Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wild horses and the "Loneliest Road in America"

Exploring alternate routes between Wyoming and California made my many trips to antique and collectibles shows far more interesting.  I'm always trying to learn about the history of the West, so what could be more fun than traversing the Great Basin, following the original Pony Express trail.

I read that Life magazine dubbed the portion of US Highway 50 that runs across Nevada as the "Loneliest Road in America," adding that occasionally small herds of wild horses could be seen from the highway.  That was all the enticement I needed.  I had been toying with the idea of taking a wild horse tour offered by a group in Bishop, California, but finding a band of mustangs on my own would be even more fun.

I was on the way home from one of my best trips ever.  I had delivered a pair of bunk beds (above) to a client in Park City, Utah, on my way to Brian Lebel's Old West Show in Cody, Wyoming.  After the Cody show, I drove up to Red Lodge, Montana, to see the July 3rd rodeo held there. Then I returned to Cody for the big 4th of July stampede and rodeo.  I was feeling downright Western after all those events.  Now if I could find some wild horses and do a little gambling on the way home it would be a really grand finish.

From Salt Lake City, I took I-80 west toward Elko, Nevada.  I stopped and played craps at the state line in Wendover, Nevada, and won just enough to cover a tank of gas.  I continued to Wells, Nevada, turned south on US 93, and headed toward Ely, Nevada.  In Ely, I turned west on US 50--"Loneliest Road in America"--with the goal of making it to Carson City, Nevada, by nightfall.

I had covered most of US 50, and was beginning to think I'd never see any mustangs in all that sage brush and pinion pine-covered landscape.  Then I rounded a curve in the highway, and there the were.    

I pulled over to take some photos, and the herd stallion immediately became suspicious of my motives, and started moving his band further away from the highway.  He stopped several times to watch me before they finally disappeared over a distant ridge.  I was lucky to catch the photo above of the beautiful strawberry roan stallion watching me.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates there are approximately 15,000 wild horses and 800 wild burros in hundreds of herds in Nevada.  That still doesn't make them easy to find :-)

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