Day 6 was a good day…but an odd and jarring one. It brought with it a return to civilization after days in the solitary desert. This was both a welcome change and a sad goodbye to one of the more beautiful places I’ve been.
The day brought one other welcome change. After about half a mile on pavement (from which I had not had a break for approximately 150 miles) I got to head off-road. There was a dirt road that headed off for about 5 miles and then appeared to intersect the highway. It wasn’t driveable. So, I got to head out a solo across the road and hope that the aerial maps were correct and the road would take me to where Ashley waited . And fortunately, it did. It felt great to run free and alone across the dirt. No cars. No other people. Really with no idea where I was. Eventually I met up with a clearly relieved Ashley. That had been our last hurdle, our last unknown. The course was clear sailing from here.
I headed behind a golf course to another dirt road that Ashley said would take me right into Primm, NV. It actually ended right at the back parking lot of the hotel where we had stayed that night. As I neared the parking, I could discern the outline of the familiar orange and white car that had been my shadow fo r the last several days…and Ashley next to it. After resupplying I decided to head into the hotel for a quick pitstop. Of course the ground floor was a casino. This was one of the most jarring and unsettling juxtapositions I have ever experienced. After 13 miles running alone on quiet dirt roads through the desert, my mind quiet and focused, I stepped into another dimension. A step through the door of the casino brought with it a cacophonous roar of sound combined with flashing lights from every direction and the stench of cigarette smoke both fresh and stale. I think I almost turned and walked out, but instead I just made a beeline for the bathroom. Everywhere I looked were people smoking and drinking. It was 10 in the morning. People sat at slot-machines like zombies dumping their money in one coin at a time.
Needless to say, I was quite happy to get back on the road. Across the parking lot, under Instersate 15 and north out of town towards Las Vegas I went. …Remember how I said that we were home-free and it was clear sailing from here? How silly of me to think that. This relay had been nothing but a series of tests for me. And apparently there was one more. About a mile north of Primm the ONLY road we could see, other than Interstate 15, was blocked but many bright orange, ominous looking No Trespassing signs. To make matters worse they all said “Clark County Department of Aviation.” Now, I’m not totally opposed to a little trespassing here and there, but aviation departments? In our post-9/11 world? Thoughts of the Department of Homeland Security and being arrested for “terrorism” stopped me in my tracks. Ashley was still with me. We puzzled over what to do. She drove off to look for other ways through as I stood there trying to keep my whole body in the shadow of a single telephone pole. When she came back the news was not good. The many dirt roads in the distance all had the same signs on them. The sole road on the other side of 15 went right through a quarry. Or we could run down the railroad tracks. So, basically it came down to where we wanted to trespass. Ashley decided to drive down 15 to the next exit and see what she could find on the other side of this dirt road I was standing on.
While I waited I tried to call the number on the sign. But it was the weekend. Everyone at the Department of Aviation was gone and the woman who answered had no idea what I was talking about. So, I decided to try calling the sheriffs office. The woman who answered was extremely kind and, while she couldn’t tell me about this road, offered to call the highway patrol. After holding for 5 minutes, she came back on and told me that the highway patrol assured her I could run down the should of interstate 15. Normally I would assume that was illegal, and it wasn’t my first choice, but it seemed like our only choice. When I called Ashley to tell her the good news, she informed me of even better news. A firefighter in Jean (the town on the other side of this road and today’s endpoint) said that the signs were for some motorcycle event which had past and it was fine for me to use the road. So, after wasting an hour or two, I went on ahead.
5 miles later I rejoined Ashley on the other side. As soon as I saw her I raised both hands over my head in victory and a huge smile spread across her face. We had made it over the last hurdle. It was all paved road from here. 26.2 miles fell directly in front of the hotel we were staying at. The hard part was now done.