Haulin’ to Hawthorne

Up and on the road! And only half an hour later I found this nifty ranch:

The G lazy B ranch! My kinda place.

Good scenery today. Lots to see, and the wind is with me.

Hey Mr. Hinkle, I found your lane!

Somebody either dropped their Samsung phone out the window by accident, or threw it out of frustration.

Also, I found out where the world’s largest gopher lives:

The gophers out here sure are big...

It only took about three hours – and one piece of pizza – to reach the top of the biggest climb, which surprised me. Tailwinds really help!

Finally at the top of the climb!

I went over 40mph on the way down. Whooo!

I was now inside the Walker River Indian Reservation, approaching the town of Schurz. At the first turnoff leading into the town I saw this:

Sign of the times.

I slowed down at the intersection of 95 and ALT 95, intending to pee and eat a snack. Three dogs came barking down a driveway and ran alongside me. Fearing they would just keep chasing me for miles (and possibly get lost) like the dogs in Kansas did, I stopped and put my feet down and ordered them to go home before they got hit by a truck. They sat down around me in a loose group, panted for a while, and then reluctantly went back the way I was pointing.

In the distance I could see a wind storm moving along, drawing dust way up into the sky.

Wind kicking dust up into the sky.

The plains were vast. There was a lot of dust to pick up.

I rode by a closed rock shop, a dilapidated hotel, and the husk of a gas station and visitors’ center. The economy was not doing this place any favors. The wind stole the visor off my hat and I had to march down the embankment into the plains to fetch it.

The wind is picking up even more dust.
Makin' progress now!
Somebody knocked this marker down and then bent it back up again.
Tumbleweeds get caught in everything!
Unfortunately, Rock Chuck wasn't at home.

I ate more pizza for lunch, and threw in a chilled candy bar for dessert.

This is how you keep your chocolate cool.

Soon I came to the marge of Walker Lake. By then a considerable amount of dust had taken to the sky and was beginning to pass over me.

Welcome to Walker Lake!

I managed to get a brief time-lapse of the dust gliding onto the lake, before moving on:

I was enveloped in a yellow haze.

The haze from the dust is getting serious.

Walker Lake was beautiful. It was tinted like the lakes I’d seen up in the Yukon, but of course the surroundings were as different as could be.

Looking out over Walker Lake.
The highway goes right alongside the lake.
I have no idea what Grifo Rino Wepn means. I assume the locals do.
Looking north. You can see how far the lake level has dropped...
Haze combining with clouds. Perhaps this is why rain is happening?
Lots of clouds moving along. Is the weather going to change?
Some birds trying their luck in the decidedly un-fresh water.

The shore of the lake was also fascinating. I rode by some really weird formations:

Eventually I had to stop for a closer look:

Interesting formations on the rocks here.
Over time it accumulates into quite a thick coating.
It appears to be a very slow accumulation of dust particles, sticking to the rocks.
Various kinds of lichen growing out of the pits. What an ecosystem!
This appears to indicate that the dust doesn't stick if the wind is too intense...?

There were animals about too:

No minor sheep in this area!

More animals about!

The clouds above began to look ominous as I rolled through the little town on the western shore of Walker Lake.

Okay, yeah, we're getting some serious clouds now.

I wanted to find some excuse to stop. Grab a snack perhaps? But there wasn’t anything compelling enough. I rolled by a local cop, and fully expected him to start his truck and chase me down just because I look weird, and weird is suspicious, but instead he gave me a big grin and a thumbs-up as I pedaled by. That was nice!

Huhuhuhh huhuh huhuh. Cool.

The place was closed. No ice cream for me!

More and more clouds boiled up over the peaks of Bald Mountain and Mt Grant.

They're piling up behind the mountains to the west and then spilling over.

The temperature dropped, so I put on my windbreaker. I was very glad I hadn’t decided to leave it at home. A few drops of water hit my arms, then the drops were replaced by tiny shards of ice, pinging off my bicycle and clothing.

I’d packed eight liters of water and ice for the ride today. Between the temperature and the water falling from the sky, I only consumed about one liter. Oh well — better to be over-prepared and a little slower than underprepared and suffering.

The long shadow of the storm clouds.
Looking back at the town of Walker Lake.
Great; thanks for the too-late sign.

And then I saw this!

Yipe!

And to my left, in the distance, I saw hundreds of low buildings and strange sloping cement rectangles:

Some of the hundreds of storage buildings and bunkers.

What’s this all about? In a few more miles, I had the answer:

The patch in the middle reads "READY, RELIABLE, LETHAL."

As I drew near the town of Hawthorne, snow began to coat the hills on my right:

Dumping snow on the nearby hills.

Finally, after a long and chilly run up a slow incline, I arrived in town. It was just after 6:00pm.

It's a fixer-upper.

So that's where freedom ranges!

There are twelve churches in this town.

Did we mention we could use a few dollars?

And what better way to greet new travelers than with a playful sculpture made out of bomb parts?

Welcome to Hawthorne! The room was great. Turns out the proprietor is from Oakland.

A pretty nice room!

As soon as I unpacked I rode over to the local bar and ordered a hamburger and fries to go. Not very many toppings but it was a big ol’ slab of protein, and that’s what mattered. Another long day of riding, assisted mightily by the wind and low temperature.

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