The night was so so. Dogs barking the whole night made for lot of wake-ups.
With 165km to go to Elko, the first bigger town in Nevada, I have two options today. Rocking the distance and arrive in Elko in the dark [Motel?!] or ride considerably less and camp. Camping around towns is simply not nice.
With Elko having super cheap motels I decide to give it a go. I realize that a motel can be a worthwhile investment in these conditions since I am traveling through a Warmshowers no man's land for almost 900km again [that's the platform I find my hosts by the way]. A night in the motel does not only give comfort, but also allows for two big days due to the possibility of a late arrival/early start. I decide to treat myself to one motel a week going forward in these conditions if it fits well into my schedule. Also, shouldn't be a cheap motel once in a while be part of any good American road trip?
I have an early start and am back on the road by 7AM. First into a full blown headwind but once I reach the beautiful canyon that the Owyhee River carved out, it is fine. The river is frozen, in the shade the road is icy, in the sun it's warm. I have the canyon to myself.
After 20km I reach Mountain City where I hope to get a coffee. "City" is unfortunately a huge overstatement to say it mildly. There is nothing here except for a few ran-down buildings. I meet a friendly guy named Mark and ask him whether there is a chance to buy a coffee somewhere here. He denies but invites me for a coffee in his workshop instead. There, I also meet John and we three enjoy an excellent conversation over coffee [also excellent]. They work for a mining company in Reno and do gold exploration out here.
Fueled by the coffee [Thanks Mark and John!] and probably even more by the friendliness of these guys I continue towards Elko. That's why I love riding the rural areas so much. People show a much more genuine interest and thus, make it also easier for me to learn more about what's going on around me.
After continuing through the canyon and passing a huge reservoir I make it to Wildhorse. Again coffee, cold drinks and great chats at the bar. The owner tells me that December is the only real off-season month here in Wildhorse. In summer people enjoy the lake and in winter they enjoy ice fishing and snow-mobiling. Snow-mobiling? Except for the lake [which is just created by a dam on the Owyhee River] it's dead dry here, I respond. However, she confirms that they do get between 1 and 2 meters of snow here in winter. A miracle to me...
With 100km to go I hit the road again. The landscape opens up to an immense and dry valley. Nothing but a straight road [I count a grand total of two considerable corners over the stretch of 100km]. I settle into my zen-like state of mind and pedal through the monotonous landscape. Occasionally some gravel roads left and right that disappear into the snow-capped mountains that frame the valley. "Not yet" I force myself to stay on the paved road. After 50km another house, a bar nothing else. Cold drinks, a candy bar. At sunset I make the last climb up to 2000m high Adobe Pass and then proceed for the 15km down hill to Elko in the beam of my headlamp. Entering Elko I can't really tell what shines brighter, the casino advertisements or the crazy light shows of some of the houses in the outskirts. It's December 1st I realize - Christmas is coming up. I check-in at the Motel, get some food and make myself comfortable in the bath tub. Goodnight from Nevada - guns, gambling and deserts [mainly looking for the latter].