After refueling the minivan for the last time on this trip, we waved goodbye to "Wendover Will" and set off for home, westbound on I-80.
Roughly twenty miles west of Wendover is the Arnold Loop over Silver Zone Pass. If you have driven I-80 on this stretch, you may have noticed that the freeway crosses the railroad twice quickly in succession, about a mile between crossings. The railroad, however, runs maybe four or five miles between those two crossings, as the linked map shows. The red line is the 3% grade of the original Western Pacific Railroad line. That was only a temporary line, however, as the WP's charter required that the mainline grade not exceed 1%. The long loop was how the engineers were able to ease the gradient.
This is the east (lower) end of the loop as seen from westbound I-80. The line loops off in the distance to a large fill and makes a U-turn, climbing up toward Silver Zone Pass.
This structure just west of the lower railroad crossing has nothing to do with trains. It's a wildlife crossing so that deer and other animals can cross without getting onto the freeway.
As luck would have it, an eastbound empty coal train (including a UP locomotive in the Olympic Torch Relay livery) was coming into the upper (west) end of the loop as we headed for the summit ourselves.
Looking back to the east as we crossed the railroad a second time, the head end of the train is out of sight to the east heading for the loop.
A bit later, we came upon a wildlife crossing under construction. It's much easier if you build the tunnel before covering it.
Lisa and I were both very tired. Lisa told me to take a nap, so I got out my neck pillow and she says that I was asleep within seconds and slept for maybe half an hour. I woke up when she pulled off the freeway so that she could close her eyes as well. We know how dangerous this situation is. We made a lot of stops because we were not in great condition for driving and because I-80 in this area is sleep-inducing, even at 75 mph.
Approaching Elko, things got a little more interesting, as the Union Pacific railroad yard came into view.
We stopped at the Red Lion Hotel & Casino. This is an older Red Lion, and it still retains the look of the hotels before the rounds of mergers and acquisitions that made it part of WestCoast Hotels. We used to spend a lot of time in Red Lions before that game of pass-the-brand that led to so many of them ending up as Doubletree by Hilton.
Forget the gambling: we found this beautifully-restored Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machine in their arcade. I later found out that the previous day was Free Play Day, which would not have been a bad day to spend my birthday.
Playing pinball in Elko for a while got the blood flowing again and we set off west once more. Again, we stopped a lot, resting some and walking some in an attempt to keep awake. At one point, Lisa gave up completely and had me drive for a while, which is unusual, as she had driven nearly every bit of this trip except a couple of short stretches and a bit of hostling of the van in parking lots and the like.
In Winnemucca, we stopped for our last meal on the road where we'd stopped for our first, sixteen days ago: the Winner's Casino, where we once again took advantage of their well-advertised all-you-can-eat spaghetti. Mind you, we still had some of the effect of brunch and didn't particularly over-indulge in pasta. Although I initially drove us out of Winnemucca, at the first rest area, Lisa took over again for the final 100 miles home.
We passed through Lovelock (where we made our final rest stop) and got back to Fernley between 9 and 10 PM. Home looked very good, although it was very warm from having been buttoned up for two weeks. We unpacked the minimum material, left many things in the minivan, restarted the house, and as soon as we could, fell into bed.
It was a good trip, and we saw some great stuff along the way, but we're tired and it's going to take time to recover. Unfortunately, it's time we may not have, as this week sees the delivery of three cord of firewood (which should cover us for this winter) and of a large delivery that is apt to keep us busy for some time to come. But I'm glad we took the trip. I just wish it would have been practical to spend multiple days in the same place (other than Worldcon) more often than we did, so we could spend less of our travel time packing and unpacking.
Thus ends the 2016 Worldcon Road Trip Report. I haven not forgotten that there is a day of pictures missing, and still hope to go fix it sometime this week, if I work up the energy to do so.