Great Basin Revisited




Robbin and I have been crossing the Great Basin from Tonopah to Carlin in January for twenty years, choosing the longer route to Elko instead of I-99 towards Sacramento congestion and Donner Pass. Once known as the World’s Loneliest Highway, going home we met only a couple of vehicles on Highway 278 towards Eureka, Monday morning February 1st, after Sunday’s storm.

Twenty years ago, everyone waved a passing hello when meeting a vehicle on these back roads, but the habit seems to have waned in the past few years. I never fail to wonder about the first wagon crossings, the weeks it took to overcome this high desert expanse, the people, their courage and endurance, as they made the trek. How many of us today would have done as well, invested the patience and dedication to get to a place, presumably California, that they’d never seen?


5 responses to “Great Basin Revisited

  1. We might be too comfortable to want to make a dangerous journey, but every generation has seen those folks. And mostly it’s by sea. This generation it’s the Syrians. In my generation, the Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians and Cubans were “the boat people.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • In most cases, I suspect it was California gold that drew new settlers West, but one has to admire the journeys to unknown places by refugees seeking safer harbors, concepts of freedom more lasting than the yellow stuff. Good comparisons.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d like to believe my husband and I fit your criteria, John. Forty three years ago we took that leap of faith soon after our wedding. He, 22 years old; and I, almost 20… Packed up everything we collectively owned into a Volkswagen bus. Headed to Oregon on the advice of one of my husbands college professors who said , ” Go West, young man. Gov. McCall is passing legislation that will open jobs that your degree in Environmental Planning has prepared you.”

    We camped our way across country. Met some great folks along the way who shared tips on good places to see/camp along the way. Probably much like was done along the original Oregon Trail!

    We broke down in Colorado… Up in the Rockies at the Contonental Divide. I recall wondering which way we could roll to find civilization… When ingenuity kicked in and we fashioned a temporary belt for the engine… Limped along to a dealership. And finally found our way to Portland.

    Stayed, and raised our family here in the Willamette Valley. Always figuring out solutions as the problems pop up. I’m very grateful for the sense of self reliance that experience instilled in us.

    Could this be why I’m appreciative of the stories/poems you share?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I just don’t know, Jane, but making do with what you’ve got is at the heart of it. Holding to a vision and heading off into the unknown can be scary stuff, a test of many things. But what a great story and accomplishment to always have to lean upon when times get tough. Thanks so much for sharing it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you got to see some of the “true” Nevada! Hwy 50 is a great route as is 278. Did you stop at the Pony Express crossing near Garden Pass? There are some old wagon ruts there from the Overland Stage which ran the same route after the Pony Express ended.


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