Sunday, May 18, 2014

Straight roads through the high desert on our BMW motorcycle

We spent yesterday in Boise, Idaho where I ran the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon and then we explored the downtown area. We discovered that one of the the largest populations of people with Basque heritage live in and around Boise. The Basque Block is a part of the vibrant downtown with restaurants and a museum, and we sat outside at Bar Gernika and watched people biking and walking on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

Today we started back home, riding southeast on Interstate 84 for about 80 miles before turning off onto US Route 30. The day was cloudy, overcast, windy and cooler than our trip north, and we both wore part or all of our raingear for warmth at various times during the day. We loved having the Viking Cruise Roll Bag with the large zippered top opening for easy access to store our raingear when the weather warmed up, and then to take the raingear back out when the skies darkened and a cold wind picked up.

This part of US 30 is the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway that runs through the Snake River Canyon. We rode through bright green irrigated fields, crossed the Snake River, saw waterfalls spilling from the top of high bluffs, and watched windmills turning in the stiff wind. There are several fish hatcheries in this area that raise 70% of the trout produced in the United States.

This part of Idaho is completely different than anything we've seen so far, with towns every 10-20 miles, rivers and creeks, and leafy green trees. When we're on a motorcycle we notice the different smells, and today I was thrilled to smell and see lilac bushes, one of my favorite signs of Spring when we lived in Vermont.

We turned south onto US Route 93 for the rest of our 380 mile trip today, and as soon as we crossed into Nevada at Jackpot - an apt name for a town with several casinos - the landscape changed into the familiar high desert mountains, canyons and bluffs covered with rocks and sagebrush.

US Route 93 splits the Great Basin that covers most of Nevada and part of Utah. We saw snow-peaked mountains to the East and West, and the traffic thinned to tractor-trailers hauling freight and cattle, local pick-up trucks, and a few other motorcycles. Towns are much farther apart, with one sign warning that the next services were 115 miles away.

Our stop for tonight is Ely, where we ate lunch in the Hotel Nevada on our trip north three days ago. Ely was founded as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express, and later became a booming copper mining town. We ate dinner in the Silver State Restaurant and chatted with the friendly staff about the town and a grandson riding the PBR rodeo circuit out of Michigan.

Tomorrow our plan is to continue south on Route 93, riding around the outskirts of Las Vegas and finishing the day in Kingman, AZ. We're expecting sunnier skies with the same windy conditions, looking forward to more adventures on the BMW.


  1. Hope it warmed up for you a little bit today. I am glad you are seeing such beautiful countryside though.

  2. Such a pretty part of the country and such varied landscape. Hope you did well in the Idaho Potato. Some of my crazy running friends on Facebook ran that race.