and walking away with $20 after about 10 mins. The free spins did it!
After lunch it was off to Raley’s which is like a Supa IGA but on steroids. So much choice for everything! The craft beer section would put Dan Murphy’s to shame and the deli had some much choice you couldn’t really ask for anything else. Given the size of our lunch and that we had it later than usual, we just got small antipasto platter to share (and a wine and some beer of course!).
Time to do some washing and unpack as we’re here for 6 nights. We might even make it to the gym. Photos below of the road trip in reverse order.