We began the long, lonely journey into the desert. Highway 50 is known as the loneliest highway in the US. It’s true. We drove miles and miles without seeing another car.
The air was filled with smoke due to the California wildfires.
The temperature was beginning to reach the low 90s so we stopped in Fallon to wet our cooling vests. After about another 50 more miles of desert, we finally began to enter our familiar Sierra Nevada mountains.
Although there was a lot of traffic, we enjoyed some cooler temperatures (80s) and beautiful views. Eventually we started to make our way down to the hot Sacramento valley, but we were close to home. As we turned onto our street, the temperature was 102. Thank goodness we have the cooling vests. They make a big difference in our comfort.
So, 3,404 miles and nine states in ten days. We saw some beautiful sights and met some interesting folks along the way. We’ve already started to explore where we will go next year but for now, we’re happy to be home and snuggling with our puppy! And, Cathy is grateful to have something besides this to look at:
It’s Tom’s birthday! We got up early and hit the road by 8am in order to beat the incoming storms. It was a good thing we did because Price received two inches of rain in 90 minutes today.
We didn’t have high hopes for an interesting ride but we were wrong! Just outside of Price, we began to climb into the surrounding mountains.
Soon this beautiful ride was over and we descended into the Great Basin which is surrounded by high desert mountains and laced with salt flats. And it’s windy.
We entered Nevada and arrived in Ely around 2pm. The birthday boy was tired so we took a nap. After a good rest and a shower, we walked into Ely. Not much here. We decided to be very bad and have an ice cream cone before dinner. We then found the one restaurant that wasn’t in a casino and therefore not full of smoke. Not exactly the Ritz but it was an adequate birthday dinner.
Tomorrow we head home. It will be a long day – about 430 miles and it is supposed to be very hot. Our cooling vests are a lifesaver. We are ready to be home and off the bike for a while.
The Nordic Inn was great. Clean, comfortable and offered the best cup of coffee and breakfast we have had thus far. We took off around 9am. We passed some beautiful ranches along the outskirts of Steamboat.We hadn’t realized that Steamboat Springs is on the edge of the Rocky’s forested area. Within minutes of leaving Steamboat we were back in high desert.
The surrounding mountains were so interesting with their colors and different rocks formations. Dinosaur fossils have been found in this area so in addition to the Dinosour National Monument, the locals have embraced that theme as well.
We stopped in Vernal for lunch and overheard some locals talking about flash floods the day before. We saw flash flood warnings on the weather report due to monsoonal storms. We weren’t sure of the area they were talking about. It was here. We decided to get back on the road and try to beat the incoming storm.
Luckily it was only a few more miles to Price, Utah. And, of course once we arrived, the rain stopped.
Tomorrow we hope to beat the afternoon showers and get to Nevada’s dry, hot desert without arriving soggy.
The landscape soon changed into meadow and then high desert. Cathy hit the wall today and was struggling to stay awake. Falling asleep would not end well so despite the boring landscape, she tried to take some interesting photos.As we re-entered Wyoming, the high desert went on and on and was a bit tedious, but the pastel pinks and greens are really beautiful. In some places, even the road is pink. Great place to film a western.
Thankfully we turned before heading into the heavy rain. We got a few sprinkles as we pulled into Steamboat Springs. Our motel is very nice and the innkeepers were helpful in choosing a great dinner spot. We ate at a restaurant right on the Yampa River. The food was delicious and the view spectacular.
Tomorrow we head to Utah and the weather there now is stormy. Fingers crossed…
And you never know what you’re going to see… maybe a plane on a stick!
The weather was perfect. Not too hot as we saw our first glimpse of Devils Tower. It’s so weird to have this rock appear out of nowhere.
From there we headed southeast into the Black Hills National Forest. Deadwood was our lunch stop. This is a cute little town with a rich history. In fact, it is where Wild Bill Hickock was murdered and the home of Calamity Jane. We enjoyed a walk through the town and visitor center and had lunch outside at the site of an old gas station – now a restaurant.
Mining built the town and after World War I, the mining industry diminished. It is now a tourist destination with ski resorts and casinos.
Eventually we made it to Mt. Rushmore.
Tonight we took a nice long walk into Custer for dinner and then stopped for ice cream on the way back. Great relaxing day with nice roads and beautiful scenery. Tomorrow will be a long day – about 400 miles. We’ll end up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
We knew we had a long day ahead of us so we set the goal of 8:00am departure time. We had a so-so breakfast at the B&B. No frills – scrambled eggs, sausage and a pre-formed hash brown. We left Cody in a very comfortable 67 degreees and decided to take a route to Little Bighorn over the Bighorn Mountain pass. We weren’t expecting much.
By the way… there is something up with the camera. All the photos are washed out. We’re going to try some different settings tomorrow.
Leaving the monument, we took back roads east and south to Gillette, where we are spending the night. We traveled through a Cheyenne reservation and miles of hay and alfalfa fields. As we got closer to Gillette the industry turned more to coal and natural gas. Pronghorn antelope were plentiful as were miles-long trains full of coal heading to a nearby power plant. It was more asphalt bliss for Tom with long, sweeping curves and almost no traffic.
We pulled into Gillette around 6pm. Tomorrow we go to South Dakota! We’ll see Devil’s Tower and Mount Rushmore, as well as the Black Hills. It will be a shorter day so hopefully we will have more time to take it all in.
We awoke early in anticipation of Yellowstone. We were out of the hotel and on the road by 8:30. Once inside the park we were immediately greeted with beauty.We passed by some fumaroles soon after we entered the park. The first wildlife we encountered were elk.We stoppped at Gibbon Falls.And then had to let this little friend cross the road.Yellowstone is fascinating with its geological formations.And the wildflowers were in full bloom.Then, we hit a Yellowstone traffic jam. This was sketchy because they were in front of us, next to us and behind us. We had no metal between us and them. And they are huge. At one point they were only a few feet away from us.We soon exited the park and jumped on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway with more fantastic scenery and great roads. We even encountered a little rain.
We rolled into Cody around 2pm and stopped for a quick lunch, which turned into an interesting event. We met Skye, a Vietnam vet from Ontario, Canada, widower, and general BSer. He invited himself to join us and carried on all sides of the conversation. Nice enough man but we were ready to get to that museum. We rode a few blocks down and entered one of the best museums around.
The innkeeper gave us a great recommendation for dinner at an Italian restaurant. While we waited for our 7:30 reservation, we went to the Silver Dollar Bar. Tom was happy.Tomorrow we go to Little Bighorn and will wind up in Gillette, WY.
We entered Idaho and continued east on Hwy 52 where we met the Payette river. It was starting to warm up to the low 90s and it was cloudy which made the air muggy.
At Horseshoe Bend we turned north on Hwy 55 for a short while that followed one of the forks of the Payette and saw several kayaks navigating the rapids. This road was called the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway and was very twisty. Hundreds of curves later, we reached the Sawtooth Mountains which are spectacular. We could smell rain and see it in the distance. We encountered some damp roads but nary a drop on us!
We met several other bikers along the way. Tonight at dinner we met two guys who are on a six to eight week ride and have no formal plan. They were from North Carolina and both retired – one an engineer and the other a psychologist. They just decide where they want to go each day. We were envious of their freedom. Earlier we met two gentlemen from Atlanta and Tom met a Frenchman from Banff.
Tomorrow we head to Montana; one of our favorite states. We have about 300 miles tomorrow and will end up in West Yellowstone. We are hoping to see some wildlife. Today we only saw raptors and a bunch of “Game Crossing” signs. Fingers crossed.
And… Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:
We encountered several road construction delays that added an hour to our day.
After a stop in Alturas for a fattening lunch and one and a half Sparks (thank you Charlotte), we encountered high heat and strong winds. We were in high desert at this point and the landscape is pretty interesting. Above is Albert Rim. The colors are vivid and many of the boulders are covered with rust indicating high iron content. There are mountain goats on the rim but we did not see any this time.
This is Lake Albert. We also picked up a hitchhiker at this point – the bug splat on the lens. He is with us for the remainder of the day. Lake Albert is an alkaline lake so there were lots of shore birds enjoying something briny.
This is how you make a fence post when you don’t have a lot of wood but have lots of rocks.
With an hour and a half until we reached Burns, we decided to stop and wet our cooling vests at this rest stop. Unfortunately the water was turned off so Tom opted for a nap. It was about 97 degrees at this point and the wind was so strong that Cathy felt like delicate laundry that someone had put in the high heat dryer cycle. We hydrated a bit and pushed on through the windy desert.
Tomorrow we head to Challis, Idaho in the Sawtooth National Forest. It will be a much shorter day so we will enjoy sleeping in a bit.