Any one who knows me or has been following this will undoubtedly know that both road trips came about because of a desire to see the bands at the iconic Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, tickets to which, like the Burning Man event are as elusive as quicksilver. So when it was clear our route would take us near a certain lake the other side of the mountains from Black Rock I was overtaken by my sense of irony & routed us past Pyramid Lake.
Running out of daylight & heading to Nixon we were totally unprepared for the splendour of the Lake. A tad concerned we didn’t have a campsite for the night we scoured the place for a suitable spot but ended up driving on through up the side of the Lake realising if we reached Sutcliffe our options were really limited as it wasn’t clear the road was suitable for rental vehicles beyond there & it would be miles to retrace our steps to the next potential town.
However we spied some people in campers near the shore line & they kindly told us where we could obtain the necessary pass at the Ranger Office come shop. Despite the randomness of it the advice was good and later we left with our overnight ticket & some beer. Driving back we spotted a suitable place and pulled in. By now it really was starting to get dark as we sipped beer & watched the sun sink behind the mountains. It was very peaceful but nothing prepared us for the moment when the sky went completely jet black the only light coming from the millions of twinkling stars. My thanks to the Native American upon whose Reservation the Lake is located for making it possible for us to stay there. It truly was one of the most fantastic places on earth that I have ever camped in. The Pyramid is a unusual rock formation in the Lake & as ‘consolation prizes’ go I felt we had really hit the jackpot. Later we set the alarm clock so that we could get up & watch the sun rise.
Sipping tea while sat in deck chairs was amazing & the advantage of rising so early was that we were on our way to Crater Lake before the crowds. Reaching the entrance there were no queues or parking problems & we were once more treated to some spectacular scenery that really the cameras just didn’t really do justice too. The water was so still & the reflections so clear. It put me in mind of the Taekwondo pattern Chon Ji which takes its name from the Heavenly Lake also famed for the clear reflection that is supposed to be representative of both heaven & earth. Walking around we took in the sweet fresh air & headed to the coast where we would pick up the 101 or Scenic Pacific Highway.
Twin Falls was a ‘go to’ place on the map and it didn’t disappoint with the amazing waterfalls that tumble into the gorge along which we happily wandered down the footpath that followed the edge on one side. It was a beautiful hot day & the silence was only disturbed by sequential gunfire. This potentially was a little troubling until we discovered it was the local police firearms practice range.
The other interesting discovery was that this is where the legendary Evil Kinevil attempted some of his bike stunts. I remember as a child the press in the UK coverage of the various stunts attempted by Evil Kinevil so stumbling across this was an unexpected bonus. Scaling the front of the ramp like a mountain goat I realised to my chagrin that I could have easily nipped up the smooth ramp at the back!
It was a long drive from here to Ely which involved meandering between state borders to end up in Nevada. We drove into an area where wild fire raged on the hills and the smoke was so thick it blanked out the bright blue sky. It was as fascinating as it was horrific & we did what only British people probably do in the face of such adversity which was to stop & brew some tea!
It was a touch of the ‘ ground hog ‘ day for me in Ely having stayed there earlier in the year with my daughter as we stopped overnight enroute for Bend that had us turning off at Eureka. Sadly this was too brief a visit to dig for Rubies or ride the ghost train but it was a great place to kick start our bid to survive highway 50 or ‘ the loneliest road’
Armed with the booklet & a stamp the following day we pointed the van in search of the towns along the route that counted towards our goal. It meant we stopped in some odd places including a casino which we ventured into. With a self imposed limit of $10 we weren’t likely to bankrupt ourselves & for a few minutes we experienced the heady trill of the machines of chance. I lost all mine but hey it was fun & apart from the near confiscation of my phone all was good.
Highway 50 is as you can see quite a long & lonely road indeed although to be fair we did travel on some roads that probably could have been considered equally as long & felt a great deal more isolated during our adventure. Still we were on a quest & as the miles rolled we were optimistic that we would get our certificate & badge as planned.
We stopped at one place for a coffee & I was captivated by the small plaque with the John Wayne quote so this was duly purchased & hung in Bertha for the rest of the way. It now adorns my office where I see it daily & it evokes memories of those wide empty spaces.
It was a long old drive that day & we had only had a rough idea of where the wild camp sites would be at the end. As the stamps amounted in the booklet the light was starting to fade & there was maybe a small concern of where we would park up for the night.