The day we took off to rest after my water poisoning setback, was a very productive one for me. At long last, I was able to get in to my on line banking! Now I know exactly how low my funds are but I did also get into my PayPal account for the first time on the road as well. And Don Loomis, our 2004 TransCon scout was there waiting for me with the gift of a one-hundred dollar day on the road. As was Ed Cox, the man who, as the Sacramento bike coordinator, wears a plethora of other hats in turning his city into a quality of life jewel. He bought two days!!
Buoyed by those two shows of support, I kept stacking up the off-the-road successes. Also of note is the fact that I finally got my iPhone data offloaded and saved! Toward that end, you may soon be seeing more photos the limits of my connection speed have kept my iPhone from letting you see...
Manny and I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Elko. And going to and from the eatery, we saw a town that looked vibrant and alive. Elko has its own airport, TV station, college (Great Basin), and every big-box store and restaurant chain one can name. A town that stakes it fortune on the mining of gold
We even met a happy road construction worker named John, who at 63 remembers when it was less than 5,000 inhabitants. His grandfather, he recalled, owned the first electric skill saw for miles around.
Our hotel room was across the parking lot from a Raley's supermarket where after a few trips. we also got to know some of the workers there. At our hotel, we were the star guests because of my bike and everyone wanted to talk to us. Elko was fun.
It was good that it was because after we left it at 8AM for what was supposed to be an easy 50-mile day to Wells, NV, I almost wished I had listened to my doctor friend and stayed another day.
We were loving life as we rolled along at an easy ten miles an hour (Many was carrying all but my sleeping bag - with gear, my road speed is 7 mph) in the cool 50-degree morning. However, as we would 20 miles later find out, we were being cruelly teased. In fact, it never warmed up and the lightning strikes we could see far off in the distance became a part of our reality as we thought we were out-racing the wet clouds behind us.
At twenty miles from our destination, lightning strikes danced on the mountain tops on both sides of us when soon it was our turn to incur their wrath. The wind grew and the skies opened up with 1/2 inch sized hail pellets. With nowhere to duck for cover, all we could do was ride. After about two miles, Manny found a bridge. Used by local farmers, it did not rise above the freeway, but stayed at its level so it was hard for me to see when I saw him disappear around the guard rail that also shielded it from view.
When I got to his bike leaning against the steel barricade, I stopped too. I looked back at the gully we had just crossed and there was Manny waving at me. Once he got my attention, he pointed where I needed to go to get over the barbed wire fence. Pulling the the sleeping bag off of my bike, all I had on was a t-shirt as I ran across dirt quickly becoming mud to join him.
The spot Manny had staked out looked like a swallow's den As the storm raged outside, the little birds were flying all around and in and out of the little mud homes they had built under the freeway's road bed. There were many hundreds of them.
The storm lasted another 20 or 30 minutes as we joked about our temporary new home while hoping nobody would try to steal our bikes. We even had enough presence of mind to snap a few pictures of each other with a freeway road-bed just a few inches above our heads. We had thought that we could include some of the swarming birds in the photos, but by the time we got ready to do so, they had all settled down.
It was not long before we were back on our bikes and headed for Wells once again. To add even more obstacles to our path, the rumble divots began again. What could be worse, I wondered. It almost seemed par for today's course that it would soon get so cold that I couldn't feel my hands. This meant no eating or drinking, photos or notes recorded until we reached the first hotel closest to I-80, the Rest Inn Suites, where according to the manager, 50 degrees below zero was once a winter time reality and that it has rained every day there last May.
He also told us that at 6,300 feet, they are higher than Denver. We climb to over 7,500 feet tomorrow. I feel grateful to all of you who have made this warm room possible.
THX 4 all of U!!