We weren't expecting to sit by the side of road in Nevada, waiting for a tow for the BMW. We also weren't expecting to spend the night in Kingman, Arizona - our original destination was St. George, Utah. We've learned that being prepared for the unexpected is key to motorcycle travel, and today was a really good example of being prepared.
To avoid the heat at the end of the day, we started a bit earlier this morning from Tonopah, NV. We headed east out of Tonopah, a one-time silver mining town, on Route 6. The road headed straight for 18 miles through a desolate valley with no trees and very little vegetation until it started twisting and climbing into the Sierra Nevada mountains, then once again was a straight shot through a valley until we reached the next mountainous area. We reached Warm Springs at the intersection of Route 6 and NV 375, which once was a thriving stagecoach stop and now is only empty buildings.
We continued east on Nevada 375, which in 1996 was designated the Extraterrestrial Highway because of many UFO sightings along this road, which is near to Area 51. We didn't see any UFOs, but we did spot small herds of cattle and horses, sometimes far off in the high desert valleys or other times grazing right next to the road. This is open-range area with no fences, and we were lucky to not see cattle standing in the middle of the road.
Once again the road stretched out for miles in front of us as we traveled through the desert valleys, then wound its way up and down the next mountain range.
About half-way down this 98-mile highway is the town of Rachel, which according to its website has a population of 98 humans and an unknown number of aliens. Mike was riding conservatively today, since operating gas stations are far apart. Tonopah is 110 miles from Rachel - which used to have a gas station - and 50 miles from Ash Springs, the closest gas station to town.
There are many signs to watch out for low-flying aircraft, and we spotted large radar installations on some of the highest peaks. Yesterday afternoon and this morning we were riding near several large military aircraft and bombing training and testing facilities.
We spotted bright blue water in the distance, a rarity in this part of the southwest. This is the Key Pittman National Wildlife Preserve, developed to preserve habitat for wildlife and birds.
Until this point, our trip was going as planned. Mike turned right onto Route 93 since the closest gas station was only 5 miles. After we filled up the gas tank, we continued right when actually we should have turned left according to our original route plan. It's a good thing we turned right, because not far down the road the charging indicator light came on, and then systems started shutting down: first the ABS system, the speedometer, and finally the console cluster. Finally everything stopped working, and as we were headed downhill we coasted as far as we could.
We were about 30 miles from Las Vegas on a fairly busy 2-lane highway, and luckily had good cellphone service. Mike called BMWMOA roadside assistance, two people stopped and gave us water, and within an hour we were sitting in the tow truck, headed to the BMW dealer in Las Vegas.
Stu from Stu's Motorcycle Towing has a nifty hydraulic motorcycle platform that lowered flat down to the ground so Mike could roll the BMW onto the platform. Then the platform lifted back into the rear of the truck. Fascinating!
The guys at BMW of Las Vegas were fantastic. They gave us a local suggestion for lunch at BJ's Cocktail Lounge with fantastic service and food, and took the bike right in and within another hour it was repaired and we were on our way. By now it was 2:30pm, the hottest time of day, so we decided to skip St. George and headed instead to Kingman, AZ which is only 3 hours from home. The temperature peaked at 117 degrees before we got out of busy Las Vegas stop-and-go traffic, and settled to a more reasonable yet stifling 105 degrees on Route 93 south to Kingman.
We arrived in Kingman, hot, sweaty, tired, and thankful that Mike has excellent roadside assistance, two friendly travelers stopped to make sure we were OK, Stu was quick and friendly in picking up the motorcycle, and BMW of Las Vegas was so helpful and quick to repair our bike.