2015 USA Road Trip Day 12: Henderson NV to Tonopah NV
After the stress of last night, had a great day's driving today. First, I headed back past Boulder City and on to Hoover Dam, on the Nevada/Arizona border and about 20 miles from my overnight stop.
I spent about an hour there, walking up and down the top of the dam and then along the viewpoint bridge which is way above it. Both are amazing feats of engineering and it was incredible to think how it was created in the first place. There were a lot of tourists walking up and down, and it was like a summer's day - small breeze and temperatures in the high 60s at 11am.
From there, I didn't have many stops in mind today. The plan was to drive US375 - The Extraterrestrial Highway - and spend the night at Tonopah. After the problems with getting a hotel last night, I decided to call the Best Western, one of the few hotels in town, and was lucky enough to get their last room. I stopped for lunch in a Subway about 20 miles north of Las Vegas (which still had Las Vegas as its address) and then headed north from there on US93. After about 85 miles of seeing very little, I turned onto the ETH and the photos started. I took far too many photos today, as you can see.
Half a mile down the road, you'll find the Alien Research Centre. This is basically a very large Area 51-themed gift shop - which was closed when I was there. Great photo op though.
I managed to find the road to Area 51 - Groom Lake Road. It's a very strange thing - it's the only road I have seen in 3,000 miles with no name or destination information - nothing, it's just a road. And you can see it trail over for miles and miles across the desert. Area 51 is about 20 miles in the distance. I was told later that you could drive down it but if you're caught you will get arrested and you can expect a $600 fine for trespass for a first offence. I decided it probably wasn't worth exploring.
Sadly I was unable to find the Black Mailbox - a well known meeting place for UFO enthusiasts. I wondered if I had seen it, and if someone had found me and erased my memory and sent me on my way.
The 98 mile length of the ETH has one town - Rachel - which has a population of 46. It does include the world famous A'Le'Inn bar, which has featured in many programmes and films. I spent about an hour there. The woman serving was a little bit hard work but I tried to get some conversation out of her. It didn't start well when I asked for a tea and she said "yes, we have tea" and then gave me a cold drink with lots of ice that smelled of tea and tasted like very cold tea. I had to give it back and ask for a real one.
I told her that I first found out about the bar because of the movie "Paul". Straight away she answered back - "They didn't film it here. They just took some of our merchandise away and filmed it somewhere else." She didn't seem very happy about it. I need to watch it again now just to check .... There was a film crew there filming a movie called Paradise Ranch. (I found their blog but it hasn't been updated for a couple of years).
I spoke to an Australian woman in the bar who had a list of things to see around Area 51, so I asked her if she found the Black Mailbox and she said she hadn't and had heard it was taken away now.
Back on the road to the 109 miles to Tonopah, which included about 50 miles on US6 once the ETH ended. It was a drive like no other I've ever had. I can honestly say that I saw no cars going northbound - whatever speed I was going at, I didn't catch anyone and no one caught me. I maybe saw a dozen vehicles going the other way for the length of the ETH and very few after that too.
The first picture above is a roadsign full of bullet holes - nearly every sign on the whole road was full of bullet holes.
The big danger on the road is from cows, who are "open range" and frequently wander onto the road, and if you hit one you're probably dead. I did see quite a few clusters of cows close to the road, but the good news was the road was so long and straight that I could usually see them about 2 miles before I reached them.
As great a drive as it was, I spent the last 45 minutes driving into the sun. Being on a road which is straight for miles and miles and on which you can see cars coming about 4 or 5 miles away, it wasn't too bad a problem.
Got to Tonopah and checked in - still 6,000 feet up here. Apparently 2,500 people live here but there's no evidence of human life here. There's a barbecue restaurant and brewery across the road to my hotel and a Shell garage and shop next door - that's all I needed!
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Last updated 27 February 2015 16:01
I think I'm meant to do an "About" here but I think you'd be more interested in seeing a random seagull.