Note to self: Put some puke baggies in your car. Seriously. Do it.
My father got a little sick. And by “a little sick” I mean “I wish I would have had puke baggies in my car so I don’t have to go through this stress now” level sick. We’ve crossed the desert, although we still had a couple hundred miles of it in front of us. So more accurate would be to say that we’ve crossed enough of the desert to get to Great Basin National Park; an island of green and life in the middle of the dry almost-colorless mass of land. I understood how great it must have felt for travelers to arrive to an oasis after days of travels – even though we spent only one day in the desert.
Right after a quick visit to the visitor center (finally, bathrooms!), we stopped by at a small restaurant/gift shop at the base of the mountain and had some chili (my parents LOVED it, yes, in all-caps – and I must admit that it was probably the best chili I’ve ever had).
That’s basically what the entire Great Basin National Park is; Wheeler Peak standing at 13,000 feet, a few other peaks, and then a fast drop into the desert floor. The change of ecosystems in this area is so quick it’s almost like a space-time travel; one moment you’re in the middle of a very dry, not very life-friendly nowhere, and twenty minutes later you’re in a lush forest full of bristlecone pines, wildflowers, grasses, and animals who are slowly evolving away from their brothers and sisters elsewhere, separated by the desert which they can’t cross.
The mountain is steep. Driving up on the wingding road might feel a little like a roller coaster. And I had one of those people in my car.
My father never really liked first-person perspective car chases on TV. He couldn’t watch when we played games like GTA, or even Zelda; he would get sick. It was no surprise when he announced that we need to stop for a second in the turnout. And then in the next one. And the one after that, too.
Eventually, we got all the way up, although it was a battle. I wasn’t willing to stop in the middle of the road when there were no turnouts, but at the same time I wasn’t a fan of the image of having to clean up half-processed chili from my car. By the time we finally parked the car and stepped out to take a walk around, my dad was almost as green as the vegetation that surrounded us.
Luckily, a short walk and the views quickly healed him, although we couldn’t stay long. There was still a couple hundred miles left before our next stop – the only one with warm water – in Salt Lake City, and the day was edging towards night very quickly.
When we headed out back into the desert and talked about the beautiful oasis in the middle of the flat plain, my father said, “The best part of this stop was the chili.” Ergo I must say; if you’re ever passing through the lands there, stop by at the base of the mountain to get their chili. It’s worth it. I’ll certainly be coming back, even though not only for the chili – there’s so much more to see in Great Basin NP. The caves, the ecosystems, the night skies,… I know I’ll be back.
( And if you feel like it, you can follow this blog so you won’t miss the future posts from the road trip.)
And have a day full of beautiful vistas! 🙂