Westbound Day 24 – 557 miles – Ely to San Francisco

Monday, 11 July 1994

fixing the Caddy in ElyCarney Brothers, an auto-repair shop just round the corner from our motel, immediately inspires confidence. Monday to Friday they fix cars and Saturday-Sunday they prepare dragsters so they obviously know what they’re about.

Our misfiring is quickly diagnosed as burnt out points, the brand new set installed a few days ago at Yellowstone have worn out because they forgot to tighten the adjustment screw. This simple replacement immediately has the beast running wonderfully again and at 10 am we purr smoothly out of town, glad we pushed west from Moab the previous day but even gladder that we decided to call it a halt at Ely.

Loneliest road in AmericaRoute 50 is actively promoted as the Loneliest Road in America but its remote and lonely nature is often full of interest although there are very few settlements along the route. Heading west from Ely there’s Eureka and then Austin, and that’s about it until you reach Fallon, where the loneliness suddenly dries up and the busy highway hurtles you on to Reno.

Eureka and Austin are both colorful little places and we stop for lunch at the curious Carol’s Country Kitchen in Austin. In between even gas stations are few and far between and there’s an interesting signpost protocol whereby instead of telling you ‘last gas for 120 miles’ they wait until you’re 20 miles past the last gas and then announce ‘next gas 100 miles’. We actually run out of gas  five miles before Austin although fortunately we have a two gallon emergency supply on board. This is not the first time we’ve been grateful for that little container of insurance.

From Reno we start to drop back down towards sea level, the altitude of the past week soon lost and around 9 pm we sweep across the Bay Bridge and back into San Francisco, back to our starting point. We’ve covered 5400 miles eastbound, 5200 miles westbound on the return trip.
And what a trip it has been. We’ve been to 24 states along the way and, of course, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what America has to offer. We will return and next time the Southwest is going to be our primary destination. Meanwhile does anybody want to buy a 35 year old Cadillac?

Police & Caddy at Rand McNallyA Westbound Postscript
A couple of days later we ended the Caddy trip outside the Rand McNally travel bookshop on Market St in San Francisco where we had a little lunchtime reception and got fined $20 for parking on the sidewalk. Somehow the permission we thought we’d obtained to park there hadn’t percolated down to the cops on the beat.

When I tried to argue about it they demanded to look at my driving licence and then suggested that if I wished to continue I might find there were much more expensive rules about whether or not an Australian driving licence allowed you to drive ancient American cars. We quickly decided $20 to park right on the sidewalk right in the center of San Francisco for a whole lunchtime was pretty cheap.