3am comes incredibly early, but when you’re excited as I am then it couldn’t have come quick enough. Today is the day my new husband, Robert, and I set off on our honeymoon. Months ago we had decided we would simply throw our camping equipment in the back of our Honda Element and see where the road would lead us. There were a couple must-see places, but mostly we’d just follow the little back country roads that crissed-crossed America.
By 4am we were on the road in hopes of missing LA traffic and within a ½ hour I was asleep. I awoke just before Barstow and remained awake for the long drive into Las Vegas. I always hate the drive to Vegas. It is incredibly boring and I think the town itself is rather ugly in daylight, but I haven’t been to Sin City in a few years so maybe things had changed. Nope. Still ugly. We cruised into Vegas about 9:30am. Thick, brown smog hung over the city. Robert was trying to stick to a 70mph speed limit to reserve fuel, but I think he was doing 85 through Vegas. The only excitement for us came at the very end of town. A Sheriff’s helicopter was hovering over the freeway and several patrol cars were parked along the shoulder. Deputies were running all over obviously searching for someone.
We were glad to leave Interstate 15 and head north on Hwy 93. The highway ran parallel to the Desert National Wildlife Range. Didn’t see much wildlife, except for a few birds, but it was a nice change from the barren yuckiness surrounding Vegas. From the 93 we took State Route 375, or the Extraterrestrial Highway. I was quite excited, because I believe in alien life forms and if I was ever to see one, this would be the time. Elevation peaked at about 5960-feet and the land was an open-range grazing area. We saw quite a few cows, but not much traffic and to my disappointment no aliens except for the ones painted on the sides of buildings that we passed.
On the 375, about 14-miles south of US-6, we came across a lake, a FROZEN lake (elevation 5095’)! This was our first taste of the weather we would encounter for the rest of our trip. I don’t know why, but were really excited about this. We jumped out of the car giggling and acting like little kids, but I returned very quickly to get my jacket. It was freezing! We threw a bunch of rocks and sticks onto the lake while Robert filmed it and I took still-pictures. Robert then began skating on the lake in his tennis shoes. I expected him to plunge through, but he didn’t. Just before frost bite set in, we got back into the car and cranked up the heater. If only we knew what kind of weather awaited us, we might have returned home or at least taken another route.
We were making good time and about 1:40pm we turned onto US-6 and headed towards Ely. We stopped briefly at the Lunar Crater Volcanic Field National Natural Landmark, but it was too cold and windy. I snapped a few pictures and jumped back in the car. Forty miles south of Ely at the junction of US-6 and Highway 379, we came across several old buildings. There was lots to explore – broken equipment and lots of glass and other junk on the ground – but we didn’t want to spend too much time. About 15 minutes later we were on the road again.
The terrain was absolutely beautiful when we entered the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest. There were several places that looked like great campsites. Our whole trip was about camping (and saving money on hotels), but the weather was so cold and storm clouds hung over the mountains that regretfully we continued into Ely. We didn’t regret our decision for long, though.
About 12-hours after starting our road trip we reached Ely, Nevada. We stayed at the Elk Ridge Motel, a less than stellar form of lodging, but it was only for one night. We had some good burgers at the Nevada Mining Hotel/Casino, which was established in 1829, and did a bit of gambling. Robert won about $10, so we took our winnings and headed back to our motel. When we stepped outside it was SNOWING! All in all we drove for 12-hours totaling 685 miles. Not bad for the first day of our honeymoon.