Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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The Road to SMOFCon, Day 1: Fernley to Tonopah NV

We originally were planning on getting an early start today for the first leg of the SMOFCon trip; however, various things conspired against us getting away from the house early. That was not a problem, though, as today's trip was relatively short: only 200 miles to Tonopah, where we are spending the night at the Tonopah Station Hotel, the proposed site of the Tonopah in 2012 Westercon Bid.

Bear and Bear

This was where we were going: travelswithkuma hangs out with James the Bear in the lobby of the Tonopah Station Hotel. "This is a really bigs bears!" says Kuma.

Leaving Fernley

Just before noon, after a couple of false starts, we managed to get away from Fernley. This is the view from the outskirts of town on the south end, where we swapped drivers for a while so that I could eat my take-out lunch while Lisa drove to Silver Springs.

We took the slightly longer route on US-95A through Silver Springs and Yerrington, because we knew we had plenty of time today. We briefly stopped at Hawthorne, where I found a store with some of the difficult-to-track-down dill pickle flavor Pringle's chips.


Coaldale is a ghost town at the north junction of US-95 and US-6. There was once a motel and service station here, but now there's nothing but these empty buildings. Travel used to be slower and people had to stop more often. Better roads made for fewer needs to stop overnight.

Coaldale Looking North

This is roughly the reverse view of the above, looking north back toward Hawthorne. It's pretty empty out here, but scenic in a wide-open-spaces sort of way. And it was cold, too. We passed through a number of slight snow flurries, but nothing causing any problems.

Road to Tonopah

This was today's destination, as seen from the Miller's rest area on US-95 from 13 miles south of Tonopah. The road climbs up this hill to Tonopah, which sprawls over the mountains that were the city's reason for existing when gold was discovered here in 1900, touching off one of the last gold rushes in the "lower 48."

Crescent Dunes

One of the reasons we stopped at the Miller's rest area was so Lisa could get a picture of the Crescent Dunes power station, a solar-thermal power station north of Tonopah. Lisa got out the telephoto lens and the better camera to take this and the other shots (click through the above to see the others).

Well within the time expected, we arrived at the Tonopah Station hotel and checked in. Lisa rolled the dice in the chuck-a-luck cage: any triple would have resulted in our prepaid room reservation being refunded; alas, it was not to be this time. (We have another chance at a free room on the return trip.) The desk clerk said that they gave away four free nights last night.

Modern Hotel

This display in the hotel's wonderfully over-the-top lobby promises modern plumbing in every room.

Stairs to Infinity

This hotel has one real drawback: it, like almost everything in this town, is built on the side of a hill. It thus slopes up the hill, and aside from six rooms and two suites on the second-floor landing, every other room requires negotiating stairs. We were happy that our room was on the first landing, just five steps up, but it's still a hassle lugging bags up the steps.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and then walked over to Scolari's grocery store (conveniently located next door across the parking lot) for a few more supplies including some stuff for breakfast tomorrow morning. Today was merely a prelude: tomorrow is more than 400 miles, as we drive from Tonopah to Las Vegas and then on to Williams, Arizona, and while the weather continues to look good, that's still a lot of driving, not all of which will be as fast as our drive today was. It is in our best interest to get going as early tomorrow as possible.
Tags: kuma bear, smofcon, travel

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