We’re on I-70 West, right through the middle of a red rock mountain in Utah. Gas cost is $3.05 today. Cliffs are fenced so the rocks won’t fall on the highway. Dramatic nothingness plateaus with alluvial fans at their bottoms, bald mountains and rocks every shade of whites, taupes, creams, reds, greys, browns, yellows, and greens. Within 20 miles around Salina, we’re back to wheatstraw fields and sage wilderness with sage mountains all around us.
The valley at Salina looks just like Cedarville (a town we know at the Nevada, California, Oregon border), except the shallow lake at Salina is fresh water and Cedarville’s is saline.
Now at Delta, UT, we jumped over to I-50. There are hay farms all the way to the mountains--alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see. We stopped in town for a birthday cake, and other provisions we still hadn’t known we’d need.
Darrel needs donuts for tonight. Abby isn’t adapting well to no grass. Utah’s grass is so valuable that all the parks have “no dog” signs. She can’t get used to peeing on rocks, gets bullthorns in her feet from the weeds and is too much of an elitist to “use” asphalt. So she waits, which is scary for us. None of the RV parks has grass available. I hope she’s still housetrained by time we get home.
Utah & the Ouray Reservation--pretty godforsaken land. We climbed over the Confusion Mountain Range into Nevada. The height is 6280 feet. On its other side, our truck laughs as it whips over those impossible mountains. Before we arrive at the Pacific coast we will have gone over eight massive mountain ranges. Most of the time we don’t have cell service for our phones and we go over a hundred miles without seeing anything but dirt. Even cars are scarce.
Yay for golden Nevada! It looks alive as western Utah was just dead. The road is so flat and straight there are water- and snake- mirages before us to the horizon, a trick of nature that caused heart ache and death for pioneers. We thought about dry camping but the temperature went up to 90* and we may need some air conditioning an RV park’s electric hookups can provide. Maybe we’ll stop at Baker, at the UT/NE border. If it’s a dive we’ll go 40 more miles into Ely, which we’ve been to before.
Next we go over Sacramento Pass at 7154 feet, a scenic drive on my map. Back to the beauty of fall’s high desert with golds, yellows and browns (and a little green!). Then down again to the desert floor. Next up again over Donner’s Pass, 7722 feet high. We’ve been in Nevada for 50 miles. Sort of a rollercoaster ride. The mountains are massive--13063 feet--chain pullouts tell me it’s gonna get cold. I’m thinking about painting a coyote on the Coyote. No self-respecting coyote should be without a head.
The ground has become shale. What? The shrubs remain the same and will apparently grow on anything. Now colored shale, white/pink/black--hard to believe. Hey! Trees! I might have to kiss a couple of them when we stop.
We have a trailer brake problem which has been hard on the truck coming down the mountain passes. Darrel thinks a wire tore loose on the washboard Utah Highway 70. We’re okay through to Carson City where my friend Michaeleleah lives. She’s doing my books’ covers because she’s an artist. I’m anxious to see what she’s drawn for the latest, Chattahoochee Dead. “Mike” raises horses, takes people on camp rides into the Rose Mountains and paints. We plan to stay next to her barn. That will be tomorrow night.
Ohmigosh, the Ely KOA has grass! Abby will celebrate.
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Melody D. Scott | www.MelodyScott.com