Traveling Companion: Bryan Sheldon
Vehicle: Bryan's 2000 Suburu Outback
After living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for about 4.5 years, the Sheldons thought it was time to move back to their hometown of Frenso, California. Driving nearly the entire length of I-40 is not all that fun, and so I offered Bryan my assistance, provided we stopped at the lowest point in Nevada along the way of course.
First, we all stopped in Nashville so that I could drop off my truck with my parents and Bryan and his father-in-law could pick up his father, who flew there from Frenso to help drive the rental truck. Once the group was fully assembled on Saturday morning, we headed west.
I drove most of the way to Memphis. Driving for me was a little interesting on this trip because Bryan's Suburu Outback has a manual transmission, which I had to learn to drive prior to the trip. Unfortunately, construction in Memphis caused the traffic to come to a dead stop, and it took us about 45 minutes to go three miles. To save wear and tear on the car's starter, clutch, and first gear, Bryan and I switched places in the middle of the interstate. While Bryan did the vast majority of the driving, I was able to give him a couple of breaks to allow him to rest. I can truthfully say that I drove a stick half-way across Texas, although that was just getting it up to fifth gear and leaving it there for the next three hours until we got into New Mexico.
After driving straight as quickly as possible for two days, stopping for the night in Henryetta, Oklahoma, (boyhood home of Troy Aikman) and Gallup, New Mexico, we split up with the truck going straight to Fresno and us slowing down and taking in some of what Arizona has to offer.
First we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park. The northern
part of the park is the colorful Painted Desert.
The southern part has plenty of pieces of petrified wood scattered all over the place.
This is inspite of the fact there are almost no living trees in what used to be a tropical rain forest. A lot can change in few million years. A few hundred years ago, when the Native Americans who lived in the park's ruins were unsatisfied with the natural state of the rocks, as humans are often wont to do, they embellished them with art.
After returning to I-40, we headed toward Flagstaff with the nearby snowcapped Humphreys Peak, the higest point in Arizona, guiding us from afar. Then all of a sudden there were plenty of trees, and they were not made of stone. We turned south on AZ-89A, which is a wonderful winding drive through the Coconino National Forest to Sedona. I'm really looking forward to returning to the area to climb Humphreys Peak.
We spent that night in Scottsdale so that we could start the morning of the 23rd at
Taliesin West, the winter camp of
Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices. Then we went back up to Flagstaff and picked up where we had left off on I-40 West.
When we got to Kingman we took AZ-68 toward Bullhead City, AZ, and Laughlin, NV, which was nearly a ghost town but was
saved by casinos. But instead crossing into Laughlin, we turned south on AZ-95, which parallels the Colorado River. After
about thirty minutes, we took a right on Aztec Road and went about two miles before crossing the Colorado into Nevada.
Immediately after the bridge there is a dirt road on the left. The Nevada-California state line is about a half-mile down
this road. It is marked by a stumpy white State Line monument that doesn't really seem to line up with either the bent
Nevada state line sign or the two markers by the USBS. We then climbed down to the edge of the river, which is quite low.
Unfotunately, the shrubs up at the top of the bank made it difficult to estimate the exact low point of Nevada and also the
southern-most point in Nevada and the AZ-CA-NV tristate point.
Bryan returns to California at the lowest point Nevada.
With our lowpointing done, we drove the ninety or so miles up US-95 to Las Vegas. There were some low clouds hovering over Vegas which really emphasized the light polution emanating from The Strip. We could see the yellowish glow over the black silhouette of mountains from fifty miles away, and perhaps further if the sun had set earlier. The Luxor's beacon was also quite visable.
We stayed at the MGM Grand and had a fairly uneventful night roaming around The Strip. The next morning, we ate breakfast and then parted, Bryan down I-15 and I on the airport shuttle, each trying to get home to spend Christmas Eve with our respective families.
A facsimilie of the lowest point in New York in the middle of the Nevada desert.
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