Subject: Wanderlust 2 - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 1997 23:04:14 -0700
Wanderlust 2 - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Background music: ... and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Today I did something I've never done before and it felt good although it seemed strange. I just sat and waited, stretched out on the bike, parked under a bridge at a Ranch Exit (an exit but there is no road) off the Interstate, watching a thunderstorm pass over the valley I wanted to visit. Normally, I would have been in such a hurry that I would have suited up and grimaced through. Today I had time. Today I got 'a round tuit', and I just sat and enjoyed the weather.
Yes, first rain. Don't you hate the first rain of a trip? You know you are going to have to do it, but somehow you wish it would be clear the whole way. Well, I didn't expect to see rain in the Great Salt Desert, but I did. There was this one cloud that kept following me across northern Utah. Sprinkles, stop and get out the rainsuit ... but wait - it stopped. 20 miles later, sprinkles, stop, suit ... but wait. Then when I turned south toward Promontory, there it was. Dab smack in the middle of the valley. Hah! I've got time. *I* can wait. You, Mr. Tstorm can't wait. You gotta move.
Sitting on the bike watching the lightning and the drifting tendrils of showers drag from the main cloud like a sea anchor trailing a scow, it reminded me how much children like to watch storms from a safe place. My bike is my safe place now (although I didn't have my nose pressed against the screen :).
Never did change the oil. No one had 20-50 weight. Mostly trucks hereabouts. Trucks like 30 weight. There was some 10-40, but I expect very hot weather by the time I change again, so I'll try tomorrow.
The morning ride was peaceful. Two lane roads in Nevada and Utah sometimes have speed limits posted, mostly not. Here where I could go as fast as I wanted ... I cruised at 72. Away from the Interstate it seemed faster because there was more to see. Another benefit of that cruising is I don't ever have to worry about Officer Friendly. Come to think about it, I haven't seen more than 3 troopers and one county mountie since San Fran. The roads have been 'quietly enforced'. Nor has there been a Bozo count. All the drivers have been remarkably behaved.
So, for what may be my one and only National Park/Site on this trip, I visited the Golden Spike Memorial - about in the middle of what on a map hangs down into the Great Salt Lake like that 'hangy down part' in the back of your throat. (Dr. Terry will probably have to educate me on the proper medical name and personal hygiene of that body part, but I digress.) The Golden Spike site taught me a lesson I have had to learn several times recently, that being: If my cynicism has taught me anything, it is that I should be more cynical.
History is not so much preserved as it is recreated. So often that happens in America. I wondered when I saw the monument that said "... the replica spike is positioned within inches of where the original ..." They don't know? How many inches - 12,000? Why don't they know for sure?
The reason they don't know is because the railroad was abandoned less than 10 years after it was built when a shorter route was laid around the lake. Then in 1942 all the tracks for 200 miles were ripped up and melted for the world war metal needs. It was only in 1979 that 2 miles of track were laid for the ceremonial locomotives that sit there today. That spike was somewhere around here, or maybe there, or ... It is worth a visit if you like reconstituted God's Destiny (I mean American History) complete with 20 minute video of Americans overcoming the travails of nature and natives, representative faux artifacts, and related unnecessary souvenirs. Thanks. I left with refreshed cynicism.
It is soooo good to be back in "the country". I have my own definition for country: Country is where the elevation is higher than the population. YMMV (For the benefit of the non-moto readers, that means 'your mileage may vary', like the standard disclaimer with advertisements.) but I have found that the size of a community doesn't unilaterally affect its country nature. Even a big town up high retains a country feeling. Like Kemmerer, Wyoming, population 4,300, elevation, 6,700. Country is where people talk to you because you are there, not because they have to. Country is where when someone asks how are you, they are interested in the answer. Country is where Chicken Fried Steak is at the top of the menu.
'Elevations' reminds me. Recently there was an Internet BMW discussion about K-bike high-altitude plugs. I have one connected to a dash switch, thus I was able to experiment at different elevations. I saw no difference in gas consumption or idling until 6,000 feet. I believe the BMW manual which says 'over 4,000 feet', but the effect is very subtle. Here in Kemmerer, the bike won't idle smoothly with the switch off.
From Promontory, I rode through Logan, Utah, a pleasant town where there must be a law that everyone has to shower just before going outdoors. Everyone looked so scrubbed and clean, so I got out of town. If you ever get the chance, ride Logan Canyon, route 89 to Bear Lake. Those who are familiar with the Feather River Canyon in California will recognize this as a closer, tighter version of the same, with clean sweeping curves that let you test center-of-gravity theories over and over again. Superb! The whole northeastern corner of Utah has some wonderful roads that just don't get much attention. 'This is the place' _to ride_ :)
Today's quote: A good traveler is one who does not know where he is
going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Chinese Writer 1895-1976
Well, I know I'm good, but I must be close to perfect. The roads I took through Blue Creek, Howell, Thiokol, and Penrose are not on the map. (Neither is Thiokol, where the NASA rocket motors are made. Ooops. Is that supposed to be a secret?)
I forgot to tell you yesterday how I touched a personal part of my past in Elko, Nevada. 10 years ago, the first time I took my dog on a cross country RV trip, we stopped in Elko for the first rest. The dog was convinced 'the pack' was on the move and she would never see home again, so when given a snack she took one milkbone and buried it in the crusty dust of the desert parking lot - in case we ever came this way again and needed food. It is a dog thing. Yesterday I stopped at that spot. I didn't need food, so I didn't try to dig it up.
Tomorrow I have to decide which fork to take to cross Wyoming. North through Shoshoni or south along the Oregon Trail, aiming for Lusk (home of 'red beer'). So I will follow the wisdom of Yogi Berra: If you come to a fork in the road, take it.
FuelPlus statistics: 351 miles, 6:47 engine run, 52 mph average
Sam Lepore, San Francisco, 1988 R100RT and 1995 K75RTA