Day 9 – Truckee, CA to Kingman, AZ
Total Kilometres: 935 (581 Miles)
High/Low Temp: 8 Celcius (truckee, ca) and as high as 42 Celcius (a tie between Mercury and downtown Las Vegas)
Total Riding Time: 7:00am PST – 8:00pm MST
couldn’t get a room with internet service yesterday, so i’m posting today. at least the rooms are getting much cheaper, yesterday was only $40.00 about 1/3 of what i was paying in california.
the day was a marathon, and i figured it would be. i decided in the morning that i might as well stick to the original plan and follow the rest of the routes that i wanted to ride and forgo california for another time when i have more money.
so i made a day long push from north central california all the way through nevada and into arizona. a normal person would say, “but mike it’s summer and it’s extremely hot.” well, being a dunderhead i figured i’d just go anyway. make lots of stops for water and rest and forge on through the heat. and that’s just what i did. my goal was to traverse all of nevada in a single day on the interstates. make up time, may not be pretty but at least the rest of the trip would keep going as planned.
when i left in the morning the temperature in truckee, ca was only 8 celcius. i left at 7am, and the temp. would continue to rise throughout the day – to temps i hadn’t seen since my journey through the outback of australia in 1994. it’d didn’t take long on the I-80 to reach Reno where i just stopped to top up gas. Gas has been consistently cheaper than canada’s rates – anywhere from $2.80 to $3.30 a gallon. From Reno then to fernley, where i rode a traffic circle and forgot which route i was on – so i took the exit that led me in a 5 mile loop right back to the traffic circle (never claimed to be a genius…) Down through Fallon and south i went on the I-95 and the beginnings of the desert.
Now about the desert, it’s much like what i experienced in australia. shrubbery and low-lying plants and heat. not much to see, or so i thought. as i continued down the interstates the scenery was actually quite beautiful – endless rows of buttes and table lands for the entire day.
one oddity was hawthorne. the site of a huge beautiful lake – in the middle of the desert?! people were out fishing and boating. obviously these guys are the diehards since the temperature was quickly getting into the high 20s and low 30s, and it was only 10 am. the other odd part of this area is that it is home to a military base and military storage for the US gov’t. it was very area 51 like – row on row of huge storage facilities, literally for a couple of miles, and airstrips and landing facilities for aircraft of all sorts. plus a naval testing facility, which struck me as particularly odd. needless to say, with heightened states of alertness i didn’t stop there and poke around or take pictures – just carried on my way. this is only one such facility in the US and it was enormous, just shows how much ‘stuff’ they actually have for the military.
as i hit the junction at tonopah and headed further south the temperature began to really rise – 12 noon, high noon. luckily before i left i had the sense to order an evaporative vest online. best investment of the trip. it’s a hydrophyllic membrane in the form of a vest to wear under my riding gear – in other words, it’s a big wet sponge that keep water stored and allows the breeze to cause it to evaporate, and keeps the body core temperature cool. basically it’s like a big sweating device. i soaked it down at a gas station and it was like i’d just had a shot of something, i felt like a million and the heat really didn’t bug me, much!
at beatty and the amargosa valley that’s when the temperature shit really hit the fan. it’s the nevada side of death valley, and it’s called ‘death’ for a reason. in a few miles the temp. went from 34 degrees to 40 degrees celcius. that’s hot enough to warm franks and beans, or in this case definitely my frank and beans, if you know what i mean. also the undertail exhaust system on my bike is great looks wise, but when it’s 40 outside and the heat is right underneath your ass and boys, it’s not quite as ‘great’. the hottest point of the day to that point, and i’d hoped for the day, was ironically enough at the town junction for mercury – i guess that was someone’s sad little joke – “oh, it gets hot here in ‘mercury’, har har.”
this area is also interesting because nellis air force base, gunnery range and bombing range are located here. ask me how i know? well, there is a huge, huge sand dune in this area visible from the highway but down a gravel road which i dare not ride with 90 pounds of extra gear and hot tires. suddenly, i’m watching and it looks like a plane. holy shit, it is a plane and it’s only about 750-1000 feet from the ground. it was banking and turning like a little cesna two-seater, then did a practise bombing run over the dunes, then turned on a dime and vanished back towards the air force base. this was with an enormous 747 sized plane. pretty odd stuff to witness rolling down the highway. people visiting the dune must have shit themselves seeing this huge plane bearing down on them.
zipped through las vegas, at rush hour no less, and it was quick and easy. took no more than 1/2 an hour to go through the entire city on the freeway. hello. dimwit planners in calgary, are you listening?
a quick trip over the hoover dam, which i must say looks a bit aenemic compared to the grand coulee damn in washington, but maybe it’s just me. it just didn’t seem as impressive. although the suspended highway system they are replacing this route with is a marvel of engineering – it’s hundreds of feet over the dam in spots. a feet that equals that of the building of the dam itself.
the last leg of the journey skipped by lake mead and the beginnings of the grand canyon. didn’t realize this until after. i thought to myself, holy shit, i barely left las vegas and the grand canyon starts, then it goes all the way across arizona. more on that tomorrow…
stopped in kingman. i was flinching when asking the rates at the motel 6, and was pleasantly surprised. $36/night plus tax. that’s more like it! i want to use the bed for the night not buy one – hello california, you listening? $120 a night to listen to asshole rednecks let their diesel trucks run for 2 hours from 4:30am to 6am is not pleasant.