Everyone was up early for breakfast, lots of laughs and discussions of what to do that day. The day was cool for those of us accustom to the desert heat with a few clouds, in other words, darn near perfect. A couple of people headed to Ely, NV, a scenic 60 miles or so away from Baker. Others headed into the Great Basin National Park in a couple groups depending upon what areas of the park they wanted to explore. But first, Pigpen had to pull out right in front of the only police officer for 50 miles. Funny how careless we can be when driving a cage, Pigpen said “I didn't even see him”. Fortunately, the officer let him go without a ticket and only a very stern warning.
We visited Lehman Caves inside the park. Discovery of the caves is attributed to Absalom Lehman in 1885 although there are tales that indicate Ben, Absalom’s brother was the discoverer. Several tales, some of which are quite sensational, tell the story of the caves, so we may never know the actual truth. However, it is well documented that both brothers were among the initial party to enter the caves. Lehman Caves was declared a national monument in January 1922 by President Warren Harding.
Tours of the caves are available and definitely worth the time. Be sure to take a jacket as it is a bit chilly. The rangers do a fabulous job of conducting the tour and sharing some of the stories surrounding the caves. The rock formations inside the caves are breathtaking. Following our tour of the caves, we had lunch at the visitor center where we were joined by the riders that made the trip to Ely.
After finishing lunch and agreeing to meet later at the archaeological dig outside of Baker, some people headed back to the Silver Jack while some of us headed to Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. The winding two lane road follows the South Snake Range as it takes you up 10,000 feet to Wheeler Peak. The scenery on the ride up the mountain to the peak is spectacular, when arriving at the top of the peak you feel as if you are standing at the top of the world. When coming down the mountain, keep an eye out to the sides of the road for the art displayed by the local residents.
From the coolness and sprinkling rain of the mountain we went to the desert floor of the basin, where we stopped at the Baker Fremont Indian Archaeological Site. A couple other Motor Maids met us there to tour the ruins of this ancient Native American village. As we walked the path which was trod so many thousands of years ago by our ancestors it was truly awe inspiring. To think, they survived, thrived even, out on that desert, I just can’t imagine.
After leaving the archaeological site we headed back to the Silver Jack Inn to meet with all the other Motor Maids and a spouse for dinner at the Lectrolux Café. Hanging out on the front porch, visiting with the other guests at the inn, sharing tales of the day all filled the air with laughter. By the time we had all finished dinner and desert for some, eyelids were hanging heavy as we all drifted off to bed.
Our last morning at the Silver Jack Inn, the temperature is a bit chilly and damp. We gathered around for coffee and breakfast to decide our plans for the day. Theresa and Dave decide to head toward Utah and take an extra day or two to return to Tucson. The rest of us, five Motor Maids and one husband (in a truck and trailer) decide that we will head towards Ely, then take Hwy 318 to Hwy 375 (aka Extraterrestrial Highway) make a quick run out to Area 51 for lunch, back to Alamo for gas then back to Vegas.
With full bellies we bid farewell to the Silver Jack Inn and our Tucson bound friends and headed to Ely at around 7:30 AM. It was cool and damp as we saddled up, silly us, we thought as the sun rose higher in the sky the temperature would rise and the dampness burn off. Instead, as we climbed the highway into Ely we had to stop to put on warmer clothes and rain gear. After gassing up in Ely we rode the next ~125 miles mostly wet and cold, one of the joys of motorcycling, right?
Before heading off to Area 51 and lunch we went to Alamo for gas and a quick break to shed rain gear and some layers. At this point, Pigpen decided to head straight to Vegas since he still needed to get Clara’s bike to California for repairs. Heading back towards Extraterrestrial Highway and Area 51, it’s now five Motor Maids on the road. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having the husbands, boyfriends and sons around but I also really enjoy it when it’s just us gals.
Rachel, NV is about 40 miles off Hwy 318 and there is NOTHING between the two, so if you are going that way, make sure you have enough gas to get there and back. It is a well maintained two lane highway, mostly straight but there were a couple areas with some small hills and nice sweeping curves and we had very little traffic. Once we arrived in Rachel, we stopped at the Little A’Le’Inn for lunch and some really great photo ops. Unfortunately we didn't see any UFO’s or extraterrestrials but now I can say “I’ve been to Area 51.”
On our way back down the Extraterrestrial Hwy we ran into a little more rain, or I guess I should say SOME of us ran into a little more rain, other folk just rode between them. Gas up again in Alamo and head back just a head of rush hour. Although we did have to rush Clara back to Eagle Riders to return the bike she rented. Since her bike was broke down & out of town and she didn’t want to miss all the fun, she went above and beyond by renting a bike. Showers to get rid of the road grime, yummy Chinese food, a comfy bed and that’s all she wrote……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
After a good night’s sleep, being a little lazy in the morning we hit the road home to Glendale. Total door to door - 1347 miles, thousands of laughs and smiles. Can’t wait until next time!