Leaving the suburbs of Salt Lake City we are now heading towards our next major stop, Reno, with an overnight stay along the way at Battle Mountain. Our route takes us quickly out of Utah and back into Nevada, past the Great Salt Lake Marina and towards West Wendover.
As you are driving along the I-80, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is snow as far as your eye can see across the flat land, but it’s not, its salt. This area is one of the most unique natural features in Utah – the Bonneville Salt Flats. This land is perfectly flat and has a thick crust of salty soil and is home to the famous Bonneville Speedway.
It’s certainly worth a stop to have a better look at the Salt Flats and walk on this famous stretch of land/salt. Stay on existing roads or areas designated for vehicles. Despite the appearance of a hard surface, much of the area is a thin salt crust over soft mud and easily breaks under the weight of a vehicle and if the salt is wet it can be highly corrosive to your vehicle and short out the electrical system
West Wendover is home to Wendover Will, who had a very special job allocated to him when he was built in 1952 – to wave to passing tourists.
The now historic, Wendover Airfield was once a bustling airbase that housed the Enola Gay in WWII. Tours can be arranged at certain times, unfortunately not at the time we were there, but if you are lucky enough you can see the atomic bomb loading pit, Enola Gay Hangar and the Bombsight building.
One of the towns we have on our agenda is Lamoille which will take us off the highway at Elko. The stunning scenery and picturesque town make the detour certainly very worthwhile.
As fun and exciting as travelling and sightseeing is, we are both getting tired so we are kind of hoping that our next overnight stop, Battle Mountain, will be quiet and not have anything to do.
Despite its name, Battle Mountain has never seen any kind of battle. There are a few things to do here – hot springs for relaxation, hiking, water skiing, fishing, golf and wild life spotting, but for us, I think a quiet dinner and early night is on the agenda.
The I-80, which we are continuing to travel on, is said to be ‘boring’ but so far I have found it to be anything but. I suppose if you are a ‘local’ you might prefer to fly from one city to another in this vast country but for ‘foreigners’ like us every bend in the road reveals something new and interesting.
Travelling along and admiring the barren but interesting scenery there suddenly appears what seems to be a pile of junk. What may be termed junk by some turns out to be the Thunder Mountain Indian Monument in Imlay.
It’s very easy to think at first sight that the area is a graveyard for rusted old cars and broken cement, but look a little deeper and you will find that it full of architectural oddities and exotic Native American art.
It is definitely worth taking a break from the I-80 here. Some will love it, some will hate it, but if you are interested the ‘why and how’ of this place have a look at – http://www.thundermountainmonument.com/index.htm – it’s a fascinating read.
With less than two hours before we reach Reno we come across the town of Lovelock, originally named after George Lovelock and a stop for settlers on their way to California, now a bustling little town.
Although the town was named after George Lovelock, the community put a different spin on its name when it brought the Chinese custom of love-locking to America. The tradition of securing locks to a chain is meant to ensure unending love, and miles upon miles of lock-laden chains weave through the Yellow Mountains and along the Great Wall in China and today, more than two thousand locks adorn chains at the Lovers Lock Plaza in Lovelock.
Lovelock possesses one of the only two round courthouses in the nation, the Pershing County Courthouse, built in 1919; this structure has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby is the Rye Patch State Recreation Area with a great campground and picnic area. The reservoir in this area is surrounded by miles of sage bush and alkali flats and is a really popular spot for fishing, swimming and boating.
Most of the towns and cities we have visited along our trip have had casinos or some kind, and Fernley, less than an hour from Lovelock, is no different. I suppose that’s to be expected, particularly as this town is only 35 minutes out of Reno. Terribles and Silverado are the most standout of casinos in Fernley and offer good value meals, accommodation, amenities and gambling if that’s what you are looking for.
For an Aussie, where casinos are pretty much a rarity, it always astounds me that there are so many of these brightly lit gambling center’s in the USA. When I say ‘brightly lit’ I mean that’s the case on the outside, inside they are usually dim and moody, allowing you to spend your time (and money) without thinking about the time of day. I am even more astounded at the number of people who are always in them and have never visited a casino over here that looks even half empty; they are always bustling with some kind of activity – not necessarily gambling.
Hitting the road again, we are both excited about reaching Reno and where we will spend the next two nights at the Atlantis Casino and Spa resort.