In Tonopah, we stayed in the Mizpah Hotel’s Lady in Red Room. The story is that in the 1920s a young, mysterious woman came to town and entertained miners in her room at the hotel. She was murdered there, probably by a jealous lover, and she haunts the hotel to this day.
I woke in the middle of the night and saw Andrea sitting on a chair looking at me. I thought it odd but drifted back to sleep. In the morning I realized it couldn’t have happened because a chair wouldn’t fit in that place in the room. And of course Andrea didn’t get up in the middle of the night to sit in a chair that doesn’t exist to watch me sleep.
I don’t believe in ghosts, but I don’t disbelieve in ghosts. I doubt ghosts exist but am open to the possibility. When I told Andrea in the morning about the incident, she said it was probably the Lady in Red. Just as easily, I could have dreamt the whole thing. Feel free to interpret it however you want.
Tonopah is at almost 6,000 feet elevation; Las Vegas is at 2,000 feet. So leaving Tonopah for Las Vegas is more or less all downhill. The open, uninhabited land seemed drier than that north of Tonopah. As we travelled south we began to see yucca trees, sparse at first but thicker as we continued south.
We stopped in Beatty to charge the car. It was too early for lunch, and the place sold mostly just candy and nuts and ice cream, so we didn’t eat. Then we took a side trip to the ghost town of Rhyolite. The car’s GPS wanted us to take a narrow, very sketchy, gravel road, but we felt it wasn’t worth it in our shiny car with its new tires. We went farther on the highway and turned on a small paved road the GPS didn’t recognize. In Rhyolite we could see where the little gravel road came into town — down a steep, maybe 30º hill. So much for relying on the GPS.
At its peak, Rhyolite had 8,000 inhabitants, but it is empty now. Empty except for the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Andrea chatted away with the caretaker while I wandered around taking pictures.
By the time we got back to Beatty, it was noon. We thought about getting lunch and pulled into the lot of a small cafe. The only other car in the lot had no plates and its inside was completely filled with a jumble of stuff. We decided we’d just get an ice cream sandwich at the gas station and wait until Las Vegas, 90 miles south, for lunch.
Las Vegas was something of a shock after a couple of days driving across the desert. Fortunately traffic was moderate. The charging stations are pretty sparse in some places, but Las Vegas has six. (The Portland area has two — in Tigard and Vancouver.) I had done some research and selected one a little off our route as more likely to have something to eat nearby and to not be crowded. It was in the garage below a huge new development/mall. The place over the garage was all new, full of shops with work spaces above. It is a huge complex, made to look vaguely Italian. The artificiality of it was a little disorienting after the realness of the desert.
We found a cafe that turned out to be wonderful. They locally sourced everything they could and made their own pasta and pizza dough in-house. We were glad to eat inside while we waited for the car to charge. It was 107º outside.
Then we stopped briefly at the charger along our route, just to see where it was. It had two open stalls, one of which was broken, and was in a part of town with no restaurants within easy walking distance (especially in that heat). We felt fortunate to have stopped at the other place.
Then it was onto the freeway to get out of town. The interstate crosses the desert and then winds through the Virgin River Canyon. In the canyon, I was slowly passing a large truck when he wandered into my lane on a curve. The car alarms went off and the car slowed itself dramatically while I concentrated on keeping it on the increasingly small portion of pavement of road and shoulder. The truck got back into its lane without incident. No harm, no foul. But we were really glad to have the car’s safety features.
We lost an hour crossing into Mountain time. We like to get to the motel about 4, settle in, explore a little, have supper, read, and go to bed. We rarely turn on the TV. This day we didn’t check into the motel in St George, Utah until 7.
Rather than hunt up a place to eat, and not that hungry after finishing lunch at 3, we went to the hotel’s restaurant. I wanted a beer with a light supper. We couldn’t have alcohol in the restaurant, but we could go down the hall to the lounge. They had the same food menu. I know Utah has odd liquor laws. Evidently we can’t drink where we eat but can eat where we drink.
Finished, we went up to our room and rolled into bed. It was a long, interesting day. Although the Lady in Red from the night before seemed benign, I was happy to sleep without visitations.