The armpit of Nevada
I remember reading an article many years ago. It was about Battle Mountain — the armpit of Nevada. My buddy and I liked to drive around to see museums, scenic spots back in those days.
This must have been around 2004 or so. He had a few days off work and we decided to go on a trip. We were going to see all of Nevada in several days.
Out Trip Starts
We started by driving from Los Angeles, and staying somewhere in the Vegas area. It has been so long, I don’t even remember! The next day we drove through the mountains of central Nevada on the 93 Northbound. This was a very long drive. It started out being regular looking desert terrain, but after we got further North, we started hitting bad weather. Then we took the 375 Northwest for a while, and then the 376 North.
The Snow Storm
It started to snow a bit. We stopped at this tiny little town which is not even on the map. I believe it is called Austin. There was only one little store / restaurant. Some kids were playing in the store — presumably family of the owner. There were little books on the table that looked like they were from the 1940’s. They were for quick reads while customers were waiting for their food. I don’t even remember what the books were about this was so long ago, but they were about quirky country characters like Farmer John, etc. A man came in and told everyone what the plowing situation was like. There was heavy snowfall, and we were far from done with our journey. We had to keep moving. So, we made small-talk, had a quick bite and a quick soda, and got out of there.
So, we proceeded north on the 305. I was a bit nervous by now. It was 30 degrees and we were in the middle of nowhere in a snowstom in Nevada of all places. We kept driving and the snow kept getting worse. Finally, it became a white-out. The snow was so severe, I couldn’t see the road. I had endured as much as I could. I just had to pull the car over and take a look outside. I tried to gauge where the side of the road was. I thought we might have to be there for hours, or might even die there. I cleaned the snow off the car while I was waiting. It kept accumulating so fast! If we got stuck there, we might freeze to death, especially when the temperature dropped more!
Miraculously, after only 15 minutes, the snow lightened up quite a bit, so I could see very clearly. There were only drifts of snow that obstructed my view a tiny bit. I was able to drive about 50 MPH all the way to our destination: Battle Mountain, the armpit of Nevada. My buddy and I have been to the highlights of many cities and states. But, we wanted a change of pace. We wanted to see the worst places that you could see, to jazz things up a bit. So, we got to Battle Mountain.
It was nothing fancy. It was not a terrible place by any standards. It was just a stripped down town. It had what you needed, and nothing more. There was a hotel, a gas station, mini-casino, one or two stores, a large bar, perhaps a tire shop, and that was it. We stuck our head in the store and made small talk with the lady who was running it. She had read the article too about how Battle Mountain was the armpit of Nevada. But, in reality it is just another typical Nevada town, with no redeeming features. Every Nevada town has some sort of casino, hotel, gas
station, store, etc. It was just like that, except with absolutely nothing else to speak of. So, we got bored quickly, and wanted to get a hotel on the way to Reno.
After our ordeal and not so interesting curiousity stop in Battle Mountain, we made our way to Winnemucca. The highway had a lot of snow build up, and there were snowplows everywhere.
There is not much worse than driving up hills on a highway with snow. It is easy to skid out of control which is dangerous if there are trucks nearby. Luckily, I am a confident driver and have only had two skidding incidents on a highway in my life — both were on ice. Unpleasant as it was, we made it to Winnemucca. The town was one giant truck stop. It had all of the typical Nevada “fixins”. Small casinos, stores, hotels, but there were more gas stations and motels since it was a truck stop of a town. We found an affordable hotel, got some shut-eye, and then kept moving.
The next day we got up early because we wanted to drive to Lake Tahoe, and then down to Vegas. That is a long drive on roads which don’t got straight to where you are going. Reno was boring. We had a quick meal at Denny’s and then popped our heads in various casinos. “Seen one, seen ’em all” was our attitude. My subsequent and more detailed visits to Reno reveal that it has a thriving culinary scene and some very pleasant hotels, but on our quick passing through, we didn’t have time to savor that reality.
We got directions to the lake and were on our way. I still remember the song we were listening to by Kanye West using a Shaka Khan “Through the fire” remix. The gradual descent down the hill to the lake was spellbinding. The view was exquisite and kept evolving the lower you got and changed through every twist in the road. We stopped for a “Starbucks”, if I can use the word that way. It was interesting sitting there in Incline Village with all of the affluent Colorado / California types sitting in proximity to us. We were physically in Nevada, but it felt like California. Of course, we were right on the border, but still! We were in a different world. A world of Real Estate investments, vacations, time shares, skiing, boating, and more. It was about 30 degrees, so we wanted to see that world another time when we had a few days to spare, and preferably at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit!
We left the lake fast, but held a reminder of its beauty in our minds. It was off to Vegas now. We drove to Carson City, and then on the smaller highways all the way down. Unfortunately for us, they were not roads that went in a straight line to Vegas. They went East, South, East, South, but not Southeast! We passed Walker Lake which was uninspiring, and with lifeless surroundings.
We saw Tonopah which is just a small Old West type of a place. After that, there was a very long drive past Area 51. We had heard many stories about this forboding place. The military controlled that part of Nevada. But, were there really aliens locked up in underground compounds? There is no way to know! Then we took the 160 and went through Pahrump just for fun even though it was not the fastest route. Although it has a reputation of being a very immoral town, it seemed like just another Nevada town on the surface. Then, we made it to Vegas.
We stayed at the Luxor. It had changed since my previous visit. They had build separate floors on the lower levels. We had margaritas, and then went to sleep. The next day we had to awaken early to meditate with our friends nearby.
The Next Day
We got up, made it to meditation. We saw our meditation companions who visited California often for meditation events. It was pleasant. We made small talk, talked about old times, and then it was time to go back home. Our 3-day trip through nevada was crazy, exciting, dangerous, and mildly interesting. The point was to see the state in its entirety, and we sort of did that. There are still a few spots near the Utah border that we didn’t see. Echo Canyon State Park, Spring Valley State Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Ely, and Elko are all places I still would like to see. They are very far away. Maybe on another trip when I’m not pressed for time!