Day 26: June 28: Furnace Creek to Pahrump NV

I woke early, packed, and made coffee. Breakfast was Fig Newtons and a couple of bagels with Nutella.

I rode through the Furnace Creek area just as the sun was rising. Among other strange sights, I saw a grove of date palms growing there, at about 200 feet below sea level. They obviously have some kind of water supply here.

I was hoping to get to Zabriskie Point as the sun was rising, but didn't quite make it. However, I was able to see its dramatic beauty shortly after sunrise.

Zabriskie Point

another Zabriskie Point photo

still another Zabriskie Point photo

By taking the route down through Furnace Creek, I avoided a steep climb over into Nevada. Instead, I had a gentle climb all morning, and then a coast down into Death Valley Junction. At Death Valley Junction, I got some more water, and talked to a guy named David at the opera house (!) / hotel who said that in the '20's, Death Valley Junction had a larger population than Las Vegas. Unfortunately, now the opera house/hotel is the only building that's being used there.

I left route 190, and turned on to State Line Road, up toward Ash Meadows and the Death Valley National Monument. From there, it was a mostly flat ride into Pahrump, NV. Pahrump is a town of about 33000 people, spread out over 26 miles of state route 160 in the Nevada desert. It is known for its cheap houses, its twelve casinos, and its brothels. Though I was curious about the latter, I didn't get around to calling them up to inquire about prices.

When I got to the Pahrump area, I stopped at a convenience store to call the Ockfens. As I stepped inside the convenience store, I was hit by a sensory experience that is typical to Nevada: cigarette smoke and the sound of gambling machines. I got back outside as soon as I could after buying an ice pop and a Gatorade.

Outside, there was a man sitting down in front selling his wood carvings and telling an elaborate story about one carving to some kids. He started talking about bicycle touring to me, telling me about a trip he had done years ago with a friend down to Mexico. I stopped to talk with him. He was Dell Livingston, who has gone to college for seven years, and worked in a number of industries. He now is an itinerant construction worker who travels up and down US 95, selling his carvings and living simply. He told me that he was brought up into a wealthy family, but eventually rejected it for a more interesting life. I could see a number of similarities between him and me. We had a far-ranging talk that touched on philosophy, bike touring, wood carving, craftsmanship, his history, books that he recommended, high-efficiency optical fibers, self reliance, and a number of other interesting topics. He told me of a winter that he had spent up in the Colorado mountains living off the land, and how it had changed him.

I found out from Ken Ockfen that I was another 10 miles from where they lived, so today will become a record 65 mile day. Compared to my usual 30-40 miles, that's quite a few more hours on the road.

I finally made it to the Ockfen's house. It's a very nice house out in the south end of town. Their house seems a bit incongrous to me, since there are no trees anywhere around. I'm used to seeing trees around houses like this. But I'm in the desert now, I guess. Everything is neat and in its place, which is very different from the way I lived in my apartment. Betty had made me a sandwich, which I ate quickly.