We left the Shell Crest Motel as soon as we could the next morning, and set out in search of breakfast. Wells is a small town by most standards: population 1000. I believe that it exists solely because it's at the intersecton of I-80 and US-93, and makes a good overnight stop from Boise to Vegas or Reno to Salt Lake City. Our hopes for breakfast weren't high, and our standards had been lowered by the motel, so when Kim saw Bella's Espresso House, she was OK with that. Not being a guy, she apparently didn't notice the signs to Bella's Gentlemen's Club (link probably SFW) on the way into town ("Come stay at a real working Brothel"), but it turns out that the restaurant and the club are a few blocks apart. A quick breakfast, some nasty gritty coffee, a trip to the local grocery store for a case of bottled water, and we're off on our longest planned day of driving, with miles and miles of nothing, punctuated with miles of more nothing.
40 miles in, we're cruising at 70 MPH though 6000 foot elevation desert. 20 miles after that, we cross the Pony Express trail in Shellbourne and use an outhouse at the rest stop there.
It's at this point of the trip where we first diverted from our original plan. This was already becoming a long day, and we were already getting a little tired of driving. I'd originally scoped out four different routes to Vegas, two of which had us stopping at the Ale'E'Inn restaurant and Area 51 for dinner, one of which involved driving a dirt road through a canyon, and the most boring choice: following US 93 into town the whole way. This last one is the fastest route, though, and even though I insisted early on that this trip was more about the journey than the destinations, I fully agreed that I just wanted to get to Vegas. US-93 all the way, baby.
At 169 miles, I end up stuck behind a truck going through Connors Pass (where US-93, US-50, and US-6 run concurrently. Not only is it doing well under the speed limit, not only am I stuck behind it for ten miles because there's really no place for it to turn off, but it's a WalMart truck, and there's something about WalMart that just makes me grumpy -- even just thinking about it. Once we're out of the pass, As soon as we hit a two lane section of road, I punch the accelerator, pass him, and then have to slam on the brakes as I pass a surprising crossroads where US-93 heads off to the right. Grrrr...
About 50 miles later, we're all in need of a bathroom break, but the signs indicate a rest area ahead, so we push on a few more miles, to discover that the rest area has parking and picnic tables, but no bathroom, and no secluded place to go. We dance, hold it, drive another 20 miles, and stop at an unnamed dirt road about 6 miles short of Pioche. Krys got to see a cattle guard up close and the three of us were surprised at the amount of trash under the bushes out in the middle of nowhere.
Another 83 miles, and I stop briefly for this photo at the intersection of US-93 and SR-375, the Extraterrestrial Highway. I'm suddenly reminded of a bumper sticker I'd seen the day before on a car at the Dead Mouse Motel: "Aliens: the other grey meat." No Area 51 for us today, though. Onward.
20 miles, and time for another bathroom break. We stop briefly at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, and although a sign at the bathrooms says "Closed - out of order" on the women's side, the men's side is open and functioning, so we take turns using it. We watch a small lizard among the rocks, then, as we're getting back into the car, the ranger pulls up and says "You're not using these restrooms, are you?" "No," I answer, thinking that truthfully with a Clinton-esque bit of logic, I'm not using them -- I'm done. "Good," he says, "They're not working. There's another one about half a mile up the road." We thank him and leave.
About 50 miles later, we enter Clark County, and Kim's starting to be excited about being close to Nellis AFB again. Sure enough, we soon see official looking "keep out" signs along the road. 60 miles of desert later, we arrive in Vegas. We see Fremont street and the Stratosphere on the way in, and check into our room at Circus Circus after a fairly long line at the check-in desk. Dinner at The Pink Pony (good food, but ack! what a theme!), and we drive the strip to see the town at night. We're so lame -- we're in Vegas and asleep by 11:00.
Miles today: 456
Miles total: 1304