I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.
By: joealaska , 4:29 AM GMT on October 26, 2012
Monday morning I headed north on The Beeline Highway, route 87. It quickly climbed the Mogollon Rim from 5000 to 7000 feet. 87 continues on to Winslow. But I turned off heading northwest on St Mary’s Lake Road. I popped out in Flagstaff near I-40, then I jumped on that interstate and headed west toward Kingman. Then it was up and over the pass to Laughlin, Nevada.
I used to go to Laughlin many years ago every other weekend, just to play golf in Laughlin. Then I would lay a few bucks on a football game I would listen to on the way home. One of my favorite courses was Emerald River, hard on the banks of the Colorado River. It was a very difficult course, laid out in desert where no course would exist without artificial irrigation. Half the holes were typical, half were impossible.
Casa loved the course, as his game was suited for that type of course. Flip a coin, base it all on luck.
Sometimes he looked pretty competent, other times his real skill came through.
It was maybe 25 years since I played that course, I have the records and can look it up. So I decided to take a detour to Laughlin and check out that layout.
TRUBBA. I came around a corner where I expected to see a splash of green in the stark desert. No splash. I even caught a glimpse of brown and black that ought not be there. Then I conformed it, the course was not only closed, it was dead. No water l;et it turn BLACK. Just a vague layout in the desert dirt. I found it depressing. I knew it was a strangely tough course, and it was overpriced.
But that meant it was usually wide open for me.
As I looked at it that day I never saw it so open.
So I headed west out of Laughlin and caught RT 95 north to Las Vegas. As I approached Sin City I stumbled on a decent course in Boulder City which I played. Got done just before dark and found a nearby hotel.
Next morning I battled with the early traffic commute and headed northwest on RT 95. I had planned on playing PAIUTE about an hour north of town. When I pulled in I found it was packed..
I moved on.
From RT 95 north, I turned off at 266 / 264 and headed west then north, crossing in and out of California. But my goal was to stay in California and see Yosemite. It looked like I had just enough time to travel through the park and find a place to stay.
Park closed. It happens every year, but I felt weather was still OK. Not so.
Now it got interesting. I needed to cross the Sierra Nevadas, and in a funny area.
The park was closed as there was weather at the summit. I headed north to drive around that mountain range (heading south would have been warmer...). I passed 3 or 4 mountain passes that were also closed. I could look up on the summit and see the clouds. On and on, I ended up in Gardnerville, Nevada. I jumped on 88 and hoped it was open. No signs saying CLOSED, but one big one asking for CHAINS to be used. I was chainless.
I climbed up and watched for weather changes. I would turn around if needed. It was about an hour from being dark. Near the pass I was seeing two to three feet of snow along the road, but theb road itself was clear. Then there was slush in patches, and it seemed slick so I slowed down. I finally reached the pass at about 7900 feet. I went down for awhile (expected) then started climbing again. Then I saw a 2ND pass appear, the sign saying right at 8000 feet. Later, I saw another sign saying 8000 feet. Not even a pass name on that one. That road just would not head down, it stayed high on the mountain. It was very dark, very few cars. No signs telling me what was ahead, no signs telling me even which road I on.
I ended up driving a couple hours longer than I wanted. Stayed in LODI, near Stockton. Pretty close to Livermore, home of Dave and Muriel.
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