In terms of urban landmarks, Nevada is the least thrilling state we have visited to date. That is, not considering its southernmost tip that encompasses Las Vegas. Yet in fulfillment of the self-imposed obligation to diligently travel through all 50 U.S. states, we had to explore Nevada way beyond the four miles of the Strip.
Luckily, there is sufficient beauty in the Nevadan countryside to have made the trip worthwhile. These, for instance, are the views we were greeted with before we even reached Reno going east on highway 80.
As our first activity in Reno we promenaded a short stretch of the Truckee River Walk.
The place is frequented by locals and is perfect for an evening stroll (the sun is a bit too intense during the day). Along the river walk we spotted a few lovely churches.
In the same neighborhood we observed a number of handsome flightless (or at least reluctant to fly) birds. Our later research identified those as Steller’s jay.
Sadly, our first stop in Reno proved to be our last because the Bartley Ranch Regional Park was closed, as cautioned by another, significantly less alive representative of Reno’s fauna, strategically placed at the park’s gates.
Half-an-hour later we were cruising the streets of Carson City. Well, crawling, actually, since the central roads were all under repair. Still, that hardly bothered us as we only had three places to see.
First was the Paul Laxalt Building, which—not at all obvious—functions as a post office.
Carson City being the capital of Nevada, we made the traditional stop at the State Capitol building. As far as the looks go, certainly not the worst (yet far from best) we had seen.
Last came the Nevada State Railroad Museum. Albeit the outdoor exhibits are few in number, the museum is a great family destination. What sets it apart from other similar museums is that its custodians allow visitors to interact with showpieces and personally operate most of the equipment on display. Everybody is welcome to peek inside a steam engine, blow a bellows whistle, ride a handcar, or go for a quick spin in a passenger car.
Before setting our course for Southern Nevada, we made a quick detour to the small town of Dayton. Actually, not Dayton, and not even Nevada or USA for that matter, but a whole other country—Republic of Molossia. A country self-proclaimed and governed by its president, one and
lonely only Kevin Baugh, who, along with his family, constitutes the republic’s entire population.
En route to Tonopah we descried a few pleasant sights, and though I would not call the trip monotonous, it was certainly uneventful.
Probably, the most exciting scenery we encountered along that entire stretch of US-95 was that around Walker Lake.
We reached Tonopah in the early evening, which was very convenient, for our only destination in town coincided with that night’s lodging—the Clown Motel and Cemetery.
Yes, a motel-and-cemetery combo in the midst of rural Nevada. To creepify the situation, a suspicious old pick-up truck, with an unruffled cat on top, was parked on the side of the cemetery:
The motel does not bear its name for nothing; its entire premises are permeated by the clown theme. Clowns are in the office,
on the doors,
and on the walls of each room.
In reality, of course, the whole experience was hardly creepy, not the least owning to the high occupancy of the building. In ideal conditions, though, the Clown Motel and Cemetery could be a great venue for a horror flick.
The next morning we made for the ambitiously named International Car Forest of the Last Church in Goldfield. While navigating around in search of the landmark, we discovered curious historic (and not-so-historic) stuff in neighboring parts of town.
But the car forest was incomparably better. I would say a perfect place for selfies and portraits.
Though in essence the Car Forest is just an elaborate car disposal site, it is no without artistic pretenses.
One thought that I could not help rethinking in the back of my mind is how much effort it required to dig all those vehicles into the ground. Oh, and whether the school bus would topple if we climb on it (it did not).
Goldfield marked the end of the Nevada segment of our trip. A glimpse of the beautiful mountain ranges in the distance minutes before we crossed the state’s border near South Tahoe was a nice final touch.
Map of Nevada: