The days are growing shorter and the temperature takes longer to get to "pleasant." Leaving Fallon, I headed for Pyramid Lake. The road along the west side of the lake led me to the Smokey Creek Desert. This place is immense and I left the gravel road to experience riding in the desert. The effect reminded me of driving a boat. The surface was soft and the handling of the bike was slow but with no ditch or even tire tracks to follow, I simply glided around. Weaving or straight, it didn't matter.
The map showed the desert to be 5 miles wide and about 15 miles long, shaped like a crescent. The road I was on took a long route along the outside of the crescent to the far side and the town of Gerlach. I was very tempted to try and ride straight across. I had the gas, but I my water supply was down to a couple quarts, and discretion won out. With knobby tires, a full water bottle, maybe some food, it would be fun. But getting stuck on the far side could mean a long lonely walk. Across a desert.
After Gerlach, I entered the Black Rock Desert. Now I know the meaning of immense. This place is so big and empty, it is where they came to set the land speed record at 763 miles per hour. At that speed, a mile goes by every 5 seconds or so. I only went 60 mph, and tried to imagine going 12 times faster. The land is so flat and vast, landmarks appear to not be moving. I stayed within a quarter mile of the edge, so I could always see that out of the corner of my eye. Focusing straight ahead was like flying an airplane, but with a chance of falling over.
Off the desert, back to the mountains, still trying to make progress north.
I eventually made it to Oregon. What a great state, it really does offer everything. High country deserts, plains, mountains, valleys, beaches.... And a lot of National Forests. I made my way to the Ochoco National Forest and the Frazier Campground.
I set my camp up just before sunset, just before the temperature dropped. I took a walk and approached some neighbors who had a very large fire and asked if I could warm up a bit. The Day and Halverson families made me feel very welcome. I warmed up by their fire, enjoyed some fine beef stew and great company. They asked me a question I've heard before since retirement: "How did you find this place?" If I had not come during deer season, they said, I would have the campground to myself. If I had come a week earlier, I would have enjoyed 5 inches of snow on the ground. Yikes! I would find what was left of the snow on my way out of the park the next day.
Making haste across the state, not wanting to get caught in the snow, I continued from there to Gig Harbor, arriving late after a long day on the bike. I'm eager to get some maintenance done on the bike and hit the road again.