Ely to Sparks

Not much to report today. We started the day at 8:30 by going to a grocery store to find a few items for breakfast. It was a delightfully pleasant morning and Ely has a very nice park downtown where we ate our breakfast. Then, we continued on “The Loneliest Highway in America” for 260 miles to Fallon. I think I mentioned earlier that there are only two towns between Ely and Fallon, Eureka and Austin. After about two hours we stopped at a roadside rest area then ventured on to Fallon where we found another nice city park to stop for lunch. I decided to count the number of 18 wheeler trucks coming in the opposite direction and counted only 13 over the 260 miles.


U.S. 50 Sign

Our destination for today was Sparks, NV, where we found a comfortable room at a Super 8 Motel. We were happy with the room until we discovered that for some reason their cable TV did not include NBC, so we were unable to watch the Olympics. We did have an alternative, listening to the Giants vs. Mets game, which is still on with the Giants leading 8 to 7. Can they hold on for a win? Their record for close games over the past several weeks doesn’t give one much hope.

Tomorrow we have been invited to breakfast at Doris and Orville Williams’ home here in Sparks; They were very active at Livermore Presbyterian Church when I was the associate pastor in the late 60s. In fact, Doris became Director of Children’s Ministry after I resigned to become Director of the Teacher Learning Center. We have stayed in touch over the years and it will be fun to catch up with one another. After moving to Arnold many years ago Doris continued in educational ministry. Several years ago they moved to Sparks. After breakfast we will head for Livermore arriving home sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. I will add my final post sometime after we return home.

A Pastor Friend & A National Park

A few days ago when we decided we would be in Richfield, Utah, we remembered that our friend from Livermore, Nancy Holve, was a pastor of a small church someplace in Utah. Pat went online on her iPad and discovered that Nancy was pastor of Valley Community Presbyterian Church in Richfield. Wow, what a coincidence. We called the church, Nancy answered, and was free for breakfast this morning. She has been pastor of the church with 25 members, four elders, and a half dozen children for three years. She seems to be doing well, despite feeling isolated in a small town of 8,000, a Mormon dominated society, and two hours from a city with decent shopping. After breakfast we followed Nancy to her church and the manse that she calls home, next door to the church. If was a wonderful visit.

Nancy's Church1

Church Interior

After getting gas at the Flying J station ($2.06 per gal.) we were on the road again with our destination, Ely, Nevada. We are retracing our eastward route via U.S. Hwy. 50 across the state. We plotted our route on I-70 to I-15 south, where at Beaver, UT, we took Nevada hwy. 21 to the Great Basin National Park.  Nevada 21 seemed even lonelier than U.S. 50. We stopped at the Visitor Center where we had lunch, viewed a beautiful, informative video, and learned more about this National Park established in 1986 covering more than 77,000 acres. The Great Basin is comprised of wide, flat valleys interspersed with mountain ranges that stretch from the Wasatch mountains in the east to the Sierras in the west.

Lonely Highway

NP Sign

NP Sign4

Tonight we are staying at the Prospector Hotel and Casino in Ely. It is very comfortable with a large flat screen TV with which to watch the Olympics, which we enjoyed very much, especially the women’s high diving and women’s beach volleyball matches.

Rivers, Dinosaurs, & Mountains

We left the motel a little after nine and headed to Walmart to shop for a new ice chest because the ice was melting so quickly in this hot weather in our old chest. We found exactly what we were looking for. Our new chest has a drain, which is a great asset; wheels and handle; and the literature says ice will last up to five days. Well, it remains to be seen if that is true; I would be happy with three days. There was a Goodwill store nearby so we dropped the old one off on our way out of town.

We stopped at rest stop to stretch, then again in Green River, Utah, a town of 900 residents, in order to visit the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. The exhibits were beautifully presented and very informative. We learned a lot about the amazing, courageous first expedition of the Green and Colorado Rivers. Of the nine men who embarked on the expedition only six completed the journey; one having left early on and two others who decided to leave later never to be heard from again. The introductory, award winning video showed a stirring reenactment of that first expedition. We were very impressed with how this hardy group of men conquered the rapids, hardships, and other obstacles they faced. There were exhibits of Powell as a war hero of the Civil War, as an accomplished geologist, as an ethnologist, and as great human being, and with reproductions of the types of boats employed by the explorers. In addition, we learned that archaeologists have discovered evidence of dinosaurs that roamed in this area of Utah thousands of years ago.

The Man


Two Boats

No Name Boat



We found a wonderful park with a picnic table in the shade where we had our lunch. Then, it was back on Interstate 70 heading toward Richfield, Utah, where we had reservations for the night. staying at the same Quality Inn where we stayed almost two weeks ago on our way east. There was very little traffic on I-70 and the highway was very smooth. The speed limit is 80 MPH, which is just a little too fast for me. I kept the cruise control at 75 most of the way. It is amazing how quickly the miles fly by while we listed to another of James Patterson’s audio books, London Bridge. The geological formations of the cliffs and mountains are striking and fascinate us with their variety and beauty.

Utah Road

Utah Road2

Utah Mountains

We arrived about 4pm, settled in, went for a swim, did the laundry, had dinner, and watched the Olympics. Now that I’m about finished with this blog it’s time to hit the sack. Thanks for joining us on our journey.


Grand Junction, CO

Sunday started with breakfast at Denny’s, fill-up with gas, and getting a very dirty car washed. Then, we hit the road to Grand Junction that was an easy 60 miles drive from Montrose. Our room at Quality Inn was ready so we were able to check-in early. We went to Lincoln Park for lunch where we found a nice picnic table in the shade. After lunch we went to the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction. It was a very informative, beautifully presented museum. The museum has a tower with elevator that enables one to get a 360° view of the city and the mountains beyond. We returned to the motel and spent a good bit of time at the pool. I listened to the Giants vs. Orioles and was upset when they blew a six-run lead and lost. After dinner we enjoyed watching more olympics.


Don at Desk

My first desk at Penn’s Neck School in Princeton, NJ was just like this.

Firee Engine

Stage Coach

Pat in Stage Coach

Grand Junction View2

Today we took a long circle ride up to the Grand Mesa National Forest. It was a beautiful drive up to the mesa where we discovered there are about 300 lakes on the mesa. The temperature was 30° less than down below in the valley. On the way back to Grand Junction we stopped in Delta at the Confluence Park where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch, shared with a flock of white geese.

View from Mesa

Grand Mesa Lake

Lunch with Geese2

Lunch with Geese

Back in Grand Junction we stopped at Engstrom’s Candy Store. Our friend Skip Herbert, who served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church here back in the late 80’s, recommended that we stop here to sample their famous Almond Toffee. Sample we did and had to add some to our collection of candies to take home. We also had some delicious ice cream, which ended up spoiling our appetite for diner. After a nap, it was 7pm so we decided to go to Safeway to pick up a couple of light frozen meals to heat up in the microwave in our room. We watched the Olympics while we ate and continued glued to the TV until time for bed.

We had two good days in Grand Junction and leave tomorrow for a return to Richfield, Utah.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The main reason for spending two nights in Montrose was to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Today’s post will be mostly photographs. (I need to give credit where credit is due. Pat has taken most of the photos you see in this blog. She takes dozens of photos from which I am able choose to post in the blog.)

We left the motel about 9:30 to drive about 10 miles on U.S. Highway 50 to the turn off to the Park. There is no way you could even imagine what lay over the horizon of rolling hills. We stopped first at the Visitors Center to view the 20 minute video and get information about the Park. The Center is in a perfect location with a 100 yard walk on a path of steps leading to a strategic overlook. It was a challenge for me with my boot, but with a cane and Pat’s strong shoulder I made it out to the overlook that you will see in a photo below.


Don Climbing

Don at Overlook


After some time at the Visitors Center we drove along the north rim road and stopped at several overlooks. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a very impressive sight to behold. We are glad that we added this special place to our itinerary. If you are ever driving Highway 50 near Montrose be sure to take time to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.


Canyon and River

Canyon and River3In the afternoon we went to the matinee showing of the Jason Bourne movie. I can’t remember the last time we paid $10 for two to go to the movies

Durango to Montrose

On Friday morning it took us about an hour and a half to pack up for the journey north and west. We left KOA a little before 10:00am and met up with Scott, Veronica, and Lassen at a coffee shop downtown near where they live. We spent about an hour sipping drinks and visiting. It was finally time to bid farewell with hugs and kisses after a week that flew by too quickly..

Our destination was Montrose, Colorado, about 120 miles north. But, first we had to stop at Honeyville, a wonderful place with dozens of varieties of honey, spreads, syrups, candies, and peanut brittle. We just had to stop to stock up with some favorites.


North of Durango

The next stop was Silverton, a small town about 50 miles north of Durango and the destination of the Durango & Silverton Railroad narrow gauge train. I think Silverton exists because of the tourists that arrive by train and automobile. This made a perfect stop for lunch and then an ice cream cone. It also gave us a chance to get a close-up look at the train I was hoping to photograph on Thursday. It is interesting that all the streets of Silverton are dirt, except for the main street through town.

Silverton View2

View of Silverton from the road into town.

Silverton Lunch1

Downtown Silverton



About 25 miles north of Silverton is another small town, Ourray. We have heard about the road connecting these two towns for years but never attempted to drive the route with our truck and trailer. It was a twisting, turning, narrow road with shear cliffs on one side or the other. I could see why Scott had warned us to not drive the trailer over the road and Red Mountain Pass. it was a beautiful drive in our Subaru Outback.

Road to Ouray1

Road to Ouray2

Downtown Ouray1

Ouray is a wonderful little town. It was a good break and we were able to get a little exercise after we stopped on Main Street and walked a few blocks. After Ouray it was an easy 40 mile drive to Montrose where we had reservations at the Black Canyon Inn for two nights.

Last Day in Durango

We can hardly believe that our week in Durango is coming to a close so quickly. We started out Thursday by going into town to the Miller Middle School football field where Lassen was in training with the Durango middle schools football team. When we first mentioned to him that we would like to observe his practice he said he didn’t want us to come. Then, later he told us we could come if we wanted to. We observed the training from a distance and enjoyed seeing him participate in something that means so much to him.

Lassen Football3

Lassen Football2

On the way back to our cabin at KOA we filled up with gas at a cost of $2.12.9 per gallon, the least we have paid so far on the trip. We got 492 miles on the previous tank of gas and 30.6 miles per gallon (quite an improvement over our truck, pulling the trailer). We are very pleased with how the Subaru Outback is performing. BTW, we have named our car, “Blue Guardian,” because of all the safety features that are designed to keep us safe (blind spot warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, four-wheel drive, etc.).


After getting gas we stopped downtown to walk a few blocks. We love Durango and enjoy visiting at least once a year. I was somewhat limited in terms of walking because of the orthopedic boot on my left foot. But, it was fun to walk the familiar Main Street.

We returned to our cabin for lunch after which Veronica brought Lassen for the afternoon and a swim. The pool at KOA is wonderful and the water temperature was fairly comfortable. Lassen loves swimming and being playful with his Nana and Pop Pop. When we got back to the cabin Pat asked Lassen if he was hungry and he said, “I’m really hungry.” I can’t remember all that he ate, but it was good for him to help empty out the fridge and the cupboard so we would have less to pack for our departure on Friday.


Pat Lassen in Pool

Scott joined us later in the afternoon. I told Scott I wanted to get a photo of the Durango Silverton train returning to town after a day’s trip to Silverton. We checked the schedule to learn that a train would return at 6:00pm. Scott knew just the spot to get a good photo from a pedestrian bridge over the Animas River with a view of the train on the trestle over the river. Well, 6:00 came and went and wondered what was going on. Scott called Veronica to tell her we would be late for dinner; she said she heard a train whistle so we knew it was on it’s way. However, what a disappointment when only an engine and coal car showed up. Oh well, maybe next year. We have no idea what happened to the rest of the cars, though we did hear more train whistles as we were having dinner. They live not too far from the tracks. After dinner we went to a near-by sports field for Lassen to get in some baseball practice. I even had a chance to pitch to Lassen, but the only photo we got was Scott soft tossing for Lassen to hit. As it was getting dark we returned home to watch a little of the Olympics.


Train on Bridge

Lassen and Scott