Saturday, August 31, 2013

Across the West and Back: The First Day

We set out in the afternoon of the first day, intending to make it as far as Elko, NV, where we planned to do some shopping for events scheduled for the third and fourth days of the trip (see the route of first day way below).

Because of our location (and not so much because of the location of our primary destination), we began our trip on the partly buried, partly extant route of Historic U.S. 40, which in Nevada has in most places been wiped out by I-80. We began with what might be considered a time-honored way of starting a trip on old 40: we ate lunch at The Griddle, an establishment on the main street through town, a street known as Winnemucca Boulevard, one of the remaining active sections of Historic U.S. 40 in Nevada. As for what old 40 is called now, one section of the main street running concurrent with the route of old 40 is now signed business I-80, and between I-80 exit 176 on the west side of town and the main intersection at Melarkey, it's cosigned U.S. 95. Historic U.S. 40 both west and east of the main intersection is partly coincident with the mostly unsigned S.R. 289, and NDOT shows much of the western section of of Wnmca Blvd, still along the route of old 40, as FRHU15 and 20. On the east side of town, where Wnmca Boulevard no longer follows old 40, it is signed S.R. 794.

Partly because I've driven I-80 east and west between Wnmca and Elko in the last couple years, and partly because I was driving the first shift, I took few photos the first day. (For more photos along this route, see this earlier post.)

At the Beowawe rest stop, I could see the Beowawe spring terrace off to the southwest, and I fully intended to take a photo of the terrace, although now that The Geysers have stopped geysing, the terrace is less photogenic than it used to be. Apparently, though, what we used to see from I-80 in the mid-late 70s was an impressive artesian release of water after "vandals blew the caps from four steam wells on the main terrace sometime prior to 1972" (NBMG, 2008). You can see this unnatural "geyser" (artesian water and steam release) in this video, and you can see some old photos of the actual geysers here, and read Rinehart (1968) for an early report.

While at the rest stop, I became distracted by the native American jewelry being sold, and was then distracted by the virga hanging from clouds off to the south, so I took a photo with the tiny berg (or ghost town) of Beowawe below clouds, instead of the spring terrace!
Photo looking south across Whirlwind Valley toward the notch at Beowawe,
with Mt.Tenabo of the Cortez Mountains in the background on the right.
The Cortez mine complex in Crescent Valley is near the base of Mt. Tenabo .

After our short break at the Beowawe rest stop, we continued eastward, finally making it across the hills of the southern Tuscarora Mountains via Emigrant Pass.

We experienced a lot of road construction on our trip, especially in Nevada where I-80 has been undergoing major repairs for at least the third year in a row. We have kind of become inured to the construction — ho hum, just another 55 mph zone, how long will this one last?

Consequently, when we were funneled into the westbound lane just east of Carlin while approaching the Carlin Tunnels, I didn't think much of it at first. Suddenly, however, realizing that the westbound traffic must be somewhere while we were going into the westbound lanes through the tunnels, I perked up and looked around. Sure enough, the westbound traffic was being diverted onto an old section of Historic U.S. 40 through Carlin Canyon, right by the famous Carlin Canyon unconformity! Those lucky dogs!

You can drive a part of old U.S. 40 from Carlin's main street (S.R. 221) east into the canyon along a road NDOT calls FREL05 anytime you'd like, but old 40 terminates rather abruptly against I-80 just east of the Carlin Tunnels (Google Street View from the west and from the east). The route is used occasionally as a hazardous materials bypass of the tunnels — and is apparently used during bouts of tunnel maintenance.

We contemplated turning around at the next exit (the California Trail Interpretive Center exit) so we could drive on old 40 through Carlin Canyon. That turnaround, involving a second turnaround at the east Carlin exit would have added about an hour onto our day's journey, so — hoping to make it back sometime before the completion of the Carlin Tunnels Project — we went on in favor of our needed shopping.

An opportunity missed, or an opportunity postponed?


View Day 1: Winnemucca to Elko in a larger map

The Google Maps image shows the first day's 124-Google-mile trip with photo locations and a few geographic locations. I've taken to calling trip miles indicated by Google Maps "Google miles," because the mileage is approximate.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Huge Amounts of Smoke in Nevada from California Fires

Yesterday while I was at work, a large, relatively high, cloudlike layer of smoke moved in from the southwest. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, but I took some pictures after work.
This is what the smoke bank (after "cloud bank") looked like over Winnemucca Mountain at about 7:00 pm yesterday evening.
The leading edge of the smoke bank had already moved past Winemucca, and I got a shot of it while it was probably already as far east as Golconda.

Today's trip to work was highlighted by an orange, just-past-full moon and a red, rising sun. The smoke thickened through the day, blocking views of all but the closest mountains on the trip back this afternoon.
This is what the top of the mountain looked like this evening at 6:16 pm.
The sun was orange at that time, becoming red before it sank behind the mountain.

Smoke from three major fires was streaming into western Nevada through the day, with two shown on the satellite image below, a screen capture from Intellicast. While watching the visible satellite loop, I was surprised to see a bright flash at the end of the oop (on both Intellicast and NOAA). I've circled the flash below. The flash (the fire itself, I think), and the associated smoke plume is from the huge Rim Fire located north of Yosemite Valley. A second streaming plume is visible to the NNW, west of Carson City (and west of Lake Tahoe); that plume is from the smaller American Fire. A fire south of Yosemite Valley, not seen in the screen capture below, was also streaming smoke into Nevada: that may be the relatively small and mostly contained Aspen Fire, or maybe another fire I'm unaware of.
Screen capture from about 2:30 pm, of visible satellite channel from Intellicast.com. Cyan circle outlines the bright flash at the center of the Rim Fire.

UPDATE 25Oct2013: There's a great satellite a GIF of the fire for the period 16Aug through 3Sept on the Google Earth Time Machine blog (h/t +Brian Schrock).

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip

This little post will serve as an introduction to the trip MOH and I took recently through parts of five western states.

It was a trip of views...
Looking south toward Zion from Utah S.R. 14.
And of new places.
Fog coming off volcanic rocks, as seen from Colorado S.R. 34, AKA Trail Ridge Road, AKA Highway to the Sky, in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Another view from Trail Ridge Road (with snow!) from above 11,000 feet, possibly from above 12,000 feet.
A trip with roadcuts...
On the road to Dinosaur National Park, from just outside Dinosaur, CO,
looking south. Utah says this is Jurassic Entrada Sandstone on the Jurassic Carmel Formation. Colorado is vaguer about its formations.
And old roads...
Looking straight down old U.S. 40 (West Wendover Boulevard, Wendover, NV) from I-80 toward the Great Salt Lake Desert.
U.S. 40 in Utah, with an old alignment of 40 off in the bushes.
(Which road did my family and I travel on in 1957?)
A trip over lots and lots of Mancos Shale, especially in UT and CO...
Mancos Shale just west of the UT-CO stateline near Dinosaur,
with a bit of Mesaverde Group sandstone on top.
Mancos Shale, seemingly everywhere, looking south from U.S. 40
near Elk Springs, CO.
And a trip of wonderful cross bedding.
Navajo Sandstone along Utah S.R. 89 about 6 miles north of Kanab.
The map shows major locations or stopping points on the trip, not locations of photos.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What to Blog about Next: Version XVII or Thereabouts

(Not that I've been keeping track.)

I've been busy with various and sundry things, bloggable and unbloggable. First and foremost, my work schedule, with its essentially 12-plus-hour days, has been keeping me tied up much of the late winter, spring and summer. The long hours result primarily from fairly par-for-the-course long drive times to mines, projects, and field areas in northern Nevada.

I've started and left a few things behind during the last year or two of these longer work days, and I've got a couple things in process (or at least in mind for future posting):

1) In process/unfinished: my Geographic Center of Nevada posts, the last one here, with a list of those completed.

2) Ongoing but not posted to recently: my Highway 50 series — with a list of posts here (and although I updated the list recently, the list is likely incomplete).

3) Not really started, except for the driving part: driving old U.S. 40 (posts currently tagged highway 40).

4) New: a not started series (perhaps) of a recently completed large-loop road trip which, by state, went from NV, through UT, to and through CO, into northern NM, into AZ, back into NM, back into and through AZ, into and through southwestern UT, and back to NV, for a total of more than 2600 miles in 11 days. A map of this trip, with a few side trips and some details left out, is shown below. Sorry that I didn't have time to visit anyone located along the route (possibly including at least three or four geobloggers). We had a kind of whirlwind tour of the places where we weren't visiting family and friends, but did somehow manage to at least briefly visit five National Parks and Monuments, and passed quite close to at least three others.


Pictures of the trip will follow, possibly with very little commentary, perhaps on the order of what Lockwood has been doing with his Geo365 series over at Outside The Interzone, probably not as regularly.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Las Vegas Growth from Google Timelapse

Just realized you can now embed views from Google's Earth Engine Landsat Time Viewer, so here's a couple quick embeds of the growth of Las Vegas from 1984 through last year:



It took me a few attempts, and some html changes, to get it to post the exact area I wanted to see.

UPDATE 2Aug2013: I just changed the first one so it didn't go into autoplay mode. To play, click the arrow. You'll notice that both version do the zooming in to the chosen site.

UPDATE 6Aug2013: In fact, I just disable the autoplay mode on the second one. Too annoying, eating up to much Chrome-space or whatever.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Road Song: Turn the Page

Here's another road song about life on the road, written by Bob Seger. I like the Seger version best, but the Metallica version is also good.

I hope to be on the road soon, traveling more for vacation, family, and visits, than for work, but will probably be keeping an eye on roadcuts, mountains, deserts, and canyons as we go along.

Bob Seger: Turn the Page (lyrics)
Album: Back in '72, 1973

Metallica: Turn the Page
Album: Garage Inc., 1998