Pictured above is Goyo, a one time nature biologist who hunted rattlesnakes.
Oct 6-13, 2014
Venturing out a lonely highway through northern Nevada is my cup of tea. The lonelier the better! However, it is not always easy to find large, level, solid places to pull off the road and park. Having a vehicle with 18 wheels, any of which can get stuck, and trying to turn a truck and trailer around that measure over 65 feet long, well that can be very limiting. Being level is sure nice too so that we aren’t tripping around inside the trailer, especially since we have a wood stove that would be murderous to fall against.
We happened on a small establishment, an oasis, in the middle of nowhere that did a surprisingly good business. Well, maybe not so surprising since there wasn’t anything else around for over thirty miles. Construction workers, truckers, and campers stop in for meals served from early morning until nine at night. The people who have owned the place for 30 years, live out back where there are several mobile homes, travel trailers that have long since seen a road, and an old bus, that house the workers that run the place. They receive room and board and whatever tips they make as compensation.
Our budget doesn’t include meals out, but we did enjoy sharing an ice cold draft beer and met some of the local fair. They had no issue with us spending a couple of days camped out in their parking lot. We were even able to fill our water tanks.
When we left, we found an even lonelier road to travel and went quite a few miles before finding a place to park. Tal spotted a small gravel clearing we were able to back into and be level. It was a bit of a trick backing a huge truck up the highway. Only three cars had passed in an hour, but sure enough one was fast approaching behind us as Tal maneuvered back up the road. He pulled off just in time. We are now fifteen miles from anything or anyone going north or south, and endless miles of barren land going either west or east. Nary a car or truck has gone by. There are plenty of hills to explore and I can hardly wait. If we don’t hike every day I can feel the old bones seizing up.
Surprise! (I think I will have to add this category to nearly every blog as something unexpected always happens.) When we pulled off the road there was a cattle crossing gateway with a sign posted for hunters. In the first couple of hours we were parked a few motorcycles and campers drove through the gate. Hunters? We wondered. Then more and more campers came. “There is something going on out there,” I said to Tal. He found a small note attached to a stop sign at the entrance of the dirt road we were on that was for a Mountaineers meet-up. I had to laugh. No matter how far out we go, we can’t get away from civilization. We are in one of the most desolate areas that we have been in and a hundred guys show up within the next two days. Amazing. They are camped out a good five plus miles from us, so we can’t hear or see them. The first day we walked at least 3 miles up and down hills to see if we could spot their camp, but they were too far out for us to walk to and then have to walk back. A day later a few of them were going for bike rides (we had watched them trailer in ATVs, including a lot of bikes) and they stopped by to check us out so we got a little bit of the lowdown. Guys had come from Oregon and California for their bachelor weekend.
They told us our truck would make it out there, but there was nowhere to turn around and the sand was soft. “We could make it out there, but we’re fine right here,” Tal told them.
As it turned out we were near the ghost town called Broken Hills. It was started by two English miners in 1913. M.C. Stromer was the owner of the only store and he was the postmaster as well as the Justice of the Peace. His wife was the school teacher to mostly Indian children. Matt Costello had been a miner all his life. At 60 years old he had finally had a turn in luck and struck it rich. However, he died practically on the spot and never spent a penny of his fortune. The folks of Broken Hills thought it only fitting to bury him by his mine. The ghost town of Broken Hills has few remnants left of its existence. The lone grave is in the center of miles of isolated desert. It was during a six mile hike of nothing but sand and brush that we happened upon the remains. It gave cause to look up the local history.