The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015
7th - 28th June 2015
Day 18 - Idaho Falls to Elko
The heat is on
A lazy start to the day in the sense that the day’s Regularity was way down the road after lunch. The morning therefore was taken up with a long roll out through miles of flat Idaho farmland and, as if to underline the difference to yesterday's scenery, a crop dusting plane had replaced the eagles as it wheeled and strafed the wheat below.
We were set pretty much due west as we pulled out of Idaho Falls, through the National Laboratory and past Atomic City on our way, via the town of Arco, to the first time control and coffee halt in Carey.
The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) itself is an 890-square-mile nuclear facility which employs more than 8,000 people working on projects related to nuclear power. It’s cutting edge, state of the art and pretty secret.
Arco, on the other hand is a small town to the west of this and boasts its own unique attractions. The Pickle Place, for example, The Home of the Atomic Burger and it was also the first city in the world to be lit entirely by atomic power.
We travelled the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway on our way to Carey which originates in the Lost River Mountain Range and takes in the Craters of the Moon National Monument with lava flows and high mountain desert along its length.
At the coffee halt the State Troopers paid us a visit along with the local Sheriff. They were just patrolling their patch and, on seeing the cars had popped in for a chat. The open top cars; the Rolls Royce, the Bentley and the Alvis etc really captured their imagination and they were keen to learn about the Endurance Rallying scene. We were equally as keen to stay on the right side of them and took a mental note to keep an even closer eye on the clocks as they were last seen heading up along Rally route!
It is hay making season in Idaho and the local farmers were out in force turning and bailing the already cut grass along our route on the Main Oregon Trail. As usual in America though the sheer scale of it has to be seen to be believed. Whatever the crop there’s a lot more irrigation in the fields now and the low distant hills have a more brown tinge to them than we’ve seen so far.
Mountain Home was the main junction for the day where it really began to get hot and where we turned due south over the Snake River towards the Duck Valley Indian Reservation and the State of Nevada where we had an agreeable lunch in the Gas & Go Cafe where gallons of cold drinks were consumed and litres of sunscreen applied.
The Regularity we mentioned earlier was a tarmac one. A steady 16 km climb alongside the Owyhee River in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest. Four timing points, sweltering heat and a winding road kept the crews very much under pressure after an already long day but the dynamic duo of Holmes and Clifton In their Volvo PV544 and the Dutch Flyers Tom van Den Berg and Femke Schepers managed to keep their cool and come out jointly on top. The US Air Force kept watch overhead, the Nevada Desert is an important training area and we counted more than four con’ trails tightly woven together as a result of their high altitude high jinks.
With the business of the day concluded then it was a home run to the night halt at Elko, over the 1965m Adobe summit.
Our one time Rally leaders, Phil and Kieron are back with us tonight although not on the top spot. They pulled off a superhuman feat overnight and in the early hours of this morning to get back on the road and in their own words this is the story so far.
"....... After being trailered yesterday at warp speed behind a 7 litre turbo-charged pickup, we got to the hotel in time for dinner, then we went down to the UPS depot to see if the second hand differential we'd tracked down in Arizona had arrived. Triumph Stag parts in America at rare but fortunately it emerged at 9.30am. We'd already removed the old diff' in readiness for the 'new one' and had borrowed a ramp at a friendly local garage. An hour later the new diff' was installed and we were on our way. It howls like a hyena and drips a bit of oil, but it seems to work. Differential failure is not a known Stag weakness, so it’s just one of those challenging adventures of Endurance Rallying but it’s a reminder to, just how friendly, enthusiastic and interested in helping all the locals are…..”.
As for the leaderboard then, we now have Peter and Zoe Lovett leading from Paul and Sandra Merryweather while Alan and Tina Beardshaw regain their third place
Today is also Albrecht Haase’s birthday. We take his opportunity to wish him many happy returns.
Tomorrow we’re off to Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World”.