Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Funeral in the Philippines, experiencing their culture

Went to funeral of my gurls grandpa. The mass was actually the night before much like when we in the west have a wake. Many people from their community attended with of course tons of relatives. Food served was white bread, rolls popcorn, pigskin, & coffee. All people seemed greatful, lacking modern Amenities the Coffee water was boiled outside over a wood fire. 
It would also be my gurls birthday and we would have Pancit, a noodle dish one of my favorites along with white bread. Worried about my health they would serve my utensiles in boiling water to insure the no germs. A bit overboard and I always have a shot of rum and at least a beer with a meal. 
The following day the funeral itself would happen. The casket was brought from the house four people would lift the coffin to shoulder height and everyone would walk under the coffin as a sign of respect. 
The procession itself I suspect is like nearly every country, a rented van acting as a hurst would lead while everone walked behind. Motorcycles being very popular here would actually lead in front of the "hurst" while everyone on foot would follow, behind those on foot would be vehicles. 
They would procede to a church where they would do a standarad catholic service and then the procession would cocntinue to the cemetary. My feet were burning from the walk to the church which I estimate to be about three miles. It simply was to hot, my feet were sweating leading to the burn as I was wearing sandles and not so used to walking long distances in them.
I would opt out and go to jolly bee for lunch a popular filipino fast food burgerjoint and eat a fairly decent burger with the Evil coke to help re hydrate.
I would ride a scooter back to the house with my gurls brother Glenn on the back. I am used to a shifting pattern of one down then all up, however his bike was all four gears down. Riding in Filinpino traffic is interesting as they are kind of like riding in a herd of wildabeast. 
The evening would finish off at a little resort, the only hotel in town called Ruvi Caves, it offers a swimming pool and a cute cave style design. THe room was not so clean though and no seat on the toilet was irritating but common in many countries. 
One thing in the Philippines is it is so hard to sleep at times as they are a noisy people until midnight, and this being a resort even more so with Karaoke being very popular and I had to listen to happy out of tune singers as I drifted off to sleep, only to be woken far to early by the sound of Roosters competing for the wake up call and busy filipinos who apparently sleep for four hours a day. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding; Day six, the Mojave Desert

I woke at in the morning with amazing clarity, I felt blessed for the journey I had made so far.
It was warm, kind of how you Imagine being in Southern California, and since Palm Springs was only about a half hour away it was about how I Imagined it. Still not Bikini Clad women by the pool though, Not to happy about that dream being shattered.
Loaded up and nearly ready to go I got the usual looks and comments on "I cannot believe you are traveling that far on that" and one that kind of made me think "why are you here?" this was a bit different and I honestly could not answer it.
All I knew is that this was someplace special for mom, so what was it?
I would mount up and contemplate the question more.

Mom was a very spiritual person, I mean beyond simply going to church. She had lived in a Buddhist house as well as attended Buddhist Spiritual retreats which she would stay at for months at a time. Later she would fall into new age spirituality and again spend extensive time immersing herself within this line of belief. I knew today would bring answers.

The KLR came to life with only a short push on the starter, it purred with the impressiveness only a four stroke thumper could bring to life, but it worked, amazingly well and it always seemed to pur, more like a cat to me.
I would pass the same girl holding the XXX sign and I would wave, she probably was wondering what the hell was with me at this point.
Yukka Valley is a busy area which certainly felt like a city. Joshua tree was just the opposite, not much for growth, it was small and quaint but I think I had some answers. The town seemed to be inundated with spiritual type establishments. Signs advertisement some sort of spiritual wellness seemed everywhere, even for places of eating. A Fountain on along the highway would catch my attention, and the sign really attracted me "Metaph" I flipped a U turn and checked it out, something along the lines of "Academy for the study of Metaphysics" I smiled, I Suspect mom had been here.
I had my answer and I really did not need to stay here any longer, I felt her soft glow and the peace the about the area, I smiled and rode on. I felt the need to go back to Vegas, maybe mom was pressing me, but there was a small gathering waiting for me of friends and family having a New Years day party.

I would get gas in Twenty Nine Palms and all the drama that went along with Credit cards that never seemed to work right.
Grabbing a liter of water the attendant would make the usual "where are you going" inquiry, after telling him he made sure I knew this was the last stop for fuel "there is nothing on they way, just boarded up buildings and ghost towns" I took what he said into consideration and grabbed another bottle of water.
Saddling up on the bike I decided to verify my route with the Gas Station attendant who seemed to know the route so well. It did not seem like Rocket Science, there was one highway which branched but I wanted to make sure I was not missing something.
"I have never been there" he would tell me, I was going back to my old theory of locals, ask questions but take what they say with a grain of salt.

I was excited though, riding thru the Mojave Desert has been a life long dream. Maybe so all the cowboy movies and books as a kid contributed, but it was there. Just as when I rode the Pony Express Trail I felt another dream come true.

The view going into the Valley was amazing, climbing over the same pass I would go by modern Petroglyphs painted by the imagination of local party goers.
After the pass things got flat, really flat and the valley seemed to stretch for miles. I know I keep saying it but damn I just cannot get out of my mind how long it took to travel thru these areas. No wonder it was so romantic, we traveled thru in a couple of hours, they would take days to make the journey.

The road was easy, but the wind blew hard from the west for several miles, one of those winds that makes you feel like you are cornering on a race track as you lean in.
There was a chlorine plant and I wondered briefly about it.
But what really got me was how in the middle of the ride was a small town, something of a Ghost town but it was still there with a working gas station and the bargain 5 dollar a gallon gas.

I love this post office, for what? the gas station?

This area continued to Amaze, what the hell were Lion Statues doing in the middle of the desert? I mean NOTHING else around save a realtor sign, they were about an acre apart, perhaps they were property markers?

I had visions when I got to this area that I would see pine trees at the top of the pass, I am not sure why but that is the vision I had. For some reason when I see green on a Forest Service map that is what I Imagine. Instead I was greeted by an Amazing forest of Joshua Trees, they are magnificent.

The ride solved what I needed to know, I now knew more about the bike, what gear I really needed to have and how far I could go on a tank of gas. Mapquest showed 230 miles to where I stay in Vegas from Twenty Nine Palms, that ment I could make 270 miles on a single tank of gas so I no longer needed the spare gas can.
It was a good ride, all in all, a small adventure but it is always good to stretch your legs, I was tired, physically for sure and I was ready to head into the house. Voices from the Party within called to me and their familiar welcome voices was like music.
I think mom would smile, and I had a greater understanding of what happyness the Desert brought her, in its own sort of mystical beauty.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding; Day five, down to Yukka Valley

Lone Star proved to be an interesting area for those old time movie buffs. Apparently the majority of the old westerns were filmed in this area. When you see a movie with lots of boulders and John Wayne, this was the area.
I enjoyed old Movies but I am honestly one that really does not care about the making nor am I one to go out of my way for movies so I decided rather than tour those sites, I would simply head south.
Provided it warmed up enough.

I would venture out at around 8 in the morning after checking my Email again to see if my new friend had mailed me, it would be empty. I began to load my bike as normally I take in my tank bag and tail bag locking my Panniers (hard side luggage)It was cold, I was only in my shorts and flip flops, I could see my breath uhgg I didn't want Montana style weather which is why I headed south.
I continued to load, being a somewhat disorganized person I have found that it took me about an hour to gather up my scattered gear and clothing in the room, to pack and load everything securely and to make a double check that I had everything.
I inquired at the desk as to the temperature and the response was a nice brisk invigorating (23 degrees one hour ago) ok this sucked but I could not see my breath so I assumed I was now in the 30s for warmth.
With a request I believe the hotel manager came out to help get my bike on its rear stand. Now mind you I can get the bike on the rear stand fine when it is empty, but with Panniers and loaded it has proved a chore. I have found that a 2x4 with a 45 cut in one end would help, but that required the stand to still catch on something and that did not always happen.
I would inspect and lube my chain, doing a quick once over on the bike and wander in to put on my gear, at this point I was only wearing full base layer style gear as I did not want to work up a sweat which would cool me while riding.

10 am I would depart, I found this to be a good time as everything seemed to warm up and I wanted to be in Yukka valley in five hours to give myself some evening time.
There was only one other motorcycle and he had not started it yet so I assume he was waiting for it to warm up further, wuss!
I was excited to this leg as Mom had spent a good deal of time at Joshua Tree National park, she had a inherent love for the place and talked about it often. IT seemed to have something special for her in a few hours I would be closer to knowing why.

A half hour later I found the town of Olancha, the little rustic town the man had told me about the day before. Could it really be called a town? The first building I saw was a cafe, I decided since my bum was sweating after gearing up (I know you wanted to know that)the cool air made me a bit chill so I thought I would stop at the next cafe, it was boarded up.
I found the shell station which was something I was concerned about the night before which was before the junction which would have brought me to the town, there is no way I would have found that. I turned around and stopped at the cafe.
now let me be clear, you know you took a wrong turn when cars in the area have ski racks on them.

I would chat a bit with this fellah who did not seem to be the sharpest tool in the shed, he would as " why do you have a helment cam?"
This took me back a bit, "why do you take any picture" he really could not answer, but was happy to pose for a picture, whatever.
I went in filled my coffee mug, used their facilities, had a cup of coffee, tried to use the internet, checked the temp, it was now up to a balmy 48, perfect for heading down the road. I would spy an elderly lady checking out my ride, since I first took off at the ripe age of 19 on my cruiser Easy Rider style people have always been curious as to my bike and gear. It always is a conversation piece and I guess everyone knows you will have a story and you are doing something most only dream of.
I saw this hotel shortly after the junction and it saddened me that I had not stayed at this wonderful little place. How much a person misses of the true traveling experience by staying at chain hotels which I was guilty of the previous nite.

It would warm up quickly and soon as I headed south and dropped in altitude the snow would completely disappear.
The more I headed back into the desert the more off road riders I saw, it seemed there were trails absolutely everywhere outside of the towns. This reminded me of what a fellow wild land firefighter from Cali had told me a few years ago on a fire " California has a reputation for being a tree hugger state, I am here to say that we have nothing on Montana"
This is true, OHV use (off road motorized vehicles) are severely limited within Montana.
There were plenty of police around the area so I doubt these people riding were poaching the trails.
I also noticed a huge disparity of income which I often hear about, it seemed most people were living in ratty houses and driving older patched together cars. Possibly this was merely a priority problem most of the Dirtbikes/fourwheelers were worth more than the trucks towing them.

I would stop soon after I reached these areas to take out the liners in my pants and jacket, my liner in my pants was soaked, and while I needed a bathroom break that was not the cause he he.
This was an interesting place I am not sure exactly what it was, an observatory of some sort? Radar? I simply could have read the sign but that would have been to easy.

Had I waited five minutes I would have been in the next town, oh well thus is life, the bush thanked my nitrate contribution.

I stopped to get gas in some little slice of hell, the most noteworthy aspect of this town was some guy with an early 1960s car pulling a 12 foot trailer with a stove pipe sticking out the top, it was like going back in time. I took a video with my helmet cam but it did not come out clearly.
The Gas station turned out to be a lesson in survival itself, most pumps were filled when I pulled up, as I began to fill they would open up yet some man insisted on squeezing between me and the car across from me with his SUV. I had to press close to the bike to avoid being sandwiched. Amazed by his poor driving I would start across the parking lot to pre pay as my credit card still was not working I had to avoid some woman who was texting, this place was crazy!

The Road construction south of town was something else. They were widening the two lane highway but had the concrete barriers on the white line. I do not know if it was on purpose or not but there was what looked like transmition fluid spilled in the center of my lane, oil on the road just what every biker looked forward to. I would ride in the right tire tread near the wall but I found it unsettling to ride so close to the barrier. I found the left tire groove more comfortable for me and Is where I normally choose to ride anyhow to allow myself more road for maneuverability. The construction would continue for roughly 30 miles, I did not pay attention, I simply tried to focus on staying on the dry pavement and to not cross the spilled fluid anymore than I absolutely had to, it would end at the next stop light.

I was getting dehydrated and starting to make mistakes. The Camel back while convenient was starting to have a plastic taste, I am not surprised it had water in it for five days solid. I would change it out daily but it undoubtedly needed to be cleaned and aired out, I quit drinking from it on this day.

I stopped at a gas station and asked a girl how far it was to Yukka valley, she did not know and had only left the town once to fly to Guam. I found this to be common in my travels, it seems locals often have a limited knowledge of what is outside their town. The area I am from in Montana has more people familiar with the outside of town as there are so few Amenities in most small towns you had to travel to get what you wanted.

Refreshed I continued on, I was tired of the traffic, tired of the poor careless driving, tired of having to take off my GPS and helmet cam at each stop. I was admittedly getting lonely, I like traveling on my own but I enjoy sharing my adventures so I called a couple friends regularly, one is reading this now. Thanks for you tolerating my lonely ramblings.

I assumed the Yukka valley was a little over an hour ride provided the traffic ended, which according to the map and my GPS civlization should be ending shortly.
I passed a cute little blue hotel which was fenced in with chain link and vines climbing the fence providing some privacy. I thought it would be a nice place to stop for the evening but I was so close to my destination I decided to continue, I could not have more than an hour left judging from my map and handheld GPS.

Not five minutes later I felt the strain of five days in the saddle, with consistent five hours plus riding each day.
I really contemplated turning around but again, thinking I was so close what was another hour? I spend so much time on the road with my job putting in 11 hours of solid driving I was not worried about it. But driving a truck is different, you can stretch, move your ass, and be a bit more relaxed. Riding a bike seems to take more energy, more stops and a bit longer time to get from point A to point b.
I love the KLR but it by no means is the Ideal Road bike, you notice the single cylinder while climbing any incline at all as it seems to vibrate more than on the flat. My padded seat cover was still working well and even though I had no throttle locker I found my right hand comfortable, my left was another story. I am not sure what made my left hand so sore but my forearm was throbbing and my hand going numb. I would squeeze the air and think that maybe I should carry an exercise ball :P

The road sucked, it was straight little changes in elevation. The homes became more ratty and sparse and reminded me of the Blackfeet reservation, before you get offended know that I operated a business outside the res and I knew many of the prominent members of the tribe. but it really did remind me of that area, houses that were near shacks, plywood signs with misspelled words announcing some business spray painted on. There was not much for homes, they were few and far between, but I was becoming so tired I was thinking of stopping anywhere to pitch a tent. I came to a small town, I do not know what it was, and I saw a RV dump sign, the next sign was dirty and faded and I thought it said RV park but could not be sure.
The houses after got nicer and I really Imagined myself walking up, knocking on the door and asking if I could sleep in their yard. I started to get short on breath, I think it was stress I dont know but it was there, maybe the hotter air? I dont know.
Suddenly I would go up a steep hill, there was a speed sign telling me how fast I was going at the top, I passed it with only a vague realization I was going slightly over the posted speed.
Suddenly I was in a town, houses and businesses opened up before me, I was in Yukka Valley!

I did not know which way to turn, and my handheld GPS does not show Amenities on it. I would turn left and a block later I would see a pretty girl holding a XXX sign with an arrow, perfect she should know the closest hotel.
She visibly was surprised when I asked her where the closest hotel was, quickly she figured out I was just a weary traveler wanting a nice place to stay.
"What are you looking for?"
Someplace nice I would reply
She said there was one of those number 8 motels up the road and a travel lodge beyond it, that was all I needed to hear and I flipped a u turn and Immediately found the super 8. They did not have a hot tub or a pool, something I desperately wanted and needed. Damn it I had visions of a nice cold drink soaking up the sun alongside a pool with bikini clad women!

The Best Western was a few blocks further, the woman at the counter assured me they had a hot tub and a pool, perfect I will take it. Honestly I was so exhausted I would have parked next to garbage can at this point.
I unloaded, grabbed some chow at the fast food Mexican restaurant next door, an over priced beer, water and vitamin water at the curious gas station across the street which did not have working pumps. I dont get it.

I would belch loudly, send a message to my gurl and sister letting them know I was safe, grab my swim trunks, walk up and down the first floor trying to find the pool and hot tub. "It is at the other building across the parking lot" I was informed by the woman working the desk.
The sun was down, the temp dropping, no bikini clad women at the pool and it was cool enough they probably would have been wearing a sweater anyhow.
I settled for a warm bath in my room after shivering across the parking lot after a two minute dip in the hot tub.
Today was not enjoyable at all, yesterday only the first half, and my lack of pictures today reflected it. The next day I hoped to find moms fascination with this area.

I was in bed by 8:30 and fast asleep, happy New Year was my last thought.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding; Day four, last trip thru Death Valley

I had stayed in the little town of Ambrossa, ok well apparently it was not a town but a single casino/hotel.
I had managed to score a suite for the same price as a normal room after laying on the "poor biker in the saddle and weather all day" story. It seemed like a good idea. The room was nice but the bed probably never changed out since the built the place, I would have been more comfortable camping. I woke with a stiff back but to an incredible view which seemed to make up for the hard bed.

With my fellow traveler the German on my mind from the day before I decided to cut back thru the park and see if we could meet up again.
The Mosaic canyon sounded pretty cool and the House where Charles Manson had staged his infamous brainwashing was also in Death Valley, so why not? Hell it is possible I would never go back and I learned a long time ago to take your time and never assume you will go back to an area as there is a good chance you never will.

I do not care how many times you see the view going into Death Valley it is always amazing. There was a lookout which was only 30 miles round trip out of my way that sounded pretty cool called Dantes View. I took the road and Immediately kind of regretted it, honestly I wanted to be thru the park and make a long day of riding but to make it to Yukka Valley.
Of course what I thought would be a 30 mile ride would end up being an easy hour round trip.
The last 5 miles were very sharp switch backs that said 15mph and they meant it.
Dantes View is located at the east end of the park, it is popular and as with most of the major sites in the area it was inundated with tourists, as with others it seemed most were from out of the country.
The view indeed was worth seeing as the peak itself offered nearly a 360 degree view.

But it would take an hour out of my day, at the time it did not seem like much, but in the end it would add up as time always does.

I would tool on down the road stopping briefly to grab some Vitamin water and use the eh ehmm fascilities in Stovepipe Wells. For future reference for those who may visit the area gas is significantly cheaper than in Furnace Creek.
As I was heading into the store I noticed these to Harleys stop suddenly, almost as if they saw my bike and pull into the parking lot, I thought nothing of it but coming back out they were parked on either side.

The White ride was super nice, I would eat a breakfast bar and chat briefly with the owner. He was in his early thirties, looked the part of a Harley Biker and talked like someone who had spent lots of time on the road. I was very impressed that he dared ride this low rider from AZ

Interesting thing after they left I heard the distinct sound of a snow plow, but what? I am in the desert! I look up the road and there was a pickup with a snow plow mounted on it pushing whatever sand had drifted across the road. I chalked it up to just another trick on the mind in the Valley.

From there I would head up the Mosaic canyon, a mere four mile ride off the tarmac. In a hurry as I knew daylight was running out I simply stripped my jacket, left my riding pants on and with my trusty track boots acting as Hiking boots I headed in.

I would not go far up as a Ranger had stated the first quarter mile was the best part of the Canyon. I did find it entertaining that in my stiff boots I would actually end up helping some hikers over some of the Marble. I guess there is no substitute for spending lots of time in the back country regardless of foot wear.
Thew view in the Canyon is quit spectacular, and if you are into such a thing, it certainly is worth the trip.

Now I certainly was cutting it close on time, and off I would tool to hit the 178 junction south which I would use to take me to Yukka Valley. Really an odd site again, you climb then drop into this strange flat I guess old Lake Bed

That was cool and I have to say that you can see nearly everything any desert has to offer in Death Valley, but my euphroia would quickly be stemmed by a flash flood which would have the 178 road closed I needed to take.
I rode past trying to Imagine in my mind how much farther I may have to I 15, it certainly did not seem so far this morning when I glanced at the map. As I passed Paniment springs I thought of a character I had ran into my first day in the park, some crazy wild looking man who had woopped out "We are camped at paniment springs" As he jetted away from me the previous day.
I thought of pitching the tent but I still honestly was not looking forward to it, even though it seemed wind free and quit quaint in the little area I continued on.
Now at this point you are wondering what do I have against Camping? Well nothing, it is quit fun but I certainly have had my fill growing up and camping at every chance in Montana. 9 years of Wild land firefighting and days, sometimes weeks on end would have its toll on my shoulders. So if I can help it, I try not to camp now days, I carry a tent and Sleeping bag only as a last resort or the perfect area.

The ride out of death valley is another mind bender, you go from -200 feet below sea level to rising a thousand feet at a time.
the road up is filled with switch backs made challenging with the sun glinting in my eyes.
As I neared the top I caught site of some snow covered peaks in the distance, ohh I will hit a valley I thought. But the road would continue to rise and rise and soon there was frost on the ground.
I pulled over and glanced at my map and my hand held GPS. It was about the same distance to I 15 now as it would be back thru the park to the 127 south on the east end of the park. As much as I enjoyed Death Valley I was ready for a change, and I continued on to the mountains. Soon though the road kept going and it was getting flat out cold, I would put my arm out to try and get a car to stop, he would slow, and as I flipped a U turn he woudl speed off, running from the obvious madman dressed in Hi Viz. Finally I would get a pickup to stop after I pretty much stood in the middle of the road.
"I thought you were broke down" he would state
No, no I replied "I just need to know if I am headed into snow or not"
HE would assure me I was dropping into a valley, and there was a little town at the bottom I could find a hotel at with "Quaint rooms"
"So what you are saying is they are dives" I replied
"I did not say that, but I do not know what your Idea of a Dive is, if you are worried about it about 19 miles north out of your way is a resort town with everything you need"
Now that sounded ripe good, the thought of a hot tub after the dropping temps and snow cap peaks sounded perfect.
I would find the valley as he stated, but the snow line from the peaks was maybe 800 feet higher, I was cold, and considering putting on my pants liners as I had already put on my jacket liner and two sweaters.
I found the resort town with my dirty lights casting a dim glow on the "Lone Pine" sign.
I stopped at the first hotel which was a comfort in, with a pool that was of course closed for the season. Ok whatever I needed a bed, I rode a half block to the gas station and the best Deli in the area I was told.
I grabbed a chicken salad sandwich and headed back, balancing the styrofom box on my tank bag, big mistake. It would ride fine until I went to get off the bike, at which time it would open just enough for half my sandwich to splatter all over the ground.
Frustrated but happy not to lose the hole thing I opened my tail bag for the small bottle of wine I had bought. It took a suicide dive and left its red blood upon the parking lot.
Yup I was ready to bed down, the sandwich was amazing and the bed one of the most comfortable I had ever slept in.
Before I drifted off I would check my Email again, hoping my fellow German Wanderer had messaged me, she had not, how disappointing but no surprise, I hope she made it safely.
Tomorrow I would finally make Yukka valley.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding; Day three Death Valley

I would leave Beaty NV at the crack of dawn, ten am and ride to Scottys Castle which was my first goal.

This part of Nevada just continues to be what can only be described as the Boulevard of broken dreams, I continue to see trailer houses which are abandoned, missing a wall with insulation blowing in the wind, and businesses boarded up, some like this at seemingly a good location.

It certainly would make me ponder, since I grew up in a Town which suffered a major collapse after the smelter left.
Boarded up homes and businesses are nothing new, but always make me sad as they mean the end of someones dream.

I had to focus on my own dream, the thumper would come to life with the push of a button and south I would head finally into Death Valley.

The Side wind was something else, but seeing the mountains ahead I suspected they would grant me shelter, and that they would.

Riding into this part of the world is unusual, sometimes you can read and see all the pictures you want but can never understand until you see something. One minute you are driving by cati, the next there is just a flat spot of sand acres wide then back to cati again.
The mountains are always there and the view going into the Park is breathtaking for sure.

I would only pass two cars for the next thirty miles, strange as the east entrance to the park was car after car.
For about the last ten miles to the castle would be construction, about as poor as I have seen done in the states.
The two lane highway was narrowed down to three quarters of a lane which snaked thru the mountains.
I was happy there were no cars to pass, but I was mindful of the sand which had blown across the road decreasing traction, dirt or gravel on asphalt is one of those things no one riding likes to see.

I wasn't sure what I would think of Scottys Castle. I had toured Europe so having seen the real thing I was not expecting much, but it was on my way to those rocks that slide by themselves on the ground so It was worth a look.
I have to say it is impressive, and far larger than it seems on the brocures, it is worth a look if you are in the area.
I cannot say if the tour is worth it, as I did not go inside, Ive been inside plenty of posh 19th century homes so I felt that was enough.

I would stop in the ranger portion and purchase my ticket into the park, there I would find out that the road to the rocks was riddled with obsidian and one should beware. I was ok with that, I have done plenty of biking on sharp rocks I would tell the ranger. He would also inform me that do to snow melt, it was muddy and I could not actually walk out to the rocks.
Well damn, not something you think about in the Desert is Snow, or hell for those of us not familiar, rain even.
You hear about it, but I guess it just doesn't register.
I would venture in that direction anyhow, a crater was in the area and being so close, I figured it was pertinent to see all that I could in the area.
At the road which would take me to the rocks I met this fella in this old rig set up on a modern chassis.

HE would inform me it was nut muddy and with this bike I would be fine.
Now mind you the GOvernment site said it was a gravled road, something I am not worried about, I am running a tire which are about 80/20 as I prefer paved road and packed dirt road only, I save my idiotic riding to mountain biking, where I will take a 30lb bike landing on me over a 500 any day of the week.
The road had thick sand on it, which made the front end wash, thirty miles in they say. I could make it, but I was not interested in playing the pick up game by myself, and possibly risking injury. I chalked this one up for a ride to take with actual Knobbys or in a truck. It did kind of suck as this was something I have wanted to see since I was a child, but you cannot always get everything you want in life, at least not right when you want it.

I would continue to the Crater, it most defiantly was worth seeing.

I would have a foreigner take my picture, but as the norm, it turned out like crap missing half the crater. I am not sure the look he was going for, but that wasn't it, he probably just did not care, I wont bother posting that one.

I would head to the west end of the park and my mind would continue to be blown. I am not sure if Mom ever ventured into this area, but I think maybe she got to see thru my eyes, at least I hope.

There is little more breathtaking than long expanses with Mountains in the background. I really do not know why, but for me it is some of the most amazing, maybe it is the journey itself?
I found myself wondering what early settlers and miners saw here. How forboding traveling at 4 mph across these vast stretches of land, truly not knowing what lay before you.

I would venture up Titus canyon somewhat, as i heard the ride thru there was spectacular, it was pretty cool, but I did not want to go the entire route, so would turn back and head to furnace springs, daylight was slowly leaving.

I was expecting to see all kinds of cool things there, but I was not expecting to run into one of those people you just know you were meant to meet.
I would meet a girl from Germany who had just decided to take off, she rented a car and had been driving all around the South West Us. I think wanderers are meant to come together sometimes.
We would burn the last hour of daylight swapping adventures, smiling & laughing at stories and antics only the drifter can get. a big hug and promises of meeting down the road again, she was heading to Yosemiti, at least a three hour drive from there she said, I was heading to Yukka Valley next, she was heading there after Yosemiti. I would give her my Email, but I knew I would never hear from her, for some reason I would never hear from those I meet in my travels.
I always wonder if they make it safely or not, maybe some dont, I suspect they do, and you are just lost in the mix of addresses and names as they struggle to place your address to a face.

I guess for me it was a stark contrast, as I know mom had not only made lots of friends traveling, but would end up meeting and traveling with others in the future.

I decided to stay at the east end of the park and possibly head down to Yukka in the morning, or maybe I would come back and see the Mosaic canyon and those marble walls. Regardless it was only about ah half hour of light left as the sun had already dipped behind the hill so that would work out well as it was about 40 miles away.
On my way I would stop at Mecca, bet you didnt know this adventure was a pilgrimage did you?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding; Day two Death Valley, ok or not

One thing I learned about riding the Valley of Fire is my ass was sore, very sore and to make this trip possible I needed something more.
I also found out that my boot of choice for this trip was wrong. I had chosen to wear my Track boots which would offer maximum protection similar to a ski boot but more flexible.
However I found that riding with my feet on my highway pegs (the pegs forward of normal riding pegs) would allow air to channel thru the various screws in the boot, not good. This was interesting as I had ridden often in 20 degree temps on a sportbike and had no problem oh well, nothing some plastic bags over my feet could not solve.

I would spend the evening after Valley Of Fire looking for a seat pad to put on my bike. I was hoping to find something such as those pressure point style made specifically for ATVs, but to no avail.

I would end up buying just a padded seat cover for a car. I cut the back off and it would fit perfectly over my bike seat with the elastic stretching nicely. In the morning I would venture out and see if my aching butt would find relief.

I am a morning person at all, and I got off to a late start after cramming to make some phone calls and do some other important stuff before I left, I would head out late morning by 10:30 AM.

The way out of Vegas was easy and my mind churned with the excitement of what Death Valley would offer, what awaited me?

The Excitement would quickly be tamed to dull boredom as the desert of nothing opened up before me, about my only reprive on this leg of the journey would be a sign to Mercury, which apparently is some sort of Military Instillation.

I would fill up at a junction which apparently is not worthy of a name, at least on the map I have. The Irony of this stop would be the sign before entering the town, a big red one which said "BROTHEL" my thought was merely "God bless Nevada!"

I headed south down to Ambrosa where I would stop at the Casino/hotel and talk to some fellow riders who assured me said hotel always had openings. Some passer bys stopped and mentioned the hotel was full, I would go in to verify and find that yes, it was booked up NOOO!

Its ok, I could ride through the park, I had time, I dont care if it was 2 pm now. I was slowly starting to realize that the park was far more vast than I had previously Imagined, and the last person who told me "going to see the sliding rocks alone is an all day affair" did not bode well with me.

I continued on to the park entrance to a line of people a mile long, oh no, would I even be able to find a camping space? IT was not looking good.

I wanted to spend an entire day in the park exploring, so I opted to turn around, find cell coverage and see if I could find a room open somewhere near the park.

I would pull off at a point I knew was not the best with only a few feet of shoulder that looked soft. Soon as I put my foot down the bank would give way and the bike would fall. Picking it up proved nearly impossible as the bank continued giving way under my feet. It seemed like twenty cars would drive by as I struggled, I could not believe they could be so apathetic, it had to look like a wreck yet nobody seemed to care. In desperation and one last lift I would get the bike back on two wheels, carefully balancing I would manuver the bike to place on the kickstand. Now the KLR is a wonderful bike, but the kickstand is way to long whne it is empty, when its full the bike squates and you have to find a lower point for the kickstand. I did not find one, my foot would slip and I would fall over again, more cars would drive by and after only two attempts I would have it righted again. Seconds later four other adventure motorbikes would come by, gesturing to make sure I was ok DAMN!

I moved up the road and began calling, I found a hotel in the town of Beaty, about an hour and a half away I would arrive in the dark. The town was eerie, something from a horror movie, with boarded up buildings seemingly everywhere I looked.
I found my Hotel, it looked nice on the outside and my non smoking room was suspect as I walked thru the smoke choked hallway to my room. The room was indeed smoke free until I turned on the fan, at which point it blew in the cigarette smoke scented air from the outside, I left it off and opted for comfy room temperatures.

Tomorrow, actually entering the park

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tribute to Mom, six days of desert riding, day one, valley of fire

I have had my heart set on riding down into Mexico and maybe beyond for quit a while now. Do to a few circumstances beyond my control I chose a smaller ride, and maybe to find if I could find out moms love for the desert.

I am not much for planning any trip, I pretty much just find a couple things I want to see and the rest is completely ad lib.

The Adventure would start from Montana where I would leave a bitter cold with dreams of warmth in my head.

I would use Vegas as my launching point being a good central location it seemed the obvious place to take off from.

Unfortunately like any adventure there has to be challenges merely getting ready. Just unloading my truck would prove a challenge, the plastic bed liner made for a non grip surface for rubber, as I began to walk the bike down I lost control as the front tire slid, rather than risk the bike falling on my trying to save it, I let it go.

Picking it up really was not as bad as I thought, we got it up in short order and the only damage would be slightly bent handlebars.

I would prepare to leave the following morning, everything was loaded, I made sure of that before I left, or so I thought.
I would wake in the morning having dreamed my Riding Pants were hanging in my closet, a quick trip to my truck would confirm this.
After desperately searching the net I concluded I would have to suck up local prices, so began to call close dealerships to see who carried Tourmaster Pants, the answer, nobody.
I would end up finding a pair of Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 pants, they fit perfect and the Knee armor unlike my pants at home would actually sit exactly where they were supposed to. A zip out liner would allow me more flexibility in regards to riding comfort in varying temps so the upgrade I have been wanting to do, would prove worth while.

Wanting to do a trial run to find out how everything was situated on my bike and how it handled, I would choose to head into
into the Valley of fire for no particular reason other than it sounded cool.

IT would prove to be a pretty amazing place and the colors absolutely exploded.

A 157 mile loop is what I planned to come out at lake mead, the hoover dam and back to Vegas. After exploring every single road darkness would begin to fall on me. At this point I would also discover that my new Tourmaster Transition jacket was not the warmest jacket on the planet. I would discover the problem, with the longer jacket it simply lacked any way to cinch at the waste, thus allowing air to funnel up to my mid section where the adjuster was. I would fix this problem with my pants belt and a small bungee, but not quit yet.

I would ride into Vegas thinking I was cold as hell, the mental game certainly came into mind and I believed the temp to be in the high 30s. Upon arriving back in Vegas I would learn that it was only in the low fifties, cold in the desert certainly was different than cold in Montana.

Next up, Death Valley!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Good riddance 2013 hello to a new year and beginning

2013 was a year of ups and downs, I guess as nearly all years are like that
Overall it was pretty shitty though. After small changes in my body do to many factors I believe associated to where I work, it certainly took its toll. 

I tried to end it on a high note, Im not one for drugs or false Euphoria so I did my best to make a complete life change, I think I have succeeded. I have undertaken another grand adenture and along with that I got the change I have wanted.

Normally I do not make resolutions but to make this change happen I have to.

1. I am no longer going to change my life to please others.
I have a nasty habit of continuousy putting my own life on hold for everyone else, not happening anymore, this will be a me year.

2. Eat healthy, all the bad things that happened to my body can I believe be aleviated simply by eating right. Normally I am pretty goo about it but I devulged in more comfort food than normal this past year, no more. Food is fuel and I would not put bad fuel into my bike, someting that can be replaced, so why my body?

3. Meditate, with this comes focus and your body is guided, each day at least five minutes off meditation shall be part of my day regardless.. 

4. Shun the western life as much as possible. We have it good, way to good and with that good living comes the longest overall time spent working in the history of man. That is Illogical, so rather than workin five days for two off, I am going too reverse that and make it two days with five off.

5. Replace the Ipad with something that actually works

Whatever happens I am already on my road to change and I am starting it off with all I need to survive strapped to the back of my motorbike, how cool is that.

So lets make this new year one for the records and kick that bad year in the ass

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago !

For old long ago, my dear
For old long ago,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For old long ago.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long ago.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For old long ago!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago!