Cedar City, Utah – ET Highway – Rachel – Yosemite – Oakdale, California

16 09 2013

I had a picture in my mind of what we would find when we reached the Nevada desert but reality wasn’t quite the same. My expectation was sand dunes as far as the eye could see but there were only a very few areas where we saw just sand. Most of the terrain was covered in scrubby bush but no trees except in a couple of “oasis” like places. If this had been a pure geocaching trip I would of course made sure I had enough time to find all 2000 of the caches on the ET Highway Power Trail. As it was only partially a geocaching trip I didn’t get anywhere near that number of finds.

We left Cedar City after the chemical muffin and weak coffee that many hotels and motels seem to offer their guests under the guise of being breakfast. On restrospect I have to give Luxor in Las Vegas a mention for their fantastic breakfast. It kept us going all day. The first two caches for the day were virtuals in Cedar City. The first one was a near tear jerking memorial to a brave woman of the early pioneer days.

After a couple of hours drive across a pretty flat landscape that slowly turned from green arable land to yellow/brown sand and rocky terrain we arrived at Ash Springs where we filled the car with petrol and set off for the ET Highway. Of course, just about everyone knows about Area 51 and the tales of aliens so I won’t recount it here. There are secret activities at the various military sites in the Nevada desert and we saw planes doing advanced manouvers at dusk.

Of course we had to stop for the obligatory photo in front of the highway sign. As I was setting the timer on my camera so I could get a photo of us both in front of the sign a passing car stopped and a local got out and offered to take the photos for us. Then it was just a few minutes drive to the start of the ET Highway Power Trail.

ds8300 and Lisbeth at the start of the ET Highway

ds8300 and Lisbeth at the start of the ET Highway

The first ET Highway cache

The first ET Highway cache

Replacement log at one of the ET caches

Replacement log at one of the ET caches

Broom Road towards Area 51

Broom Road towards Area 51

I got in and out of the car 100 times over the next hour or so. Of course, as the car had to stand with all wheels outside the white line at the side of the road it was at quite an angle to the road so I got quite a lot of excerise pusing open the door to get out and trying not to get my leg trapped when hopping back in the car again. After finding cache #100 I decided that I would stop at every twenty fifth cache thereafter.

As you can imagine there aren’t many places to stay in the area. We had the choice of keeping going to Tonopah or stopping in the litle township of Rachel (pop abt 70). Naturally, we decided to stay in Rachel at the Little A’le’Inn because of it’s connections to Area 51 and the whole UFO scene. The dinner that evening consisted of an Alien Burger. Tasty but we didn’t ask what kind of meat was in it. Accommodation was in a trailer, which was comfortable enough. It was great to sit outside and watch the sun set over the closest mountain range. There was quite a lot of aerial activity which I assumed was from the Tonopah airfield but the vapour trails were very short and the motion of the planes was not what I am used to seeing. Hmm.

The Little Ali'E'Inn at Rachel

The Little Ali’E’Inn at Rachel


Evidence room in Little Ali'E'Inn

Evidence room in Little Ali’E’Inn


Sunset near Rachel

Sunset near Rachel


View to the North East from Rachel

View to the North East from Rachel


Another view to the north east from Rachel - towards Tonopah

View to the north east from Rachel – towards Tonopah

In case you missed the combustion from the planes

In case you missed the combustion from the planes

We made a very early start the morning after and continued on to Tonopah for a late breakfast stopping at every 25th cache again until we reached number nine hundred and something. The PT went off on dirt tracks but we drove on until the final cache, #2000, came into range just of the metalled road. I had, of course, to log it and then zoom off over the hill to find the letter box cache on the other side. That’s when one of the locals stopped to see if Lisbeth, who was till sitting in the car, was OK. When she said I was geocaching, they said that they knew about the ET Highway trail and just shook their heads about the folly of it all.

A deer close to the road

A deer close to the road

Dried up lake bed

Dried up lake bed

As our goal for the day was to reach Oakland in California we didn’t stay as long in Tonopah as we could have. I have an interest in geology so, of course, we had to stop at the earthcaches that were in the area. They were at a level whereby most people with little knowledge of geology would definitely learn something new and for me with some knowledge they were a valuable compliment to what I already knew. The earthcaches we found were
Frozen In Time
Alamo Breccia
Groom Mining District
Playa
Tonopah’s Walker Lane

Mural at Walker Lane Tonopah

Mural at Walker Lane Tonopah

Tribute in Tonopah to the miners of the area

Tribute in Tonopah to the miners of the area

The last ET Highway cache

The last ET Highway cache

From Tonopah we continued our drive westwards towards Yosemite National Park. We made a lunch stop close to Mono Lake which is an amazing geological formation in it’s own right. The views in the area were fascinating but as were pressed for time we couldn’t stop long which was a shame. However, I did find The Mono Volcanoes

Mono Lake cinder cones from GE

Mono Lake cinder cones from GE

Mono Lake cinder cone

Mono Lake cinder cone

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Leaving Mono Lake we started to head up into a forested area so an unbelievable contrast to the desert we had just left. We found our last earthcache of the day which was
Lee Vining River End Moraines.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Previous to this trip the highest elevation I had found a cache at was 1819 m (Red Crater, Tongariro). Today it is at 2980m, Bird’s Eye View a good thousand meters higher. Great!

It was a shame that we couldn’t spend more time in the Yosemite National Park but our tight itinerary didn’t allow for it. It’s definitely an are that is worth a revisit and more time spent there.

Our destination for the night was Oakdale and was chosen simply because it was the first place I could find any accommodation and after a 650 km drive that includes a couple of hours of stop start driving picking up caches on the ET Highway

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