Spring Valley Wind Farm
As batty as this may seem the Spring Valley Wind Farm had to install radar to help prevent unnecessary bat collisions with their turbine blades. Mexican freetail bats it is said can haul ass attaining speeds of 100 mph while flying horizontal to the ground. The nearby Rose Guano Cave hosts the migratory mammals as they travel north and south. During the season, each night an estimated 70,000 bats depart to devour 300 million winged insects before returning at dawn to their bat cave.
Spring Valley’s wind farm consists of 66 wind machines each standing 400’ tall generating enough electricity to power 150,000 homes. With all of 10,500 people living in White Pine County most of this electricity is fed into the electrical grid and sent to more populated western communities.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority arrived in White Pine County in the early 1990’s with a plan to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year from ancient underground aquifers south to Las Vegas. Rural Nevadan’s don’t take too kindly to have their water basins sucked dry in broad daylight by a bunch of casino operators. Litigated over the last 3 decades the Great Basin Water Network (fancy name for a spunky group of locals) fought the Water Authority and won. The project was declared to be “dead in the water,” and with that the no-good miserable water grabbers moved on.
Irrigation Pivot on Hayfield
Hay growers farm the remote corners of the valley. Many operators use irrigation pivots. Growers produce hay, alfalfa, winter and spring wheat. Work of this kind is best done by men of few words. I’ve met a handful over the years, they tolerate my curiosity, answering my questions, but they’re more accustomed to silence, preferring to work the land, ship their crop to market, spend the winter wrenching on their trucks, tractors and field equipment.
Between Baker and Border, Nevada there are three saloons. Fanciest is Kerouac’s staffed by urban refugees that can no longer stomach a cosmopolitan life but are as yet unprepared to hire on to herd sheep. With the pandemic in full rage hard times have fallen on the saloons. Baker is the gateway to the Great Basin National Park. Wheeler Peak is the parks crowning achievement, second highest peak in Nevada at just over 13,000’.
White Pine County is where is located the Nevada State Penitentiary’s death row. Eighty-two have been convicted and remain locked up with no possibility of being executed because of the moratorium. Rumor is that most suffer near death from boredom at this remote prison.
From Baker, Nevada it is 300 miles south to Las Vegas, 382 miles west to Reno, and 230 seldom if ever driven miles northeast to Salt Lake City. Nevadan’s don’t frequent Utah much if at all. On the odd chance business requires such a visit is one thing but visiting for purely social purposes the Utah capital is much too morally rigid for Great Basin whiskey drinkers.
Bristlecone Pines from High Country
A long-haul trucker brought the love of his life out here. Driving through headed east or west he finally bought a slice heaven on earth and when not on the road parked his rig and hung his hat with his better half. Then cancer came took his life leaving her to fend alone. Twice she tried to return to the San Francisco Bay Area. Both times it was no use. Freeways were too clogged, fancy people everywhere, so noisy she couldn’t even hear herself think. Once every two weeks she drives 60 miles on Hwy 50 to Ely for groceries. Then, about maybe twice a year one of those quiet type bachelor hay growing pivot operators will make a run at her, try and convince her to hug and kiss and you know what.
This is how life along the easternmost edge of Nevada goes along day after day. If there is a snowstorm, they close two of three saloons. Bartender from Baker voluntarily drives his customers the ten miles over to Border so that unnecessary sobriety may be avoided. Locals will drink, eat and spend the idle hours of the evening discussing hay crop yields and the incessant western drought. Saloon keeper loads up his customers drives the ten miles atop the icy roads and falling snow back to Baker sending his clientele home where they will be warm to get some sleep and dream of better days. This is how it is and always will be.