Once again it was an epic time with a weather window which was spectacular. Dry and cool conditions were exactly what we could best expect. I was ready with my packing and tested my bike and even got gas at the local 76 station paying nearly 4.45 a gallon for 91 octane the night before. As usual for such long trips, I warmed up the opposed twin engine, checked her oil and even put her to bed with the key in the ignition to be at the ready. I went to bed happy and even my wife was surprised at my preparations. I had a hard time sleeping. I finally woke up for the last time at 5 and made coffee, checked my work email and even reloaded and tightened my pack. I was excited to warm up the bike at 6:45 and went to the garage only to find I had in fact left the key in the ignition but had left the headlight on... A big bummer to the start of the day. I immediately put her to the charger and waited for nearly another hour and a half before trying to start the bike. I paced like an expectant father while she sipped the power very slowly. Ugh! Finally departed on heavy Thursday morning traffic after 8:30. Valentines day- February 14 from Alameda. The air was cool and the traffic heavy down 101 to Hollister. The bike is of course an airhead BMW R100CS, a bike I have had for over 20 years. The familar tic, tic, tic at 70 miles a hour and sharing the commuter lane - i made good time. Yeah, the traffic sucked but is was a good sign the economy is recovering at least in San Jose and South Bay. I caught up to my friends at the Cozy Cup on 4th street in Hollister for a late breakfast after being on the road for over a hour and a quarter. There I got some good eggs, toast and hash - just the right thing to stick to the bones. I began to relax with old friends and great riders. We were going to Death Valley via some of the best, familar roads in California.