Day 4 started in Baker, NV. No breakfast; funny thing. We made reservations for food and breakfast at the Silver Jack Inn and Electrolux Cafe. But Baker is such a small town (population 68) that in order to hire help, you have to travel to "nearby" cities to hire help. The owner of the "inn" was gone when we arrived Sunday, and there was a note on the door to pop across the street to check in. Luckily, we were there in time to have dinner at the only resturaunt in town, and spent a chill evening watching Little Miss Sunshine, and uploading photos to Facebook. Back to morning; we'd planned on breakfast at the Electrolux, but decided to ride to the next "town", Majors Place. We got fuel in Baker, luckily, because Majors Place was... smaller than we expected.
Since it was early, the cafe was closed, so we had some gatorade and granola bars in the parking lot, and set on our way. We found route 93 to be very beautiful in it's own way. Nathan summarizes the recipe like this: You come down out of a mountain pass, into a valley bowl. You travel 100 miles of straight highway, climb the next mountain pass, descend the next mountain pass, and travel another 100 miles of straight highway in a valley bowl. And you do this over and over and over.
I also noticed that there is very minimal color contrast. There's a sage green and light tan pretty much all around. We had seen a town named Pioche on our map, and set our sights on breakfast and gas.
Pioche turned out to be a large town of 1000 people. I hopped of my bike to photograph civilization, and we got gas first thing. Then we decided to ride through town to find food.
And then we found a resturaunt! It was strangely quiet.... But the door was unlocked. We stepped in..... "Hello? Hello?" Nothing.
We wandered across the street to the other gas station in town, and asked where would be good to eat. They said "The Silver Cafe, across the street." Ok... we wandered back and called out again "Hello? Hello?" The owner came out of the kitchen. Not who I was expecting... A large, tattooed man with an apron. We asked if he was open, and he said "No, I'm closed for cleaning. In a half an hour, the ghost town diner will be open." so we stepped back out. The townsfolk asked if we'd found some food, and we shared our story. One was the owner of the gas station. "Come on in! I've got donuts and things." So, we found our breakfast at the gas station.... Cheese, yogurt, cereal, tea, bananas, avocados. Yum.
I had to look around this interesting little mining town, and take a bunch of pictures.
This was probably my favorite... A dad and kiddo who rode their dirt bike down to the gas station to fill up! The kiddo got off and draped himself over a ledge. "That was exhausting!"
On our way out of town, we saw the mining equipment, and I just couldn't resist one more photo.
We were headed toward Utah on a long stretch of straight highway in a valley, when suddenly some curves up a hill presented themselves. The dirt turned into a light orange color. We came around a corner, and BAM! Sudden beauty. I had to pull off. What is this? What is Cathedral Gorge? Some of the locals referred to it as "Nevada's best kept secret.
It was beautiful! It was around here that I came up with the slogan "As the dirt gets redder, the roads get better!" As we had been exploring our map, we looked for roads that got smaller and smaller. We turned off of Highway 93 onto 319, and looked for "Crestline Rd" which would take us to Utah. We found it, and guess what... it was dirt!
Eventually, the road became 219 in Nevada, a glorious road with paved curves and farm land. We had our first of what I'll call "back country experiences". We're riding along, and suddenly, a herd of cows! What do we do? Well, being me, I pulled out my camera and snapped a photo! I'm sure this was not the favorite action for the ranchers, but who could resist? So, we rode, very slowly, forward. Coming toward us were the cows, ranchers in trucks, and herding dogs. We inched our way through and this was the HIGHLIGHT of the trip so far!
Hungry, but not ready for a break, we ventured on. As we came into the Dammeron Valley, I was struck by the intense redness of the land. Photos didn't begin to capture the beauty.... If we go back to Utah, I want to spend a day here. As it was, however, it was about 98 degrees, and riding was the only good way to cool down. We snapped photos and enjoyed the beauty on the move.
We had some lunch at a 50's diner (yum, and fun!) and then headed to a hardware store. Nathan had noticed I had a small oil leak in starter; he took it apart, took the o-ring into the hardware store, found one the right size, and fixed it right there in the parking lot! I've got a lot of admiration for this guy.
We set out to find sugarloaf mountain, just a few miles away, but it was SOOOO hot. We snapped a quick photo and pressed on toward Zion.
In reasearching routes to Zion, I found an article that talked about backcountry routes to Zion. We were looking for "Main Street." When we found it, what a fabulous surprise:
This road was everything the article promised, and more. It was a beautiful dirt road at first, that turned into a 4x4 trail. There was a section going downhill that overwhelmed my brain, on the xt toting saddle bags that were flopping all over. I made it down without issue, but realized I needed to work on my mental riding skills. This bridge ended the route, and we headed to Zion.
Zion was a beautiful park, lovely to ride through. The roads would be super with no cars and no speed limits, but we take what we can get.
We found a trailer/camping park at the top of Zion that looked like fun. All the campsites required sand riding, which we were game for. But, their organization left something to be desired... You had to ride through and see if any spots were available. We rode...
and rode... but to no avail.
Nathan remembered that on the back country road, there was dispersed camping. So we backtracked....
This was my first experience with dispersed camping. I knew people camped by the "side of the road" but I didn't realize it was more formalized than just popping up a tent where you see a spot. These are designated spots with fire pits.
We got all set up, and then realized what we'd forgotten... a lighter. Hmmmm... granola bars for dinner? Or scope out the voices in the distance and see if they'd lend a lighter? We went for asking for help, and enjoyed a lovely pad thai dinner.
Discovered the local flora...
hmmmm... wonder what these are?
It was an incredible day. Tomorrow, we have planned an off road route to Bryce. Somewhere along the way, Nathan had said to me "The highlight of this trip is going to be the off road riding." I hadn't updated the trip a lot since switching from the GS to the XT, but even with my flubs, I am very confident on the XT that I can do most off road options. We did many route revisions on the fly to maximize our off road experience.