On June 5th we left the beautiful state of California to start our eastward journey. We took US Route 50 through a portion of the highway in Nevada named "the loneliest road in America" by Life magazine in 1986. We could see why the road got this name because of how rural it is and the open desert space that went on for miles and miles. Because of the lack of traffic, and the road was flat and straight, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to practice my motorhome driving skills. I've always been a little afraid to take the wheel, but I understand the importance of learning how to drive this big bus, especially in case of an emergency. Pat agreed this road would be ideal to practice, so I moved into the driver's seat and drove for about 30 stressful miles. We didn't crash, so I believe I did okay!
Our first stop was at a Harvest Host location called Lattin Farms, in Fallon, UT, for an overnight stay. We enjoyed a peaceful night on the farm. They had chickens, goats, and other farm animals to visit.
We spent the next night at a RV park right off the highway in Austin, NV. There is a lot of history in Austin. The city had a population of 10,000 in 1863 due to the silver boom. In 2020, the population was 167. We explored the little "ghost town" and visited the historical landmark, Stokes Castle, built as a summer home by a successful businessman, Anson Phelps Stokes, in 1876. There is a nice view from the mountainside where the castle sits.
On June 7th, we made our way down the "lonely highway", to the Ely KOA Journey in Ely, NV, for a 3-night stay.
We visited the Nevada Northern Railway Museum the next day. This railway was built over a century ago to service one of the largest copper mines in North America. We spent a couple of hours visiting the buildings that house these amazing trains.
The Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park is another attraction we visited during our stay in Ely. It was hot so we didn't spend a lot of time in the park, but we did check out the ovens which were used to produce charcoal between 1876-79 during the silver boom. Charcoal was the fuel of smelters because it burns hotter and more efficiently than regular wood. I was amazed to learn that these huge, beehive structures were filled to the brim with nearby timber to be burned into charcoal. It takes 30-50 bushels to reduce one ton of ore. After only 3 years of operation, the nearby trees were gone.
Pat decided he wanted to try his hand at rockhounding. We found out we were close to Garnet Hill, where a volcano erupted between 32-40 million years ago. The cooling of the molten rock allowed the garnet crystals to grow. After digging around in the dirt for about an hour, Pat was able to find about 8 nice-sized garnets. I was too afraid of uncovering a scorpion and decided to skip out on this activity.
A beautiful sunset to end our time in Ely!
West Wendover, NV, right on the border of Utah, was our next stop on June 10th. We spent 2 nights at the Wendover KOA Journey.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is the big attraction in West Wendover. The Flats consist of 30,000 acres of hard, salt crust, remnants of the ancient Ice Age Lake Bonneville. The Salt Flats were made famous because the surface is ideal for automotive endurance and speed racing. Several events to compete for land speed records are held here each year.
We drove out to the Flats the next day. Apparently, you can drive as fast as you'd like on this white, crusty surface. Pat decided to test the Jeep's capabilities, reaching 110 mph, before we headed back to the RV.
So Many Surprises!
On June 12th, we arrived in Layton, UT (about 27 miles North of Salt Lake City) for a 10-day stay at the Hill Air Force Base FamCamp. This is a great RV park with full hook-ups, laundry, and a dog park. There are nice walking paths adjacent to the park. My son, Eric, is stationed here, so he sponsored us during our visit.
Hill AFB FamCamp
Our family loves surprises! My grandson, Ethan, didn't know we were coming to Utah. We surprised him by sneaking into their house and sitting on the couch. Eric called Ethan into the living room, and he was shocked to see us sitting there! The first surprise was a success.
Since it had been a couple of years since my parents had seen their grandson and great-grandson, we decided to arrange for a surprise visit. My parents’ flight was scheduled to arrive the day after we arrived. When I went to pick them up at the airport, I was shocked to see my sister, Tricia, was with them! Apparently, she even surprised our parents after dropping them off at the airport. Unbeknownst to them, she parked her car and went back into the airport and surprised them by showing up at the gate. Such a sneaky move, but a wonderful surprise nonetheless! Ethan and Eric were also stunned when they walked into the RV and saw all three of them "hiding" inside . 😀
The next day Pat and Mike visited the Hill Aerospace Museum while the rest of us went shopping. They spent several hours at the museum and enjoyed seeing the extensive collection of military aircraft and munitions.
The following day, Pat, Eric, Ethan, Tricia, and I did a challenging hike and were rewarded with beautiful views at the top!
The Salt Lake City area has some great restaurants! We enjoyed several meals from different parts of the world.
Surprise #3 was when our daughter, Alyssa, flew in from L.A. on Thursday, June 16th. It was a happy family reunion until I came down with Covid the next evening. I was sick all day Friday and needed to quarantine away from everyone. As time went on, 5 out of the 7 of us eventually tested positive which, unfortunately, cut our visit short. 😔
Alyssa surprising her grandparents! Fun family time until Covid started to take us down.
Our time together had come to an end too soon. We were grateful for the time we spent hiking, enjoying meals and appreciating each other's company. But, as always, it was time to get back on the road again. Next stop Bryce Canyon!