Day 11: What we don't know won't hurt us (Susanville to Madeline)

After yesterday, we needed a better day. Just a day with distance; on this trip, when you're not moving, it feels like you're losing space. Where would you be if you had moved? Not in Susanville.

If they're not busy, highways are the safeways: guaranteed to be paved and with a greater chance you'll find towns and/or water along the way. We rode passed the Walmart and out onto 36, toward 395, taking the long way around (not directly passed the state prison, as Google suggested). The first bit was busy and for a while after we merged onto 395, we had little-to-no shoulder. But the high mountain farmland was verdant, the mountains austere in their distance, the birds content with the bugs in the ground.

Our last stop for water for 50-some miles was the Lichtfield general store. It was too early but we had hot dogs for lunch. Moving on, a dead donkey stank by the side of the ride. Pretty much as soon as we summited the first hill, leaving Susanville and the valley behind, we entered high desert. 

And for miles and miles and miles that's all it was: high desert. Kind of like the bits of Mojave you drive through to get to Joshua Tree from the Bay Area. Flat and shrubby, with more life than you'd assume, with grey rocks pouring upwards out of the earth in the distance. 

I love the desert. Despite my best attempts to claim the forest or the mountains as my favorite ecosystem, I feel most at peace in the flat dusty vague sands of the high desert. Mmm. A kind of quiet and balance you don't find elsewhere.

We made it to the rest stop with a fountain of non-potable water just in time, just as we were running low. We filtered and refilled, then pushed on. We didn't think we would make it to Madeline, 72 miles from the Diamond View Motel. In the final few miles, two quarters of a circular rainbow framed the sun. We made it by dusk. Madeline, pop: 22.

We knocked on one of the.. five houses in town and Stan, balding, red-faced, in a ripped orange shirt, answered. He acted like a startled bear: wary, confused, ready to attack. But we're pretty harmless. He warned us we should be carrying shot guns. He let us sleep in the yard across the street from the house, under two big trees. He told us he'd rather live out there, poor, than in New York City, rich.

Rarely have I been graced with a prettier sunset.

Listening to: Steady Rollin' by Two Gallants