Thursday, September 14, 2017

Traveling The Loneliest Road in America...

Several weeks ago I read an interesting article about Highway 50, called "The Loneliest Road in America".  It was really interesting and it intrigued me enough that I told Jack that since we we going to be going through Nevada soon, why not give it a try!

"They say" that you really haven't seen America until you've traveled Highway 50 through the heart of Nevada.  In 1986, Life Magazine dubbed this highway, which follows the original Pony Express Trail through central Nevada, the "Loneliest Road in America."  This stretch of road is also part of the Lincoln Highway, America's first paved coast-to-coast road linking New York with San Francisco.  It's just you and the road.  History, adventure and intrigue.

The towns along the route have really invested in this, creating a wonderful adventure for anyone who wants to participate in it.  They have made "Official Hwy 50 Survival Guide" passports that you get stamped at various towns along the route (then send in the back and get a certificate signed by the governor of Nevada), pins, water bottles, as well as brochures, pamphlets, etc.

When we made our first stop and got our passport, I thought it would be "hokey" and they would laugh at me, but I have to say that at each stop the people were really friendly and super nice.  We had wonderful conversations and even learned a lot about some of the places and towns that we visited.  It turned out to be so much more fun that if we had just driven through without stopping!  We used the stops as "rest breaks" on the long drives and it really worked out well.  Some of the locations along the way, we couldn't stop because our RV was to big to park there, but all in all, it was great.

The drive itself was wonderful because the road was great (since there is hardly in traffic, it's well maintained!) and with almost no traffic, it made driving the speed limit, passing, etc a breeze!

Our views were great too...no billboards, no fast food places to look at, no ugly buildings to see...just lots and lots of "Mother Nature" to enjoy...well, that and a lot of highway!  The very first thing I saw, was a "heart" in the clouds...I thought it was a good omen, and a great way to start our trip!  ;-)


Every now and then, there was a surprise...


Our first night's stay was in the town of Ely.  This brought back fond memories for Jack, so after setting up the rig at our campground, we drove into town to take a look around.  Stopping in at the Visitor's Center to get our passport stamped, Jack asked if they "still had the Silver State Classic Challenge here"?  "Absolutely!  It's going to be here this coming weekend!"  ...and the conversation, shared stories and wonderful memories flowed from there!  Some 23 years ago, Jack and his best friend Steve drove in that race and had a fantastic time, one he has never forgotten about.  It goes from Ely to Las Vegas, with a grand "finals dinner" that night.  (They came in 3rd, in their class ;-)

We left the Visitor's Center and drove over to the East Ely Depot (c1907).  It was closed for the day, but we had fun walking around it anyway.  It's a pretty cool place and they not only do train rides, but you can stay in their caboose and/or bunk house and you can even be an engineer on the train!  Something to come back for, I'd say!


Our next leg of the trip we saw a bit more traffic...we even had a traffic jam at one point when road work was being done...  Phew...a whole 10 minute delay!  ;-)


The next fun stop was in the town of Eureka.  We had to get our passport stamped at their Opera House, and as luck would have it, there was a nice long spot available right along the street outside their building!  The manager there was super nice and told us to check out the building, it dates back to 1880 and "to be sure and go upstairs and down the hall to see all the signatures!"  They make sure everyone signs the walls that performs there!  They also have a "Wall of Fame" of framed autographed photos of everyone too.  Very cool.  What a neat place that was.  See, we never would have seen this place if it hadn't been for that silly passport!


We experienced all kinds of terrain.  Sometimes the roads were flat and straight ahead for miles, and then up we would go, to more than 7,000 feet, curving all the way...then of course, back down again!  There would be times the view would be barren with not much more than some yellow flower on each side, to a forest full of trees.  Every few miles were different.  You never got bored.


Just outside of Fallon, there were two interesting sights, one called the Sand Mountain, it wasn't much of a mountain per say, but what many consider to be one of the best OHV destinations out there.  The reason?  Instead of a sea of sand dunes, there is just one giant mountain to have the best competition hill in the country.  The other oddity was all along the road, where people "wrote" with rocks.  Evidently, they are the Alkaline Salt Flats, and it's "a thing to do" in Fallon!


The end of the line...Fernley.  We met the nicest lady at the Chamber of Commerce to make our last stamp.  She even gave us a couple of water bottles to celebrate our "completion"!  I almost hate for this adventure to end, it's been so much fun!

We will be meeting up with our friends in Pahrump NV for a few days and I can hardly wait to share all this with them and encourage them to take this trip!  (actually, I wouldn't mind coming back and spending a little more time in a couple of the places myself!)

anyway, until then...on the road in Nevada, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Our last few days in Wyoming...

Leaving Cheyenne, we headed to Rock Springs Wyoming for a few days.  We had heard that this areas was pretty and a great place to explore for a couple of days before heading out of the state.

We made a quick stop in Laramie first, just to see what there was to see.  Our timing wasn't great tho, as a motorcycle group was coming in from doing a fundraising run and ending their trip there, so they closed off several of the main streets for them!  Shops were closed, and restaurants were either full or closed.  ;-(

Oh well, we walked around and took some fun photos of their great murals, peeked into their shop windows and snapped a couple shots of all the motorcycles and chatted with a few of the people from the run, then just headed back out again!


The drive wasn't a total loss, as we had two fun stops along the way.  The road to/from is on I-80, but back in 1881, it was known as the Transcontinental Route, also known as the Lincoln Highway.  There are two memorials dedicated to the building of this highway.  One you can't miss, it's right off the highway, and stands 48.5 feet tall!  It's also on the highest point of the transcontinental route at 8,640'.  It's a bust of Abraham Lincoln on top of a granite pedestal!  It certainly catches your eye!


The second monument you have to drive a bit to go see, but, wow, it's worth it!  It's the Ames Monument, a 60' granite pyramid honoring Oliver and Oakes Ames, the two promoters of the transcontinental railroad.  Built in 1881-82, the monument marks the site of Sherman, a train inspection point before it became a ghost town with the relocation of the Union Pacific tracks.


While in Rock Springs, we took a wonderful drive through the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway.  What a beautiful drive that was, it certainly lived up to it's name!  This gorge goes through Wyoming & Utah with the dam being in Utah, sending the water through both states and even to Colorado.  John Wesley Powell named the area and after seeing the colors of the gorge, you can see why.  The Green River, which runs through the gorge, is so clear and beautiful, even this late in the summer.

We only saw one boat taking advantage of the lake, but I'm sure on the weekends and during the height of summer, it's kept busy.  It's supposed to be quite the fishing mecca, and one of the ranger stations showed off the record fish for one in Utah.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves....



It was a great way to end our stay in this beautiful state.  We had visited the "upper portion" of the state before, but never the "lower" part of the state, so this gave us a whole new perspective to enjoy!

Now we will skip through the edge of Utah and head into Nevada for awhile...

...on the road, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cheyenne!

We've toured a great part of Wyoming, but not the lower portion of the state, so decided that we would "finish off the state" and start in Cheyenne for a few days (while waiting on our mail) then head across the state towards Utah.  That way we will see Laramie, Rock Springs, the Flaming Gorge, Evanston and then out we go towards Salt Lake City!  That's the plan...but who knows, we often "turn left" as our friends well know!  ;-)

But first, we are exploring Cheyenne!  Being the capitol of Wyoming, that was the first thing I wanted to go see...well, shucks, it's under a multi-year renovation and all closed up!  ;-(   Looks like it's going to be really nice when it's all done next year....oh well...at least the outside dome was uncovered...


So, if you can't spend time exploring the inside of the capitol, you go visit the inside of the Historic Governors' Mansion!  This is the first residence provided for 19 governors and their families from 1905-1976.


The mansion was intended to be a home of the people and was never enclosed by a fence or had on site security.  The mansion underwent an extensive restoration in 2004 and is decorated with furniture and collections from the previous residents.

As we entered, someone was playing the piano in the Drawing Room.  Fun!  You are given a map, and allowed to wander on your own, which is so nice, and different than so many other historic homes.  Afterward I had a delightful chat with the ranger on duty, not only about the home, but about the area in general and places to see along our route.  Such nice people here!


Afterward we decided to take the Trolley Tour and get a 90 minute guided tour of the whole town.  It starts at their historic Cheyenne Depot which used to be the Union Pacific Depot back in 1887 which is built in a "Richardsonian Romanesque" style.  It's really quite something to see...quite beautiful inside and out.


This was our first "sighting" of the Boots...these are all over the city.  They are 8' tall and each painted by a different artist & theme....like other cities have horses, or cows, etc.  Here's a couple...


We saw some wonderful "painted ladies" from the 1800s, the home of Nellie Tayloe Ross (c1920s) First female governor of Wyoming, the US Marshall's window from 1902 where Tom Horn was arrested and then hung for murder (last person ever hung in WY), and a "Big Boy" train locomotive which is pretty rare!



We ended our day with a stop at their brand new Grand Conservatory in their Botanic Gardens.  It had just been open two weeks, so it still has a lot of work left to do, but it's going to be a nice addition to the park.  Next door is a children's area called The Paul Smith Children's Village that was really special.  If I would have had something like this near me when my children were small, we would have been there every day!  All sorts of small-sized furniture, cute tee-pees, secret gardens with a puppet theater, water features to play in, and on and on!  And flowers everywhere!  Wonderful place for adults and kids!  I didn't want to leave!  ;-)


A long day..and it ended nicely with a beautiful sunset...thank you Cheyenne!



...kicking back in Cheyenne,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Drive through Rocky Mountain National Park

After we left our friends in Colorado Springs, we decided to stay a couple of days midway between there and Wyoming so we could visit the Rocky Mountains and Estes Park.  We found a nice little state park at Boyd Lake that worked out just fine.  It was also just an hour away from Boulder where another friend of ours lives, so we could meet up with him one day as well.  Yippee! 

After settling in at Boyd Lake, we headed out the next morning to take our drive go see the famed  Rocky Mountains...you know the ones... John Denver used to sing about them!  (Take me home, Rocky Mountain high, Colorado...), anyway... With our love of National Parks, it was a must for us to take the time to really enjoy our drive through that park.


The day was beautiful and the park was not crowded, so the drive was lovely.  The only time we had any traffic was when a couple of elk decided to have "lunch" near the road...then "everyone" stopped to watch!  They managed to hide themselves a bit with as much foliage as possible (let's have a little fun watching the tourist make fools of themselves, shall we?).


The park itself is HUGE,  so you can't really see the whole thing in one day, so we chose the best loop for us, to see the highlights.


We made a stop at Estes Park, only to discover it was a small town that was just another town full of "tourist shops" with the same stuff we've seen in all other towns we've visited!  It did have one place that was interesting though, and that was the original home (now a lavish hotel) of the gentleman who invented the "Stanley Steamer" engine!


All in all, it was a lovely visit.  There was a nice saying (by Ann H Zwinger and Beatrice E Willard, Land Above the Trees) on one of the displays at the ranger's station in the park that I thought summed it up nicely...
                               
                                    "...where the sky is the size of forever
                                                        and the flowers are
                                                                     the size of a millisecond..."

...kicking back in Colorado, but on on way to Wyoming!  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/


Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Salute to the Future and a Peek at the Past...

Our last day spent with our friends we started our day off visiting the  United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  What a beautiful campus, set in a gorgeous location!  The first thing you see as you drive along the freeway to get to it, is their very large Falcon Stadium, with it's back against the large rocky mountains that Colorado is so famous for.  Impressive.


Once inside the Visitor Center, you are welcomed with a large mural showing cadets throwing their hats in the air in celebration of graduation, a bronze plaque blazoned with their motto "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does".  They show a great film about the life and training of a cadet, and have exhibits displaying the history, uniforms, a model of a cadet's room, etc.  Then, of course a very large gift shop!


A map is given (and needed!) for you to take a tour of the campus.  Luckily, most areas of interest are in a central area.  The most visited is the Cadet Chapel.  Completed in 1962, originally controversial in its design, the Cadet Chapel has become a classic and highly regarded example of modernist architecture and was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2004.  The first thing you see is it's row of 17 spires.  There are gaps between them that are filled with colored glass that create an incredible experience inside.


Besides it's beauty, what makes it really unique, is that it was designed to house three distinct worship areas under a single roof!  The Protestant nave is located on the upper level, while the Catholic and Jewish chapels and a Buddhist room are located beneath it.  Beneath this level is a larger room used for Islamic services and two meeting rooms.  Each chapel has its own entrance, and services may be held simultaneously without interfering with one another.  How is that for "co-existing"?  They haven't left anyone out, having an Earth-Centered Spirituality area for Wicca, Paganism and Druidism and an All-Faiths Rooms for worship for smaller religious groups.  I think the designer Walter Netsch did an outstanding job with this task!
The Protestant Nave
Catholic Chapel
Jewish Temple
 Buddhist Vast Refuge Dharma Hall
Being a weekend, there were not many cadets on grounds, but we did see a few practicing here and there, which was nice.  Another enjoyable stop was at their Honor Court where they had various replicas of airplanes, statues and sculptures honoring members and squadrons.


After walking our legs off this very large campus, we headed "back to the past"... to check out the Wild West Ghost Town Museum!

Jack and I have visited a number of Ghost Towns across the country, but this was nice in that it was inside, clean, and all in one spot.  It was well preserved, located within one of of the last remaining Colorado Midland buildings.  The structures were abandoned after the gold rush era in the 1800s and included a general store, saloon, blacksmith shop, jail, livery stable, rooming house and a beautiful Victorian house along with a ton of artifacts.  There were hardly anyone else there when we visited, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

You could put a quarter in the player pianos and have a dance with your partner, or hop on a saddle and pretend you were a cowgirl, or even pet one of the last remaining bisons!


It was a great way to end our week together.  We had so much fun, saw so many new things and once again renewed our friendship with these wonderful people!  What more can two people ask for?

Life is good...

...kicking back in Colorado, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/