Death Valley. To a kid raised in the Northwest, the name has such a mystique to it. I remember the old TV series when I was a little kid, Death Valley Days. What was this faraway and dangerous place? What are your chances of even coming out alive if you dare to venture in? Well, we were sitting around wondering what to do for fun in the depths of our Montana winter, and as we were hanging out at the office one day looking out the back window at town..... Bob pops up with this idea. Let's go ride Death Valley. Oh, the mental imagery of what we could do! The thunder of our mighty steeds across the barren desert! Doesn't take long (maybe one more Captain Morgan) before were on board and shooting text messages out to some of the other guys. Adam's in. Skip's in. Leon says Hell yeah. All we gotta do is clear it with the wives. Hoo-boy. But see we're big tough Montana studs and we just lay down the damn law and that's how it works. I got done begging and writing love notes just in time to start getting the V-Strom ready for the trip. The other guys got clearance and we went to work on logistics. I won't bore you with that but it was a bit of an undertaking. Day after Valentine's day, we were wheels-up at 4 AM from Hamilton MT. Stopped in Salmon ID at 6AM for fuel and essentials. As it got light, we still happened to be in the frozen north but were heading due south with great determination. Further we went, Adam and I in the Mighty Duramax, and Marty, Bob, Skip, and Leon in the chase vehicle. By evening we were closing in on Vegas. Bob and his son stayed in Vegas, and the rest of us stayed in Pahrump. Pahrump is an old Indian name meaning Date-expired food from Vegas. We ate a nasty seafood buffet at our hotel, being too tired to go anywhere else, and a couple beers had us out like a light. Morning came quick and we unloaded. Our loose laid plans were to ride the north end of the park one day, south the next, and options for the third. We didn't know too much about it, although Bob rode the park on a Harley some years back, and after reading a thousand ADV ride reports on the park I was in option paralysis so figured we'd just ride around and get a handle on the place. Off we went. Stopped at the Armagosa Opera House for a quick look at the map and game plan. The first stop was Zabriskie point. Fantastic introduction to the park, and what was in store for us for the next few days. This is Bob and his son Levi. He's in college at Gonzaga in Spokane. Seems like just a couple years ago we were all camping and little Levi was telling me about the pan-sized cutthroat trout that he'd caught. Man they grow up fast. Now he's one of the guys, and a very high quality young man I'm happy to ride with. So we head out across various lands of beautiful desert, colorful rock formations, the brief greens of spring, and the great open expanses. We stop at Furnace Creek for a break, and it's a fascinating place with some historical information and displays. Pretty well equipped for what I thought was there in the park, next time I head down there I'm posting up there. We rode on, saw the Ashford Mill Ruins, and ended up in Stovepipe Wells for lunch. The big burger was great! The Gang, taken at Ashford At Stovepipe. Hey Adam, look behind you! We continue up the road, and end up at Scotty's Castle, another one of those places you've always heard about, now get to see in person. Good excuse for me to don my dorky desert hat. In the store they had valuable and educational literature. I thought about naming the ride report after this book. (Especially after what was to come from the Pahrump food) So we're cruising up out of there and off to the left, in a dry lake bed, is this silver car just going like hell. I think he found the top end and he ran the lake bed both ways. We pull over to watch, and the guy kind of slinks away, but we weren't judgmental, we love it. Leon, Adam and I swing out there for a couple quick glam shots of the bike and then open 'er up. Surprising how much traction there was on this stuff. Getting late in the day, up the road we go past more desert special interest points. This one the Shady Rascal just had to get a picture of. So the next day we head out and work our way south. Devil's Golf Course Big Mart (ADV MartyMoose) is having fun and always keeping us in stitches An Alien! No, A Leon. (ADV Whenindoubt) We also get to the Artist's Drive. What a beautiful stretch of road. We hiked up this hill for some pictures along the way. No beer here, let's go. There was a BMW Airhead rally in Furnace Creek for the weekend. Some of the old classics were up there on Artist. These were gorgeous bikes and we talked to the guys for a second. Along with the Airheads there were a bunch of new BMW's running around too. The R1200GS guys with their $20,000 bikes all perfect and polished, the immaculate expensive Aerostich riding gear, their $700 helmets, and their snotty ass attitude. They never wave and they are better than you. Pricks. We head back for Pahrump, and some of the guys take that road up to the top for the overlook picture. I miss this because I'm nearly dead from food poisoning from that morning's nasty breakfast in nasty Pahrump. We get back to Pahrump, and Adam and I head for a different spot for food. The service is slow, the food was mistaken, the bill was screwed up, and Adam's helmet was stolen right in front of the door. Day three we start out of Vegas and head for Hoover Dam. The Pat Tillman bridge is all done, this is the first time I've seen it completed. Impressive! Need some spring runoff. I like the boat ramps there. In Montana, a boat ramp might be two lanes wide, occupied by one redneck right in the middle, trying to jump-start his dead boat that sat in his pasture all winter while kneeling on the seat his horse chewed the cover off of. You back around him over some rocks and dump your boat in, while his wife peers at you over her Bud light on the dock and scratches herself. Saw some desert sheep. Took Lakeshore Drive and headed out past the lake and into the desert. We stopped at a real biker bar in Overton. Cold beer was not bad at all. From there we took off through the Valley of Fire on the way back to Vegas. Pretty drive, but I wouldn't pay $10 again just to take that ten mile stretch of road. Bob’s having fun cruisin’ <o></o> <o> We got into Vegas, loaded the bikes up and it was suddenly 6pm. The rest of the guys were heading for Gallagher's for steaks, but Adam and I kinda wanted to get some miles under us. We got rolling with the Mighty Max and with a short nap in the truck somewhere in Utah, somehow pulled an all-nighter, and were back in Hamilton at 10 AM. Making a big trip like this is a lot of work, kind of spendy, and you never know how it's going to turn out. But that's just part of the adventure. Once you get outside the comfort zone, pack your stuff and just head out thataway, you get to find out a little about the world you might not see from the airport and the beach resort. On my motorcycle, I see, smell, feel and take part of the whole world I'm in, and get far away from the seemingly senseless struggles of the daily work life. It's an escape, comradery, therapy, inner peace, and a discovery, all wrapped up into one little machine, a stretch of road, and a twist of the throttle. I love it.