Night at the Museum
Ok so picture this: glamping in a National Historic Landmark with the possibility of an old railroader ghost cozying up next to you. Sound like your cup of tea? It was definitely right up my alley and I couldn’t have been more pumped. Yes, I had the delicious treat of staying at the Nevada Northern Railway's Bunkhouse in a…wait for it…operating rail yard in beautiful Ely. Before the trip, without a doubt in my mind, I was looking most forward to the idea of staying at the Bunkhouse. What started as the chief engineer’s quarters in 1906, morphed into a delightful abode a few years back where patrons can absorb its history without having to walk through an exhibit. They can live in it for a day, or should I say night.
I may have considered their other super cool overnight option: an actual Caboose, but seeing as it was a cool 30 degree April evening, the modern day convenience of electricity finally won me over and I opted for the Bunkhouse. [I’m coming back for you in the summer, Caboose, don’t you worry.] From the outside, it appeared to be a modest rectangular building, similar to many of the other existing buildings in the rail yard, while the inside was similar to a railroad apartment [ironic, yes?] with one singular hallway running the length of the building with each room accessible through a doorway off the hall. I was in room ‘D’, and of the three options, I’d say I reeled in the winner. Since it was the chief engineer’s quarters, the building had an actual safe….and it was in my room! YESSSSSSSSSS. A rip tide of adrenaline flooded through my veins, I mean it might as well have been King Tut’s tomb. I was getting to hang my hat next to a piece of history, and I’m not even that crazy of a history buff! Train aficionados, forget about it…I mean seriously.
It reminded me of glamping…or glamorous camping, mainly because it wasn’t a cushy as a hotel, but definitely was not rugged by any means. Visitors share a communal bathroom, but honestly, this was so not a big deal and was actually quite comfortable. As I tried to collect myself enough to actually get some shut eye, I heard the door open. I panicked a bit, as American Horror Story, Paranormal Activity and Ghost Hunters consumed every atom in me. Cautiously peering around the corner, it could’ve just as easily been mistaken as a railroader ghost, but to my relief was my roommate…or the train master, who resides in the Bunkhouse full time. Covered in head to toe soot, I must admit, I was happy to see another person would be under the same roof for the night.
This place keeps you on top of your game a bit, but delivers that good, solid overnight camping kind zzzzz’s, satisfies your appetite for history, and is flat out cool all around. I can’t describe it any other way. Just do it.
Comfy, Cozy Windmill Ridge
I was on a warpath of a road trip exploring south east Nevada and was tipped off about Windmill Ridge. They said it was “cute.” After having the pleasure of staying a night here, I can think of soooooo many more ways to describe this fine establishment.
After spending a few days in Panaca and the Lincoln County area, I was headed back south to Las Vegas and planning on spending the night at the fabulous Windmill Ridge, right outside the picturesque Alamo farming community. Getting completely lost in the enchanting beauty of the Pahranagat Valley, I didn’t even notice that it was past 7pm until getting a call. As the person on the other end of the line revealed themselves as Windmill Ridge, I’m thinking ‘Time to face the music, I’m going to have to deal with a late check in fee and a cranky front desk person.’ Amazingly enough, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of getting a lecture, the staff from Windmill Ridge politely informed me that if I had intended on eating at their on-site restaurant, I only had 30 more minutes to get there. Wait, what is this unfamiliar courtesy?? I didn’t understand what was happening. Completely bewildered at this thoughtful, uncommon service, I put the pedal to the metal and got there just in the knick of time.
Ok, so what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you picture B&B guests…oh, I don’t know, retired people in RVs maybe? Well, I stand corrected, Windmill Ridge quickly flipped this negative stigma on its head. The guests in the common areas were the most diverse and intriguing group of people; from hunters, to people passing through, to honeymooners, Windmill Ridge seemed to capture and cater to just about every demographic. It was impressive and quite frankly pretty exciting to be there with so much going on.
Feeling a satisfying food coma coming on, I decided to make my way back to my individual cabin for the night: The Purple Sage Cabin. I must admit, I was going into the themed-room idea a little weary, but man, they completely delivered. My private cabin appeared to be brand new, and was so thoughtfully yet practically decorated. It was great because at this point in my trip, I had been on the road for six nights now and really needed to just take over a room, sort my life out and get a solid nights’ sleep. With a gigantic cabin to myself, a 40” flatscreen, queen sized bed, and a jetted tub, Windmill Ridge totally breathed some life back into me.
The place was completely sold out on a Monday night, so I think it’s safe to say they’re doing something right. Whether you’re a good ol’ boy, lucky in love, or just passing through, Windmill Ridge is a solid find, and so much more than “cute.”
Feeling Like a Family Member at Pine Tree Inn & Bakery
Holy smokes, the Pine Tree Inn & Bakery really brings the ‘all in the family’ vibe to an entirely new level. I was spending some serious time in Lincoln County exploring their fantastic state parks, and as the only lodging option in Panaca, I hoped this place would deliver. Boy, did it. When I arrived, some friendly guests were relaxing on the deck, enjoying some appetizers and refreshments. I let myself in, and without sounding over the top, felt welcomed and at home right off the bat. With a couple of different room options to choose from, I settled for the Blue Room in the garden level. Maybe it was appealing because of the actual blue hue, or the fact that it was tucked away and serene. That, along with a huge king sized bed all to myself, a flat screen TV and walk in bathroom, it felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Because I hit three state parks in one afternoon, I was in major need of some good quality R&R.
After getting settled in, my stomach reminded me it was close to dinner time and I moseyed upstairs, hoping the other guests could point me in the direction of a good dinner option. After spending 30 minutes making friends with the other guests, I decided I didn’t even need to go anywhere. I had plenty of food from my own cooler and the tranquility and camaraderie the back deck had to offer was a game changer. Aside from the ‘right at home’ feeling the Pine Tree Inn and Bakery had to offer, the second most appealing thing about it was it felt more like a hostel or sorts. The other guests staying had chosen the B&B for its remote peacefulness, and shared the same affinity for travel and exploration I did. After preparing some delicious treats for myself in the communal kitchen, I enjoyed the full moon and excellent company on the deck on this warm desert evening.
Having slept like the dead, I awoke to the delicious aroma of bacon and pancakes. Again, feeling like I was staying over at one of my own relatives’ homes, I made my way upstairs and met one of the owners. Having never met the woman face to face, I didn’t know what to expect. “Well good morning there! You just take a seat right here and I’ll finish up your breakfast.” I took a seat next to the other guests, some of which were my friends from the night before, and others were Swiss travelers who were in the area to explore Cathedral Gorge State Park. She plopped down my heaping plate of breakfast in front of me, which looked like it had been a page torn out of Country Living Magazine.
The sense of community and restorative night’s sleep, along with the owners taking me under their wing as one of their own family members was just what the doctor ordered. It was not just a comfortable stay here, it was like my own mother was taking care of me when I was road weary and needed it most. When checking out Southeastern Nevada, definitely make it a priority to stay at Pine Tree Inn and Bakery…they have a quality that many lodging options attempt at capturing, but execute with ease!