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Erik Trautman

“Everything you can imagine is real.”
-- Pablo Picasso

California Bound

I first rode through California on my 2010 trip to explore the Pacific coast from San Diego to Seattle. This time it felt a lot different. I guess knowing that I'll be moving there in a couple of months really shifted my perspective from just being an explorer to sort of taking ownership of the countryside. It went from "that's really beautiful, I need a picture" to "I'm definitely hiking that, when can I make that happen..?"

The ride into the Sierra Nevada Mountains began in Reno and looped south on 395 through Carson City. Where everything east of Reno was pretty much desert, heading southwest almost immediately revealed a much greener countryside. I was glad to finally get into the Sierras if only to avoid all the casinos, which were absolutely pervasive along the road from Reno to that point.


The Longest Ride Down The Loneliest Road

The first bit of my ride from Irwin, ID to Salt Lake City covered familiar territory (which I usually hate to do) along the Palisade Reservoir but I found virgin road on 89s soon enough. That part of the ride passed little subsistence farms and decrepit farms amidst gently rolling hills. Then the hills gave way to hot flat expanses of parched plains cupped by mountains. Once I turned onto 16, the land again began to rise and I started seeing hints of the jutting red rocks that I'd come to Utah to experience.

More unexpected were the smells of New England that accompanied the birch forest which hugged the side of the mountain as the climb continued. Eventually this gave way to evergreen as the highway twisted along the pass. Forest fires again kept visibility limited until I got into Salt Lake City.