Start: Boise ID (37070)
End: Coleville CA (37574)
Time to head home! Jen and I saddle up and head out early, wanting to make good miles. We have about 900 miles back to Los Angeles, and I am looking to make at least half of that today.
Here's the thing. I really like traveling with Jen; she and I ride together well and we get along famously, in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact that we couldn't be more opposite in many many things. It's a boon to have a road pal who likes to ride the same speed you do, doesn't take too long or too short a time at gas stops, and who tells good stories at lunch and listens to your stories too :) That's my friend Jen. So, today's a long day with a good companion, headin' home. A pleasant set of circumstances!
Heading out of Boise, we pass the amusingly-named Chicken Dinner Road. Someone was telling us the story yesterday about how it got that name: back in the 1930's, a local (who wanted her poorly-maintained road improved) invited the governor to dinner. A chicken dinner, natch. And the governor returned the favor by getting the road paved the following week. Apparently, it's a true story.
Leaving the outskirts of Boise's satellite cities, we pick up US-95, which travels across the great empty spaces of eastern Oregon on the way to Nevada. There is a whole lotta nothing out here, and we mostly have the road to ourselves. I was warned that (a) Oregon's speed limit is 10 mph lower than Idaho's, and (b) the OR Hwy Patrol will be lying in wait for those who do not heed the posted limit. However, it's hard not to speed out here, with the wide-open empty highway rolling out in front of you. Sure enough, I am zipping along at 75 mph or more when I crest a small hill and spot the waiting cop car in its hidey-hole. Oh crap, he's got us dead to rights and we are SO nailed. However, by some small miracle he lets us pass, and I can hardly believe I don't see him in my rearview swinging onto the road and flipping on the lights. Throttle down, throttle down. I continually reminding myself to keep off the damn gas, at least until we get to Nevada.
Hwy 95 is the site of one other dramatic event, involving a motorcycle, and empty road and one small, stupid avian. I spot the stupid little bird hopping along the double yellow in front of me. Move it, I think, I don't want to run you over. Instead, the dumb thing just keeps hopping along the road. Hop, hop, hop. Mind you, this all happens in a second or two. The poor dumb thing realises far too late that perhaps it should fly away, and attempts to do so. It gets approximately three feet off the ground before coming into rapid and fatal contact with my remaining running lamp ... the thing wacks off my headlight, making a bigger splat that your average bug. Ai yi yi. The small critter kills always happen so fast that you can't do much about it, but they still make me feel bad. (Later, Jen tells me that she's never seen a bird explode QUITE that way before. She said it just disintegrated and all that was left was a bunch of feathers flying. Thus does my bike earn yet another new nickname: BirdStrike. Later still, when we stop for the night, when I unzip my duffle bag a single downy feather comes wafting out, causing Jen to fall into more fits of laughter. That was one DEAD birdie.)
We make it to Nevada without further incident, have lunch in Winnemuca NV, and spend the afternoon crossing the state. It's stark scenery for most of the way. We start approaching cities by late afternoon, and reach Reno around 4:00 pm, hitting rush-hour traffic. It stays that way pretty much through Carson City. We've made our 450 miles now and we start talking about where we want to stop for the night. Remember how I said Jen and I are opposites? Well, here's one thing where we are completely different: she prefers to have a destination and a hotel reservation at the end of the day, whereas I like to ride without a schedule, going until I don't feel like riding any more, and then find a place to stay. I've convinced her to try it my way on this trip. So, I decide that I'd like to get past the cities and traffic, and we both are feeling good to go a little farther, and there's still plenty of daylight left. I'll be on the lookout for hotels after we get a few more miles on the odo.
However, my no-schedule style comes back to bite me in the butt today. Pulling into hotels in Minden NV, and then in Gardnerville NV, no one has any vacancies. Apparently there is some major bike race in town and all the hotels are booked SOLID. There's nothing you can do but shrug and say, "Oh, well," but after the first couple of times it really starts to SUCK to put your helmet back on and head to the next town hoping for better luck. Now, we've gone all the way to Topaz Lake and I spot a brand spanking new Best Western with an empty parking lot - oh, they've gotta have a vacancy! Sure enough, they do ... their only available room is the honeymoon suite, at $175/night. Trust me, at this point we quite seriously considered taking it, but ultimately decide it's just a bit too pricey for us and we don't really want the teasing that would inevitably follow staying in the honeymoon suite, LOL. I say, "C'mon, just one more town. We'll find something."
The next spot is just over the border in Coleville CA, and I take a chance and pull into the lot of the Meadowcliff Lodge. This is a spectacular little old-style resort hotel nestled under a huge cliff on Hwy 395. What a beautiful setting. Might be OK pricewise, might be out of range, but now the sunlight is starting to run out and we are getting into mountains, where the long shadows might hide deer or other unpleasant road surprises. The room turns out to be $88 a night, a little more than I like to pay but certainly better than the honeymoon setup. We take it, settle in for the night, and have dinner at the restaurant on site, good home-cooking style. The extra miles today mean that much fewer tomorrow.
Next: Day Twenty-One