June 14, 1999- Day 9 - Lee Vining, California to Hawthorne, Nevada

64.7 miles - 15.5 mph average, 438 total miles, 45.9 mph top speed

"Message to Steve or Steve's parents". I found your journal on the windowsill and left it at the front desk of the motel. The manager said if you call, she'll mail it. It's Murphey's Motel and the number is 760-647-6316.

Miscellaneous note: I had to abandon the idea of asking "The Question" in each town I went through. Biking, answering email and journaling is all I can handle. I got it down to a final three questions, though, and I'll talk about them another day.

It's Flag Day today. Does anyone honor it anymore?

OK, Modern World History students. I want a one-page essay in my e-box first thing tomorrow morning. Topic: Based on what you know about modern Russia, what do you think was Russia's objective in jumping the gun and occupying the Pristina airport?

Journal
The day began and ended with flat tires. When I rolled the bike out to load it up this morning, flat. When I pulled into the motel tonight in Hawthorne, flat. These two flats plus the one back at the airport, all while virtually motionless. As good as it gets.
The flat this morning delayed me about 30 minutes. I wasn't worried about daylight hours as much as heat. I was really nervous about the "great void" of the desert.
As it was, this was the easiest 65 mile day I've done. I bought 2 gallons of water in addition to my two water bottles; I went to the intersection where the road went to Hawthorne and just flagged down cars that came by. Trust me, there weren't many. I finally found two motorcyclists who were going to Hawthorne. I asked them to drop a gallon at 15 and 30 miles. They were already both pretty loaded down, but they agreed to help me out. I met them, but I forgot their names (I'm sorry, guys), but they were my Good Samaritans for today. The water was left right on the money, guys. And it was a good sight.
I ended up having PLENTY of water. I carried almost one full gallon into Hawthorne with me; I estimate that I drank about a gallon and a half between 11 and 4. I'll try the same system tomorrow.

Just came back from dinner. I'm staying at (shudder) a casino. Of course, just about everything in Nevada is a casino.You want to see something out of place? See me in a casino. I walk in those places and all I can think is what if this money was being used for some GOOD purpose? How many billions of dollars go down that sewer every year? I went to the non-smoking section of the casino restaurant. It was a tiny alcove in the back by the salad bar. I was one of three people in it. Those casino folks know their clientele; addictive. I also liked the "Free Coffee" signs in the casino proper. Keep 'em awake, baby; we haven't squeezed 'em for everything yet.
Anyway, got a 10 oz. Sirloin, baked potato, salad and a mess of breaded shrimp for $6.50. And the room is $45. Excellent swimming pool. Casinos have notoriously low prices for room and board; they just want you to come in and stare numbly at those machines for a few hours.

(News note: There was a second rock slide in Yosemite Valley today. No injuries today, but a huge cloud of dust covered a large portion of the valley. My guess is that by tomorrow, you can get any room or campsite you want there.
I look back on some of the things I wrote from Yosemite just a couple of days ago. I'm glad I wasn't in the valley for those slides, and I feel badly for those injured and for the family and friends of the climber who was killed.)

Here's today's pictures:

Good Samaritans
My Good Samaritans. Thanks, guys, and Happy riding

Next Services: 55 Miles
This pretty well sums up the day.

The Stretching Road
So does this.

Nevada State Border
Nevada! After 403 miles. And Mineral County, for you, Cory.

Demolition Area
Here's another new one for me. There is an army base secreted in those hills, and what they do is blow up old ordnance. The crew that was putting these signs up told me to keep moving on through, but to hurry, since they were going to be blowing up warheads and schrapnel could reach the highway. Great!

Smoke
And sure enough, about five miles later I heard "KaBoom" about 20 times. Whatever they were blowing up was big. Here's the smoke.

Joey and Michael
Here's Joey and Michael of Hawthorne, Nevada. They were very curious about the bike trip. It's funny how many adults look at the bike and you can see they are curious but they never say anything. Not these guys. Joey will be in 6th grade and Michael 7th grade at Hawthorne Middle School. I told them to check out the web site and see their picture. Hi guys.

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