On the Road, from Portland Oregon to Beatty, Nevada

We are traveling back to Beatty, Nevada, for six weeks. I have a residency as Workspace artist at the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum; Jer has comfy quarters in the Goldwell House in the town of Beatty.

Travel, in October, we assumed would be relatively easy — rain, maybe, but too early for snow. The Honda  was filled to the brim, of course, since Beatty, population 1, 154, has no art supply store.


Beatty has one grocery, two gas stations (if you include the Casino), 4 motels, and the Goldwell House. Four miles outside of Beatty is the Red Barn, where the Goldwell Foundation has studios for artists, at the head of the Amargosa Desert. That’s were we were headed, 220 miles south of Reno, 110 miles north of Las Vegas, and straight south of eastern-most Oregon.

The trip started out with rain (of course). The Cascades had snow dumped on them, so we opted for traveling east on the Columbia Gorge Highway (Interstate 80) which had both phenomenal cloud formations and marvelous green and gold forest to feed the eye.


travelColumbiaWe dropped south to Prineville at Biggs Junction and spent the night. Then we moseyed on down to Burns/Hines, where I fought with my computer and Jer did Wikipedia work. We slept well, and when I awoke with some good cheer the next morning (Thursday), Jer said, “we have a situation.” In my sleep befogged brain I was clueless about “situations,” general or specific, until he opened the curtains:


We both had learned to drive in the Pennsylvania snow and had  lived in Wyoming for some years, but living in Portland for close to twenty years has a) made our traction devices unnecessary (the  old chains don’t work on the Honda and b) made us older, wiser, and much more cautious. However, the snow looked to be lightening,the forecast not so bad and we traveled on southeast, along the edge of the Alvord desert and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, down into the basin and range country of northern Nevada. It was slightly disorienting, although the highway was always oriented, even with tads of ground blizzards. We could only sort of make out the desert ranges that skirted each side of  the highway. The fog/clouds/snow storms through which we traveled made the travel unreal and a bit magical. It was particularly magical because no real disaster or even anxiety occurred. The Honda hugged the roads, which were generally not slippery. And the bit of snow cover added some frisson to our travels.

No real danger ensued. Once we dropped out of the last pass down into Winnemucca the skies started to clear and we could feel the weight of the wet atmospher lift. But there were moments, when only the road gave us orientation.


If you are curious, we were in the quarter of Oregon which is, like the snow,  mostly white — few roads,no towns, no hamlets, few crossroads, no gas stations, no national forests, no highway patrol or warning about ice signs — just blanks with highway lines overlaid– but not absent — space.  It’s the southeastern corner of the state — not even a Herein Lie Dragons warning:


At the end of the day, Winnemucca appeared along the Humboldt River, our motel was as expected, and we went off to an unexpected pleasure at a Basque Restaurant at the Winnemucca Hotel, a funky old bar and family-style eatery along the river in what must be old town Winnemucca.

The dinner was worth the ride, the snow, the slight anxiety, and the shock of entering an empty bar (great back bar of mahogany) with no one there but the grouchy bartender, who announced that we couldn’t have dinner for 15 minutes ( at 6:15 PM). I ordered a Bud out of solidarity with the proletariat, found wine on the table, and a marvelous meal culminating in the best steak I have ever eaten. I’m only sorry they don’t serve breakfast, although I’m not sure I could deal with a Bud at breakfast.

It’s the Winnemucca Hotel on Bridge Street a bit off the strip of Winnemucca I-80, and definitely worth it, even to the point of drinking Bud beer. Some things, alas, don’t change. But some do, and having friends who can find a treasure like this is one of them. Thanks Joan and Skip. –-June

Oh, and I wasn’t even tempted to paint during this trip. I’m still trying to see the desert without imposing my Green Willamette Valleyeyes.

This entry was posted in Beatty Nevada, eastern Oregon, Travels and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to On the Road, from Portland Oregon to Beatty, Nevada

  1. Charlene Sandoval says:

    My husband and I had dinner at The Winnemucca Hotel just 4 days ago. It was the most discusting food I’ve ever eaten. So over cooked it was dead. The guys working at there looked like daralyics who just got out of the state penn in Lovelock.
    We frequent a number of basque resturants such as the JT bar in Gardnerville, Louis’ Basque Corner in Reno , and the Martin in Winnemucca and love all of them.
    Baaque resturants are typically a long standing famuily traditoin that have been handed down by the elders to the next generation . I’m positive that the family who started the Winnemucca Hotel did not intend for it to present as it does today. The owners should have more respect for their family history . I would never go here again , not even for a cocktail. It was a sereal experience.


  2. vita31 says:

    wow. you know what i always pray that someday i will have a chance to spent a white Christmas… but Christmas is everywhere try to visit our country you will love it


  3. danakennedy says:

    Just came back from a road trip on the opposite side of the country – Cleveland, Ohio to Myrtle Beach, SC. Despite the continuous rain both to and from our destination, I really enjoyed the changing scenery, not to mention the food and the local culture. I’m already craving our next road trip!



  4. I would rather just stay in Portland 🙂

    The pics are awesome tho 😛


  5. nolpol says:

    thanks for sharing a part of your private life with us
    i appreciate this


  6. june says:

    Thanks, all, for the good wishes and good thoughts. Bon voyage. And Joan, next time it’s definitely a picon. Whatever that is. I’ll try it. The food was so good, we’re thinking of going back, even if we do have to go through Tonopah. And climb Bob’s summit. In December. Without snow tires. On second thought, maybe not….


  7. paulwmitchel says:

    Wow great pics! I can’t wait to travel again… you make want to start packing tonight… Thanks



  8. IntrigueMe says:

    I’m Canadian- I’m used to the snow, but holy smokes am I craving a road trip now!


  9. Joan says:

    Don’t worry about the cranky bartender at the Winnemucca Hotel — He’s always like that and his father before him! You should have ordered a picon, the Basque drink, instead of that nasty Bud! Great stuff — waiting eagerly for the next installment.


  10. What beautiful scenery! We decided a number of years ago to celebrate our anniversary in Reno – we’re from Washington State. Lovely weather – 70 degrees at Tahoe (March 29th) – need I say more? We left Reno in what was to become the worst blizzard in years – were in the last group of cars to go over the Donner Pass for a week!! Parts of the trip were spectacular, parts were horrifying! Nothing like the unpredictability of west coast weather!!


  11. Mike says:

    fun trip – nice pics


  12. June says:

    I certainly am loving these comments. WordPress has brought me some new contacts. And my mother just rolled over in her grave — Kerouak and Cassady!!!! I’ll take it, if only virtually.


  13. superhare says:

    wow, great post
    you made me wanna travel


  14. Good travel… like Jack Kerouak and Neal Cassady 😀


  15. destinationwashington says:

    I too have driven some of these same roads; lonely and remote, however beautiful and serene. Summer certainly offers fewer surprises but you just cannot compete with those fall colors; great story thanks for sharing.


  16. mwgriffith says:

    Portland is such a beautiful place. I consider it a sort of retreat, a place to long for.


  17. givenchance says:

    wow! snow!!!! a real winter has come to you, as I can see! well, i think it is a high time to prepare for Christmas. lol!


  18. June says:

    We have arrived in Beatty and it’s about 75 degrees. Tomorrow we get to settle into the Goldwell House and I get to settle into the Red Barn,which looks just as wonderful as ever. I had some bad moments in Tonopah and on the desolate route 95 from Tonopah to Beatty, but as we came into the vale, with the aspen and cottonwoods and Beatty Mountain, sheltering the town, I knew it was OK. Two drafts of beer and pizza for dinner topped it all off and Oregon is beating USC handily. Life is pretty good!


  19. Pingback: not all who wander are lost

  20. That stretch of road that you’ve traveled is one that I know like the back of my hand. Thanks for reminding me of what I’ve missed over the past few years of staying stationary. Looking forward to reading more.


  21. Pretty Project says:

    So fun that you’re documenting your trip. I love the photos. It looks so beautiful! 🙂



  22. Sheila says:

    That shot of the road is very compelling, the angle of the vanishing point, the starkness of the color palette…I want to quilt it!

    Winter travel is definitely a different animal. Different views, different sensations, different inspirations. I’m reminded of your return trip from the Montana adventure and my own Nov/Dec trips from WA to CA. Keep hugging the road!


  23. henry8164 says:

    We will be in Missoula Montana for 8 days over Christmas. We’re planning two “short” road trips. One down the Bitterrot Valley from Missoula to Darby, and another up to LOLO PASS. The weather may turn these “short” trips in extended adventures.



  24. your post just made me realise i need to plan a road trip too hehe!


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