Mina, Nevada…The town where time stands still?
Goodbye California and smoke…Helloooo Nevada!
The smoke had been getting too heavy in Lee Vining from the fires on the Western side of the Sierra Nevada so we decided to head East and wander the Nevada desert, sort of..Mike had come across a post by the Tonopah Astronomy Society about a Star Party they were going to have the second week of September so off we went. Sadly the Star Party was cancelled..a star party by the way for you non-astronomy geeks is when a group of amateur astronomers get together with their telescopes and stare up at the sky all night..and drink..sometimes;)
We started out on California #167 that turned into #359 in Nevada..straight and long with marvelous views in all directions. The sage bush was blooming all around us like a carpet of yellow on either side of the highway…and it was hot, hotter than the weather app had suggested. We were headed for Mina and the Sunrise Valley RV Park..the only RV park within 50 miles of Monte Cristos Castle..our star Party destination, before it was cancelled. There is something about those long long stretches of roads that boggles the mind. Europeans can not believe the distances when they get to these kinds of roads…
We arrived in Mina, almost missed it;)…and settled in..at first glance it seemed a bit desolate and depressing…a ghost town in the making..not a soul in sight, we were the only trailer at the RV park and all the doors said “OPEN” and they were all locked. The last Gas station here-Jack’s-I think I could make out on the sign had been selling gas for $1.56 a gallon..now when was that?..or full service;)
We walked along the main street up to the North end of town, a small Hamburger joint with a few picnic tables. It was open and we were craving a milkshake in the heat. We walked past the Mina Bar…asked Mike if he wanted to go in..remember PAUL he said..’nuff said..;)..So we continued on the main road to “S’Socorro’S”…Not fast food she had written on her sign..looked good to us:) and it was, a real milkshake made out of real ice cream..what a treat. Socorro was a delightful older woman with a twinkle in her eye and sense of humor to go with it…she told us she was making chili rellenos so we ordered some and agreed to pick the up the next morning as she was out of tamales.
We walked back to the RV park..still without seeing a soul..cars and tractor trailers whizzed by, barely slowing down, certainly not doing the speed limit. It’s sad more people do not stop in these wonderful little towns.They are a huge part of rural America. Mina-population now 155- founded as a railroad town in 1905 and was named for Ferminia Sarras, a large landowner and famed prospector known as the ‘Copper Queen’. According to Wikipedia anyway..the railroad is long gone, but at one time a local shuttle called the “Slim Princess” allowed native Americans to ride for free on top of the rail cars, and passengers and crew would shoot wild game such as jack rabbits, ducks and sage hens from the open windows. The train moved slow enough that hunters had time to retrieve their game and hop back on board…wild wild west. Some yards were filled with old pickups..a graveyard of sorts, testimony to a better, and perhaps more lucrative time.
At least the Judge has his own parking spot at the Justice Court and Clerks Office.
In the morning, before heading out to Monte Cristo’s Castle, we had a long talk with the RV Host..been there 27 years..Chuck..never had been to Monte Cristo’s Castle, even though it is only 27 miles South. He said he had some claims, like lots of folks around there..silver I think he said. He had a beautiful rock collection in his office..We would recommend them..Sunrise Valley RV..it was a clean and lovely spot..somewhat noisy with the truck traffic but it did quiet down late at night. It is worth taking a walk around town.
We went to pick up our tamales Saturday but S’socorro’s was closed..even though it said open so we shrugged our shoulders and went back to the trailer. She was open again on Sunday when we stopped by..seems her cat had gotten into a fight and she had to drive all the way to “damn Bishop”..(eighty miles by the way to go to the vet) and $500 later she said..it was a disaster..now she had to make up a hundred more chili rellenos to sell to pay the vet bill. She handed us a fresh chili she had..”Hatch chili” she said..it smelled amazing, the way only a chili can when it is fresh picked. We took our chili rellenos, went back to the trailer and scarfed them down, they were delicious, not too cheesy, perfectly roasted…always a religious experience;)..better yet knowing we were helping her pay the vet bill:)..(don’t miss them..be sure to ask her if you stop..they freeze very well!)
We stayed until Monday morning, I had a package sent to us c/o the RV Park and I called the Post Office when they opened and The Post Mistress said to come on down and pick it up. Brought a big smile to my face..a group of farmers were chatting in front of the PO..morning ma’am…catching up on the weekends gossip no doubt..Ruthie, the post mistress was a hoot and a half…this was no doubt her domain..it had that wonderful small town personal feel to it that is ebbing away in the larger towns and cities where people seem to care less about each other as they rush about in a mad frenzy that means nothing..really…so next time you are out on the road..if you come to one of these towns..stop and find a cafe, or a burger joint, and chat..spend your money where it helps folks…drive past the big chains and support these little towns where time stands still…if you peel back the old facade the life within can be very rewarding…you might even get a visit from some of the locals..like we did just before we pulled out….