The second trip to Goldfield, Nevada, with my cousin Mila, went off without a hitch…except for the one connecting the Wanderlust to the car.
As is typical, I spend a couple of days preparing the trailer, packing gear, etc. Each trip seems to have its own special requirements, meaning I remove the unneeded items, weight being the primary consideration, and install things that make a guest more comfortable, like the heavy memory-foam mattress that fits the front bed, normally used by the girls when I travel alone.
The 350 mile trip would take a normal person about six hours to drive, but never one to be in any hurry, it took us more like ten hours, which included some interesting stops to visit places that Google Maps had identified as well…interesting.
Transcribing from my journal will necessitate this being related in several chapters. It will prove to be stultifying to anyone who wasn’t actually riding along, but, since I anticipate that Mila may enjoy devoting some time to reliving the experience from my viewpoint, here goes.
We had nicely pulled into the parking lot at the Mad Greek (in Baker) and walked the dogs to a well-used pee spot, when the thought of restroom facilities excited our bowels. What wonderfully trained things these mature bodies are!
Despite the restaurant’s dramatically Covid-abbreviated menu, Mila zeroed in on a veggie quesadilla that sounded appealing to both of us. The dessert case held an even more limited assortment of sweets but Mila ordered a small box of mixed treats, cookies and baklava for $25. Immediately curious as to what these expensive items would taste like, we bit into one of the powdered sugar-coated cookies. All conversation ceased as we attempted mastication. Muffled sounds of distress ensued until we managed to wash some of it down with iced tea. As luck would have it,we had invited the girls to join us on the patio, and they, having no need of any chewing, happily gulped the remainder of our cookies down and even offered to eat more of them.
Back on the road, the miles passed quickly, even at our trailer-towing modest pace of 60 mph…oops! I mean 55. The speed limit in California is 55 for autos towing trailers. Interestingly, the laws of physics that mandate this maximum speed, are somehow more forgiving in Utah and Nevada.
The Mojave Desert is stark and seemingly infinite. Traffic was mostly non-existent. The hills that rimmed the valley, through which the road sliced straight to the horizon, provided comforting relief from the immensity of the panorama.
Salt Hills provided a timely break in the drive. The girls and I hiked a couple of miles to what was purported to be “the oldest standing structure in California”. I’ll let you be the judge of the use of the word “standing”. Mila relaxed in the shade of an Athel grove, trees imported from the Middle East that thrive in the Mojave wherever there is a water source.
As usual, each curve in the trail beckoned me further. At one point, I texted Mila to ask if I should return, but she didn’t respond, so I took that as permission to continue. Of course, there was no cell signal but this didn’t seem relevant to my decision.
Our next stop was about an hour and a half up the road, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. The visitor’s center entailed a six mile drive down a ribbed gravel road, so we were astounded to find a beautiful LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) awarded building and a mile-long boardwalk that meandered along a spring-fed stream.
We relaxed in the shade beside the spring, enjoying the bird songs and the tranquility of the clear pool. After about 15 minutes, another visitor came by and acted apologetic for intruding on our enjoyment of the space. We moved on to allow him the solitary experience.
Naturally, I had researched places to eat along the way and found a small Mexican diner, El Valle, at a wide spot in the road just a few miles from Ash Meadows. A whiff of stale grease greeted us at the door, but the underwhelming décor inside boded well for good food. It looked like the mother/daughter team was proficient, with mom in the kitchen and daughter covering the dining room.
Chips and salsa were served; the chips weren’t remarkable but the salsa stood out, which made me optimistic that the chile relleno I’d ordered would be good too. Indeed! A sweet poblano stuffed with quality cheese and smothered in a savory sauce was cradled in freshly simmered beans, refried with the perfect amount of salt and lard, along with the requisite fluffy rice. Mila’s juevos Mexicana were deemed very good as well, though they didn’t look nearly as tempting as my dish.
The last couple of hours driving into Goldfield passed pleasantly as we enjoyed our tired legs, full bellies and the spectacular desert panorama unfolding ahead of us.