Thursday, October 25, 2007

Road trip - Pioche

Feeling like we should look around the area where we live, we took a road trip up to Pioche last week. It’s up in the mountains in central Nevada, and used to be a large silver mining community. This area of Nevada is accessed via the smaller back roads. We don’t have too many freeways in the state, the biggest is I-15, which runs from San Diego and the Mexican border all the way north to Canada. I-15 only intersects the lower right corner of Nevada, coming up from California, through Las Vegas, and turning north east up into Utah and on to Salt Lake City. The other big road is I-80, which is the interstate that runs from New York City all the way across the country to San Francisco. I-80 cuts across the state further north, mostly going through empty country and leaving on the west side through Reno and near to Lake Tahoe. Everything else in the state is two lane roads.

So we started up I-15 and after ten miles turned onto the state highway that heads north.

As you can see, most of the roads in the west are nice straight roads. After another hour of driving we were still on the same road headed in the same direction, with absolutely no cross roads, turnoffs or curves. Yes, still headed north.

After another hour the scenery has changed a bit, we were closer to those hills that were way off in the distance.

And then a half hour later came some excitement, a curve ahead.

This led to some more curves and a pass through a small canyon.

And off to the side of the road were a series of small lakes.

We stopped, mainly to walk around after several hours in the car with all of the varied scenery keeping us awake (yea, right). This is a state park that is home to many birds and is an important stopping point for migratory birds flying through between Canada and Mexico and South America. We were a little early for the migrations, but these waters fill up with geese and swan and ducks getting out of the cold north and moving to the warmer weather down south right around now. We do notice the migration in our back yard, not of the water fowl but we get a lot of hummingbirds that are traveling through. This adds to the stress of our local population, trying to keep guard on our feeders and keep the short time travelers away.

So after passing through the range of hills and continuing north guess what we were faced with? Yup, more straight road.

And after another hour, guess what?

More straight road, no curves, no side roads, very little traffic, and the same brush alongside. Yes, the hills look a little different, but we were all dozing off from the boredom. But this is the fun of road trips out west, the drive.

Eventually we drove through the town of Caliente, which was an important railroad city long ago and is now rather quiet, and arrived at Pioche.

We were so excited to get there that we walked around for a while, well, not for very long as main street is only a block long, they only have one place to eat, but there is a nice little museum that we wandered through. It talked mostly of the mining in the area, and how violent it was back in the 1880’s. Supposedly more people were killed in gun fights in Pioche than just about anywhere else in the west. Something like 75 people were buried in the local cemetery before anyone died of natural causes and were laid to rest. With all the excitement of arrival I ended up forgetting about the camera and not taking any photos of the town at all. Well, one picture would probably have gotten everything in anyway, but for now you can go to the Pioche web site and take a look for yourselves. Yes, poor reward for all of your reading at this point.

After burgers we headed south again. You’ve seen all of the northbound shots, the ride south was down the same road, with all of the same thrilling scenery. But it was a nice trip away, and we got to see the mining town that my wife had read about in some cowboy stories. No cows, just guys digging and drinking and shooting. It was about a 250 mile drive due north (about 400km), and I mean a straight drive. The photos above show all of the curves that we got to see, as well as all of the traffic we had to contend with (just the motor home headed the other way in the canyon). And then 250 miles back south.

Most of the trip was for the journey. The speed limit on back roads is 55mph, which is best kept to, so it probably took us four hours in each direction. Yes, we spent under an hour up in Pioche. But we got to see the lakes, and sagebrush, and bottlebrush, and hills and sky and sky and sky and . oh, yea, that's about it. And sit and talk. Fortunately our car had a place to plug in the Ipod. Radio stations? Cell phones? Out in the middle of nowhere?

No comments: