When the hail came slamming down at 1am, I knew I would be dueling with the wind today. At one point it was so strong that I actually had to peddle hard downhill just to keep going forward!
The first 25 miles of my day included climbing over 3 summits on this crazy mountain range in the middle of the desert. The next 45 miles were spent looking for dead things on the road (only 3!), live things in the desert (nothing!), interesting signs (only the petroglyphs), and people (only 3 other cyclists). Not one single town or house between Austin and Eureka. Not even a change in scenery today!
In the midst of the monotony, I solved Nevada’s financial woes. I concluded that Nevada could rid itself of any debt simply by leasing its land to other states as alternative landfill. Nobody in Nevada would ever notice if garbage suddenly appeared in the desert because nobody ever comes out here!
We met 3 other cyclists today (Matt, Tony, and Emily) heading to DC. They’re camping (in the hail!) and they quickly jumped on our invitation to put their panniers and loads of camping gear in the RV for the hill climbs today.
For 70 miles, we found only 1 sign: “Hickson Petroglyphs Recreation Area and Interpretive Site.” To break up the monotony, we turned and went in search of petroglyphs (aka “rock engravings”). (Historical Note: Petroglyphs in this area date back to 11,000-12,000 years ago.) According to legend, petroglyphs were used for magical purposes to ensure prosperous hunting (see picture of a petroglyph below). Then again, the area is appropriately dubbed an “interpretive site,” and so my interpretation is that prehistoric people were making their mark in the desert no different than the Rock Graffiti and the Shoe Tree (See Days 8 and 9 blogs for pictures of these.)
We couldn’t help but meet Patsy. She was accompanied by a slobbering, lovable Old English Mastiff named Chester, who weighs 230 pounds. Patsy trained Chester to be a therapy dog through Love on a Leash. We interviewed Patsy for the documentary to discover what she loves about her job. Without a doubt it is the difference she makes for people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools when she brings Chester for a therapy visit.
After 69 miles, I crested the hill and discovered the sweet town of Eureka, with its self-proclaimed title “Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road in America.” An old mining town like Austin, it too had a population in the 1870s of 10,000 people (and 100 saloons!). Today it has only 650 people, but they are friendly, and interestingly, they are still mining.
- Life size statue of a big horn sheep made entirely out of horseshoes
- Chester the English Mastiff – the largest dog I’ve ever seen
- The Wildlife Museum built in 1887 located inside Eureka’s only grocery store, Raine’s Market (can you say, “lots of road kill”)
Day 10 Stats
Total mileage: 609.62
Total ascent: 3,132 feet
Total interviews: 14
Road kill count: 65
Destination for Day 11: Ely, NV (population 4,255)