(August 31 – Written by Dave)
After a nice break at my Mum’s house in Carson City, today we were back on the road. Thanks for everything Mum! Our bikes are all tuned up. Our routes through the rest of California and much of Mexico are all mapped. Our food supplies are all re-stocked. Our laundry is all clean. Our legs rested. We’re ready for the journey south.
Our goal for the day was to reach Minden, NV, 30 miles south of my Mum’s house, so that we could go back to school. My older sister Pam (Miss Ertel) teaches 3rd grade at Minden Elementary. We rode to her school today where we first gave a talk about Australia to her class – then later we gave a talk about our full trip to entire school (1st through 6th grades).
Both talks were really fun. Miss Ertel’s kids were very attentive and asked some great questions. We had to admit not knowing if a koala has three stomachs (they don’t) and not really being sure which country has the fewest people (it is Vatican City, 451 people). The full school talk was fun but Nancy was not sure about my impromptu attempt to recruit a few kids to ride south with us – even though I offered to send home parental permission forms. As you’d expect, there were a lot hands in the air – heck, what kid wouldn’t want to skip out on the rest of the school year and go for a bike ride?
We rode to school today because it worked out best for Miss Ertel’s schedule but we are not formally leaving until Sunday. So tonight, our bikes are in Minden and we are back at Mum’s house. In fact, our bikes are at Pete’s house as he’ll be riding the next four days with us from Minden – starting this Sunday. Good news for readers who enjoyed Pete’s fine guest blog from the other day (and thanks to my Mum for letting us stay a few more days)
While our ride was short today, it was still pleasant. We rode through Carson City, right along Main/Carson Street where they’ve build a nice new bicycle lane (taking out an entire car lane to do so). From there we rode out through the new Highways 50/395 interchange where again they have built a nice new roadside bike lane. And finally, we rode out Jack’s Valley Road where, yes you guessed it, they’ve build a nice wide shoulder for bikes to ride on. Of course, there were a few narrow bits where all these bicycle facilities don’t quite connect but Nevada drivers were polite and gave us plenty of room when we had to share the road. Full marks to the road planners here for thinking beyond the automobile where they can.
We had morning tea today in Genoa, billed as Nevada’s first town (several other towns claim this as well, so I’m not sure which one really holds the gold ticket). Oldest town or not, there is a lot of history in Genoa. It was a Pony Express stop in 1861 – back when young men rode fast horses to get the mail across the USA. It was also home to Snowshoe Thompson – a Norwegian immigrant who carried the mail over the Sierras two times a month (sometimes in the snow) for some 30 years. Snowshoe had a 90 mile trek to complete his rounds and there was little more than game trails most of the way – 30 years, that guy must have loved his work. Both of these stories on plaques near our tea stop were made more ironic when we got our smart phone out to check our mail – how times have changed when it comes to getting one’s mail delivered.
A great day was topped off with a fabulous send off from Minden Elementary. Miss Ertel roped the entire school into lining up side by side in two massive lines. We loaded up our bikes, donned our helmets and rode through what for sure had to be a sea of future bicycle adventurers. Good luck boys and girls – we hope so see you on the road one day!
Our next update will come Sunday – assuming that we can get out of town. There is a big forest fire south of Minden that has some roads closed. We have a safe route around planned but there is a lot smoke and our quiet, safe route may end up with too much traffic for the small roads if they can’t get the fire under control. We’ve got a few days to go before we have to really worry about it so we are not too stressed. And really, we’ve been pretty lucky to miss all the fires here in the western USA so far this summer. Stay tuned for fire updates as they occur…