Trip Report June 2002
Tonopah, Rachel, Ash Springs, Overton, Boulder City|
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I had the pleasure of a late spring voyage through the sagebrush sea. It was a wonderful break from the grueling tasks of mundane reality, and I found some interesting new developments to pass along to you.
Tonopah had a lively Jim Butler Days, the hallowed event has been returned to Memorial Day Weekend where it has anchored the central Nevada calendar for generations. The State Mining Championships, traditionally a major attraction at Jim Butler Days, have been tentatively scheduled for Labor Day Weekend this year, to be held at the Tonopah Mining Park. If you're interested in Nevada mining and its history, this is the event for you. Details in a future Trip Report.
The big news in Tonopah is the re-opening of the Station House Hotel and Casino under the ownership of Las Vegas auto dealer Jim Marsh. Now, where's the hero who'll bring the Mizpah back to life?
From Tonopah I drove east on US 6, and turned right at Warm Springs on the Extraterrestrial Highway (Nevada 376). Rachel was crowded with earthlings as proprietors Joe and Pat Travis of the Little Ale'Inn were beaming up for a reprovisioning trip to Las Vegas. Pat tells me interest in Area 51 is as high as ever, with visitors arriving daily from all over the solar system.
From Rachel it's another 35 miles to US 93 at Crystal Springs, and then five miles south to Ash Springs.
Two years ago I wrote that Ash Springs was "a tragic shadow of its former self." The little resort that had welcomed travelers since pioneer times, with its warm water swimming hole was closed, fenced off and locked away. "The happy shouts of splashing children no longer ring out in the hot dry air," I sniffled. So when I pulled into R-Place for gas I was startled to hear . . . the happy shouts of splashing children from across the highway. The chain link fence is still up, and even sports big new "No Trespassing" signs. But someone has chopped a hole through the fence, more than a dozen cars were parked beside this entrance, and all's right with the world once again. Apart from gasoline, soda pop, sun glasses and fried chicken, R-Place offers an unusual attraction: the bird's nest in the "O" on the Texaco sign.
I stayed the night in Overton, at the Plaza Motel. The Plaza was new in 1955, and has just been restored to its full Elvis-era glory. But the pleasures of the Plaza aren't merely architectural, it's clean, quiet and friendly. Much of its trade comes from Lake Mead fishermen who bring home the catch to clean and grill on the Plaza's barbecue. If the fishing is not good, you can get a nice steak at the grocery down the street, and impromptu barbecue parties are common. I find myself searching for reasons to come back to Overton so I can stay at the Plaza again.
And lustrous it is, in the almost-art-deco fashion of the mid-1930s. My breakfast was served on the front verandah beneath the high pillared portico where I exchanged greetings of the day with local folks walking past. The sky was blue, the temperature in the low 70s, the eggs perfectly poached and the world a bright and cheerful place indeed. That's Boulder City in a nutshell.
Overheard at the Coco Loco Bar at the Fiesta-Henderson in Henderson: "Don't you think someone ought to tell the people running this country that the technical term for 'connecting the dots' is 'thinking', and the technical term for 'failure of intelligence' is 'stupidity'?"