June 21, 2021 Burns OR

Today was a another relatively long bound towards home. The most direct route from Las Vegas to Portland is thru the Great Basin, and it may be the least populated part of the lower 48 states. Today we wanted a commercial campground because we want to give Scout a good scrubbing and dump and clean the tanks. The options were Winnemuca Nevada which was only about 100 miles from Austin, or drive another 200 miles past Winnemuca to Burns. We always opt for Burns.

The Mormon Cricket.

While traversing the appropriately named Big Smokey Valley in Nevada we came across a natural phenomenon we have never seen. We began to notice that there were a lot of bugs on the road. As we drove the number of bugs increased and we encountered tens of thousands of these things on the road over the next 60 miles or so. As we were driving I had Ton Google “lots of bugs on the road in Nevada”. It turns out that periodically in the west there is an infestation of Mormon Crickets. During periods of drought they hatch in the millions. They can cause havoc if they get into an agricultural area as they will eat everything. The reason we were seeing so many on the roads is they are also Cannibalistic, so as they are crossing roads when one is squished others will stop to feed on the dead cricket, they are then squished by another car, and the cycle continues. We passed one section of the road where there were so many dead crickets that it looked like brown tire tracks. In fact the article we read said they can cause traffic hazards because so many get killed that they cause the road to become slick.

There is not a lot of human activity in the Big Smokey Valley, just a few ranches scattered over 75 miles of road, but we always seem to have something interesting happen here. This time it was crickets and last time we were buzzed by a F-35 fighter jet twice.

All of the spots are Mormon Crickets. I wanted to get out to take a better picture but Ton wouldn’t let me because it was gross.

When we stopped at Winnemuca for gas, all of the surfaces behind the tires were covered with chunks of hundreds of cricket carcasses. Our first stop before checking in at the RV park was a carwash to de-cricket the exterior of Scout.

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