I have contributed to the death of thousands. Butterfly after butterfly gets eviscerated by the grill of my truck. Beauty and tragedy at 70mph.
I woke up about 8:30 and got what was left behind by the rest of the hotel guests at the Holiday Inn Express. Some warm milk, a cinnamon roll with what looked like a finger hole in it, and Raisin Bran. Dreamy.
Last night, after I made my trip update, my computer’s battery was real low so I got my charging cord out. Well, I should say I got half of my charging cord out. I apparently left the half that plugs into the wall somewhere that is not my computer bag. Hrrmmm… Another thing to do in Fallon when your almost dead, go to Radio Shack.
I then took my bruised beast of an F150 to Les Schwab to get my tire fixed. I chatted with the tire guy and he had all the same questions everyone else has when they meet me out here, “What the hell did you do to your truck?”
“More manly things than anyone else with trucks around here it seems,” Has become my reply.
They took off my tire and saw the golfball-sized hole and said they couldn’t fix it. I had to get a new tire and they didn’t have what I needed. The dude said I could go to either Winnemucca (115 miles away to the North), or Sparks (51 miles away to the West). I am trying to go East! Onward to Sparks, I guess! It was noon by this time, and the drive took about an hour as I was still driving like a granny with my two drive wheels of different diameters.
I rolled into Sparks and, guess what, got another tire tech who wanted to know just what in the hell had I been doing to my truck.
They took about an hour to get a new big ass Wild Country AT tire on my rig. The charge: $308! Whaaaaaa? I then took my warranty out of pocket and asked, “Does this help?”
Yessir, it did. The charge dropped to $174. Not as bad. It was now 2pm and I had hoped to be in Austin, 200 miles to the West of Sparks, by this time. Sigh.
Back on the road and flying. An hour later I was in Fallon, yet again. Filled up on gas, and I was outta there. Still cruising US50 I drove passed the tanks in the desert again. This time they were being loaded onto flatbeds. I guess play time was over. Since I was retracing my steps I turned back down HWY361 to scope out some of those promising rock formations that had potential for riches. I found three old mines, one new one, and biggest dribble of bird crap ever (it fooled me, I thought it was a quartz intrusion from about a mile away; that was a long hike to get a good view of tremendous amount of poop). I am really good at being 150 years late to all these gold loads.
I hopped over the mountain range and crossed the big valley back toward Ione. I had initially planned to cross the next range there yesterday and now was my chance. Waved to all the no trespassing signs people who squat in abandoned houses in ghost towns always place on their fences and blew through Ione. Been there, done that.
I was not a mile East of Ione, when, I can’t say it is maternal instinct, since I’m not a lady and unless you consider the Honey Badger my child, but a thought popped into my head: Check on the Honey Badger, the little guy needs you. I halt my rig and get out thinking that I might be dragging my tail lights again (I had just bought my 4th new pair in a year that morning back in Fallon). Nope, taillights are copacetic. Then I hear the hisssssssss of air coming from my trusty trailer. The driver’s side tire had a crack in it. Lame.
I split into action and grabbed my mostly used bottle of Fix-A-Flat. I shook that sumbitch vigorously for 30 seconds and the emptied the can into the tire. I do have a spare tire for the trailer, but I don’t happen to have a tire iron that fits the lug nuts on the wheel (note to self: get a second tire iron). I had to hope the can of goo would stall the inevitable; there was another 50 miles of dirt roads between me an Austin… Where I should arrive at about 7:30, well after everything has closed. I drove through, what looked to be an indian reservation that was the size of a football field and seemed to contain no residents. Just cows. And cows who don’t move for trucks at that.
The valley was gorgeous. Bathed in the long light of the late afternoon sun the greens of what was a much more watered valley than all the other scrub brush desert I had be through. In fifty miles I saw maybe ten homes, and one very determined dog who angerly chased my truck for about a mile even though I was doing about 30mph.
About 20 miles South of Austin I came upon a ghost ranch. Rad. I blew by it and took photos at speed of the homestead making a metal note to return and explore the abandoned big brick ranch house someday.
The road was weird. There would be a mile of smooth, expertly paved road, followed by a mile of graded gravel, followed by a mile of pavement, and so on. I reunited with HWY722, and then US 50, and chugged up the mountain into Austin where my first stop was the town’s gas station for fuel, ice, and two cans of Fix-A-Flat for the Honey Badger. The tire was low but the hiss had stopped. The little buddy just had to make it to Ely to get some new duds 150 miles away.
Away from the 8000ft pass that markes the exit from Austin the evening light began to bathe the next valley in reds, purples, and rainbows. Puffy little cumulus clouds began to drop their hard days work of gathering the moisture from the rising air warmed by the sun earlier in the day giving me a colorful view. The high desert is so stunning. I could totally live here if it wasn’t for the lack of ocean and the constant bloody boogers.
Cars are few and far between. I see more deer on the road than fellow travelers. As the last remaining rays of light bend over the curve of the Earth and night begins I saw a dark vehicle off in the distance, barely, coming toward me with it’s lights off. As it got closer I did the neighborly thing and flashed my lights on and off to remind him that he turn on his lights. Turn on his lights he did. Then he did a U-ee and pulled me over.
“Why are you flashing your highbeams at me?” asked the fat tub of sherrif’s deputy glaring through my window.
“Because it’s night, you’re driving a black car, and your lights were off.”
“Oh… Sorry about that. Lord a’mighty, I can be damned fool sometimes.” Forehead slap. “Sorry about pulling you over.” Long pause, “Thank you?”
Back on the road. I blew through Eureka, I was on a mission. Ely or bust. Time to meet Dave. I haven’t seen that dude in eight years!
I got to Ely about 9:30, parked at the beginning of town, and scanned road for Dave’s Jeep. Nope, nothing. Duh, this is Dave we’re talking about. He has never been on time for anything, ever! About 20 minutes of playing Triple Stack on my phone and I get a call from the man. He’s in Ferny (halfway between Sparks and Fallon) and won’t be getting into Ely until really late. So I walked to the Nevada Hotel and Casino, grabbed some dinner, then some desert, and now I am that jerk who nurses and piece of cake for two hours while he steals their wi-fi signal updating his blog. What a dick.