I set off East like a wagon train in reverse. Up the Sierra Nevada, over the Donner Pass, down to Reno and then off across the Great Basin of Nevada. The wagon trains followed the Humboldt River as do I but backwards. The distances are immense, the country is dry and unwelcoming. What people! What did they do about sunburn, foot rot, jock rash, cracked lips, the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?
The first night, I camp by the Humboldt River in a place much used by pioneers.
I trundle along Interstate 80, which follows the California Trail. Nevada is vast, hours at 65mph in a climate controlled truck only inches me East. Those wagon trainers basically walked. They don’t make them like them any more etc.
I get to Elko. I know I have to buy food because I do not have any. I turn South towards my destination, Ruby Vally, but I get lost and end up on tiny roads with no food stores. I finally draw into Jiggs Bar, a building in the middle of nowhere. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Jiggs+Barfirstname.lastname@example.org,-115.6656734,583m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x80a58924f9f644e9:0x7eb81f64a35c6464!8m2!3d40.4271683!4d-115.6659517!16s%2Fg%2F11gm6z_581
Go there everyone, it is a wonderful place!
I stumbled in out of the bright sun at 2:30. There is no one there except the bar lady/person. Her name is Diana and she is the best. She serves me an ice cold Coors and we discuss the availability of food. “Sorry, I only got jerky, potato chips and candy.”
At this stage a real cowboy whose name I have forgotten, but was either Ty, Buster, High Noon or Lonesome Jethro, wanders in. He is wearing boots with spurs.
Where can I get food? “Well, your best bet is to turn around and there is a a store about 30 miles down the road.”
Jethro is a great guy and we chew on the problem of getting to Ruby Valley as the passes are probably still closed by snow. I have the best time! It is history! Can I get my rig across the passes. Diana, Jethro and I have a very cowboy conversation.
I am about to leave, after one of the most enjoyable 40 minutes that I can remember, when Diana pushes food into my paws. I think it is her own evening meal.
So here’s to you you Diana, the best of women. At each social gathering I will raise a glass to you.
The Ruby Valley is one of the more remote parts of the country but back in the 1860s it was in the thick of things. It was on a wagon train route, the ill-fated Donner party came through here. The Pony Express rode along it. They even built a fort. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ruby
However, I have not come for the history but for the thousands of wildfowl, principally Canvasback, that rest in the wetlands on their migration South. They are here in May and June. I get there on 11 May. There are very few ducks. Perhaps they missed the bus. Not to worry lots of other stuff to see.
I set off South from Ruby Valley on one of the great roads. 90 miles of dirt road through emptiness.
Well done truck! Thank you America!