2002 Q2 Vacation:  3846.3195ÕN, 11727.39441ÕW

Day 4: 19 May 2002

00:00 UTC Š 02:00 UTC (Austin)

I was pretty tired, but after putting my stuff in the room and taking a shower to clean up, I went to look for food.  Of the couple places on the main street, I picked on little cafŽ.  I was the only customer.  There was a couple that apparently ran the place, and their young daughter.  The wife served me and did the cooking, while the dad played video poker and the little girl ran all over the place getting under her momÕs feet when she wasnÕt running outside.  I got some fish and chips.  I probably could have eaten more!  But I just had my one serving, then headed back to the motel room.

02:00 UTC Š 05:00 UTC (Chill)

I then followed my usual pattern.  Back in the hotel room I did email and watched some TV.  The motel only had HBO though.  Only HBO.  No other channels.  So I watched some movie about Lyndon Johnson they had on. 

05:00 UTC Š 15:00 UTC (Sleep)

But I was pretty tired.  So I feel asleep relatively early.  I intended to get up earlier than I had been (with the exception of the night in the tent) to get an early start on a last attempt on the random spot.  So sleeping early was good too.

15:00 UTC Š 18:00 UTC (Slow Wake)

In the morning I woke up gradually.  I listened to some radio.  I watched a little TV.  I answered some email.  I wrote some of this journal.  Then I finally got up, showered, and lugged my stuff back into the car.  Then it was time for another attempt on the random spot.  If I didnÕt make it today, I could probably squeeze in one last attempt before having to go home.  But I really wanted to do it now.  I wanted to do something else the next day.

18:00 UTC Š 20:00 UTC (Back to the Valley)

I tried this time to find another route in toward my spot.  I found it in the form of another one of the dirt roads that went straight for many many miles.  My GPS called it ŅOld Hwy 21Ó but it was not labeled at all in real life as far as I saw. 



And sure enough, eventually it turned out to be the road that went in front of my good friends the Smiths.  I passed their ranch, then I got to the point I got stuck.  And got me there a lot faster than other ways I could have gone. 


I then went the way the Smiths had told me.  Up a bit further, take the next left.  It looped back around, and got back to the spot I would have been at if IÕd not gotten stuck.  It then continued up toward the hills.  Specifically, up toward Mahogany Hill.  My GPS showed my random spot just off the peak of Mahogany Hill, which was about 9000 feet or so, perhaps a little higher.  I forget.  The main road through the valley was at 7000 something feet I think.  Anyway, the road quickly got narrow and steep and 4WD drive only again. 



A bunch of twists and turns later, I was about 0.4 miles from my random spot.  The path continued up the mountain, but in the wrong direction.  So it was time to get out and hike.

20:00 UTC Š 21:00 UTC (The Random Spot)

I get out my handheld GPS and start out on foot.  Less than half a mile.  I should be able to see it from here.  But it was up hill.  Steeply up hill.  Not rock climbing or anything.  But still a nice steep hike.  It looked like my random spot was near a fold in the hill.    A little ravine.  I headed up and around to try to get there.  Then finally had to cross the ravine as it became clear that the spot was definitely on the other side. 


Now, about half way to the spot, I realized that I had not brought my water.  I hadnÕt even thought of it.  It was only half a mile.  Why would I need it?  Of course, it was steep, and it was at altitude.  Half way up I was very thirsty, and a bit winded.  And it didnÕt help that the wind was whipping around at gale force speeds.  I was almost knocked over by the wind several times.  Oh well, no going back now.  I kept pushing on.


In the last 500 feet I pulled out my video camera to record the final approach.  As I slogged through each few feet, getting slowly closer and closer, I counted it down.  50 feet, 40 feet, 30 feet, 20 feet, 10 feetÉ  Zero!!  I was at the actual random spot!!!! 



For the second quarter in a row I had made it not just to the general vicinity of the spot, but right there to the actual spot!!  This was great!  It made me feel bad that some of the other times I hadnÕt tried harder to get to the actual spot.  Nova Scotia might have been hard, but I was very close in California and Quebec.  I could have done it, but just choose to stay at the closest point I could get with a car.  Oh well!


Back to the present thoughÉ  I was at the random spot.  It was at an altitude of 8611 feet above sea level.  Not quite at the top of Mahogany Hill, but pretty far up it.  So what was actually at the random spot?  Oh.  A bush.



And an amazing view down into the valley.



And views up the hill toward the top of Mahogany Hill.



I spent a few minutes up there enjoying the view and catching my breath a bit. 



Then it was time to head back down to the truck.

21:00 UTC Š 23:00 UTC (Back North)

So, on the way back I decided to try to attack again the spot where I had gotten stuck.  I had to show that spot who was the master.  So I approached to from the backside.  The I got out and assessed the situation.  The spot where I actually got stuck was definitely a no go.  Because of me being stuck, it was even worse than it was before.  It was a big mud pit.  Off to the left was a ravine that was pretty solid.  I would not sink in it.  And the far side had a nice slope I could go up on.  But the near side was a three foot cliff.  I did not want to try that.  So I looked off on the other side.  There was a much deeper ravine, but it looked like, just barely, there was a way I could maneuver the truck in and out of it.  I planned the route carefully.  I went a few feet at a time, stopped, reassessed, and then continued.  And I made it through!  I was thrilled!!!


My next goal was food.  The closest place as per the GPS was ŅCold Springs StationÓ. 



So of course, that is where IÕd be heading.  And of course, IÕd try to go the back way as much as possible.  So my route took me on more dusty roads, with more cows and horses.  And an elk!!




I didnÕt get that great a picture because it took me a bit to get the camera out.  But I tried!




It also started getting windier and dustier.  Not too bad, but it looked really cool.


Then, on a lonely part of US 50 (ŅThe loneliest road in AmericaÓ) I saw Cold Springs Station.  Nothing to be seen for miles around, except the little restaurant sticking out.  (OK, there was a little grouping of trailers behind it too, probably Cold Springs.)  Anyway, this was it.

23:00 UTC Š 00:00 UTC (Cold Springs Station)

Inside Cold springs station there were only three people.  One guy behind the bar, one in front of it, and a woman at the food counter.  I went ahead and sat down at the food counter and ordered a burger.  While I was waiting for my food, the dust and wind started kicking up outside, and visibility dropped fast.  The folks at the bar started talking about how bad it was and how they hadnÕt seen it like that.  I actually went to talk to them.  ŅSo, you mean it isnÕt always this way?Ó  They said this was very rare.  It was now much worse than when IÕd been out there.  There was nothing but dust outside.  They asked about me and we chatted for a minute or two about where IÕd been and where I was going.  Nice folks.


Then my burger arrived.  About the same time a bunch more people started coming in, a family, and some other folks.  They started to play pool.  But everybody was also talking about the wind and dust. 



I though was preoccupied with my burger.  It was a really incredible burger.  Maybe I was just really hungry, but I think it was a really great burger. 


By the time I was done, the dust had died down outside, although it was still really windy.  They had an old fashioned gas pump outside.  The kind with the spinning numbers.  I hadnÕt seen one of those in ages, and donÕt know if IÕd ever actually used one.  So I filled up on gas. 



The bartended guy actually came outside to read the meter and write down the numbers before walking back in to ring me up on the similarly old fashioned cash register.  It was like being in a time machine to the 50Õs or something.


While I was in Cold Springs, I had cell coverage for the first time in a long while.  So I made a call and made my reservations for my activity for the next day, a glider lesson that IÕd seen a pamphlet for when I arrived in Reno.  Once I had verified that I had a spot for that the next day, I knew where IÕd stay that night, Minden, where the gliders were.  So off I wentÉ