Roads to Reno and beyond

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October 10th 2012
Published: October 12th 2012
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For three days we traveled south and east from Crater Lake to Moab, with little opportunity to stop for scenic photos--except for a few as we drove.

On a chilly Monday morning, we began the rapid descent from Crater Lake through conifer forest that includes the endangered White Bark pine and into arid Southeast Oregon. The transition shimmered with a colorful array of foliage displaying their beautiful fall colors. Driving along the eastern shoreline of Upper Klamath Lake, we could clearly see snow-covered Mount Shasta (14,162 ft) 100 miles away in Northern California. Shortly after leaving Oregon the trip odometer turned to 4,000 miles and we entered the high desert Modoc National Forest and the twisting highway slowly wound up to Adin Pass at 5,173 feet. Twenty miles later we arrived in the hamlet of Adin and stopped at the unlikely named Adin Supply Company, an authentic rustic general store featuring an impressive array of antlered big game heads mounted on the walls, outdoor supplies, antiques, and a pot-bellied woodburning stove. The "duck and buck" hunting season had just opened, and the deli was crowded with friendlu hunters dressed in camouflage. (Foodie Alert: tasty made-to-order deli sandwiches and attentive service.)

On recommendation from the store owner, we encamped 10 miles down CA 139 at the charming Willow Creek picnic area where we enjoyed our delicious sandwiches while listening to a babbling brook, carpeted with watercress. Shortly after joining CA 395, we saw beautiful immensely long dark streaks across the incredibly flat landscape surrounded by barren distant mountains. Our road atlas marked it as Honey Lake, a desert depression with no outlet except by evaporation or seepage. Summer evaporation reduces the level of the lake and creates an alkali flat. It is part of the protected 7,667-acre Honey Lake Wildlife wetland.

After six hours of driving, we plunged into the vast, hectic city of Reno with its spaghetti tangle of freeways, ramps, and state highways. We drove through Reno to our lodging in the adjoining city of Sparks. A light rain was falling when we went out for supper, our first rain since many weeks ago in St. George, Utah-- the two least likely places we expected to have rain.

The next day was an eight-hour drive to Lehi, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. We crossed Nevada through high desert land surrounded by distant barren mountain ranges with few towns. As we came over a hill that overlooked Wendover, we were startled to see a white landscape extending to the horizon: Utah's famous Bonneville Salt Flats, which stretches across 30,000 barren acres. A perfect place for high-speed auto racers.

This brings to mind our appreciation for the firm, race car-style seats of my Eos that cup our bodies, providing very comfortable support for our long drives. We zip across the West with our electronic devices hooked to the surround-sound system for audio books, music or podcasts.

Our last surprise of the three-day drive came while we drove between Salt Lake City and Lehi on I-15 during rush hour: Above the freeway were dozens of paragliders floating above a high ridge called "The Point of the Mountain Flight Park", soaring and slowly descending in the yellow desert sunset. Hang gliding and paragliding has become one of the fastest growing adventure sports in Utah.

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