Day 63 (5/20): Pyramid Lake

Ed must be lonely in his middle-of-nowhere bar.  He wakes me up for coffee and we have breakfast together in his kitchen.

Today’s road, highway US-95, intersects the route of our 2007 NYC-SF bike tour. I even turn off onto Highway 50 and cycle a mile toward Carson City and back to relive a part of our 2007 adventure.

I’m in Reno’s and Carson City’s backyard, so the traffic is heavy and the ride nerve wracking.  Especially annoying is the rumble strip that takes up the whole width of the shoulder.  It forces me to ride in the vehicle lane.  Motorists don’t notice the rumble strip and assume that I’m using their lane frivolously — it infuriates them and they drive by dangerously close, at high speed, horns blaring.  Luckily, past Fernley I’ll take the remote desert highway 447 north of the I-80 corridor where I know the traffic is much lighter.  I’ve driven Hwy. 447 six times before for my three times at Burning Man, and I’m looking forward to cycling it.  It’s scenic and empty.

Masha and I meet in Fernley.  She has rented a car and will catch up to me on the way to Pyramid Lake after buying food and water at the local WalMart.

I leave the bustle of Fernley behind and begin my late-afternoon ride on 447.  To my immense surprise several Greyhound buses pass me by the time I get to Pyramid Lake.  Greyhound?! Here in the desert? Away from major roads?!  A local Indian at the gas station in Nixon explains that the company trains its new drivers here on an 8-hour loop on remote desert roads.

Masha overtakes me in her car, I catch up to her in Nixon (she’s napping), and we ride the last four miles to the southernmost tip of Pyramid Lake together.  She’s having fun by trailing me at 15 mph, big smile on her face.

Pyramid Lake is a favorite post-Burn destination of burners looking to cool off and wash off a week’s worth of desert dust.   It is as big as Lake Tahoe, but strangely without a single tree on the surrounding mountains.  It must be a way point for migrating birds, because flocks or geese and ducks land and take off constantly.  A cacophony of bird voices — or symphony, depending on your perspective — fills the air.

Three olive-green military cargo planes appear on a low-altitude trajectory over the lake as if mimicking the birds.  They glide slowly with quiet, confident engine noise like that of a modern air conditioner.  It looks like they’re about to land on the lake, but they disappear over the north shore.  Soon two of them return, one is missing.

It’s a chilly, windy night, but we are toasty in our tent anchored to the car on one side and piles of rocks on the other.

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