I live on Rt 50. Take a right after leaving my apartment’s parking lot, go 200 feet, and you’ll find yourself on the highway’s on ramp. I can’t claim that I know the road intimately, since it’s over 3000 miles long, but I do know my part of it, the part that I drive every day as I make my commute to and from work. In the morning, the three eastbound lanes are jammed with vehicles trying to make their way into the District, and in the evenings the moving parking lot shifts to the westbound lanes. In the times between, various lanes are closed to give a safety zone for the construction workers trying to widen the route.
My portion of Route 50 is busy, so imagine the thoughts that went into my mind as I drove away from Fallon on a different portion of Route 50, one known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” Occasionally I’d come across a car I’d need to pass, and being a two-lane road, I would cross into the oncoming lane to do so. Though there was significantly less traffic compared to the road I knew, I never had the since of being truly alone on it, especially when I’d see stone messages left in the sand by people wanting to make the road a little less lonely.
Still, as I crossed between one mountain range after another, I had to admit that it was a beautiful road. In fact, there was a lot of natural beauty I had seen over the past couple of weeks. Man can come up with some impressive things, but with Mother Nature’s few hundred million year head start, Man just can’t compare. America the beautiful, indeed.
Passing through one small town after another, with miles and miles of near isolation between them, eventually I left Route 50 and headed north towards Wendover Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats. Time passed with the miles as I rode between two ranges until I saw what looked like a large flat desert in the distance. As I got closer to the town of Wendover, the first sign of modern civilization came into view: the golden arches of a McDonald’s sign. I crossed the Utah state line and followed the signs to the Salt Flats.
Not knowing how much time I’d spend on the Flats, I stopped to get fuel, and overheard someone mention it was too muddy to drive on. Thinking my bike doesn’t weigh anything close to what a car does, I drove on, figuring I’d take my chances. But when I got to the end of the pavement, I knew I wouldn’t be setting any land speed records that afternoon. The salt wasn’t muddy, it was flooded, the water deep enough to have small ripples as the wind blew across it.
I thought about my timing some. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and even though I had crossed the entire width of Nevada, it felt too early to call it a night. Instead, I made a phone call, arranging a place to stay with a fellow member on the web forum. He told me where to meet him and I set off, barreling down the interstate towards Salt Lake City as I laughed to myself, entertained by the “speedometer check” designed to keep drivers awake on the long straightaway. Another couple of hours later, the Great Salt Lake was passing by on my left while a group of powered paragliders flew overhead.
I stopped at the designated spot and made another phone call to let him know I had arrived. A few minutes later, two matte green Scramblers were parked side-by-side in the driveway, his nice and clean while mine was dirty and bug-covered. He looked over my bike, surprised by how stock it was. “I feel like I’m meeting a celebrity,” he commented, having been reading the various updates and photos I had posted online.
I showered and changed, then he and his wife treated me to a dinner out before showing me some of the sights around the city. Unfortunately the sun had set by then, making it hard to see much of the Olympic venue. The three of us headed back to their home, where I passed out in the guest room.