Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 03 The Great Basin ride to Ely, NV

First thing this morning, uh, make that first thing right after a sensible breakfast I started the search for a shop that carried GPS batteries. No answers on any of the dealers listed on Google but maybe they stayed out late last night? Finally hooked up with one, a Radio Shack who knew what a GPS was but “No, hee, hee, we wouldn’t have batteries for them hee, hee.”
Then I tried an on-line outfit that specializes in helping find stuff or what they termed “solutions.” Before helping they wanted me to know there would be a $38 charge if they were actually able to help. Hitting the cancel button didn’t help nor did the escape key or the back key. Persistent buggers they were but they had no defense against control-alt-delete. I tried calling Garmin direct and after working through several layers of press one or press two I was informed the next available support person would be available in – get this – 36 minutes. I decided not to hold and listen to their crappy commercials for a half hour and bagged it. 

My HiViz jacket reflection washes out the display but it's there

As it turned out the Garman gremlins had vacated the site and the Zumo came back to life when I remounted it on the bike. Yippee sez I and off I rode into the morning sunshine. If it fails again I’ll just bite the bullet and get a new one, this beastie has served me well for quite awhile.

I-80 heading east out of Winnemucca

With the GPS programmed for Ely via McGill I set off sort of eastward on I-80 which I held until exiting at a not-to-be-resisted point of interest called Iron Point. The sun was shining, the day was warm, and I had time for a little side trip to see what I could see. The pavement promptly ran out in about 300 ft and I found myself standing on the pegs riding over whoop-de-whoops. This may be a fun style on dirt bikes but a fully loaded touring rig is not. I hauled things in and turning around headed back stopping only long enough to shoot a couple of pics. Charlie and Ewan need not fear, there will be no film at eleven.  


Iron Point is out there somewhere

Does HiViz yellow make me look fat? Be honest now....

Back on the road I soon arrived at Wells where I had a sensible lunch – really, spinach & mystery chicken salad – what could be better for you than that? After consuming enough dead plants to keep an entire herd of rabbits going for a month I returned to the bike ready to leave.
Before I could mount up though I was approached by a very large older gentleman who asked the all too predictable “Where ya headed?”  “Mexico” sez I.  Oops, wrong answer. His response was a dead fish stare and I think his breathing stopped for awhile. In fact time may have stopped for a short while. He just stood there and I could tell his systems were shutting down for some reason. Maybe the old “does not compute” was factoring around in his brain? Then the door to the burger place opened and out rolled his wife, a Marjorie Maine look alike. Her presence seemed to have an awakening affect on him and he pointed at me saying “He’s going to Mexico.” Her response was very nearly the same as his and they both stood there taking me all in.
Not quite knowing what else to do I mounted up and said “Well I know it’s difficult to understand but it gives me something to do in my old age.” And I rode off. I didn’t dare turn to look back, I just kept going.

For the rest of the afternoon I traveled south on highway 93 crossing the Great Basin, a mammoth stretch of unswerving road that stretches unbroken for 80 miles. I’d done this puppy a couple of years ago riding with Chuck Bruce and believe me, after the first 30 miles it begins to tire. The Great Basin is just part of a “No Gas for the next 179 Miles” stretch referred to by a sign on the outskirts of Wells. Even though I’d gassed up recently I turned back and topped off the tank before setting out. I really, really hate pushing motorcycles and even though I carry a 1-litre fuel bottle it would only take me 15 miles or so.

I reined in at the little historic town of McGill and spent some time touring the back streets, most of which are populated by people living in what looks to be close to the edge. But only if you remove their toys, seems like there’s always enough $$ to go around when it’s time for a new bike or hotrod. I couldn’t quite figure out what the town used to be as there are a lot of older buildings with signs on them saying things like “Engineering”, etc. It’s almost as if it were either a military installation or a campus at one time but now it’s all done in. Maybe I’ll research it if I ever run out of stuff to do but not right now.


Ely was just a few miles further and I figured on staying the night there since it was getting late. Just as I neared the town I spotted a Kawasaki dealership and remembered I needed to have a new key made to replace the bent one from yesterday.

Noting the service/parts sign visible down the alley I pulled in and entered what has to be one of the oldest dealerships still going. Bikes, cars, you name it; they’re dealers for a whole slug of brands. The shop and its office were pure trash and there was only one old guy present, busy on an ancient PC. I showed him my key and told him I really didn’t expect them to have one but he said for me to hang on and bellowed out into the shop causing some poor kid to come running. The amount of black grease on him told me he’d been busy working on something and I felt bad that he’d been called in for such an unlikely item as my key. He didn’t seem to mind and promptly disappeared into a small doorway from which he returned several minutes later holding a tiny plastic bag with a key! I was thunderstruck, I’d tried to buy one when the bike was new and they weren’t available at one of the largest Kawasaki dealers.

Back door to the sales office

He couldn’t accept plastic in the parts department so he escorted me to the showroom where I played with the shop dog until the cashier lady finished yakking with her buddy. I didn’t mind as the dog, a large hound mix of some sort liked having someone to play with. Eventually she wound down and took my money; then gave me directions to the local lumber yard where I could get it cut. It was an amazing find and the key at a little over ten bucks seemed like a bargain plus it only cost fifty cents to have it cut. What a deal.

My lovely room...

Comes with a view

I checked into the same Motel 6 I’d stayed at on a previous trip and then cruised around a bit before dinner.  While meandering I came across what amounts to be a Studebaker graveyard. Whoever owns them must not be able to say no to one as there were plenty of them lying around, none of which looked to be good for much other than robbing the occasional part. I took some pics and then went on the hunt for a place to eat.

Ely may have been a big deal years ago but these days it seems to be hurting, the food places seem to be concentrated in gambling casinos and most of the regular restaurants have closed down. I finally found one on the west end of the main drag far away from other attractions.

Aptly named The Silver State, it showed promise judging from the number of local-looking clientele. Most were families with kids and that usually means reasonable prices for good food. I ate a sensible meal; got my grease fix for the day and two hours later I’m still not hungry.

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