North to Alaska: Day 1

Aug 12, 2011 View Comments by

Day 1 Friday August 5th:
Leaving Los Angeles I headed north on Hwy-14 past Mojave and continued up US-395. The highway out of the LA area isn’t very interesting until you get north of Bishop California. The road begins to climb up the toward Mammoth and June Lakes. Reaching over 5,000 feet the high desert of the Owens Valley gives way to alpine forests and the craggy peeks of the eastern Sierra’s. Near June Lake you reach the summit and begin a descent into the Mono Basin. Mono Lake is part of the great central basin area that includes the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Basically this area is a giant sink with no exit for the water that drains into this area and thus you get large salt lakes. Mono Lake is very salty with interesting features called “tufas”. Weird looking columns that developed as minerals bubbled up from underground springs depositing minerals that created this strange formations. Created when the lake was much higher the reduced water level has exposed these unique formations. If you’re in the eastern Sierra’s and have the opportunity to visit Mono Lake I highly recommend the stop.

Just past Mono Lake I turned east along CA-167 a spectacularly uninteresting road. Straight and surrounded by dry high desert this road doesn’t have a lot to recommend it, nor does its Nevada counterpart, NV-359 which CA-167 becomes. In Hawthorne I picked up US-95 which would be my main companion for the next two days. The plan had been to stop in Fallon but the town wasn’t very interesting and has suffered in these hard economic times. Primarily a military town, the naval “Top Gun” school fly’s out of the NAS there, half the stores along Main Street were vacant. It’s sad to see small town Main Street America disappearing. In any case I wasn’t ready to stop, as it was only about 2 PM, and since I was feeling pretty good decided to continue on. Heading north on 95 I picked up US-80 to Winnemuca Nevada and then got back on US-95 north. As you begin to leave Nevada the terrain starts to change. I crossed into eastern Oregon at McDermitt Nevada, not much more than a gas station and casino.

South east Oregon is the semi-arid part of the state and doesn’t look much different than Nevada but as you continue north the country side becomes more interesting and mountainous. Along the eastern edge of Oregon US-95 enters the Jordan Valley and the small community of Jordan. This is where I finally stopped for the night. Approximately 850 miles from home. It was a lot longer then I had planned but surprisingly I had felt strong and the mild weather had made the ride much more comfortable than I had expected.

The first motel I came too was full, which turned out to be very lucky for me as I found a quaint little B&B, the Basque Inn just around the corner. A restaurant with rooms to let upstairs the Basque Inn wasn’t much on luxury but was long on character and the owners were delightful. My room was a single room with a queen bed and all rooms share a “bath down the hall” so if you need a private bathroom this isn’t for you. However, a shared bath never bother me and besides I was the only guest on this Friday night. If a private bath isn’t too important this is a great little stop in the middle of no where and the room, including a full off-the-menu breakfast, was only $57 so you can’t beat the price. Only 80 miles from Boise my friend, Tim Bernard of Happy-Trails, said he’d recommend it to his buddies looking for a quick and easy get-away from town and I recommend you give it a try if you are in the neighborhood.

Tags: Categories: Destinations

About the author

I have been road riding for many years but am fairly new at the "Adventure" side of our sport. Not a real dirt boy most of my "off-road" experience has been on road racing tracks but mostly I love touring and exploring new places. When I plan a trip I try to stay off freeways much prefering the 2 lane back roads, the road less traveled.