2015 USA Road Trip Day 13: Tonopah NV to Sacramento CA
I got up early and wandered around Tonopah a little, taking a few photos as the sun came up. It sometimes gets called a ghost town - there's still about 2,000 people living here but it was once 20 times bigger, the mines no longer doing the business that they used to.
I loved the look of this place - probably just as well that I didn't stay the night. AND it's next door to a cemetery.
Some beautiful clouds in the sky as I drove out of town - I'm sure some of them look like UFOs.
About 40 miles down the road, I came across a real ghost town. The place used to be known as Coaldale and I'm not sure what happened to it. There was a restaurant with slots (not sluts), a motel and about 20 other buildings. I'd missed out on seeing the Two Guns ghost town in Arizona because I had to change my schedule after Monument Valley, so it was good to catch at least one.
Went through a couple of small towns - there is a US army depot, hence the weird signs about not bringing explosives into towns. I stopped for a cup of tea at the McDonalds in Hawthorne - my first stop at McDs, and I had one of the best cups of tea since I got here too! I took a picture of it because I noticed they were using bombs or shell cases or something as a perimeter.
Past Walker Lake (some water at last, it's been a while) and through Smith Valley with the wonderfully random graffiti, and then over the border into California.
I took a photo of the last sign because there is apparently a big thing about not bringing fruit and veg into California. When I left Lake Havasu City to drive up towards Las Vegas, I crossed into California for a few miles. There was actually a set of tollbooths stretched across the interstate where I had to stop and declare I didn't have any fruit on me!
This time there was no tollbooths but I remembered I had a banana in my pocket so I hastily ate that.
After that I was on Highway 88 and straight up into the Sierra Nevada mountains towards Carson Pass. I went above 7,000 feet and as I neared the top I started to see compacted snow and ice by the side of the road, even though it was a good 10F or more above freezing.
This is the highest I've ever been in a car.
The top of the pass was a beautiful place but I did expect a bit more. I thought there was going to be a cabin or information centre at the top - I am sure I've seen pictures of that. There's a car park which can hold 60 cars, with a sign saying you need a permit or you'll be fined $94.50 if you park there, which seems a bit pointless as I was the only person around! It was very peaceful there, only broken by the occasional car going past - and strangely you couldn't really hear the cars from miles away, only when they were quite close to the top. Must be the thin air not allowing sound to travel, or something.
Just after the top of Carson Pass was Caples Lake, which was quite weird. I was driving above it and there was no snow or ice on the road, but went down a few hundred feet and drove along it to find it had completely frozen over.
Stopped at the Kirkwood Inn in Kirkwood on the way down. It was really dark inside and it took ages for my eyes to adjust. One of the guys inside there said there was a storm coming, and expected 1-2 feet of snow - not sure if that was accurate. I told the barman I was on my way to Sacramento and he wondered why I had come that way. I told him I wanted a nice drive around the mountains ...
It seemed like I got to the top of Carson Pass quite quickly, but it seemed like I was driving down through the forest forever - probably because I'd started from a high altitude to start with and I was now heading down to sea level.
About 30 miles east of Sacramento and suddenly we're out of the forest and it seemed like I was driving through the English countryside. There was a lot of green pastures, meadows, hills - that kind of thing.
Driving into Sacramento was another surprise. My hotel is 2 miles from the city centre, but my approach from the east was all countryside and it was really only the last mile or so where I felt I was in a city at all. Sacramento is the state capital of California with nearly half a million people!
And what better way to say hello to the city than with a 25-foot high statue of Kevin Costner, which I found in the Silverado nursery on the edge of town! (Apparently he was in a film of the same name).
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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.