2011 Memorial Day Ride Postmortem

Well, it’s a wrap. 2944 fantastic miles in 13 days.

Here’s the map:

In summary, Jeff and I compiled a few of our favorites from this trip:


  • Best Meal: Jake’s in Portland – Horseradish Encrusted Salmon (Jeff says it may be the best piece of salmon he’s had in his life.)
  • Best Day Riding: Day 9 – Baker City to Bend, OR
  • Most Memorable Experience: Day 3: Ely, NV – From the ER room to the old western saloons to the shuffleboard. The place is stuck in a time warp!
  • Best Hotel: The bungalow at MacMinimian Brother’s Old St. Francis School.
  • Missing Gear: The phone charger on the BMW that didn’t work even after paying to have it fixed before we left.


  • Best Meal: Dinner in Madison Camp Yellowstone on Day 7. Jeff invented the steak with caramelized onion potatoes & french onion dip.
  • Best Day Riding: Day 9 – Baker City to Bend, OR
  • Most Memoriable experience: Buffalo joining us for breakfast on Day 8 in Yellowstone.
  • Best Hotel: Hotel Nevada in Ely. For the same reasons as Jeff: the place was in a time warp.
  • Missing Gear: A better camp seat. Mine malfunctioned on day one.

As always, its hard to tell what the real impact of such a trip will be. But I’m relaxed, in a creative state of mind, and ready to get back to work.

Until the next time that I’m back out on the highway…

Day 3: Ely, NV

Between Jeff’s trip to the hospital to get diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right hand, and winds gusting up to 60 mph, events conspired to keep us in Ely today. And that is pronounced ‘e-lee.’ I know this because I was corrected more than once. Bartenders are so helpful.


Jeff is now in a cast (when he isn’t riding), so in a over-sensitive show of solidarity, I agreed to play shuffleboard left-handed too. He beat me 5 out of 5. I can think of a lot of conclusions to come to over that, but the only one that really makes sense is that I suck at shuffleboard.

The hotel is filled with stuffed dead animals and motorcycles. The software I brought along for this trip doesn’t work with RAW files, so other than the one below, I’ll have to upload them when I’m back home. The photos of dead animals will just have to wait.

This beauty hangs over the elevator:


The good news is that at least we know what’s wrong with Jeff’s hand and I did the laundry. Tomorrow we gotta move.

Miles today: 0

Day 2: Walker Lake, NV to Ely, NV

Apparently the critters like Jeff. Or they like his food in the tent. He spent most of the night awake with something circling his tent scratching and trying to get in. I left all my food in the saddlebags and slept fine.

We were up early, and since I always carry coffee we were able to break camp at a leisurely pace. (Without the coffee, we’d of been out of there in 30 minutes.) Then to Hawthorne for breakfast, a cell signal, and planning the day. Our signature phrase for this trip so far is “So, where we going?”

Seeing “The Extraterrestrial Highway” on the map was like waiving a red flag at a bull to both of us, so Hwy 95 to Hwy 6 was the route we chose.


We stopped for a couple of photo ops before it got windy. And windy it did get. Not as bad as my brush with the Santa Anna winds in October of ’09, but bad enough that it required a lot of focus and speed to stay in our lane.

By the time we got to Tonopah, we were exhausted. McDonalds was the only place in town we could eat and still keep an eye on the bikes.

One of the challenges with traveling with someone with a different bike, is that one of you is bound to have a smaller gas tank. And in this case it is me. My tank is just over 4.5 gallons and with the new pipes and fully loaded, I should have a range of about 180 miles. However, the Vulcan shows empty at around 150, so I usually gas up every 120 – 130 miles. It doesn’t pose a problem since I prefer to stop and stretch every two hours or so anyway.

Well, it doesn’t pose a problem till there are no gas stations. Sixty miles out Hwy 6 we went to turn onto our Extraterrestrial Highway (Hwy 375 at Warm Springs) and there is a sign that reads: No services next 111 miles.

The wind is still blowing us all over the road and between not knowing what that is doing to my mileage and the fact it puts me at the outer edge of my safety margins, we decided to continue on up Hwy 6 toward Ely. The intention was to stop at the first gas station, top-off, and buy a small gas container so we could turn around and continue our original plan.

Battling the wind, the post lunch sleepiness factor, and the “where in the heck is the next gas station” factor, we stopped to eat a caffeine laced Clif Bar. I think I’ll call this shot “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Touring”


As it turned out, the next town with a gas station on the way to Ely, was, well, Ely. I ran the last twenty miles with the gas gauge on empty and the last fifteen with the low fuel warning light blinking at me. As it turns out, at least I know I can go 175 miles on a full tank. If I have to.

It was early, but given our day and how far it was to the next place, we found a nice little historic hotel that caters to bikers: Hotel Nevada. When it opened in 1929, it was the tallest building in the state – a whopping six stories. The place is full of stuffed mountain lions, elk, rattlesnakes, and birds. I’ll have to take some photos in the morning before we leave.

Looks like I’ll have plenty of time. Jeff thinks he broke his finger just before he left. It’s swollen up about half again the size it should be and is hurting pretty severely by the look on his face. So his first stop tomorrow is the hospital.

Today’s Route: 285 Miles