Now it's my brother's birthday. Time for another facebook post...
After spending a couple of days hanging out with my friend, his wife and <1 year old baby (which wasn't as bad as I expected), it was time to get back on the road. I'm still trying to make miles so that I can see another friend before he has his finals (accelerated masters in nursing [pretty intense!!]) but I'm not in enough of a rush to ride the interstates, so I took some of the smaller roads, hoping to arrive at Joshua Tree NP before the end of the day. As it's only about 250 miles, I didn't think it would be a problem (and it wasn't). My original plan was to camp in “Slab City” near the Salton Sea. My friend told me though, that the demographics of the area have changed and the hippies and snow birds have been replaced by “meth-heads and thieves”. I don't know if that's really true, but figured it would be cool to see Joshua Tree again anyway (as it used to be my favorite place to trip).
[I did some research and it looks like Slab City is just fine. I should have known the info from my friend would be unreliable as he's also the kind of guy that wouldn't visit a foreign country if they don't have something equivalent to the FDA. I guess he scares easy... too bad (for him and me). To be fair, my research revealed that it's not really a place for tent camping and more of an RV oriented area as there are no bathrooms of any kind.]
If you ever want to go to Morocco and don't care about culture, cheap rooms and different food, don't bother. It looks just like this area of California.
(I'm not entirely serious)
Outside Joshua Tree, USA:
Outside Tafraoute, Morocco:
I took Hwy 101 over to Rt. 126 and headed east through San Bernadino county via Rt. 14 then Rt. 18. Having successfully passed through Desert Sprawlitaire, I entered the true desert with little to nothing in every direction. The miles passed quickly by, and before I knew it I was in the town of Joshua Tree on Rt. 62. I am detecting some issues with the bike, so I stopped at a coffee shop for my semi-hourly fix and to do some research. The bike is making weird “clunking” noises upon acceleration in first and second gear. If I didn't know the doohickey was already done, that would be my first guess. After some searching it looks like it could be my chain and sprockets wearing out. Luckily for me, I plan to replace both sprockets and the chain (as well as the tires) when I get to Phoenix. I really hope that's it, and not some loose metal parts in the engine compartment...
Joshua Tree recently started to charge for camping even in the more remote sites. This did not bode well for my budget, but the only free camping in the area was on some BLM land north of town. I considered it, but decided to try and ride into the park after dark and the money I would save on the entry fee could be spent on a camp site. However, I found out that if you go in at night for free, they'll still charge you on your way out. Luckily motorcycles are only $5 (versus $15 for a car) so it wasn't prohibitively expensive.
I rode in and it was very cold. So far it's been really nice since Santa Barbara (almost too hot) but in the desert at night it gets COLD. Out come the gloves once again. I reached my desired camp site, Ryan, with little trouble (except for a rabbit that ran out in front of me and almost got himself [or herself] killed), set up camp and crashed out for the night.
In the morning:
More photos coming from now on. I promise!