The open road: 2010 summer trip day 2

If you are just finding this, go here to start at the beginning.

Day 2: Tonopah, NV to Tropic, UT — 406 Miles




[click to go to an interactive map]

Last year I passed through Tonopah around breakfast time and found a very limited few choices. The motel clerk recommended the restaurant at the Ramada and it was indeed better than the Banc Club. The Ramada was practically like a mining museum with all sorts of equipment stashed throughout for decor. I had a few burdensome quarters that I intended to lighten from pockets on the way through the casino, but not a single one armed bandit accepted quarters. Very few actually had any vestige of an arm for which to pick your pocket with.

And yet, one of them somehow managed to lighten my wallet of a dollar bill — guess that’s why they don’t take coins any more…

US 6 — Heading west out of Tonapah.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 62mm focal L. @94 MPH, map

It was a fairly late start with some sleeping in and then having breakfast before scooting down the road. Shameful, but, what good is vacation if you don’t get to sleep in a little? The mining days of Tonopah ended around WWII and the military has largely pulled out of the area leaving the town in a state of decline. I was all too happy to be on my way.

The buzzards are circling — If you look careful, there’s one on the ground too.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/5.0, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @95 MPH, ~46mi from prev photo, map

In all of the planning, it never occurred to me that the route was near Groom Lake (Area 51). NV 375 is also known as the “Extra Terrestrial Highway” and I’d seen all the same pictures in other ride reports. None-the-less, the surprise of seeing the sign warranted turning around and snapping a few pics.

Queue the cliché pictures — I had no idea that I was near Area 51 and Groom Lake.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 31mm focal L., ~17mi from prev photo, map

Inside the store/tavern at Rachel, NV, was a wide assortment of alien chotchkies with all sorts of photos of lens flair, errant reflections, and other gimics that look like something flying in the sky. A few of them looked fairly convincing, but, it was all in good fun. What really perked my interest was the signed photos of famous test pilots that have been through, like Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield and several others that I no longer remember.

A mandatory stop — for more cliché pictures

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/250sec, 22mm focal L., ~0.3mi from prev photo, map

Back on the road, I was enjoying the desert fauna and wondering how anything could possibly survive out here.

Joshua trees

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/640sec, 70mm focal L. @81 MPH, ~19mi from prev photo, map

Gett’n crazy with the tar snake machine on NV 375 — Fortunately, they weren’t terribly slippery like some of’m get.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 35mm focal L. @81 MPH, ~6.5mi from prev photo, map

On open roads, the F800 normally gets about 50-55 MPG which nets an out-of-gas range of ~220-230 miles. Trouble is: I really wasn’t paying any mind to what the fuel computer might have been saying about my heavy right wrist until the low fuel light came on near the NV 375/US 93 junction.

Hmmm, 24 miles of gas left. Tonopah to Caliente is 192 miles.

Let’s see, 149 plus 24 … carry the one, and … No sir, not gonna make it! Not even close!

Paying the piperShould have had plenty to get to Caliente.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/100sec, 70mm focal L. @84 MPH, ~7.1mi from prev photo, map

Several miles away from the US 93 junction, it was clear there were some buildings ahead … just maybe … cross my fingers … maybe one of them would be a gas station??

No sir … I don’t like it!

Paging Mr. Garmin to the white courtesy phone.

Me: Mr. Garmin, is there a gas station within a 20 mile radius of me?

Mr. G: How the hell should I know, you cheep bastard never coughed up $50 to update my database.

Me: Ahhhhuhhhhhmmm. Gas stations don’t just get up and walk away.

Mr. G: No, but, they do go out of business. And sometimes they even jump ship and change over to the competition’s brand. The traitors!

Me: Can you please just tell me if, 3 years ago, there was a gas station within 20 miles of me?

Mr. G: Yes, but it’s not along your current route.

Me: I’ve already learned on this trip that I don’t like pushing the bike. Do you think I care if it’s on my way anymore?

Mr. G: Turn right onto US 93.

Me: Yes sir!

The end of NV 375 — I’d really, really hoped there’d be a gas station here.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 70mm focal L., ~4.0mi from prev photo, map

Maybe I was abducted while on the ET highway, because, that’s exactly how that conversation with the GPS played out. It talks to me, you know….

Even the handicapped Mr. Garmin was spot on finding some petrol about 6 miles out of the way. The cold drink and a cool down inside made for a refreshing break to regain my sanity.

After getting ready to roll, the audio/music feed from the GPS wasn’t working. Had I insulted Mr. Garmin one too many times such that it was refusing to play music? Odd. Huh, nor did the radar detector audio work either. Well, crapolla.

Just prior to the trip, I had installed an Amplirider audio mixer to sum together various audio sources and give a master volume control. I figured one of the plugs must have pulled loose. Might as well bust into it and sort it out…

In the process, there must have been a half dozen people that saw the bike in various stages of disassembly that asked if I needed any help, bless their hearts. But, then a few of them proceeded to yak at me in a one-way, ad nauseam “conversation” about random stuff. It was almost as if they thought I needed company since I obviously couldn’t go anywhere for a short while. I was polite and feigned interest, but, I really just wanted to focus on debugging, and didn’t have it in me to overtly shut them down.

Yard sale on bike parts — No, I didn’t need any help. Thanks for offering…

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/40sec, 35mm focal L., ~4.8mi from prev photo, map

I had all but given up searching for the problem before getting to the point of cracking into the Amplirider itself. Sure enough, the moment the lid was off, the problem was perfectly clear: the voltage regulator fell onto the ground after the slightest of wiggles. It had been soldered to far away from the package body such that it vibrated the leads into oblivion. I carry a wide assortment of tools and repair stuff, but, a soldering iron was not in my abbreviated arsenal.

Geee, why doesn’t my audio work — Now, who’s got a soldering iron?

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/15sec, 70mm focal L., map

I had to give up on the audio and get to some place that had a modest hardware store to get a soldering iron and solder. Got the bike all buttoned up and plugged the ear buds directly into the radar detector and hit the road. I could survive the rest of the day without listening to the comforting voice of Mr. Garmin assuring me I needed to make a U-turn, “when possible”.

US 93 — Back on the road, still no audio, but, enjoying the road.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/250sec, 18mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~36mi from prev photo, map

Through the canyon into Caliente — Love the strata that the water cut through.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 40mm focal L. @77 MPH, ~1.5mi from prev photo, map

The town of Caliente is another example of having seen better days. It was a railroad town that kept the steamers chugging through the area. But, the advent of diesel locomotives took care of any need to stop here. Now it seems that the primary employer is the BLM office.

By-gone era — the 1923 train station/depot is long unused for its original purpose.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @28 MPH, ~2.0mi from prev photo, map

NV 319 — Heading to the Utah state line.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/640sec, 31mm focal L. @73 MPH, ~20mi from prev photo, map

UT 56 — Welcome to Utah. Now, cool off with a brief shower.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 48mm focal L. @78 MPH, ~27mi from prev photo, map

Desert showers are usually a welcome respite from the midday heat and it’s always a gamble on whether to stop and don the rain gear. This one looked wimpy enough, but, still managed to soak well through my mesh riding gear. Incidentally, all that air flow through the gear makes for a fantastic swamp cooler effect inside. By the time the shower was over, I was quite literally shivering, even though it was still 88˚ outside.

Brrrr. — 88˚F is chilly compared to the 100+ a few minutes prior.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80sec, 70mm focal L. @80 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map

In Cedar City, UT, I dorked around trying to find a hardware store to get a soldering iron. First couple of stops were a bust and I was about to give up when I stumbled across a brand new Ace Hardware that was the best one I’d ever been into. There were multiple choices to pick from in the soldering and welding section — I was shocked.

UT 14 — Leaving Cedar City

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125sec, 24mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map

UT 14 through Cedar Canyon was a blast. There was a fair bit of traffic, but, plenty of places to pass and keep moving.

UT 14 — through Cedar Canyon

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~7.0mi from prev photo, map

UT 14 is heading toward the general direction of Cedar Breaks National Monument, for which I’d never heard anything about. But, they usually have good reasons to designate places as such, so it’d be worth a looksee. The painted hills were giving some clues as to what may be in store.

Painted cliff — A little teaser for the main attraction into Cedar Breaks Natl Monument

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 52mm focal L. @42 MPH, ~3.4mi from prev photo, map

Yeah, it’s a big tear in the ground, but, the interesting thing is that it’s sedimentary rock at 10k Ft elevation. Once upon a prehistoric time, a great lake about the size of Lake Erie covered much of southwestern Utah. The erosion into the Claron basin lake formed the sediment layers and, later, a fault pushed them far above the lake level to the elevation they are at today. Much of the Bryce area was formed by the same lake. More info here.

Cedar Breaks National Monument — well worth taking the turn-off

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/50sec, 18mm focal L., ~4.3mi from prev photo, map

A fellow STN’r recommended eating at the Bump and Grind in Brian Head a short hop away from Cedar Breaks. Brian Head is cool little tourist/vacation town that’d probably make for a great ski or snowmobile destination. I happened to be visiting during the middle of Harley Days, and the little town was just swarming with hogs. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of the Bump and Grind and touring through the town didn’t aid the recollection. With all the Harley’s parked at every restaurant, I just motored on down the road.

A ski run over-pass — They take their skiing very seriously in Brian Head.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @35 MPH, ~5.0mi from prev photo, map

UT 143 — An easy road to cruise on.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~7.7mi from prev photo, map

Panguitch Lake — Would make a great summer home retreat.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @30 MPH, ~4.7mi from prev photo, map

After giving up the food quest in Brian Head, the Burger Barn was an inviting lunch spot. The BBQ pork sandwich was all bonus.

Burger Barn — on the side of UT 143

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/60sec, 18mm focal L., ~0.2mi from prev photo, map

BBQ Pork sandwhich — at the Burger Barn in Panguitch

iPhone, map

UT 143 was a hoot of a road — not too much traffic and generally in good shape. Although too late for my trip, a STN member recommended Mammoth Creek Rd (Forest Service 68) as a better alternative. Next time ….

UT 143 — Following Panguitch Creek

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~3.4mi from prev photo, map

Hello Bryce

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/500sec, 46mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map

Bryce Canyon was another treat that I’d always wanted to see. Gorgeous area that is worthy of coming back and doing some mountain biking or hiking.

UT 12 — Heading toward the park.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/500sec, 35mm focal L. @52 MPH, map

Weathered spires

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 27mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map

It’s such an American thing to do — find some of the best scenery in the country, and build a road through it. I couldn’t be happier that they did!

Coming through

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @47 MPH, ~0.8mi from prev photo, map

Inside Bryce Canyon Natl Park

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 31mm focal L. @58 MPH, ~11mi from prev photo, map

The day was a fairly low mileage day, what with the late start, impromptu audio debugging, and then scrounging to find the needed tools in Cedar City. But, the afternoon light was fading and the town of Tropic looked like a decent place to spend the night, albeit more touristy than I normally prefer. But, after my whopping room expense the night before, a small step up on class wasn’t going to break the bank.

This being Utah, there wasn’t much happening in the way of night life, but, I managed to find a tall boy in the local grocery store.

The repair of the Amplirider was simple enough to do. Clean out the old solder, fit the (now) shorter legs of the regulator into the holes and get some fresh solder in. As added insurance to keep it from vibrating to oblivion a second time, I mixed up some epoxy and potted the regulator onto the board — no way it was happening again…

Road repairs — Noth’ns too hard after the proper nourishment.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/30sec, 18mm focal L., ~3.6mi from prev photo, map

The repair worked and everything was buttoned up in the darkness just in time to get a root beer float from the pizza joint before they closed at 9 PM. Life was good on the road.

Continue to day 3 …

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