The only thing about riding a bike from Portland to Phoenix is that in-between there is something called... NEVADA.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Tale of Two Lake Shores

- Part 1: The Pitted Hub, The Yogurt Bar, and The Midnight Hotsprings.

Expecting a treacherous obstacle course escape from Las Vegas we were surprised to find clear skies and clear bike lanes. We summoned enough energy to attend to a gritty hub on Laura's front wheel. Could we find a shop that would let us use their tools? A quick search found a few bike shops on the route out. Denied by the first, we continued to JT's Bicycles in Henderson. Thank you JT for trusting us with your cone wrenches!

Turns out the cones on the hub were just pitted and no bearings destroyed. Repacked with fresh grease we headed over to the Frozen Yogurt Bar next door for some fuel. There we indulged in protein-sugar slurry and met Haleigh, with whom we reminisced of Oregon. The need for real food hit and we retired to the sunshine with curry-tofu-bean-kimchi tacos.

On a whim, Dillion stopped by to visit his sister at the yogurt bar. We swapped stories of Oregon and our journey. Next thing we knew he had tantalized our taste for hotsprings with Goldstrike Canyon, a mile before Hoover Dam. Dillion jumped at the chance to share this magical spot with fellow Oregonians.

On the cusp of a new state we were happy to be able to discover another bit of Nevada before leaving. And what a bit it was! Agreeing to meet Dillion at the trailhead we set off on a rails-to-trails multi-use path. It took us outside the city, above the clogged freeway, through beautiful scenery, and a sunset. We arrived at the trailhead after dark and began the descent to the springs. The full moon led us down an ancient river bed as the canyon grew taller.

Suddenly the trail ended in a 5 meter drop. I switched on my headlamp and saw the cryptic signs: a skull to one side and an arrow leading over another set of rocks. Quickly our thirst for adventure was sated as the trail became more of an obstacle course. Following the arrows we dropped down with ropes, traversed steps cut into massive boulders and finally heard the sound of running water. As we began to explore the different pools Dillion caught up to us.

We slid into a toasty pool and relaxed. Dillion had mentioned a secret cave and we followed him, swimming under a narrow point in the rocks to surface in a close room made of gargantuan stones coated in smooth mineral deposits.

Later we made a strange dinner. Hijiki-kelp seaweed, mushroom buckwheat noodles with curried broccoli and silk worms topped with kimchi. Basking in the moon and candle light we dreamed up Cycle Tour Alaska. After midnight we followed our new friend out of the canyon and back to our warm sleeping bags. Resupplied with water, fudge, and stove fuel we were finally ready for Arizona.

- Part 2: A Fine Dam Day.

Nestled between the canyon walls we awoke to clear skies and sunshine. Today was the day we would cross the Hoover Dam. Ascending from our rocky hideout we were met with a line of slow-moving cars; dam tourists clogging the road. Luckily we had left our mobility box long behind and so were able to skim by on the shoulder. About 500 or so cars later we stopped to take in the view. Indeed the river had been delayed with a dam impressive structure!

Satisfied with our dam experience we proceeded along the closed road (shhh don't tell homeland security). This section of road is now trafficked only by baby strollers and a few pedestrians, cars are required to doubleback for the newly built bypass.

Rolling hills brought us into our third state, a strange new land. A turnoff promising water lured us into a hair-raising descent 4 miles down to Willow Beach. At the bottom, barely recovered from the disappointment of a closed shore-side store, we were gifted citrus and chocolate from a couple with a midnight flight home to Minnesota.

The smooth concrete floor and low walls of a nearby overlook seemed all too cozy. We feasted and fell asleep to the 'psst-psst' of a mysterious animal and nocturnal avian fly-bys.


  1. What caused the hub problem? Glad you two found a helpful shop.

    1. Just normal wear I think - grease disappears, bits of sand get in, and the constant movement wears away at metal. Fresh grease helps make things smoother, but I'll get new cones once back to Portland.

  2. Nice pictures! This sounds like a fun adventure with Dillion! Hot springs & camping in the canyon - nice! Your dinner does sound strange... silk worms? What? Did you find those at the "cheap" grocery store in LV? Or???

    1. No, at the Korean market. The can didn't have any English on it. It was an awesome little store.

  3. The hot springs sound marvelous! I agree that the dinner sound a little strange... did our kimchi make it that far, or have you replenished your supply? Anyway, it was a dam good story!

    1. It was from the Korean market. Most of the jar you gave me should still be waiting in Portland. Are you making more? I hope so...