Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Southwest trip day 15-16: Going home

This is the last post from our two-week trip through the Southwest. It’s short because we tried to get home as quickly as possible—and frankly, there isn’t much to see in eastern and central Nevada, at least not along the I-80 corridor.

We left Moab, UT after a great breakfast at Eklecticafé. Highly recommended for tasty and more wholesome fare than what many restaurants offer. We stopped briefly at the Arches National Park visitor center so my kids could get their National Park Passports stamped and I snapped one last photo of red rock country:

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Last photo taken in Arches National Park. Yes, the sky really was that blue.

Usually I look forward to returning home from vacation, but this time I didn’t want to leave. Writing this, I really do feel a bit depressed.

We made good time through Utah and didn’t stop until we got to the Bonneville Speedway right at the Utah-Nevada border. Located in the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, the Bonneville Speedway is regularly used for motorsports events. Many land speed records have been set here. I was surprised to find a whole lot of—nothing. As it turns out, tracks are selected and prepared specifically for each event and when there’s no event (like yesterday) there’s not much to see.

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Bonneville Speedway

A few RVs were parked where the paved road ends and the salt flats begin and I spotted two vehicles out on the flats.

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Bonneville Speedway

While the area shown in the previous two photos was hard-packed salt, less than a mile away you encounter salt-encrusted mud. My feet were starting to get wet before I realized that this area is definitely not dry.

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Bonneville Speedway

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Salt flats

We spent the night in the sleepy town of Winnemucca, Nevada except that in the summer months it’s not as sleepy as I thought. We arrived at 7pm and had a hard time finding a motel room. And prices were shockingly inflated. I bet in the winter, rooms are a third of what they are now. In general, I was not impressed with Winnemucca and couldn’t wait to leave.

Here are some photos that are typical of the kind of landscape you’ll encounter in central Nevada: lots of sagebrush and not much else.

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Somewhere near Winnemucca, Nevada

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Somewhere near Winnemucca, Nevada
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I have no idea what the story is behind these rock cairns, but they were the most interesting thing I saw in all of Nevada

I almost missed it, but I did manage to grab a photo of the Welcome to California sign. The poppies are bit faded but the State of California has no money so I don’t expect it to be repainted anytime soon.

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Welcome to California

Instead of going straight home, we headed north to my in-laws to pick up our dog. We passed by the Hat Creek Overlook in Shasta County, still scarred from a 2009 fire. As a poignant reminder of how dry California is—no afternoon rain showers like in the Southwest—thick smoke was hanging in the air from a wildfire currently raging in nearby Lassen National Park.

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Hat Creek Overlook. The burned trees are from a 2009 fire, the smoke is from an active fire near Lassen National Park.

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Hat Creek Overlook

I took well over 3,000 photos on this trip. What I’ve posted is only the tip of the iceberg, so expect more posts in the coming weeks and months. Maybe I’ll run a dedicated Southwest post each Sunday or so, with a heavier focus on plants.

How did my plants fare?

The plants I bought at B&B Cactus Farm in Tucson, AZ and Santa Fe Greenhouses in Santa Fe, NM seem to have survived the trip just fine. I’m relieved because I wasn’t sure how being stuck in a hot trunk would affect them (I did take the tub out every night and either left it in the car or brought it into the motel room).

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Plant tub with all 12 plants I bought

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Ledebouria socialis with new growth (light green)

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Gymnocalycium schickendantzii with a new flower bud

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Agave utahensis ssp. utahensis, the only plant showing damage. I don’t know if it’s from the heat (doubtful since this agave grows in areas with extreme daytime temperatures) or because it got too dry. I will repot it as soon as I get home and water it carefully so it can resume normal growth. Also notice the pup on the right.

3 comments:

  1. You sure we haven't seen 3000 photos already? Every post has been jam-packed!

    You don't find the lonely desolation of Nevada to be beautiful and interesting in its own way?

    I've made the drive from St. Louis to Chicago dozens of times, and to me it's utterly boring. I talked to a guy in California who had made that same STL to CHI drive once, and he *loved* it: "everything was so green!" he said.

    All in the eye of the beholder, right?

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    1. Alan, I totally agree! I bet people who live in, say, Tucson don't think the yuccas, agaves and dasylirions you see growing everywhere, including the median strips of busy roads, are anything special although I did.

      The sights you see from major interstates are rarely very interesting so I shouldn't judge Nevada too harshly. I've driven Highway 50, dubbed "America's Loneliest Road," all the way from eastern Nevada to Sacramento and the scenery is infinitely more beautiful than what you see from I-80.

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  2. You've got me feeling a little relieved that we gave up the Nevada part of our vacation last fall.

    The spots on your Agave look very similar to the ones on my A. Americana.

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