Idaho Trip April-May 2003

by Dave Schultheis

Sunday, May 4, 2003 - Day 5 - Mountain Home, Idaho

I slept well and woke about 5:30 a.m. Mountain Time, got up about 5:50 a.m. and got everything packed, schlepped to the garage and loaded onto the bike without waking anybody. I left a "thank you" note in the guest room, put on my rain gear, backed the bike out of the garage in "heavy moisture," and managed to push the garage door button and hop over the safety beam while the door was closing. All without falling on my face.

I started the bike and left as quietly as I could at 6:30 a.m. Mountain Time. I followed Allen's suggestion to ride west in ID Highway 67 toward Mountain Home Air Force Base (rain and wind), then turned north on ID Highway 78 (rain, wind and cold). I got into Grandview about 7:15 a.m., where the rain had nearly stopped, took a picture, and noticed some gas pumps, and wondered if they worked, and if so, when?

Hwy 78 was still wet and it was cold, but it was no longer raining. I stopped in Murphy, took an Owyhee County Museum picture, saw the Owhyhee County Sheriff's building and two cars, and wondered why there was a landing strip next to the highway, but nary a soul was visible to ask.

Hwy 78 ends at ID Highway 55 in Marsing. I turned west for about a mile and a half, then stopped at the Sinclair Gas pumps in front of the Snake River Mart, where you can pay at the pump 24 hours. It was cold and wet but not raining, although I had to struggle with the (too small) rain pants to get keys from my belt and in the little riders' room.

There's also an Exxon Station in Marsing, which did not appear to be open at 8:35 a.m. Not sure what their hours of business are.

I proceeded south on U.S. Highway 95 in cold temperatures but no rain, crossed into the State of Oregon (took a picture) at 9:15 a.m., and got into Jordan Valley OR at 9:40 a.m., where it was cold.

The sign on the high school said it was 41 degrees F. Jordan Valley contains a Chevron Station, a Texaco Station and one or two restaurants, and there was even a hint of sunshine.

Some miles later is Burns Junction, not to be confused with Burns, some miles northwest. The junction wasn't much more than two roads coming together, and fuel looked "iffy."

Somewhere down the road I passed a guy on a fully-loaded bicycle, riding south. Those bicycle riders are nuts!

Out in the middle of nowhere, there was a sign indicating that I was entering the Pacific Time zone, so I mentally adjusted from 10:45 a.m. Mountain Time to 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time.

The next thirty to forty miles were cold, very windy, and very cold, in that order. This was the most unpleasant part of the trip, going over Blue Mountain Pass, but I hasten to add that dressing in several layers minimized the discomfort. Those with electric clothing and gloves would have been more comfortable. At that point I might have paid a lot of money for heated handgrips.

About 10:30 a.m. the community of McDermitt NV unfolded before me, just a few feet across the border with Oregon. I did not stop at the Say When Casino, but I did stop at the Shell gas pumps in front of the Ideal Market. While fueling, I experienced a few minutes of small hail. After another porcelain check (those darn rain pants!), I kept going south on Hwy 95 in cold temps.

Then there was some rain. Then I passed through Orovada, where there is a Texaco Station. Then there was some hail. Then there was no hail. There is a Chevron Station at the intersection of NV Highway 290. Then it was cold, with sunshine, for a while.

At noon Pacific Time I pulled into a McDonald's in Winnemucca, where I stopped for a couple cheeseburgers ...

[McDonald's rant] "Mustard and mayonnaise only, please" does not mean "extra mustard and mayonnaise." [end McDonald's rant]

... and was amused to see at least one "child exchange" between couples. It looked like a man and a woman brought two children in their car, then handed the children over to another couple, as if in compliance with a court order or shared-custody agreement. It was good to see that everyone was relatively cheerful.

After a little walking around to warm up, I turned west on Interstate 80 and cranked up the "loudness control." About an hour later I stopped in Lovelock for fuel, then continued west through more vast expanses of Nevada, with intermittent rain, about another hundred miles into the Reno/Sparks area, where the Nevada Department of Transportation's overhead signs warned of "unsettled weather" over Donner Pass.

Right at the CA/NV border I saw Caltrans trucks (they have to come into Verdi NV to turn around), obviously patrolling to be sure the roadway was clear.

Not far across the California border I stopped for fuel at a Union 76 Station in Truckee at 3:30 p.m., where the attendant told me that it had snowed there overnight but that the highway was open again.

Another customer at the gas station (who said he was rebuilding a 1978 H-D at home) told me that I should be fine and would be in Sacramento about 5 p.m.

The "unsettled weather" turned out to be a little rain, a little corn snow, some real snow, a little more rain, then relatively clear skies but wet roads and speeding SUVs into the Auburn/Colfax area. The roads were dry by the time I reached the Roseville/Rocklin area.

I managed to make it into and through the Sacramento area, got back onto Interstate 5, stopped at 5:25 p.m. at Elk Grove Boulevard for an SBS break ("sore butt syndrome"), called my friend Dave C. on the cellular phone to give him a progress report, and removed my rain suit, as it was now sunny and relatively pleasant.

I continued south on I-5 and then west on I-205 and stopped in Tracy for fuel at a Texaco Station, where I used my Shell card, because I can. Gas was back up to "Bay area" prices, $2.099 per gallon.

I took the usual route back to San Jose (I-580, I-680, I-280, Meridian Avenue), stopped at the post office for the mail, then arrived home at 7:50 p.m. Though it was almost dark, it was certainly nice to get back home and back to warmer temperatures.

The day ended up being 14 hours 20 minutes and 743 miles, a new personal best. I also got a bunch o' ABCs photos and end the trip with 43 points for 2003.

Thanks go to Allen and Diane for their wonderful hospitality in Mountain Home, and to Chuck, Barb, Randy, Graeme and Barbara for their fine companionship over the weekend; may there be many more visits.

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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