Our summer job, and first work-camp job, took us to the Silver Jack Inn and Lectrolux Café in Baker, Nevada.
The Silver Jack job caught our eye in a large part because of the community–Baker, Nevada is a city of just 52 people, located on the edge of the Great Basin national park. It’s a creative community too, with many artists in town. It’s a “cool” place, and the Silver Jack Inn epitomizes this nicely. It’s a popular stop with adventure motorcyclists and cross-country bicyclists who are following Highway 50, better known as “America’s Loneliest Road.” The Silver Jack is a small, ten-room hotel with a comfortably lived-in feeling and gardens full of found sculpture and collected folk-art pieces. Tent camping is also available. There’s an antique and gift shop out back, and of course the Lectrolux Café, which would feel right at home if it were dropped whole into San Francisco, Austin, Royal Oak (MI), or any number of other hip metropolitan locales. The Lectrolux (which means Lexie and I, as well as the owner Terry) serves up espresso, hand-ground coffee and a wide range of “house-mad” baked goods that are whipped up from scratch. A plethora of microbrew beers, including Utah favorite “Polygamy Porter,” fill the cooler, as well as a selection of wines. Not in the mood for greasy road burgers? The Lectrolux Café has handmade burritos, fresh salads and pizza that are a convenient antidote. Terry even shows free movies on a big screen in the restaurant, when he feels like it.
And that’s where Lexie and I have fetched up for the moment. In addition to cleaning hotel rooms and learning to wait tables, we’ve been doing a lot of baking and kitchen prep, learning to make the Lectrolux’s fresh salsa, pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies, four-berry coffee cake and blueberry muffins.
Lexie and I are fish out of water, in some ways. Obviously, there’s the town. I took classes in college that had more people in them than Baker. As soon as we arrived, people knew our names. It’s a tiny, tiny place.
The nearest city is Ely, 65 miles to the west, a trip that takes us over two mountain ranges. That’s where the closest grocery store, hardware store, and, well, pretty much anything are. And Ely isn’t very big itself; only about 5000 people. Wal-Mart? Applebee’s? Ely knows not these things. To find the chain stores that we’re so used to seeing on the landscape, we’ve got to drive 3 hours to Salt Lake City.
This is both good and bad. It’s refreshing to be so far from everything. Baker is quiet, and safe enough that we can leave our doors unlocked and our bikes sitting outside without concern. On the other hand, if you unexpectedly run out of ibuprofen or eggs, or have a craving for a slice of cheesecake…well, it’s not exactly a quick hop to the store, and it’ll cost you half a tank of gas to boot. We quickly learned to plan a weekly trip to Ely, and to plan it well! Monthly trips to Salt Lake City for a K-Mart/Wal-Mart/civilization “fix” are probably in the cards as well.
In truth, this is a minor inconvenience. Being in Baker is a nice test run for spending some time completely off the grid, should we ever want to boondock in a really remote location. And we might. The Incorrigible’s not quite ready for that kind of expedition yet, so the practice is welcome.
Then, of course, there’s the desert. The air’s remarkably clean, but it took some time to get our lungs used to the altitude! Word of advice to flatlanders planning to spend extended periods of time in the mountains: iron supplements are good. Luckily, living in the RV already has us water-conscious: Baker is one of the driest cities in the U.S.
The good news is that it hasn’t gotten hot yet. There’s also a lot to see, when we aren’t working. More on that later.