Sunday, June 18, 2017

jiggety jig ~ back home almost 4000 miles later

My final day on the road was yesterday and I arrived in Reno from Fernley around 10:30am. Nick Chamberlain saw one of my posts on social media and alerted me to the fact that he was in Reno too (on his Ural Sidecar motorcycle) so he surprised me in the Nevada Museum of Art where we met, walking up from behind and saying "nice boots". There are some interesting pieces of art in that museum although I whizzed through rather quickly. Ed Ruscha had a few fun pieces that made me smile, I also enjoyed "Moth Prayer" by Elizabeth Gomez in 2000. There were some really intriguing works of art I wanted to sit with but I was also aware I needed to beat the heat that was increasing outside.

Nick and I rode out of Reno and exited on the Mt Rose Highway (US 431) up to Lake Tahoe, it was a little more interesting than other main highways. I got a few photos of Nick leaning into it as we climbed up in elevation. We went through Truckee and then stopped at a historical marker for the Emigrant Trail. We tried to stay off US 80 as much as possible, going on the US 20 and US 49 instead and then south on a side road from Auburn to Folsom. That's when I was so hot I had to say goodbye. I got on the US 50 headed toward Sacramento by myself and sped back to Alameda at a greater rate of speed than I could have done with the sidecar. The temperature registered 105 degrees as I passed through Sacramento.

I'll do another post following this with highlights and stats from the trip, a total of 3,927 miles.

"Jiggety jig" is from the nursery rhyme over 200 years ago

Nick at the Nevada Museum of Art

Artist Elizabeth Gomez, 2000 "The Moth Prayer"

Ed Ruscha ~ a sentiment that really summarizes much of the desert life I rode through in the days before
leaning into it 

plenty of snow still on the high passes in Lake Tahoe

Emigrant Trail just to the West of Tahoe

Nick with the Aerostitch's "Mr. Happy" mascot

arriving 8:15pm back in the Bay Area last night as sun was going down on a very warm day
yesterday's overall ride route

Saturday, June 17, 2017

you know you're tired when ...

... you sleep right through a blaze of fire in the backyard.

Yes, that really happened last night here at my lovely stay here in Fernley, Nevada. I felt right at home the minute I walked through the door and my host Antoinette made me feel so welcome, parking my motorcycle in her garage as I unpacked into an oasis of air-conditioned bliss. By the time my head touched the pillow at 11pm, I had the exhaustion of a lifetime after riding 280 miles across Nevada in hot and arid conditions. By the way, don't call it “Nev-AH-da,” or you'll be in trouble. Apparently, the only acceptable pronunciation of the state is “Nev-ADD-a,” not “Nev-AH-da.”

When I awoke this morning, I had some confusion because I slept so soundly I missed all the action. Here's the summary from my airbnb host Antoinette about what transpired last night:

I see the light! What do I mean? As I walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water and what do I see? A huge raging fire in the lot right behind the backyard. Panicked and in my "jammies", I run outside the front, then come back in and hear 'ding, ding, ding, ding' - the persistent sound of my doorbell. The neighbors are trying to save us!

My airbnb guest Anna is sleeping soundly apparently (which I cannot believe), I don't want to wake her, she just rode in on her motorcycle after almost 300 miles across Nevada in the wind and heat.

I run outside, men from the fire department are everywhere but they say 'don't worry, it's just a brush fire'. I say (as if they care) 'But I have a guest, her windows are open and the smoke is going to kill her -- do I knock on her door?' The fireman matter-of-factly says and I quote 'no, let her sleep, I will knock if the fire gets closer'.

Anna never knew what happened until this morning, she slept through it all. Only the photo below and the scorched area in the lot behind the house is the proof of what happened!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Is that a covered wagon up ahead?

Today was a long hot and arid day of riding but overall safe and interesting. I left the town of Ely, Nevada and headed due west on the "Loneliest Highway in America", US Route 50. It really is astounding how many miles between small towns you go. One wouldn't want to get stranded without water along this route, to be sure.  Much of this highway is the actual Pony Express trail and the highway crosses over it a lot between Ely and Fallon and it is mostly well marked for historical enthusiasts. One of my favorites today was the Cold Springs Pony Express Station where you can pull over to get a refreshment in modern comfort but just down the road to the west are the actual ruins of the station. I have newfound respect and admiration for what kind of hardships these horses and men endured in their 18 months of service.

Similar to yesterday's ride, there were miles and miles of open straight line of road with very few cars, stopping as often as I could to hydrate and be thankful I wasn't on a horse. I arrived in Fernley, Nevada for the evening after stopping briefly in Fallon to visit the impressive Churchill County Museum.

The mystery of the man on the mule train was solved because of the power of social media when one of my friends posted this link explaining the man named Randy Boehmer and how he's going around the United States since 2008, spreading the word of God.

mule team and signs on the side of the wagon about Jesus
imagine my confusion when this was a speck on the horizon -- "what the heck is that?" I thought to myself

one can start to hallucinate a little with all the sameness in the dry desert

the sign for the Cold Springs Pony Express modern day store

the ribbon of road goes on seemingly into infinity

evaporation vest is a godsend on days like this

a selfie in the Churchill County Museum in Fallon ~ appreciating that I wasn't a woman in 1870

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nevada ~ open space and the Pony Express

Leaving Park City this morning and heading down in altitude to Salt Lake City to fill up on gas, I then headed due west on US Highway 80. When I got near the the town of Wendover, Utah, I saw a sign for the Bonneville Speedway which sure made sense because of the 60 miles of salt flat to my right that I rode next to leading up to Wendover. I then crossed over the state border painted on the road into Nevada known as West Wendover and took the photo of my motorcycle with the big "Wendover Will" sign. This town is also known for the Historic Wendover Airfield that has the Hangar for the Enola Gay.  That kind of history I don't want to tour first hand so I made a mental note and then pushed on into the desert to the southwest in order to get to Ely, Nevada. What I can confirm is that there is exactly 108 miles of no signs of life between Wendover and McGill Nevada -- not even a bird or small animal running across the road. Miles and miles of 80 mph two-lane sparsely traveled highway but in good condition. I probably only passed three vehicles in my trip. I did see a rest stop as I was close to McGill and it outlined the history of the Pony Express that apparently was on this same route over 150 years ago.

the salt flats are seemingly endless heading west out of Salt Lake City on US 80

"Wendover Will" and my motorcycle.
heading out of Wendover toward Ely ~ 108 miles of vista like this
the light seems brighter and not a sound around ~ very little signs of life

The Pony Express went on this route

the early daredevils in Utah at Ecker Hill ~ the history seen today

In Park City Utah near the The Pinebrook Homeowners Association there is a green hill (at least in the snow-free months) with a tennis court and an open space near the bottom of it. If you don't slow down as you drive by and look closely, you might miss the historical plaque. It is known as Ecker Hill and it has quite a history in the world of ski jumping. Click here to read more and today if you visit, you can look closely on the hill and see the remaining wood shamble that is all that is left of the stand seen in the photo below.

Ecker Hill just before official opening of US Ski Jumping Championship, February 22, 1937.
Photo by Bill Shipler. USHS Photo #9891.

the hill today (June 2017)

Sverre Engen circa 1930 on Ecker Hill
Alf Engen set a world record at Ecker Hill by jumping 247 feet on February 12, 1931.
In all, Engen set five world records at Ecker Hill.

Festooned with shoes ~ it is comical to say the least

A shoe tree is a fitting subject for this blog due to the whimsical nature of it. Yesterday I visited the Park City Shoe Tree and like I do sometimes, that got me to researching Shoe Trees in the United States for which I discovered there are "at least 45 of them" according to Wikipedia. How do these begin? The one in Park City impressed me when I discovered it was started in the 1970's. There is a news story telling more about it here if interested.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The aspen trees have eyes

those are eyeballs on the tree, don't you agree?

Have you seen an aspen tree? It looks like it has eyes on the trunk. Or maybe that's my own creative hallucination after riding all day from Moab to Park City Utah yesterday. I like to stretch reality in my mind anyway though and I do it without the assistance of substances. I rarely speak this fact out loud. It's a matter of perception, as all things are.

The day yesterday was quite good even though that old wind had moments of getting my attention along the way, it was nothing next to the day before. I left Moab kind of early at 8am in order to get to the Arches National Park and not have to wait in a mile-long entrance line. I was rewarded with only four cars in front of me which was not the case when I left two hours later and the line was out to the highway.  I drove through and stopped a few places for the jaw-dropping views and then I went back to the visitor's center to watch the 15 minute film explaining why the land looks this way. If you haven't been here, I highly recommend it.

Then after Arches I made my way to Price, Utah for lunch and it seemed a little bit like a city that time forgot with the downtown having old seemingly unused buildings. I planned a route out of there to avoid the busy towns and so I went up and over a 9100 ft pass on US Highway 191 to Duchesne, Utah. I heard the navigator voice in my helmet pronounce the name "doo-shane" so of course I stopped and walked in a gun store to confirm the pronunciation of the place. It's a French word of course.

I left Duchesne and rode due west on Highway 40 toward Park City and crossed over Freedom Bridge in Starvation State Park. The names alone must be stated here, they had me wondering about the history. When I arrived in Park City at a friend's home, I dismounted my motorcycle and looked over at the aspen tree and saw the eyes.

Arches National Park

near the Garden of Eden ~ I'm in the photo to show I was there

even in the mirrors, head-snapping beauty with the sandstone

Arches National Park

Arches National Park
Duchesne Utah stopping to confirm the pronunciation of the name of this town

easy to get rather close to the desert animals
the terrain can change so quickly in these parts of Utah

Price, Utah

heading toward Duchesne on the US 191 ~ very little traffic for 50 miles

Freedom Bridge over Starvation Reservoir
I felt a resonance with this place since I like to use the term "love muffin" in my vernacular, this is in Moab, UT