Alone in the Mojave Desert; Death Valley & Mojave National Preserve

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dave6253, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Follow me through the Mojave Desert

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    as I ride

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    in the footsteps of ghosts

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    encountering obstacles along the way

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    stopping to admire the beauty of the small things

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    there will be sand

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    countless rocks

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    and other textures

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    meet a bonafide RTW rider as I prove I don't always need to go alone

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    Let's hit the road!
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    #1
  2. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,289
    Location:
    Über Alles,California
    Soooo IN!!!!


    :lurk
    #2
  3. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Thursday, March 10th

    The ride starts in the desert, but it's the wrong desert. Like all of my rides I start out in the Sonoran Desert. I've been reading Death Valley Ride Reports for years. It's time to stop dreaming and go do it. I've been through DV several times on bikes, but have never ridden off the pavement there. To start the ride I must switch to the Mojave Desert.

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    On the US93 it doesn't take long to reach the Joshua Tree forests.
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    To tell the truth, I really wasn't in the mood for this ride yet. After spending months studying maps and dreaming up this ride all I needed was the time off. Now that the time has come, for some reason I'm not feeling it...

    yet.
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    I jump off the highway to take a little "shortcut".
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    This is a fun road with lots of twists and hills.
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    Who Will Blink First?
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    Oh Crap! I knew there was a river crossing on Signal Road even though I've never ridden this crossing before. I hadn't expected much water. We haven't seen rain for weeks. There was a big sand bar that was super soft and deep running through the middle of the river. I opted for the deeper line on the left side to avoid the worst sand. If I can make it about 2/3 of the way across there are some rocks that should provide some traction. I still need to cross the tail of the sand bar though. The deepest water was about 2 feet.
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    Whew! That was close. I nearly bogged down completely in that soft sand. I was inching forward with the rear tire spinning, the engine roaring and paddling like crazy with my boots. The rear tire finally found some rocks and propelled me outta there.
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    I'm trying out new tires for this trip. The new Kenda Big Blocks are designed for big bikes. They are a little more off-road oriented than the TKCs I've been running. I'm not sure I could've made it through that river with TKCs. I plan to torture these tires to see how they last.
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    So that's why no one else was crossing the river. I swear there were no such signs coming in from 17 Mile Road.
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    Joshua Tree
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    Alamo Road is a high-speed blast!
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    A Funky Tourist Attraction Along the Interstate
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    I jump on I-40 [​IMG]

    and head into Kingman for fuel.
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    #3
  4. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I head out of town by the railroad tracks

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    onto a stretch of the historic Route 66.
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    I've never before ridden this stretch of the US66 through Sitgreaves Pass.
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    These corners are infamous for claiming the life of many motorcyclists. It is a popular route for bikers, especially during the Laughlin River Run in April.
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    The Kenda BBs stick just fine.
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    This guy tried a little dualsporting in a boulder strewn ditch with a Goldwing.
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    The rider said he was okay. He just had a little shoulder pain. Lucky.
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    He had enough help. They were calling for a tow truck, so I went on my way.
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    I rolled into the settlement of Oatman, Arizona for the first time ever.
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    Oatman is a mining village that has never actually been incorporated as a town.
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    It's the kind of place where bikers line up at the saloon
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    and the burros are unimpressed by a Toyota Prius.
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    It's the kind of place where gunfights break out at least twice daily while the tourists stand in the crossfire and block the traffic.
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    Staring Down the Barrel of a .45
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    The kind of place where men lay down to die in the street.
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    I roll down the hill to Bullhead City and wait in a long traffic jam to cross the bridge into Nevada.
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    Finally, I head west from Searchlight, NV into the Mojave National Preserve on Nipton Road.
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    #4
  5. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I crossed into California near Nipton and turned south on the Nipton-Moore and Brant Roads.

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    These roads followed the rail road tracks. It was a fun track with one of these sandy or rocky wash crossings every 1/4 mile or so.
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    I'm in the Ivanpah Valley along the base of the New York Mountains.
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    I'm starting to have fun; finally in a desert mood.
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    Occasionally the road runs up on the rail road grade and you have to contend with the crappy rail road gravel.
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    I hook back up with the asphalt at Cima and follow the trains towards Kelso.
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    I start thinking about where to sleep as the shadows lengthen.
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    I make it out to the Kelso Dunes and find a free spot just before sunset.
    This will do.
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    I have no time to set up camp. I grab the camera and head out onto the dunes to catch the sunset.
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    I return to the motorcycle and cook up some dinner. The Kangaroo Rats come out of their burroughs at sunset and began pestering me. It's clear they are used to being fed. I chase them away and they just come right back. I don't want to contract the Hantavirus!
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    I crawl into my nylon mobile home and read some before falling fast asleep. Desert Dreams
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    Day 1 Stats
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    #5
  6. ADV Fool

    ADV Fool Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    455
    Location:
    Plumas Lake, CA
    Really liking the pics and the writing style. I'm subscribed . . . . . .
    #6
  7. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I'm awake at first light and packing up camp.

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    The sun peeks over the Providence Mountains.
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    The plan this morning is to check out some of the spots around Hole-in-the-rock before heading north to Death Valley. Hole-in-the-rock is east of the Providence Mountains. I could ride back to Kelso and take the main pass road, but this powerline road through Foshoy Pass looks fun.
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    Looking back at the Kelso Dunes.
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    There are two roads that nearly parrallel each other through this pass. One is on the left and appears straight and boring. I took the route on the right, which goes much higher and is very twisty. It has been graded recently and was in excellent shape.
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    On the east side of the pass the road becomes straight. You can see long distances, but I cannot see the paved road I know runs north across the valley. I know I'm getting close.
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    Finally the road appears when I'm right on top of it. I turn left and turn off my brain...
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    WTF. I ended up on the wrong paved road, which led to this locked gate at a State Park. When I first rolled up here I thought they had closed the National Preserve. I was already thinking about the time-consuming detour and how it would ruin my plans for the day.
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    I should've been paying attention. I don't have enough fuel range to make these mistakes very often.
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    I make it to the Visitor Center at Hole-in-the-rock. I refill my water bottles and violate the clean restroom. I was unimpressed with the scenery here. It would likely improve on the hiking trail, but I don't feel like trying that today. I do meet a nice lady in the parking lot. We chat for awhile and share contact information.
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    Black Canyon and Cedar Canyon Roads back to the west side of the mountains was fairly boring. I'm running low on fuel and must get to Baker.
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    25 Miles of I-15
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    #7
  8. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Baker provided fuel and fast food. North to Death Valley!

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    The sun beats down
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    as the asphalt zips by
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    It wasn't long before I'm in DV.
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    The Harry Wade Road (AKA Saratoga Springs/Badwater Road) was like riding in a ditch.
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    I spotted many reasons to stop for a closer look.
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    So far I'm liking the traction of the KBBs.
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    Crossing the Amargosa River
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    There was one section of deep gravel that made it really difficult to stay upright. Thankfully it only lasted 300 yards or so.
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    The Harry Wade Road intersects Badwater Road at a curve. I ended up in the middle of a large pack of bikes.
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    I stopped at Ashford Mills Ruins.
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    She Begs to be Ridden, Hard
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    I met Laura and Ed in the parking lot for the Ashford Mills Ruins. The were a very nice couple from Eastern Alberta. They were on a long ride. He had a 2010 Yamaha Venture and I think she was on a Kawasaki Vulcan. They were sweltering in the heat, but happy to be out of the snow.
    #8
  9. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,093
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Hey Dave, great pics and story!
    Thanks
    #9
  10. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I started thinking about my plans for the day. I could make it to Furnace Creek easy enough, but then what? A noisy crowded campground if I could find a site? Camping is not allowed on West Side Road, but I notice the signs at the start of each side road saying no camping for the next 2 miles.

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    So I rode up Johnson Canyon Road for more than 2 miles and found a a place to spend the evening.
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    It was nice and warm here.
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    Look Closely. A bird is buzzing my tent.
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    Badwater Basin is visible across the valley.
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    The sun sets over the Panamint Range
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    and I watched the shadows crawl across the valley and up the Amorgosa Range
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    It was a serene evening alone in Death Valley.

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    Day 2 Stats
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    #10
  11. stickman1432

    stickman1432 Crusty Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
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    Location:
    So.Cal.& St George UT-Baja-riding anywhere
    GREAT PHOTOS !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep it coming....:clap
    #11
  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Hi Larryboy, Bob, and ADV Fool. Thanks for joining in!
    #12
  13. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
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    Thanks Rich! I've got more where those came from.
    #13
  14. DARKRYDER

    DARKRYDER NoNoob

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    238
    Location:
    Santa Clara
    Very nice. Keep the great photos coming :thumb
    #14
  15. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,701
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Up Before Sunrise
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    The bike was packed and ready to go by time the first golden sunlight arrived.
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    Time to finish the West Side Road.
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    Death Valley is a place of extremes. We often think of the extreme temperatures, but it's more than just the climate. Death Valley is a love it or leave it kind of place. I'm sure many tourists and probably more than a few motorcyclists come through here and can't wait to leave. Others fall in love and keep returning.
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    At the Eagle Borax works I learn the sad tale of a failed business venture leading to the suicide of the owner. How depressing it must've been to try to eek out a living in such a place in the 1880's?
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    Maybe things would've turned out differently for old Isador if he had this to enjoy the area with.
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    Then, just down the road I discover the grave of Shorty Harris.
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    And found the extreme. A guy who loved the Death Valley so much that...
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    I thought about the extremes of the effect this area has on humans as I rode the rest of the day.

    In my own life, I was first introduced to the desert on a trip sponsored by Uncle Sam(Arabian Desert). After enduring far too many multiple-day sand storms, I thought I'd never want to see the God forsaken desert again. The desert never left my heart though. A couple years later my wife and I packed everything we owned into an automobile and like so many other Okies before us, we headed west in search of a better life. 16 years later, I doubt the rest of my family understands why.
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    I think Mr. Garmin lies a little.
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    The temporary Visitor Center collects my $10 fee.
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    Changed the World
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    Spoked
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    This happy family of 4 heads out to enjoy the warm day. There's a toddler in the trailer.
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    I'm not sure I'd want to share the road with tourists in these while on a human-powered bike.
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    Holy Cow! I don't think I can afford to continue.
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    I hear Titus Canyon is nice.
    #15
    gregoblv likes this.
  16. Ladybug0048

    Ladybug0048 Bug Sister

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
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    12,425
    Location:
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    This is a perfect ride report to enjoy with my morning coffee,:*sip* it has many of the things I love - - - Motorcycles, Death Valley, flowers and beautiful photography.

    Looking forward to more. :lurk
    #16
  17. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to asphalt!

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
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    8,310
    Location:
    Kalifornia
    Great pictures, what are you shooting with?
    #17
  18. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
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    Location:
    East Bay, CA for now
    :clap :clap :clap I was gonna tell Ladybug about this RR. :ear

    I see she beat me to it. :wink

    Dave, you mix images and words well. :thumb

    :lurk I've got the big tub o' popcorn. :lurk

    :lol3
    #18
  19. Fronnzy

    Fronnzy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    335
    Location:
    Canada
    +1

    there is some great light being captured. Do you have a big kick ass flash with you for those night bike shots?

    Very cool report.
    #19
  20. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
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    Location:
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    Great RR... keep on!
    #20