I’ve been chomping at the bit to get outdoors, clear my head, go out and hunt for gold nuggets…so, after a few delays, my wife was sick (better not go yet) and so on and so forth I finally made it out on the road at 3am Wednesday morning (insert happy face here). The road was empty and conditions were clear, the drive up to lovelock was easy as 6 hour drives go and the gnawing pain on the left side of my lower back was tolerable. I checked into the casino at 9 in the morning and they had a room ready right away, things are going well…a good sign.
I was doing a little research over the winter and came across this travel blog with listings for all the ghost towns in Nevada, USA as a google earth overlay, the link is to a google earth KMZ file Http://www.forgottennevada.org if you have not seen this it’s great information complete with history, gps cords, directions and photographs. So the first day I did a little touring around the towns of Tunnel, Mazuma and Seven Troughs, really interesting seeing the old relics in Tunnel and the canyon where the town of Mazuma was washed away in the 1912 flash flood.
Thursday the weather was really nice, there was a little breeze, but low down in the washes the conditions were perfect. Later towards the end of the day I managed to hit a little section where the soil had eroded down about 6 inches to bedrock and within a fairly short span hit 3 little nuggets all sweet high/low with a slight warble, lodged in the bedrock shale and under a trickle of water. the first nut being the largest and my first piece of chevron gold the second piece slightly smaller and the last one was the baby (nice little happy gold family).
Friday was perfect weather and only a slight breeze, I headed back to the same area, but couldn’t repeat my previous days success.
Saturday I hunted a different spot and it was pretty much a bust as the wind was really blowing. I took a drive up on top of the mountain (should have headed home) just for a look around and the wind was blowing so strong it was difficult to even walk.
Sunday morning I headed home west on i80, light snow in lovelock and by the time the highway started to climb conditions were deteriorating and the road was getting slick. I kept finding my self dropping my speed down to about 35 and cars were blasting past me doing their best to get as close to the speed limit as they could, feeling bad I picked my pace up to 45 and (foolishly) set the c control at 40 as I was feeling like I was obstructing traffic and felt I was being overly cautious. One mini van passed me doing at least 60 and I thought to my self I’d probably be seeing his car again later down the road. High wind advisory was in effect and just as I crested the hill a really strong wind gust hit me from the right and i80 downhill was all ice…there it is and right away you know this is not going to end well. The back end of the jeep kicks around hard and I let off the gas, steer into it and s!t, the damn c control kicks in I forgot that I’d set it earlier and my jeep is powering into the counter steer on ice downhill. Jab the brake zig zagging several times and the damn wind is blowing me across from the slow to the fast lane and I’m running out of room. One more zag and my backend slams into the guard rail hard, in my mind I can see the rear fender/bumper askew at an odd angle mentally I’m considering the replacement of parts. The one thing I’m thankful for is the impact gave me an opportunity, it stopped my zig zag death spiral…knocking me straight, no need to stop as I’m back in the right direction, jeep driving fine and nothing I can do about it now. I keep looking in my mirrors and can’t see any damage, no clanking flapping things shouting to passing vehicles of my adventure, hmmm.
5 minutes passes and traffic slows to a stop, the guy behind me pulls along side to ask if I’m OK, I thank him give a shrug and a thumbs up just as the truck in front of me moves just enough to reveal the mini van that had passed earlier, blocking all lanes after careening front end off same said guard rail. As I slowly passed the unfortunate driver, the front end of the mini van struggled a small wave of acknowledgement, my jeep rolled silently past ignoring the gesture.
I80 was closed and my nerves were slightly on edge all other routes home were closed as well, so I resolved to spend the night in Reno and checked into the el dorado. After finding a parking spot I began checking my jeep for damage, don’t see any…fenders are fine bumper is where it was last time I looked at it. No bent metal anywhere…except the bottom right corner of the rear license plate is bent, the plastic plate holder is fine as it sprang back into normal shape after impact, a little dirt smudge on the rear plastic fender and smudge on the rear left Micky Thompson, but no permanent marks. The alignment seems fine and everything works normal, I’ll have to inspect everything more, but all seems well…teflon coated. just bent the license plate, I could straighten it, but I’m thinking that might be bad luck and it adds “character.”
Things were supposed to improve on i80 late in the afternoon the following day. Monday trying to kill time until the roads open up I joined the morning Holden tournament and won first place, paying for my road trip. Feeling lucky I jump in the jeep as Truckie residents are being allowed through and my lucks on a roll so might as well see what happens, long story short I’m gonna play the morning Holden tournament tomorrow and see if I can repeat. After hitting the roadblock and giving cal trans my best poker face “Truckie sir” at state line my bluff was to no avail and they turned all the sinners around at the Donner road exit.
So…my luck held for another day, if it wasn’t tempting fate I would head back to the placers. The morning Holden tournament aka; give the ice time to melt, scored win number two! But only two tables and 18 players as most people headed out earlier, so not much to brag about and the prize pool*barely*covered the room that night and*my breakfast. All in all lots of little lucky streaks, so good start for 2017
Next stop is a shop that knows setting up lifted vehicles, I suspect something is off a few degrees somewhere. On dirt roads going straight if I keep the speed below 50, it’s rock solid if I push it up to 60 then the resonance of the road makes the back end want to come around, now I’m finding the same thing on slick pavement at much lower speeds, could also have to do with tires or it could all just be normal…my first jeep.