May 10, 2005

Route 50 Road Trip: Day 10, Utah to Nevada

Interesting day today. Pancakes & eggs at the Top City Cafe in Delta to start and then I headed back out into the flats of western Utah. More long, almost straight road through open range land. Bovine roadblocks were no problem today, as the only cows I could see were tiny little dots so far in the distance that I estimated having to walk at least a half mile towards them before they'd look normal-sized. Passed the supposedly dry Sevier Lake. There was apparently enough rain last night to water it at least a little bit.

A note on the weather as a lead-in to the next stretch of road: Throughout this trip, conditions have been variably cloudy, with some periods of puffy clouds against clear blue and others of predominant clouds. The only rain so far has been a couple of short storms that've passed through at night while I've been tucked away in a motel. That all changed today. The thunderstorm that went through Delta last night was long gone, leaving rolls of low grey clouds that obscured the tops of the mountains ahead.

The rain started just as the road began to climb. Within a few miles, the rain had become snow and the clouds had thickened to a wall of white, leaving a visibility closer than the microscopic cows by Sevier Lake. The next 120 miles were long flats alternating with curvy climbs up and over seven-or-so thousand foot passes, with snow and those heavy, heavy clouds.

It sounds bad but, thanks to the Nevada D.O.T., the roads were perfectly clear and it was really one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of the trip. Eastern Utah may have been the most colorful and spectacular portion of Route 50 so far, but there's a lot to be said for the subtlety of snow-covered pinyon pines and the mystery of knowing there's a magnificent mountain range out there that just can't quite be seen.

The only problem with today is that I just didn't plan for hiking through snow when I packed for this trip. I had wanted to hike at Great Basin National Park in Nevada, but that was out of the question. That left me with nothing to do but take the 60 minute tour of Lehman Caves at Great Basin, and drive.

I had also wanted to stop at the edge of Ely (E-lee, not E-lye), NV, for a photo of the sign proclaming the next stretch of 50 the "Loneliest Road", but there was a sketchy looking hitchhiker about 500 yards before the sign, so I thought it best to just go on. As a result, I've ended up in Eureka at 3:00 in the afternoon. After driving almost exactly 250 miles, it's either stay here or go another 110 to the next town. In the hopes that the weather will clear up overnight so that I can make more stops tomorrow, I've checked into another Best Western (which I think may be the only hotel in town). I could spend the evening in front of a slot machine at the Owl Club Cafe, where I'm having an Aly Special for dinner (roast beef, ham & tomato on toasted sourdough), but I'm not the gambling type.

Wal-Mart count as of Eureka, NV: Ha-ha. There were barely even any towns, much less big box stores!

(For more images from this day's drive, click here.)

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