Numa (Ava’s husband) and I decided to head for Tonopah, NV where my son, Carl, used to have a gold mine. My dad owned quite a chunk of land there and every year Mom and Dad would take Carl out west for him to work his mine. I’d tried to find my son’s old gold mine before but ran out of road and time. This time, Numa and I were going to find it and we almost did! All we needed was a 4-wheel drive to get to it!

We stayed in my pop-up camper over night. The last thing Numa said before he fell asleep was that he hoped the winds didn’t pick up. Well, talk about foreshadowing! I thought we were going to end up in Kansas in those early morning hours! We did a little more exploring to find a ghost town called Belmont. When I looked at the lady’s map, it sure looked simple enough to me. No need to write anything down or get more details, right? WRONG! We did have fun driving too fast over a crazy road to that DOESN’T go to the ghost town of Belmont giving me screams! He thought it was funny flying through the air leaving my heart in my throat and Montana throwing up in the back seat! The road really wasn’t that bad but I get butterflies going over little knolls too fast and he, a person who loves a good thrill, thought this was a cake walk! It was awesome!

I left Tuesday morning, taking the back roads, of course. What an amazing drive! It was just what my broken heart needed to see. Some of this country’s beauty to help me through today. It was two months ago today that my girl, Ava, took her life.

I got momentarily excited seeing how diverse our country’s landscape is and how quickly it changes from alien lands to canyon lands to river basins to lush, fertile farm lands. These next few pictures show you some of that diversity I saw in a few short hours yesterday.

Alien lands north of Tonopah, NV. Large fields of sand butting up to craggy mountains. Surreal.

As I got past this alien land, I got into a more remarkable area called Walker Lake. Talk about strange! A HUGE lake in the middle of no where with crumbling rocky mountains all around and no greenery!

Walker Lake just on the other side of Alien Lands!

Walker Lake with a touch of green!

Walker River Canyon just north of Walker Lake, NV

Walker River Canyon, NV

Walker River Canyon, NV

orange lichen growing on the side of this rock wall of Walker River Canyon made the whol rock look orange in the late afternoon hours. Pretty darn cool.

Mom kept telling me about raging fires in Arizona and I reminded her that I wasn’t going that way at all. Lo and behold as I come out of Walker River Canyon, I see fire in the distance and think, “Boy, am I glad I’m not headed for there!” Boy, was I ever wrong! My back road took me right past it! They closed the road and I begged the officer to let me go through so I could get to South Lake Tahoe for my prepaid Motel 6 room for the night! (Motel 6 rocks). Thank goodness they let me through but here’s a close-up of the fire with a touch of truck window thrown in for the heck of it!

What started out as a 1400 acre fire turned (at last I heard) into over 4000 acres maybe more. It was near Smith, NV

More fire near Smith, NV. I’d never seen anything like this before. It was a little frightening.

Cleared the fire and went through a little town called Wellington, NV. Cute!

Wellington School House 1898. Cool little town.

I made it from Tonopah, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA in about four hours taking the road less travelled. Lots of little towns and beautiful countryside. Just what a soul needs.

Today, I’ll stay over to rest and catch my breath from the last two months before continuing on to the redwood forest where God lives. See, I’d been telling my daughter, Ava, about this place for fifteen years and this year she was going camping with me to finally see it. The local funeral director, Jeff who is now and forever my best friend, sent me a small urn with some of Ava’s ashes to me while I was tending to her final affairs in Las Vegas so she could come with me on this trip. Thank you Jeff. Your Mom-n-Pop operation sure has been there for me, first with Carl and now with Ava. You made a terrible and alien experience into a simple feat. You arranged everything from Atlanta so I wouldn’t have to worry about the arrangements after I told you how simple I wanted it all to be and my timeframe. Donahoo-Lewis Funeral Directors in East Point, GA were remarkable, loving and efficient.

I plan on writing more about my daughter as I move along this journey. She wrote of herself as being a “revolutionary woman” and that she was. More to come.

Happy trails!
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