Andrea asked me why I love road trips. (She asks the best questions.) I like the movement, the going down the road, the world going by, the changing scenery and changing weather. I like seeing new things and seeing old things with new eyes. I like the people we meet — often people we wouldn’t otherwise run into. And there are always the serendipitous moments: something someone says or does, something unexpected that happens. It’s also a more simple life: pack up in the morning, get in the car, unpack in the evening, sleep — don’t have to make the bed or wash the dishes, away from the worries at home. We carry more stuff than when I traveled by motorcycle, but we still have less Stuff than when at home.
I love it for a while, then I want to be home, in the familiar, connected to the people and activities there. It’s a balance. I feel very fortunate to be able to do it still.
Susanville appears to be a poor town, although we didn’t see all of it or get to know it very well. The one brewery, Lassen Ale Works, had a pretty good porter. And porters often aren’t available in the summer. So chalk one up for Susanville.
I told Andrea only that we were going to Reno and it would be a surprise after that. She assumed we would head east from Reno, but I turned south, into the empty land. She’s usually a pretty good sport, but I was pushing her limits with that.
Nevada always surprises me a little. I think of it as barren, but now and then we come over a rise and there is a valley of green fields and farms or ranches. The crops seem to be mainly hay, but we also saw sorghum and something neither of us could identify.
We stopped in Hawthorne — home of either the Army’s largest ammo depot or the world’s largest ammo depot, I forget — to charge the car. Lunch was at the small truck stop there. One of the problems with the Tesla is that we want to eat lunch within walking distance of the charger, and the selection may be severely limited.
Nevada is open land in many places. We drove for miles with no sign of humans other than the road, the traffic on the road, and perhaps a fence along the road. I love the open land, but this was pretty sere.
The road was wonderfully wide and of smooth pavement. This is the main road between Nevada’s two main cities, and it is very well maintained.
Andrea likes historic hotels. We’ve had some questionable experiences with them, but we lucked out here. The Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah was built in 1907 and, at five stories, was the tallest building in Nevada at the time. It has been beautifully restored. I reserved the Lady in Red Room. (She was a mysterious woman who came to town, “entertained the miners in her room,” and was murdered in the room. Reportedly she still haunts it.
Whatever reservations Andrea had about trekking south through the Nevada outback were gone once she saw the room.
Tonopah is an old silver-mining town. It claims to have had the richest mines second only to Virginia City. But it’s seen better days.
We got into a short conversation with a man standing outside the pawnshop. Andrea asked him if he lived here. He said he did, unfortunately, but it wasn’t too bad because it was a dress rehearsal for hell.
There’s live music tonight in the hotel’s bar. Late afternoon it was choked with people. It turns out Nevada Humanities is having their annual retreat here this weekend. (Somehow Nevada Humanities sounds vaguely like an oxymoron to me, but with that I’m showing my prejudice. And that’s why I love road trips. It gets me out of my cocoon.)