Nevada, in Spanish, means, “don’t go there.” Got it. Today we mentally connected with the Gold Rush pioneers, noting that we have a car, and air conditioning, and roads, and…. It was still a slog.
Remember that Laramide Erogeny I keep mentioning? Nevada is what happens when huge areas of land rise up and form mountain ranges. In between the ranges, the land gets stretched out to form ripples of repeating basins and ranges. So, stretch marks, really. The great basin of Nevada does not get water draining into it, so it’s a vast desert, punctuated with salt flats and a wall of death, called the Sierra Nevada. You can probably tell we stopped at a pioneer museum today, and you’re right.
To break up the long drive, we pulled off at the California Trail Interpretive Center and I would give that a 5.0. They take you through the pioneer story by focusing on members of the Donner/Reed party. They have excerpts from journals, illustrated with displays showing what the land was like at the time. For example, going through the Bonneville Salt Flats, tedious in a car driving 65, took them weeks. The carts and horses broke through the top layer of salt, only to sink into salty mud. They had to abandon supplies, carts, and livestock all along the trail just to make forward progress. By the time they got to the Sierras, much later than they planned, they were exhausted, emaciated, and not getting along terribly well with each other. It’s the ultimate camping trip from hell, but with much more death. There was a multimedia display that sort of brought to life the final months up in the snow and I literally felt my stomach tense up because I could imagine the scene. This historic site is really well done, and I highly recommend it as a stop along 80. Also, it’s air conditioned and has great bathrooms.
Backtracking a bit, we began the day with the discovery of another Alto in the SLC KOA! And it was not only a member of Altoistes, but also someone I’d conversed with previously because they live in California. Turns out, they are returning from their pickup and we will probably see each other on the road all the way back. I love when that happens. 🙂
We wrapped up the day with another KOA. Listen, it’s 105 degrees here. No way were we going to camp at a state park with no electric hookups. And out here, the only choice is really how far you want to drive, in 50-100 mile increments, before you stop for the day. Today’s winner was: Winnemucca! It is every bit as exciting as its name sounds. And, who should we see in the site across from us, but our new Alto friends. Richard went and got take out from a nearby Mexican restaurant and I’m sipping margaritas with ice, so all is well. It’s a far cry from the end to a Pioneer’s day, where you mostly either die or eat deceased non-relatives. Those people were amazing.
Total miles: 351.7, 17.1 mpg, 6 hours 24 min. KOA with full hookups. LTE still strong all along most of 80. Pretty good wifi. All the expected amenities, plus fake plants in the bathroom for ambiance.