We had survived our first night of really roughing it. We packed up our camp gear in Moab and hit the road yet again.
Another National Park beckoned. A relatively unknown one at that. Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nevada.
With Wheeler Peak soaring more than 13,000 ft. out of the otherwise desolate Great Basin, we rambled into the park and secured a well-priced $6 campsite in Upper Lehman campground at 8,000 ft. We enjoyed a beautiful hike through some of the oldest living things in the world: the bristlecone pine trees. Then we set up camp, started a roaring fire, and made another surprisingly delish camp dinner.
At this point it was about 8pm and the temp had gone from a somewhat brisk 50 degrees to a downright cold and windy 33 degrees. We layered up and braced ourselves for a chilly night in the tent.
At about 11:30pm we agreed that we weren’t prepared (mentally or gear-wise) for this. We gave in and moved into Fordy the Focus. With Andrew scrunched in the front passenger seat and Gracie in the back, it wasn’t the most comfortable sleeping arrangement, but it was better than frostbite.
While Great Basin National Park claims that “half the park is after dark!” it might be better stated that “you’re going to be f’ing cold at 8,000 ft., just FYI!”
Fast forward to 5am. Let’s just say dawn in Great Basin couldn’t come soon enough. We were ready to crank the heater and get on Route 50, “The Loneliest Road in America.”
As the sun came up, we drove through Ely, Nevada–our first sighting of actual civilization. In Ely, we hit up the Silver State Diner, which was on the main drag and looked to be full of locals since there were 1)approximately a dozen pickups parked outside and 2) there was a beacon of brightly lit freedom beaming out of the front windows. Our unforgettable breakfast there fueled us for the seven hour drive from Ely to Lake Tahoe, in which we would encounter only four dusty small towns along the way: Austin, Fallon, Dayton, and Carson City.
The Loneliest Road gives you time to reflect, drive, eat, and even work.
Late that afternoon, we finally rolled into Lake Tahoe. Ok we didn’t actually roll into the lake. That would’ve been bad. Fordy would NOT have been happy. But we did roll into Lake Tahoe, Nevada and then about 30 seconds later, Lake Tahoe, California. We had made it to Cali!
After a less-than-fantastic night of slumber in the Focus, we needed an actual bed to pass out in. Thankfully Emily and her house set on the tranquil marsh of Lake Tahoe provided just that. Thank YOU, AirBnB. And thank YOU, Emily. We’ll be back!
After we enjoyed Emily’s delicious breakfast, we hiked a few miles of the 75 mile perimeter of very big, very blue Lake Tahoe. It seriously took our breath away. We’re Midwesterners and we’ve seen a lot of lakes, but this one was different. It was HUGE. It was surrounded by towering pines and redwoods. It was basically just all around breathtaking.
That night we stayed at Tahoe’s hippest spot: Basecamp Hotel. Had we made it to Portland, OR already?!
Basecamp was pretty cool already, yet it was made even cooler by the fellow Midwesterners we met at the hotel happy hour. Amie and Jon, we were thrilled to meet you both and even more thrilled to hear you correct a dude when he asked if you were from Chicago when you originally told him you hailed from Illinois. “Nope, not Chicago. It’s a big state.” TOTALLY!