Saturday, July 23, 2011

EJCGC - Episode VIII - Military Activity in Nevada

Whoa... More desert, and more desert, and more desert! Today's trek was a bleak look at the Nevada wilderness. Based on our alien experience at Longstreet Casino, it made sense that we were perched on the edge of a huge military reserve and the infamous Area 51. The military picked the right place, it's in the middle of nowhere and it's impossible to get to - range after range of plus 100 degree desert and mountains, no water, just death, death death!


We started today's leg in the Amargosa Valley, through Goldfield, Mina, Hawthorne, Fallon and finally stopping in Sparks - a suburb of Reno. The landscape was empty and hot and full of weird minerals and salty, shallow lakes. Here's the route, note the similarities with the pic above...

Sadly, we went through several mining towns that are all but dying, particularly Goldfield and Mina - beautiful buildings from the 1800's that are near condemnation. We drove through Hawthorne and saw a weird set of bunkers and odd, ghostly warehouses. We slowly realized that Hawthorne Nevada is a U.S. Army Depot where ammunition is made, tested and stored. Endless rows of ammunition bunkers dot both sides of the road. According to Wikipedia, "The depot covers 147,000 acres and has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers. It is said to be the largest such facility in the world." Friendly! Here's a pic...


Just to the north of Hawthorne is Walker Lake. The East Walker river drains into it and over the past 20 years has become shallower and shallower. The lake is about 18 miles long and about 8 miles wide the longer axis running north and south. Walker lake is very salty and as of 2004 the salinity of the lake made it difficult for native fish to live. In addition, irrigation has made the water level drop over 140 feet over the past century. That said, it is a beautiful body of water. Here's a pic from the car...

The RV park we're staying in tonight is in the shadow of a large casino and on the shores of the Truckee River - a perfect end to a bizzare day in Nevada. We're on the homestretch to Ashland tomorrow. Can't wait to see my beautiful wife, and our needy cat!

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