We Left the KOA (kampgrounds of America) in Ely, Nevada early in the morning and headed towards Baker, our last stop in Nevada. Here's the problem with Nevada, we wake up at 4 AM and we can't scrounge together enough layers to keep ourselves warm, but roughly by 7 AM we can't shed enough layers to prevent ourselves from sweating in the hot and extremely dry Nevada desert. Our biking schedule of 4AM- 2PM has been an interesting transition but proves to be the only way to make it to our destination before the heat gets too strong, and our cheddar cheese attains its liquid state. Our travels this day took us through the Great Basin, apparently a vast valley expanding 500 miles in each direction. As always, our bike route took us up mountains and through valleys. Without exception, mountains surrounded us in every direction. The valleys consist of endless, straight roads that allow us to see our destination (excitingly enough the next mountain) but we never seem to get any closer. After many lonely days on the country's loneliest Highway 50, we finally veered off its course and arrived at Baker several miles later. I am sure everyone has heard of Baker, NV, but for those of you who aren't into visiting towns with population circa 80 and unpaved roads, let us clue you in. We found one supermarket, and there was definitely nothing super about it. Imagine your living room, then imagine something smaller, and that might give you a good idea of its size. Now, open your refrigerator and remove roughly half its contents. This may give you a better idea of the number of items available at this store. To complete the picture, our purchase of 2 small watermelons, 4 drinks, and ice cream did some serious damage to their inventory. No more watermelons in Baker, no more ice teas, and only one more selection of ice cream. We must say, however, that the people were very friendly, both of them. We learned from some of our biking companions that 1 of the 2 restaurants in Baker offered free camping provided that you eat there. We have not made many restaurant stops, so this little treat to ourselves worked out nicely. The Electrolux Cafe contained 3 tables and was staffed by a waiter, a cook, and a receptionist, the owner serving all 3 of these roles since in reality he was the only person there. Luckily for us, Anne Marie and Peter (our fellow CT cross country bikers who have followed our same course, with Anne Marie's parents and daughter following in their mini van) entered the very same restaurant (luck we know, considering there are only 2) and offered to pay for our dinner that evening. As always, we accepted their offer and thanked them for their kindness. We are still biking with them, and every day we see their van pass us on our route. Hopefully they keep following us, or vis a versa. All being said and done, Baker was an interesting little town with a nice visitors center and a nice scenic view of the mountains. Staying true to Nevada's theme, the night for camping was very hot and it took some effort to fall asleep.
We were all sound asleep in Baker, when suddenly the alarm goes off and Russ jumps out of his tent to fire up the stove for our morning oatmeal. He really is good at getting us started in the mornings, usually one of the first up and getting things moving. This particular night in Baker, when Russ started to wake everyone up for the morning there were mixed reactions among the group. Sarah decided she would sleep for 5 more minutes since she felt she had at most gotten an hour or so of sleep. Jen, although hesitantly, began to wake up and go through her morning routine. Alex rolled over once and no intention of getting up at that moment. Dan, being the kind sole that he is, starts getting up, however, after several minutes decides to first consult his watch and then his timer. These processes took roughly 3-5 minutes, but after that, Dan timidly spoke from his tent these words of wisdom, "Russ, I looked at my watch and I think it's only 9 PM." Alex's immediate response was, "Thank goodness, I don't think I would have been able to bike a single mile right now." The group let out a collective sigh and convinced Russ to extinguish the stove flame and head back to bed. In Russ' defense, the cell phone and thus alarm service was sketchy at best in Baker. At the real 4AM wakeup time, we woke up and headed for Milford, Utah. 7 miles into the ride, we crossed the Nevada-Utah border, but more excitingly for DMo, we crossed the time zone. We then crossed the usual mountains and valleys. This morning was particularly pretty as in the early hours we passed "the most beautiful cows" as Sarah put it as well as saw much wildlife on and around the road, including rabbits, antelopes, and deer. We were told mountain lions existed, but luckily for us they are shy creatures and don't have much use for bikes, at least not a touring bike. So, now lets talk about Milford, Utah.
Milford was a pleasant surprise to us. Despite yet another windy descent into town (the head winds once again turned downhills into uphills and we may as well have been riding stationary bikes because getting anywhere was difficult). Our frustration at the wind was quickly dissipated as we pulled into the first diner and rewarded our strong ride with a round of ice cream and milk shakes. The diner was called Penny's Diner and immediately came to our liking as the waitress refilled our shakes at no charge. Thank you Penny's Diner. Once again, we ran into Anne Marie, Pete, and family (our CT friends) at the diner and had our daily chat with them. We biked around the cute town of Milford and settled with our tents in the outfield of the town's baseball field. As we quickly learned, baseball games were scheduled for that evening. No worries, however, the kids playing were small and we were out of their batting range. We got creative and headed to the town pool to clean up with some showers and a quick dip in the pool for some of us. The next step was once again the diner for dinner. The same waitress gave us a great deal on our bill and helped us enjoy the evening. With the exception of Daniel, burgers were had at the table, some bigger than others. The burger Russ ordered deserves special mention. The name was Monster Burger and the diner allows you to place any topping you desire on it. Bad news, they were not expecting hungry bikers. Russ ordered the following combination: we start with a .5 lb burger, add jack cheese, add onions and mushrooms, add bacon as well as sunny side up egg, followed by breakfast ham, and mashed hash brown. Just like any other burger, it also included lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Let's just say many napkins were used. Our evening ended with the conclusion of a little league baseball games and a sunset against the beautiful mountains as the backdrop. Dan called it a humble little town, and that it was.
Another early morning ride was scheduled for Cedar City. It was supposed to be a short and easy day. However, after making good time up the mountain, the wind had something else in mind. As usual our last stretch into town, this time about 20 miles, took much longer than it should have. Instead of rolling down into the valley we pedaled to prevent ourselves from being pushed back up the mountain. Cedar City, being one of the larger towns we have seen in a while, had much promise. However, the presence of the Shakespeare Festival put a damper on our hopes of finding hotel accommodations. The camp site in town proved to be no better and competed in price with many of the hotel rooms. Currently, our sleeping situation has not yet been resolved and we are actively working on lodging for the night. Best Western, however, in the meantime, has graciously let us use their laundry and pool services despite not being able to donate a room this evening due to the busy night in Cedar City. We nonetheless appreciate their efforts and help thus far. Perhaps they will finally cave if we set up temporary camp in their lobby. All of us our near exhaustion, but we plan on pushing on one more day before a day off in Bryce Canyon National Park. Tomorrow's lineup includes an 18 mile up hill and gains an additional 4,000 feet of elevation. Our day off can not come soon enough and we will certainly need it after tomorrow.