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September 30, 2017

Day 2 - Tonopah, NV to Green River, UT

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully on the banks of the Green River in Green River, Utah.

Starting Odometer: 51,412
Ending Odometer: 51,931
Miles driven today: 519 miles
Miles driven this trip: 876 miles

I wake up this morning in Tonopah, Nevada, and don't know where I am. I mean, I figure it out, but it's not a great feeling. I've never had a proble with this before, although very recently, it has become an issue.

I'm in Tonopah. Figured that out.

So, I leave town, hell bent for leather. I got away about 9:30 a.m. Trying to make some distance today.

Part of the ride today fit very well with my memories of this ride. Mainly, that this part of Nevada is a massive desert, separated at roughly 20 mile intervals by barren mountain ranges. So, each time I crest a ridge, I look ahead to the next ridge, across the desert bowl before me, and guestimate how many miles it will be before I get to the next ridge. Usually, it's between 10-22 miles, roughly.

And I spend some time this morning rolling across the desert, down perfectly straight roads, that seem to go on in perpetuity, from one desert bowl to the next.

The distance from Tonopah to Ely is roughly 170 miles, so I make sure to gas up before I leave Tonopah. Last summer when I rode out here on the KTM, I ran out of gas in the desert between Tonopah and Ely. Fortunately, I was carrying extra gas, but even with the extra gas, I limped into Tonopah on fumes.

The odd thing is that there are no signs indicating "No fuel for 170 miles". Like...that's something that probably most people would want to be aware of before they left town.

I did see one sign, about half-way to Ely that said "Next Fuel Station 80 miles" or something like this. And, I'm curious as to why they bothered to put this sign in the middle of the desert. Like...."uh...ok...what are my options"? Why bother to put the sign up at all? Why not just say "You're fucked."

170 miles later, I roll into Ely, never having even hit reserve. My "low fuel" light never came on on the KTM.

I was expecting to see a wind farm between Tonopah and Ely, but it wasn't there. So, I'm thinking maybe it's on the other side of Ely? I certainly hope so, as I don't like it when my memories don't mesh with the world around me. It's somewhat disconcerting.

As I approach Ely take the "business district exit" for Ely, which I remembered. But, I wish I hadn't because I could never figure out how the main road (US Highway 6) went. Like...where did it go into town? I could never get my hands around that.

Now, I ride around Ely shooting murals. There used to be a mural of a bomber, but now I can't seem to find it. Things like this bother me because, now, I'm not sure if a) they painted over it or b) it was never there. I can't be sure. So, after I refuel, I roll out of town. Update: The bomber mural I was looking for was in Tonopah, not Ely. So, I missed it this trip somehow.

Next stop is Delta, Utah, 153 miles away. I should have planned my fuel stops this morning, but I didn't. So, I'm just winging it. Picking gas stations that are roughly 150 miles down the road.

As I get outside of Ely, I find my windfarm. So, I'm not losing my mind, afterall. OK. We can't rule that out, but the windfarm exists, it's just not exactly where I remembered it being.

When I get to the Nevada/Utah border, I find my Nevada state border sign, and the gas station that I remembered. I was thinking it was on the California/Nevada border, but it was on the Utah/Nevada border. So, that was a big relief. Like...I was having a hard time figuring out how the store disappeared. Now, things are fitting into place a little better.

Just outside of Delta, Utah, I find my tree. I remembered that there was a tree that people hung stuff in, but I couldn't recall what exactly people would hang in trees. But, sure enough, outside of Delta, Utah is a shoe tree. So, it's a tree, that everyone throws their shoes into for reasons that escape me. So I stop and get some shots of the tree.

There's a large lake outside of Delta, Utah called "Sevier Lake". It's sort of like the Great Salt Lake, I think, in that it doesn't appear to have any path to the ocean. It's sort of a dried up salt lake, I would say.

I stop for gas in Delta, Utah. Now, I'm not sure what my next stop is, so I figure I'll go for Green River, Utah.

So I punch Green River Utah into my GPS and away we go.

Now, the weather looks threatening over the mountains. So, I'm not real excited about that. I'm riding through the desert, so I generally don't check the forecast, because if it's a desert, how much rain can they get, honestly?

So, of course, it rains on me.

So, the path I'm on cuts back and forth a few times. This is probably the least predictable section of the trip. It dog-legs back and forth before we get over to I-70.

Just before I-70, I pull over the bike and pack away all of my gear. Like...the sun is setting. I'm already somewhat wet. It's going to be dark soon, and I don't want my cameras to get any wetter, so I pack all of my gear away and plan for a balls-out run down I-70 to Green River, Utah.

Once I'm on I80, I'm rolling east and the speedlimit is 80 mph and I'm running triple digits because....seriously...what do you care? Let it go.

So I'm screaming east on I-70 and we're burning daylight and the skies do not look good. But I'm running east and now it starts to rain and I'm like...this sucks in a big way. I mean...there are not any overpasses to get under or anything. And it's cold.

So, it's cold, and raining, and the weather ahead looks menacing.

I didn't check the forecast, and I didn't get a hotel room in advance. And it's starting to get dark, and this is why people that are smart don't ride motorcycle cross county. Because it's stoopid. It's a bad idea from the git-go.

But the rain stops and western Utah is just spectacular. I'd forgotten how stunning western Utah is, but it's amazing. The clouds ahead are not good, and we're burning daylight, and I'm running tirple digits just praying I can make it to Green River. Without getting drowned.

Now, I never make reservations in advance for a variety of reasons but now, when I roll into Green River, I wish I'd made reservations. No hotel in town has any openings. They're all booked solid. And the next hotel is 104 miles away. Grand Junction is booked up. Moab is booked up. This is not good.

I mean, it's not like it's the end of the world. I can keep riding and I can make it home on the bike. But it won't be a very fun ride, especially if it's raining and cold or...worse still, snowing.

So, I decide to just check a few of the shabbiest hotels to see what they say.

I pull into the America's Best Value inn and ask them if they have a room. They're stuttering and mumbling about the "one room" but it had a smoker in there and I'm like....how much is it? $140.

I'll take it.

But I have to show it to you first. Someone smoked in here that shouldn't have.

And I'm like....I'll take it. (If it means I don't have to cross another state line tonight, I don't care if he stays in the room and smokes all night while I'm there.)

And they show me the room and it's fine. It's smoky, but so what? My parents both smoked indoors my whole life. What difference does it make. You get used to it.

I go eat dinner at a taco truck in town. I roll around and check. There's a Motel 6 and I think I remember staying there once before and I go check and ask them if they have a room for the night. I'm just trying to see if I got extremely lucky, or if I was over-estimating their overbooking situation.

Nope. They don't have a room. Neither does Grand Junction or Moab. And the closest town is 104 miles away. And they're always booked like this, 9 months out of the year. It makes me want to open a hotel in Green River.

I buy some snacks at the gas station. In theory, they're supposed to be food I carry with me on the bike. In practice, I always just go back and scarf them down in my hotel room. I can hear myself getting fatter.

And after a warm shower, I climb into bed for a much needed rest.

Posted by Rob Kiser on September 30, 2017 at 9:35 PM


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