Subject: Wanderlust 1 - Wells, Nevada
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 06:45:05 -0700
Wanderlust 1 - Wells, Nevada
I suppose I should appreciate Nevada. It does keep Utah from bumping into California. I suppose I should also appreciate my driveway. It does keep the street from bumping into my house. But geez, Nevada is an awfully long driveway. It seems I spent half the day staring at a straight flat driveway in front of me. At last, the driveway has ended in the dusty parking lot of a truck stop motel. Dozens of diesels doze, idling in a quiet cacophony of their rattling snore. The lot full of trucks practically undulates in rhythm as you walk past. Day 1 is ended.
Quote for the day: " ... all any of us need is a very light suitcase."
- Oswald Wynd, Scottish Writer born 1913
I thought that getting ready for this trip would be a breeze. Two changes of clothes and 'incidentals', which should fit with room to spare in the two cavernous BMW sidebags. Right. Plus toiletries, plus camping gear, plus rain suit, plus bike cover, plus jackets, plus shoes, plus plus plus
I spent almost two hours just arranging things on the bike, only to forget I had yet to pack the pc which (expletive) did not fit in the sidebag after all. Grrr. Oh well. At least I'd get a good night sleep and finish in the morning. Right. To bed at 2 am because I was finishing up email and private letters. Yawn.
You will not once hear from me "the day dawned ...". I have no idea - the sun was up long before me. I did finish packing and miraculously left less than an hour after plan, about 11 am. San Francisco was truly beautiful in a shimmering Sunday slumber. The bay waters bounced with whitecaps from the wind through the Golden Gate, and I could clearly see the peak of Mt. Tamalpais only a dozen miles away but rarely unfogged. This is one of the "many Californias" that exist so close together. The oceans, the cities, the valleys, the foothills, the mountains, and more. As I rode, I pass through at least 4 Californias. By the way ... I spend the entire day on Interstate 80 which has one unmarked end in San Francisco. Do you know where the other end is ? It isn't marked either. At least not like that wonderfully campy sign just this side of Sacramento: US 50 begins here. 3,017 miles to Ocean City, MD
The ride to Sacramento and through the central valley was uneventful and not nearly as hot as I expected - maybe only 90F 32C degrees. An hour later as I crested the Sierra Nevada at Donner Summit, the air temperature was 55F 13C degrees. What an amazing difference. Traffic was light except for the caravans of Reno-bound busses. After Reno, I could have had a picnic in the road and not been bothered.
The K is running better than ever. I think this thing is really settled in now. People have often said that a BMW doesn't really break in until 20,000 miles. I think there's some truth there. Mileage at speed is better now also. I prefer to cruise at 5200 rpm, which happens to be 72 mph. Mileage during break in was around 40-42 mpg. Already on the first leg of this trip, mileage is showing at 46-48. The FuelPlus computer indicates a tank range of 252 miles - more than I've ever seen before. I think this bike *wants* to travel.
Incidentally, I have never been one to name machines like some other riders name theirs. If you must have a name, call the bike Katie. That comes from my slurring the model names of my two bikes ... the R-RT is "Artie", so the K-rT must be "Katie".
72 mph is just a bit faster than most traffic in the Bay Area, but once past Sacramento traffic was a little faster and I was "in the flow". It was most amusing later in the day, past Reno, to still be cruising at 72 and be the slowest on the road. You see, the posted speed is 75 mph.
Ah, the West. When there is sooooo much open space, speed seems relative - and relatively unimportant. You can go 70 and see so far across the landscape you can almost see tomorrow. You can go 100 and still see the same view. It is so big it doesn't change with speed. And straight. And flat. Do you ever get 'highway hypnosis' from staring at the road? How about landscape languor.
I do like Nevada and it is very scenic. But again, how many times do you stop in your driveway just to admire the view? I've crossed Nevada so many times I just wish it would shrink.
Two observations: This is the land of no bridges. Yes there are overpasses for the Interstate, but other than that, none of the roads cross over each other - they intersect. Just like in the 'old days' everywhere else. Second, "prison area, do not pick up hitch hikers". Why do they put the prison so close to the highway? Presumably the prisoner transport vehicles could have driven another mile or two down a road. But no, the yard is a stone throw from the road. Is it a form of mental punishment to make the prisoners watch the constant flow of freedom in which they can not partake? I can not imagine how I would miss being able to ride.
So yes, all day it was: RIDE. Stop only for gas and go - as though I were in a competitive event. The FuelPlus said 8 hours and 17 minutes engine runtime. I left at 10:55 and arrived at 8:05. That is 9 hours and 10 minutes.
The first day on the road is always a 'get used to it' time. So it was. The hands are now sensitized to the feel of the grips. The feet have found the comfortable tuck on the pegs. The buns have made friends with the saddle. The bugs are smeared all over the bike. Whoever thinks the desert is 'dry' needs to ride with an open mouth for a couple of miles. What a mess! Rather than clean it tonight I just laid some toilet paper of the windshield. The morning dew collect on the paper and soak the bugs soft. What a yummy thought. :)
To bed now for a good rest. Tomorrow morning I want to change the oil before I hit the hot country. I change oil at twice the recommended interval - 3K miles instead of 6K. Then it is off the freeway and into the 'groove' of riding. Let the trip *really* begin!
FuelPlus statistics: 546 miles, 8:17 engine run, 66 mph average
Sam Lepore, San Francisco, 1988 R100RT and 1995 K75RT