US Southwest, May 2008


Photos © Ruud Leeuw

A brief visit, if one can speak of a visit.. We drove through Nevada, from Salt Lake City to Reno, in one day in order to move towards San Francisco where our flight home would await within a few days.

In 1864, Nevada became the 36th state to enter the union, and the phrase "Battle Born" on the state flag reflects the state's entry on the Union side during the American Civil War. Its first settlement was called Mormon Station.
Nevada is the seventh-largest state in area, and geographically covers the Mojave Desert in the south to the Great Basin in the north. About 86% of the state's land is owned by the U.S federal government under various jurisdictions both civilian and military. [Wikipedia]

Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger image

Water in the desert
The desert, but far from dry...
This is actually still Utah, we hadn't crossed the border yet.


Along the road, now what could this be?
An expression of art?
Nice, though!
You can be sure to attract attention, in this empty landscape.

Bonneville Salt Flats
A look at the Bonneville Salt Flats

A walk in the... desert
Salty drive
In 1827, trapper, trader, explorer, and frontiersman Jedediah Smith was perhaps the first white man to cross the salt flats in 1827 while returning from his first expedition to California. Six years later, Joseph Reddeford Walker, another trapper, mapped and explored the areas around the Great Salt Lake and crossed the northern perimeter of the flats while in the employ of Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville. It is from Benjamin Bonneville that the salt flats and prehistoric lake derive their name, although it is unlikely that Bonneville himself ever saw the flats.

bonnevile Salt Flats

In 1845, John C. Fremont and his expedition crossed through the very heart of the salt flats in an effort to find a shorter overland route to the Pacific. In the following year, Fremont's route across the flats would come to be known as the Hastings Cutoff.

The Cutoff, promoted by Lansford Hastings as a faster and easier route to California, proved to be just the opposite for the ill-fated Donner-Reed party of 1846. A factor contributing to the Donner-Reed tragedy in the Sierra Nevadas was the delay the party experienced on the salt flats when their wagons became mired in the mud found just below the thin salt crust. Abandoned wagon parts from the party were present on the flats well into the 1930s, and the wheel tracks of their wagons were still visible in 1986 when archaeologists examined several sites associated with the party.

The tragedy of the Donner-Reed Party inhibited extensive use of the Hastings Cutoff as an overland migration trail. The salt flats did, however, yield scientific information to the expeditions of Captain Howard Stansbury in 1849 and of Captain J.H. Simpson in 1859, both with the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.

Fifty years after the Donner-Reed party slogged their way across the flats, the area's first use as raceway was conceived by publisher William Randolph Hearst in a publicity stunt. Hearst hired William Rishel of Cheyenne, Wyoming, to attempt a crossing on bicycle. Rishel completed the journey, crossing the salt flats in 22 hours.

Early attempts to promote automobile racing failed until 1925 when Ab Jenkins, driving a Studebaker, beat a special excursion train by ten minutes in a race across the flats. Since that time the Bonneville Salt Flats have attracted racers from throughout the world and have become the site of numerous land speed records. Their attraction for these racers is due to the hard, flat surface expanse - in an area so flat that from certain perspectives the curvature of the earth can actually be seen.

Salt flats

Getting to the Utah - Nevada border..

Conair C-123 Provider This Fairchild C-123 Provider has been retired here, its last assignment was as a prop in the Conair movie (starring Nicoas Cage).

Wendover Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base in Utah now known as Wendover Airport. During World War II, it was a training base for B-17 and B-24 bomber crews before being deployed to the European and Pacific Theaters. It was also the training site of the 509th Composite Group, the B-29 unit which dropped the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

The training of B-29 aircrews and the testing of prototype atom bombs was the last major contribution of Wendover Field during World War II. After the end of the war with Japan, some crew training continued, but at a reduced level. For a while, B-29s were stored there. In the summer of 1946 the Ogden Air Technical Service Command assumed jurisdiction over all operations at Wendover Field except engineering and technical projects.
Transferred to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1947, Wendover was used by bombardment groups deploying on maneuvers. With the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as an independent service, the installation was renamed Wendover Air Force Base in 1947, inactivated in 1949 and retained in a caretaker status. It was transferred to the Ogden Air Material Area at Hill AFB in 1950 and the range continued to be utilized for bombing and gunnery practice.
By 1965, the airfield was closed. The non-flying components were inactivated in 1969 and the entire facility declared surplus in 1976.
In July 1975, the base was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1977, the government deeded much of the airfield to the City of Wendover, to include the runways, taxiways, flight line, former hospital complex and hangars. Some acres, including the radar site, were retained by the military.
Beginning in 1980 the 4440th Tactical Fighter Training Group (Red Flag), Nellis AFB, Nevada, used Wendover for exercises, but they were discontinued after 1986.
[Source: Wikipedia]

An abandoned airport is a convenient place to store cars and all sorts of stuff. It was only when I noticed a satellite disc on the building that I realized there might still be people living here..

We enjoyed an excellent hamburger here, the cafetaria near the 'historic airfield'.


Crossing the border
No, we are not going back.. We drove too far and had to backtrack for that airfield


On the road again..

Until lunchtime we had enjoyed excellent weather. We had good music and were getting in the groove, looking at an afternoon of nibbling at the remaining distance to Reno. But dark clouds were looming ahead.


Big Boys
'How about givin'me some space too boys..'





Into the mountains

The landscape varies ever so slowly.
Across the divide, the lanes of oncoming traffic on this interstate I-80 is at a complete other level.
Nice way of travelling, that RV with a car hooked up behind it.



It is hard not to speed with these distances; glad we can drive a bit faster in Europe!



Lone settlement I wouldn't be able to live in such a remote location, I'd go balmy !!


We encountered some strong winds, esspecially when we got closer to a thunderstorm.
Tumbleweeds would start to fly, crosswinds would shake the car and then a sudden downpour would be on us.

Gloomy skies

Big plant
Hot springs.. The scenery reminded me a bit of Iceland. But here it wasn't so much a tourist attraction, probably more something to do with providing energy. Anyway, it wasn't the kind of weather to pull over and we didn't have the time either. We wanted to finish this long haul, get to a motel in Reno and get comfortable.

Good to be off the road..
Aahh, finally!










Full circle: CALIFORNIA again