August 7, 2005 – Part I
It’s 5 a.m. — still dark — when I fire up Ghost Dancing and head down the driveway and out onto the highway. Eventually I’ll connect with 395 northbound, but for now it’s an easy start in the coolest part of the day, which isn’t saying much given that it’s 85 degrees.
I stop for gas just after sunup at Kramer’s Corner, a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. There are lots of places like this in North America, and I’ve seen a lot of them. One or two gas stations on each corner, an attendant half asleep. A junkyard across the street. Cars parked with drivers asleep at the wheel and with their heads rolled back or pushed up against the door glass.
I’m certain that so far my ride has been better than their drive.
I gas up, check the oil, throw a leg over, fire up and turn right.
395 can be a dangerous road. It’s two-lane blacktop, full of dips and plenty of no passing zones, but that doesn’t stop a lot of drivers from crossing their fingers and pulling out to pass on blind spots and double-line no-passing zones. I wonder what they think. Are they half asleep, or just plain stupid. Certainly they’re not psychic, because no one knows what’s around the corner or down in the dip ahead coming their way on the opposite side of the road. It could be anything from a Volkswagon to a semi.
I find myself crowding the yellow line every time someone in front of me passes in a no-passing zone, and I try to see what’s coming up ahead. I find I’m always disappointed though — no head-on meetings where no one has time to take any notes.
I’m not really disappointed, of course, for who among us would actually want to witness the highway carnage of a head-on wreck? Not only that, but the delay would be unpredictable, and I want to get farther north before dark. Yes, call me cold, but I’m hoping it’s gonna be a lot cooler up north.
It doesn’t cool farther north though. It stays just as hot, and I’m forced to take a lot of breaks and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. I have to stay covered up too, because bare arms and shoulders in this heat would help to dehydrate me. Lots of newbie bikers don’t realize that, and when I see them uncovered, sunburned and tired, I know why. They just don’t get it. You can tell an old road warrior by his clothes. Chances are he’s covered up in the sun.
The sign says another town up ahead, this one called Bridgeport and nowhere near Connecticut. Carson City and Reno lie north within striking distance, but it’s time for gas, and a long, tall, cool drink.
There’s a bar in the center of town — center being relative — since Bridgeport wouldn’t exactly be described as populous. The bar isn’t rocking either, which gives me a chance to talk to the pretty girl behind the bar. She’s a fountain of knowledge regarding the highway north (lots of construction and delays) and Reno (no rooms available there due to a late summer festival known as Hot August Nights.) Okay. She’s cute. Why not stay here?
I got a room, hit the sack for a couple of hours, and wake up at 5:30 in the morning.
So much for all those stories of bikers and bar girls on this day.