weed, whites, and wine


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Social climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 16, 2013 - 06:43pm PT
Inspired by the Little Feat thread

Did you ever hit a town or a place, and you had to stop for a moment and let it soak in?

I was trying to cross Nevada on U.S. 6 and I got dropped off in Tonopah by a guy driving retrieval for the hang gliders going off the eastern sierras- first time I ever saw cocaine. Like every other drug scene in the world- he offered me a line but I was too shy.

".........I've driven every kind of rig that.'s ever been made....."

Tonopah the last of the mining towns in the west, and for good measure there was the top secret air force base that was flying strange sh#t overhead.

I hit the town at dinner time, I'm trying to get my act together and no kidding this old timer comes rustling out of the arroyo-he must have been about 140 years old, the only thing he was missing was a burro named # 7, and I ask him whats the best place to eat and of course he tells me it's across town. I'm carrying about 100 pounds of truck and across town aint gonna happen.
I go to the wrong place and order a bowl of chili and it had to be 90% dog food-and this is coming from a broke, eat anything, anywhere, dirty dog. Hunger was a great sauce but that chili needed more sauce- a lot more sauce.
I got dead-headed all night trying to go East. The same 8 teenagers drove by again and again as they cruised Main, up to Fourth, down Southern, and then back to Main up to fourth......and anyway I had to crash in a vacant lot on the edge of town and those teenage sonsobitches sought me out as I was crawling into my bag and flashed their brights and serenaded me in the fading Nevada twilight..........."Good Niiiiight!!......"
Up at 5 A.M. for a walk across town and got a 60 mile ride west to a cross roads but that's another story.

Any other freeze frame moments you'd like to share?

Ice climber
chingadero de chula vista
Feb 16, 2013 - 06:55pm PT
poetic license


Mountain climber
Feb 16, 2013 - 07:21pm PT
Thanks for that, hobo_dan!

I always like going through Tonopah, actually :-)

Brings up memories of the radio station recording Pate posted a few years back. Best recording of "Willin'" i've had the fortune of hearing. Lowell George and Linda Ronstadt. Good soundtrack for this thread: http://tela.sugarmegs.org/_asxtela/lowellgeorge1974-03-19.asx

credit to http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1232110&msg=1242888#msg1242888
Fish Finder

Social climber
Feb 16, 2013 - 07:26pm PT

Tonopah, the ghost town that lives.

Once I was coming home from Vegas on the 95 over the Westgard Pass,

Made it allthe way to the border as Neveda had plowed, Ill be damned if California didnt and I had to back track and go up to Tonopah to come down on the 6.

Well the snow storm got more intense and to make it over the pass there you would need chains. Not one pair to be sold in Tonopah.


The Granite State.
Feb 16, 2013 - 07:30pm PT
I stopped with my then girlfriend at the northern junction of the ET highway, where the abandoned hot spring facility is.

We were swimming in the pool with the dog, naked obviously, for a good half hour, when a lone semi rolls up to the junction.

My lady stands up in the pool, shows the goods, and waves.

We got a honk from the truck, and he went on his way.

Once he finished his way up the grade, it was only us and the wind again..,

Edit; someone else here has posted photos or discussed (can't remember) of the creepy abandoned changing rooms adjacent to the pool. I didn't care to comment at the time, but, yeah, creepy.
The Larry

Moab, UT
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:00pm PT
I've stayed at the clown motel.

Social climber
Ely, Nv
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
Rural Nevada ain't creepy, it's just weird. I imagine you all can handle weird. I'm from Ely, so it feels normal. Cities are weird.
Come on back, breaker?

The Granite State.
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:14pm PT
Being there with a woman kept me alert...

You see vehicles coming from miles away and it gives you time to consider your defenses.

Never had to take action, but the isolation and constant wind always kept me alert.

I'm not paranoid normally, but I felt a little paranoid out there.

Social climber
Ely, Nv
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Puss...nothing personal, you understand.

Feb 16, 2013 - 08:19pm PT
Me ... somewhere in Nevada 1968

Somewhere in Nevada
Somewhere in Nevada
Credit: WBraun

I'm hitch hiking to the Tetons, summer 1968.

Little old lady stopped for me outside Reno.

She asked if I was a serial killer.

I said; "Yep, that's me".

She said; "Good!!! get in" .....

The Granite State.
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:25pm PT

No offense taken.

If you were suddenly thrown from Ely to NYC, might it seem a little strange?

I've never been to NYC, but it's a suitable analogy in my opinion.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:25pm PT
I tried making reservations at the pet friendly Clown Motel once...When i checked in i quickly discovered why they advertised pet friendly when they handed me the key and cowboy boots to kill the cockroaches...Don't pick up hitch-hikers when you drive thru Ely....RJ

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 08:35pm PT
Nevada never felt weird to me--just people working hard. Now Utah--that has been weird!

The ride I got going west out of Tonopah was with a surveyor who had no work unless it came from the air base--I think he told me about the stealth fighter? But too long ago.
He drops me off 60 miles west at this cross roads and this is a VERY bad place to try and get away from. Just a building, U.S. 6 and some road going north. You could hear the wheel hiss of the westbound cars for miles and miles--total doppler effect as they busted by you without even a thought of slowing down. And then more wheel hiss.........
I'm there most of the day, and about 2 in the afternoon, the same guy who dropped me off--he shows up because he said he was concerned about me getting home (connection--my Dad was a land surveyor- it was a Sunday and he said he had nothing to do)! The upshot, is this guy gives me a ride back to Lee Vining- must have been 100 miles! It was probably the only time I got a ride where there was NOT a case of beer in the back--I swear every car in the West is drunk.
I've never forgotten that and many times I've picked up hitch hikers and given them some money or clothing, bus fare, whatever. All a spin off from that un-named guy from Tonopah.

Social climber
Ely, Nv
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
I respect your point, NH guy. Live Free or Die.
I respect that.

The Granite State.
Feb 16, 2013 - 08:51pm PT
Can we change the topic a bit? Who has picked up strange hitchhiker or been picked up by a strange driver?

Since we're talking about the lonesome west and all...

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
Nice, hobo-dan.

I'll give you one back (a moment, frozen in time)

I came of age in Tennessee and after a stint in the military I returned (till I came to my senses and fled home to California, a place I'd never been).

For a few years I ran service calls in middle Tennessee, visiting virtually every small town in a 100 mile radius around Nashville. That being the south and all, there are A LOT of small towns.

I've since been blessed to visit, um, gotta be hundreds, or more than one hundred for sure, small towns (gotta be hundreds though I am a traveler). You know, Anytown USA, places that seem more fitting in a Norman Rockwell painting. While I don't fester on it a lot of those small towns are disappearing (Ringling Ringling, slipping way, only 40 people living, there today, the streets are dusty and the bank has been torn down, its a dying little town).

So, anyway, it was the week before Christmas and the last work day to boot. And a snow storm was coming in from the west, we'd all been tracking it, hoping for a white christmas. I was 26 years old.

A service call came in for a contract maintenance account, broken piece of equipment, contractually obligated to go fix it. No one wanted to go, it was clear out in McMinnville, out near Fall Creek Falls state park. I loved it in that neck of the woods, climbed there in summmer and was willing to go anytime.

"I'll go!"

So I drove, what, 50, 80 miles, hell I forget, with a snow storm on my heels, knowing I'd be driving home in that sh#t later. I lived on the opposite side of Nashville so I was facing 100 storm miles. Didn't care then, wouldn't care now - I'm one of those sick bastards that loves storm riding and I can cut through a storm like the head light on a freight train.

So I get to McMinnville, then as I'm confident it is now, the epitome of Anytown. A central courthouse, a town square, two story brick buildings, lots of neat small wood frame houses, a very nice place. I did my work and had it wrapped up before lunch. As I walked out to my car, the snow started fluttering down. I was hungry and even though I knew I'd pay the price for dawdling, I decided quite randomly to visit the grill in an old fashioned drug store across the square.

This place was a classic American drug store too, selling sundries and such, an ancient pharmacist ran the place and probably knew everyone in town, and all their ancestors and all their ailments. And there was a food counter, with the little red leather stools, a milkshake machine and a hot grill, to boot.

Now anyone who knows me knows I LOVE a good cheeseburger. I've tried em from Tel Aviv to Sao Paulo, NYC to L.A. I had a good cheeseburger today with my kid in fact, down in the barrio on Franklin Blvd, at Scottys. (Scotty makes a mean cheeseburger)

So I went in. The place was warm to the point of being hot, a wood stove in the corner was glowing (Tennesseans are like that). The whole town had their christmas lights up. Shoppers were bustling into stores, Fussels Mens Wear, a nick knack shop, a small grocery, etc. It was snowing pretty good by the time I settled in at the counter. The lady working the counter took my order - cheeseburger, ketchup only, fries and a chocolate milkshake (with vanilla ice cream, please!). Yeah it was winter and cold to boot but how many times do you get to step into a Norman Rockwell painting and have a real milkshake from a soda jerk at a drugstore lunch counter. Me? I can count the times on one hand. This was one of them.

I sat there eating lunch, reading the paper, looking outside as the snow just started dumping! I felt a nostalgia that wasn't my own, as if I was looking out someone else's eyes at a younger McMinnville in a different time. I wouldn't have blinked one of those eyes if suddenly I realized that there was nothing but black Model's As and Ts and a few horses, parked around the square.

There was a small town cheer in the air and with the snow, a subtle shading, a comfortable lack of glare. The snow also lent a quiet to the place and several folks actually went to the window to comment on the scene. Snow is a big deal in Tennessee, especially when it dumps like that.

Well I finished my burger, paid my bill and tipped thelady handsomely, as has always been my habit. I went out into storm and drove home over winding and treacherous roads. Took a long time too, as I had to pass through several ages to get back to the present. When I rolled through Nashville about 4 oclock I was back in the present, and filled with regret. I was myself again, looking through my own eyes. I was looking at a big modern city and I was filled with big modern city concerns.

4 days after the new year I got on a plane and flew to San Francisco. California has been my own ever since, I actually CAME HOME that day. I've not been back to McMinnville since and I'm not so sure I can even get back to that town I visited. It was Twilight Zone in a pleasant way (Willoughby, next stop is Willoughby!).... and as you can see, it stuck with me all these years.

A delightfully greasy burger and a milkshake at a drug store lunch counter in small town usa, during a christmas snowstorm. :-)


Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:23pm PT
that's a great song. seriously, what's a better road-trip song than that? Six Days on the Road? On the Road Again? City of New Orleans? Freight Train?

I dunno. I'll go with Willin'.

The Granite State.
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
Just back from a long walk with three hyperactive labs and Little Feat tunes were the soundtrack in my head. Seriously, awesome.

Good thread, thanks.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:31pm PT
Just queued up Spanish Moon :-)


Trad climber
Squamish, BC
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:33pm PT
Driving somewhere on Interstate 6 at probably 2AM and had taken hits out of a pipe made out of a monster can. We were listening to the radio when it went quiet and after a bit said "Alien radio" freaked the sh#t outta us. I'm assuming it was the station name, but will never forget it. Made it to vegas safe and sound the following evening after a stop at warm springs.
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