Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Second honeymoon, Day 4

We left Rachel, Nevada east on Hwy. 395 until it connected to Hwy. 93 toward the town of Caliente. We began to climb in elevation and began to see Joshua  trees, one of the most iconic trees of the southwest.

This seemed like the edge of their territory, and they hadn't grown very tall.

I first saw these last year when Older Daughter and I were returning from vising my parents, and detoured through Las Vegas. They're simply fascinating plants.

The road rose until we were driving through a canyon (bad photo, sorry).

By the time we reached the charming little town of Caliente, we were starving. (Remember, no dinner last night.) We found a place called Sidetrack to stop for brunch, and it was lovely. Beautiful building, friendly service, delicious food.

We were heading for Utah, but before we reached the state boundary, we got diverted by Cathedral Gorge State Park outside Panaca on Hwy. 93, and decided to explore. Our first stop was the visitor's center, where I photographed a lizard on the outside wall.

Inside the visitor's center, despite it being May, a "Christmas tree" of antlers was on display. Impressive.

We were interested in looking at the books and maps in the visitor center's store, but the bookstore itself was closed, so we proceeded to the park entrance. However – and to be honest, this annoyed us – the machine would not accept cash and only took credit cards. We prefer not to use credit cards if at all possible, so we retreated from the park and continued down the road.

However just about a mile beyond the park entrance, we saw a turnout for something called the Miller Point Scenic Overlook, and on impulse we turned in to see what we might see.

And oh my, it was gorgeous!

In some ways I think we had a better view than from the state park, because we were looking down from the rim rather than looking up from the bottom.

There was even a trail (with steps and handrails) that would eventually lead to the bottom of the canyon. We saw some hikers below us.

We followed the trail about halfway down, but no further. We couldn't linger too long, since we had an afternoon appointment in Utah (more on that later). So we said goodbye to the Cathedral Gorge.

Then, prompted by nothing more than curiosity, we continued a bit further north, climbing uphill on Hwy. 95 toward the tiny town of Pioche, which was located on a short loop road called 322.

The town overlooks Spring Valley, with the Wilson Creek Range in the distance.

A pretty-but-abandoned old building stood on the edge of town. In some ways it reminded us of our first home together (an old board-and-batten house built in 1875 which we loved to pieces).

As with so many Nevada towns, Pioche has a mining past, its heyday long behind it. In fact, this sign indicated that it was nearly a ghost town by the year 1900.

And yet here it is, a century-and-a-quarter later, still clinging to life. We walked up and down the sidewalks, found a few places open, and thought the town was charming.

We came across the Lincoln County Historical Museum and went inside. Manned by a dedicated woman who had been working there for well over 20 years, we spent a fascinating half-hour looking over the numerous displays and exhibits. Well pleased with our visit, we stuffed the donation box with money and thanked the nice lady.

Across the street was a sort of outdoor museum where elements of past industry – a water wheel, an assayer's shack, etc. – had been gathered. It was built onto a steep hillside with steep steps (barely visible on the extreme left) led us upwards.

We emerged onto an upper road full of older but obviously well-kept private homes with a splendid view overlooking the valley.

Far off in the distance we saw a large structure. I zoomed in with the camera and saw this:

Whether it was infrastructure for mining or agriculture, we couldn't tell from this distance.

We returned to our car and headed out of town, well pleased with what we saw. You see, this was one of the purposes of our trip: To explore the tiny backroads and towns of the Southwest to find what gems we might find. Pioche was one such gem.

We retraced our path heading downhill south on Hwy. 93, and caught a glimpse of the Cathedral Gorge or a branch of it.

At Panaca, we hooked a left onto Hwy. 319 toward Utah. We needed to make sure we made it to Cedar City in time for our afternoon appointment.

A few miles inside the Utah border, we passed a dot on the road called Modena. The glimpse of old buildings prompted us to pull over, turn around, and see what was there.

It seems Modena had a railroad past, and the splendid remnants of a hotel and general store lingered on.

Whenever I see abandoned buildings like this, I get the irrational urge to restore them to their former glory, even though these structures were long past salvaging.

The hamlet was by no means deserted – across the road from the abandoned buildings, a dog barked at us from a fenced yard in a home that was clearly occupied – but we saw not a soul. Based on nothing more than a gut feeling, was got "unfriendly vibes" from the place. Apparently the Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. a polygamous sect of Mormons, is based nearby, so perhaps that had something to do with it.

We passed this building on the way out. It might have been a school, it might have been a hotel. It looked well-maintained but we weren't sure if it was still in use.

After this slight discursion, we resumed our trip. The highway number had changed once we entered Utah, so we were traveling east on Hwy. 56 toward Cedar City.

We had an afternoon rendezvous with the only solid appointment we had on our entire vacation: An interview with a young woman named Sara who runs Red Acre Farm. An exploration of her website revealed an intimidating list of farming accomplishments on extremely limited space ("acre" is quite accurate; while she now has two acres, much of what she began centered around one single acre).

Driving through Cedar City (and later the outskirts of St. George) was something of a culture shock after days of navigating extremely remote highways. Don was driving, so we took the opportunity to pull over and let me take over. (Remember, "poliphobia.")

This is Sara.

We interviewed her at length about how she got started, what she grows, how she sells, and other details of her business. She started growing and selling things as young as 14, and her business accomplishments are incredible. There's no other way to put this: she's a prodigy.

After the verbal interview, she showed us around.

Being so early in the season, many plants were still in the seedling stage.

Garlic is a popular item.

This young woman is a towering example of entrepreneurship. The interview we conducted is for a future article, so I won't reveal much more. Let's just stay Don and I came away deeply impressed with her accomplishments.

We left Cedar City late in the afternoon and made our way south on Hwy. 15 as far as Washington, a suburb of St. George. It was jarring to be back in the city. The only reason we headed for St. George is we thought we had to conduct some business there, which turned out not to be the case.

At any rate, we holed up in a very nice (and extremely expensive) hotel room for the night.

Our room overlooked an RV resort. It was fun to watch people come and go from this facility.

As nice as our room was, however, the hallway had the ugliest carpeting I think I've ever seen.

However the hotel personnel were charming. We met a young woman named Lauryn working the breakfast room who was studying music education in college and had an opera-quality singing voice. As someone whose singing voice – ahem – isn't the greatest, I admire those with musical talent.

We left the city and looked forward to our next adventure: Zion National Park.


  1. Enjoyed all of your pictures of Day 4 of travel until
    the Carpet picture ! It really is ugly !

  2. Ugly carpet? Yes. Easy to clean but not worry about stains? Also, yes. Smart.

  3. Your ugly carpet photo looks like it came from a Hampton Inn.

    For some reason whenever I am on a road trip I always have a big bag of pretzels, open and at the ready. It must be the thin ones so there’s a high ratio of salt to the shape/thickness of the pretzel. Perhaps the pretzel munching is to tamp down the “poliphobia” when encountering larger cities. Whatever you do don’t try this with Milk Duds, unless you want a surefire way to remove any dental crowns.

  4. The folks at Red Acre were a driving force behind revamping Utah's raw milk laws several years ago. They rock.

    The various fundamentalist Mormon sects can be a bit reclusive and suspicious of new folks coming through. If you're just passing through anyway, it's probably best to just pass through and be on your way. Some communities get a fair number of rubber-necking and are understandably sick of it.

  5. At first I thought you were going to say that the carpeting was being torn up for Renovation, that pattern was probably chosen so stains don't show up, yuk, but the room looked very nice.