We rode today from Caliente, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA.
Along the way, we covered the entire 98 mile stretch of Nevada State Highway 375, which is officially called “The Extraterrestrial Highway” by the state. This highway and others we covered in Nevada today are incredibly barren — the little gathering of buildings you see in the picture above (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) counts as a major population center in this part of the country. We went more than 140 miles between gas stations at one point and saw wild ranging cattle, hundreds of munitions bunkers, several rabbits and two snakes. But alas, no aliens. Well, except for this one where the road starts on the east end:
Area 51 is close to this road and experts debate the origins of the many strange objects witnessed in the sky by travelers. We rode many miles without seeing other cars and we saw only one Nevada State Trooper along the way — and he just stopped to check on us when we pulled over to take this picture.
In retrospect, I should have asked him if he’d had any strange encounters since he no doubt drives this road more than just about anyone. I was frankly preoccupied thinking that if we hadn’t stopped for the fake metal alien photo op, we’d have crossed paths with this officer several miles down the road when the only mystery would have been whether or not he caught us speeding before we saw him coming.
For yet another day, the topography was indescribable. The vastness of this country overwhelms you when you spend hours and hours traveling through empty lands where you can see nothing manmade but the road in every direction. Further, where you’re traveling is, by definition, the most-developed part of the land that’s visible towards every horizon.
No surprise: it was hot today. Traveling hundreds of miles at a steady speed, on long, long straights of highway, immersed in simmering heat, makes it difficult to stay focused on your riding. Every motorcyclist knows you must maintain “tactical awareness” at all times but no one can do this perfectly. Inevitably, your thoughts wander or you get distracted on the song or radio show in the bluetooh system in your helmet.
At times like this, riding just above the speed limit actually helps you stay alert for the simple reason that you’re scanning the environment for cops. Our law enforcement professionals provide a great assist here because they show up randomly, with little warning and they typically drive vehicles much like the other cars on the road, meaning you regularly get a little shot of adrenaline when a Tahoe suddenly approaches from the horizon. It’s a game and assuming you don’t drive at a dangerous pace, it probably makes you safer, all things considered.
We reached Minden, Nevada around 2PM and rode up Daggett Pass, crossing into California at the end. In just a handful of miles, we ascended from 4,700 feet of elevation to more than 7,300. It was as though we were rising above the oppressive heat of the desert and punching through to a cooler layer of air blanketing the mountains. We emerged in South Lake Tahoe and took the western route around the lake, stopping just once for a few pictures — unlike yesterday’s post, today’s photo offering is meager. We also took zero selfies today since I kind of overshot with those yesterday.
Tonight, we are in Truckee, CA, a gorgeous, western-themed town, which is appropriate since we are staying at a Best Western. We walked to a microbrewery for dinner where none of us ordered beer despite this sign:
Tomorrow, we’ll take highway 20 to the coast of California — Fort Bragg. Then we’ll work our way up Highway 1 towards Oregon. Maybe. We have left our planned routes behind us — it’s an 11 day ride and we only planned the route for the first day.
In case the title of this post interests you, allow me to clarify in my closing remarks. My brother and I are the aliens (he was born in the UK; I was born in Canada) and our friend Dale Berkbigler is the doctor. And even though the Extraterrestrial Highway was only 20% of the miles we covered today, it’s an interesting hook for a blog post, don’t you think?
Goodnight from Truckee, California.