Day 18
June 22, 2004
Emerald Bay State Park
Lake Tahoe, California

A few minutes before morning light found me scampering around the camp site packing and stuffing.  I needed an early start to make my goal of Nephi, Utah, 600 miles east of my present location.  To get there, I first needed to finish of the Sierra's, and then take care of US 50 across Nevada.  I was looking forward to it since leaving Jasper.

Every long tour has key turning points, days that set the tone for a tour. Today is one. If I can make Nephi by day's end, I'd be in good shape to finish the tour at a fun pace.  Always important in my book.  It is only 600 miles or so, I could've started later, but what if I found something interesting along the way that needed checking out?  A "cushion" is a good way to keep from feeling pushed.

Before loading the 13, I did a check on the rear tire.  It looked no worse than yesterday.

The ranger office was empty when I slipped past.  The fact the State of California does not work park rangers at odd hours, caused them to forfeit their right to my 10 bucks.

My shadow popped out at me when I found 89.
​Me and my shadow
By 6:00am I was on US 89 south and bound for US 50.  The weather was cool and bright.  The air was covered in the scent of green trees and grass.  It was so thick I pictured the 13 leaving contours as it knifed through the air.  The highway flowed along the banks of Tahoe, the scenery altered from water, to trees, to hillsides.  I kept a sharp eye for deer but saw none.

The sun rose up over Tahoe, as if to say, "Today is YOUR day."  Let me say now, it was.  The weather, road, and the intangibles were perfect.  A cool front had dipped down out of Canada, and the desert heat I had feared, would be nothing more than a cool breeze and bright sun.  The temp never rose above 84, and the humid free blue sky hung over me like a circus tent.  In fact, the weather was perfect all the way back to Alabama.  Cool, clear, and sunny.
​The sun rises over beautiful Lake Tahoe
It was a storybook ride to US 50.  I felt like a character being sketched on a Hollywood story board.  Before any movie is filmed, all the scenes are done like a comic book, giving a director a sense of ebb and flow for the script, and how it will play out.  If a story was ever going to be filmed about Long Riding, the morning I had on this day would do excellent in capturing the essence.  I leaned my state of the art motorcycle on the many curves, in one of America's most beautiful places.  Rounding each curve presented a different vista, it was as if I didn't know what was going to happen next till some guy penciled it.  I could see myself riding just like this with the opening credits rolling up, the audience would be so stunned by the beauty of it they would cease chomping popcorn and gaze at the screen in awe.

Too quickly I was on US 50 and coming down out of the mountains into Carson City.  The city is one of the most quaint state capitals you will ever visit.  Urban sprawl and second tier casinos crowd the fringes of US 50, but downtown still has flavor.

I paid a visit to a Wells Fargo ATM and picked up some sorely needed cash, then went across the street for gas.  I spotted the Golden Arches down the road so went there for a apple pie break.  I was a busy boy in Carson City.
U.S. 50 took me east past the Lahontan Reservoir, I remember thinking as I passed, it would be the last water I'd see for awhile.

The sign for Virginia City came and went, and once again thoughts of "Bonanza" came around.
​U.S. 50 is not all empty, flat desert
And so it is..
At first I hovered around 90 mph but the smooth motor of the 1300 wanted more.  The highway ferried me between the mountains, and I resisted the temptation to go into triple digits, but I was only human.  As soon as I realized nobody out here cared how fast I rode, I gave in.   A little more throttle put the 1300 at 120 mph, about halfway to redline.  I brought the screen up just a tad more to reduce the wind blast, and enjoyed myself,
I came around the few east bound cars I saw like a speeding blue bullet.   I looked down to my mirrors and a red car about a half mile behind me was trying to keep pace.  I KNEW I was riding one of the few vehicles in the world that could keep this pace indefinitely, so unless he was driving some kind of exotic sports car, he was going to soon drop off.  
​The Honda ST 1300 devours high-speed run outs like this
in minutes.  You can't even think about it back east.

My mpg plummeted as the trip computer instantly ran the numbers for the new cruising speed.  I was in the low 30s but I didn't care.  Hell I had money, if I empty this tank I'll buy some more and I didn't care if it cost 5 dollars a gallon, because I was riding my motorcycle in the manner for which it was intended, in one of the few places I was allowed to.

I kept the pace for about 30 miles or till I grew tired of the concentration needed for such cruising.  I came back down to a more reasonable 90.  After 30 miles of 120 it felt like jogging.

A sign noted if you made a right turn at the next road you could see the Fairview Fault.  I didn't know what that was, so slowed to check it out, it meant a 6 mile trek down a dirt road to get there, so I passed.
​ Thanks, but no thanks.  
What a great ride this is proving to be, I was loving every minute of it.

The 1300 and I saw several buildings shimmering in the heat waves about 4 miles away.  I slowed down and read the sign; Cold Springs Pony Express ahead.  That definitely needed investigating.

Cold Springs has been on this spot for a long time, and indeed served riders of the Pony Express. The place has not changed much.

A few minutes later I was off the highway, idling through the dirt parking lot.  The place was bigger than I thought it would be.  It was made of wood and had a nice front landing holding a swing and table.  On the far side I saw a joker on dual purpose motorcycle looking over something.  I parked in the front, and went over to him.
 "Whats up?"  He was kind of local, about 80 miles away.  I'm not sure what make his dual purpose was, but it was not Asian or a BMW.  He said he was on his way to Florida.  "I was going down the road when my left saddlebag caught fire and flamed out the seat, a trucker ran me down and pulled me over, said I had a trail of flame several feet behind me."  Why this guy threw a leather saddlebag over a hot muffler was beyond my reason to ask, so I didn't.  His left bag had been incinerated and all its contents.  It was all I could do not to laugh when he told me scorched underwear and shirts were all over the road. 
Looking sad, he left Cold Springs going westbound from where he came.  I guess he'll try for Florida another time.
I went back to the front porch to get something to drink.  When I went up the steps the wood floor under my boots made a plunk, plunk sound, just like in the western movies.  The screened door screeched when I pulled it open, and when I stepped inside I saw 2 locals at the bar.  They looked over to me, then went back to their beer.   I noticed a pool table with a faded green top, and shelves with foodstuffs were all around.   A lady behind the snack bar smiled at me, a dark net over her light colored hair fooled me into thinking it was a hat at first glance.

One of the guys had long hair, pulled in a tail under his cowboy hat.  He put his beer down and asked, "are you with that boy out front?"  "Noooooooo I ain't ever saw that joker before."  "Just wunderin."  

The menu for the snack bar was posted above, and I looked up to it.  "M'am fix me a burger and fries, I'm gonna get a drink and sit outside, just holler at me when its ready."  "OK hon"

A round table waited for me on the landing.  I put my phone on charge, and made notes on the Axim.  The temp was about 70 degrees and the cool dry air was pleasant on my skin.  I looked at a sky so blue, it hurt my eyes.  A few east bound riders went by, from their sounds I knew they were Harleys.  I propped my feet up on a empty chair and counted the cars traveling US 50.  I could stay here for hours.  

​Taking life easy at the Cold Springs Pony Express Station
The lady brought my burger out to me and I munched down.  It was good.  I washed it down with some great fountain Coke.  I had 2 refills.  I made a couple of phone calls and was getting ready to get back on the road, when a truck driver pulled his rig in.

As he stepped up the steps he said, "I see you had one those good burgers."  "Yeah it was awesome, come this way often?"  "Yeah, several times a week, I always stop here."  I went inside to pay my tab.  I gave the lady a 10 for the 7 dollar plus bill, "Never mind baby, keep the change."  Her face lit up.  I was pretty certain the only tip the 2 guys at the bar left was don't drink and drive. 

"Well I hate to leave good company, but gotta get going."

  "Ever this way again stop in."

  "For sure baby."

After a few phone calls it was time to get on the road, I still had a long way to go.  The simplest of things can have the most lasting effect.  I'll never forget the butt break at Cold Springs Pony Express.

In no time I was back up to speed eastward.  I took a glance at the fancy computer stuff on the 1300.  RPM about 4,000, speed 90, engine temp at 3 bars, gas at 3/4 tank, air temp showing 76 degrees, trip meter showing 200+ miles for the day, all the info a guy needed.

I sang more songs crossing that desert then Gene Autry or Willie Nelson.   The concert in my head was one of the best, y'all should've heard it.

Crickets.  The highway was covered in them. They were jumping all over the place, millions of them.  Big trucks were taking them out in huge swaths.  They would try to hop out of the way when I approached but few made it, talk about slow.  It was so bad, I feared if I touched the brakes, the bug juices were going to activate the ABS.
I had a good time when the highway went across the Toiyabe Range, I was called upon to lean the 13 several times. 
The old mining towns along U.S. 50 are nothing more than just there.  They were a good diversion after a long ride through the desert.  Such a place is Eureka, I stopped there to top off the tank and to check a few messages.  The pace of life is so slow here they use sun dials.
​Old mining towns like Eureka line U.S. 50
ittle Antelope was another summit pass.  It came in at 7,000 feet.  Like I said, you'd be surprised at how much fun this road can be.  The curves through the pass were good.

I passed a Black Miata with a dealers tag.  The guy had the top down and his hair was flopping in the wind.  I figured he just bought the car, and was taking it on a road trip, and he sure picked a good day and road.  I passed him several times between here and Delta, Utah, because I was stopping often for pictures.  How does ANYONE ride US 50 and not stop to see things?

In a flashback of 2002 I found a place that was similar to the one near Hanksville.   It was an old store or storage building, that had been closed for many years.  I had no idea what purpose it ever served.  I think they put these things out here just to see if I will stop.  
​Fascination is everywhere, when you take the time to look

The Ely city limit sign at last came into focus after a long ride.  I went through the city without stopping and pushed on to the Utah border.  My riding was more focused now, and the signs for Delta began appearing.  I knew when Delta came into view the end of the ride was near.

U.S. 6 joined up with 50 east of Ely and the traffic picked a little, but not much.

A small casino sits at the Utah-Nevada border, adjacent to it is a gas station and a few other buildings.  If you are eastbound, it is the last services for 85 miles.  

It was more of the same in Utah.  Empty roads, and desert, surrounded by mountains and hills.  

Delta, Utah was a disappointment.  After so many miles of buildup it was just a place for fancy water and to check messages.  I came all this way for this?  The roadway signs hyped this place up like it was civilization's last hope, but it's just another place on the map.  Not a bad place, just an underachiever.

I left US 6 for routes 125 and 132.  It was more good riding.  The road entered a canyon and I was called upon to lean the 1300 again.  I was pleasantly surprised.  
SR 132 in Utah is a good road.  In just a few I'll be carving through the canyons ahead.
The Utah mountains seemed to have more color and height than those of Nevada.  This was my first trip through this area of the state, and I was impressed.

The last 100 miles always seem to be the best after a long day, and the ride into Nephi was no exception.  I enjoyed it.  The road was good, and I was at peace.  I made my goal for today and had a good time doing it.  
The KOA in Nephi is well run.  I pulled to the office and secured a place for my tent.  The campground was crowded, but I managed to find a good site.  My only concern was the family next to me.  They had 2 young kids that seemed to be rowdy, and after Dennis, I take all such signs seriously.

I rode 603 miles today.  A good day all around.

I set up my tent then scratched my poison ivy, it was not much better.  I traced it back to somewhere in Minnesota.  I recall my eyes and face swelling, I wrote it off to just hay fever, but now I think its where I contracted this vile and worrisome ailment.

Before taking a shower I ran a load of clothes and ate junk food from the camp store.  The lady said several good cafes were nearby, but I didn't feel like getting the 1300 out again.  While waiting for my clothes to dry I charged all my toys.  Phone, DVD player, and camera.  The Axim would be good for a few more days.

It was near dark when I strolled to the showers, when I finished I soaked down in calamine and ointment.  I looked over my map.  My goal for tomorrow is Craig, Colorado.  The riding will be different, it will be mountainous, the pace will be slowed considerably.  That's ok, I'm looking forward to the great scenery.

I went to bed soon after dark and slept well.  The kids next door were rowdy but went to bed at a decent hour.