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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by kerncountykid, Nov 23, 2009.
awsome ride report! keep it coming
In Cameron we hook right on highway 64 and move in towards Grand Canyon National Park. The familiar red and yellow hues stack up, showing the land's age like the rings of an ancient tree. Then it suddenly changes. It's subtle, the way a distant gun shot is subtle. Rising over a ridge we catch a bizarre glimpse to our right. There is a crack in the Earth.
It's a mirror image of the ragged mountains, as if this was the hole they had exited when moving up through the Earths crust. We diverge and lose sight of the abyss as we rise through Kaibab. I'm warned one last time to dispose of any firearms and finally reach the parks entrance.
Pulling into the parking lot we don't say much. It's totally escaped me now why, but we were both pissed at each other most of the afternoon. Something like that is impossible to commit to memory on a day like this. We follow the small crowds down a white concrete path, through oxygen and water starved shrubbery. In one truly awe inspiring instant your line of sight clears and the entire canyon reveals itself. We're still deadly quiet, only the cause has changed and I have fully commited it to my memory. For life.
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In a poorly executed pass my camera is dropped and I'm pretty sure it's toast. The first picture is blurry. Really, at the Grand Canyon? It sorts itself out and I get my first ironic photo of the trip, complete with a huge fever blister. You have to love non-genital Herpes!
This was the end of the planned trip. Having fully abandonded Las Vegas we rode a hard line South with no clear destination. Our trusted atlas promised good riding in Prescott a hundred miles out from the park exit. Fond memories of Flagstaff left me enthusiastic about our prospects in this part of the country.
... remember this day began way back at Lake Powell. The shit is about to hit the fan.
humorous shot of the oil change.
groovy trip & story
Great report and pics. Steer clear of the shit.
Nice old bikes and great pictures.
How did you come up with your ID? No Kern county in Arkansas.
(I live in Kern County CA.)
Bakersfield born, just like Buck!
My wife still sports a burn scar on her calf from the CB550 I had in college in the early 80s! I loved that bike...and I still love that woman.
Williams, AZ. I have been here before. Jordan and I walk into a Denny's and some foggy area of my brain clears. I realize this is the very same Denny's I stopped at almost five years ago on my first solo California to Arkansas car trip. What a boost! Memories of my now deceased Bonzai tree named Andy, perched on top of my car, soaking up a Fall rain as I eat French toast, come rushing back.
As always the atlas joins us at the table. Prescott offers several campgrounds in addition to some of Americas best motorcycle riding. I take note of Wolf Creek campgrounds, the last outside of the city limits. We plan our route, a simple trek 16 miles West on the abysmal Interstate 40, then a short ride South on highway 89.
Prescott is such a cool town. Very similar to Hot Springs in Arkansas. Great bars, laid out like an old tourist destination. Hot Springs can thank the bath houses and major league baseball for it's notoriety. I'm not sure what Prescott's main attraction is. Maybe just good vibes. It's about 9 PM when we stop for gas on our way out of town. A great day of riding should always end with a great fire. We buy some wood and set out for Wolf Creek.
Hang in there guys, I know this is getting 'wordy'...
[The abridged version of this post: we missed the campgrounds, I got a gun pulled on me and we're lost in the desert]
White Spar campground came and went as we entered Prescott National Forrest. In the darkness we pass our sign, "Wolf Creek - 6". The road began to wind and twist in a way that made me really nervous. The riding was exciting and a dramatic rise in temperature alerted me to the fact we were decending in elevation. I got dizzy at one point and short of breath. Almost an hour of wild riding passed before we found ourselves at the base of Prescott. I felt less like I had exited the forrest and more like I had been ejected. Looking back we realize the Wolf Creek sign meant "turn left here and go six miles, stupid".
It becomes clear Jordan and I have made a misjudgement. At the base of the mountains leading out of Prescott lies the desert. Not an arid expanse of several miles, but the desert you see people staggering around in in the movies. Bleached bones type stuff. We've plummeted in elevation and our hands are swollen. I somehow feel as though I weigh a thousand pounds, but am also light headed. Outside Congress I spy two sheriffs deputies lingering behind the area's single solitary gas station. I roll up and kill the bike. Cop #1 unholsters his gun and cop #2 orders me to kill my light as he shines his in my face. They do not like me. Like a rambling hillbilly I quickly tell them we are lost and on a motorcycle trip from Arkansas and that we need their help. I also inform them we are considering sleeping in the desert. The guns go back in the holsters and out comes the sage advice.
Turns out sleeping in the desert (which we did actually think about) is a bad idea around here. There are snakes, scorpions and some of the people apparently will kill you and take your stuff if they see you. They tell us about a small state park heading towards California. Jackpot! We get directions and head West on highway 60 towards Wenden and Alamo Lake state park, our oasis in the desert.
Someday I will die. When I die I will either go to heaven or hell. I don't know what heaven looks like, but I have been to hell. Hell is the ride to Alamo Lake state park in southern Arizona. We are blasting through the desert and see exactly one car and, believe it or not, a guy on a chopper during the entire ride from Congress to Wenden. We reach Wenden and see this sign: "Alamo Lake State Park - 38". I'm crushed. In one of the most bizarre moments of my life Jordan looks at me with a wild eye. I'm officially in a bad acid trip. It's about 1 a.m. as we head towards Alamo Lake.
The ride out is 38 miles straight North into the interior desert. We rip through the darkness on a narrow two lane road with cattle tracks every mile and sinkholes that bring your stomach into your mouth. 38 miles doesn't sound like much, but we were rocketing into the pitch black, away from any kind of civilization with total abandon. It really felt like a death march.
We finally made it, pitched the tent in the first campsite we saw (they were all empty) and started a huge ass fire. There was a log obviously left as a chair that we threw on the fire. It burned all night. In the morning we woke to find we were in some abortion of a state park, a monument to epic failure. People of Arizona, your tax dollars are keeping a state park running at the gates of Hell. At 6 a.m. wild quail surrounded the tent making the most annoying call I've ever heard. On four hours sleep we got up, packed our gear and exploded out of the park. I did at least 75 every inch of the way back to the highway. We stopped for a couple pics. Enjoy the sport pants, I didn't give a crap any more.
Having finally made it out of that debacle we stopped for some fruit at a tiny grocer in Wenden. Local youth give us the stink eye. As I'm putting my helmet on I begin to tell Jordan an insanely vulgar joke before I realize an old woman is within earshot. She warns me 'You boys don't want to be broke down around here'. Riding out of town we see a sign for camping just outside the city limits. I yell 'WHAT?' in a high pitched voice into my helmet's face shield. Now this must be what acid is like.
That sign was probably not there the night before. The cops called ahead and got somebody to cover it up. Arizona humor. Either that, or God was just f*cking with you to remind you who's REALLY in charge!
I'm riding through the broiling desert air in my skin tight sport pants with purpose. Jordan and I intersect i-10, the deep Souths main artery, and rejoin civilization. In the hottest September air of my life the California border station slows the interstate procession to a crawl and I'm quickly waved through. Jordan continues on and I stop just long enough to snap a picture and stretch a big dumb grin across my face. I built a machine that took me exactly where I wanted to go. It felt great.
I call our buddy Justin in LA who is waiting for us to arrive and to start the second leg of our trip. "Hey, it's me. We'll be there in 4 hours." Click.
Exit 217. This is where Jordan's trip ends.
8 miles from the center of the desert I notice Gord has vanished from my rearview. I pull off exit 217 and wait. I try calling. About five minutes later I spot him, chugging down the shoulder of i-10 at a brisk walks pace. We exit together and pull into a cutaway in the desert. He tells me the bike has hit a wall and just won't accelerate beyond 2k rpms. Idles beautifully, then death bogs with any throttle applied.
We see a road sign in the distance but can't quite make it out. Gord zooms in for us with his Nikon:
Desert Center - 8
Indio - 57
Los Angeles - 184
This is the last photo on Jordan's camera.
We go through the bike check procedure that has become so familiar with no success. For the second time a tow truck hauls the CX in. His insurance covers a ride to Motorcycles Plus in Indio. A guy on a Gold Wing stops and gives us some water while we wait for the tow and I feel bad for the joke Gord and I had been telling on the trip, "Nice Gold Wing, you should get a motorcycle".
The next two days are spent at the Palm Tree Inn. We go through the bike from top to bottom with surgical precision and cannot get it. The owner of the hotel offers to store the bike for us in an abandoned restuarant they own. Justy, our buddy in Glendale comes to gather our corpses. I ride the 120 miles to LA behind them. Slipping past the city limits is bittersweet. I did it, but didn't keep my promise to Jordan that I could fix anything mechanical that could possibly go wrong as long as we could get the parts.
In LA Justin showed us his new digs and some of the cities greatest offerings. In-N-Out Burger probably tops the list for me, Mulholland drive for Jordan. We all made it over to Ventura while sourcing some parts for the CX. I knew Jordan had never seen the ocean, but didn't realize he wasn't familiar with how it worked until I saw him accidently let two feet of crashing waves rush past his fully clothed legs and shoes.
I got to see the Capitol Records building where a few lucky artist have their most treasured works marketed to the masses in slick packaging...
... and Amoeba, where those records get thrown on the heap.
The bald guy above is talking to his friend about out of print Morrissey b-sides. Late nights in the city make for strange booze runs. I just got ice cream.
Back to the grind, Jordan and I made four 240 mile round trips back to Indio to work on the bike and try out replacement parts. Finally we got a SOHC4 forum member, Queeg, to drag the bike to Glendale. Hell of a guy. Jordan gave it one last college try, spending an entire day ripping through the bike to no avail.
That's not to say he didn't catch any lucky breaks. His boss kept shop in Little Rock, but lived in Los Angeles. He just happened to be heading East with a half full trailer that weekend and Jordan slipped his bike on board and headed back home, leaving me & Justy to carry the torch. Goodbye Jordan, thanks for taking the plunge with me!
I like your style, dude!
Keep it up.
good read. Too bad for Jordan. Live to fight another day.
Keep it coming!
Justin and I get cheap hair cuts in LA. Somewhere after entering California I lost my tic-tac-toe silk scarf and am heartbroken. We pack up the bikes in a hurry, the first time for Justin. Luckily he inherited the pack Gord left behind; a good bag and blow up sleeping pad, neither of which he had. I was a little leary of his roughing it outlook, only because I had a killer rash, jock itch and a blistered spot on my face from a horrendous sun burn I got on my nose somewhere back in Oklahoma. I don't know how much more roughing it my frail body could handle!
Justy's bike is the '05 Triumph Bonneville Black.
Glendale to our backs, we get on the 101 at 5 p.m. Well shit. How did we leave this late in the day? A runaway hubcap almost kills me. We stop to stretch in Santa Barbara and walk through the crowds of wealthy, horny 30-somethings. At a grocery store Justin tries to talk me into me into shoplifting some fire wood. I'm too far from home for that kind of karma. Or at least any more than I've already built up in my short life.
Refugio State Beach offers ocean front camping and we're cold. Short day, but a good start. The campground is full but we ride through anyways, just hoping. We're flagged down at the group site by good folks who offer to let us camp on the outskirts of their site. Justin marvels. We agree; karma. After pitching the tent I shut up long enough to hear the ocean pummeling the beach and realize we're right on the water. I sit in the sand for a while under a full moon and am glad I came on this adventure.
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Fantastic! You've taken me back 30 years to my 1978 Honda 750F and all my new friends I still call my best to this day. One of them was on a new CX500 when we met on the road. Similar sneakers, helmet and jacket.
I really appreciate your efforts here. Thanks.
I'm working on a 1984 CB650 right now and your write up has me totally stoked to get it on the road. Some fuel petcock and fork seal fixing and she'll be ready. Excellent write up!