Manifest Destiny 2015

Nevada: Dirt, Mountains, and the Occasional Casino

Today was, for the most part, a long driving day through the vast wasteland of Nevada, but first we had a few stops to start the day.

First, we visited Mono Lake, a lake outside of Yosemite National Park famous for alkaline waters that create unusual rock formations known as tufas. We went to their visitor’s center, took a look at the lake, and then moved onward. Matthew liked the little exhibits with the animals. The lake itself was weird because it looked close and shallow, but in reality was a very far way down, and very deep. There were cars at the edge of the lake that looked like toys. The desert plays tricks on your eyes I suppose.

Our next stop was Bodie, California. This is a deserted ghost town which reached its heyday in the 1880s, succumbed to a fire in the early 1900s, and was completely evacuated by the 1930s. Apparently Bodie was famous for being a party town, and was a hot spot for drinking, bar fights, prostitution, murder, y’know, all that fun stuff. It was first a gold mining town, but when the gold ran out, it was pretty much done for. I enjoyed walking around there, peeking into windows and seeing the belongings left everywhere. In the schoolhouse, there were books still lying around on desks like the kids would be coming back from recess anytime now. I also looked into many different saloons. Obviously, I reenacted a shootout in front of one of them, old west style.

Now began our long trek through the middle of nowhere. I’m talking, barren dessert with shrubs and grasses, more cows than people, and the occasional town built on one road with a gas station and a general store. You’d see towns advertised on milage signs from miles away. “Silver Springs, 37 miles. Silver Springs 12 Miles. Silver Springs 1 mile.” And then you’d get to Silver Springs and it would be like 20 little houses, a gas station, combination liquor store/grocery (with liquor store listed first on the sign) and a casino. I don’t know where the kids that live in these towns go to school, because I saw no schools. I did however see a thousand churches, so maybe that’s where they go. Nevada, everyone!

We were planning on stopping for lunch in a town called Winnemucca, Nevada, which was four hours into (and halfway through) our milage for the day. We were unsure of what exactly we would find there. We kept seeing billboards on the highway: “Winnemucca: Where something is always happening!” “Come to Winnemucca’s Jackpot Casino!” “Pete’s Kitchen: $1.99 Biscuits and Gravy and unlimited spaghetti! 20 Miles in Winnemucca!” I’m not kidding, and I died laughing when I saw it.

Eventually we got there and drove down the main strip. Nearly every restaurant was really a casino with adjoining restaurant. Only one advertised: “Only smoke-free casino in Winnemucca!” Oh brother. We eventually found a restaurant called the “Winnemucca Pizzera.” It was clean, non-casino, and had pizza. Perfect choice. We got two large pizzas, one potato pizza (which was weird but delicious!) and a meatball pizza called the “Butch Cassidy” which was meatball and cheese. Both were good. Matthew had spaghetti, which was entertaining to watch him attempt to eat.

Next was four more hours of driving through even more nothingness. I survived it with an Arnold Palmer and a candy bar. Eventually we arrived at our Marriott in Twin Falls Idaho. We all immediately collapsed and went to bed. Well I did. Don’t ask me what everyone else did.

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