California 2016

Day 03

June 20

Today will be a little more interesting route as I get to leave I80 when I get to Reno. It's a pretty ambitious ride of over 720 miles including some backroads. As is my usual habit, I'm loaded up and out pretty early.  
The sun is just coming up and the traffic is staying in which makes my getaway a lot easier.  
As I leave Salt Lake City proper, I do hit a little morning rush hour traffic.  
But soon I'm out of town and out where I can get a clear view of the Great Salt Lake. I often wonder how the first settlers felt when they saw this great lake from a distance and thought it was an ample supply of fresh water. I can only imagine the heartache when they took their first sip of the briny solution.  
The clouds almost seem to reflect the whiteness of the salt flats to the north. I'm really thankful that today the crosswinds are almost not existent. The last time I was through here it was a real battle to try to stay upright.  
To the south, the mountains begin to rise up from the plains, surrounded by dry scrub brush.  
Ahead, the road just seems to stretch out straight as an arrow into nowhere.  
I can see where some folks have tried a little off road adventure on the nearby flats. There no fences like along most interstates so I guess they figure there's not much of a place to go out here even if you wanted to.  
Then I notice something I've not seen before - actual water on the salt flats.  

Having passed this 'tree' several times, I finally research exactly what it is. According to Wiki -

Metaphor: The Tree of Utah, sometimes called the Tree of Life, is an 87-foot-tall (27 m) sculpture that was created by the Swedish artist Karl Momen in the 1980s and dedicated in 1986. It is located in the desolate Great Salt Lake Desert of Utah on the north side of Interstate 80, about 25 miles (40 km) east of Wendover and midway between the former railroad communities of Arinosa and Barro. The sculpture, which is constructed mainly of concrete, consists of a squarish 'trunk' holding up six spheres that are coated with natural rock and minerals native to Utah. There are also several hollow sphere segments on the ground around the base. The sculpture currently has a fence surrounding the base to protect people from falling tiles.

Inscribed on the plaque are the words from Ode to Joy by Friedrich Schiller; also used as the chorus of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It has been said that Momen was moved to create the 87-foot-tall (27 m) tree after having a vision of a tree while driving across the desolate Bonneville Salt Flats

For all the world, this looks like a beach without an ocean to me.  
Near the end of the flats, I see the turnoff to 'official' Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway. I can't help but remember my trip to New Zealand and visting the 'World's Fastest Indian' that set a record here in 1967.  
Once I get past the flats, I80 just stretches out in a straight line for as far as I can see.  
Given the current temps, I kind of wish that there would be a little ice. It might just cool things off a bit.  
When I come to this 'overpass' which is not an overpass, I wonder what the purpose could be other than a wildlife crossing.  
But never fear, my musings are quickly interrupted by another construction zone.  
When I pass through this tunnel, it sort of reminds me of an MRI machine I was once put into.  
It's about time for a fuel/hydrate break, so I pull into Battle Mountain. With the temperatures up where they are, I decide I'll have a sandwich and take a longer break. My lips are beginning to crack and I notice a pharmacy on the way in. After tending to business, I stop by the pharmacy and pick up some Chapstick at a handsome price. This water tank greets me on the way out of town. I have been of the opinion that riding in a lot of Australia would be like riding out here so this sort of confirms it in my head. I guess the locals also decided to jump on the Australia connection.  
And I have to say it is pretty 'outback' as I look out over the landscape.  
One of the interesting things you see out here are dust devils. This one is a rather tall one and ...  
a little farther down the road I see another one forming. I guess they're like a 'mini' tornado of sorts.  
I finally leave I80 behind for highway 395. Here the wind picks up and it is hot and dry. I finally put into a run down store that has gas since I'm a little lower than I like to be given the area. The woman behind the counter is less than pleasant when I ask her where the bathrooms might be. She directs me to a porta potty out in the parking lot. Now I was raised in the country with no indoor plumbing for the first five years of my life and spent plenty time around barns, cows, and pigs so I'm not real faint of heart or smell. But I ain't never been in an outhouse quite like this one. Between the heat and the fact that it hadn't been emptied in quite while let's just say the mountain was about to reach the seat and the smell would either kill a live man or revive a dead man. So I just pass on the opportunity and figure I'll find a third tree on the left somewhere on down the road.  
  Finally, I leave the heat and dust behind and get onto some pleasant back roads.  
At this point I'm thinking how nice it would be stop for a little while and go take a dip.  
But I think better of it and keep rolling along. In the distance I see a beautiful snow capped mountain which always does me good. If we let it, often our eye will rejoice our heart.  
When I move on to where Highway 44 joins Highway 89, the temperatures move more into the pleasant range as I am near Mount Lassen. This area reminds me of why I ride - temps are near perfect, my music is just right, there's no traffic and the scenery's incredible - sort of a 'perfect non-storm' all at once.  
There's more shade and more curves - both of which I like. I really rather ride the back roads but sometimes that's not an option to cover the miles in the time you have. But I still enjoy riding whether on the slab or in the country. I just enjoy riding in the country a lot more.  
The most interesting thing is how the temperature begins to noticeably rise as I descend into the valley to Redding. It's a bit like walking from a nice air conditioned room out into a blast furnace.  

I finally pull into my Super 8 for the day and get checked in. Turning up the air to about the right temperature to put frost on the windows, I shower and cool off for a bit. I decide I'll try a 'sit down' super tonight and see if it turns out any better than last evening. I ask the lady behind the desk -

"Anywhere good to eat within walking distance?"

"Nothing much on this side of the Interstate" she says "except for a Mexican place over in the little shopping center. It's pretty good."

So I hike up my britches and head that way.

It's called 'Los Gordos' and it looks like it will work for me.  

I get my order in for three enchiladas and it's pretty good. Next to me are a couple - Paul and Cindy Smith - who are locals and have the same exact names as a couple I know back home. They explain to me just how hot it gets in these parts and I have no doubt about their statements. We strike up an interesting conversation about riding, grand kids and such. As I tell them -

"There's a reason they call them 'grand' kids" and we all laugh.

I finish up my grub and wish them well and waddle back toward the Super 8.

From here, I'm in good shape to make it on time for my appointment tomorrow at Russell Daylong Saddles. I've had no on the road drama to speak of, so I am one happy camper. It's been around 2,400 miles from the Holler in three days, so it does not take me long to find the place of blessed rest.