Not So Lonely for the Loneliest Road

U.S. 50 through Nevada is probably the most interesting highway in the country, crossing the heart of the Basin and Range: over 6500-7500 foot passes and down into a valley, many, many, many times. Nevada has the most mountain ranges in the country. Crossing it on U.S. 50 you see a lot of them.

At Middlegate Station, a couple hours east of Carson City, is the junction with Nevada 361 heading south to Gabbs, the ghost town Berlin, and the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, a well-worth side trip for travelers going through Nevada or even living there.

In 2011, a young man, Ryan McHenry, stopped at Middlegate Station on his way from his home on the California coast to New Jersey. He was running across America.

We met up with him in Burlington, Iowa that year. He stayed a couple nights where we were staying at a friend’s house. He crossed the Burlington bridge into Illinois earlier that day in a Spiderman suit. His journey had started in April in California and ended in September on the Jersey shore. Over five months on the road–on his feet–running a marathon a day. In Burlington, we talked with him, shot an interview with he and his support buddy, Nick Craig, and created a short youtube video called The Runner for the David’s Buick Far Midwest Tour. (Actually, we shot a lot of what you see on DavidsBuick Youtube channel.) It was a hoot, because he and Nick were a lot of fun. You don’t forget someone you meet who is running across the country.

U.S. 50 has been touted as the loneliest road in the country. We wouldn’t have guessed that between Carson City and Ely. Having stopped for a business phone call along one of the few stretches with cell service, we were repeatedly buffeted by passing cars and semis.

The road is a long stretch of open high desert interrupted with mountain passes. Occasionally, you pass through interesting small towns, most of them created by mining, and some hub farms. The journey is mostly brown, but green patches of trees over the mountains and farms in the valleys are pleasant changes to the eye.

Coming off one pass and approaching the junction with US 93 we were surprised to see something you don’t usually find in Nevada–a wind farm. Gigantic, slow-turning wind turbines crossed the green valley floor covered with some kind of crop.

After Great Basin National Park, the highway truly earns it’s name. From Baker, Nevada to nearly I-15, it’s wide open scrub land and rarely a car did we see.

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