Friday – Barstow, California
Well, the bike decided to go horizontal today, without me!
The last day for me in Death Valley, and after having some brekky I started packing up. This was a bit of a pain as the sun rose over the hill the wind started up and blew stuff all over! But, I managed to get it all done and on the road by 7am. First stop down the mountain was the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells.
I headed off into the dunes with a specific target in mind, I wanted to look at the wildlife tracks and hopefully see the marks left by a sidewinder snake, a distinctive S S S S in the dunes. I saw many tracks of different critters and even saw some bugs, but no sidewinder tracks.
I have feeling this is a snake coil mark, but I cannot be sure :)
Bugs and small animal holes everywhere in the dried up basins.
The wind was bad, very strong near gale force which made riding a tad difficult, especially the gusts. I fuelled up at Stovepipe Wells and then headed back up past Furnace Creek and all the way up to Dante’s View. This was a wild windy ride, especially the curves and the higher I got the colder it got, very cold until I reached the top and the lookout. Excellent views and well worth the effort, I even met a fellow cricket lover who took my photo, as I did his for him. :)
Then the tight twisty road down until I reached Zabriskie Point, which I had been advised to stop at. It is called the Badlands, very sharply eroded hills and gullys etc.
Back down to Furnace creek where they had some old exhibits of the Borax hauling gear they used back then.
From here I was heading out of the valley via Badwater and towards Shoshone at the bottom of the map. Badwater was the lowest elevation and probably the warmest, but with the wind it was not that hot yet, hard to ride in and very difficult to pull over. There is a small one way loop road called Artists Drive, I went down for a look but did not see a single artist, it must have been too blowy! The hills and rocks were leaching all types of minerals causing different colours to appear. You can see in the first shot the flag flapping wildly, it is just about had it, I am waiting for replacements from home.
Then a few miles up the road, the Devils Golf Course, no one in their right mind would play golf on this salt basin! The road in was a bit gnarly to start with, but OK in the end.
After this was a place called Natural Bridge, it was a dirt ride up a mile of very bad road, why did I do it? Well, because as I was approaching the turnoff, I saw 4 bikes coming from the other direction who had just gone up there, so without thinking I followed :) Silly me, as it was mostly uphill I was stuck with it now, bad corrugations and loose gravel again, don’t they ever grade these roads! I met the bikes coming back, one of them a silver Strom with battle damage on the fairing and no crash bars. They said it was a mile walk from the parking area just up ahead, bummer, oh well, at least I could turn around and head back downhill, that is the easy part.
Finally up the road, just after midday I pulled up at Badwater, an appropriate name for what happened here. Up there on the cliff is a sign that reads Sea Level, a long way up!
Down the bottom of the stairs is the sign where everyone gets their photo taken :) Including yours truly.
This is a very salty lake but there are brine shrimps and other stuff that live in the hot water. Some of the holes people dug are full of dead flies and bees that have come to drink.
I met a father and son who were riding from Las Vegas for a few days and I had a chat with them for a bit.
Did I mention the atrocious wind, well while we were talking an old chap came down to where we were and mentioned about some help needed to pick up a fallen over bike, yep bummer, the wind had blown the strom over and it was now rubber side up!
I had thought I had parked it well enough, but I guess not, well with a few of us it was an easy lift back up. Damage was minimal to the bike, the handguard was scratched, the PIAA light cover, the Happy Trails crash panniers and the worst bit was my brand new helmet! You can see it above the whole bike is resting on it. The reason I leave the helmet on the passenger foot peg is because it will not have far to fall, if it does, well that was the idea anyway.
The bike was fine, the helmet seemed OK after I replaced the plastic pop off bits. I was bit annoyed now and decided to get the heck away from here, but this proved very strenuous as the wind was gusting 50 knots all the way up the canyon and beyond. Not good riding weather, but eventually I made it to Shoshone, where I fuelled up again, this was an expensive place and I kept on going. My plan was to do the Mojave park on the way to Joshua Tree NP and the best place from the map to stay was Baker. Did I mention I have not had a shower for 3 days and probably smelt a bit, well, I wanted a shower and a relax. But it was not to be, Baker is a hole, a fuel and food stop and nothing else. I tried the motels, but they were expensive with no WiFi, so I decided to head west to Barstow.
I eventually got there quite late, another hour down the road and it was quite a large town. I found a Days Inn, I like them and after an extremely long shower, checked about a million emails. Well, not that many, but quite a few anyway. As it was Friday night, I decided to go find a beer. Let me give you a hint, when looking for a bar, always start uphill, that way it is easy home. I did that, went uphill into the setting sun.
After while I had not seen one and asked a local, he said way over the hill and far away, hmm, no way jose. I headed back down to the Barstow Junction, a group of shops and asked there, they said go back the way I came and find Mollies Bar, hidden away a bit, so back uphill I go and found the bar finally, I was nearly knackered :)
I had a few beers, which come in jars and very expensive too mind you, this is about an equivelent of a pot of beer for AU$7 !
I chatted with a local chap called Tye, he wanted me to try a local shot, so we did, after I showed him how to do a proper Tequila Slammer, he was impressed with the taste. His shot drink was a glass of Stout, in it you drop a shot glass with Baileys and Jamiesons Whiskey into it and skull the lot. This is before :)
After that a few more beers and watch some baseball before I headed slightly inebriated downhill (see the principle works) :) It was a late night so I expected to sleep in a bit in the morning, but I enjoyed the evening.
Day – 340 miles and 547 km
Trip – 4,358 miles and 7,014 km
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