South Lake Tahoe: Day 2

I had hoped to sleep in a little bit but I wound up waking up only a half-hour past my usual time.  It ultimately wound up being for the best, since I was heading into Nevada and it warms up quickly there, but I was grumpy at first.  “Sleep, dammit” was definitely one of my checklist items for a child-free bike trip!

The state line border is basically Harrah’s/Harvey’s.  There’s a small sign way up on the traffic light that says “Nevada state line” but it was impossible to photograph due to an ill-placed tree. You’ll just have to believe me that I crossed into Nevada….my first time leaving California on a motorcycle in five years.  I know, I couldn’t believe that either.  Yikes.

 

Heading out of Stateline, I turned east onto NV Highway 207.  What a fun road!  The views of the Carson Valley floor are spectacular and it always surprises me to see Nevada plains so green.

 

 

Once on the valley floor, I headed to the old settlement town of Genoa.  Genoa is one of those awesome ancient Nevada towns where you can’t throw a brick without hitting a historical marker or museum or landmark.  I could have spent all day in Genoa.  It was originally settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1860s and was the site of Nevada’s first newspaper, hotel, court, and bar (er…”thirst parlor”).

 

 

This Pink House was built in 1855 but I found no explanation as to why someone decided it needed to be pink.  Hey, OK!

 

 

After Genoa, Foothill Road changes name to Jacks Valley Road and continues north to Carson City (and so did I).  This was a typical-western-Nevada section of road: straight with valley scrub and brush.  At the southern end, buildings were scarce; farm outcroppings here and there.  The closer I got to Carson City, though, the more cookie-cutter subdivisions popped up.  It was strange to see the brand new, pre-fab houses out there in the desert.

I also got my first good view of what I presume is the Bison Fire.  As of tonight, it has burned over 40 square miles (25,000 acres) and is considered the largest single fire in western Nevada history.  It started from a lightning strike on the Fourth of July, centered on Mt Siegel, about 25 miles southeast of Genoa.

 

 

I stopped briefly in Carson City to photograph the state capital for the Equinox to Equinox Rally (5 points).  I think the western states’ capitals should be worth more — definitely an east coast bias to this game! 😉  From my house, the five closest state capitals are 108 miles (CA), 240 miles (NV), 612 miles (OR), 661 miles (ID), and 734 miles (AZ) away.  It amuses me that those would be worth the same number of points as five historical markers that I could find within a couple of miles.  But I digress!

 

 

A family at the capital was very stealthily trying to get me into their pictures.  I clearly amused them by driving up onto the sidewalk.  At one point, they were so obvious about it that I called out asking if they wanted me to move…the dad laughed and said, no, he wanted me to stay.  So I guess I’m photobombing some nice family’s vacation pictures.

From Carson City, I hopped on Highway 50 east.  Lots of historical markers there (neener neener, state capitals!).  Old mining equipment litters the landscape.  It literally looks like people just left everything one day and let it all fall to ruin.

 

 

Riding through Devil’s Gate, the boundary between Storey and Lyon counties:

 

 

Silver City, which can’t really tell if it wants to lay down and die as a ghost town or not:

 

 

The Gold Hill Hotel is Nevada’s oldest operating hotel; by all accounts, it’s quite a nice place to stay and the restaurant is supposed to be good.  There’s even a haunted room if you’re into that.

Shortly thereafter, I pulled into Virginia City for lunch.  I absolutely adore Virginia City.  It’s historical and terribly kitschy; what more could I ask for?  I ate lunch at the Sawdust Restaurant; my sandwich was pretty good and the waitress was  friendly.  A family at the next table had a daughter around Kira’s age and I kept staring because I really liked her dress.  I think the mom thought I was creeping; there needs to be a “I’m a mom, too; just scoping out your kid’s gear” gang sign to flash in these situations.

 

 

After eating, I walked up and down the main drag, taking tons of photos and enjoying the day.

 

 

(You can’t take me anywhere)

 

 

There were tons of motorcycles in Virginia City, not surprisingly, most of them were Harleys.  I parked the Ninjette outside the Bonanza Casino and got to chatting with the guy working the door there; he had the blue Harley two bikes down from mine.  He was a nice guy and had some good stories about riding in the Nevada desert with various biker “clubs”.  He was wearing a red E Clampus Vitus shirt and we nerded out about Clampers stuff for a few minutes.

 

 

Speaking of Clampers, the local E Clampus Vitus chapter is named after Julia Bulette, a popular prostitute and madam in Virginia City who was murdered in 1867.  See?  History is fun.

 

 

Just outside of Virginia City, I stopped at the Comstock Lode historical marker, commemorating the first major silver discovery in the US.   The Keystone Head Frame here was in use in Gold Hill (back between Carson City and Virginia City), primarily in the 1930s.

 

 

Highway 341 heading north out of Virginia City is also known as Geiger Grade Road, a well-traveled toll road back in its day that connected the Comstock Lode with the Reno area.  Unfortunately the Bison Fire made things a bit hazy today and the usually fantastic scenery was only really good.

 

 

I had a bit of excitement coming down Geiger Grade Road; as anyone who’s ever ridden with me can confirm, I am not the world’s fastest rider.  Thus, I really keep an eye on my mirrors in twisty roads so that I can pull over for quicker traffic.  As I was coming down Geiger Grade,  there was a mail truck behind me.  The driver was obviously local so I kept checking to see if he was gaining on me; he wasn’t, really.  But the point was that I was looking.

As the road leveled off, I noticed a pedestrian walking along the shoulder on my side of the road.   I had been riding in the middle of my lane; I started to move to the lefthand side of the lane to give him more space and was utterly shocked out of my mind to find a motorcycle there RIGHT NEXT TO ME IN MY LANE ON THE DOUBLE YELLOW.  I was so incredibly pissed.  I had no idea this guy was there.  I had no idea he was even behind me (or, more accurately, behind the mail truck).  Seriously, I look in my mirrors.  At the most very conservative estimate, he was behind me for maybe 5 seconds before he decided to pass me IN MY LANE ON THE DOUBLE YELLOW.  More likely, based on my watching him in traffic up ahead, he didn’t even lag behind me at all but just went around the mail truck, came up on me, and passed me.

We ended up at a red light together and I told him, “hey, I came pretty close to hitting you there” and explained about the pedestrian.  He scoffed cheerfully and reassured me that we weren’t that close.  I firmly reiterated that I had had no idea that he was there and that I would have appreciated the chance to see him in my mirrors and pull to the side of the lane.  We were both good-natured about the exchange and I hope that he actually heard what I was saying.  He had a passenger (his wife, presumably) with very little gear on, as well, and I can’t imagine he would have been too happy had I clipped his bike and sent all of us sprawling down the highway.  And no, he wasn’t on a Harley.

OK, that was a really long anecdote.  I was pissed about it for miles, though, and finally had to forcibly turn my thoughts elsewhere once I got onto Mt Rose Highway.  It was too gorgeous a road to be focused on some random asshole.

 

 

Mt Rose highway twists and winds its way back down towards Lake Tahoe, giving excellent views of North America’s largest alpine lake.

 

 

A very cheerful group at the vista point took this picture of me, proving that I actually attended my own trip.  They were very excited to see my San Jose Sharks license plate frame (one of the group was from San Jose) and one of the ladies happily told me that I was the first woman she’d ever seen riding a motorcycle.  I find that questionable, since she said she was from Southern California, but I smiled and nodded.

 

 

Blah blah Lake Tahoe gorgeous blah.  Seriously, even I’m getting bored with this ride report.  Is anyone even still reading this?

 

 

California at least had the common courtesy to put their state sign on a traffic light that wasn’t hidden by a tree.

 

 

After a shower and some down time, I treated myself to sushi at Naked Fish.  They had a great roll called the Southwest: roasted red peppers, jalapeno, and avocado, topped with ebi and spicy sauce.  I love finding sushi that I can eat.

 

 

All of the staff appeared to be displaced-by-summer ski bums, which amused me greatly.

Finally, I ended the day with a pedicure at Perfectly Polished nail spa.  Verily, my life is difficult and I really rough it on these trips.

 

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9 Responses to South Lake Tahoe: Day 2

  1. Different Kim says:

    This write up was so long that I did 3 sets of squats in between reading segments of it. 😉 Seriously, sounds like a great day! I’m so glad you’ve had a chance to get away.

  2. Sherry says:

    Beautiful..but what? U turned back to south tahoe instead of heading on around toward truckee and back down the west shore? I dunno…

  3. Kathy says:

    Thanks for the history lesson! Beautiful lake.

  4. Sandi says:

    I’ve been to VA City (loved it!) once on a side trip from Reno. I remember the road to get there, and would love to ride that on my motorcycle. I love how you “rough it” on your trips. Makes perfect sense to me! 🙂

  5. Kim says:

    Read every word and loved it. The weather looks gorgeous and supplied me the sunshine and blue skies that have been sorely missing here in CT the past few days! Stay safe and ride on!

  6. Mike says:

    Oh man, do I have some stories about unwittingly sharing my lane with another random asshole biker! But I haven’t had it happen on a road like Geiger Grade. Yikes!

    My worst example of something like that (and this one freaked me out to the point that I stayed off the bike for months afterward) was riding on a 2 lane stretch of US 395 south of Walker, CA. A slower car was in front, I was second, and a huge white Dodge diesel dual-axle pickup was third. I was waiting for a clear sight line to pass, and finally got it.

    Before starting the pass, I had checked my mirror and rolled the throttle a bit (it was a Sportster…it’s takes a bit to add more speed when you’re already going 60). The time from checking my mirror to starting the pass was about 3 seconds. The truck was close to me, but was in his lane, and didn’t look as though he was checking for a passing opportunity.

    As I pulled out to pass the slow car, something impeded my progress and I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and what do I see right next to me? The big Dodge diesel dually attempting to pass us both!

    I wasn’t crawling at this point either – pushing 75. I rolled off the throttle and dove back into my lane, screaming obscenities at the guy. It wasn’t until after I got home that I noticed the white paint on my left saddlebag. We’d actually bumped at 75mph in the wrong lane of a U.S. highway.

    It was only at that point that I got physically sick when I realized how lucky I was that it didn’t all go sideways on me.

    Motorcycling would be great if only we could remove all the nutjobs from the pavement. 😉

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