Saturday, August 9, 2014

Highway 140

Sigh. Vacation's finished. All done. Finito. No más. Ding, the turkey button popped out. Sad but true, our allotted time had come to an end and it was time to hop in the car and make the long drive to yet another year of joyless day-slave existence. On the plus side, civilization does have soccer and Mexican food in it. 

The Eureka County courthouse

After our Wheeler Peak hike, we packed up our gear and overnighted in Ely. From there, we rejoined the Lonleiest Highway, following it back to Eureka. A historical mining town, Eureka is like Austin's twin city what with old buildings from the wild west. Plus it has culture in the form of an actual opera house! On our first pass through Eureka a week earlier, we didn't get out of the car as it was pouring rain at the time. However, on the second visit it was all blue skies and sun with the red-bricked buildings contrasting nicely. 

Toto, we are not in Oregon anymore!
At Eureka, we grabbed an even lonelier highway than the Loneliest Highway, heading north to Winnemucca along the Humboldt River. I use the term "river" loosely as I'm not sure the "river" would have even been called a "creek" in Oregon. We were meeting Dollie's cousin Janet and her husband Buggs for a late lunch and we had some time to kill. We visited a street fair and looked at some old buildings and some new casinos. In a signal we were clearly not in Oregon, a sign pointed the way to several brothels. I stopped to take a picture of the sign as Dollie ran rapidly down the street, more embarrassed than usual to be seen with me.

Wild storm at Denio Junction
After lunch in Winnemucca, we continued north to Denio Junction which is at the foot of Oregon's Pueblo Mountains. On the way, we were treated to a spectacular display of lightning emanating from dramatic storm clouds hovering over the sagebrush expanse that is the Great Basin. 

Pronghorn antelope stampede
Dollie took over the driving which allowed me to take pictures of the thunderheads as we whizzed past. Near the Warner Valley and Hart Mountain area we spotted wild horses and a small herd of pronghorn antelope. Now, how cool is that?

Black and white cloud drama
All the nice photography fun ended shortly after Guano Rim, where Highway 140 dropped 1,000 feet down the face of a sheer escarpment. At the top of the grade, there were several chain-up areas for the winter weather and all I could think of was how I will never drive up or down Guano Rim in winter. Yikes! Upon our descent down the escarpment, a white-knuckled wife ordered me to drive the rest of the way home.

Clouds, near Warner Valley
During our entire stay in Nevada, we had enjoyed 70 degree weather but as we approached Klamath Falls at sunset, the temperature rose into the oppressive 90's as a massive smoke plume from the Beaver Fire caught the last light of the day. So good to be back home. Sigh.

For more pictures of our return trip to Winston, please visit the Flickr album

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