Everyone was dying to get in: Old cemeteries have a unique way of drawing the humanity out
Tombstones, Bucket of Blood Saloon, and the Biggest Little City
In the morning, Del was brushing the frost off his tent, our small fire warmed our backsides, and fresh coffee was brewing on the stove. The sky was clear and the compass beckoned us north. Our morning ritual, Willie Nelson's On the Road Again (followed by anything by Jimmy Buffett) got our blood moving for another day. A half dozen antelope darted across the track in front of us, and prickly poppies, jimson weed and prince's plume, all in bloom, lined our route as we traversed a narrow canyon to Fletcher Junction and the remnants of the Pine Grove mining district. After snooping around the bone yard in Pine Grove, we got a surprise visit from the, uh, guard? We didn't know it, nor did we see anything posted, but Pine Grove is a privately owned mine. We assured the guy we were harmless and stupid tourists, and made our exit north towards Smith Valley.
One of the truly special things about the state of Nevada is that the Wild West and wide-open spaces still remain. And, you can get just about everywhere on a dirt track if you choose. We slipped onto a few miles of pavement (maybe three) to fuel up in Smith Valley, a small agricultural community southeast of Carson City, before traversing the lee slope of Mt. Como, through the Como Mining District and on to Virginia City.
Along Bodie's dusty streets and wood-planked boardwalks, old billiard halls, churches, and
As the days rolled into weeks, the cab of the JK was taking on the aroma of a dirty sock bag, and we figured a hot shower, some good grub and a few cold suds were in order. After the previous day's storm, we rolled into Virginia City looking like we'd been sprayed with a mud cannon. The clock had just passed 10:00 p.m. when we wandered into the Bucket of Blood Saloon on Main Street. It's the kind of name that you can't help but to pose the question: "How did it get its name?" The barkeep just raised an eyebrow when we queried the subject (online research revealed nothing concrete). We speculated that since Virginia City was one of the boomingest mining districts in the West (the Mother Lode is said to have produced almost $500 million in silver alone), somewhere in the mix of crusty miners, rotgut whiskey, ladies of pleasure, and handy revolvers tempers flared and the blood occasionally spilled. Maybe here?
Mile 1026, Reno, NV, Lat: N39º 31' 34": The skyline of the world's Biggest Little City spread across the valley as we descended Rattlesnake Mountain grade into Reno. Del needed to be at Terrible's Casino for the W.E.Rock "Reno Rocks" event. (By the way, if you are getting a room in Reno, Las Vegas, etc., Terrible's is totally supportive of the racing and four-wheeling scene.) In Reno, I'd be kicking my old buddy Del to the curb in favor of my lovely wife Suzanne (she's way better looking). There really isn't any way to get in and out of major cities on dirt tracks, and we sacrificed another 30 miles to our tar-road tally. But well worth it! The event rocked, and sacrifices must be made.
John Fremont, the Smoke Creek Desert, and Bruno's
Though fences, paved roads, and so-called wilderness areas are boxing in the Wild West, Nevada is still a premier destination for backcountry travel. Saying a sobbing goodbye to Del (I'd soon be missing his cab karaoke version of Jimmy Buffett's Four Lonely Days), the new Border-to-Border crew loaded up and continued north to Red Rock Road and Eagle's Roost Ranch, gateway to Nevada's great northern desert.
Much of Border-to-Border route was just plan winging it, and ours were the first tracks in
Luckily, my old buddy Del is good with a shovel.
Whoa there, pardner-mind yourself around that newfangled iron horse. Near Virgina City, th