DAY 102 - STORMS WITHOUT SHELTER
Day 102 - Great Basin, Nevada - 3470 km
Nevada welcomes me with grand gestures that have challenged my excitement and fears in a new way: thunderstorms. It starts sunny at noon in Benton, CA, where I take a break for lunch. It’s a little town along the Highway with one gas station, diner and grocery, all in one corner building. A stream of water runs through town which is the reason why a few people still live here, after the silver and gold mines were exhausted around 1900. Anywhere around there is no water, the only reason why Nevada is so sparsely populated.
I leave town with 6 liters of water on my bike. Good for two days. Tonopah, the next town, is 130 km ahead and in between the two towns there will be no sign of civilisation other than pavement, traffic signs with bullet holes, and a small sign saying ‘Welcome to Nevada’. The roads are built as straight as possible and continue often for 20 km. When the landscape demands it, a short bend follows and then another straight line of pavement disappears in the horizon. Over the hill, through the stretched out valley and then up again to the next hill. These are the iconic desert highways of Nevada. From Benton the goes up in a very low grade. In a car you wouldn’t even notice it, but on the bike you feel you’re a little slower than usual.
Nevada is the driest state in the US, but today that’s not the case. A few hours after I’ve left Benton, the skies behind me turn into a threatening vortex of clouds. The view reaches so far back through the valley that I can see in which direction the storm is moving. A thick haze of rain washes over the land with strong gusts of wind. Luckily it’s coming from behind me so the storm pushes me forward, almost without pedalling. Eventually I’m in the middle of it. All the dust from California and Oregon gets washed off the bike. The last day of rain was in Washington during the beginning of my journey. As intense as it comes, as fast it blows over again and the sun shines through. I undress at a deserted gas station and change to dry clothes. Quite a refreshing welcome.