Highway 50 - So Lonely

Trans America Trail: Pavement Day

Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 8/21/2014 as Trans America Trail: Pavement Day

Luke and I are both meeting up with separate groups at the end of the TAT. We’re traveling east through Glacier National Park, but our timing will be slightly different. The other riders are heading west along more conventional routes, and today’s when we decide on how to reach the Oregon coast in order to double back and meet up with our respective groups.

Trans America Trail: Pavement DayWe elect to make today a “burn day” and crank through some paved miles. This way we can enjoy getting off road on the west side of Nevada and stay off road for the rest of our trip to Oregon. With a date in my mind, I call the Castaway By the Sea in Port Orford, a popular final destination for TAT riders. The motel claims to be the farthest point west for lodging in the continental U.S. While a Google search shows the existence of a couple places possibly farther west, the Castaway guarantees a full Ocean view for all rooms. Technically, Cape Blanco is the farthest point west in Oregon while the most extreme western point in the continental U.S. is Neah Bay in Washington State, home to the Makah Indian Tribe and often referred to as the “beginning of the road.” Regardless of the accuracy, after crossing the country, I want to sit and sleep by the edge of the Pacific Ocean, so the Castaway it is! Not to mention that Russell and “Rockne” were very accommodating and willing to allow last minute changes when they learned what we were doing.

I’ve chosen to remove the handlebar risers I added for the second half of the trip. With all of the falls and the slight bend in the handlebars, I think it’s for the best. At breakfast Luke observes our surly cook in action again. When a group came in asking for pancakes (as shown on the menu), she promptly tells them that she is done making pancake batter for the day and to pick something else. So much for the previous night’s good will. We opt to grab breakfast a little ways down the road instead.

Trans America Trail: Pavement DayIn Ely, NV, we pull into a typical fast-food restaurant. As we eat, we watch a guy hop out of his car, throw up a couple times, and then get back in only to drive to another location and repeat the process. Simultaneously, an unmarked police car pulls in and out next to us multiple times but never orders anything. Numerous other patrons come and leave, and we get the suspicion there are more than burgers being flipped at this establishment and quickly move on. Out of Ely and onto the “Loneliest Road in America.”

On our paved route, Luke and I travel through a few mountain passes. At one stop we are approached by a rider who can only be described as Billy Gibbon’s brother! He and his companion have stopped to take a pass photo as well. They’re heading back to Ohio and offer to take our pictures. He’s an amazing-looking individual with multiple knives, snake skin boots, the definitive ZZ Top beard, and other remarkable features that leave no doubt that he’s a hard-core rider; so much for the Loneliest Road.

We ride on, through towns like Eureka and Austin, NV. Nice towns where folks wave as you ride by. We would love to stay and get to know the locals, but today is about making good time, so we press on to Winnemucca, but not before a couple of quick photos on the Pony Express route.