I finally got to the top and then immediately regretted not bringing food.
Camping up there would have been epic. I made a mental note to pack some food the next time I ate so that if I found another road like this I could camp whenever it suited me. As I got deeper in I decided that not knowing where the hell this road went could end badly. I could end up really hungry and having to double back on myself and ride back the same way but hungry and displeased. So I turned around and got back on the road I was on before I turned off.
I stopped for some sandwiches at this place called Atomic something or other. The food was awesome. That’s one thing that struck me about the States. The reason everyone’s so fat is because their food is so damned good. The little burger and sandwich shops make killer meals. It’s greasy, but awesome. Well, anyway, before I left I packed away a ham and cheese sandwich in my luggage and got going again.
At this point I still did really want to see the Grand Canyon and was trying to find a way to include it in the plan. I stopped for food at a Denny’s somewhere north of Salt Lake City. I think I was in Ogden. Sitting there going over the map and seeing the clock telling me it was already evening-time, I decided the Grand Canyon was out of the picture officially. I then also decided that I had spent WAY too much time dicking around and needed to put in some hard miles and slab it until I was actually ahead of schedule. If I could get into Vegas ahead of schedule then I could have the nice and easy trip through California that I wanted.
And thus began the grueling ride to Vegas. This was one of two times on the riding trip I was genuinely concerned for my well-being. I didn’t get started until the early evening time, and had to plow through Salt Lake City at the tail end of its rush hour traffic before I could even get started. I figured between my extra fuel and packed sandwiches, I could just put on miles and not have to think about anything except just getting to Vegas.
By about 9pm it was apparent that it was going to start getting dark soon. I decided to rip through one tank of gas “as quickly as situation would allow” and then settle into an easy pace until Vegas. Well, it turns out “as quickly as the situation would allow” on a fairly empty primary highway in the middle of the desert is pretty quick. I got through that tank pretty quickly and filled up and topped up my Jerry can too. I figured I couldn’t possibly be that far away now. When I saw the next sign of “miles to Vegas” I shook my head. I was still like 198 miles away. I then settled into the gradual grind to Vegas in the dark. It was now completely dark and I was more tired than I had been at any point previously on this trip. The miles droned on, and I tried to keep a watchful eye for whatever desert creatures could potentially cross the road. The road wasn’t “twisty” but it did bend back and forth. The heat, the long days, and the boring miles really started to take its toll. It got to the point where I sincerely did not think I would make to Vegas. “Vegas is out of your reach” I thought, but I decided to go for it. I would stop whenever I got too tired and stretch and walk around a little bit and drink a ton of fluids.
For the last bit I was stopping every 10-15 miles I was seriously that tired. And another thing that sticks out in my memory is this eerie glow in the sky. It was so bizarre. I was mentally completely out of it and this eerie glow combined with the drone of the engine made for a really wonky bit of time.
I stop to recharge and eat my sandwich.....
The desert heat + cheese and meat =
When I finally turned a corner and made a visual on Vegas and saw the sign that said like 14 miles to Vegas all around the same bend, I was so thrilled.
I finally pulled into my hotel which I found pretty easily around the 2:30am mark. I opened the door to my hotel room and was met with a big dude in the shower, and clothes and underwear literally scattered over every surface in the room. I was like, WTF, the hotel people screwed up and gave someone else my room by mistake. Then he hollered out and I figured out it was my buddy from out east who had ridden down and was like two days ahead of schedule. He had put on a similar number of miles in recent days since he was also pretty far from home.
I showered. I ate. I slept. Best food and night’s sleep ever.