Highway 50 2017

Day 09

June 24

  If all goes as planned, I will finish up Highway 50 today and snag the other 'bookend' picture in Sacramento. There's nobody stirring in Ely this morning, not even a mouse.  

When I walk back over the restaurant, it don't look good. I've got close to 600 miles to cover today, most of it 2 lane. So I don't have much time to waste if I want to get the end of Highway 50 before dark for a picture. There's pickup truck sitting there with a gentleman inside so I ask -

"Reckon they really open at 6 AM or somewhere close?"

He assures me that they do and things will light up in there shortly.


He and I open the place for them and carry on a conversation while we wait for our orders. He's local rancher and his family has been out here for several generations. He's also a gun enthusiast and we chat a bit about various weapons and such.

My server this morning was here last night but she left about the time I came in. I ask her -

"Do you ever get any time off? You were here last night about 5 PM when I came in."

She smiles and says -

"Yes I do, but it's my Saturday to work."

We talk a little about my travels and website and I encourage her as I did the server yesterday to plan and make that trip that she's been thinking about. She thanks me and soon she brings me my order. It is a dandy - just as I remember from back in 2004. As I always say -

"A fat man always remembers the good restaurants!"


I finish up and settle up and make my way back across the street. When I get to the motel, a puppy is taking her human for a walk. Most dogs are really good at insuring that their humans get the proper exercise. I ask her human -

"May I pet her? I just love dogs."

She says -

"Yes, she'll love it."

Her name is Gracie and she is very perceptive. She knows a professional petter when she sees one and comes right over to me. As I start, she tells me -

"I'll give you an hour to stop that" or at least that's what I think she says.

She's got one blue eye and one brown eye. Her human and I talk about that and what breeds are in her bloodline. We both decide she has a lot of German Shepherd, but the eye coloring is either from a Australian Shepherd, a Husky or a Malamute. But the road beckons, so I wish Gracie and her human a good day and a good walk.

  I get Frost all ready for the final blast to the end of Highway 50 and we're off like a dirty shirt.  
  I pass by what looks like an old school house, boarded up a long time ago.  
  Soon it's up another 7,000+ foot Pass as I head for Sacramento proper.  
  Once again, the road just seems to evaporate into the desert.  
  Throughout I see several abandoned structures. This one appears to be an old farm house left to the ravages of time.  
  This one looks like it won't be around for very much longer either.  
  When I see this sign, I guess I've learned something new. I never knew that some deer get promoted to Majors.  
  But I sure don't see any deer or anything else on this section of Highway 50.  
  Eureka is the first small settlement I come into after leaving Ely. Silver was discovered in Eureka in September of 1864, by a five member prospecting party from Austin. These deposits later proved to be the first important lead-silver discovery in America.  
  It has some interesting old buildings like this abandoned general store ...  
  and the historical Jackson Hotel. It was built in 1877 and gutted by fire in 1880 and then restored. In 1907, it became the Brown Hotel and operated under this name until the 1940s. It was restored as the Jackson House in 1981, and remodeled in 1998.  
  I leave Eureka far behind as I continue to push along the 'Loneliest Highway In America."  
  With elevation changes come some pleasant bends one way ...  
  and then the other way which are a nice break from the straight and flat portions.  
  Soon I arrive at Austin, sort of the center of the Nevada section of Highway 50.  
  It's a small settlement and I remember well visiting it back in 2004 and the local tragedy that happened.  
  I look for the same gas station that I stopped at before, but I can't seem to find it. I do snag another picture of the sign ...  
  but it has really changed since that day back in 2004.  
  But the road hasn't changed much at all - it still is a straight and lonely as I remember it.  
  I do notice that the Pony Express trail crosses Highway 50 in several places.  
  When I come across this piece of equipment just sitting out there by its lonesome, it does cause me a bit of concern. It sure looks like it would be easy to hook up and drive away with it.  
  But then, it pretty dry and barren out here and not much traffic.  
  I notice up ahead what appears to be another dry lake bed.  
  But this one seems to be the site of some sort of mining operation.  
  As I move through the heart of it, I see what looks like black rocks sitting on the edge. That doesn't make much sense to me until I realize that they are placed to make letters in the sand. I guess it must be a local sport as it has to take some effort to find the rocks and tote them out here, then arrange them to form a message.  
  But a little further along, I'm jolted from the dry desert views to fields of luscious green, another product of intense irrigation.  
  With the heat as it and gas a bit sparse, I take a fuel and defuel break at Fallon where Highway 50 crosses Highway 95.  
  It too has a nice sheltered sitting area so I take advantage of it. But Sacramento is calling so I must get back after it.  
  As I pass through Fallon, I see the Douglass Mansion And Cottage Hospital. It was built in 1904 and has been described as an outstanding example of Queen Anne architecture.  
  With the heat rising, I just want to stop here and jump in to cool off for a spell.  
  Now I've learned something else when I come up on this sign. I guess if some deer are Majors, then the horses decided they must keep up also.  
  When I pass this old car, it takes be back to when I rode in one just like it except it was black and belong to one of my grandparents.  
  I figure the last 125 miles or so will not be too pleasant. I'm not even to Lake Tahoe yet and the traffic is already building.  
  Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place surrounded by snow capped mountains ...  
  but the traffic and people are as thick as fleas on a unkempt dog's back.  
  And even as you get out of the city proper, there is no relief in sight.  
  I do pass this lovely water fall and wish I was standing over under it right now away from the heat.  
  I figure I need to make a final gas stop before my descent into Sacramento as I don't want to be looking for gas in the craziness of the city. I find a shady spot after I fill up Frost, and try to hydrate and cool off a little bit before I tackle the last section of Highway 50.  
  It's a wild, busy ride through the city, having to watch all around me to keep from becoming another highway statistic.  
  I've mapped out where the ending sign is (which is actually the beginning sign for the western terminus). Fortunately this one has a nice pull off so I can get the shot without risking life, limb and motorcycle. And in a flash, I've done it - I've 'officially' ridden Highway 50 from one end to the other.  
  The heat and the traffic has taken its toll on me today, so I pull into the motel parking lot with great anticipation of some cold air.  
  And thankfully, there's a really good restaurant next door for supper.  
  Since they are running a 'prime rib special' I figure it's time for me to celebrate finishing a ride I've talked about for many years.  
  It's mighty tasty and I enjoy it to the last bite - and I enjoy the last bite too!  
  And what would a celebration be without a little sweetening at the end?  
  And once again I feel it necessary to do the right thing and clean my plate.  
  It's been a great ride up to this point and my only regret is that Andy is not here to celebrate with me. After that killer supper, I slowly walk back to my room thinking about the remainder of the trip. It's off to the Golden Gate Bridge early in the morning, then the Extraterrestrial Highway and then a quick slab ride home. As the sugar high fades, the skin of my stomach expands to pull down the skin over my eyes and I'm out faster than a flashlight with a dead battery.