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I’m in Seattle. I can’t believe I’ve driven to Seattle. I took a little over two weeks off of work for Burning Man and to use up my time before I lose it next week. Thursday before last was spent frantically running around town picking up last minute suppllies, errands and packing. Friday morning I left for Kansas City to pick up an Airstream travel trailer that I was hired to tow to Burning Man. After brief stops to see the parents and friends, I arrived in Kansas City around 3 AM. I stayed in some spectacuarly Vegas-tacky place (more importantly, $39) called the American Inn on I-70 by Independence.

After about five hours of sleep, Saturday morning was spent prepping the Airstream. I left town around 10 AM and headed up north to Omaha to catch I-80. Nebraska was boring as hell, I wanted to jab out my eyes just to give myself something to do. I listened to my Learn Dutch dialogues over and over, actually improved my listening comprehention. Somewhere on I-80 I took a nap, then onward to Laramie, Wyoming. The goal was to hit Salt Lake City, but I was just too tired and had gotten off to too late a start. I cleared off a section of space in the Airstream and spent the night sleeping in it at some rest stop.

A weird thing happened near Echo, Utah on I-80. I was listening to the CB radio as I passed through a construction zone and heard somebody say there was an elk on the side of the road. I didn’t know if it was just standing there or somebody had hit it. About five miles later I got my answer. On the side of the road was this big stiff-legged elk, a blue van clearly on its way to Burning Man, and a group of burners. These guys were parked on the side of the road, out with a knife and saw, scapling this elk for its horns. They were at the tail end of the construction zone, which it turns out they were the assholes causing the spectacle which halted traffic. A while later I saw them at a rest stop with people holding cameras gathered around, I assume showing off their trophy. Several miles after that, they were pulled over by three sheriff’s department cruisers.

I arrived at Salt Lake City on Sunday afternoon. I thought it’d be a clever idea to find a Wal-Mart here to buy a cheap beater bicycle and stock up on food rather than face shortages as I got closer to Reno. Turns out to be a huge time sink, everyone was doing their grocery shopping and no cheap bikes. The sunset over the salt plains was really pretty; there was a great contrast of different colors from the salt, the mountains, the clouds and sun. Ran into some heavy winds that broke one of the vents on the Airstream and made towing a real slog.

At a Wal-Mart on I-80 in Elko, NV, I found a $53 men’s bike. Score! Way small for me, but it still does the job. I don’t remember what time I arrived in Winnemucca, NV. Sometime after Midnight. Town was completely dead, what a shithole. One final stop for gas and I would push on to Gerlach. This is where my trip got really interesting.

Normally, when traveling I-80 the preferred route is to go to Fernley, pick up SR-447 and head north to Gerlach. At some point the Garmin had calculated this route, but while in Winnemucca it recommended highway 49 “Old Jungo Road”. I-80 would’ve been around 211 miles to Gerlach, highway 49 was 97 miles. I started down hwy 49, it was paved with a 45 MPH speed limit. Sort of slow, but it would’ve put me in Gerlach faster. A few miles in I second guessed how much water I had and actually headed back into Winnemucca to find a Wal-Mart. A case of bottled water in hand, I was back on Hwy 49 again.

After 4-5 miles on this road, the pavement ends. It turns into this packed playa+shale road which is pretty decent. I am comfortable pulling the trailer down this at 50 MPH. After 30-40 miles on this road I realize I’m stark fuck in the middle of nowhere. I see a single drilling rig in the distance, nothing else. Just shrubby plants and dirt. Lots of big jackrabbits running around. The map shows Jungo and Sulphur, but they’re not really towns, just waypoints. After 40-50 miles, the packed shale surface turns into sharp, rough rocks. I’m getting bounced around and now can’t tolerate going any more than 25 MPH. I’m committed now, it’s 50 + 211 miles to go back to the interstate or keep pushing in the 40 miles to Gerlach on this road of hell. Sucks.

Between the rough road and the Redbull I drank, I have wicked gas and it’s causing me great heartburn. I pulled over a couple of times to relieve myself, and each time I see a vehicle in the distance approaching. I kept expecting a BLM ranger to stop and ask me what the hell I’m doing here, but they turn out to be more burners towing trailers. At some point I come around a bend and see the lights of BRC. By now it’s around 5 AM and I’m still 20 miles out.

The last five miles of this road were the worst. I’m in radio contact with Victoria, letting her know I’m almost there. The road turns into this super packed, deeply washboarded thing. The truck and trailer are getting bounced around super hard now. I downshift into first gear and just idle along at 5 MPH and it’s still rough. It takes me over two hours to go the last 20 miles. I reach pavement sometime before 8 AM and have never been so happy in my life to see asphalt! Takes an hour to get through the gate and to camp.

I’m told I was quite insane for A) driving Jungo Road and B) towing a trailer down it too. Apparently all the BM guides advise people to avoid this road like the plague. I officially certify my truck and the Airstream as a certified configuration, like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Oracle.

2,200+ miles after a 19 hour, 16 hour, and 24 hour day I’m finally there.

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