Monday, August 29th 2011 Utah & Nevada

On Monday morning it was time to move on. I said my "good-byes" and Dolores and the kids were off to school and shortly after Sean was ready to roll down the hill on his bike.

When I got in the van I found a small package on the dash with a card attached. I knew Sean wouldn't miss the chance. Along with a nice note there was a copy of the book "The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism " by Timothy Keller.
Sean is a Believer and I am hedonistic atheist and I know he thinks I need "saving". I appreciate his kind-hearted and sincere attempt. But, as I have told others - I am about as spiritual as a rock.
If nothing else the attemp at reading the book will pose an intellectual challenge. But, I doubt logic and reasoned argument will instill Faith in me.

After a last minute look for any more stuff I had drug into the house and garage I hit the road at 9:00.
I went down to US 89, the Canyon Road, south to Main street and then I was gone.

I had thought about various routes to get me to Nevada. I dreaded the interstate through Ogden and Salt Lake, but there seemed now way around it. I had originally planned to take I-15 as far south as Nephi and then head west on SR 132.
But, at the last minute I realised I could pick up I-80 west at Salt Lake and in a few miles be out in the boonies.

By the time I got to Salt Lake I-15 was 8 lanes. Although this time of day the traffic was light I was still glad to get onto little 4 lane I-80.
In a mere 22 miles I was at exit 99/Rt 36

Route to Ely

This is my back roads route to Ely.

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With the Great Salt Lake spread out to the north of me I had to take at least one shot. I should not have wasted my time. The place to have stopped for photos was Great Salt Lake State Park a few miles back, but I had missed the exit and did not want to back track.
I grabbed this shot at an industrial looking rest stop which was adjacent to Kennecott Tailings Pond Number One, along with the plaques below.

A couple of interesting articles about the area:
The Jordan River - WikiPedia.
"Reclamation of alkali land near Salt Lake City, Utah" BUREAU OF SOILS. CIRCULAR No. 12, 1899

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One can only speculate what it must have benn like in the resort hey-day on the Great Salt Lake. Those were certainly different times.

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Old Jedeiah didn't spend his time walking arm-in-arm with his parasol shaded lady.

In this place, at that time it is hard to imagine what he saw and what he must have endured.
Much joy and suffering no doubt.

Jedediah Strong Smith (January 6, 1799 May 27, 1831) was a hunter, trapper, fur trader, trailblazer, author, cartographer, and explorer of the Rocky Mountains, the American West Coast and the Southwest during the 19th century. Nearly forgotten by historians almost a century after his death, Smith has been rediscovered as an American "hero" who was the first white man to travel overland from the Salt Lake frontier, the Colorado River, the Mojave Desert, and finally into California.

Source: WikiPedia

As I made my way south on SR 36 I started to wonder if I had made a mistake in my route selection. There was considerable truck and local traffic in the area around Tooele.

The unusual name for the town is thought by some to have evolved from an old Ute Indian word for tumbleweed. This is only one of many unverified explanations, as the name's usage predated the introduction of the Russian thistle to the United States. Other explanations include that the name derives from a Native American chief, but controversy exists about whether such a chief lived. Others hypothesize that the name comes from "tu-wanda", the Goshute word for "bear", or from "tule", a Spanish word of Aztec origin, meaning "bulrush".

Source: WikiPedia

There was lots of construction on roadways, subdivisions, and shopping centers and the area looked fairly prosperous. I wondered why? This explained some of it.

A major private employer in the area is Kennecott Utah Copper which operates the Kennecott Bingham Copper Mine, the world's largest open-pit excavation mine on the other side of the Oquirrh Mountains from Tooele's location. 240- and 320-ton capacity trucks deliver copper ore to the in-pit crusher, where the material is reduced to the size of soccer balls before being loaded onto a five-mile (8 km) conveyor that carries the ore to the Copperton Concentrator..
EG&G, the company which operates TOCDF in Rush Valley, south of Tooele Valley.
Energy Solutions (formerly known as Envirocare), a waste-storage facility in Clive, west of Tooele Valley.

Source: WikiPedia

Finally, the sprawl started to thin and I was soon where I had hoped it be.

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In the middle of nowhere.

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Ahh... this was a feast for the eyes and soul.

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Flanked on one side by the Oquirrh Mountains and the other by the Onaquie Mountains this landscape was to be with me most of the day.

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This area looked fairly lush. Good grass growth and hill top Junipers spoke of abundant rainfall in the area.
The fence brace shown here was made from roughly cleaned-up Juniper stems.

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Evidence of a recent downpour.

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Near Vernon, just south of Faust, the yellow flowers of the Rabbit Bush bush added a nice splash of color to an otherwise austere landscape.

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Near Mammoth, the Cedar Valley started to dry out and the grasses were replaced by sagebrush.

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Who'da thunk it ?! I mean, this is in the middle of nowhere and this road could give "the loneliest road in America" a run for it's money for that title.

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Silver City is no more and one has to wonder how many people this lonley little rest stop sees in a years' time.

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This is looking east from the rest stop.

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Rested up, I continued south towards "The Little Sahara".

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This is the Sevier Desert which is actually the Sevier Lake basin, a vast area in south central Utah. The lake bed covers over 188 square miles. The Sevier River which once flowed to the lake is now largely diverted for irrigation.

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In the distance is the Little Sahara Recreation Area. This is where girls and boys with toys go to so they can make lots of noise and spew lots of sand using 4 wheel dune buggies.
Now, that's what I call fun!

A plentiful sand source and strong prevailing winds have combined to create Little Sahara, one of the largest dune fields found in Utah. Most of the sand at Little Sahara is the result of deposits left by the Sevier River, which once flowed into ancient Lake Bonneville some 15,000 years ago. After the lake receded, the southwesterly winds that flow across the Sevier Desert picked up the exposed sand. Sand Mountain, in the middle of the dune field, deflected the wind upward, causing it to slow and drop its load of sand. Sand particles, composed mostly of quartz, fell downwind among the sagebrush and juniper around Sand Mountain ultimately creating a 124-square-mile system of giant, free-moving, sand dunes.

Little Sahara The dunes are still moving to the north and east between 5 and 9 feet per year.

Source: 2011 Utah.com

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My exploration of the dune area will have to wait for cooler weather.

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This is looking to the east directly across from the Little Sahara dune area. The elevation here is about 5,000'

Directly I got to Delta and intersected US 50. A few miles later I was out in the Big Lonely again.

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US 50 west - the mountain pass is a long ways ahead of me.

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This is on the west side of the Sacramento Pass.
My drive through the pass was quite interesting. When I approached on the east side of the pass the mountains were shrouded in a dark blanket of clouds. Lighting strikes were everywhere and rain was falling all around.
As soon as I climbed up into the pass I was in the thick of it. The rain poured and the lightning flashed. The tops of the the looming cliffs on both sides of the roadway were obsured in thick, black clouds. The wind howled.
Then, I was through the pass and, and just as quickly, it was gone. Awesome.

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Now down in the valley, all is again quiet and calm and the grasses are back along with more incredible views of the mountains, clouds and big sky.

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Looking back toward Sacramento Pass near Mount Moriah.

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In an attempt to get some better shots of this peak I decided to take the Oceola turnoff and follow it for a ways.

Osceola, Nevada, is a ghost town in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The town was a placer camp devoted to mining gold. Gold was first discovered in 1872, followed by exploitation of the deposits using hydraulic mining techniques.

Two ditches, the Osceola West Ditch and the Osceola East Ditch were built to convey water from the mountains for use in mining. Water production was less than hoped and hydraulic mining ceased in 1900, when the population had declined from 1500 at its peak to 100. A fire in the 1940s destroyed much of the town, but a few buildings and a cemetery remain.

Source: WikiPedia

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I was rewarded with many fine views of the mountains along the valley road.

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Certain I was going the right direction I kept driving and kept snapping. The dirt road was in good shape, so why not keep going?

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This peak really stood out with it's pure white bands.

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Perhaps Geary or George will give me an idea what the composition of the white bands are.

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I drove and I drove and then the road turned paved again. Thinking I was back on 50 I continured on for quite a ways. Then the road went back to dirt. Hmmmm... Obviously I was not where I thought I was. I continued on and then the road narrow and forked again. Then I realised it - I was lost. Or, at the very least I had no idea where the hell I was going.
I killed the engine and sat for a while. Then, reluctanly I made the decision to retrace my steps back to the Osceola cut off.

Well, it didn't quite go that way as I missed my dirt road turn off. I drove on. Still, I have no idea where I am or where I am going. Then, in the distance I see the unmistakable outline of a tractor trailer and soon I was at the inersection of who knows what and US 93. Boy, did I get turned around! Glad I had plenty of gas.
As near as I can make out I had been wandering all over the Shosone Valley and following the edge of the Snake Range - south. Not the direction I wanted to go.

I was somewhat relieved to now know where I was. I followed 93 north to 50 and was once again back on track. Interesting little side trip!

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I had one more pass to go through before I got to Ely. This one was socked in as well.

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Looking up towards Conner Pass in the Creek Range - elevation 7722'. This pass was coverd in Juniper and scrubby, dwarfed pines. It is part of the Humbolt-Toiybe National Forest.

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And, as before - all is calm and clear on the other side of the pass.

Shortly I was in Ely. It was now 6:30. A long day of driving which flew by in no time. I scouted places to stay and found the "Grand Central" motel. It caught my eye because it was on a side street and no jammed right up against US 50.
Where they got the name for this place I will never know. It may be Central, but it is far from grand. Suits me - 42 bucks a night with two big beds and a strong WiFi signal.

After a quiet evening I turned in. Tomorrow I will explore nearby Cave Lake State Park.
seeya...