Austin and Carson City NV

After our pretty decent burger in Austin NV at the International Bar and Cafe…we went to bed early as the altitude and the travel day just made us tired. We did stop by and get some milk as ours was bad so we can have cereal for breakfast.

Friday morning…we were on the road after coffee, breakfast, and our limited underway preps needed about 0900 or so for the last 175 miles of our 2 day transit to Carson City NV.

Talk about bleak countryside…the last portion mostly did away with mountain passes…we kept going over these little hills that had chain up and chain down areas on each side…and there were nameplates at the top that said whatever pass and the elevation…but the summit elevations were only between 4,500 and 5,000 feet…and the passes themselves were usually only a few hundred feet higher than the valleys. As we got further westward in the Great Basin…the north to south mountains became more like just a single ridge or two.

Eventually we came down off the last pass…passed through Fallon NV where we were originally going to stay…and after that it was pretty flat to Carson City. On coming around the curve and noticing the really big mountains to our west…those marking the western boundary of the Great Basin…we understood why Carson City was settled…folks had struggled across the Great Basin and found that there was water (the Carson River), things would grow, and they noticed the really big mountains still to their west and said…we’ll just stop here.

Anyways…I forgot to post this image of the ceiling of the International back in Austin…whole lotta felonies with defacing US currency are stuck up there.

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On our arrival in Carson City…we quickly found Comstock Country RV Resort, got checked in, and escorted to our site 135…a nice pull through on gravel albeit a bit short so we had to park Big Red crosswise behind the rig and Li’l Red on the curve to our outside as we’re on the end of the row. The rig we positioned all the way to the front of the site to ensure satellite visibility and to keep the slides out of the trees.

We spent the afternoon resting after doing our regular travel season setup as we’ll be here 8 days…then Neil grilled a steak for dinner and we had the rest of our Beanie Triple Wienie from the other night as a side. It was great…and we started watching some recorded shows on our DirecTV DVR…but by 2115 we were fading fast so it was off to bed for us.

Saturday morning it was time for Fun Stuff©. We headed 100 miles…well, actually only 93…east back through Fallon to Middlegate NV for our first stop.

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Yeah…it’s a tree…a cottonwood tree to be precise…but it’s not your everyday garden variety cottonwood tree…no siree it is not. Ya see…it’s actually…

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Yup…it is the “Shoe Tree”…well actually it is the new and improved “Shoe Tree” as the original was cut down by heartless shoe tree hating vandals who were never apprehended on December 30, 2010…dastardly criminal masterminds who deserve the death penalty Ima tellin’ ya.

It seems that back in the day…google only identifies anecdotal data and it’s specified as “many decades ago”…a newly married couple (from a Reno quickey wedding chapel) were heading eastbound toward some unspecified home and were camping under the tree…when they got into their very first argument as a married couple. According to the legend…the woman was hot tempered and threatened to walk home. Her husband wasn’t having any of this…so he grabbed her shoes, tied them together, and tossed them into the tree…telling her that she could do it barefoot. He then jumped into the car and headed down the highway to the first bar where he proceeded to start drowning his sorrows and relating the story to the bartender. The bartender convinced him to go back and get her…which he did…and they worked out whatever the fight was about…and just like in the fairy tales they lived happily ever after…returning each year to toss another pair of shoes into the tree as symbols of their undying love.

Or something like that…it is legend and I could not find any actual facts.

Somehow this legend seemed interesting to the locals…who are kinda weird after all for living out in the middle of nowhere (I’ll come back to that in a minute…see if I don’t)…and a tradition was born of travelers tossing a pair of shoes into the tree.

At least until the aforementioned heartless shoe tree hating vandals dastardly criminal masterminds who deserve the death penalty done went and cut down the tree. No matter though…it didn’t take long for the locals to christen another nearby cottonwood tree as the new and improved “Shoe Tree”.

I gotta tellya though…I think the ol’ DLETC really blew it on this one…she drug my bear butt 100 (actually 93 as noted above) miles out into the god forsaken middle of nowhere …to see a tree full of shoes.

Think about that…93 miles…for A. Tree. Full. Of. Shoes. And not a stiletto in the bunch that I could see…even though our Field Trip app (that’s a phone app that monitors your location and tells you when something noteworthy is nearby) said they were there. All I could see were sneakers, flip flops, and the occasional pair of boots.

Most amazing of all…some of them were 50 or 60 feet up in the air and as you can see in the wider shot above they’re across branches that are at most an inch thick…so noway-nohow did anybody climb up there. How many times did they have to throw them up before getting them to stay there…especially as they had to crawl down into the stream a total of how many times less one to retrieve the missed tosses.

Anyways…it was a photo op I guess. Connie the DLETC…well she’s claiming that she only went there because it was 2 miles from our next stop and that otherwise she woulda skipped it…but it was still…93 miles…for a tree…full of shoes.

We headed to our next stop…the Middlegate Station which was both a freight station until the late 1800s or early 1900s as well as serving as one of the Pony Express stations during operation from 1860 through 1861. Middlegate still exists as an unincorporated area along the south side of US-50 and it has a single business that we could see…a combined bar, restaurant, convenience store, gas station, and motel. The joint has 2 claims to fame…they claim to have the best hamburger in Nevada…and Stephen King stayed there for 7 days in the 1990s and wrote a portion of his novel Desperation there.

Here is a photo of a plaque on the front of the bar…serving as absolute 100% living proof that this is the middle of nowhere. Yes…Middlegate…population 18, er 17 as somebody musta died…the Middle of Nowhere.

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Me…I always thought the Middle of Nowhere was down in the Atlantic Ocean under the hump of Western Africa and about 2,000 miles southwest from Nigeria. This was based on the old Macintosh operation system 6…back in the early 1980s days of the Macintosh computer…there were these small pieces of software built into the system named Desk Accessories. Anyways…one of these DAs as they were known…well it was Map…and if you called up Map after it loaded you could type in a location and it would locate it on the map for you. Typing in Middle of Nowhere…or MoN, either one would work…took you to this location about where I described it.

So…exactly where…or what…is the Middle of Nowhere. We’ve got some contenders…the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean…Middlegate NV. Now one of my missions is to edumacate ya’ll readers…so I googled it for ya and here’s what I found.

Where it is al depends on what it is…how you define it. According to the googles as President Bush used to say…there are a whole bunch of diners and restaurants that call themselves the MoN…I’ll just use that acronym since Ima gettin’ tired of typing the whole thing…and then there is an album by some band you’ve never heard of…and there’s a MoN movie…and then there’s a song from 2018. Best as I can figger out…there was only one actual definition of MoN to be found…and it was only for the USA. Some guy did the math…his definition for MoN was that it was the location in the USA that was the farthest from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people. By his definition…Glasgow MT is the winner…it is almost on the border with Canuckistan in eastern MT. Seems like a USA centric definition to me.

I did run across another page that had a long philosophical argument that the MoN is wherever you want it to be as long as it’s isolated.

Then there is the image above…it’s written down there in brown and white…and since Macintosh OS 6 is no longer with us Ima going with the documentary proof above.

We had a couple of burgers there…they were quite tasty and were definitely the best burger we’ve had in Nevada…but then we’ve only had 2 so statistically that might not be meaningful…but they were definitely really good burgers and not just adequate.

Neil grabbed a few more photos from inside and outside the place.

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Whole bunch more felonies here too…seems to be some sort of Nevada tradition.

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And a pano of the whole place…the center building is the bar/restaurant/convenience store and the low brown building to the right of the trees in the background is the motel.

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After lunch…we headed back towards Carson City with a couple of stops on the way.

Sand Mountain…which was formed from sand from the beaches of the Ice Age Lake Lahotan about 5 miles southeast of it…but you may know it better by the more catchy and easier to remember Northern Paiute name Panitogogwa…which means “giant rattlesnake heading northeast toward a burrow”.

Distant shot…the technical term for it is a sinuous transverse dune…you can see the RVs parked in the dry camping campground at the base…they come here to ride 4 wheelers up and down the mountain.

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According to wikipedia…Sand Mountain is 2 miles long and 600 feet high. Neil thought he had captured one of the 4 wheelers up on it when he got the images for the panorama below…but he can’t find it…it woulda just been a li’l black dot anyway.

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Aha…found him…he was in the first set of pano images Neil took. This is a highly cropped version of just the farthest left hand of the mountain with the vehicle in it. He was running all the way up to the highest section then coming straight down most of his runs…had to be doing 45 miles and hour going down before coming all the way to his right (image left) to get back into the campground.

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With that we headed for our last destination of the day…and I gotta tellya the ol’ DLETC led us astray on this one…although it wasn’t really her fault I guess. It was this abandoned salt mine about 3 crow flies miles southwest of Sand Mountain but about 7 miles by road…or so she thought. She had grabbed the GPS coordinates which we used to try and navigate there…but instead of getting them herself from the google maps satellite view…she copied them off of another web site and that site had mistyped some of the numbers. We went a half mile east from Sand Mountain then turned south and west toward what we thought was the salt mine on an unpaved, mostly sand road for about 4 miles. We could see the remaining salt mine machinery and buildings…but was on the other side of the salt lake from where we were…and while it looked like the road we were on would eventually get ‘round the lake it was getting progressively more and more sandy. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor since Li’l Red isn’t an off road vehicle…so we gave up, retraced the 4 miles back to the highway…and headed home.

Originally…we were supposed to stop in Fallon to get the final stamp we need (you need 5 total) on our Loneliest Road in America Passport to get our “I Survived…” certificates. The nice lady bartender at Middlegate had the stamps though and took care of us…so we just blasted…well, the speed limit is 25 for about 4 or 5 miles so blasted is the wrong term I guess…on through Fallon then took the Carson Highway south and west to Carson City. We stopped by Walmart to get a few needed vittles…we’ve a larger run scheduled for Wednesday but we needed a pepper and onions for tomorrow’s Carne Asada Grilled Pork…and then headed home for dinner.

We were still pretty full from lunch…at least Neil was…so Connie had a microwave chimichanga and Neil had a handful of crackers a little later. We left room for ice cream later though.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day…and to celebrate it Neil’s gonna do laundry. That is OK with him though because Father’s Day is a made up holiday and nobody gives a hoot about fathers anyway. Connie will head off after Mass and lunch to get her nails done…mebbe she’ll make something out of Father’s Day for him later on…then Neil will grill the aforementioned Carne Asada Grilled Pork…which we’ll have on corn tortillas for dinner.

We have more Fun Stuff© scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday…with mostly do nothing days on Wednesday and Friday…I’ll report on those later on in the week.

Interesting stuff found in our email this week…but email comes via the internet so clearly this falls under the “interesting stuff found on the net” category.






About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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