Alamo NV, Baker CA, Bellagio Las Vegas, BMW F800GS, Caliente NV, Cathedral Gorge NV, Currie NV, Ely NV, KLR650, Las Vegas NV, Oak Spring Summit, Pahranagate Lake, Pioche NV, Route 93 Nevada, Thermo-Bob, Wells Chinatown Motel, Wells NV
Canada 2015. Days 1 & 2 (July 30 & 31, 2015). Adrián and I begun another major motorcycle trip. Our fifth trip together. The planning of course started long time ago. Choosing a destination, routes to follow, people and places to visit, lodging, camping, gear, etc. takes quite a bit of work. I love doing all that! This trip to Canada was born out of a fortuitous encounter with a fellow motorcyclist at a hostal in Argentina. That day on February 26, 2014, Adrian and I rode from Purmamarca to Cafayate through La Cornisa and the Quebrada de las Conchas. By the time we reached Cafayate it was impossible to find a place to stay because the city was in the middle of a major celebration. We continued riding south and eventually found a room at Hostal Río de Arena. We noticed a KLR 650 parked next to one of the cottages and I went to take a look. Through the open window of the cottage I saw a guy who I presumed was the owner of the bike. He came out from his room and we begun to chat. Craig “el Canadiense” was traveling solo on the KLR through Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Over dinner (homemade empanadas and wine), Craig told us that he was from Calgary, Alberta. Adrian and I immediately begun to think about a trip to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. We even mentioned to Craig the possibility of coming to see him in Calgary. He seemed very receptive to the idea back then so in our minds we begun to plan a visit to Craig el Canadiense. We had no idea however that in a little over a year we would be ridding north from my home in Claremont to Canada.
Crossing the Mojave Desert from the Los Angeles basin to Las Vegas was hard. It was cloudy and relatively cool when we left Claremont at 10 am. But by the time we reached Baker, CA, the huge thermometer in the middle of town (apparently the World’s tallest thermometer at 134 feet / 41 meters) indicated 108°F (more than 42°C). Thankfully it was partially cloudy so the sun was not shinning on us directly. It was very, very hot though; and we were both melting under the heavy protective motorcycle gear. After Baker, we stop at the California/Nevada border to get some Gatorade at a gas station. The bikes were riding well until we arrived at Las Vegas and hit the slow traffic on the strip. At that point the KLR begun to overheat and to accelerate by itself when idling. We were a bit surprised and worried by the overheating issue because two days earlier we had installed a Thermo-Bob, a cooling system mod for the KLR650 that helps the engine run at a more steady temperature. We had installed a Thermo-Bob before on my KLR in Argentina so we were quite confident on the installation. Luckily the self-acceleration problem was gone a few hours later when we tested the bike on the parking structure of the hotel.
In Vegas we stayed at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. We unpacked the bikes at the check-in parking lot with the help of Mariano, a very nice young Mexican man who was very curious about our trip. That night we tried our luck at the Bellagio and had a very late dinner at Broadway Burger Bar & Grill inside NY-NY. The burgers were excellent. The fries could be better.
The following day we drove from Las Vegas to Wells, NV, following US-Route 93. This is a beautiful road that offers a great alternative to Interstate 15. The road runs mainly through valleys flanked in both sides by mountain ranges. A few miles before reaching the town of Alamo NV, we stop at Pahranagate Lake to look for hydra (the little freshwater critters that I study); we did not find any. Between Alamo and Caliente, NV, US-93 reaches two summits: Pahroc (4,945 ft) and Oak Springs (6,237). Near Oak Springs we saw a sign for a trilobite trail but we did not have time to stop. The area is much greener than I expected with many junipers and pines growing at high elevations. The descent from Oak Spring Summit into the charming town of Caliente is quite beautiful and a lot of fun on a motorcycle.
North of Caliente we visited the spectacular eroded rock formations of Cathedral Gorge State Park (near Panaca, NV) and the pretty little town of Pioche, NV, where we got gas. At Ely, NV, we took a long break to rest and hydrate. We still had 130 miles to Wells and I was really tired. Approximately 40 miles north of Ely, I took a little nap on top of a metal table at a rest area. The remainder of the ride to Wells was lovely. The sun was coming down on the mountains to the west and producing long shadows. The air temperature was perfect. After approximately 8 hours of riding we finally reached our destination, the Wells Chinatown Motel. For dinner we had great Chinese food cooked by the motel’s host. The local beer was also excellent.