Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gerlachfest 2016

We missed this event last year, boo!  So we were super excited to go to Gerlach, NV this year for the annual Gerlachfest, an Iron Butt Association Memorial event.  Across the street from the Black Rock Playa, on Guru Lane, is the IBA Memorial.  A sacred place dedicated to safe long distance riding and the riders who participated.  Among other sage and sometimes fun totems lies a circle of stones.  Each stone has a name of a rider who is no longer with us but was a member of the IBA community.  It is here that we honor them and their accomplishments.  Along with the Memorial is a whole lot of crazy, good, silly fun by the Gerlachfest participants.

Now, it used to be what happens in Gerlach, stays in Gerlach.  But, with today's social media, how can that be?  I'm going to share a very small bit of Gerlachfest 2016 with you.  Yes, I'm going to keep some of the shenanigans secret :-)

So, let's just start at the beginning.  I left our house on Thursday, Sept. 29 just before noon.  My goal was Tonopah, NV, only about 300 miles away.  Eric had to work but would leave home later in the evening and meet me in Tonopah.  So, off I went!  I took a bit of a back road route, a route with which I'm very familiar.  I did stop to take a picture here at the border of Utah and Nevada!

 As you can see by the clouds, I was in and out of rain showers.  As a matter of fact, all my gear vents were open and the temperature began to drop, drop, drop.  I stopped in Caliente, NV for a bit of brekkie and hoped the threatening storm would pass over as I enjoyed my meal.  No such luck.  Not two miles out of Caliente, it rained.  Brrrrrrrrrrrr.  Of course my vents were still open!  I wasn't smart enough to close them up and zip up in Caliente :-)  Oh well.... I motored on.

I turned onto the ET Highway (aka NV 375) and made the mandatory rest stop at Rachel, NV to snap a few photos.

 If you haven't been here, it is definitely worth the stop.  The food isn't great but it isn't awful either and they have a great selection of Alien "stuff".  Besides, it's the only place to stop for miles and miles and miles!

Looking to the east from Rachel - lots of nothing for miles and miles and miles.  Better have plenty of gas, water, tools and whatever else one might need to be self sufficient because there is no cell service out here!
 As I traveled the ET Highway I glanced down at my speedo and oopps!!!  I was going a "wee" bit faster than the posted 70 mph.  Easy to do on this long, lonely, quiet stretch of highway.  About 30 miles west of Rachel I ran into the cows.  No, not literally!!!  It's open range here and this section of 375 is notorious for cattle on the road, especially after dark.  Fortunately, most of the cows were laying down chewing their cud in the mid afternoon.

Also, watch out for wild horses and donkeys.  Yes, really!

I made a pit stop on US 6.  Quite a pleasant little rest stop with nothing around as far as the eye can see.
 Nice picnic tables with bbq's.
 And a lonely windmill.  Yes, there are toilets which were very clean!
 I landed in Tonopah around 4 pm and checked into the Best Western (free for me because of points! Yippee).  It really is the best place to stay in Tonopah.  Some might argue the Clown Motel is the best place to stay, but I know better :-)  Although I swear, one day I WILL stay at the Clown Motel just to say I have, hahaha.

Eric arrived about 10 pm after a long day at work and a longer ride in the dark.  Thank goodness the cows were not on the road!  We stayed up way too late and I was very happy my honey was safe with me.

The next morning we took our time dinking around and having a really good brekkie at the Best Westie!  We only had about another 300 miles to Gerlach so no hurries.  Back on the road, we headed north.  A few rest stops and lunch at Fernley, then we were off to our final destination.  We arrived in Gerlach about 2:30 pm or so and made a beeline to Bruno's Country Club and Motel where we would get our room assignment and keys.
I didn't take any interior pictures, but Bruno's has greatly improved the interior and remodeled the bar area.  It's just not quite the same seedy ambiance but was passable ;-)

Outside is this ancient telephone booth that still has a real dial up telephone!
 And it is plastered with stickers from all over the world.  I was pleased to see our DPK sticker was still there although greatly faded by the sun.
 Across the street from Bruno's is the train yard and I spied this ancient passenger car.  Pretty cool. we were chatting, getting keys, chatting, etc., who should show up?  Well, yes, it's Ray Blair!!!!  Hooray.  Unfortunately, Ray couldn't stay for the event but rode up just to say howdy to everyone.  In a small way, Ray is partly responsible for me getting into long distance riding so he holds a very special place in my heart.  That, and he never tipped over my motorcycle ;-)  And, he's riding Lisa Landry's old Goldwing!  There is some Iron Butt history here!
We finally got our room keys after a bit of a debacle where Eric and I were in the same room as Tom and Jan.  Well, that would have been okay but there was only one bed and it was tiny!  I don't think four grown peeps could have fit on that bed!  Anyway, we got that sorted and headed for our room to stow our gear.  As we approached the room, who did we spy on the porch?  Well, yes, indeed, that is the famous Margaret Peart from Australia via Mongolia.  My idol!!!!  And, Mark Crane of the Vita-Mix fame along with Sean Smith of the Cal 24 fame.  What great, awesome, legendary company.  Gerlachfest is about to begin!
 I can't really say what happened after checking into our room and getting everything put away and sorted.  I do know we went out to the porch (the infamous porch) and spent the afternoon visiting.  We did go back to Bruno's for the group buffet dinner and I remember having some delicious brats.  Well, Justin Phillipson and I traded brats because mine was HOT (as in spicy) and his wasn't.  I think we were both happy with the trade!  Dinner was just yummy and back to the PORCH we went.

I kind of think we went to bed sometime after midnight, but heck, it was Gerlachfest, and frankly, I don't remember and I don't give a damn!  However, the next morning as I left the room, I spied this on the lobby table.
 And this in the cooler.  Hmmmmm.....must have been a fun party ;-)
A walk to Bruno's, a huge bacon, egg, hashbrowns and toast brekkie, and I was feeling as good as I was going to!  After spending most of the morning just hanging out we all gathered at Bruno's to head out to the Playa.  Well, those of us that weren't doing the mini-rally put on by Matt Watkins headed out to the Playa.  I gave two seconds thought about doing the rally.  It started at some ridiculous hour like 6 or 7 in the morning and I knew that wasn't going to happen for me!  The folks who did do the rally had a great time and a different story to tell.

George (#5) and Buffy Swetland offered to chauffeur peeps to the Playa in their Austrian Troop Mover (not the official name of the vehicle, but what do I know?).  I was one of the lucky ones and trepidatiously climbed the ladder to the bed of the behemoth.  I was in good company, Tess Crockett/Loomer was riding along as well.
 Oh my heck!  Look Pearl, it's Peter and Paula along with Annie and Annemarie!  What great company, you couldn't ask for better folks to share a ride with.  You should have been here with us!  Maybe next year?
 Tess is tucking into Wendy because she's just not sure what might happen.  Could be anything with this group and George (#5) driving!
 We made it safely to the Playa.  Although, the entrance was rough and George (#5) goosed it a few times, we all arrived without too many bruises.  Climbing OUT of the massive vehicle was quite the gymnastic feat.  I made someone (I don't remember who, it might have been Pete) stand directly behind me as I climbed down that ladder to the ground.  If I was going to fall, I wanted to land on someone and not the hard ground.  Fortunately, all was good :-)

Here are just a few pics of our arrival at the Playa.  Games were about to commence.  Yes games.  Ride by Barbie shooting, group shooting, destroy Barbie shooting, make more brass shooting.  You get the gist.

 Our official photographer this year is Tyler Risk shown here taking a photo of the legendary Margaret Peart with Stephen Vook intent on doing something in the background!
 And me, taking a picture of Tyler taking a picture of Margaret!
 This is probably the single, most important photo of the day on the Playa, my foot.
 Reno John, yes, Reno John.  No party is complete without Reno John.  I'm not really sure what he is up to here.  Maybe pulling Barbie out of the winch of that 4x4?  No, I bet he's capping a beer on that winch.  Yeah, that's much more likely :-)  Although I heard he has a thing for Barbie!
 Poor Barbie....what can I say?  There were multiple Barbie's, all of which were adulterated in some way or another.  Sorry if you're a Barbie fan but heck, we had a ton of fun messing with her.  And then.....we blew her up!  Pew, pew, pew, bang, bang, kaboom!  Bye bye Barbie ;-)
 See, look what they did to her!  They cut off her hair!  How could they do that? The beasts!
There were a lot more cars this year than bikes on the Playa.  Nice for me :-)  So, riders let other riders ride their ride to shoot at Barbie.  Some even went two up!  Thanks to the riders for being so accommodating.   Here are some of the bikes and riders getting ready to line up for ride by shooting fun.

 Yup, and some cages too.  We don't discriminate too much when having fun on the Playa.
 Ohhhhh, my honey.  Need I say more?
 Mr. Loomer a/k/a Mr. Crockett sending a remote car out to the Playa as a target.  Thanks Mike!
 Okay, there was a scarecrow in the distance along with Barbie in the middle and the remote car in the front all as targets.  Actually, there was a line of Barbie's waiting to be struck with lead.
 Peeps lining up per Warchild instruction before commencing carnage against Barbie.

 Rider, I think this is Dan Simmonds, all the way from PA and just off a 10 DAY 1,500 MILE PER DAY ride around Nevada.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Ten 1,500 mile days in a row in Nevada.  A new record.  You think you can shatter than one?
 Eric gets ready for his turn at a ride by shooting.
 Reaching for the firearm.....
 Ready, set......
 GO!!!!!!  Shoot that bitch!
 And here we have the lovely Ms. Minna all the way from Vermont aboard Tigger the unfailing, faithful steed.  Warchild (a/k/a Dale Wilson) is giving her the signal to go!
 And go she does!
 Boom, boom, boom!
 Pew, pew, pew! Good show Minna!
 Oh lordy, what's this?  Or who is this?  Oh my heck (Utahism) it's Mrs. Warchild, the lovely Annie all decked out in Halloween gear.  I gotta tell you this, she had on these glasses that had weird eyeballs in them.  I couldn't look at them, they totally freaked me out.  Good job Ms. Annie!
 Dan Simmonds shooting again.  Gee, Dan, how many times must you annihilate poor little Barbie?
 Yes, there was some two up shooting.
 Oh boy, Annemarie (#5's grand daughter) looking rather serious.
 Oh yes, that's serious alright --- freak!  what in the freak is she shooting?  Big guns!
 And now, Minna lends Tigger to Mike and Wendy Crockett/Loomer for a ride by.
Following the motorcycle ride by shootings, a whole truck load of peeps climbed into the troop carrier for a massive drive by shoot em up!
 Fully locked and loaded, ready to take off.....
 Yeah, these peeps.....

 Making sure the transport is fully loaded...
 Warchild says they are ready to go.....
 Butt, hold on, wait for me......
 Okay then, out on the range, get ready, get ready, get ready and all together now.....
 Kill Barbie!
 LOL, Reno John following the transport shooter truck, hope he got some good photos!
 Oh no!  Look what happened to Barbie!  She's almost invisible!
 Dennis York is quite proud of the carnage to poor Barbie :-)
Somehow, we all managed to get back to Bruno's after the Playa events.  It was party central on the porch with Mark Crane's Vitamix going at full speed.  Warning - Mark's smoothies are LETHAL.  I partook in 2010 and haven't since.  Hahahaha, you poor Virgins that don't know any better, drink away because soon you'll be deflowered by the FIREWALK!  Yup, if you haven't been to a Gerlachfest, well, you haven't been.  The newbies have an initiation that is the FIREWALK.  Just wait until dark.....

So, we spent the time after the Playa games hanging out at the porch with Mark's Vitamix going full strength.  Lots of chatting, looking at bikes, hanging out.  It was all good :-)

Warchild makes a drive by sans weapon other than THAT FINGER through the motel parking area.  Stay alert peeps, we're being watched....
 And was time...time for the final banquet at Bruno's.  This is a meal to never be forgotten.  Starting with antipasti, fried zucchini, Bruno's famous ravioli, and then MEAT!  Oh my!
 Sorry the pics are blurry, but you get the idea.  We were all eating good food and having great conversations....

 I'm really sorry this one is blurry because it is the HEAD table - the Cognoscente peeps who sponsor this event.  The peeps who put it all together, plan the fun and make it happen.  Thank you, Cognoscente!
After our fantastic meal at Bruno's, we all head out to the Playa.  How do we find our way out there?  Well, follow the bonfire, of course. What a fantastic beacon!  In all  disclosure, Eric and I were in a cage piloted by Marc Beaulac.  Thanks Marc and  Gen. (side story - when I first pulled into Bruno's motel parking lot, I saw Marc with a woman who wasn't his wife.  Marc introduced her as Gen.  Gen gave me a big hug and said she had heard a lot about me and was happy to finally meet me.  Okay.  Who the eff is Gen?  I'm not passing judgment here but heck, who is Gen?  Marc and Gen are sharing a room.  Eyebrows raised......hmmmmmm.....  I didn't say anything but just carried on like nothing was amiss.    Hahahahaha, much to Marc and Gen's amusement I told them this story after I found out Gen is Marc and Dee's daughter and not his mistress!  Whew!)
So we arrived at the designated bonfire location which was where the VIRGINS would have the firewalk after Memorial talk.
Just some random photos around the bonfire.  Such a special time and place....
This vehicle would get us out of anyplace!  Chicky, we love you!
Oh, the fire was big, it was hot, it was awesome!
 And, the Gerlachfest Virgins were going to walk through this fire!  Yes, that is the rite of passage.  Dang, glad it wasn't me this time!  (That's another story).
 #5 with a knowing look upon his face.....what's going to happen next?
 Everyone is waiting to see what happens....
 That fire looks really, really hot!!!!
 We all gather around the fire, there is nothing else for miles and miles and miles.  Those who have a clue, step away from the bonfire and check out the desert sky.  This is the BLACK MOON, a second new moon in the month.  No, apocalypse didn't happen although it was predicted.  It was simply a DARK night with no moon and a million stars.  It was truly a special night.

Oh no, we still had the Virgin Firewalkers!  Waiting.....
 Ernie and Pauline contemplate the Walk.  Ernie has been here many times but Pauline, yup, she's a Virgin.  Ernie so graciously walks Pauline through the coals.  Hooray!  Virgin no longer.
 Damn, that looks hot!
 Okay, maybe the fire has died down a bit.... ya think?  No, it's still really, really HOT!
 Here we have Gerlachfest Virgin Brant M., 3rd place finisher in the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.  Maybe he'll be number one next year?  Doesn't matter, he was a Virgin at this event, hehehehe.  Walk that fire, buddy :-)
 It was frickin hot, hot, hot!!!!
 Well, dang, I didn't get photos of us leaving the Playa or afterward.   We all left the Playa and made it back to Bruno's.  Some stayed up on the porch and partied on but Eric and I headed to bed.  My honey had to get up early and make tracks toward home because his work was calling.

Me?  Not so much.  I woke up, gathered my stuff, packed my bike and headed to Bruno's for brekkie!  Usually I'm the last to leave Gerlachfest (well, it's a tie between me and Mario) but not this year.  I went to Bruno's and met up with a bunch of riders and had a lovely brekkie and then went back to the motel to finish packing up.  I was just in time to say goodbye to Margaret (the Legend) Peart and a few other folks.  Most had already gone.

I mounted my Beastie Bike and rode off, leaving Gerlach in my rear view mirror for another year.  Memories to be filed away, laughing as I left.  What an unique experience, that is Gerlachfest.  A once in a lifetime event and I was lucky enough to have attended this event five times. I don't want to miss another one.

So, off I went.  I just rode along heading toward home.   Oh frick, I made a mistake and took the alternate 95A.  Oh well, it just made the ride home more interesting :-).  The best part of the ride home was when this happened!

Yippee 10,000 miles on the Beastie Bike!!  Oh my heck! Picked up this bike on June 18, 2016 and just rolled over 10,000 miles on  Sept. 2, 2016!!  Yeah, I'm a BadAss! Hahahahaha.

I considered riding all the way home but I had an "incident".  Well I didn't but someone stupid almost caused one.  I was riding along Highway 95 about 20 miles north of Tonopah when I see a Jeep Cherokee passing a pickup truck that is towing a travel trailer.  The problem was the Jeep was in MY LANE.  I hit the brakes and moved as far off the road as I could and the Jeep just kept on coming!!!!  The pickup driver and I looked at each other like, WTF?  Did that just happen?  I didn't even have time to be scared, just react.  The freakin Jeep dude was going to hit me head on.  By the time I got to Tonopah I decided to just stop.  That close call really shook me up.  It's dangerous out there people.  The stupid cloud was hanging low over the Jeep guy.  Jeez!!!!!

Fortunately, the Best Western had a room for me and I didn't have to stay at the Clown Motel, lol.  After a good night sleep, I packed up the bike, put on the heated gear (it was bitter cold) and headed home.

I rode toward home pretty much the same way I went to Gerlach.  Again, making the mandatory stop at Rachel, NV.

And a quick stop here at the east end of NV 375 just to grab more alien pictures!
Ah, finally, back to Utah.  Home is only a bit over an hour ride from here.

Red Mountain is the view that tells me I'm home!
It was a fabulous, wonderful, awesome weekend of love, hugs, booze, guns, motorcycles, bonfire and more with some of the best people I've ever met.  Thanks for following along with me, hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers (ooohhh, I have another "event" this weekend so you'll want to stay tuned)



  1. For a moment I had thoughts they could have silenced you out. Thanks!

    1. LOL, they know better than to try that with me ;-)

  2. Cletha, great write up, great seeing you again

  3. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

  4. Great article, I enjoyed it. Last visited Gerlach in 93, but did not realise the IBA connection at the time.

  5. Wow, what an event! Congrats on your 10k already, too!