Deserts and Mountains In One Day

Traveling across the Great Basin, by motorcycle, from Salina, UT to Reno, NV, in one day is quite the trip in many ways. The vaunted Australian Outback has nothing on this part of the country. Small towns are about a hundred miles apart, like islands in a sea of vast openness. Seeing signs warning of No Services for the next 100 miles takes some getting used to, especially when one is surrounded by nothing but dead vegetation, salt pans, dry mountains of dirt and stone, and heat. On a bike especially one really hopes nothing goes wrong.

So I island hopped across the Great American Desert all day yesterday, arriving in the bustling metro area of Reno, NV in early evening. I didn't want anything to do with the big city so I kept going another 40 miles or so to Truckee, CA. I headed south on a state route towards Lake Tahoe to an area where it looked like federal forest land and found a campground where I pitched my tent. Problem was, I was at well over 6,000 ft elevation, and I Froze!!

I had arranged to meet a man who is a relative of two of the women that are the focus of the upcoming book on Sunday at 1:00, so I had Sunday morning to myself. Already awake at the crack of dawn thanks to the cold, I bundled up, found a restaurant open in Truckee where I had several cups of coffee and pancakes, and headed out to explore: Donner Pass, Donner Lake, the Donner museum, Lake Tahoe (north and western areas), Squaw Valley area, and various mountain roads in the area. Just amazing! By 9:00 I had even warmed up a bit, with several layers on. Donner Lake is very pretty - I think prettier than Lake Tahoe, because it can be seen from high above the valley, from Donner Pass itself. There is a large monument to the Donner party at the park / museum but it didn't photograph well since I was looking into the bright sun.
The entire Truckee / Lake Tahoe region was more developed and hectic than I thought it might be, though it was a beautiful July weekend. There is a lot of residential development spread throughout the area. After the incredible openness of the prior several hundred miles the development and hustle & bustle came as a bit of a shock.

I killed about an hour exploring Truckee on foot and then met the gentleman from Sacramento. After lunch and a couple hour conversation we went our separate ways, and I got on I-80 and started the long trip back east. About 2,600 miles on the westward portion.
A long and very hot trip across the NV desert this afternoon got me as far east already as Winnamucca, which like every town and city in this state is filled with casinos.
Much more desert tomorrow across NV and northwestern Utah. Hopefully Salt Lake City and the state library on Tuesday morning. Never been to SLC, so this will be a first.