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Home > Magazine > Adventure > Team OYB: Uncle Tim's & Seneca

Team OYB: Uncle Tim's & Seneca
November 10, 2013

[This is Report #4 of 10 from our Family Roadtrip of 2009. I've bumped it because it's mostly about Seneca, which is in the news these days due to my Craigslist ad offering it for sale.]

So we blazed away the miles in our little red Cutlass from Elko, Nevada, to Susanville, CA, where my uncle Tim lives in a sort of timelessness.

I dropped into the special zone that is his house and stayed up late while the family slumbered in our tent in the back yard.

Have you ever seen the movie "The Misfits"? It was Monty Clift's and Clark Gable's and Marilyn's last movie. It was also about the end of the West. Boozy friends trying to live the old way in a new world. That's Tim's world, too. Feel free to include "Rancho Deluxe" and "92 Degrees in the Shade" to keep giving you a better idea. "Cockfighter." Old ways in new days. OK, and there's a bit of a "Leaving Las Vegas" feel, too, sadly.

The next day we drove an hour into the hills to Tim's town of Seneca where he runs a bar on summer weekends. When it was time to drive up there Martha worried about how long it might take for Tim to pack and get rolling. We said we were going and Tim said "Oh, OK," and reached over one side of his lazyboy for his bowling bag. "Gotta get my money" and put a cigar box into his bag. "And my smokes" and put his can of tobacco in the bag. "And my gun" and reached under his chair and put his gun in his bag. Then he stood up and walked out of the house. Ready to roll.

It's true that Tim owns a town but the town is just the shack of a bar and some fallen-down cabins. Seneca is located at the bottom of the gorgeous Feather River Gorge. You drive a 5-mile dirt road to get there from either direction. It's about 8 feet wide and there's a 1000-foot drop-off to the side. An amazing road. Quite a few people find it, surprisingly, so he gets a steady stream of customers on summer weekends when he's open. (It's also considered the most beautiful train route in the country, as some parts have no road.)

After a few hours we moseyed on to the Bay.

[UPDATE 7/11/14: Late last year I posted an ad for Seneca on CL since, due to bad health, Uncle Tim could no longer tend the bar. Astoundingly, the ad created a global media frenzy, with daily calls from reporters, many front page stories and a spot on the national nightly news. Whew! Well, we have had a buyer for Seneca for a few months now, who has made a couple payments. We are presently sorting through final paperwork.)

It was sad to spend just a day with Uncle Tim. A half day in Susanville and half day in Seneca. That's not exactly the timelessness that he's used to or that feels natural with Uncle Tim. We were VERY sad to leave. His health doesn't seem so hot. His living and working conditions seem as "rustic" as anything in the USA. They could even be intimidating. I was heartened to hear from the kids that they really liked Uncle Tim and his house and bar. They have eyes to see.

Here's some video of Uncle Tim at his bar:



And here's a vid of what the road is like leaving the bar:





Say, we were wondering what Hwy 50 would've been like going across Nevada. We wanted a swift passage so I hesitated when I saw how many passes are marked on the road along the way and we ended up taking the quick route instead. Of course, going the scenic way would also not be an example of the "Fast Transfer" approach to road tripping between desirable destinations (see Lessons Learned). Still...I bet it woulda been neat. I'm thinking of that 80's early indie flick "Bagdad Cafe."

Here are a few pics from our visit to Tim's and of Seneca to tide you over...



Here's what the kids do for fun. Make sculpy critters in the hot tent. For hire. (A friend has commissioned a bunch for a design model he's making.)


Blazing our way across Utah and Nevada...


Welcome to Tim's World...


The road to Seneca.


Seneca barkeep.


Hanging out on the porch of the Seneca bar.


A ford in the Feather River that a local uses to get to his cabin.


Corruption of a minor.


We found Golden salamanders toodling along the mossy areas near the river by the bar. (Don't know the species. Golden is our name for them.)


The North Fork of the Feather River on the way to Seneca.

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