Our Hinkey Summit Adventure

Page had told us about another drive we would enjoy. “If you follow the road through Paradise Valley, you will come to the base of Hinkey Mountain. There is a road to the summit, your Jeep wouldn’t have any trouble,” he said. Frankly, the prospect of getting to do a little 4-wheeling really appealed to me.

First we had to find the road to Paradise Valley. Page had said it was easy. “Head out Hwy 95 for 25 miles or so, when you see a gas station in the middle of nowhere, take that left. That’s the road to Paradise Valley.”  Seems simple enough. Steve and I were enjoying the drive, just chatting about our adventures the previous day (you can read about that here) when I noticed these tiny heads popping up along the side of the highway. “Did you see that? What are those? Look, there’s another one. Slow down, I want to see what it is.” Well, there were cars coming up behind us so slowing down wasn’t an option. Lucky for me, our “middle of nowhere” gas station was just up ahead. Hopefully when we made the left, there would be more heads popping up. Sure enough, as we made our way down Paradise Valley Road, there they were. Steve pulled to the side of the road and I waited anxiously for the critter to makes its appearance. I didn’t have to wait too long…

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They reminded me of the pocket gophers we had seen in Texas but these were prairie dogs. It was comical to watch them pop up and scurry around, only to disappear into another burrow. We watched for a bit then resumed our drive. All the sudden, without a word, Steve banged a u-turn. Huh? What had he seen that I missed? He pulled over again and pointed to one of the prairie dog holes and said “Isn’t that an owl?” We got out the binoculars and sure enough, it was a burrowing owl. The problem was, it wasn’t feeling like being social. Every time we tried to get a picture it either dropped back down into the hole or it would fly off to a fence post just out of camera range. With a little patience we were finally able to  get a few shots…

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Leaving the owls to their activities, we drove on. I was thinking “Wow, Hon, get catch with the owls!” when a pheasant flew into the road. Naturally, it didn’t stay long enough for either of us to get a shot. Now it was my turn…”Pull over!” I wasn’t sure what I had seen, but I wanted a closer look. When I walked over to the fence line, this is what I had seen…

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Hey, it’s still wildlife, it’s just long dead wildlife. As I was getting ready to get back into the Jeep, I looked down the fence line and saw something a little more photogenic…

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Wow, I was loving all this wildlife! Once again, we started back towards Paradise Valley. Finally, we made it and had to get a few pics while we were there. It is another ‘has been’ town with more abandon houses/businesses then occupied, but it has a saloon too…

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We finally found Hinkey Summit Road. It wasn’t going to be 4-wheeling unless the road got a heck of a lot worse further on. With no other vehicle in sight, we crawled along, ever ready for our next wildlife encounter. Steve stopped by a pond and I got out to check it out. Lots of ducks and geese and a couple birds I couldn’t identify at the time…

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American Avocets – Thanks Google!

We came to the entrance to Homboldt National Forest where the road to the summit truly began. I oohed and aahed at the scenery…

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I took pictures of the winding road…

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As we neared the summit, I noticed a natural bridge…

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At the summit, we almost got to go 4-wheeling. There was still snow to play in…

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OK, not really enough snow to 4-wheel in. Perhaps it was the elevation getting to me but I had an idea – I would take a video on the way back down the mountain. Maybe not my best idea ever, but what do you think…

Thanks for coming along.

I am almost caught up. I have one more post about our trip then I will start on arriving in Alaska and our adventures so far (there have been some cool ones!)

Searching For A Cold Beer

We left Beatty (and hopefully all of Waldo’s troubles) and headed north. So far, most of our getting to Alaska trip had been west. Now it was time to go north. The drive from Beatty was hundreds of miles of absolutely nothing but breathtaking scenery. Once again we were on the side of the road, but this time for a good reason. I wanted pictures of the amazing landscape around us…

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We were traveling on Hwy 376 when the GPS said to take the next exit onto The Loneliest Road in America. I looked at Steve and asked “What did the GPS just say?” Sure enough, the stretch of Route 50 through Nevada is called The Loneliest Road in America! Some day, I’d like to travel the entire 3000 mile of Route 50. It goes from Ocean City, Maryland to West Sacramento, California.

When I was researching our stops, I found a New Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca. Originally, we were just going to spend the night and move on, but it looked like there were lots of things to do and see there. I had picked up a bunch of brochures at the office and we spent our first evening there trying to decide what adventure would be first on the list. In the morning, we decided to visit some of the ghost towns in the area. While I was pouring over the brochures, Steve was searching AtlasObscura.com. What he found sounded way cooler than what I had found. A ghost town that wasn’t a ghost town! And, it had a saloon! Before we headed out to find the saloon, we had to pick up some supplies. We were looking for a hardware store and someone said there was an ACE Hardware nearby. Now, that doesn’t sound all that exciting I know. You are probably wondering why I’m mentioning it at all. But…the ACE Hardware was inside of Riddley’s Family Market. Yep, a hardware/grocery store. The only place where you can get pipe fittings and pickles all in one stop. (Thank you Josie) I loved it! With our shopping done, we went in search of a cold beer.

Midas can’t truly be called a ghost town because there are still 9 full time residents. As we made our way further into Nevada’s back country, we passed all sorts of places. Some where beautiful scenery, others made me scratch my head a bit…

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I wonder how many people drive down this dirt road and think “Yeah, I want to buy that”

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We had to stop for the free range cattle a few times

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We were almost to Midas when a tumbleweed blew by us. I’ve seen lots of tumbleweeds in the movies and wanted to see one up close…

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So, the funny thing about this picture is while I was standing there holding a tumbleweed, some of the “locals” drove by. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

With only 3 miles to go, we wondered what we would find in Midas. Was there really a saloon in the middle of nowhere? Here are some of the things we saw when we got to “town”…

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And YES, the saloon…

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Notice the open sign!? Woohoo! Inside, the owner, Page, popped open a couple cold ones for us. We spent the next several hours talking with Page. He was a retired electrician. He had spent 30 years working for a gold mine operation and now owned the saloon. He told us Nevada is the worlds 4th largest gold producer. An article I found confirms this…

4th largest gold producing country 

In fact, if Nevada was a country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest gold producer, behind China, Australia and Russia, according to the US Geological Survey. Reported gold reserves (resources that are economical to mine) at the end of 2015 were about 70 million ounces, enough to sustain gold production near current levels for the next 12 to 15 years, reads a 2016 report from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG).

Wow! I went out to check out more of the town while Steve continued to chat with Page. And who did I see? The folks who had driven by while I was chasing down the tumbleweed. They were nice enough to let me take a picture of their truck…

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Page told us about lots of things we could find near the town, but in the end, we spent so much time chatting with him, we only had time to go to the far north end of town. Here we found the abandon part of town…

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One of the entrances into the mine

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You know I had to go inside and look around!
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An old star drill bit
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Mr. Bunny was kind enough to pose for me

I think this sign was one of my favorite things I saw in Midas..

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With the light and my energy fading, we began the drive back to Waldo. I wondered about the people who had once lived in Midas. Had they found their fortune? Or did they give up and leave everything behind? The town was such a strange mix of abandon, fixed up, new and cold beer. Our final run in with the locals came just as we were nearing the highway back to Winnemucca, riding off into the sunset…

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Up next, our visit to Paradise Valley…

Have you ever gone to a ghost town for a cold beer?