Pleasing Pit Stops on Those Backcountry Byways | SYDNEY MARTINEZ
ET FRESH JERKY
Right when that road trip delirium started to settle in (and you all know what I’m talking about), I zipped by a billboard that read “ET Fresh Jerky: 20 miles ahead.” I know what you’re thinking. What does this mean and how have I become so loopy?? Twenty quick miles later, I became a bit relieved when I actually encountered ET Fresh Jerky, right outside Hiko at the US 93/US 318 junction. Phew. My trip to the looney bin was spared one more day! Oozing off-the-wall Nevada ambience, this little gem couldn’t have been more perfectly located. Situated right at the beginning of the notorious Extraterrestrial Highway, I was relieved that I had the privilege to “Drop my toxic waste in the cleanest restrooms in Area 51!” After snacking on what seemed like a feast of free samples, I had finally narrowed my jerky selection down to ‘Turkey Terrestrial Teriyaki’ and ‘Hell Hole Hot’. I must admit, the latter had me worried there wouldn’t be another toxic waste dump station for miles, but it was completely addictive, both in flavor and spirit. Besides, how can you willingly walk away from something so amusingly named Hell Hole Hot?! Before moseying, I took the glaring opportunity for a mini-photo sesh with the life-sized alien mural outside, giving me a good dose of much needed fresh air. ET Fresh Jerky definitely proved to be a pretty awesome rest stop, and definitely something I’d consider planning ahead for as an actual destination. Totally worth a stop!
BLM ELK VIEWING AREA
Sandwiched in between Ely and Great Basin National Park, this jackpot of a rest area is a fantastic place to get a breather, while trying your luck at spotting some of Nevada’s majestic Rocky Mountain Elk. Patiently waiting to engorge myself with a feast of a picnic, I parked it under some very artistic looking picnic benches that seemed to double as wildlife blinds. Although I had probably been overly-anxious to chow down on this unbelievable spread, a few deep breaths of deliciously crisp Nevada air had me wondering what was better: satisfying my hunger pains, or losing myself in this breathtaking scenic beauty that surrounded me. What started out as me looking for a place to pull over, ended up with me uncovering this stellar rest area! With binoculars that were begging to be dusted off I got my elk-spotting game face on. Who cares about that stupid picnic anyway, I can eat any time! No kidding, I ended up spending over an hour here, straining to spot some elk, wandering the grounds, and reading the informational bulletins about Nevada’s largest native animal. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of spotting one of these enchanting creatures, this one is an obvious must, guys. Picnic or no picnic, check it out!
An unsuspecting little gem [or should I say fossil] of a rest spot is located at mile marker 81 on US 93 right outside of Caliente, I’m talking about trilobites, and loads of them. On Bureau of Land Management-owned land lies an absolute mecca of these little fossilized bugs, embedded in 500 million year-old shale. A park ranger had let me know this was a really cool place to check out, but I had no idea it would be so fascinating. This definitely was one of those places that you have to know is there, as it’s not abundantly obvious from the highway. An obscure turnoff turns into a dirt road that takes you back to a parking area, leading to the Silver State Trailhead. After a 10 hour day with 3 hours ahead of me, I was hoping this mini-hike would slap some sanity back into me. I set off on the trail in hot pursuit of some trilobites, not really knowing how long it was going to be, or what I would realistically be able to uncover. The trail meandered through some spectacular Nevada scenery; gorgeous wildflowers and Yucca plants popped up all around me as I wound my way around each turn. Suddenly, I came into a clearing cluttered with thousands upon thousands of shale deposits! An overwhelming sense of determination took over me, and I was NOT leaving there without uncovering a trilobite! What originally started as an excuse to stretch my legs turned into a 2 hour-long scavenger for a glimpse of a trilobite. When you’re in the area, check out this totally perfect pit stop for a quirky and not-so-obvious geology lesson!