We arrived in Tonopah, Nevada, day two of our trip across Nevada heading to Zion National Park, filled up with gas and headed east on Hwy. 6 toward Ely. At Warm Springs, we were to turn right on Hwy. 375 toward Alamo, where we had a reservation for the night. The road was a beautiful, lonesome, two-lane stretch in a huge expanse of land barren of road signs, houses, people, and even cars almost. We loved the feel of miles and miles of empty space with the mountains framing the valley, cloud formations billowing on the horizon, and telephone poles like art against the stark landscape. After our niece Kathryn told us about the lack of gas stations in eastern Nevada, we were determined to fill up with gas at every opportunity. Signs we were used to in California like “Next gas 65 miles” were apparently nonexistent in Nevada.
Engrossed in the audio book, “Steve Jobs”, the miles flew by. I was snapping photos of the awesome landscape. We stopped at a rest stop to switch drivers and stretch our legs and I took the wheel. Bill grabbed the maps to get a bead on our location. We had been driving several hours since leaving Tonopah and still had not come to Warm Springs. I started reading off the few signs along the road “lunar crater” ” lava buttes” as Bill studied the maps and mumbled, I think we missed our turnoff. Not possible, said I. We haven’t passed any town or any turnoff. Bill continued, “we are way past our turnoff I feel sure and we are on the road to Ely.”
I looked at the gas tank–almost half a tank. We had filled up in Tonapah and had used half a tank already? Something was not right. I started watching the gas gauge religiously. We tried using our smart phones to map our location but there was no cell phone coverage. We tried using the GPS to get a satellite location with a little more success and Bill announced, we’ve got to turn around. Yeah, right. We are on a two lane road with no turnouts and miles and miles of nothing in front of us and a 23′ trailer behind us. At the first place I felt I could safely pull off on the gravel, I turned the wheel over to Bill to maneuver us around. I continued to watch the gas gauge and my stomach sank as the gas gauge continued to move past center and still no turnoff. It was 20-30 miles back to Warm Springs. No wonder we had missed it. It was a boarded up building and an old fence. The only sign that gave any indication of the town was nailed to the defunct “Warm Springs Cafe and Bar.” The sign Hwy. 375 was there all right but you had to look real hard to see it and we were so caught up in learning how Steve Jobs built the MacIntosh computer, we didn’t give the intersection a second glance.
I could get phone service with my Apple IPhone and telephoned the RV Park in Alamo? How far was it from Warm Springs to Alamo? 120 miles. Where was the next gas station? In Alamo. Not having inherited my father’s chutzpah for pushing the limits of driving to the last drop of gas, I agreed with Bill that our best course of action at this point was to return to Tonopah. By now it was 4:30 in the late afternoon and running out of gas between Warm Springs and Alamo with no one around on this lonesome stretch of highway was not something I wanted to venture. Bill figured with half a tank left (12 gallons) and worse case 8 mpg, it was cutting it way too close. And that is how we ended up back in Tonopah in an empty parking lot next to a casino parked between big rigs for the night.
The next morning, we were back on Highway 6 heading to Warm Springs, 2nd time around. We got an early start this time — the big rigs started revving up early and we were parked right between two of them.