Idaho Trip April-May 2003

by Dave Schultheis

Thursday, May 1, 2003 - Day Two - Elko, Nevada

Overnight I learned that there is a remarkable number of perfectly legitimate activities that sound exactly like someone is stealing a motorcycle. However, each time I got up and checked, the Road King was just fine.

So I didn't sleep too well, got up at 6:20 a.m. and turned on The Weather Channel. They said it was 27 degrees F. in Elko. I dressed in several layers and confirmed the cold temperature when I walked across the street to the bank and saw the sand truck going by. The good news was that the check had been deposited, so I was again solvent.

The rags I had left on the bike were frozen (iced?) to it, but easily removed. I could tell the Sun was up there, but it was behind heavy overcast and some fog. I packed and loaded the bike, making several trips, and it seemed like it was warming up a little. Or maybe I was just warming up, walking back and forth.

Anyway, I put the little plastic camera in my shirt pocket to keep it warm, put on my face protection and helmet, then started the bike at 7:45 a.m. and hit the street shortly thereafter. I took it very easy, but the city streets looked good and I didn't have any problems.

As soon as I got onto Mountain City Road (NV Highway 225), there was a sign saying Owyhee was 96 miles, then another saying Owyhee was 94 miles, and then I found sunshine and clear skies just a mile or two north of Elko.

Hwy 225 is generally well-maintained with long stretches of open territory and very few communities.

I kept an eye on the odometer for a "significant event" to occur. Twenty-three miles north of Elko, right about 8:30 a.m. I pulled over to the side of Hy 225 for a picture at 99999.9 miles. Then I took another at 100000.0 and another at 100000.1 miles, hoping they would come out okay, then continued north in cold temps but nice weather.

I passed a sign for the Wild Horse Recreation area, then found a Humboldt National Forest sign (one point), complete with bright sunshine on the sign and a wide turnout for safe picture-taking. Thanks, U.S. Forest Service!

Near Mountain City NV I slowed for two dogs lounging in the sunshine at the edge of the road. They didn't want any part of a visiting motorcycle and moved away from the throbbing Screamin' Eagle mufflers as I pulled over to get a picture of the city sign.

At the north end of Mountain City I had to pause again and take a picture of a sign at the Bridge to Nowhere. There must be a story there. Sounds like there might have been a political uproar at one time.

Over the next 12 miles, I knew I was approaching Owyhee because I had seen signs advertising the Duck Valley Gas N Go, but the exact mileage or location was not given.

At 10:15 a.m. I arrived in Owyhee NV, on the Duck Valley Reservation, but did not see gasoline immediately available, although there were gas pumps visible, along with "closed" signs, along the road. I noticed a number of cars and pickups with Idaho license plates, but knew I was still in Nevada. I parked at the "Owyhee Municipal Center," near some Bureau of Indian Affairs police vehicles, removed my face protection and helmet, and walked across the street to what turned out to be the tribal gymnasium, next to the high school.

I spoke with a Native American staff member who was supervising gymnasium cleanup and preparation for a tournament. He said the gas station was another four miles up the road. So I thanked him, rehelmeted, and continued north on Hwy 225 and pulled into the Duck Valley Gas N Go at 10:40 a.m. in bright sunshine.

This was a small operation, with two fuel pumps (each side offered three grades of gasoline plus diesel) and a small convenience store with juices, sodas, donuts and other snacks. Two friendly Native American women were on duty, and in answer to my question about the clock on the wall, advised me that they were operating on Mountain Time. They said fuel was available twenty-four hours with a credit card, but the store was only open during the daytime (different hours for different days of the week).

Gasoline was only $1.809 per gallon, cheaper than Elko, cheaper than Winnemucca and much cheaper than at home. Interesting.

I took the opportunity to check the porcelain facility, then thanked the ladies, took some outside photos of the Gas N Go, noticed a Schwan's cardboard box on their trash bin, and proceeded north. [Those who enjoy Schwan's home delivery will be familiar.]

About six tenths of a mile later I saw a sign for the Mountain Time Zone, then the tribal headquarters, then the "Welcome to Idaho" sign. It was 11:05 a.m. Pacific Time, which I mentally adjusted to 12:05 p.m. Mountain Time, took the Idaho picture, then continued north on ID Highway 51. Shortly thereafter I saw another sign indicating that I was leaving the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

The reservation staddles the border of NV and ID (you can look it up on your Rand McNally), so it appears that they have agreed locally to stay on Mountain Time, regardless of "official" time zones. It works for them.

Idaho is a non-helmet state, but there is no sign saying so, and I cannot imagine riding in these temperatures without a helmet and warm clothing.

Hy 51 is another well-maintained two-lane with either very little to look at or a whole lot of America to look at, depending upon your attitude. I was just happy for the sunshine and relatively comfortable temperature.

A short while later I rode through Riddle ID, which appeared to contain a highway maintenance station and one other building, 3 gas pumps (operable?) and a Schwan's delivery truck.

Somewere north of Riddle I stopped to put my face protection back on, as it was cold when moving. Some time later I stopped in Grasmere for a picture, noticed a couple of buildings and gas pumps, but couldn't tell if gasoline was readily available.

About two miles south of Bruneau I saw a sign that said "tipping station." I passed it and then went back to look again. I rode a few hundred feet down a dirt road, hoping to find someone who could explain the term. I stopped at a fire station, couldn't find anybody there, rode farther down the road but couldn't find anybody. On the way back, I saw a guy in a pickup truck driving into a fenced area, and approached him to ask about it.

He said he couldn't explain the term "tipping station," but he was dumping his garbage into a dumpster. I've seen this referred to as a "transfer station," where the garbage company comes along periodically to take the dumpster and leave another. Perhaps the "tipping" comes from the angle the dumpster takes as it's being loaded or off-loaded from the truck.

Then in "downtown" Bruneau, there was a Sinclair Station with three gas pumps and a combination cafe, bar, restaurant and motel with another two gas pumps. Nearby was some unique signage.

One sign said "Welcome to Bruneau, home of Eric Davis, 2003 Nation Cattlemen's Beef Association President." The other sign said, "Beware. You have entered the impact area of the Bruneau hot springs snail." I can't explain that second one. I took my city picture and continued.

The next stop was the bridge over the Snake River, where I paused for an Elmore County photo (and an Owyhee County sign on the other side), then continued another 23 miles into Mountain Home on Hwy 51.

I arrived at Casa Noggin at 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time (199 miles from the motel in Elko), where the garage door was open.

I had not met Diane but had spoken with her on the phone several times in 2001 and had e-mailed many times over the past two years. She had been particularly helpful to me by phone around the time of my May 2001 accident in Arkansas. I had e-mailed that I had red saddlebag lids on the Road King, so she knew me right away as I pulled into the driveway, even before she saw my name on my vest.

Diane told me that one of the pacific northwest contingent had called with his regrets, so I got moved up from "camping in the back yard" to "guest bedroom # 2." This was great news, as the weather looked threatening, so I put some of my stuff in the room and Diane gave me the tour of the house and yard.

By this time in the trip, I had run through two LPCs ("little plastic cameras") and wanted to get the film processed. So Diane kindly fired up her red Sportster and led me into downtown Mountain Home, through the detour (construction of a railroad underpass) and out to Wal-Mart at the north end of town.

After dropping the cameras in the photo department, we stopped at the Mountain Home post office for ABCs photos, then went up to the Visitor Center for some area maps, and returned to their home. A short while later I returned to Wal-Mart, got my pictures and some cash back, then rode back through the (annoying) detour to their home. The pictures looked good, except for the 100,000 miles photos.

Unfortunately, the "focus" on little plastic cameras is nothing like the "focus" on expensive single-lens reflex or digital cameras, so the pictures came out fuzzy. You'll just have to take my word for it that the Road King passed the milestone (and 44,540 of those miles are mine, since January 2000).

I tried to make a cellular phone call from their house, but it didn't work. My Sprint PCS phone displayed a strong signal ("four bars"), but each time I tried to make a call, the display said "signal faded." Oh, well.

Diane and Allen had put me in their computer room, with a single bed, two chairs and a shelf by the window that was just perfect for storing my T-Bag and stuff-sacks. This was most excellent! Next door was the "Tennessee bathroom," complete with orange and white University of Tennessee shower curtain, bathmat and small area rug, honoring Allen's alma mater. I wasn't aware of it at the time, but the showerhead was the best I've used in a long time.

Allen arrived home after work, we greeted each other, and I helped him unload vital fluids from the car and put them into coolers. Shortly afterwards we ran up to the convenience store for some ice. I tried my cellular phone again but had the same problem, "signal faded."

Not long after returning with the ice, Diane had us sit down to dinner. She'd prepared fajitas, and was kind enough to make some non-spicy for me. It was excellent!

After dinner I realized that I would be "nicer to be near" if I washed off the road grime and put on clean clothes, so I took a shower. Remember that shower head I told you about? Aaaaahhhhhh!

I tried to make a phone call using my calling card but it wasn't working. So at their insistence, I made a few phone calls, on their dime, to let people know my progress and to congratulate my friend Janie on her retirement that day.

We watched a little TV (actually it was a LARGE television set) and went to bed after 10:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

Miles from Elko to their house = 199. Miles for the day = 215.
Miles from my house to their house = 785. Miles for the trip = 801.

Tomorrow: A trip to Boise, and others arrive.

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Created on May 6, 2003. Last updated on May 17, 2003.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA