"Loneliness is and always has been
the central and inevitable experience of every man.
"
Ė Thomas Wolfe

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Cedar City, UT to Odgen, UT: SR-130 North to Minersville, SR-21 West through Milford to Garrison to SR-487 to SR-488 West to Great Basin NP, Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to Wheeler Peak then back to SR-488 East to SR-487 West to US-50/US-6 East through Delta to Elberta to SR-68 North toSR-73 East to Lehi, I-15 North past Salt Lake City to Ogden. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
Iím going north today, eventually. If I were in a car Iíd jump on the interstate and head up past Salt Lake City in a few hours. And how boring that would be. The miles would slip away with nothing to remember them by. No feeling of moving, no sense of travel. Nothing worth thinking about. Locked in a cage, with other cages around you. Time wasted and swept away, like sand slipping through your fingers, blown into a sea of forgotten thoughts. Forgotten moments of your life.

I ride a motorcycle. I want to experience the world. I want to feel the wind against my body as I connect with the road, the sky. I want to remember this lonely emptiness across the desert. I want to feel this when I close my eyes, 50 years away. To be one with the machine, turning and twisting under my control. I am the machine. My legs wrapped around an engine, my arms attached like wings, spread out across the handlebars. My every sense connected to my brain, like lighting bolts of thought pushing out the pistons. I concentrate on everything around me. I relax with a feeling of completeness, focused on the horizon. Over the next hill lies everything. Another breath, another vision. I ride a motorcycle.

This journey is taking me a distance equivalent to riding around the diameter of the Earth. This isnít about getting somewhere. Itís about GOING somewhere. Itís about being there. Right now Iím miles from nowhere. This is what it is all about. This is why Iím here, now.

The Great Basin, covers 15 percent of the lower 48, a vast area of sagebrush covered valleys and narrow mountain ranges. Centered on Nevada but extending into neighboring states, the Great Basin stretches from Californiaís Sierra Nevada Range on the west to the Wasatch Mountains of Utah on the east. There is not just one basin here but many, all separated by mountain ranges running roughly parallel, north to south. The landscape plays and replays a single magnificent theme of alternating basin and range, mountains and valleys.

The emptiness of Nevada seeps into Utah here. As I approach Great Basin National Park, just over the border, I travel on roads as empty as the surrounding desert. From Milford to Garrison there is nothing for 76 miles. Nothing at all. The road is empty as far as the eye can see. I tour the park, and ride up Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet) Drive. The return towards Salt Lake takes me across US-50, the loneliest road in America. From the Nevada border to Hinckley, Utah, the road is barren for 83 miles. Nothing but the Earth and the sky. And me on my motorcycle.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 439.1
Total Miles: 12,566
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 57 Minutes
Average Speed: 73.7 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (UT, NV)
Total States Visited: 28
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 1
NPS Stamp totals: 92 Stamps, 25 States
Weather: Very Hot, Very Dry
Age of worldís oldest living tree, a bristlecone pine in Great Basin NP: 4,950 years

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Start Seeing Motorcycles" Ė bumper sticker on back of a brown Chevy, Utah plates, heading North on I-15 near Salt Lake City.

RANDOM PASSINGS:
I DID IT! At 1:15 PM, Mountain Time, I unofficially became a member of the Iron Butt Association. I got my 92nd NPS Stamp in my 25th State when I inked the Great Basin National Park cancellation stamp against my nicely worn passport. The parks are the easy part. You only need 50. Getting to the 25 states is whatís difficult. My status as an Iron Butt member wonít be officially verified until I send copies of my NPS passport to the Iron Butt Headquarters, but I feel a certain bit of satisfaction knowing Iíve accomplished the challenge.

I wonít be sending in the copies until next June when Iíll have completed my year-long quest. For now, the search for park stamps continues. Thereís a record waiting to be broken, and I think I am just the guy to do it. Iíve only missed one planned stamp so far: The New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. I blew that one because I got there five minutes after closing, on the first day of this trip. Itís not too far from New York, so Iíll make another attempt next spring.

I hit 26 park sites between June 21st and August 9th as I prepared my new motorcycle for this journey. Since August 17th, when this 100 days started, Iíve bagged 62 out of 63 stamps. Plus Iíve gotten 5 trail stamps I hadnít even planned on. Iíd say things are going quite well. My biggest fear in life right now is that Iíll lose my passport. I need to find a Kinkos and a Xerox machine as soon as possible.

 


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