Nevada Magazine subscribers are beginning to receive the July/August 2016 issue, which means the 2016 Silver State Scavenger Hunt is underway! We’ve decided to celebrate ghost towns this year, highlighting some of the most iconic and important mining camps and early sites in Nevada’s history. If you still need the details on this year’s hunt, click here.
Ambitious scavenger hunters Jim Hadnot, his girlfriend, Niki, and scavenger-hunting dog, Lucy, have already completed the hunt, and have the photos to prove it! You can read all about their adventures below:
BY JIM HADNOT
We had an awesome time! It was actually very impromptu. The three of us were feeding ducks at Sunset Park in Las Vegas at about 8 p.m. on Friday night. As the sun was setting and the ducks were chomping on Cheetos we decided to do the trip. We got home quickly and managed to leave the house before 9:30 p.m. We spent the night in Beatty and got out of there the next morning at a decent hour.
We fueled up the Prius, and ourselves, and then quickly bagged Gold Point, Lida, and Palmetto (where we surprised a fat little lizard). We also scored a few geocaches. I didn’t research any of them ahead of time but the these historical markers usually have a 50/50 chance of harboring a geocache.
We continued north along State Route 264, dipped into California for a few minutes and then made it up to Belleville. I have a large laminated map of the U.S. where I keep track of every paved road that I’ve traveled. This route allowed me to lay down some fresh ink! From there we grabbed Candelaria and continued south to Blair. We’ve poked around Blair before so this was old hat. The sun was high in the sky and it was getting to be that time of day where a cold beer would hit the spot and with the Old School Saloon just down the road we knew what had to be done! After a beer for each of us and some shade and hydration for the scavenger-hunting hound, we took the dirt road across the lithium mine and made our way to Alkai Springs where we almost got the Prius stuck in some sand after taking a wrong turn! We quickly realized that the springs were on the other side of the road and made it over there with only one loud clunking sound that only comes from a large rock making contact with a hybrid vehicle.
At the springs we witnessed several fish in the lower pool including some gold fish type things and one particularly large catfish! By this point it was a bout 90 degrees outside but we weren’t going to completely pass up the springs. We dipped our legs in the upper pool and debated things like gun control and the meaning of life! We then got back to the car where we released the scavenger hunting hound from her shade tree. She made a bee-line for the catfish pool and took a few laps. My girlfriend appeared less than pleased at the thought of wet dog on her leather seats!
From Alkai Springs we made a quick side track to Goldfield. We had hoped to see the car forest but we didn’t do any research ahead of time so we missed that. Instead we drove through the town FOUR times looking for a blue historical marker. I finally broke down, googled it, and found that it was one of the few atypical markers. Whew!
Within a half hour we were in Tonopah. We passed all of our favorite joints including the Bug Bar, The Mizpah Hotel, and the Clown Motel. I promised the girlfriend that she could have anything she wanted to eat. This resulted in only one wasted hour and 3.5 trips up and down the length of town. We finally settled on paninis at Beans and Brews. Somehow I had the foresight to purchase one Lunchable as well. Little did I know the value that it would have in the future. I made a quick phone call to the Manhattan Bar & Motel to reserve a room for our crew and then we got back on the road towards Belmont.
We rolled into the historic town in the late afternoon. We took the requisite pics of the historical marker and then walked across the street to Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon. I’ve been through here several times but this was the first time that the bar was actually open. If you’ve been here before you know that they keep rather odd hours! We verified that it was okay to bring the scavenger hunting hound in and then we enjoyed some cold beers and live guitar music. As the sun was dipping lower in the broad sky we decided to push on out and head over to our room in Manhattan. I have driven the road between these living ghost towns before but it had been awhile. I consulted the map and then ran back into the bar to confirm the route. Yep, three cattle guards south then take a right on a dirt road. One of the locals had just driven it that day in his car and assured us that the Prius would have no problem. With some light grumbling the girlfriend agreed to subject her city slicker mobile to more of Nevada’s off road offerings. We pulled into Manhattan with about 30 minutes of daylight left.
We checked in at the bar and then kicked our shoes off and put our heads back for a few minutes as we enjoyed the fresh mountain breezes blowing through the open windows. What a respite from the 110-plus temps in Vegas! After what couldn’t have been more than a half hour we headed back to the bar in search of some vittles. I knew that they offered various forms of microwavable delights like frozen pizzas and burritos. Unfortunately, the bar that was hopping just 30 minutes earlier was now closed! Apparently the horseshoe tournament that was held earlier in the day behind the bar must have taken it’s toll on the proprietors and patrons alike. No sweat, if the “Top” bar is closed we’ll head down to the “Bottom” bar (The bars are distinguished by their respective elevations). Surely they’ll be open! Indeed the “open” sign was still up. I stepped inside to find the place completely empty. I wasn’t sure if I should holler or look for a bell to ring. Within a few minutes a silver haired woman approached and informed me that the bar was closed. It was now 8:15 p.m. and we were 15 minutes late! By this point the last rays of sunlight had creeped their way down the two lane highway and off the horizon. We proceeded for a nice stroll down the road to check out the local school house. We didn’t even make it up the building before hunger gripped the both of us. We trod back to our room to asses the dire situation. We had one Lunchable, one package of pop tarts, a handful of cherries, one coke, and a half a bottle of bourbon. It wasn’t fancy but it was satisfying!
In the morning we awoke to weather that required a sweatshirt. It’s hard to wipe that type of smile off your face after the recent record breaking temps that we’ve had in Vegas. I walked the scavenger hunting hound up the road and we checked out Manhattan’s only stone structure: the local bank that opened in 1906 and closed in 1907. The hound and I snapped a few pics in the old bank vault and then we returned to the room. I considered enjoying a scoop of dog food for myself but instead enjoyed a 1/4 can of flat coke and half of a stale cookie that surfaced somehow. As my girlfriend’s face grew paler from malnutrition we departed this little mountain town on the only paved road out.
In the hunger induced fog we found ourselves in Warm Springs more quickly than we expected. We checked out the premises and made a mental note to return here in cooler weather! We got back on the road and after making a wrong turn we arrived at our 9th historical marker a few minutes later. We wasted no time in getting back on road. The fires of our hungry bellies would be doused for sure once we hit Rachel! On the way we spotted two pronghorn antelope, three cows, and zero aliens. We stumbled into the Little A’Le’Inn and quickly ordered two Alien Burgers. I was hoping they would contain actually alien. What they lacked in extraterrestrial protein they made up for in hunger squashing satisfaction. We finished chatting with the bar tender, snapped a few pics of the UFO tow truck, and then hit the road again. At the terminus of the Extraterrestrial Highway, we briefly entertained making the detour to pick up the final historical marker at Delamar. The girlfriend vetoed this citing homework deadlines. Fair enough. I’ve drug her across hundreds of miles of two lane road and through hamlets smaller than my middle school graduating class.
A ways down U.S. 93, we pulled into Alamo to top up our caffeine levels and relieve the scavenger hunting hound. A few hours later we pulled into our drive way and stepped out into 111 degrees. I came inside, poked around for a bit, and then departed alone for the final historical marker. In an attempt to avoid the potential traffic from the Sunday exodus from Las Vegas on I-15 South I stuck to the less traveled Las Vegas Boulevard South. This took me to the new Seven Magic Mountains installation. I hopped out, snapped a few pics and got back into my air conditioned sanctuary before I started to physically melt. A few minutes further down the road and I pulled into Goodsprings, home of the Pioneer Saloon, my favorite watering hole in Nevada. I took my only historical marker selfie of the trip and then sat down at the wooden bar as I reminisced on the last 40 hours and 800+/- miles that I had just traveled. It was a fitting way to wind down the last bits of a wild weekend that I won’t soon forget.
Click here to learn about the 2016 Silver State Scavenger Hunt!