Day 71 – Silver Springs NV to Woodfords CA

Big news – I’m back in California already! How the heck did that happen? In some ways it seems like it’s gone so fast. On the other hand, sometimes it seems like I’ve been traveling by bike my whole life. I’m definitely looking forward to getting home next weekend and reconnecting with Megan and Jonah. We’ve talked frequently but it’s not the same and I feel like my time away is starting to push the limits of what I’m willing to endure for this adventure. It’s time to go home.

I had an extra adventure after posting last night. I only had 4 miles to go to find the campground where I intended to stay. After checking with Eliot, I realized we were 35 miles apart across the same Lahonton reservoir. Whoops. Guess I’m on my own. Well I made the mistake of taking Google Maps bike directions, again, but hey they warned me “Beta*”.   (*Google Bike Maps are Beta; Don’t use these directions for actually getting somewhere without checking other sources.) Anyway it sent me down unpaved roads to keep me off the busy highway but since I’m in the middle of the desert, and we had a monsoon downpour while I was inhaling a pizza, the road had turned to some combination of clay, sand and water. Mostly it was OK, aside from getting splattered with sticky clay/sand. But have you tried to ride a bike across sand? If its hard and compacted, all is well. Then in a split second it gets too deep and you can’t steer and it’s easy to slip and fall. I managed to stay upright but those 4 miles took about an hour, plus an extra 15 min to find the unmarked campground in the dark. Adventure starts when stuff goes wrong, right? Well stuff was going wrong at a happy pace. Lots of adventure.

When I finally found the campground I was greatly rewarded for my efforts:

The beach was well lit with the full moon. The fish were feeding on the surface too – I could hear them and occasionally see the rings of waves they make as they nip bugs off the surface of the water.

And they had warm showers! 50 cents for 5 minutes!

My sentiments exactly (sign on the shower door, customized a little)..

It was past 10:00  so instead of trying to set up camp, I just snagged the little porch on the back of the restroom building. Everyone nearby was in RVs so I seemed to be the only person using them.

Taken this morning. I just put my ground cover, air mattress and sleeping quilt on the sidewalk behind my bike. That’s probably against the rules but I didn’t think it bothered anyone, it gave me handy access to electricity (well in the fortunately unlocked maintenance room), showers, restroom and a nice view of the lake.

There’s actually a word I’ve heard a lot this summer for things like this – “stealth camping” – which, as I understand it, means camping in unusual spots, quasi-legally, and ideally unnoticed/undetected.

The lake was very still this morning as the sun came up. No sleeping in for me – the sun shone directly in my eyes at first light.
Kind of hard to get motivated to leave. I think it took me an hour and 45 mins to make breakfast and through my stuff on my bike.
There’s something just odd about a huge lake in the desert.

Once I made it on the road the miles went fast, with Mariah again showing me great kindness with breezes at my back. Then I saw this on the lot of “Big Dawg Auto Sales.”

Hey, what’s THAT doing HERE?

Folks from the Bay Area will recognize this as one of the only 8 remaining heads from the now-defunct Doggie Diner chain. At one time there were 30 of them and there was a big effort to preserve the last remaining one in use.

How the hell did they get beat out by McD’s?  Of course if they had, we’d all be sick of these damn dog heads and instead there’d be a charming picture of some old Golden Arches here.
While on the lot, I got to talking with a guy who does restoration for the dealership. This is his current project, the first Covette off the line in 1981. Two years later, Chevy “updated” the design and totally blew it. This design was supposed to be based on a shark, complete with gills on the side.
I passed through Dayton which is a cute old town. It was the site of Nevada’s first gold strike in 1849. There seem to be a lot of people moving into the area.
This one’s for Jonah though now he says he’s all done with El Caminos (and presumably Rancheros). This is actually way cooler than the El Camino anyway, although if I’m to stay true to my climate change goals, we should be keeping these in museums.

I passed through Carson City today which seems nice enough. I didn’t stay long but ran a bunch of errands you can only do in a big city. Important things like finding Starbucks instant coffee (the only instant IMHO), Claritin, and Chamois Buttr for my sore  tuckus.

I kept thinking that I needed a photo of a one-armed bandit from a Casino somewhere but I managed to cross Nevada without ever going into one.
It would have been easy to get a pic of a pallet flag in every state. I never saw one before leaving on this trip.
Kind of can’t believe this is the first one of these I’ve seen.

Near here a woman flagged me down to stop by her driveway. She gave me a bottle of cold water and said that she passed me on the road and said she thought I must be hot. So she waited for me to come by and give me one (actually she offered 2). How kind and considerate is that?

After a slight detour through Genoa (another really cute town worth exploring for a few hours) I crossed into California. Wow, it’s feeling like I might actually get home soon; next Saturday to be exact.

They said that Californy is the place you oughta be, so we loaded up the truck and we moved to Beverly. Well not exactly, but East Bay didn’t rhyme.
Nearing Woodfords. Those are Sierras back there.

Ever since about about 9:00 this morning I’ve been getting glimpses of snow-topped Sierra peaks. After a day of pedaling, I’m close enough to summit my final pass, Carson Pass, in a day.

I’m dead tired tonight. I didn’t sleep much last night and it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a rest day. So tomorrow I’m taking it easy. One thing on the agenda is to visit Grover Hot Springs where you can swim in a warm pool including a pretty hot sauna room if I remember correctly. And then there’s ghost beads to look for, pretty pictures to search for, and Markleeville to swing by. Now if I can only find someone to lend me a fly rod for a day, the West Fork of the Carson River runs right outside my door…


10 thoughts on “Day 71 – Silver Springs NV to Woodfords CA”

  1. Unbelievable!! Welcome home (kinda)… I have often put myself in your shoes (on your bike?) throughout your journey and today is no exception. The feeling of being so close to family and familiarity must be enormous!! Saturday will be “reunion day?” After that, what will I read every morning with my cup of coffee? Maybe I’ll follow our President on Twitter? Haha. No.

    Well, just wanted to say congratulations for reaching California. I have not been very good at commenting on your blog consistently, but know that your family in Old Orchard Beach, Maine (where your journey began!) is very proud of you and have thoroughly enjoyed all the conversations that have been sparked by your daily reports… (Thanks for that!)

    So, rest up and enjoy the last few days of your journey. My coaching side would have me say something like, “finish strong!” but after 70 days on the bike I think the father in me wins out by saying, “go give your wife and son the biggest hug and kiss a man can muster!”

    1. Thanks Bob. Yes, the feelings are enormous and hard to sum up in these brief posts. Feels odd today to land in somewhere I’ve travelled to by car from home. A few hours by car is going to take 3 more days on a bike and then that’s part of what I like about traveling this way. But not when that slow pace is keeping me from Megan and Jonah.

      Thanks for the coaching – I’ll be finishing strong and giving them the warmest hug I can muster.

    1. You bet! Can’t quite believe that I’m here “already”. That being a pretty relative term.

  2. Wow, it has been wonderful following your ride. I will miss the daily posts once you get home!

  3. Echoing the many comments that I will miss your posts, photos and observations, but know how excited you are to see Megan and Jonah and be home again. Congratulations on reaching California and making it through some long roads, etc. Various musical interludes of “it’s a small world after all” to meet someone somewhere in Nevada but can’t think of any rhymes to go with the Beverly Hillbillies theme either (some things may not have been meant to be). Maybe you could turn your house project into another blog … I was thinking it may not be as engaging as a cross country trip, but your writing has been wonderful, so it might turn out into something unexpected. (To echo another comment about engineer with an artistic eye.. in my professional life, as a broad generalization, I tend to find that engineers are not writers, but your daily stories and fans show an engineer and a writer).

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