Road trip to the Comstock

Summer road trips are a blast. With minor traffic and construction, it will take 7.5 to 8 hours to get to Virginia City, NV from Southern California. Once you leave the Los Angeles vicinity, the drive is similar to going up to Yosemite with lonely one to two lane highways. The first part will be mostly desert. If you leave early in the morning, a quick stop in Mohave, CA for breakfast will be a good way to keep your body fueled and mind focused.

  • Savings and Convenience Tip: I’m not a big McDonald’s fan, but they have a 2 Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McMuffin Meal which is big enough to share, cheap, and light so you can keep on driving. The Mohave location is located conveniently right off of Highway 14 so you can just turn right out of the driveway and keep going.

On Highway 395, Lone Pine, CA is a great place to top off the gas tank. They have all the major gas stations to choose from. Lone Pine is also the backdrop to many Western movies like the The Gunfighter (1950) with Gregory Peck and The Lone Ranger (2013) with Johnny Depp. It even made it on the silver screen with non-Western movies like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Gladiator (2000) with Russell Crowe.

  • Travel Tip: On long road trips, it’s always a good thing to have your car checked out. Make sure your service advisor’s phone number is in your phone and carry your roadside assistance membership card with you. AAA has always been there for us and most major automotive brands have their own as well.

On the ascent to Inyo National Forest, we wound through the mountains, passing through Mammoth Lakes with Yosemite National Park to the west and on the east side of the highway, Mono Lake. It’s a beautiful sight to see – looking like a mirror of the sky. There was a little bit of construction here so we were able to take in the sights as we stopped in the slow moving traffic.

It was time for lunch as we pulled into Bridgeport, CA. We decided to top off the gas tank and then swing around to one of the burger joints in town. We filled up the tank and my car would not start back up. I had just picked up my car from service a couple of days before so we were a little panicked. I got on the phone with my Chevrolet dealership in SoCal, but it is very hard to diagnose the sounds via a cell phone. Then, I got on the horn with AAA to see if they could get us back on the road. Since Bridgeport, CA is a bit remote, we decided to pick up some lunch from the Jolly Kone and enjoy the beautiful setting while we waited for AAA to arrive. Within an hour, we were back on the road to the nearest Chevrolet dealership.

  • Tip: Keep an eye on your food. There are a couple of rouge seagulls in Bridgeport. They were so daring, they actually took off with one of our French fry bags. I’m glad it was my fries and not my cheeseburger.

In an hour and a half, we arrived in Carson City, NV. It was Friday afternoon, so we knew Michael Hohl Chevrolet would be busy. Their service manager was very caring and wanted us to enjoy our vacation instead of being stranded. He plugged into our onboard computer to figure out what was causing the problem. Since we drove through the high mountain passes, it seemed the onboard computer may have had a fuel mixing problem which can cause the car to not start. He reset the system and we were on the road again. I was happy and relieved but I felt a little like Clark Griswald in Vacation.

A short drive north on Highway 341 led us to the Highway 342 interchange, known as the Comstock Highway. The highway winds through the mountains, passing through the small town of Gold Hill. As you reach the top of the mountain, a valley opens up with Virginia City, NV carved into the side of the mountain. It was like going back in time, similar to Hill Valley in Back to the Future III. Virginia City sits at an elevation of 6,200 feet on Mount Davidson. It was a mining “boomtown” with more than $400 million in gold and silver mined (that would be more than $20 billion in today’s prices). In the 19th century, Virginia City turned into the most important industrial city between Denver and San Francisco, turning destitute prospectors into millionaires. The streets going north and south are A, B, C, D, etc. C Street is the “main street” through town.

First stop was to check into Edith Palmer’s Country Inn. Pat and Leisa Findley bought the Storey house in 1998. During renovation, Pat was very interested in the Edith Palmer’s Country Inn on the other side of their fence. In 2000, Pat couldn’t resist and bought the Edith Palmer. In 2002, they acquired the Silver Street House. In 2004, the Rule House also became part of the Edith Palmer family. The inn is located a street above the main street. It is very quaint and quiet; the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view and wildlife. A pair of quail were exploring the property during our stay. There are also courtyards between each of the houses where you can sit in the shade and unwind with a book or just bask with nature.

We stayed in the Silver Street House, built at the turn of the century. It contains four rooms named after the four Irish miners who became known as the Silver Kings of the Comstock. Our room, William O’Brien, had the famous “One Hundred Mile View” down 6-Mile Canyon to Carson Plains and beyond. The room was equipped with a queen bed, old fashioned make-up table (I used it as a makeshift desk for my laptop), ceiling fan, window air conditioning unit, full bathroom, and small flat screen TV.

Since we arrived into town later than expected, Virginia City starts to roll up the sidewalks around 6pm. For us, it was a great way to see the town and take pictures without a lot of crowds. We leisurely walked the wood-planked sidewalks, imaging a gunslinger jumping out from one of the buildings or hearing the jingling of spurs on boots like the western movies. In the middle of town, there is The Comstock Lode monument containing ore from every Nevada County to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of silver on June 8, 1859.

One of the only restaurant’s open for dinner was the Delta Saloon’s Sawdust Corner Restaurant. It is owned and operated by Herb and Fran Richardson since January 2007. We tried the new summer dinner menu which was more than just fast food items. A loaf of sourdough bread hot out of the oven was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with the aroma of sourdough peaking your senses. Dinners are served with your choice of soup or salad. The salad was larger than expected. The ranch dressing tasted homemade with rich buttermilk flavor. The bleu cheese was more like Roquefort with minimal bleu cheese chunks and a bit on the sour side.

Duck a la Orange was beautifully sliced and presented with grilled zucchini and a giant baked potato. Although our server did not ask me the temperature I wanted it cooked at, the duck was cooked to a medium rare and tender. The skin could have been crispier by scoring the skin and to render some of the fat underneath the skin. The sauce was magnificent with balanced sweet and savory flavors. The baked potato was okay. The first one was not done with a hard and gritty texture. The second one was much better, but could have used another 15 minutes in the oven for a soft, fluffy interior. Rating: 4/5

Grilled Venison was also beautifully presented with grilled zucchini and mashed potatoes. The server did not ask my husband how he wanted it cooked. The venison was cooked to an uneven medium temperature. It was flavorful but dry in some parts. If it was cooked to a rare or medium rare, it would have been perfect. The sauce with its sweet tones, paired perfectly with the venison. The mashed potatoes were great with a course smash to let you know that they were made in-house. Rating: 4/5

A long day of driving behind us. It was only 8pm and we were exhausted. Nothing sounded better than a quick shower and off to Neverland with dreams of silver and gold in our heads.

Additional photos can be found on OC Food Diva's Facebook page. 

For more information:
416 South B Street
Virginia City, Nevada, 89440, United States

Trip was sponsored in part by Virginia City Tourism Commission

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