Next Gas Nevada

Nevada is a sparsely populated state, and therein lies its grandeur. Huge empty spaces and long straight roads connect the small towns that make up most human habitation. That is, apart from Las Vegas and the area round Lake Tahoe where Californians come to play.

I didn't visit Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon on this trip, but I include some pictures here of when I did visit them in another lifetime (or so it seems).

Route 50 runs from Ocean City in Maryland, on the east coast, as far as West Sacramento in California and I criss-crossed it several times as I meandered around the USA. It's fairly nondescript, but in Nevada the section that traverses the state was dubbed "The Loneliest Road in America" by Life magazine in July 1986. The magazine was probably drawing attention to how uneventful the road is, but Nevadans seem to have warmed to the name and, although I only traversed it in Ely, it could not have been any less busy than the roads I travelled on cross-state. This is a vast state, and away from Tahoe and Las Vegas, as lightly populated as anywhere I visited.

The landscape in Nevada changes slowly and draws you into the subtle variations in the vast desert plains, littered with the very occasional abandonned gas station or motel. If you do come across another car, you see it from a distance, slowly growing in size and then suddenly whizzing past you, disappearing slowly again in the rear view mirror. You do not see many cars, and the threat of aircraft speed surveillance seems remote, so I have to admit that I broke the speed limit pretty much all the way from Wendover to the state line in the Inyo National Forest.

I slowed down as I hit the mountainous forest where the altitude meant the twisty turns were often icy. I came round one bend to be confronted by the sight of Mammoth Mountain in the distance, with the sun low in the sky beyond. And as I soaked up the sight, a mountain lion ambled across the road in front of me.


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