Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Mojave Desert

Yesterday, I had 341 miles to 1) earn my title of motorcycle badass, 2) be hot, and 3) reminisce on Loius L'Amours book "The Lonesome Gods." Set in the Southern California desert in the old west days, I remember reading this book and hearing the young boys gratitude for a small bit of shade, humanity, or water.  On a steady diet of water, Popsicles, Fritos, and red licorice, we rode through what one gentleman at a gas station called 'California's Hair Dryer.'

Our first oasis was a 76 station. Only 87 degrees at this point. Filling up even though I had a half a tank of gas, we set our sights on the far side of the desert, Bishop, wanting this to be a one day experience. We rode on.

There were abandoned buildings, a random Motorcross track, and a sign saying a city name I can't remember, something like Aldante, the city of possibilities. A few minutes later, I drove past an out of business walmart. Possibilities for what, I wondered? The breeze I could generate by going 65 was hot, the water is poured down my shirt at the last gas station was dry, and the desert was endless.

We stopped at another Gas Station, in this sizable 'city.' 

Yup, that was a lot of buildings for this desert, which was now reading 100 degrees. We met some nice folks who had just been rock climbing near Lake Owens and had stayed in Bishop. One of the guys used to ride, and one just started. With another popsicle, water, and fritoes, I decided we were close enough to halfway that we'd make it for sure.  

The desert was a dead place. The signs of green had left the vegetation. There were no birds, no bugs, no trees. Just flat dirt, ringed by hills in the far distance. 

Another hundred miles, another gas station. And we saw a crow! And a pig crossing sign! Well over the halfway mark and the temperatures cooling to the 90's, my spirits soared. Nathan and I shared a liter of water this time. I was energized and excited by what we'd accomplished so far! I ran off to take pictures.

Ignoring the sign but staying on the path, I wanted a panorama of this desert. 

And look! Hills! Hills make shade, right?

They look pretty sunny, but I refused to let my spirits be dampened.

Nathan and I decided to take a picture with our best Mohave desert faces.

Sure enough, after this short rest, the sun started to dip below the hills peaks on some of the turns. The wind picked up. A mixed blessing, for sure. The wind was cooler, for sure, but tried to blow us all over the place. Assuming the dirt bike frame, bike leaned into the wind, I counted down the miles to 300, my longest day of riding. And 40 to go to Bishop. I saw a dead coyote, reminding me to constantly scan for suicidal wildlife.  A motorcycle hitting an animal ends up bad for everyone. 

Bishop. 21 miles. Bishop 20 miles. Bishop. 14 miles. Bishop 10 miles. 30 miles per hour zone, we have arrived in Bishop! Stay at the first hotel we see? Super 8? Kris has an idea to look at reviews, and finds an Americas Best Value Inn with good reviews. Surprising that this run down hotel where we weren't sure that the sheets were washed and there was only one water temperature and where we couldn't use the sink and the shower at the same time gets good reviews, but we aren't picky. Chores, then dinner.

Off to find a resturaunt! The BBQ place we spotted was closed. We saw two bars and four Mexican resturaunts, and finally arrived at Jacks. 

An adorable down home cooking resturaunt with ribs and bean soup. I could not get food into my mouth fast enough, and then we could not get to our bed fast enough. 

What an experience, what a day. Unforgettable, wouldn't trade it for the world, probably won't do it again, day.

Off to our next adventure!

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