After the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas we were all looking forward to getting home to quiet Elko. Originally, we had planned on stopping the night at Ely to break up the trip, but we all felt that knowing we were only 2.5 hours from home would seem silly. So, we decided to do the whole trip home in one go – just over 400 miles or 6.5 hours of driving. The journey would take us through the center of Nevada and just to the east of the Mojave Desert and Area 51, the supposed secret base where aliens are kept and also where the USAF tests their secret planes. There were a few ‘lookout for low flying aircraft’ signs along the road as well as large orange balls on the powerlines – maybe they do test planes in the area.
After leaving Las Vegas to the north we turned onto US 93 at the location of a huge solar panel array which helps power the city. From here we began the slow climb from 2000′ where Las Vegas sits to the 5500′ altitude of Elko. After passing a few trucks just after the turnoff to US 93, the traffic then became a few cars every now and then with the odd truck. It’s not a well used highway, mainly as it really does go through the heart of Nevada where there isn’t much apart from large ranches. After passing the turnoff to The Loneliest Highway in America (and where aliens have been sighted), the traffic became even less. There were times where the road went to the horizon and there wasn’t another car on it. I half expected to see kangaroos hopping across the road as it looked so much like outback Australian roads.
Half way point was near a little town call Pioche on US 93. This excerpt is taken from a ghost town website: In the 1860s, Pioche was the baddest town in the west; badder than Tombstone, badder than Dodge City and all the rest. It was so bad 72 people died from gunfights in the street before one died a natural death. It didn’t look that bad to us! In fact, the place we went for lunch Ghost Town Art and Coffee served the best BLT I’d ever had. A bit of trivia: the guy who owns the shop was the bass player for the heavy metal band Quiet Riot in the 1970s. Now in his late 50s, he’s obviously opted for the quieter life in Pioche, pop. 1002.
On thing about driving this way was the scenery. Whilst it’s a desolate part of the state, the geology is amazing and changes every few miles. You can see why they call the landscape ‘basin and range’ as most of Nevada is made up of many parallel NNE\SSW running ranges with basins (large flat valleys) in between. It’s all due to the tectonic forces that shape the land discussed here in one of my posts.
Just after sunset we arrived home after an exhausting day driving but the scenery towards the end made it all worth while. The sun was setting over the snow-capped Ruby Mountains which signalled we were nearly home.