Tuesday, May 31, 2016


"To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands."
Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge

Today I wandered by the Great Salt Lake. I'd flown over it, but never gotten this close. 
The horizon goes on and on forever. 
It feels like you can see the curvature of the earth. 
The "sand" is full of minerals, sparkling, taking on many hues. 
Lots of tourists were at the lake taking selfies. 
Including me. 
I'm not sure what Saltair, the building with turrets, is doing here. 
As I was leaving, a parasailor showed up. 
It wasn't really windy enough. Not like Fort Funston. 
He struggled a bit, then got a little lift. 
Not a bad way to waste an afternoon. 
Tomorrow: heading south.

Monday, May 30, 2016

the alps of Nevada

I'm writing from a darkened carriage on the California Zephyr, pressing ever eastward into Utah. 
Today we explored nearby Lamoille canyon, or as Janet calls it, Nevada's best kept secret. 
I'll let you be the judge. 
There's a deep glacier-carved valley. 
The end of the road is still closed with snow so we took a gentle nature walk past this beaver dam. 
Teal swallows flitted by. 
Aspens are beginning to bud. 
This range is called the Ruby Mountains, but the semi-precious stone you see is garnet. 
Then we headed up Thomas Creek toward Fitzgerald peak. 
The streams are filled with snowmelt. 
Waterfalls spill in every direction. 
All public land. You can camp creekside for a few dollars. 
Sometimes the best places are right under your nose. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

basin & range

Before Great Basin became a national park in 1986, the Lehman caves were its main attraction. 
The entrance is at nearly 7000 feet above sea level.
The caves were first discovered and popularized in the mid-19th century by Absalom Lehman who brought tourists in with only a candle.
Ranger Gabby led us deep into the caves.
They were pretty fantastic. 
Huge stalagtites and stalagmites and cave popcorn and bacon.
The colors are a bit muted in the darkness. 
Some of the cavern rooms were large enough to hold 50 people
During prohibition they held dance parties. 
It was awesome. Then we headed up to Wheeler Peak (13,063').
There's still snow at the top. The road goes to 10,000 feet where there's a spacious campground and a trail to the top and another to the Bristlecone pines. 
The mountains are shaped by glaciers, and the elements. 
It began to rain and then hail so we headed back down to Baker. 
The storm clouds were exquisite. 
I loved these rocks near the lower campground. 
After a quick stop at the visitors' center, we headed back to Elko. 
You see all kinds of things in the West. 
These windmills reminded me of dancers. 
Heading over Secret Pass across the Ruby mountains, I spied a double rainbow. 
The sun sets on another great adventure. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

the loneliest highway in America

We drove east toward Ely. 
The hills were filled with wildflowers. 
Indian paintbrush and tiny daisies 
and pretty orange flowers. 
Highway 50 is called the loneliest highway in America for a reason. 
We pulled into East Ely for my first ride on a steam train. 
This is a great place for train geeks
The trains are powered by coal and staffed by volunteers. 
Out the window we saw Ely through a different lens. 
We rode all the way to Keystone canyon, where gold and copper were mined at the Ruth mine. 
Did you know more gold is mined in Nevada than anywhere else in the country? And that gold mining is high tech and pays well? Elko has a large, diverse mining workforce. 
We pulled back into the station after a slow, relaxing ride. I wasn't the only one who fell (briefly) asleep. 
And then it was off to the Utah border, to look at the stars, and Mars, and watch basketball. 
An incredible day in a remote part of the west.