Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Weekend in Nevada

Jon and I worked half-days last Friday so that we could head to the old-fashioned, western town of Ely, Nevada for a bike race. Despite the Liberty getting broken into the night before (yep) and the check engine light coming on (which happened the last time we were leaving for a long driving trip, too) we were in fairly good spirits.

After stopping to see the Bonneville Salt Flats along the way, we arrived in Ely around 5 p.m. The town is truly a western-looking place; most of the buildings are very old and you can't really tell which businesses are actually in operation. We considered going out to explore a nearby state park or an area for mining your own garnets, but ultimately decided we were tired and hungry and those needs came first. We were staying at the Jailhouse Motel & Casino and decided to try out its restaurant for dinner -- the Cell Block Steakhouse. They really took the whole jailhouse thing and ran with it; our booth was behind bars.

Dining behind bars
We were actually pretty impressed with the food. After dinner, we walked up to the casino where I gambled $5 playing a Keno machine and doubled my money! Then I lost it all playing poker. Jon signed in for his race and after piddling away a few more dollars in the casino, we called it a night.

Saturday, Jon rode in the Fears, Tears & Beers mountain bike enduro race. He decided to race in the expert class and he might never do that again, but hey -- he finished. The race began at 9 a.m. and started with all the racers riding right through the Jailhouse Casino. I went down so I could snap a picture of my hubby coming through.

Isn't my hubby cute?
After that, I didn't see him again until 5 p.m.! He was racing for almost eight hours! An enduro race totals your race time from a number of specific stages rather than your time start to finish. The expert class had to complete six total stages and at the end of the day, Jon had ridden 31 miles and climbed over FIVE THOUSAND FEET. Yikes. Needless to say, he was a bit tired after all that. I waited for him to finish at the park, blankly staring at this hill where he would come down and silently praying that he wouldn't fall to his death like I would if I tried the same.

Mtn Bikers got balls, y'all.
The race organizers provided a nice cookout with dinner, beer and music in the park following the race. We sat in the grass and enjoyed the weather and free beer while they raffled off prizes and announced the winners in the different classes for men and women. Jon even won a raffle prize! Jon wound up getting 11th place out of 15 individuals that completed the expert class stages. If we go back next year, he thinks he'll stick to sport class which only completes four stages so that he can really crush it! :) AND, if we go back next year, I just might participate in the Fun Run that they hold in conjunction with the bike race because only two women did it this year, so this might be my only chance to place in a running event, ever.

On Sunday, we got up early and ate a big breakfast at the Jailhouse's other restaurant then headed off to Great Basin National Park. We stopped by the park's main visitor center (no pencils), then continued to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to check in for our cave tour. (I found pencils there.) We did a 90-minute tour of the caves that was really cool! The cave has some really interesting formations and Jon said it was the best cave tour he's ever had -- and that is a high compliment coming from a geologist! :) We'll see if that still holds true after we tour Timpanogos Cave in American Fork, UT in a few weeks.

Inside Lehman Caves
After the cave tour, we made a little lunch and then hiked the Bristlecone & Glacier trails. Together, the trails totaled about a 5-mile hike. The Bristlecone trail led to a grove of bristlecone pines with interpretive signs explaining these AMAZING trees. Seriously, these trees are some of the oldest things on EARTH; some are almost 5,000 years old! And they look really cool, too.

Bristlecone Pine
At the end of the Bristlecone trail, we continued on the Glacier trail which led up to Rock Glacier, the only glacier in Nevada.

Jon approaching the base of Rock Glacier
Now, I know what you're thinking; this doesn't really look like a glacier. I thought the same thing. But, it actually still is a form of a glacier. We didn't quite understand the science behind it when we were there, but here is what the National Park System says about it: A rock glacier is a lobe of angular boulders and cobbles that resembles an alpine glacier in outline and in its slow downslope movement. Inside a rock glacier, ice fills the spaces between the blocks. By freezing, thawing and sagging, the ice works with gravity to provide the force that moves the rock glacier.

So, we were standing underneath some rocks that are constantly shifting downward. Cool, huh? ;) Until next time; more adventures to come!

Xoxo, The Zerbes

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