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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by EvanADV, Mar 29, 2013.
Oh sure, if you're a pussy.
Las Vegas, NV
July 17, 2010 – July 26, 2010
This was the first time my family had ever been on a vacation like this. We usually drove from NC to the beach in SC, to see family in FL, or to see family in TN. Las Vegas was quite a change of pace for them. That said, I was now a different man than the one they knew before I embarked on this journey. They’d been following my blog and heard from me periodically, but they hadn’t experienced what I’d experienced. I’d seen, felt, smelled, and breathed over 6,000 miles of this country. I’d navigated emotional and spiritual challenges and learned more about myself and God than ever before. I’d truly found what some would refer to as wanderlust. And I wouldn’t ever be the same.
I can sort of compare the situation to that when I returned from several months away in Nicaragua. You feel a bit like a stranger to society coming back from something like that. This time it was similar, but different in its own way.
My family has a very basic concept of what “vacation” is. You go somewhere to stay for a week or so. A nice hotel with a pool. You sleep in, get into your swim suit, and head to the pool. You stay at the pool until 3 or 4pm and go back to the room for a shower. Then you go to dinner. Then you come back to the room and hangout, maybe watch a movie something. Then you go to bed, and do it all over again. This schedule is occasionally interrupted by an outing of some kind, but the bread and butter of the trip is pool time and dinner out. Are you seeing how my little adventure broke the mold?
Thankfully, though my family did spend plenty of time at the pool (something I’m not a huge fan of –maybe 1hr per day, tops), we got the chance to do some pretty cool stuff.
I realize I haven’t mentioned yet we were accompanied by our newfound yankee freidns from New Jersey. I use that term endearingly. Yes, the lady my parents met in a hot tub the year before in Orlando, Mary, was now with us in Las Vegas, this time with her two sons Martin (3-4 yrs younger than me) and Scotty (about my age). This added to the fun, no doubt.
I do have a few stories to share, though I will admit my bike only left the parking garage once during the time in Vegas, and that was to give my fiancée and sister each a quick up and down the strip (they brought an extra helmet all the way from NC just for that).
My finacee arrived the day after I got there and I went with my mom to pick her up in the rental car. Because of my age, the cost was way too much to add me as a driver. Bummer. It was quite an ordeal. She had only flown on a plane with me before this, and that was to Nicaragua. Flying across the country and navigating airports is no easy task for a novice traveler, but at least this time everything was in English and she had a cell phone. And she didn’t have to worry (as much) about being abducted. She is somewhat directionally challenged, so 3 or 4 phone calls after she got off the plane we finally found her. It sure was nice to see her such a long way from home.
About halfway through our time there we decided we’d go see the Grand Canyon. I’d already decided I was going with or without them, but I was glad to have the chance to go together. This would make for one of the funnier experiences of the trip and something our family laughs about often.
As you probably know the most common places to visit the Grand Canyon are the North Rim and South Rim. Both of those are about 275 miles away, though, which was just too much for the family and friends to bear. Enter the West Rim option. This is the one on the Indian Reservation with the glass Skywalk out over the canyon, and it was only 180 or so miles away. Hey, it’s still the Grand Canyon. Let’s go.
We load up in our two rental cars and go. Outside of Las Vegas it is almost immediately flat, featureless desert. Then we get to Hoover Dam. I noticed signs saying “Report any suspicious vehicles” as we approached – remember that, it’ll be important when I write about leaving Las Vegas after our time there. We all got out and took some photos of the family at the Dam.
Other side of the dam is back to desert desolation. Finally we make a left turn off the highway toward the Hualapai reservation. Then we drove down about 5 miles of twisting gravel roads. I was very thankful not to be on the fully loaded Bandit.
Shortly we arrived at the visitor center, a big inflatable tent that was pretty cool, actually. There we paid some crazy amount for tickets to enter. Tickets for the Skywalk were out of this world, so we passed and opted for the standard option. We boarded a charter bus which drove us out to the canyon.
Exit to see one of the most awe inspiring views in creation. And take lots of photos.
From left, Dad, Sister, Mom, Fiancee, and Me. Yes, I’m well aware I’m the sexiest.
Then it was back to the bus and back to the rental cars. Now everyone is starving and not shy about sharing their desire to eat. Thankfully there’s a multitude of eatery options out by the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Not.
On our way out, just as we’re about to get back on the main road to head back east, we noticed this little spot.
The Wishing Well. Little did we know, it was very appropriately named.
It is essential to understand that this sort of thing is totally out of character for my family. This is just a tad too adventurous. They'd much prefer a Chili's. But, options were quite limited. So, all 8 of us enter this little hole in the wall, half from the south and half from the north, half of us kind and polite, and the other half, well, you get the idea. Seemed like we filled the whole place up.
There was one waitress on duty and another person in the kitchen, just behind our table. Both weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. The waitress passed out the menus and everyone looked them over. We ordered drinks. She got most of them wrong. I’m easy to please and really didn’t care, but a few others in the group were beginning to get irritated. We started to order our food. Each time someone told the waitress her order she’d yell at the person in the kitchen and ask if they had any of that left. She said something about him bring the breakfast cook, too, and he didn’t know how to make everything. We’re talking basic sandwiches and bar food. Anyway, most people had to accept their 2nd or 3rd choice because other options either weren’t available or the cook didn’t know how to make it. By the time she was done taking the table’s order most everyone had moved past the point of irritation and into bewilderment. It was hilarious. The place was called the Wishing Well, for goodness sake.
When she brought out the food I think about half of it was right and the other half wasn’t, but nobody cared. We all had a good time with it and left cracking up about how funny the experience was. We often refer back to our experience at the Wishing Well. I'd love to go back someday and see what they've done with the place.
We did a lot of normal vegas stuff. Went to a few casinos, went to the old strip.
Even went to the Pawn Stars pawn shop with my dad. Yeah, the bald guy was a jerk. Surprisingly the place was small, too, and didn’t have as much neat stuff as I expected.
I did see the 2wd (front and rear) trail bike.
The time with my fiancee and the family was, like I said, sort of like a mini version of being home. Knowing I was there for over a week with those I loved felt really good. I was extremely thankful for the chance to have the little break of being a road warrior. But, like all things, it came to an end and reality set in. We said our goodbyes, the family flew home, and it was back on the bike for several thousand more miles of adventure for me. I hit the road feeling refreshed and re-energized.
Las Vegas, NV to Tempe, AZ
July 27, 2010
The morning I left Vegas I was alone in the hotel. Everyone had left early for their flights back home. Back on my own for another month or so. The reality was setting in of the remainder fo the journey ahead of me. I was on the home stretch.
I was able to shed some unnecessary gear and send it home with my family, so I was packing a little lighter this time. I went downstairs to get a luggage cart but they wouldn’t let me have one. Had to use the bellhop. Liability concerns. WTF? So up he came with me to load up my pelicans, tank bag, and other misc stuff. I bet that was a first for him. After that, I went to the deck and rode the bike up to the check in area to meet him. He assisted me as best he could, even though I insisted I didn’t need any help. Persistent little bugger.
He watched shockingly as I bungee strapped my right case on and explained that it was broken, and then proceeded to bungee on the rest of my junk. After we were done I tipped him and I was finally alone with the bike. The area was very fast paced in order to prevent backups, and new tourists arriving in their expensive cars gawked in shock at me redneck rigging bunch of crap onto a strange looking motorcycle. I could feel the stares and curiosity. Didn’t let it phase me. I knew if I did I’d forget something or worse, knock the bike over again in the stress of the moment.
Zip the jacket. Put in headphones in. Put on helmet. Sit on bike. Set navigation. Phone into tank bag. Gloves on. Kick stand up. Ignition. 1st. Throttle. Clutch. Go.
Like that, the next portion of my journey began.
Not sure where this pic is or why I have it, but it's dated 7/27 and I don't have any others from the day
I was following the same route out of Vegas that we took when we went to the Grand Canyon just days before. Like I remembered, the landscape quickly changed from city to desolate desert. Soon enough I was approaching the Hoover Dam again.
This time was different than before, thgouh, in that there was an insanely long line of traffic leading up to the dam, several miles long. And this time, obviously, I wasn’t being blasted with cool air from an air conditioned car. I was baking. After around 10 minutes I’d moved maybe 10 car lengths. I swear the bottoms of my boots were melting. This was crazy. Screw it.
So, taking a lesson from California, I let the clutch out and coasted down the wide paved shoulder. Ah, it felt good to move. The airflow through my sweat filled jacket was like air conditioning. I maintained a very slow pace as to not offend anyone, and many cars moved over and seemed understanding. That is, until I was no more than 200 yards from the entrance.
That’s when this little white Honda with California plates jerked over into the shoulder and the passenger door opened. I didn’t miss a beat, just filed into line right behind them as if nothing happened. I was close enough now that it wouldn’t be too much longer.
No, they weren’t having it. A woman got out of the car on the passenger side and began to berate me.
“You’re not getting by us you f*ing a**hole! You can wait like the rest of us” She yelled.
I ignored her, just facing forward. I thought to myself that she just6 didn’t understand. I didn’t just want to get ahead – I just couldn’t bear to sit motionless in the baking sun any longer. Traffic continued to move a car length or two every few minutes. I never tried to go back to the shoulder for fear that they’d do something stupid, so I just stuck in line. The children in the back seat stared out at me the entire time.
Suddenly the passenger car door opens again.
“You need to back off man! You’re getting way too close to our car a**hole!” Yelled the woman again.
“Are you serious?” I thought, “This lady is out of her mind. I’m not even close to the car. What kind of person harasses another person like this? Especially a guy on a motorcycle – aren’t we dangerous?”
I didn’t respond in any way. Just took it. I seriously considered parking the bike in the middle of the road and letting all the air out of their tires one at a time.
The kids continued to stare and now the woman was turning around and glaring at me. I’d already decided what I was going to do. Remember all those signs I noticed the first time through the Hoover Dam that said to report any suspicious vehicles? Well, I was about to report one.
About 100 yards before the entrance the road split for RVs to go to the right and cars to the left. I went right. Rode right up to the guards. Pulled off my helmet.
“Yes sir, what can we do for you?” said the guard.
“Well, there’s a white Honda up there, early to mid 90s, California tag begins with blah blah, family of four. I’ve been behind them a while. They’ve been acting really strange and I thought you guys might want to check it out.”
“Okay sir, thank you for letting us know, we’ll take care of it. Go on ahead.”
I'm sure it was the highlight of their day to act on the report of a suspicious vehicle. I would like to think they were individually stripped searched, thoroughly interrogated, and had their car dismantled. At the very least, they were inconvenienced in some way. In retrospect it wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but they earned it. Aside from the Canada-US border fiasco, that was literally the worst interaction I had with another human being over the course of the entire trip.
I ran the bike hard up through the gears on the other side of the Dam and well over the speed limit for several miles in order to lessen the chances of crossing paths with the white Honda again.
The rest of the day was largely uneventful. I have written in my journal that I had almost a full minute of déjà vu at some point in the day, which sounds interesting but I don’t remember it. I listened to an audio book for a good portion of the trip from here on out, which really helped pass the time.
My destination in Tempe, AZ was an apartment of a family friend that worked for an airline. He had been laid off some time prior, and had a very difficult time finding a job. An opportunity opened up in Tempe and he took it, even though it meant leaving his family for extended times while they carried on with normal life back in Charlotte, NC.
But, when I was passing through, he wasn’t actually going to be there. He was back home in Charlotte at the time, but he offered up his place for me to use and left me a key at the front desk. The only catch was I had to be there by a certain time before they closed, 5pm I want to say. Well, I made it their 6 minutes before they were closing. Not sure what my plan B was, but I was very glad not to have missed it.
He’d left a note saying to help myself to anything. I remember I had fish sticks and a powerade while I watched Die Hard for the first time. I just brought my tank bag in and didn’t unload anything so I could be on the road quicker the next day. He had dark curtains that blacked out the whole place, which I figured were because he worked crazy hours. I ended up falling asleep pretty early. Tomorrow I was off to Las Cruces, NM.
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Ah, thanks. Use EXIF data? Why didn't I think of that?
Man, you married up . Don't worry, I did too. I don't know what it is about big guys with beards but we seem to attract women out of our league sometimes.
Great report, keep it up!
Yep, no doubt. Thanks.
I've done the heat a paper clip deal for a fingernail and if you're alone, it's hard to get the paper clip hot enough to pierce the nail. However, it is easy to get the paper clip hot enough to cause you much pain and distress.
Being a dentist, when this happens to me I go to my office, grab a drill and use it to drill a hole in my nail. It's completely painless, incredibly quick and makes relieving the pressure very, very easy.
You gotta go with what you have available tho...
Tempe, AZ to Las Cruces, NM
July 28, 2010
The next stretch of the trip was interesting for me. I didn’t have many solid contacts between here and home. One in Dallas, one in Sikeston, MO, and one in Nashville, TN. That left a lot of gaps.
The gap I was facing now was between here (Tempe, AZ) and Dallas, which was over 1000 miles. At this point 400 miles was about all I could comfortably do in a day. I was prepared to camp, or at least I thought I was, having brought along a thermarest pad and a small tent. I had discovered the Tent Space map and noticed an inmate, barko1, located in Las Cruces, NM, right along my route to Dallas. I reached out to him and he generously offered up his spare bedroom.
After my night in Tempe at my friend’s apartment I headed west the next morning toward Las Cruces. The ride was fairly uneventful I remember stopping for gas in Bylas, AZ and noticing it was almost all Native Americans, Navajo or similar I guess. That’s something I never expected to encounter, not sure why I never thought of it. They were all nice people and seemed interested in me and the bike just like any other people group I’d encountered.
It was very hot, and I enjoyed a powerade at a table inside the air conditioned gas station. Filled up my camelback with ice and water and got back on the road.
I remember as I approached Las Cruces it suddenly turned green – from the Rio Grande I assume, as well as plenty of irrigation for the development around the city. If you look at the satellite imagery it’s very obvious. I didn’t even know I was crossing the Rio Grande at the time, but Jon aka barko1 mentioned it later when I commented on the greenery. Strange how hundreds of miles of desert will make a little bit of green be a landmark event for the day.
I arrived at Jon’s house without any trouble, google maps powered Droid got me there without a hitch as usual. He was there to greet me and motioned for me to pull into his garage. I noticed several bikes immediately, a DR650 and an FJR are the only two I rememeber specifically. I’ve owned both since then. Guess he made an impression.
We introduced ourselves and got to talking about bikes. He told me all about his purple framed DR650 and offered to let me take it for a spin. I obliged. First time I’d ridden a dirtbike since my 98 XR100 as a kid. I loved the seating position and the gruntiness of the engine. It felt light and flickable, like I could go anywhere. Maybe it had something to do with the thousands of mile I’d recently spent on my fully loaded Bandit, but my interest was sparked, that’s for sure.
I noticed the popup camper on his F-250 and asked him about it. He and his daughter did a lot of travelling in it together. That’s the first thing I’d seen such a thing and my wheels were spinning about how my future wife and I could load up in something like that and head to Nicaragua. That’s the one thing I still haven’t done (yet) that Jon showed me.
He helped me fix a camera mount I had been using for my bike with one of his spare socket cap screws. I thought it was awesome he had a supply of metric screws around and decided that was something I’d invest in upon returning home.
I met his daughter, Kayla, who was close in age to me, and brought my stuff inside. Kayla was an animal lover, like my wife, and told me all about her animals. She had some serious pain issues, I remember, but still rode occasionally on a four wheeler. After a while Jon asked if I’d be interested in grabbing some Mexican food, and we went on our way. He took me to one of his favorite spots in town and we had tamales, a first for me. They ask if you want red or green (sauce), and I chose red. They were wonderful, and I’ve since ordered tamales often but they’ve never been quite as good. Jon insisted on paying the check.
We talked quite a bit through dinner and the rest of the evening. Jon was a psycholoest in counseling at New Mexico State University. He’d been on ADV for quite some time. Had recently went to Australia and borrowed a DR650 to ride around for a week or two. Jammin Jay of “Jammin Through The Global South” had stayed with him just a few weeks before.
I enjoyed my time there and talking to Jon. He was encouraging and seemed to have a better understanding of what I was doing than most people I encountered. It was good to be in good company.
Back home I got a great night’s sleep in a room all to myself. Can’t ask for much better than that.
Done the drill bit a few times over the years. Nothing to it. And it's not like when the red hot nail, paper clip, etc hits that wound. You have more control with the drill bit.
Nice Ride report. Very interesting. You have a talent for making each day interesting to the reader. Subscribed and thanks for sharing.
Found this pic of me and my little sis riding in Vegas.
Anybody still reading? My wife's grandma (Maw Maw) passed away this afternoon and I have a feeling I may be a little preoccupied with that for the week. Maybe more to come the following week. I have a habit of not finishing things I start. This will not be one of them.
Family first. We will keep.
I've been reading (and enjoying) your RR and am very familiar with the Western US areas you are posting pictures of. I was riding the North West Coast in June and love it there. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are some of my regular riding areas. Isn't Yellowstone Lake Lodge beautiful? So many people are intent on staying at Old Faithful Lodge but I think the lake lodge is much more peaceful. Your photos are making me itch for some fall rides.. :)
Just out of curiosity did your latch break that holds your pelican case to your rack? I have the same setup on two bikes and although the pelicans help save the bike from damage I have broken two of those latches. I always take a spare with me just in case. Something I am a firm believer in as well is Bark Busters, they would have saved your brake lever in a tip over and they are good protection in wind and storm.
Thanks for reading along. I thoroughly enjoyed Yellowstone, can't wait to get back there some day.
Yeah, the lock itself actually broke on the Pelican attachment. Designed that way, apparently. Didn't know about bark busters before this trip but have had them on many bikes since then!
There is so much to see in the surrounding areas of Yellowstone, I particularly like the North East Corner of the park heading out towards Cooke City and Red Lodge. Vegas is much more fun on bike in December.. There is a great group of riders in the Vegas area that are awesome hosts and tour guides. Looks like a great adventure that you won't soon forget!! Sorry about your loss though, as previously mentioned "family first"..
The last latch (pair) I ordered I mentioned that I felt it was a weak link in thier mounting system. I received the same "designed that way" answer.. I told him that great design put me in the hospital. It was a drop that should have only knocked the wind out of me, I didn't get much response.. I have been toying with adding a locking mechanism that won't let the case come off the rack if something happens like that again on a long trip. But I wouldn't be caught without a spare latch at this point.. Did the bottom pop off?
Yikes, mine just left me with a messed up fingernail, thankfully. No, bottom was just fine, literally all that broke was the "tongue" that turns with the key to lock the case on at the top of the bracket.
My dad drove my brother and I down there for the first time when I was five years old. WOW big trees indeed! We bought a tiny little sapling that was inside of a test tube to take home and plant in the back yard (western Oregon). Now that Sequoia is taller than any other tree or structure on the block. I'm guessing about 50 feet tall and growing. The Redwoods are beautiful and special place in the world for sure.
I'm glad your sneeze induced get off did not result in more damage to you or the bike!
Funny, after you mentioned it I remember getting one of those test tube saplings. Sadly, mine is long lost...
We will be waiting patiently. Family has always come first in my book