Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cross Country Drive Continues: Nevada, Utah, Rockies

My evening in Battle Mountain was uneventful and the next day I hit the road on a generally early note. I had asked the nice older lady at the front desk for directions to Lewis Canyon, which I read was nearby, but her directions were ultimately very confusing, as they were actually directions to an entirely different canyon two hours away. I ended up going to that canyon, as I already had basic directions, and it was worth my time. Lamoille Canyon was a little ways outside the town/city of Elko, which is, if I were ever to drive through Nevada again, I'd stay instead of Battle Mountain. I didn't quite know what I was going to see as I started the ascent after driving on pretty flat roads for a handful of miles. This first photo is right before I really got into the canyon itself. It was relatively untraveled area, so I was able to basically stop and stand in the middle of the road...but I was not smart enough to avoid getting my finger in the picture.  I also saw some very pretty birds around these parts.
I tried throughout my drive up and around the canyon to take photos that took in the scale of where I was - the bottom - and just how dramatically the mountains (mountains?) rose around me. I would have loved to see this in the summer, as I imagine maybe then it wouldn't be so brown? My main issue with Nevada and Utah and parts of western California was just the brown-ness of it all. Yes its exact hues varied a bit, but brown on brown on brown just ain't my thing.

An educational sign informed me that this location was where three (I think it was three) different glaciers crashed into one another one billion (hyperbole) years ago thus forming this series of ridges and dips.
I took a small walk on a loop trail and got to see some slightly different trees/landscape.
As usual, I've waited too long since the experience to retain the information I learned at the time. For example, the body of water in the photo below has some fancy geographic name, as it was formed by melting ice one zillion (hyperbole) years ago. I do recall the informational sign/paper guide as saying that this one of the last spots to still have water in the height of summer, and was usually warmer than other spots during the worst of the winter.
It was gorgeous, and as I walked around its edges I thought to myself...'is that a beaver dam?' And then I almost convinced myself that it was not, because what do I know about Nevada and beavers? Nothing, is what.
Beaver dam? Or just some weird bottleneck of sticks and whatnot?
But then as I was walking just a bit away, I found this...which is, unless it was staged to confuse people like me, clear proof of beavers in the area. I thought it was quite neat to see how they use their teeth to whittle and chop away at the base of the tree. The texture and angles. It just got to me. So cool.
Once I drove as far as one can into the canyon (about twelve miles), I turned myself around and drove back to Elko. I had read about the Basque population in Nevada, and Elko specifically, and decided that before getting back on the highway it was entirely worth it to stop at Basque place for lunch. There were a few to choose from, but the Star Hotel generally had the best ratings, so it is there that I stopped. The main dining room was thrumming, with many family-style tables where different sets of folks all sat elbow to elbow. I ended up at a small table for two in a corner, so didn't really have the group eating experience. Their salad, which was simple in being mostly greens, was not simple in its deceivingly simple dressing. Very good. I also had a lamb burger that I had no complaints about. I wish it had been possible for me to overlap with the establishment's annual Cowboy Poetry Festival...but it simply wasn't in the cards.
As I was getting into my car, I looked down the street a bit and saw a sign for Mona's can't really make it out because my phone's camera is rather shitty, and I felt kind of conspicuous, but this was a brothel. Mona's Ranch brothel. This made me think of Tales of the City a bit, which will probably only resonate or make sense to about five people.
I was also amused by the idea of a bar called Stumble Inn, and was sorry that this business didn't make it.
Once I left Elko I just drove through Nevada and into Utah. Seeing salt flats and other brown things. It's a weird landscape with a sense of beauty, I guess, but guh, not my favorite. Once I arrived at Ak's in SLC, we soon got into her car and made our way to Ensign Peak (or at least I think that's what it was), which we then climbed. It was pretty steep and I won't lie and say that it didn't tax me a little, but in a good way. My main regret was simply not thinking to bring water. We were two of many making it up in order to be able to see the city/the lake as the sun set. Pretty stuff. After that we had a lovely dinner.
And the next morning I got up quite early to once again hit the road, but I did need gas. Here is a thing I saw at the gas station.
This is a few hours south and west of Salt Lake City. Definitely interesting, but again, to me, rather bleak.
Me looking a little happier than I actually am about the landscape.
Eventually I crossed over into Colorado and found myself entering the Rockies. I was really glad that I got to do this, as I was unable to drive through the mountains last winter because, duh, snow. And even more glad that it was still decidedly fall, and the different colors of foliage were quite lovely.
I wanted to stop a lot along my Rockies drive, as there were more pretty things to photograph. But I managed to generally keep it together.
And thus concludes my Nevada->Denver part of the drive. What I've learned is: I do not really like Nevada; I could have really enjoyed spending way more time exploring the Rockies (I saw people kayaking in a river and I would love to do that); the Rockies are intense and tall. That's basically all the lessons.

No comments: