Leaving the castle in Austin kicked off the final leg of our Nevada honeymoon.
As a farewell to Lander County, we made one last stop at a hot springs, Potts Hot Springs, where an empty horse trough sits in a lonely field. When you get there, you just move some pipes into the tub to fill it with water flowing from the springs. We were the only ones for what seemed a hundred miles … except for the cattle.
From there, we drove the former State Route 82 through the ghost town of Belmont on our way to Tonopah.
Once the seat of Nye County, Belmont produced $15 million of silver and lead ore in its heyday. The bustling city, with a population of 15,000, once had four stores, two saloons, five restaurants, livery stable, post office, assay office, bank, school, telegraph office, two newspapers and a blacksmith shop.
However, by 1887 most of the mines were out of operation, and the town started dying away — just 22 years after it was founded.
Once we arrived in Tonopah, we considered staying at the historic Mizpah Hotel, but decided to go a more traditional route and chose the Tonopah Station Casino.
It was a comfortable room, but we regretted our decision when we went to eat at the Pittman Cafe inside the Mizpah hotel and took a look around.
Opened in 1907 as one of the first luxury hotels in Nevada, the Mizpah was purchased and fully restored in 2011 by Fred and Nancy Cline.
The hotel is beautiful, and the restaurant has won awards for its unique and quality cuisine.
After two days in Tonopah, we headed out for our final destination — the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas for Gary’s Navy reunion.
We took the Extraterrestrial Highway down, on the lookout for anything otherworldly. We stopped at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel for some Area 51 merchandise for his children, but that was the most excitement we had.
After nearly a week of seeming like one of a handful of people on the planet, it was near culture shock as we crossed into Las Vegas on a freeway packed with cars.
The hotel-casino where we stayed opened up the Fremont Street Experience, which was crawling with tourists every hour of the night and day.
The casino also featured a pool wrapped around a shark tank, with a slide that went right through the sharks.
It was a cool place — if you’re into that kind of thing. I mostly just wished I was still hanging out with the wild burros in Austin.
In the chaos of Vegas, we closed the chapter on our honeymoon. In doing so, we found Nevada is not only home, it also makes for the ideal vacation.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at email@example.com.