Not Dead Yet II: Still Not Dead!
September 19, 2000
On the way out of town I stop back by the metal artist and get another ring, a thumb ring made from sterling silver, made custom for me. it was funny watching the guy rumaging through his junk metal box looking for a piece of silver the right size. He probably had several hundred dollars in metal pieces in a plastic container, just like I might have nuts and bolts or someone who does cross stitch might have threads. After he is done, I walk across the street to the museum and ask a palentologist about my footprint question. He says that in the cases of mud, it can be difficult to get exact epochs because one storm may dump a foot or more of mud in one location, so the two footprints that are seperated by three vertical inches may actually be only a few days or weeks apart in creation. The palentologist is very enthusiastic and appreciates my question. In return, he shows me a truly rare find. A specimen brought in just a few days ago has an amazing piece - a fossilized vein. This is very rare and unusual to have the tissue preserved. It is a very awesome sight.
I take the west road alongside Flaming Gulch, hoping to see the well known flaming effect the red stone of the canyon can produce. Shortly after entering the park area, I see a sign that says "Pavement ends." For the next twenty miles I slip and slide through slick grey mud as the road has been completely removed. I need a dirt bike, not a large, heavy street bike with 100 pounds of gear. I never see a sign saying I've entered Wyoming, I only assume I have when the road suddenly appears. Wyoming is harsh, harsh like a rap on the knuckles from an uptight nun at a parochial school (eat your heart out, Mickey Spillane). It is windy and dry, and a bit cool. I once again have to deal with gut wrenching cross winds. This time I figure out that if I sling the bulk of my front bag in the direction of the crosswind it causes the bike to lean at an angle that offsets the wind. It is strange and uncomfortable, but at least I no longer feel like I'm riding on ice.
The ride to Logan, Utah is rather boring. I've been asked what do I think about while I'm riding on long stretches. Well, it varies. Sometimes I think about what I'll write, how I'll phrase something, and just life in general. Lately I've been thinking about women and their weakness for men with accents. You see, I'm hoping that with my Southern drawl and redneck ways I'll be considered "exotic." I think I have figured out why women always go for that foreignor type. (Oh really, I hear a collective female voice say.) It's in the biology of natural selection. Women are responsible for diversify the gene pool (since they are the ones who pick their mate, not the other way around). Males, on the other hand, are fairly lazy about things and will "propogate" with whatever female is available. So in order to expand the genetic code, women naturally find themselves attracted to any male who isn't from the immediate area, and the farther away the better. Think about it. How often have we seen the commercial where the French guy is reading his grocery list and the American woman says "I don't know what you're saying, but keep saying it." Where's the conversation, the real getting to know each other? It's kind of hard if you don't speak the same language. Biology, in contrast, doesn't care about language barriers. That's my theory, and you can expect my drawl will be a bit more noticeable once I get to Southern California ;-)
I pull into Logan about sundown, which is a bit of a problem because my low beam has burned out and my high beam tends to annoy people. Would you believe this town of 20,000 people has more theatres than motels? It took me an hour to find a place for the night that was affordable and had phones. I keep forgetting that it's different out here.
September 20, 2000
I spend the better part of the day talking with old friends and new at the hardware development facilities of a company I used to work for. I am able to upload my pictures from the digital camera and they are fantastic. I also use their video conference system to talk to my friend Shelley back in SC. These are the times when the trip seems way too surrealistic. Here I am talking in person to people that used to be two thousand miles away and talking via a computer to a person that I used to see almost every day during the week.
I pull out around 4pm, and head south toward Salt Lake and Wendover, Nevada. I am amazingly calm and relaxed. The weather is nice, the bike is going great, and I'm really into the trip. Very serene as I pass by the Salt Lake, which I stop to take a picture of but the camera batteries are dead and the image gets corrupte, which I don't find out until the next day. As the sun heads for the horizon, I am so relaxed I could fall asleep. And so it goes, and I feel some guilt when I don't stop to help a stranded motorist. If it had been a motorcyclist, absolutely I would have stopped. I think about how I would feel, and I see the sign indicating the next exit is 57 miles away. It is fairly busy, and I hope for the people that help stops soon. The traffic lessens, and the next sign says 42 miles to Wendover. No problem, I'll just watch this beautiful sunset and cruise into town without breaking a sweat. Too bad that's when my bike decided to sputter and cough. Odd. I've got plenty of fuel. There it is again, and worse. Another mile and I've definately got problems. The bike is spitting and bucking, and I'm nowhere near anything I can pull into to check it out. If it breaks down here I might as well pitch my tent because I'm dead in the water. The jerking continues, and I get a feel for it. It doesn't feel like fuel, and it's not a dead skip, so maybe it's electrical. Then it hits me - the battery gets drained when I run the high beam for too long and I've been running it for three days. So I put the low beam back on, which cuts my visibility a good bit, but sure enough the engine smoothed out after a few seconds. I switch back to high beam, but it's clear I won't make it to town, some 35 miles away, with the battery being drained. With some reluctance, I go back to low beam and look at the sun. I ought to make it before complete darkness, so I settle back down and cruise. Well, either the sun moves faster here or there was a mountain on the horizon because five miles later the sun had gone down. Twilight. A low beam that's bright enough to tell oncoming traffic I'm there but not enough to see the road with. And a battery almost dead. I'm not too relaxed anymore. I start thinking about the electrical system and with motorcycle older than a certain age the faster you drove it the more current the alternator put out, so I speed up. The engine gets even smoother, and it gets darker, so I speed up some more. The darker it gets, the faster I drive. I'm not making town before darkness. I go faster. I start passing vehicles that had passed me miles back. The white center markers are clicking off pretty fast. It's almost completely dark. I go faster. The only thing I can see by is the dim reflection of my side lights on the white lines. If they come too close, I move to the right. If I lose sight of them, I move to the left. I go faster. I don't know if that last car even saw me, as dark as it is. The white lines are blurring together as the tach reads 5500 rpms, about as fast as I've ever ridden the bike. Any livestock on the road and I'll just blow right through it. Mile after mile, until I finally see the lights of Wendover, Nevada. I slow down once the lights get bright enough to illuminate the road. The bike is pretty smooth and I feel confident I can find a motel.
I start looking for the $19.95 specials I had seen advertised. Nevada is a gambling state, so the motels tend to be cheap. The first one is sold out, and I start thinking about camping at the KOA outside of town. I am looking at a map when a young couple come up to me and ask if I was looking for the campground. I talk to them a bit and find that the campground leaves something to be desired and the tent facilities are substandard. I also find out that they are indeed running at the Bonneville Salt Flats just outside of town. The two were from Holland and in the US on vacation. After a pleasant conversation, I decide to find another cheap motel. It takes me three attempts before I find one not sold out, and it is a dump, unfortunately. It's back on the Utah side of town, and so old the rooms don't even have phones. Oh well. I'm here for two nights and it's not like I'll be in the room that much - the speed records being set just outside of town are why I'm hear.
I have to admit, this place is strange. I sleep in my bedslip I use when camping, because I'm not convinced the bed is that clean. I sleep without the fan running, because I am concerned about my bike and the flimsy door. I don't know what was going on out in the parking lot, but I'm guessing that some of the legal activity in Nevada was coming over to Utah, and I don't mean gambling.
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