Sabbatical '96 Ed Greenberg July 8, 1996: San Jose, CA to Fallon, NV The planned route is to Moab, via Highway 50, the Loneliest Road. This ride is documented in my last travelogue, so I won't put lots of words into it this time, but to say that it's still lonely. To get to the Loneliest Road requires a trip up to Carson City, and so I set out by way of Highway 88 over Carson Pass. In Pioneer, I stop at Fat Bob's Hamburgers. The burger is excellent. The offerings are all named for motorcycles, and the folks are friendly. Highly recommended. After completing the ride over the pass I arrive at Carson City, and photograph the Masonic Lodge. Then off to Fallon. There were drops of rain over Carson Pass, and now there is rain between Carson City and Fallon. I get stuck in a one-lane closure and have to follow a pilot car. There's a non-trivial amount of lightning, and I'm getting nervous, when the pilot car shows up and off we go. The day is pretty routine, and by 6:00 PM, I'm installed in the Western Motel in Fallon. The day was 311 miles.
July 9, 1996 - Fallon, NV to Delta, UT The original plan today was to end in Ely, Nevada. This is based on last year's run from Fallon to Ely, which ended just as it was getting dark. (n.b. it gets dark late this time of year.) Today I found myself making much more excellent time. By 8:00 I was at Spring, and by 9:30 I was in Austin. I realized that I was going to make better time, so I decided to go for Delta, thus moving my 400 mile day forward by one. On the way to Austin, I encounter a Masonic cemetary. I met a biker in Eureka who was camping, and lectured me on how could I ever stay in motels and miss all that he sees when he camps. I replied that to each his own, since I've paid my dues in tent and trailer, and after being missed by lightning on a camping trip in upstate New York, I think I'll stay in motels. Besides, there are no Internet connections in campgrounds. Also in Eureka, I met a fellow and his wife on an identical bike to mine. We parked the two next to each other, but didn't bother with a picture, since red 95 Aspencades are pretty common. Midway between Eureka and Ely I encountered a rolling roadblock! The Nevada Highway Patrol was escorting the widest load I've ever seen. It covered both lanes! Opposing traffic was being pushed onto the shoulders. Note that these are dirt covered ditches. I can't take the bike down there! I put the bike on the edge of the pavement, outside the white line, dismounted and stepped away. The cop gave me a high sign that I would be OK, and the wide load missed the bike by about 18 inches. Whew! US-50 is posted at 70 MPH through Nevada, and it was a pleasure to buzz along at that speed on the straight-aways, although the mountain curves required a more diligent speed selection. Coming through one mountainous area, I came around a corner at about 55 and was confronted with a large black object blocking the road. It was a steer! Beef! 2000 lbs. of dinner, still on the hoof! Not one side of beef, but both sides! A walking freezer order! You herd right, a steer! If you've ever seen those signs by the side of the road with pictures of cows on them, pay heed! One can ruin your whole day. Two other members of the steering committee (brown ones) were hanging out on the shoulder. (How now, brown cow?) The steer was blocking my eastbound lane. It looked at me. I looked at it. It sized up me, I sized up it (I feel a song about a bear coming on), and I realized I had two options. Well, two that seemed worth considering.
I could stop, dismount, take camera from tail trunk and photograph Mr. Steer. This would have made him a mooing picture star (sorry.) I could go around him and keep on going, hoping that he didn't charge the bike. Those who were planning to come back to see the photos once they are scanned will be disappointed. I was cowed and chose to steer around him. No bull! I arrived in Ely at about 1:30, had lunch in McDonalds, photographed the Masonic Lodge, gassed up at a KOA campground (pardon me, Kampground) and was on my way. Going over Sacramento Pass, I hit some drizzle. There were some pretty good thunderheads ahead, so I covered my bag and got my rain gear ready, but didn't yet put it on. At the border between Nevada and Utah is the I refueled myself and steeled myself for 90 miles of absolutely nothing. There aren't even shoulders on the road or rest areas! By the way, Utah has not seen fit to raise the speed limit, and they expect you to do this at 55 miles per hour. Right. At precisely 40 miles I drove under dark cloud. Fortunately there was a side road turnout, so I could pull off. I donned rain suit and boots and secured the bike for rain. Good thing too. I rode the next 40 miles in heavy rain mixed with occasional hail (at least one occasion.) Arrival in Delta was none too soon, and I'm writing this ensconced in the Best Western. More tomorrow.
July 10, 1996 - Delta, UT to Moab, UT The trip from Delta to Moab was routine. There's a 106 mile stretch with no services, and the scenery gets pretty striking as we wind through canyons of red rock. I left Delta at about 8:00, and was in Moab at 1:00 PM. I went to the courthouse to find my friend Bill Benge, who is the county prosecutor. The county courthouse has really excellent air conditioning, so I decided to hang out and watch justice done in Grand County. His Honor, Judge Lyle Anderson called court back into session at 1:30. The first order of business was to make final a divorce decree. I was struck that although I have been to several weddings, this was the first time that I had seen a marriage dissolved. At the time, it struck me as sadder than anything that could happen in the criminal court that was to follow. The big event of the day though, was a preliminary hearing for a young man charged with Felony Automobile Homicide, also misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to render aid. In short, it's alleged that he hit a kid on a bicycle and kept on going. Methamphetamine is also involved. A preliminary hearing is held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to hold a trial. Four witnesses were called. Two highway patrolmen, one county sheriff's deputy, and one Moab city detective. They told of the accident investigation, locating the vehicle, matching it up to evidence left at the scene, finding the driver, giving him his rights, questioning him, and eventually charging him with the crime(s). It was a foregone conclusion that the judge would order him tried. I have no experience with this sort of thing. The only time I've ever been in court was here in Moab, as a spectator. I found it hard to look at the defendant, trying to reconcile the clean cut young man sitting quietly in court with the bad judgment and lack of personal discipline and responsibility necessary to have found himself in this situation. Was justice served? Well it was only a prelim, so I'd have to say that it's still in the oven and won't be ready for a while. The evidence certainly favors the prosecution, and the defense has really only one argument, and that is to attack the questioning, since he was questioned without an attorney, and even though he waived his rights both orally and in writing, there's always a chance that they can have his statements thrown out. Fortunately for the state, there seems to be sufficient evidence and testimony to do the job even without the statements that the defendant made to the cops. It was nothing like on TV. The professional participants conducted themselves in monotone, mixing extreme formality of speech with clipped procedural shorthand. The victim's name was never mentioned. His death seems a minor sidebar to the matter at hand. In fact, had the defendant (a) stopped and (b) been pharmacologically clean, the matter would probably not have resulted in any charges at all. Nonetheless, a young man is dead, his family in mourning, and another young man is headed for the clink. I was wrong: It's just as sad as the divorce.
July 11, 1996 - Moab, UT I have a cold. I spent the day resting. We went out to dinner with some Masons from Bill's Lodge, I did some laundry, and otherwise had a very restful day.
July 12, 1996 - Moab, UT to Albuquerque, NM I started out this day heading for Farmington, NM, but realized that I was going to be early again. Since I had done my laundry, and Farmington really didn't appeal to me, I decided to make the run through Farmington, and all the way to Albuquerque. Before leaving Farmington though, I had the opportunity to address a nagging problem. Since leaving home, I've been concerned that I haven't checked the pressure in my front forks lately. In fact, I've never checked them. I've been looking, on and off, on the trip, to buy one of the syringe like pumps that can be used to put about 10 lbs. of pressure into the fork. In Farmington I happened upon a real live motorcycle shop (a Honda dealer even) and although they didn't have the requisite pump for sale, they loaned me their own shop tool so I could check my forks. One was short about a pound of pressure. The other was fine. (Consider this a plug for Farmington, NM, who, at least in my experience, are good folks to turn to in a crisis.) Earlier in the day, between Cortez, CO and Shiprock, NM, I found a couple with a BMW on the side of the road. They had blown out the rear tire. By the time I got there, they had already called for help from Motorcycle Towing Service, and while I was there, the flatbed showed up to take them away. I left them with a bottle of water since they had been out without any. Between Shiprock and Farmington is a store that sells fishing supplies. The store is called (I kid you not) The Master Baiter! They sell various kinds of live bait. No photo will be available, since there was no place to stop. The run from Farmington to Albuquerque looks like a long and desolate one, with one town, Cuba, NM, in the middle. In fact, there are several trading posts along the route, and although it should be treated as desert, it's not 100% desolate. There is adequate gas along the way for bikes with low range, but only during the day. I arrived in Albuquerque at about 5:00 PM, found my hotel (the Motel went over to old-town, had a good dinner, and am now about to hit the hay. Tomorrow I pick Sarah up from the airport, and further trip log entries will be made to a new file.
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