When I started out the other morning, i thought the traffic situation would be like this:
...Therefore, I intended to stop a bunch to take pics along the way to show off some scenic & interesting stuff, but... there was actually quite a bit of mine traffic up on Mountain City Highway leading north out of Elko. So much so in fact, that once I was up around the area of Wildhorse Reservoir, I just hung out for a bit, snapped a bunch of photos, and let the traffic get to where they were going. I played leapfrog with this ore truck for about 50 some odd miles out of Elko.
The water in Wildhorse is about the lowest I've ever seen it due to the drought. The lush green area in the foreground here is normally under water, even this time of year. But this year, area lakes & streams are way down since we didn’t have hardly any precip last winter. Surprisingly, the area has remained unusually green so far.
Here are a couple of views of the channel between the lake & the dam. Lake to the left, dam to the right.
In the calm water before the pre-dam structure, there was a bunch of huge trout lazily swimming around. I mean HUGE! They had to have been 24" and at least a couple of pounds.
The drought is so bad this year, there is a fear of fish die-off. Nevada Division of Wildlife (fish cops) rescinded the limits on trout, perch, & bass, and in fact, there is a mandatory keep-what-you-catch rule. Weighing the option of whether to stop & buy/borrow a fishing rig or ride on, I elected to ride. After all, this trip had been planned for months.
The canyon north of the dam is a great road for motorcycles! BUT... with a posted 55 MPH speed limit and a 25 MPH advisory speed limit, along with a fair amount of opposing RV & truck traffic (no matter the direction of travel), not to mention rocks in the road, extreme caution is well-advised.
I stopped briefly in what's left of downtown Mountain City, Nevada...
And then I motored on a few more miles north to Owyhee (pronounced oh-WHY-hee), which is just short of the Idaho line, for the first gas stop of the day. Even with the stop-n-go nature of the trip so far, I managed almost exactly 50 MPG. That would be the best mileage of the day, because the wind would eventually kick up, and there would be many long uphill passes to come. Sometimes I would be in 5th
, maybe even 4th
gear on some of the steeper climbs for many miles at a time.
A few feet up the road from the gas station at the Idaho border. I stopped there long enough to snag a picture of the Idaho sign & upload it to facebook, since family & friends were watching via the Spotwalla link. If i held the phone straight up at arm's lenth, I could barely get a signal & the picture finally uploaded. From there, I posted, "Having a blast! Giddyup Li'l Blackie! Meep meep!"
I continued north on Idaho SR51, up to the junction with SR78 near Bruneau. Hung a left toward Marsing, and the traffic finally settled to next to nothing. There was lots of stuff I would have loved to photograph, but frankly, I had already wasted a ton of time doing just that. I'd already been on the road going on 3+ hours, and barely covered 100 miles. I needed to make tracks because there was a long way to go and I wasn't too keen on the idea of riding this bike at night with its stock headlight. COULDA done it, but didn't wanna.
Once I was heading toward Marsing, I'd hoped to grab some shots of the mighty Snake River. The highway more or less parallels the river, but at a considerable distance. There were many unpaved access roads to the river, but i elected not to partake; rather, I needed to create some distance. Besides that, it wasn't a particularly good day for photos. There was smoke hanging thick in the air from numerous Pacific Northwest wildfires and the haze made decent photography almost an impossibility. That said, I did manage to snag a photo or 2 of the river & a few other Idaho scenes, under hazy gray skies.
I was kinda hoping to find some nearby grub at the gas stop in Marsing, but the only place immediately visible was a Subway. Um... yeah, no thanks. I checked the phone for food info, but the nearest non-fast-food places were back along the way i came. Not really wanting to double-back, I figured i'd just press on & see what might come up. By now I was only about a third of the way into the trip with 200ish miles on the odo, and 400ish to go.
Moving on, I cut southwest on US95 across the Orygun line...
55 MPH speed limit on this road?? Seriously?!?! WHY?!!
By now the wind had really kicked up and there was a huge mountain pass to cross on the Oregon side. Gas mileage totally went to pot here, since Overdrive was completely useless. I even occasionally had to shift into 4th to maintain momentum. Onward to Jordan Valley... The marquee signboard at the high school showed the temperature at 98, but it felt much cooler. It felt rather pleasant, actually. Anyhoo, I popped in for a bite at a little mom & pop diner. Actually, mom & daughter in this case.
The chorizo & mac salad was the lunch special, so i didn't even bother to look at the menu because it sounded delicious. It actually looked a lot better than it tasted, but here's the money shot:
The chorizo wasn’t all that good, but the home-made mac salad was to die for!
Jordan Valley seemed like a cute little town. Quite a few locals were hanging out at various businesses just watching the world go by. This little hardware store across the street from the café caught my attention because of its old-time, old-west “personality”.
I had forgotten about the fueling process in Orygun, because it had been so long since I’d been there. Apparently it’s illegal to pump your own gas. When you arrive at the pump, an attendant comes out to greet you, you select your method of payment, and the attendant would normally accomplish the refueling duty. Who knows what the basis for that is? The handful of times I’ve had to refuel in that state has always been on bikes & the attendant has always let me pump my own gas. I’ve read similar tales on the internet so that must be a pretty common practice. In cars, not so much.
I'll tell ya this... if there's a next-time for me to travel on this stretch of 95 in Oregon, I hope it's on the FJR. Between the 30 mile straights, utter desolation, truck traffic, etc., I'd be very pleased to get this stretch over with at double the ridiculously low speed limit.
Continuing south back toward Nevada, the smoke from distant wildfires got very thick. Visibility was down to about a half mile in many spots, and the smell was awful! It made my eyes sting really badly & this was by far the most miserable segment of the trip.
Approaching home soil late in the afternoon, the temperature definitely felt like it was in the high 90's. Between the smoke, and pain in my hands, wrist, & tail-bone, I was still able to maintain a positive outlook. It had truly been a great ride so far, & the little 450 was holding its own quite handily.
As for the pain in my hands & tail-bone, once I got home I deduced the causes. I recently installed a new seat cover that I'd bought on eBay and the welt seam between the rider/pillion seats caused quite a bit of discomfort through the day. Same with my gloves, actually. Although I’ve ridden thousands & thousands of miles over several years with these gloves, not having a throttle lock on this bike had my right hand in constant contact with the throttle grip. That’s one big long thin blister along the base of my fingers. Ouch!
I topped off in McDermitt on the Oregon/Nevada border. From there, I figured about an hour south to Winnemucca, and then an hour & a half home to Elko. Southbound traffic was stopped at a construction zone a few miles north of Winnemucca, waiting for the pilot car to return, but I felt lucky to be close to the front of the line. I took the opportunity to wipe down the helmet visor, apply some chapstick, nose spray, drink a bottle of water, and do a quick nut check. As hot as it was, i was very grateful not to be stuck there too long.
I topped off the fuel in Winnemucca, & started on the final 120ish mile home stretch. About 85 miles east of Winnemucca, the sunset looked spectacular, but my phone camera wouldn't cooperate. Matter of fact... I forgot to mention earlier that my main camera died before Marsing, so whatever pics I thought might come in useful were from my Galaxy S4/S5 phones (personal & work respectively). But anyway, one more mountain pass beyond this little hump, & it was all downhill to home.
I rolled into the driveway about 13 1/2 hours after starting out that morning & i was pretty much whupped. All in all it was a great ride...with 599 miles on the odo, and there were absolutely NO mechanical issues whatsoever.
As I reflected on the ride after the fact, I kinda wondered if some might think that what I put this bike through might be abusive. I mean, 70+ MPH for hours on end, for hundreds of miles might seem like it was being overtaxed to the casual bystander. But, like I said, there was not one mechanical issue the whole way, and it burned maybe a drop of oil. I checked the oil at the end of the trip and at every other gas stop, & it was still in safe zone cross-hatches every time. I tell you, this little bike is a beast!
Here's to ya, Li'l Blackie.