Thanksgiving road trip!
Taking the advantage of having 2 days off due to the public holiday!, we went east!
We picked our main area around Austin and Ely, Nevada but soon, after the first day of driving… we decided to just concentrate our exploring around, or… actually, getting to Austin!, then, driving down south and explore those hills and desserts!
A 7 hours drive in straight line and easy driving on HWY 50 it turned out to be an 11 hs exploring trip!
Once on Sierra Nevada we turned a bit south to Bridgeport to find dirt roads that will take us to Bodie. Gorgeous sceneries!, crossing the Sierras is always nice, with it beautiful forests, huge mountains and bright blue skies!
Once on the dirt roads you are, already, in a type of dessert, land is way arid, trees are hardly seen, some bushes here and there and anything else doesn’t grow higher than your knees… still absolutely beautiful!
We cross a couple of passes; they always amazed me!, we drive up, and up, and a bit higher up!, normally, a gorgeous panorama vista opens up; and then you drive down!, windy, fast going down roads!
Bodie was full of tourists…, by now we are only 1/4 on our way to Austin and it is mid day… still more to see and more little roads to follow… so we didn’t visit the gosht town. Denis had planned to visit another abandoned mina with it gosht town the following day.
With the iPad with a 4wd app turned on, a paper map!!on hand, also, trying to use the phone that didn’t work…, there is no signal in those remote areas!; many times we were worried that we had missed our turnes… thanks man for Denis perfect orientation!… slowly but surely we mange to get to Hawthorne before dark!
The descend to this town is quite interesting, on a turn of a corner, still at some elevation, the whole dessert and town come into view!, on the other side of the dessert another gorgeous line of mountains! The town is surrounded by bunkers but from the distance one can only see this perfect lines of mounts!, mounts for doquier, everywhere…. Very intrigued of what could it be… to find out that they are bunkers! Kilometers/miles of land with this perfect grid of bunkers!
Once at home I read in the internet that the town is a military base camp and production of ammunition, apparently there are 2.427 bunkers…
From here we drive up north, back to HWY 50, on asphalt/paved roads, is dark by the time we get to Austin; these winter days are so shorts…
Next morning we walked around town and check its famous Stokes Castle, just a tower built by a father for his sons as a summer house, it was only used for a month as such…
In these remote areas we have noticed that it has been used tin for the building of the little houses, some recycling oil tines, the most advanced, already using tin sheeting with patterns. We have seen the use of tin in this way on our travels in Australia and south of Argentina.
So today is our exploring day!, I wonder what was yesterday!!… ha! Ha! Ha!
We followed roads of a circuit that someone else have done and marked in the 4wd app. We go down south on 22 or Reese River Rd looking for Iona old mine; a few km/miles before the town we turned bush!, into a type of 4wd track as it is shown in the app. Turned here, turned there, hill up and hill down and… ops!, this looks like private property… We passed in front of a shed with some equipment parked out side and follow its road towards the main road 22, that we supposed to get to…, only to find a locked gate with full fence all along each side… So, back to the shed, turned a bit to the left looking for the track that we misplaced somewhere back there!!
Drove in among short, little trees and bushes to finally get onto 22 farther ahead of the gate. Turning right we drive for a few kms/miles in this huge, open, flat dessert with another chain of mountains on its background (beautiful!!) when I said to Denis: "Do you realized that this circuit takes 10 hours to do it all?” “What?,…no, we don’t have 10 hours with all the other things we want to see…” So, U turn! Passed in front of the locked gate we reach Iona!
A 6 houses at the most!, but this old town still “alive”, no a gosht one! As we stopped for lunch we see a man going around doing his chores across the road; another house is vacant but has trash cans/rubbish bins as in every town!; another house is full of staff around it!
As we leave town, we can see the left over of an old mine up high there, in the hill behind town… Denis is itchy to “explore” an abandoned mine and he already saw something on that app showing an old mine… so quickly turnes left on the next track and we dissapired into the bush again! This is part of the 10 hour circuit!, on the other side of town!
We reach an intersection where it shows the track to the right going no where, we are in among the hills so not seen anything in the short distance we decided to follow the left tracks as, eventually, gets back to 22 at Iona. As we drive farther away from the intersection, ups and downs, around this corner and the next one, I’m always looking back (always do) to see what we're leaving behind, when suddenly I see a chimney!!! Stop! The old mine is back there!!! U turn!! We love our U turns!!
Finally!, Denis gets his chance to explore and get lost in his thoughts about the mine, its people, exploring what ever is left there!, and there are lots of "junk"!
Happy with the finding!, we head back through the “left track”, a bit of 4 wheeling, around here and there back to Iona!
Now we can go home!, where ever home will be tonight! (Tonopah) but still a long drive, dirt roads, a gorgeous pass with a beautiful panoramic vista!
On the flats, again, roads head off everywhere, there are not marks, a bit of confusion… we drive south east, a bit it… we should turn here… no, no I think it is farther ahead… ops, we started to drive north… this is not right!, another U-trun! And to follow the first road off to our left, another right and finally we see the traffic on HWY 6 and the town up in the hill!
Is dark again!! Ha! Ha! But, what a great day we had!
Saturday we planned a short drive as we wanted to be on the foot hills of the Sierras by night; but first needed to head off east to see Lunar Crater. What a magic place!! Off HWY 6, a cattle grid introduced us to well used dirt road so…, we expected to see people… not a single human been in our radar… no one!
We checked the crater, a big whole in the ground!; is dessert all around us, mountains in the back grounds, beautiful! The different tones of beiges, creamy colors, blacks and browns make for stunning views!
After a little while here, we kept on driving towards a flat mud area, Big Sand Spring area. Oh!, I have forgotten to mention the springs!, everywhere we drove, all in these valleys and mountains there are springs! We saw a few, and drove over others!
We lost ourselves in this majestic plates, each one walks in different direction just to appreciate the beauty, the silence, the pace here! After some picture taken… we say goodbye to all these wonderful valleys, crossed chain after chain of mountains with gorgeous passes!, to reach Mono Lake by evening.
We stayed in a motel en Lee Vining, CA.
We have been here before, in 2015 Thanksgiving weekend!, but everything was covered by snow so the contrast of what we’ve seen to actually, today!, to see the ground, trees, lake in their full colors is quite amazing! Constantly we were saying or thinking: “this was white”!, "you couldn’t see that because it was under the snow!” (the photo with snow is from 2015)
Even the Sierras had little snow compered to that year!; we managed to drive in a pass that then, was closed by winter season! We took Sonora Pass on 108. So pretty!, the contrasts of the redwoods, their greens and browns agains the white snow or the bright blue skies leaves you spaceless! I love those mountains!
We stopped a couple of times to absorb and appreciate this gorgeous sceneries!
-The crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail, famous hiking trail that one day I would love to hike some parts off!
-At a touristy stop to check on the Columns of the Giants: different types of lava exposed on a cliff wall where millions of column style rocks can be seen.
-Last stop, at Donnell vista point for lunch and a short stroll to check the view of Donnell Lake/dam!
Then down the hill passing by Strawberry town and by now there are lots more cars on the road, we know we are back to civilization…, scenery changes to oaks and farm land, to veggie growing land!; we are back home by 4 pm! What a great weekend!