I woke this morning to the amazing smell of aspen leaves that are sending out their last breath before they fall. Sweetened by high mountain air and spruce it was one of the better fragrances on the planet, maybe only surpassed by rain on dry dust in the desert. As we drove west, however, the skies were darkened by smoke from the huge fires in the mountains of central Utah.
Today was another travel day, as the rest of the trip will be until we are back in Rocky Point on Friday. Again we took back road, avoiding the major interstates and trying to manage a blue dotted road at every opportunity. Our route today took us through Cedar City and rather than the fast route north on I 15, we went farther west to the Scenic Highway 93.
The landscape of Nevada and several other states is the west is dominated by alternating basins and ranges formed by tectonic processes that trend generally northwest. When traveling directly west, as we did a few years ago when returning to California from Utah, the road was a continuous grade, either up or down, with just a bit of basin between the mountain ranges. These Nevada mountains aren’t small, either, and the grades can be dramatic.
Highway 93, however, follows a dominantly northern track through the state, and as a result the grades are few because the road usually follows the edge of the basins. We took time to stop and enjoy a surprise state park, Cathedral Gorge, and met some interesting travelers from England who have traveled 49 states in our country, and were showing the west to another couple from England. We took a side road to explore the historic mining hamlet of Pioche, sitting high on a fan above the wide open basin.
We reached Ely in early afternoon, partly due to the change to Pacific time, gaining an extra hour. We decided that electricity was on the list of desires for this night with the possibility of cable seductive enough to pay a ridiculous high price for the Ely KOA. Our pull- through site was too short to keep the baby car hooked up and still reach the utilities, but once I quite grumbling, and we settled inside with the air going, I felt better about it.
Before supper we took a little tour of the area, checking out the Ward Charcoal Ovens about 18 miles southwest of Ely on a long gravel road. It was worth the trip, and the ovens are some of the best preserved we have seen. The story of converting huge amounts off local wood to charcoal is interesting. It took 35 cords of wood to fill each huge oven, and then it was burned for 12 days to provide charcoal for the smelters in the nearby mining towns. Until the coming of the railroad and the availability of coke for smelting, the surrounding hills were nearly completely denuded of timber.
Once back home, I poached a chicken breast in spices and chilis, and made quesadillas for supper. Yum. I was happy for unlimited water for cooking and dishes, and the thought of a hot shower this evening is enticing. Boondocking and dry camping are great, but it’s fun to hook up and forget about conserving every little drop of water for a night here and there.
The rest of the photos for this day are linked here>