Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 8/21/2014 as Trans America Trail: A Desert Oasis in Baker, Nevada
A quick bite at Mom’s Cafe in Salina gets us started right. We learn that we missed the crab leg special from the night before. All for the best; I’m not sure, but being a professional Alaskan fisherman, Luke could possibly lose his license for taking part in such a dining experience in the middle of Utah!
Today’s route mostly runs on dirt right along I-70. We can see the hustle and bustle of the tractor-trailers and cars right along side of us as we ride. Eventually the trail turns north, and we finally leave the sights and sounds of civilization behind us.
As I attempt to make a hard right in front of a water tower, I get my face a lot closer to the ground than I wanted. Luke helps the KLR and me to an upright position, and we continue on our way with no delay. This sadly repeats a couple of times throughout the day, and I eventually realize that my handlebars may not have faired as well as I thought when I wrecked back in Salida.
There is no doubt that this section of the TAT is a bit outdated as we are greeted with one dead end after another. We separate, and on foot, look for some sign that the trail may pick up somewhere, but it’s evident from the cows and growth over the trail that this area has not been traveled for some time.
We soon find a more traveled-looking trail and ride on until we reach pavement again. Eventually we reach Delta, UT, a good stop for a road-dog and fuel. Knowing there are limited lodging options when we cross into Nevada, I decide to give the Silver Jack Motel a call. They inform me that there is one room left with two beds. I book it but cannot help but wonder why, while they didn’t ask for a credit card to confirm, they did ask me about the nationality of my last name. I decide to ignore the rather odd question and forge on.
From here we hop on Highway 50 to cross into Nevada. It’s a great stretch of road, if you are a fan of wide-open nothingness, which I am. I’ve ridden this stretch several times in the past and always smile as I pass the Border Inn and Casino that overlaps the state line. According to our directions, the town of Baker, and our lodgings, should be just behind this spot a mere seven miles away. However, looking in that general direction it’s hard to believe there is anything else other than the entrance to the Great Basin National Park. Thankfully, after a little over six miles, we are rewarded with an oasis-like reveal of the Silver Jack Motel. Our room is a modest space in an old yellow trailer that Terry, the creative proprietor, had divided into three separate units, truly a Desert Oasis in Baker, Nevada. His artwork can be found all around the property.
Tonight we dine on Bolognese and Greek salads. The service was slow, and you could see frustration in some of the other patrons. I had read about the slow service online and couldn’t understand why the reviewers were in such a hurry. After all, there is nothing much to do in Baker, NV, but wait for dark and look at the stars. We took it upon ourselves to engage in conversation with those around us. Soon everyone was enjoying good conversation, and libations were flowing. The need for speed was temporarily quelled, and a good night was had by all! It’s amazing how reaching out and acting decent can quickly change the mood of a bunch of strangers in a positive way!
NOTE: Great Basin does not have much–but if you like getting lost, it is a beautiful area. The national park has two entrances that don’t connect, so don’t expect to ride straight through. The highlight of the area is the annual Perseid meteor shower. We missed the main event by one day. I tried to stay up and see a portion of the shower the night before, but eventually fell asleep on our front porch.