After the Locke debacle, (more like one in a series of Locke events) we managed to salvage the rest of our time at Great Basin NP thanks to a park ranger who sneaked us into the last afternoon tour of Lehman Caves. Not-so-fun fact: the bats are dying. We became aware of this back at the Ozarks when we tried to visit the caves there, but found them closed off due to the spread of white nose syndrome. People, wipe your feet when you walk into other’s homes!
Lehman caves is still accessible and touristed out, but whatever, I get to be in my first cave! The morphology and structure of caves are mental – the bubbly popcorn guts, the draped cave bacon, the pointy stalactites, the massive shields – it felt like we were strolling through earth’s intestines and we were just poop ready to be released. Actual-fun fact: there is historical graffiti in the cave from the late 1800’s when there use to be parties and people burnt their signature by candlelight! Disclaimer: NOT an excuse to go tagging a national landmark with hopes that in 50 years your asinine act may be considered “cool.”
From there it was time to realize our fate. The highway that runs through Nevada is endearingly called “The Loneliest Road,” so you can imagine how actually lonely it was for us on the TAT. It was only a couple of times where we saw someone on a sport bike or an ATV killing it through the desert trails. I guess if you’re going to live somewhere like Nevada you better be badass.
I have gotten into a terrible habit of not putting on my seat-belt now. It’s from this journey that I prepare for scenarios where I’ll have to run out and turn on the locking hubs, or open up barbed gates, or maneuver the car out of someplace sticky, or get ready to jump out and catch the car before it falls off a cliff. I can at least save the dogs. In Nevada, it felt like every 5 minutes I had to get out and open up some crude and inconvenient gate, so of course I stopped buckling my seat-belt.
At one point we took respite in Las Vegas and gambled the dogs away, stuffed a 10 person party in the Samurai, and danced the night away… Just kidding! But, we did detour out to Winnemucca for some refreshing smoothies (yea, yea, not a very rugged thing to do). Outside of the café at Winnemucca we met three people from Oregon: Malory, her fiancée Rob, and his brother Shaggy (I don’t remember his name but he reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby-doo). We ended running into Malory and Rob again here in Eugene, OR and he hooked up our Rob with his current job! Crazy small world.
We finished up Nevada by driving through the many mountain ranges of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Sheldon National Refuge. I did not realize that there were so many mountain ranges in Nevada until Rob dropped down some knowledge about the Great Basin and Range; it once used to be filled with water! There was so much I did not know about this state, and as we were passing the mountains they now looked to me like wise wrinkled elephant skin.