May 25: Hello, Patagonia!

It rained really hard most of the night, so the decision to pack it up and move west and try to get out of the storm was looking like a good one.  We had a reasonably leisurely morning; I had to do some work. Ugh.

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We got on the road about 10 and were expecting it to be about a 5 ½ hour drive.  We dumped our gray water at a rest stop dump and then stopped in Battle Mountain, NV to try to solve the leaking overflow valve for good. We also had to mail in a “hold mail” request because the USPS wouldn’t do it for us online since Silverthorne is too dinky, but apparently also too big to do it over the phone. Sigh. We gassed up, found a hardware store and an appropriate solution for the problem, got some milk and eggs from the store next, went to the post office and Susanne mailed in the form. The guy at the post office also had the same eye rolling reaction to the fact that we couldn’t do it online.

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I had a conference call I had to take so I was cruising down I-80 talking about abstracts for the next National Conference. We stopped in Winnemucca to gas up and we sat there while I was on the call for quite awhile. It turned into a 2.5 hour call. Finally, we just headed out. I lost cell service right away, so the call ended for me. The road was muddy and dirty and there was a “construction” sign, so we figured it was temporary. After about 20 miles or so, it became increasingly evident that this “State Highway” was dirt the whole way. It cut from Winnemucca to Gerlach and goes right by the playa where they hold Burning Man.

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It was generally smooth and I was able to do about 40 MPH, but then Susanne informed me the dirt road part was about 90 miles. Whoa.  It was like reliving Patagonia. Especially because the road got a bit worse as we went along. Definitely not the Class 5 washboards that we had in Patagonia, but ugh, towing a trailer for 100 miles on dirt wasn’t in the plan. Susanne was not amused.

Well, I have to be honest, I was not amused either. This was supposed to be “glamping,” not the mind-altering, soul-rattling experience we had in Patagonia. This was about lattes and good food.

The road was quite muddy in places and our brand new trailer quickly became a big brown turd stuck to the back of my truck.  I mean, the mud was an inch thick on it. Ugh. I think we can quit calling it our “new” trailer now.

Both Susanne and I became significantly less amused at about miles 70 when we got a flat on the truck.

Being a new truck, we had to pull out the manual and figure out how to change the tire. However, it is a bit of a pain to change the tire when you are towing a trailer because you have to unhitch the trailer first. And remember, this was not a trailer anymore, it was a big brown turd of mud.  And for that matter, so was the truck.

Amazingly, we managed to change the tire in reasonably good spirits. A few whines, and gripes, but we mostly worked the problem. And got very dirty. The dogs where just hanging out wondering what was going on. One truck came by and didn’t even stop. Really? Middle of freakin’ nowhere and you don’t stop and ask “everything ok?” Wow.  The truck blew by and Susanne let go of the dog’s collars and fraction too early and off they went chasing the non-good Samaritan down the road.  Ugh. Dumbasses. Fortunately they came back relatively quickly and didn’t get particularly close to the truck.

The road went on forever. And it kept getting worse. From 45 mph down to 20 mph. I tried to keep my attitude in place, but what choice did I have.  At about 5:30 pm we finally hit the pavement. Whew. I was exhausted. We drove into Gerlach and went to the gas station and filled up. $3.35/gallon. $2.35/gallon in Winnemucca. We are talking middle of nowhere. Although, the Burning Man Headquarters are here and they even have an office. Hmmmm, how the concept has changed.

AnyWho, I asked the guy at the gas station if he could fix a flat and he groaned. He told me he had a service to go to for someone who just died. I said “no worries, my tire can wait until tomorrow.” I did appreciate that he even considered it, but holy cow, go to your service.

We drove out the 16 miles to the reservoir. I thought there was a reasonable chance we would have it to ourselves. We pulled off the road and head toward the dam where there was a good camp area. There were 6 RV’s there. Gak! I had seen on Google Earth that there was another spot on the north side of the reservoir so we went to check that out. There was a gate. Bummer. Then I realized it wasn’t locked. There was a big sign about what the rules are if you camp here, so clearly it was a frequently used camping location. Susanne was nervous about the road, which was somewhat rutted, so we walked in and checked it out. She was still nervous about the road; I said “no problemo.” She was nervous about the road anyway. We drove slowly in and made it to a very nice spot, managed to get the trailer level, although this is by far our least naturally level spot so far.

The whole pack was a bit wiped out. We had to try and do a minimal wash on the trailer, just so we could get into it. We had some salami and cheese and good bottle of Unti. Life was looking up. Ringo headed for the bed. Smart dog.

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