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Deserts

July 21, 2010

Our Crater Lake day ended in Winnemucca, Nevada. We got a late start the next morning after taking care of a few maintenance chores. I finally installed the loaner shock absorbers that I picked up from Mike in Seattle and shipped my bouncy springy shocks home. The ride was immediately improved. Meanwhile Seb replaced some O-rings responsible for two annoying oil leaks since we left Seattle. It was almost 1:00 when we braced ourselves for a dash across the Nevada desert in 103 degree heat. I sure wish we could have averaged the tempreatures we’ve encountered on this trip! We stopped for rest more often on this leg of the trip and found it beneficial to douse ourselves with water at every rest area, and let the wind dry us off and cool us at the same time. It worked quite well and made the crossing bearable. There was a surprising amount of green in the landscape. I had not expected that. I was also expecting it to be mostly flat.

Nevada Desert

Crossing the Nevada Desert

We came over a rise just at the border and the Great Salt Lake Desert (including the Bonneville Salt Flats and speedway) opened before us. The desert was utterly flat and briliantly white with not a hint of vegetation for miles.

Great Salt Lake Desert

It was also very hot even though it was early evening. The desert crossing was about 50 miles and took about an hour. As we approached Salt Lake City we passed commercial salt harvesting operations and the Great Salt Lake.

Our hosts for the night were Ted and his wife Ginny.

Ginny and Ted

Ted is a CBF member who had contacted me way early on on the planning of this trip and expressed interest in meeting me in Montana on our way up to Alaska and riding with us all the way up and back. The schedules didn’t work out, but we were at least able to work out a short trip together. Ted and Ginny welcomed us warmly when we arrived. We had a wonderful chicken dinners as we talked about our trip so far, and about our plans for upcoming parts of the trip. At Ted’s suggestion, we decided to make a few changes to our route in the Southern US, assuming we get that far. Ted asked us if we needed to do any work on the bikes before day’s end and it occurred to me that this was the first day in a long time when we arrived at a destination with nothing wrong. I felt confident and took the temerity to voice that thought out loud.

We talked about Ted’s motorcycles. Ted has motorcycles. By the garageful. And all in pretty close to showroom condition. We were unable to see two more that he has in their home in Kentucky, but aren’t these pretty?

Ted's Toybox

More toys

Ted was to escort us out into the canyonlands around Salt Lake City in the morning and Ginny cooked us a really nice breakfast casserole to get us on the road. Although Ginny rides, she opted to stay home and continue working on her latest mystery novel. So she said goodbye and sent us off. Thanks Ginny for all your hospitality.

After gassing up Ted took us on some of the hairiest roads we’d driven so far. The twists and turns the roads took became so fast and tight that the road engineers gave up marking them all and posted a sign saying simply “Frequent 20 mph turns”. Ted rode those roads hard and fast–it was most exhilarating! I couldn’t keep up! Ted said it was because I was carrying almost a whole other person on the back of my bike, but I know a better rider when I meet one.

East Canyon

Peter and Ted

We pulled into a watering hole after reaching a junction and met up with Mike

Mike

, a friend of Ted’s who would join us for the next couple of hours of riding. Just as we were saddling up, Sebastian’s clutch cable broke, so we had to delay for a bit to replace it. Seb had a spare with him, but we had to completely unload all his luggage, and then remove the luggage rack, seat and tank to do the job. We rode north for hte next few hours and stopped for lunch along the shores of a beautiful lake just at the border of Utah and Idaho. Just after lunch, Ted and Mike turned off to return home, while Seb and I continued north to Jackson to prepare for a trip through the Tetons and our second assult on Yellowstone. As we approached Jackson rain began to fall and we began to worry that our recent weather luck had turned sour. But the forecast was for generally good weather, so we decided not to worry.

We had no reservations for either a room or a campsite and began to scramble looking for some place to stay along with thousands of other people doing the same thing. I discovered about this time that I had no rear brakes. I wanted the comfort and stability of a parking lot to diagnose the problem so we redoubled our efforts to make it to a hotel and not a campground. We finally found a room and parked in the rain for the night.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gale permalink
    July 29, 2010 11:11 am

    Your accounts, joys, travails, and human encounters continue to amaze and delight! FYI, re Bonneville Flats: If you never saw the 2005 film The World’s Fastest Indian (with Anthony Hopkins), put it on your list. It’s “the [true] life story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who spent years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle–a bike which helped him set the land-speed world record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967.” Good luck as you continue homeward. Thank goodness you guys are mechanical geniuses!
    –Gale @ MLRI

  2. Ted S. permalink
    July 29, 2010 5:06 pm

    Glad you could stop by! Ginny and I enjoyed you short stay and you trip description so far!
    Mike commented on how cool you two were about the broken clutch cable.. He and my gorup of riding buddies here in UT were impressed with your trip and goals!
    Hope you make the rest of the trip uneventful and enjoy Barber and the PArkway!

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