Monday, December 30, 2013

Mt . Jefferson from the Air

I thought I'd try posting from my new mobile device, using a photo I snapped the day before Xmas while en route between Reno and Seattle. I see I'm going to have to go online with my computer to check the draft and maybe make changes, because I don't like the Blogger app's method of determining my location -- I can't seem to enter the actual location of the phone, I'm only able to choose from nearby places. Also, I can't tell where the photo will end up in the post.

Mt. Jefferson from the air.
So, it turns out that the photo ends up being too large for the blog space, and it was crammed up against the text, which I normally might prefer having below the photo. Possibly I can use the online webpage to create a draft or post, rather than the Blogger app.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Road Song: Hot Rod Lincoln

I've finally taken a hint from an earlier comment by Dan McShane, and am playing "the original" (to me) Hot Rod Lincoln - though it's not by Commander Cody. And this is the way I remember it:

Johnny Bond: Hot Rod Lincoln (lyrics)
Album: Hot Rod Lincoln, 1964

And for good measure, the Commander Cody version, which I also remember quite well, and is a 70s classic:

Commander Cody: Hot Rod Lincoln (lyrics)
Album: Lost in the Ozone, 1973

Friday, December 13, 2013

Things You Find in the Field: Speed Traps

Yes, you can find them everywhere, not just in small towns and not just while wandering here and there while out in your field area, but here's a sign, warning you of a particular danger!
Speed Trap Ahead sign in Austin, NV
This hand-painted warning sign is located on the east end of the small, mountainous, central Nevada town of Austin, a place where many field geologists have hung out or passed through over the years. The sign is on the outside edge of the last major turn just past the hairpin turn coming off the west side of Austin Summit, just where you might expect to speed up a bit while rolling downhill through town. In fact, if you don't shift down or break heavily or at least steadily, you will speed up past this sign just in time to blow past the sherriff's office, not that he or his deputies will necessarily be out trying to catch you speeding (but I can't personally recommend taking the risk).

I'm not sure who put up this visible, ever present sign (I remember it as always being there, way back into the 70s), but in my experience, the time to really watch out for speed traps is when cresting the hill over Mt. Airy Summit when about to drop into Reese River Valley while approaching Austin from the west.

Oh, and anywhere near and in Eureka, NV.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Road Song: On the Road Again

Willie Nelson: On the Road Again
Album: Honeysuckle Rose, 1980

This is an obvious Road Song, one for which, possibly, the category was named. In fact, the song was *on* one of the first road song tapes — surprise, surprise! Another of the first road song tapes can be played or perused  here.

On the Road Again is from the early 80s (barely 80s), when we were all on the road. It reminds me of roads, Highway 50, central Nevada, geologists, driving late at night to get home, driving anywhere to get out into the field, geological heroes, and much, much more. Today, it's dedicated to my Dad. My mom, a child of the 30s and 40s, was inspired to play this song (among many others) at his memorial service. The associated, perhaps fortuitous, metaphor, just stuns me.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update from the Lake and AK, and a Tribute

When I arrived at the lake late last month, the aspen tree towering over our house was glowing brightly with intense yellow and gold to orange colors, brighter than any I remember seeing before. I'm sad to say I didn't take any photos of this phenomenon, satisfying myself with a couple nice views of the tree, and busying myself around the place with various projects.
Sometime during the morning or afternoon of October 28th, all the leaves from our aspens fell almost all at once, when the wind picked up in front of an incoming Pacific front. Later that evening, I learned that sometime LFD commenter, Alaska Al, had died.
Alaska Al has, between the years of 2008 and 2010, commented on 12 posts and has been mentioned in 6 (the latter somewhat overlapping with the former). More importantly to me, he was one of my major sources of early inspiration, inspiration that led me eventually to become a geologist. His inspiration was mentioned in a few posts, especially these two: Accretionary Wedge #18: How did I Become a Geologist and Where it All Began. Besides being an inspiration for my love of rocks, minerals, and all things geological, he was most likely the source of my seemingly built-in North Arrow (see the second linked post).

Alaska Al, besides these things, has had some photos published in this blog, and has been the source for other photos of mine, particularly photos of certain rocks and minerals. His hand lens is shown here; his field Brunton here.
Mt. Foraker (right) and Denali (left) seen from the hills above Anchorage in early November. Alaska Al had much better photos of Denali than these! The Mountain (as it's called up there) will always remind me of him.
The almost record late first snow fell a few days after I took the photo of Denali.
Thanks to all who have already voiced and sent their condolences via various media.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: Are We Lost Yet?

We left this meandering trip report almost two weeks ago, after MOH and I had taken our short hike into the limestone at the Grassy Mountain Rest Stop. From there to Salt Lake City, we cruised while admiring the shorelines of ancient Lake Bonneville.

Lake Bonneville shorelines in the southern Lakeside Mountains, looking northeasterly from I-80 about five miles northwest of Delle, UT.
And then: Salt Lake City.

Driving into SLC can make me somewhat apprehensive unless I'm going directly to the airport, and I had already started wondering if I was getting a migraine — possibly from normal trip concerns, possibly from driving, maybe from poor sleep the night before, possibly from some other, unknown cause.

I had looked at our route on Google Maps and had looked at the interchanges and major turns in Street View. Examining the route online is not the same as having a physical map in hand while driving (or in the navigator's hand, as the case may be) — at least not for me, or at least not unless I have some ingrained or recent familiarity with the particular roads in question. The last time I'd driven (or been driven) east through SLC without turning onto I-15 to go either north or south was in 1957 when I-80 didn't exist — and the 1957 trip definitely didn't count as recent, maybe more like Ordovician, or even late Precambrian.

I knew I was looking for the turnoff from I-80 to U.S. 40 — not that far past SLC, I thought — but I don't think I'd written down the miles to the exit, and I know I hadn't written down the exit number. And for some mysterious reason I was thinking that Park City (which I've never been to, except possibly on that long ago 1957 trip) was a lot closer to SLC than it really is.

Consequently, when the interstate turned a bit to the northeast and headed upward into the fairly tight canyon of Parleys Creek, I instantly freaked and thought it was the even narrower Echo Canyon, which I remembered from coming west out of Wyoming on I-80 on a 2006 trip. I was sure I didn't want to be heading into Wyoming on I-80, so I thought I must have missed the desired exit up somewhere near Park City (!).

I turned around at the first opportunity amidst a rash of roadwork, blocked exits, and narrowed lanes.

I knew I needed a map, so we got off at what turned out to be Exit 4 on 215. We pulled into a gas station and got some gas and a relatively small scale map of Utah. It was at this point that I was sure I had a migraine — and migraines do this funny thing to your overall thinking and analysis skills.

After examining the map while experiencing fairly moderate noise, light, and motion sensitivity that caused me to have problems looking at the map and then looking anywhere else, like at the road, I decided we were on an "outer" loop around SLC that I was previously unaware of. (This "outer loop" actually consisted of I-84 from Ogden, east and southeast to I-80 at the beginning of Echo Canyon, and south and then back west into SLC on I-80, but that part of I-80 wasn't marked, neither was 215 marked, and the insert for SLC was surprisingly small and lacking in detail.) We were actually at a gas station along the 215 partial ring road, and I probably knew that fact when I had turned on to it after turning around in Parleys Canyon.

I figured all we'd have to do was get back onto this previously unheard of "outer loop" and head east or south to our desired exit onto U.S. 40 near Park City. Wrong.
The map in question.
By this time, MOH had wisely taken over the driving while I endeavored to determine our exact location. With a blur of freeway lanes, cars and trucks, and exits coming too fast to comprehend (this should have given me a clue), what I was seeing on the map (how could Alta and Snowbird already be north of us?) wasn't matching the route I'd incorrectly figured was the one we were on, and it wasn't matching my still intact knowledge of where we really were along the Wasatch.

Suddenly, the "outer" ring road turned due west, and I knew something was very wrong. I realized where we had to be (on the "inner loop" road, i.e. 215) just in time to navigate properly and direct us onto the exit for I-15 south. Whew!

At this point, we thought it would probably be just as easy to take the next road south over the Wasatch than to turn around and go back for I-80, Park City, and U.S. 40. As for this thought: not exactly correct.

View Our Crazy Route through SLC in a larger map

Because we went (unexpectedly, for sure) south on I-15, I was able to get a pretty decent, albeit somewhat grainy, shot of the Bingham Canyon copper mine.
View of the Bingham Canyon copper mine, looking west from I-15.
It has been quite a while since I've been to Bingham Canyon — and I've never had a tour into the pit itself — but I strongly recommend going to the overlook and Visitors Center (the latter of which I've never seen) when they are reopened. The overlook area has been closed since the April 10th landslide (see a pre-landslide panorama of the pit here, view Kennecott's photos of the slide here, and read about the slide on several blog posts by Dave Petley).
Looking east toward American Fork Canyon.
And so, with our most recent trip decision finally behind us, we proceeded down I-15 to the Utah S.R. 92 exit, onto 92, and into the Wasatch via the easy, wide-looking American Fork Canyon.

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map

The embedded map above shows the location of the three photos in this post (and also the rest of the Day 2 photos already posted, if you move around inside the map or view it in an enlarged version).

Related Posts:
Across the West and Back Day 2: A Hike along a Limestone Ridge
Across the West and Back Day 2: Across the Salt Lake Desert
Across the West and Back Day 2: A Side Trip in West Wendover
Across the West and Back Day 2: Pequop Summit to West Wendover
Across the West and Back Day 2: Looking for an Old Roadcut
Across the West and Back: The First Day
Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip

Monday, October 14, 2013

Earth Science Week 2013

Earth Science Week, organized yearly since 1998 by AGI, began yesterday. This year's theme, "Mapping Our World," is designed to highlight "the many exciting uses of maps and mapping technologies in the geosciences."

For my small part this year, I noticed a map at ESW that shows links to a Google Maps map showing earth science organizations for each state. The one for Nevada, for example, can be seen here.

I went a little bit farther and added each organization and location on the map (generated originally by user ESW, Earth Science Week) to a map of my own, to which I added a few other organizations. That map is embedded below.

View Nevada Geological Organizations in a larger map

I was working on this post last week, when at some point my computer or browser or both went into overload or freezing mode, and I had to reboot, somehow losing the draft of the post in the process. I had added only a few Nevada geological organizations to my embedded map; all the ones I added consist entirely of statewide and chapter meeting places of the Geological Society of Nevada.

The GSN website has a large number of geological links — to state, U.S., Canadian, and other foreign geological surveys, to various professional organizations, and to various State of Nevada departments and divisions. You will also find many other geological links, including several for the USGS. I had started to add the location of the USGS Nevada district office to my map, when I realized my small but increasingly time consuming project had been put in jeopardy by the U.S. government #shutdown. I couldn't find out where the district office in Nevada is located! (The district office referred to may be the USGS Nevada Water Science Center office in Carson City rather than a geologic field office, not sure.) Instead of the website linked to at this URL, I got the main USGS page and the following announcement:

Current USGS main page, retrieved 14Oct2013.
In any case, check out the other geological links at the GSN. And check out their interactive map showing locations in Nevada where their publications (mostly field trip guides from the many GSN symposia and biannual to yearly field trips.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: A Hike along a Limestone Ridge

Where were we? Oh yes, it was *still* day two of our giant western loop trip (as I have so fondly labeled it), and we were at the Grassy Mountain Rest Stop, and we were about to take a hike through a bit of limestone.

The first stop on the short hike is a small window in limestone of the Pennsylvanian Oquirrh Group that may be equivalent to some part of the Ely Limestone (judging by its air-photo outcrop pattern alone — I haven't looked for diagnostic fossils). The online, interactive Utah geological map isn't specific to formation in this part of Utah.
Small window in limestone, looking south.
Same window looking back toward the rest stop, with MOH's hand for scale.
View to the west or southwest from our limestone ridge.
While hiking along the trail, the portion of the Great Salt Lake Desert that we crossed between Wendover and the rest stop was just barely visible through the haze. It's not that first white line out there before the rocky hills in shadow; it's the vague flat area beyond the shadowed hills on the right.
The trail continues to the south between two ribs of limestone, amidst the cheat grass and halogeton.
The view looking south toward unnamed hills, also underlain by Pennsylvanian limestone.
Pack rat midden in tiny cave.
We speculated about the formation of the limestone window, and wondered if something as mundane as a packrat's midden could have contributed to creating a small cave in the limestone, with uplift and erosion later leaving the window isolated from most of the exposure.
Trail's end. A part of the Cedar Range in the distance on the left; the unnamed hills seen earlier on the right.
Once again I've added the locations of these photos to the day's trip log (map) embedded below.

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: Across the Salt Lake Desert

MOH and I left Nevada and entered Utah shortly after getting back onto I-80 following our brief sojourn in West Wendover, and began crossing the Great Salt Lake Desert (and Bonneville Salt Flats).

When almost to milepost 16, I took an obligatory photo of Floating Island, no doubt named for the mirage that often makes it look like it's floating above the salt flats. Here, the mirage is minimal but present. (See better photos of Floating Island with strong mirage here.)
Floating Island.
It turns out that Floating Island *may* be at least partly underlain by our old friend, the Ely Limestone — or perhaps it's underlain by a Utah equivalent, the Lake Point Limestone, or another Utah equivalent, the Erda Formation. On the interactive online Utah state geologic map, clicking reveals that Floating Island is listed as being underlain by the Oquirrh Group (with the symbol PP - Pennsylvanian undivided?), consisting of such formations as the "Wells, Weber, Ely, Callville and other Fms" — at the same time, the map shows the symbol PPe on the northeastern side of Floating Island. PPe is the usual symbol for the Ely Limestone in eastern Nevada, but perhaps it could also refer to the Erda in Utah. For me, the island is too far away to make any snap judgements!

It was a cloudy day, overall, but nevertheless you could see a good 90 miles to the far peaks.
Looking ESE across the desert at the Cedar Mountain, and the crest of the Stansbury Mountains beyond that.
It became clear about halfway across the desert that distances were more than usually deceptive. The eastbound road markers on I-80, which begin with milepost 1 exactly one mile east of the NV-UT border, essentially mark the distance you have travelled across the desert from its western edge at just east of West Wendover, NV (in fact, you travel almost exactly a mile from the state line before ramping down onto the flats). Just before milepost 21, we passed a road sign indicating that it's 22 miles to the Knolls. The Knolls exit is just past the eastern edge of the salt flats, so I knew we were just almost exactly half way across.

View Approximate half-way point in a larger map.

It seemed like we had been driving forever! The low hills in the distance, marking the other side of the desert, only looked about 8 to 12 miles away, though they were really about 21 miles off. We knew we had another "almost forever" still left to go!
Milepost 39: Finally we were approaching the east side of the broad, flat crossing.
Exit 41, Knolls, one mile past the first sand dunes at the east edge of the desert. Milepost 40 is visible in the photo, not far beyond the exit sign.
At the exit for Knolls (a siding? some hills?), we knew we were getting close to one of our favorite rest stops, Grassy Mountain. The rest stop is known for a short hiking trail and a sign saying "Watch for SNAKES and SCORPIONS."
Despite this sign, I've never seen any of either...
...although we did see a horned lark noshing on a pretzel.
More commentary has been added to a second warning sign.
The second sign says, among other things, "DANGER: Sex, Sleds, and Snowboards."
Finally, on a day perhaps as cloudy as the one shot here in 2011, we started out on a little leg-stretching expedition.
And I'll have to save the hike for another post...

Photos to this point in Day 2 have been added to the day's trip log on Google Maps, along with the ones from West Wendover, which I forgot to add after the last post:

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map.

Related Posts:
Across the West and Back Day 2: A Side Trip in West Wendover
Across the West and Back Day 2: Pequop Summit to West Wendover
Across the West and Back Day 2: Looking for an Old Roadcut
Across the West and Back: The First Day
Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: A Side Trip in West Wendover

As I mentioned in my last western loop trip post, when West Wendover, NV, came into view, it became clear that the section of I-80 that we were on was identical to the route of old U.S. 40. We got off the freeway, not specifically to drive that section (there are a lot of sections of old 40 in Nevada that we haven't driven yet), but to get some items we needed for the trip. We found ourselves on West Wendover's main street, West Wendover Boulevard, AKA old highway 40 (unsigned).
West Wendover Boulevard, looking west.
As we progressed down the street, off in the distance we could see what looked like a giant cowboy.
Is that a giant cowboy in the middle of the street?
Yes, indeed! It's "Wendover Will," welcoming you to West Wendover, Nevada — although why he's doing that on the far west end of town is unclear to me.

We drove around Will toward the Smith's, our destination, and could see old 40 heading straight for I-80 where it goes through an unnamed notch in the southern Leppy Hills.
Decommissioned U.S. 40 heading west out of West Wendover for I-80.
We bypassed driving farther on this section of old 40 in favor of more easterly destinations, turned around after our needed stop, and left Nevada for the salt flats of the Great Salt Lake Desert and Bonneville Salt Flats.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: Pequop Summit to West Wendover

On our journey eastward across Nevada, MOH and I were last seen approaching the Pequop exit in the Pequop Mountains. Just beyond that exit — which provides access to such places as Milk House Spring, Adele Spring, and Nanny Creek to the south and East Squaw Creek to the north — I-80 crosses Goshute Valley, heading for a passage over a low spot in the Toano Range.
Large alluvial fan in Goshute Valley.
Around the bend in the photo above, I-80 crosses a large alluvial fan coming southward off one area of the Toano Range. Both sets of mountains in the photo are parts of the Toano Range, with the low point in the center just beyond the fan being Silver Zone Pass.

A little farther on, in the center of Goshute Valley, you can look back toward the Pequops and see the drill roads of Newmont's Long Canyon project, which was acquired by buying Fronteer Gold (link to Fronteer's website now goes directly to a 2011 Newmont announcement about the buyout), who had done a good portion of the work on the property (along with others before them). An inferred resource of 2.6 million ounces of gold has been announced by Newmont.
Long Canyon drill roads on the east side of the Pequop Mountains.
About midway across Goshute Valley, shadows to the south made Shafter Knoll, about 13 miles distant, stand out against the faded blue of the Dolly Varden Mountains, which are about 42 miles south of the highway.
Looking south. Shafter Knoll is on the left, the Dolly Varden Mountains are in the center, and the Pequop Mountains are on the right.
Road construction on I-80 in the Toano Mountains.
As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we saw a lot of construction on the roads we travelled. This is the first time I've seen a mini-tunnel installed over a road to prevent rocks from falling, sliding, or flying through the air into the roadway. Two of these were being used, with the second spanning the westbound lanes of the freeway.

After crossing the Toano Range at Silver Zone Pass, I-80 goes into a straight section in the south end of Pilot Creek Valley. Here, the alluvial fan in the distance, coming off of the Leppy Hills north of the highway, looked as though it was crossing the valley to run up against the mountain range on the south, which is actually an eastern bulge in the Toano Range.
Looking southeast down I-80 at an alluvial fan coming out of the Leppy Hills on the left, with hills of the Toano Range on the right.
The topo maps of the area make it clear that alluvial fans from the Leppy Hills and meet fans from the Toano Range in the middle of the valley at a low, broad juncture between the ranges.
Topography is from the USGS TNM 2.0 Viewer (link).
The associated air-photo view shows a lot of shorelines from ancient Lake Bonneville. I'm wondering if the gravel pit seen in both views isn't in a gravel bar formed during Lake Bonneville times, but haven't found any literature to support that idea (and we zoomed by, not stopping for the fan or hypothetical gravel bar).
Air-photo view of the same area (link).
As we moved farther across the south end of Pilot Creek Valley, this unexpected view of rustic-looking buildings, reminding me of old western movie sets, popped into view.
Looking southwest toward the Toano Range.
Just beyond the buildings on the range front, I could see what looked like a small limestone mine. This turns out to be the Pilot Peak lime plant, operated by Graymont, which processes material quarried on site (you can see the highwall of the small mine behind the plant).
Pilot Peak lime plant and quarry.
A few minutes later, we were across Pilot Creek Valley, and our first glimpse of the Great Salt Lake Desert came into view beyond a low divide.
Looking southeast across  a bit of the Great Salt Lake Desert (white, beyond the closer hills), with Dutch Mountain about 35 to 40 miles away in the distance.
All through this leg of the trip, I'd been keeping my eye on the small portions of old U.S. 40 that hadn't been wiped out during construction of the interstate. Coming into Wendover, you end up looking straight down a still paved portion of the old highway, which is the main street in West Wendover, known as West Wendover Boulevard.
Looking nearly east down the main street of West Wendover to the Bonneville Salt Flats out beyond the NV-UT state line.
We had to get off in Wendover for some travel supplies, so we ended up driving on old highway 40 for a very short distance.

Be sure to check out the map insert below (and a larger view in Google Maps as desired), where I show the day's photos (to this point in the day). I've added a few of the locations mentioned in the post, including the alluvial fans shown above, Shafter Knoll, the lime plant, and an old part of U.S. 40 in West Wendover (which I'm often in the habit of calling Wendover, even though Wendover is in Utah and West Wendover is in Nevada).

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map

Related Posts:
Across the West and Back Day 2: Looking for an Old Roadcut
Across the West and Back: The First Day
Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Across the West and Back Day 2: Looking for an Old Roadcut

We left Elko early on the second day and stopped at a little cafế in Wells for breakfast.
I couldn't help but take a couple photos of the interior (!).

A Relevant Aside: Because this part of the trip was across the route of Historic U.S. 40 (now mostly defunct and nowhere signed in Nevada), the drive took me back in time to a cross-country family trip made on U.S. 40 from the west to east coast in 1957, then back east to west about a year later. I was quite young at the time, so have only a few vignettes from the trip stored in my memory. One is of a roadcut somewhere in the west, where we stopped, and I collected my first specimen of slate.

Much later, on a field trip the first year I came to Nevada for grad school — or on a trip to the GSA meeting in SLC that same fall, I saw the roadcut, and it was like dếjấ vu all over again — except this time I *had* been there, about two decades prior. The roadcut, therefore, was either on a section of I-80 between Battle Mountain and Elko (there are very few roadcuts west of Battle Mountain), or on a then still extant section of U.S. 40 between Carlin and the Utah border where I-80 was incomplete. I saw the roadcut then; maybe I saw it again on a 1982 trip to SLC for the GSA Cordilleran section meeting. Have I seen it since? Not sure.

I-80 through over Pequop Summit was still shown as not being completed on the 1987-1988 state highway map, and it was only shown as complete upon the issuance of the 1989-1990 map (I find it hard to believe that the interstate was only completed sometime between 1987 and 1989 or so, but there it is). Also see the 1975 map for the then current state of affairs during my first couple trips across the state that fall.

Back to the trip: At about 8:20, we started up the west side of the Pequop Mountains and began seeing our favorite limestone: the Ely Limestone (or maybe it's called something else in northeastern Nevada, like Etchart?). This section of road probably closely follows the original route of U.S. 40 through the mountains, and it goes through exposures of bedded to flaggy-looking Ely Limestone and shaly Chainman Shale below that.
Ely Limestone.
In the Pequops, I thought I saw a couple roadcuts that looked like the one I remember from long ago, but the ones that really struck me are probably in Ely Limestone.

Looking carefully at the satellite view of the area on Google Maps, I can deduce that the [articular roadcut shown below might be (partly) in Chainman Shale, although really, most of the exposure looks like limestone.
Ely Limestone on the right, a fault in shadow in the upper left; possible Chainman Shale left of the fault (barely in the photo).
By the time we were approaching the Pequop exit on the east side of the summit, I had seen several possibilities for the original roadcut, but I'm not sure that any of them fit the bill. Perhaps it was in the westbound lane on a section where the lanes diverge. Perhaps the roadcut has been modified beyond recognition since I last saw it. Perhaps it was really on some other leg of U.S. 40 in Nevada or Utah. In any case, I enjoyed seeing the Ely Limestone through this part of the trip and recognizing the Chainman Shale in exposures below it (mostly in the surrounding hills and not in the roadcuts) .
We approach the Pequop exit and can see part of the Toano Range across Goshute Valley.
I'm going to stop here for now, otherwise this will never get posted! I've got the Day 2 trip route in Google Maps below, with locations of photos taken during the day — I'll add to this as I post more photos. I've also shown several roadcuts of of interest where I took photos, roadcuts I later decided were most likely in Ely Limestone. Note the conspicuous divergence of the eastbound lane from the westbound lane in the middle of the Pequops. This divergence leaves a roadcut possibility to check out on some other trip.

View Day 2: Elko, NV to Vernal, UT in a larger map

Related Posts:
Across the West and Back: The First Day
Intro to Recent Western Loop Trip

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.