Jumping ahead several hours, this was where we were heading: the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada. We would have lunch here, but first we had a lot of road to cover.
It's surprising to me just how abruptly Las Vegas ends. Mind you, I didn't particularly miss it. While apparently some people don't think any place with fewer than a million people sprawling in it is real, I'm not especially fond of Las Vegas.
Very soon after leaving the North Las Vegas/Nellis area, the land got very desolate again.
Before long, US-93, which was multiplexed with I-15 at this point, diverged from the freeway. Oversize loads bound for Salt Lake City are required to use US-93.
As we exited the freeway, we got a last glimpse of Union Pacific's "Los Angeles & Salt Lake" line, which itself swings away from I-15 northeast of here to find a better grade to Utah.
US-93 traverses some all-but-empty land.
There's a lot of interesting geography here, although someone seems to have turned down the color in this area compared to New Mexico.
I was surprised to find that we had pretty good 4G cell phone coverage during most of this part of the trip, although the phone was working hard to keep connected, and would lose the connection now and then. And then we were pleasantly surprised to stumble across something we'd not noticed, like an oasis in the Nevada desert.
The Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is near Alamo, Nevada. We turned off looking for restrooms (a non-existent feature from North Las Vegas until here), and while this refuge does have them (very nice clean ones, too), there's a lot more.
We later learned that we were the first visitors of the day. They're open Thursday through Sunday.
Kuma Bear liked the wildlife displays.
They have different lizards here than the ones we have around our home in Fernley.
There are trails and picnic facilities here as well.
Lisa and I chatted with the nice volunteers staffing the center. We could have spent even more time here than we did, but we still had a long way to go today.
Just north of the visitor center is a lake with both tent camping and trailer camping available. I think if one went during times when the weather was like the way it was today (spectacular and pleasant), it would well repay further study. If camping out or RV'ing wasn't in the cards, Alamo, just north of the refuge, has a couple of small motels and a small resort property.
Soon enough, we found ourselves at the south end of the Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada state route 375. Note that except around Rachel and for the first few kilometers of the south end of the road, cell phone coverage is all but nonexistant. After sending off a few final tweets, I put the phone into airline mode to keep it from working so hard to try and connect to towers that weren't there. The phone cooled off considerably and recovered its charge — even though I kept it plugged in to the car charger most of the time today, whenever it was online, it lost ground on the battery.
NV-375 diverges from US-93 north of Alamo.
Just before the junction, you can stock up on Alien Jerky.
We stopped for a minute at the sign at the south end of the road. I don't know if there was supposed to be one at the north end as well, but if there was, we didn't see it.
Based on other pictures I've seen, they've recently cleaned up or even replaced this sign. I anticipate using this shot on the Tonopah Westercon web site in the future.
We did not have time to explore this one.
NV-375 does in fact skirt the edge of the federal reservation that includes Groom Lake, popularly known as "Area 51," but this is not an official government sign.
Much of the drive was like this, with the road going up and down over ranges and then arrow-straight across basins.
One of those basins includes the small town of Rachel.
We learned from our stop here that the town name is pronounced RAY-shell, not rah-SHELL. It was roughly the two-third point of today's trip, and it was time for lunch.
We were happy to make the stop.
Parking was not a problem. (Although we understand it was a mess during the absurd "Storm Area 51" gathering earlier this year. I'm glad we weren't here around that time.)
We were welcomed inside, but I took a look around first.
This place is a hoot. As always, click through to see more pictures.
The bar in the restaurant is festooned with currency donated and signed by past guests.
We had the Alien Burger, of course.
Lisa was tickled to see pictures of Bob Lazar on the walls here. She knew him back in her Los Alamos days and once towed his jet-powered Honda to a car show in Albuquerque as a favor for him.
Leaving Rachel, the land quickly turned back to desolation.
More up-and-down driving familiar to people traversing the Basin and Range Country.
Signs warn that this is an open cattle range, and they mean it. As running into a cow at speed would be a Bad Thing, we kept a sharp eye out for cattle, and when they were close to the road, like this, Lisa slowed down to give herself time to react should any of them decide to try running in front of us. Fortunately, none of them did.
One of the roads that branched off NV-375 had separate speed limits for daytime and nighttime travel. Lisa did not need that to tell her to slow down at night.
While the setting sun made for some intriguing photos, it was also rather worrying, as we didn't want to be driving after dark on roads with wandering cattle on them.
As the light continued to fade, we reached the north end and the junction of US-6. Light conditions were not good, as the early twilight was in some ways worse than full dark. We still had quite a ways to go and (I think) three more ranges to cross. Soon enough it got dark enough that I could take no more photos.
We made it to the Mizpah just before dark.
The work on the Belvada Hotel (diagonally across the street from the Mizpah, and once it opens the closest hotel to the Tonopah Convention Center) continues. The opening date has slipped somewhat, but they've got the exterior building lighting working since our last visit.
After getting moved in, we went to the Mizpah's Pittman Cafe restaurant for dinner.
At Kuma Bear's behest, Lisa had the Dover Sole, substituting fries for rice because she doesn't like rice as much as I do. I had a bite myself: it was very good. There were many things on the menu I wanted, but I had their western burger with garlic fries and resisted the temptation to have the pumpkin cheesecake because my blood sugar was testing high, thanks to days of sitting in the car and getting no exercise.
Because of the big meal, Lisa and I elected to walk up and down Main Street for a while before turning in. Lisa took a bath and I tackled a Day Jobbe task that has been bedeveling me for days, answered a request from CoNZealand regarding video Lisa shot for them during Loscon, and (mostly) classified all of these photos.
We'll be here two nights, and tomorrow is the last half-day of work I do before returning to full time next week. I'm really looking forward to getting some extra sleep on Saturday morning. While I am grateful to my manager for allowing me to stretch my days off the way I have done during the past two weeks, it's still wearing me down, and I feel like I could sleep for a week.