Ernie is well ahead of me on these accounts, as usual. He’s also the one who scouts ahead on the trails, mostly because I’m a chubby slowpoke. He’s already talking about New Mexico. I’m still in Nevada.
The desk clerk in Winnemucca had a point when she said her town was halfway between destinations. In our case, that town was halfway between two Extraordinary National Parks, Crater Lake and Great Basin. The stretches in between are not empty. They’re full of towns, graveyards, mountains, and petroglyphs. This graveyard in Austin is a beautiful example.
Hickison Petroglyphs Recreation and Interpretive Site is in Nevada, off Route 50, between Austin and Eureka. It's gorgeous but it suffers from some vandalism, as many sites do these days. It's one of the places that could benefit from increased funds and hiring more personnel to act as stewards. The majority of people who visit these sites don't behave like jerks. But it only takes a few people to destroy a place. Think of that when you're voting for representatives who can decide next year's state and national budgets.
Seeing marks that were made by people who lived centuries ago always blows my mind.
They had their own reasons for making marks that look like human hands, but I always get the feeling that this is how they said, "We are people who lived here. This is us."
Meanwhile, in town, people built an opera house. I like to think that music and plays were performed here.
In Ely, we visited this thrift store on the main drag.
But our main destination was Great Basin National Park. When Michael told me we were going there, I got the wrong idea about what it was like. One of the four deserts in North America is the Great Basin Desert, so I thought he must be talking about that. However, Great Basin NP is something completely different. It's a hanging valley that was created by a glacier. It is a varied terrain that includes a cave system (we hadn't made reservations for the tour, so we missed that part) and a drive up to a peak from which you can ogle the hanging valley. Michael was particularly interested in seeing the bristlecone pines.
We were intent on finding good examples of these trees to photograph when we suddenly spotted the main event. It's breathtaking.
There were so many good examples of bristlecones.
And from the road to the summit, we spotted magnificent sky islands in the distance.
The town nearest to Great Basin NP is Baker. The folks along the highway like to make sure they have yard art you're gonna remember.
As had become our habit, we made sure our hotel in Salina, Utah, knew we were coming. We checked in without a hitch. The next morning, we headed east on I-70, which counts as a scenic highway in Utah.
The rest stops along that stretch are lookouts, where one can photograph more twisty trees.
The rock formations in this part of Utah are sandstone, limestone, mudstone, and shale, with a bit of volcanic rock here and there.
Michael insisted I take a picture of this formation because it looks like a tugboat.
Fruita's Center Park had bathrooms, which was very civilized.
We crossed the border into Colorado and checked into our hotel is Grand Junction. The day was still young, and there were many thrift and antique stores to visit. Delta, Colorado, like so many other towns there, is full of charming houses.
This antique store in Delta had my favorite yard.
It also had an eyeball.
I don't know if this auto repair place is still in business, but if it isn't, they're apparently sentimental about the hand-painted sign.
Heirlooms for Hospice has a message for us all.
They had some fun stuff for sale.
For the next couple of days, we would be visiting local towns and a marble quarry. Soon, Ernie and I would be peeling off from Michael and making our own detour into New Mexico. But there were still places to visit and sights to see in Colorado.