Google Earth and Google Maps were consulted, weather forecasts were reviewed, and the moon and stars were studied, and income tax deadlines were considered. It was time to move, but first we needed a direction.
For now, south was out (been there, done that, forgot to buy the T-shirt). The shortest and fastest route home would have been to jump on I-15 in Vegas and stay on it till the smiling faces of Canada Customs were in view. But some of that high country in Idaho and Montana still has potential for some pretty cold and ugly weather at this time of year, and there are not many outdoor attractions along the way to enjoy at this time of year.
I would be home in a week – then what would I do? Another choice was to skirt the south side of Grand Canyon, then scoot up through southern and eastern Utah, which has some spectacular scenery, and great National Parks. Once again, the weather reports showed overnight temps dipping below freezing in some places, and I have been spoiled by leaving windows open at night with no heat on for a while now.
Another option was to head somewhat north of Vegas, then cut across (Death Valley?) into California and check out the area around Lone Pine that the Bayfield Bunch recently wrote glowing reviews about. But that highway going north runs into the high sierras and colder weather and snow around Tahoe and Reno – where they are still skiing, no doubt. Another route west from there through the Stanislaus NF – is closed in winter. That’s a good hint that I do not want to travel it! Plus, there have recently been some record snowfalls in the Yosemite area that I was not keen on experiencing.
The longest way home, and the most expensive would be to head more or less straight west through the central valley of California, and follow the coast north – where at least snow is pretty much absent. Also, California has the highest fuel prices that I’ve seen, up to $4.79/g for diesel.
Camp was packed up and we headed for the main road, still not really knowing where to go. Turns out we headed north and re-crossed the ‘Hoover Dam Bridge’ (Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (Colorado River Bridge) back into Nevada, then turned south again towards Laughlin. But I noticed a the small town of Nelson on a road leading all the way down to Lake Mohave from the Nevada side. That would put us almost right across from where the Eldorado jeep trail had spit us out on the Arizona side the day or so before. Plus, this road appeared to be paved all the way.
But I knew the road would likely be narrow and steep with a long grade down to the river, and I didn’t think it would be an overnight spot, so I found a safe looking pulloff on the road and unhitched to leave the rig behind. There were a ‘few’ shell casings on the ground and some ‘art’ work!
It became evident that Nelson originated as a turn of the century (the one previous) mining town, with lots of old mining artifacts all around. Down at the river (Lake Mohave), there were no good camping spots (future reference), but a decent view of the lake and the far shore where the Eldorado trail terminated.
On the way back up, I stopped to look at some huge holes in the ground. I think one my have been used by prehistoric people as the roof of the cave was covered in smoke and soot like some other cave dwellings I had visited, but this one had clearly (?) been mined, then covered with graffiti and scattered with trash.
Still, pretty interesting to look down these huge sloping holes into the ground.
Near the historic town, there was a stash of wingless aircraft of the WWII vintage. Perhaps they had flown across ‘Area 51’ and all lost their wings?
A scattering of the historic buildings remain, and there were advertisements for mine tours – which would be very interesting no doubt.
Youtube video of the ghost town (not mine).
After that, the rig was hitched back up and we continued southward into Searchlight, Nevada where the tank was filled to the brim with the cheap (ha, ha, that’s sad) Nevada fuel.
Astute readers might take that as a hint that the future direction of travel might include some of the premium prices fuels of California .