Middlegate is just a one of a kind place – probably the single most out of the way place I’ve stayed on this whole trip, and for exactly that reason, I fell into one of the oddest coincidences.
Last night I had dinner at the restaurant/bar/convenience store/gas station that is “Middlegate Station.” I wrapped up my blog and was catching up on correspondence and generally just hanging out having a beer and taking in the scene. Seems that people come from miles around because, well it’s the only place for 40 miles in any direction. After a while I struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar. He had said something that I thought was genuinely funny and we got to talking. He’s moving up to Tahoe to refurbish a house and rent it out and was hauling all his things in a Penske truck. He’s also done a cross country tour, maybe 10 years or so ago with some friends so we had lots to talk about that. After awhile he asked what I did when I’m not cycling and I told him that I’m an energy engineer. He said “That’s interesting, I used to develop software for energy engineers.” Then it struck me who he was – Colin from kiloWatthours – who I’d met several years ago. Folks at kW had even worked with him a bit to give feedback on how to make the software fit our needs. Then he realized who I was. So neither of us recognized each other, even though we’d had multiple conversations on the phone and a couple in person. We were so out of context, neither of us connected the dots until we were struck over the head with it.
We both really enjoyed the coincidence and had a great conversation, catching up on what we were doing, what’s coming up, etc. “What are the odds?” became the mantra for the night. The other odd part is that the whole reason that Colin chose to come this route (from Boston to Tahoe) was that he had stopped at the same bar/restaurant/gas station when he had come through on a bike many years before. It had struck him as a unique place and he deliberately came via route 50 to stop here. Makes me think it’s not my last beer in Middlegate.
The next morning I left early as is my practice these days. In about an hour Colin pulls up in his big Penske truck. He said “thought you might like some shitty lukewarm coffee” which was true and we chatted for a bit more over coffee.
Then we each had to hit the road.
I was able to find out what happened in this case. Here’s the story if you’re interested. Knowing the back story makes these shrines just that much more solemn and meaningful.
Shortly after passing the shrine, I came upon another family stuck in the desert. This time they were “high centered” on a little road that ran parallel to 50.
They mentioned something about investigating a mine. They had tried to turn around and got the middle of the van over a rock. The front-wheel drive had nothing to catch on and their efforts to get out had dug deep holes around the tires. I didn’t see any way to get out without a tow or some other vehicle to pull them out. We tried calling their insurance roadside service but they said they wouldn’t come out. Huh? Isn’t this what their for? The owner of the van, I thought, gave up on that pretty quickly. Again, no jack in the car, and no working phone (but 6 dogs who were no help at all). Also, the owner really said she couldn’t afford a tow. So Nevada HP to the rescue again. Their going to start blocking my number if I keep treating them like AAA.
So we called NHP and they once again said they’d send someone out. With that I took off, having spent the better part of an hour with them. I was starting to worry about the rising sun, the rising temps, the tendency of the breeze to kick up in the afternoon, etc so I took my leave. I wasn’t sure but thought I saw an HP SUV come by after 15 minutes or so. Then, in another half hour, here comes the white van down the road who honked in celebration as they came by, but didn’t stop. What the eff? I wanted to know how the hell they got out? They didn’t even slow down to shout howdy. My faith in others took a little setback. I suppose they were so happy to be unstuck, they were high-tailing it for home.
I went through Fallon around noon and had lunch there. The funny thing about Fallon to me is that I remember an engineering firm I used to work for did a long project there. Everyone thought Fallon was the end of the earth – tiny little town with nothing in it but the Naval Air Station. It’s actually the home to the “Top Gun” crew and I saw and heard jets screaming around the valley as I went through. But when i got to Fallon it seemed like this huge metropolis. Safeway with rows and rows of fresh produce! CVS for contact lens solution! All things things we take for granted seem pretty cool when you go without for a few days.
Mariah was again at my back all day which made progress quick – when I was on my bike, and not always in the right direction. Damnit I took another wrong turn today – or rather I didn’t turn when I should. I was supposed to stay on 50 but the road I was on became “Alt 50” and I missed the turnoff to stay on old 50. So I make great progress to Fernley. Only problem is I wasn’t intending to go to Fernley.
Well I made the course correction, which shows up clearly in my Strava route below. By the time I got to Silver Springs I was so hungry I practically inhaled a 10″ pizza myself. No leftovers. I’m going to miss being able to do that. Colin said after he finished his tour he put on 15 lbs because he had a hard time adjusting his diet.
Sounds like Eliot and company may have caught up with me. Looking forward to hanging out again and meeting his buddies.