The Loneliest Road In America

This post originally appeared here, at

There are thousands of reasons to take a road trip. There are thousands of roads to travel. From that pile of reasons and that pile of roads, I recently found a reason to travel 400 miles across Nevada on U.S. Route 50. Fittingly, I ventured out on this journey alone, given the route’s nickname: “The Loneliest Road in America.” So, with Folsom Prison Blues cranked up, I jumped into the deep end of Nevada. The following are some thoughts about the trip.

This drive was about doing things outside the ordinary. Anyone can jump on Interstate 80, speed uneventfully across the Silver State insulated from the countryside, and save 90 minutes of travel time, but traveling on the interstate isn’t really living, it’s just driving. Instead, I decided that stepping out of my comfort zone may net a large gain, experience-wise. So, hanging a right hand turn at Ely, Nevada, I set out to see the American West in a way that cannot be seen on any other byway.

The vehicle of choice for this drive was my recently acquired Volvo C30. Fortune smiled with regard to the weather, which was sunny and cool. Stopping off at several roadside attractions, I was happy to have remembered warm clothes. Sweaters and Volvos likely belie the usual Route 50 traffic, but I got the distinct impression that old number 50 was glad to have any company it was offered.

The road follows pretty closely to the old Pony Express trail, which was the fastest method of getting news across the country in the middle of the nineteenth century. Later, the Intercontinental Railroad served the purpose of carrying news and goods. Still later, Route 50 was constructed and it ribbons quietly through hundreds of miles of sagebrush and pinion pines.


The reason I found in that pile of thousands? A treasure hunt. I know, it sounds foolish, but I was given treasure map a few weeks before and I just had to satisfy my curiosity. Is it possible that hidden treasures still exist? Is it possible that I could be the one to find it? As it turns out, the map was perfectly accurate but the treasure was just a box of discarded dreams.

The highway was spectacular, in its own way, and while I enjoyed the journey, I won’t be taking that road again any time soon. I don’t mind hanging around with myself, but this route is just too lonely. One might even say it’s the loneliest.

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