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June 16, 2008

Cowgirl for a Morning

My magical evening was followed by a great morning. I woke up whenever I woke up from sleeping out under the stars, and took a little walk around my campsite--which I'm convinced was the best one.

Then, in not too much of a hurry, I hit the road.

The dirt road.

I took an alternate route back to I-70, and dawdled. Stop 1: Rock art.

Stop 2: Wherever I felt like it. I was just cruising along in the dirt with the window down, kicking up dust behind me (even though I was only going about 20 mph, maybe 40 tops), listening to country music. It was fantastic. I just needed a hat. I even thought about brining my hat, and then didn't. Should've brought the hat.

Everything else was perfect.

[Where does this go? Looks like a nice view, may as well check it out....]

What a treat. So the trip wasn't just about Goblin Valley, after all.

I stopped for lunch in Salina, Utah, which I've been through before, and ate at Mom's Cafe, because you've gotta. I called my friend Jeff, who did some surveying in the area once upon a time, and asked where I should eat. Yep, Mom's. It's pretty much the only option.

Because this isn't one:

On my way in, I got a call from Dave, the guy I'm supposed to be working for when I get to California. I hadn't yet been told where to meet the crew, how long I'd be out, anything really. Are you still driving to Richmond? he asked. Yep, on my way to Richmond. (Brian decided against the Seattle idea. Stick with Plan A.) Good, he said. Things have changed. You're going to meet the group in San Francisco and drive to Yellowstone.

This is why UNAVCO kills me. I nearly collapsed into a fit of giggles when I got off the phone. Turning around and driving back east. I'd rather be working in Yellowstone than in the Mojave at this time of year, anyway. Maybe any time of year. Yellowstone is pretty cool.

But back to the southwest. There is something very, very special about Salina. Salina is the gateway to Highway 50. Google maps told me to go up through Salt Lake City to catch 80, but I said uh-uh. I want the Lonliest Highway in America. So I did that little grab-and-pull trick and had it re-route me. Desolate, barren, and quiet. I love Highway 50.

So much that I made a wrong turn leaving town and headed north instead of west.

Easily corrected.

Not far into Nevada, I stopped in Ely to check out the haps. I wanted to see what had happened on the street corner I had spent time on last time through Ely, which I realized must already have been two years ago now. Not that kind of spending time on a street corner. It was an intersection, really. My friend and co-worker Nicole clued me in to a nice pub in town, so I checked it out. The Twisted Pine. Halfway into my second beer, a man hanging out at the bar with his fiance befriended me and told me his story: He had just with his brother bought some properties across the street--an old theater, a cocktail lounge, and a restaurant. It was probably 11 PM, but in his enthusiasm (and I think to the dismay of his fiance) he took me over to show me (fiance in tow). Very, very cool. The theater hasn't changed since I think the 60's, and needs a lot of work but has class. The lounge is fantastic--they were about a month away from opening when I was there, with plush seating and a huge screen in back for movies or ambiance and a fantastic mosaic-ed floor which they had uncovered from back in the day when they pulled up the carpet. They wanted the restaurant to be an Italian deli, with *good food* (this is HUGE in Nevada, which, as much as I love it, has got to have the worst food in all the US) and wine and deli fixins.

I wondered how far they'd gotten.

[The strip: The theater, with Maggi's Lounge and the Italian restaurant encased in "Mr. G's."]

The restaurant and lounge were locked, but existed, so I went across the street to 'Desolation Arts' (I think I have the name right), an art gallery where I'd talked at some length last time to the retired BLM co-owner. He wasn't there this time, but one of the others, Joel (who shot some fantastic photos of the steam trains), was, and he clued me in. First, Nicole, the worst news: The Twisted Pine is no longer there. This was evident to me as I was driving through town because I was using it as a landmark and drove right past, only to have to turn around at the end of town and come back. (Not that Ely's very big...this meant driving about two blocks out of my way.) In its place is some nondescript generic bar that Joel said isn't worth checking out. Very sad. Glad I got a pint glass from there while I could. As for the 'new' venues--the theater hasn't changed, but both the lounge and the restaurant are open. Just not on Mondays. Yesterday was a Monday. Bummer. How's business? Maybe not so good. They were hoping for an influx of people from Las Vegas, which was actually starting to happen two years ago when this whole thing went down, but then the economy dropped out and folks stopped coming. Hard times have hit Ely yet again. Joel pointed to the tourist train going by to illustrate the point: The train hardly had anyone on it, and was a diesel engine besides. Both the steam engines were down, he said. Who wants to come all the way to Ely to ride a diesel?

In Salina, or somewhere around the Nevada border, there was a billboard for Ely. A big picture of a train, tattered and peeling, and under the train were the words:
Come Visit Ely
A Full Service Community

Joel tipped me off to a restaurant in Eureka, the next town over, since the Italian place was closed. Something like DJ's Diner, and he was right, it was good. So if you can't eat Italian in Ely next time you're through on Highway 50, give the diner on the east side of Eureka a try.

This is why I love Highway 50:

Posted by beth at June 16, 2008 12:09 AM

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I actually had a drunken nite of "arm-wrasslin'" in that bar. And won, too!

Posted by: Jeff English at June 18, 2008 7:16 PM


Posted by: Nicole at June 19, 2008 5:12 PM

you know you can thank ryan (son of tom and sue) for that little google maps grab-and-pull trick!

Posted by: wilma - mother of beth at June 24, 2008 4:50 PM

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