Road trip – Ely, NV 4/18/21

All the hotels we have been to tackle the pandemic breakfast differently. In Sonoma we were given the “Grab ‘n Go” paper bag, in Carson City we ordered from a pre-set menu of pre-made items, and here in Ely we went one at a time into the food area where we told a staff person what to put on our plate. Everyone must wear masks in all the public areas of the hotel. I look forward to when I can pick out my own bad breakfast mask-less.

This morning’s outing is to the Nevada Northern Railway Museum and steam engine train ride. It is very chilly this morning, only 26F when we get up with a stiff breeze blowing. We put on a lot of layers. I have six layers plus a scarf and gloves. I am not used to cold weather.

Mary and the U.S. 50 Highway welcome sign

While we wait for boarding time we wander around the train station taking pictures of the train and various items of interest.

Our train blowing off steam
The train engine
John in front of the caboose
This is Conductor Bill’s car, a 1953 Kaiser DeLuxe

There was a thriving copper mining industry around Ely in the late 1800s and up until 1983. The boom time for the town was during WWI. The smelting of the copper was done in a nearby town.

We hear the “All Aboard” and grab some seats for the slow ride to the copper mine with its towering hills of slag. We hear the story of copper mining and see points of interest most of which are broken down coal tipples or dynamited tunnels. We learn about how to use a wye to turn a train around.

Going around a curve we can see the front of the train
John and Mary train selfie. Masks required while on the train.
Not beautiful downtown Ely
Burning coal is a dirty business

After de-training we walk around the site and look at the museum. Two train museums within 3 days is a lot. Then we head off to find some sort of lunch and end up at a Subway standing in a long line. We take our sandwiches back to the room and have out lunch there.

Later in the afternoon we take a scenic ride on the Success Loop. For us it is closer to being the Disaster Loop. Luckily we have had off-road disasters before and know when to bail.

We are riding along enjoying the scenery and pass through some aspens. There are patches of snow on the ground. Uh-oh, we are gaining elevation and the patches of snow are now on the road and we have skidded twice. Then we see the road ahead is entirely covered with snow. What to do?! We know it would be a really bad idea to get stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. It was bad when we were in our 50s and it would be much worse now that we are in our 70s. We must abort the trip and somehow turn around. I get out to inspect an area that might look promising for a K-turn. But its not. I am slipping in the mud that the melting snow has created. I sink in to the tops of my shoes. If we try to turn around here we will get stuck in the mud.

I and my filthy shoes get back in the car and the only solution is to back out down the dirt road until we can find a wide spot that is not too muddy. John does a great job backing which is hard on his neck. He takes little breaks between episodes of back up. Finally we find a spot that we think will work and John turns the car around and disaster is averted. Yay!

The aspens along the sides of the road are bright white against the blue sky
Soon there are aspens on both sides of the road and little patches of snow
This is the last picture I took. The road is getting muddier and the snow is on the road in places. We went a little further before we gave up.

And now it is time for dinner. Tonight we are eating at Margaritas, a Mexican restaurant in the Prospector Casino next door to our hotel. I order shrimp fajitas (with mushrooms?) and John orders chicken enchiladas with a poblano sauce. The chips and salsa are good.  We are hopeful. But at the end of the night we are trying to rate our three meals today. The categories are Bad, Worse, and Worst. Both John and I decide that our semi-soggy bread on our lunchtime sandwiches does not down-rate it enough to make it lose the top spot at Bad, breakfast comes in at Worse, and dinner is Worst. Even the good salsa and chips and the tasty guacamole cannot pull it out of the bottom. We are starting to rethink our dinner strategy.

I ended up eating shrimp plus the plate of accompaniments giving most of the guacamole to John




Road trip – Ely, NV. 4/17/21

Not too much going on today as we spend most of the day driving from Carson City to Ely, NV. We make a stop at a McDonald’s in Fallon, NV for breakfast.  Unfortunately we cannot eat inside so we make do sitting in the car.

After that we head further on  U.S. 50, the loneliest highway in America. We stop at the famous or infamous Shoe Tree. We have visited the original shoe tree in 2009 but that tree was chain-sawed down by vandals in 2010. It seems, though, that people wasted no time making another shoe tree in a nearby tree. (A shoe tree is a tree that people throw their shoes to catch on the branches.)

The Shoe Tree of Middlegate, NV
Some people are able to throw their shoes really high!
The skeletal remains of the old Shoe Tree
Mary and John with Shoe Tree selfie

In any case it was good to get out and stretch our legs!

We drive on and on through some very dull and some very spectacular scenery. We arrive in Ely, NV shortly before 3 PM. We stop at a Carl’s Jr. where there are only two tables available for use and they are already occupied. We spend our lunchtime in the car eating burgers that I know we should not eat.

Over the crest of a hill and the Shoshone Mountains appear dusted with snow

We reach the hotel round 3:40 and after looking at Ely on the way in decide we will have plenty of time tomorrow to see anything we might want to see. After a shower and a short nap (for me) we get dressed for dinner. I am concerned that we will not look fancy enough. I need not have worried.

We go to Mr. Gino’s Italian Restaurant. I have made a reservation. After all it is Saturday night! When we get there three tables are occupied. We opt for a table hiding in the corner where we will be away from other people’s breathing. Mr. Gino’s is like some restaurant that your parents took you to in the 1950s.

Mr. Gino’s menu

I order shrimp arrabbiata and John gets lasagna. I am able to dress my salad with oil and vinegar. I send John on a hunt for salt at one of the empty tables. At this point everyone who was here when we came in has left. Salad with some doctoring is okay. We order glasses of wine. I get Chardonnay and John orders Cabernet Sauvignon. His wine is so bad that he does not want me to even taste it.  I have decided that the restaurant’s algorithm for pricing wine is whatever a whole bottle cost is what they should charge for a glass.  It is $6.

Our entrees come and my shrimp in spicy sauce is not terrible. The shrimp could have been cooked more and the pasta less. It is covered with melting cheese and a bread stick. John has lasagna. Wait, what’s this, two more tablesful of people come in. We decide since it is 8 PM that they must be Spaniards dining way too early or Californians who left Carson City later than we did. Anyway the dinner gets a C-.. It is not terrible. (I cannot believe I am blowing my diet on this less than mediocre food!)

Top left is John’s lasagna and the rest is my salad and Shrimp arrabbiata

Road trip Carson City, NV continued 4/16/21

Today we continue our exploration of Carson City, NV and where better to begin than at the Nevada State Museum. The building that houses the museum is an amalgamation of an original older building and a modern section. Ingenuously the architect has made the connection point to look like a mine headframe.  We mention that fact to the cashier when we are buying our tickets and she admits to never noticing even though she has worked there for years.

Entrance to Nevada State Museum with Mary

The museum has a large section devoted to rocks, dinosaurs, and ancient mammals all of which are or were plentiful in Nevada. Many fossilized dinosaurs have been discovered in the area.

Ichthyosaur fossil. Not really a dinosaur but a fish-lizard that lived at the same time as dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era.
This an Imperial Mammoth who died in Nevada about 17,000 years ago
And this is a large Ice Age horse native to N. America and that died in Nevada 25,500 years ago.

After the rocks and animals we take a look at settlers’ houses and handicrafts and the evolution of modern Nevada.

Mary by an early Maxwell automobile with right hand drive

We then take a look at a mine mock-up. Mining is a big deal in Nevada and we learn a lot about mining and all sorts of jargon which will be exceedingly difficult to work into every day conversation. Carson City  is near to Virginia City home to the gold and silver of the Comstock Lode.

Lastly due to all the silver being generated by the mining, Nevada petitioned the federal government to finance a mint. For about 23 years in the late 1800s, Carson City minted silver dollars with their CC imprint on them. The press is still operational but only mints commemorative coins now.

The still functional coin press from the late 19th century

We pick up a sandwich for lunch and go back to the hotel to eat our lunch and have a little down time. Around 2 PM we venture back out to visit the Railroad Museum. Unfortunately only half of the museum is open but they charge us full price nonetheless.

In the main building there are several engines and cars in tiptop shape. It seems that the Virginia and Truckee Railroad excelled at supplying the movie industry with old steam engines for the movies. The movie studios returned them mostly in really good shape. Here are a few of the trains we saw.

Mary and a train
Engine and coal car, Dayton, of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad
John and Engine No. 22

There are interesting maps on the floor showing the route and the time it took to get to Promontory Point where they drove in the golden spike. The track coming from the East took a few months to get from point to point but the track from the west took four years to cover the much shorter distance through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Map of the railroad with completion dates coming from the east
Map of the railroad coming from the west

Next we decide to take a look at the Governor’s Mansion a few blocks away.  The Mansion is situated in a middle class American neighborhood although it is much bigger than most of the houses near it. It is built in the Classical Revival style.  The governor’s home was built between 1908 and 1909 specifically as a home for the governor.

Nevada’s Governor’s Mansion in Carson City

The rest of the neighborhood looks like the kind of neighborhood I grew up in, nice, but not too nice. People have multiple vehicles parked around their houses. A few have dirt driveways and various “antiques” in their yards or on their front porches. Most of the houses look like they were built after WWII. So it is an interesting mix.  I also cannot say anything laudatory about the governor’s landscaping. It is early Spring here but maybe someone could have put down some new mulch or picked up the empty plastic bottles that I see here and there.

The governor’s forlorn landscaping

After thoroughly checking out the Governor’s Mansion we make our way back to the hotel where we loll around until almost 7:30 PM.  We guess we better find some dinner. Our choice to night is called Pho Country which the internet says is open until 9PM. Except it isn’t. The sign on the door says only take-out between 7 and 8 PM. Now we are in a scramble to find somewhere that is open. We end up at Miss Lily’s China Bistro where although there is a lot of traffic at the take-out window, we are the only people inside. We order our usual Chinese restaurant order, moo shu pork and Mongolian beef (extra spicy). So much for my good intentions to eat reasonably for dinner.

Mongolian beef, left, and moo sho pork, upper right




Road trip, Carson City, NV. 4/15/21

Today we started a two week road trip, a kind of celebration of being fully vaccinated. Our first destination was Carson City, NV, the capitol of Nevada. The city is named after the Carson River which was named after Kit Carson by his friend and fellow pioneer, John C. Fremont. They came across the area and the river when searching for a way to get over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The pass they found is named Carson Pass and is at an elevation of over 8000 feet.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Snow near Carson Pass
Mary and John in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
First order of business when we reached Carson City was lunch at The Basil, a Thai restaurant

After lunch we went for a walk in the historical district where the State Capitol Building is. Nevada entered the Union in 1864. The building was constructed between 1869 and 1871 in the Neoclassical Italiante style. It is set in a park with other various government buildings nearby.

Handsome Nevada State Capitol
Mary on the front steps of the Capitol (there was no one around)
John at the Capitol
Inlaid plaques in the sidewalk for the Kit Carson Trail
Flowering trees at the park near the Capitol
Kit Carson statue
Old-timey street
New-timey street with Cactus Jack’s Casino

After checking into the hotel we took showers followed by a lie-down. For dinner we found a Mexican restaurant, San Marcos Grill, and had various seafoods.

John’s camarones diabla. The menu indicated that this was super spicy with three jalapeños. It was not spicy. In fact all of the food we have had in Carson City has been unusually bland.
Mary’s pescado acapulqueno. It had vegetables! Also the fish and shrimp were very tasty.