A trip back to old Nevada


Matt Hufman

What used to be main street in St. Thomas, Nev., as seen on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013.

Day 1 of the Nevada Heartland trip; midday update:

We’ve stopped for lunch in Overton at Sugar’s Home Plate – a sports-themed joint with framed jerseys on the wall and deep red vinyl booths with sagging seats and Formica-topped tables with the wood design worn through.

As I type, there are burgers sizzling on the grill and a football game on the TV over the bar.

As my father used to say, “That’s Americana.”


What’s not to like? The atmosphere is comfortable, and the cheeseburgers are big – and good.

Today, there’s been plenty of American, if not, “Nevadaicana.” We took Interstate 15 to Valley of Fire Road and went through the park ($8 for state residents) and tried the vehicle off the paved road. (It worked. Well.) We met Lynn Balmer, who was intrigued by our vehicle. Balmer, who’s from Canada but visits Nevada frequently, said he crossed the Sahara with a group 40 years ago; they were in two Land Rovers. A broken U bolt underneath one vehicle stopped the trek, but a well-stocked traveler passing by had a spare. So a trade was made – a U bolt for a bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch.

My guess is similar trades have been made in the Nevada desert over the years.

We left Valley of Fire, which is the way a traveler would have come 100 years ago, and then we went into Lake Mead National Recreation Area ($10 for a vehicle, $80 for an annual pass) and turned off the paved road onto St. Thomas Road, which leads down to an overlook of the ruins of the old town. We scrambled down the trail to the floor of the Moapa Valley and walked through some of the ruins. Mike noted how odd it was to consider that we were walking on ground that was once under nearly 60 feet of water. Mike also noted how odd it was to think that the water was all gone. But that’s part of the story of Lake Mead and the American West.

We’re getting ready to wrap up and start to wander north. We’ll be back to Overton again. Judy Metz, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Ray – known as “Sugar” – is on the local town board and filled us in on several things to check out on a future trip. More on that in a future post. Photos to come - we're losing power and signal. Sigh.

Now, it’s back to the road.

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