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Bloody Fantastic Bonneville
Submitted by Tiffany on 27 August, 2012 - 08:19
Leaving Nevada, we crossed the state line into Utah and rounded a bend in the hills, there, spread out below us with the sun glinting off the white surface were salt lakes. Thelma and I had reached the Bonneville Salt Flats, home to many motorbike land speed records and just simply a very cool place. I'd decided that I couldn't possibly leave America without visiting the flats.
We took off across the salt, at a reasonable speed initially as there was still mud under the hard salt crust, I was light enough to walk on it, but heavyweight Thelma was breaking through the salt and wallowing a bit in the clay-like mud underneath. Previous bike experiences on salt flats have taught me to be wary of the mud (Alon if you're reading this...Uyuni in 2003!)
I decided to off-load my bags and make the back end lighter, and then chucked my tank bag off as well, Thelma likes the freedom. I looked around and got my bearings...no one else in sight.
And then I just rode and rode, enjoying the experience of being on the salt
Thelma looks good with a white background
Our shadows were getting long,
It was time to retrieve the bags and find a camp spot, collecting bits of wood along the way.
I looked around, then rode and rode and rode....8 miles later and I realised that I really had not gotten my bearings very well and all the landmarks were so far away that it was deceptive. I could not find the cases and bag at all, I was riding round in circles desperately searching. I rode on, as it got darker taking a bit of comfort from the knowledge that:
a) I had my tent and camping gear in my topbox with me (along with a small bottle of cider), so I didn't need the cases again that night
b) because I had dropped off my tank bag with the cases, that at least had the GPS Spot Locator in it sending out a signal, and if all else failed I would have to go to the road in the morning and find someone to come with me with a smart phone (what a great invention) to track it down my bags via the spot locator on my website.
c) It would be amisung for the rest of the world to picture me searching for my bags (especially my parents!)
Finally as the gloom was deepening I spotted some dark shapes in the distance and raced over
to my joy there they were
as you can see I had literally just paused riding and dropped them off on either side of Thelma
I was so relieved I took a couple of pictures, I quite like the image of these bags abandoned on the salt flat
I parked Thelma with a piece of wood under her side stand as otherwise it would just sink into the salt and mud to a depth of 6-8 inches and be impossible to pick up again.
I decided to get a picture of us together with the full moon in the background - except that in the picture it looks quite small, it's above the mirror a white spot in the sky.
I set up the timer on the camera, then sat myself down...
Whoops, just as I sat down, Thelma started to fall over, the piece of wood had made her too upright and the weight of the heavier case on the left side pulled her over
all amusingly caught on the timer delay of the camera as I rushed to get up
You can see where the rocker cover just embeds into the mud
and you can also see all the salt on her bash plate
Cases off I started the long job of getting her upright, not usually an issue for me, but I had a full tank of petrol and we were in mud, which means that as I started taking Thelma's weight, I would just sink deeper and deeper into the mud the more I tried to lift her. She weighs over four times more than me.
I managed to get the cases underneath her so that she was off her side a bit and the tyres were actually on the ground
and then I had to remove her fuel tank- that made her 22Kgs (49lbs) lighter, which makes a big difference to me. Finally she was upright once more.
Tank back on and we made our way out into the middle of the salt flat, about seven miles from solid land and put up my tent
There is a beautiful solitude about camping in the middle of a desert whether it's salt or sand. This was one of the most amazing nightsI have had in all my travels, I had the full moon and the stars above me and silence all around. I managed to get a camp fire going
and sat sipping my cider enjoying the night...