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Old 03-13-2013, 01:00 PM   #1
sagiphile OP
Wife is Sagittarius
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Northern California
Oddometer: 83
Snow in Vegas, Rain in Death Valley

I was planning to ride from San Francisco to Phoenix to Marfa and back to SF by way of Saline Valley. My brother was going to join me but he became ill with the kind of disease that wins you a visit from the CDC.

So I went solo, and did a different trip than expected.

Here's a few highlights and links to photos.

Back safely in SF after a little more than 2,000 miles in the saddle. Was gone 6 days including the 2.5 day business trip to Phoenix.
Had a great solo adventure and stayed warm, safe and dry (as dry as one can reasonably expect anyway)

Photos here:


Home to Los Padres National Forest
  • Great weather and riding
  • Soda Lake Road is a fantastic road going from nowhere to nowhere. Salt lake is about 50 miles long and visible over your shoulder the whole way
  • They don't always tell you when the road you're about to take is going to be partially dirt. PAVEMENT ENDS signs can appear very abruptly.
  • Tumble weeds crowd the roads like Tour de France fans on a mountain stage

Los Padres to Joshua Tree
  • Park was great
  • Lots of freeway riding through LA to Joshua Tree
  • Windmill farms are put where there's wind. When you see them, expect to dance with the bike for a while

Joshua Tree (End Day 1)
  • 12 hours, roughly 650 miles in the saddle to get there
  • Arrived at night
  • Winds up to 40mph. Temps in the 40s.
  • Camp officially closed at dark and sign indicating no sites available
  • Get a room so small the hotel manager apologizes for it

Joshua Tree to Phoenix
  • 4 hours
  • Great road out of Twentynine Palms to the freeway
  • Sunrise over the desert valley. Storms threatening the mountain peaks
  • This is why I took the motorcycle
  • Gloves and goggle get pilfered off the bike in Phoenix. Forgot to lock up one of the small bags. My loss.

Phoenix to Las Vegas
  • Planning to take Saline Valley Road to the Hot Springs
  • Tire change for dirt -- replaced slightly worn Anakees with TKC-80s
  • Warning signs added: GOATS (I'm guessing since it was just a picture of a ram on a yellow sign)

Camp at Spring Mountain in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest (End Day 2)
  • Started heading off-road and dumped the bike in deep gravel twice. Arrived at what could serve as a site and found a shot up television set and empty beer bottles. Went to Kyle Canyon Campground instead.
  • Headlights are starting to catch barely discernible snow flakes
  • Camp at Kyle Canyon
  • Debate only for a moment whether I need the rainfly.
  • Snowfall is visible. Light accumulation on the tent
  • Dark, late, skip dinner
  • Fell asleep comfortably in the Mountain Hardware Lamina 2 zero degree bag
  • Wake up to 6" of snow on the ground. Still coming down heavy. Another 12" is expected. Need to get out before I'm snowed in
  • Pack up gear. Wear Monkey Man jacket under my moto jacket
  • After and hour, get key in lock, but cylinder won't turn. Spare key doesn't work either.
  • Keep working my key problem. Ranger plows out the site. Plows are running on the main road too
  • Snow continues to fall / accumulate
  • Rolled bike under bathroom awning. 45 minutes later get it started.
  • New tires crunch nicely in snow. Right or wrong, they feel like they have better traction in snow than road tires would have
  • Snow and small hail peck at my face for an hour since visor fogs too much and must be left up. This is why I carry goggles. Curse you Phoenix bastard thieves!

Las Vegas
  • Get breakfast and plan route to Saline Valley Hot Springs
  • Northern route is better option now. Easier, avoid elevations where I might get snow
  • Cold ride north to Beatty then to Big Pine where I can pick up the entrance to Saline Valley Hot Spring
  • Change plans in Beatty. Have to miss Saline Valley this trip. Too much rain and snow. Plan best route home

Death Valley
  • Snow in the desert, rain in Death Valley. Nothing makes sense on this trip
  • Routine ride through DV. Cold and wet, but other than that nothing worth mentioning.
  • Planning to get over Walker Pass onto Hwy 178 (one of my top 5 favorite rides in California)
  • Warning signs added: WATCH FOR BURROS

Death Valley to Buttonwillow (End of day 3)
  • Light rain continued until I was back down to sea level in DV
  • I'm sure the desert will be in bloom next week
  • Most of the miles between Beatty and Hwy 178 were work
  • Hwy 178 makes the work worthwhile. Gorgeous run with sun setting behind mountains over Walker Pass, through Lake Isabella rec area, along the Kern River and into Bakersfield.
  • For east to west roads 178 is rivaled for mile upon mile of spectacular beauty only by Hwy 120 between Benton and Lee Vining
  • Make Buttonwillow in the dark. In a good position to ride the central coast back home
  • Bunk at a Motel 6

Buttonwillow Home (End of day 4)
  • Stopped in McKittrick to check out the McKittrick Hotel Penny Bar. Coffee and pie so I had some time to chat up the waitress and learn more about the place.
  • Bitterwater Road is a seemingly endless ribbon of perfect motorcycle roads
  • Trying a new route using Slacks Canyon Road
  • Cholame Valley Road makes me laugh because it seriously look like someone's driveway when you get on it at Hwy 46. You think you're just picking up the long entrance to a ranch or vineyard, but no, it's a real road and rivals Bitterwater for emptiness
  • Slacks Canyon is not a through road, though maps show it as a connector to Peach Tree
  • And Slacks Canyon is dirt about 3 miles after you turn onto it
  • Warning sign: ROAD IS IMPASSABLE IN WET CONDITIONS. Well it was dry when I went on the dirt, but the thin dry crust hid a deep layer of clay muck underneath. Dirt tires were an advantage. Spent 20 minutes unsticking the bike and getting off Slacks Cyn Road
  • Parkfield Grade will be same, closed in wet conditions due to mud so have to backtrack toward Santa Margherita
Usual perfect California riding all the way home

You think I'd be working here if I could afford a real snake?
-- My SPOT page --

sagiphile screwed with this post 03-14-2013 at 01:51 PM Reason: added link to route
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:25 AM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Arizona Desert
Oddometer: 209
Gloves and goggle get pilfered off the bike in Phoenix. Forgot to lock up one of the

Phoenix has the highest autotheft rates in the country. It's full of theives. I hate going there. I am happy your bike was not stolen.
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