I love driving long distance. Road trips have always been one of my favorite activities. It is one thing to fly to a location for vacation, but to really know the landscape and get a feel for it, you have to drive. Passing through small towns, hamlets, disheveled settlements, etc., there are so many unique and wonderful kernels to uncover. These small towns offer so much of America to discover, and an opportunity to learn something about our short history is always entertaining.
On the way to Vegas, we passed many landscape features, man-made landmarks, and assorted oddities that I came home with a list of things to explore via Internet, always considering a future visit. Of particular note:
Most probably pass right through this sleepy little Ag town, but you may want to stop a moment and consider its history. The history so rich and dramatic here, any passerby would be foolish not to slow down and learn a bit. Here the Modoc tribe lived for hundreds of years, and of particular note, Captain Jack's stronghold - a natural fort where the Modocs held off the army for over 5 months. Not far from here, Lava Beds National Monument resides, just outside of town a dozen or so miles and visible from the highway for a time while passing through. Caves, lava formations, and considerable exploration opportunities await.
Tonopah & Goldfield, NV
These two old mining towns were once major population centers, believe it or not. Tonopah, known for it's rich silver mines, and Goldfield, a high volume gold producer, began the 20th century in true prospector style, growing to large populations rapidly before submitting to the ill fate so many boom towns ultimately succumbed to. Of particular note, check out the amazing architecture in Goldfield's downtown, and the cool mining towers overlooking Tonopah. A great place to see history and how the west developed.
The Gateway to Death Valley, this little hustle and bustle town lay at the eastern entrance to one of my favorite places on earth. A great place to check in, fuel up, and take a drink before making the grade into the Valley of Death...
While gas prices soar and summer turns up the heat, consider making a trip to the desert this spring to see the many jewels it offers. You won't be disappointed. While I am not a fan of Vegas (no disrespect, of course), I am definitely delighted to have made my way there in a fashion that I could learn a few things along the way.