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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HowlingMad, Oct 18, 2012.
Great update my friend.
Hey I remember you, we did a Cranberry Country Tour, right? Thanks for riding along.
I fit right in today. I stopped for a while tonight at McD's to leach some wifi and all the kids thought I had the coolest costume. The parents were yanking their kids away from the dirty looking vagrant so hard the kids had whiplash.
Looking forward to a little 450 ride when I get home. I'd love to know what the fully loaded GS weighs right now. A tad more than I'd like anyway.
Great line from Shawshank Redemption talking about geology and life "it's just pressure and time".
"Gotta keep breathing." anyone know that one?
Sounds like a line from a Woody Allen movie. Great RR, enjoy your writing.
After setting up camp I decided to go exploring a bit. I had much more time than I'm used to, so I could afford a longer walk than Ive had since I left. I noticed a very out of place yellow blob a ways out and grabbed the cameras.
It appeared to be an old mining outpost, probably from the early 1900s based on the stone foundations. The site was littered with old cans, apparently a staple of whoever lived here. I wonder if they were as sick of canned food as I am of Lipton noodle mix. The yellow blob was what was left of a water tanker, probably 1950s vintage.
Hopping down from the top of the tanker I managed to drop my camera, afraid its time for retirement. All of my photos' now look like this:
The area was littered with debris, mostly rusted and shot up old pieces of steel from stove parts, cable, roof tins and unrecognizable bits.
I also found lots of dig sites, usually in the side of a hill where lots of light blue gravel had been excavated.
There are literally dozens of them in the area and I investigated several of them but could not work out what they were looking for here. Its a significant effort to get here, let alone bring any equipment to dig so the reason must have been compelling.
(Please note; the following was written that night in camp and is somewhat redundant with other posts here, but it's the raw feelings of the day and I thought you deserved to be bored, twice.)
"I returned to camp not having seen a soul. From my vantage point on the hills I can see the road entering the playa (the dry lake that is the Racetrack) several miles away. Any vehicles on the road create a dust cloud that can been seen like smoke signals from miles away. The time was only 6:30 and I dont usually retire until 9:30 or later. What to do with my time? As I wandered around the camp looking for artifacts I realized that I was looking for signs of civilization, I was looking for signs of other humans. Although I did interact briefly at the visitors center today, I really havent been in any populated areas for three days. Even before that I had spent three days primitive camping. One would think that the two days I spent in between at a hotel would have recharged my social batteries, but it did not. I spent most of it in my hotel, only leaving twice in three days for food. Perhaps thats why I feel lonely tonight. Its not such a stretch I suppose knowing that no one comes out this far very often and it leaves me with a feeling of being very alone . Im very much aware that a little fall, snake bite or other minor incident would have a major impact on me. The farther you get away from civilization the more careful you become about your actions. You realize that something as simple as a flat tire could easily be the end of someone out here. Id like to think that I could figure out how to handle most situations, hence the reason I keep putting myself in these situations, but the less frequently you see people, the less courageous you seem to get.
Its fairly ironic that I deliberately chose one of the most desolate places on our continent and now would love to have the company of someone tonight. As a very distant second place, Id love to make a fire, but theyre quite against it here for some reason. Strange since there isnt much to burn here. "
Note to self: double check boots every morning for rattly things.
If you're in Death Valley, go to Saline Valley Hot Springs - it's more than worth your time. This is the time of year to go.
It was a cold start to the morning, when I finally decided to get up the sun had already reached the valley and it was still only 39. I made some oatmeal and coffee, neither were terribly satisfying but both did their job. As I started to clean up I realized that I was missing trash from the previous night. I have a system for dealing with stinky trash at camp if I can't burn it and I was sure of where I had placed the previous evening's wrapper. Strange. As I started to put things away I realized I was also missing the top to my JetBoil and I know where I left that too.
Now, in the desert with no wind, you hear everything at night, especially when you realize how far away you are from help. My ears were would have heard anything last night I thought, and yet some thief has come into my camp and robbed me. Yet there are no prints near my cases. I gave up my search and finish breaking camp. As I stood there brushing my teeth I see the black cover a ways away, next to it is the wrapper. Both have been scratched and picked to death. Crows are apparently very stealthy. I had a laugh about it and was happy to have my cover back.
I had been on the fence about which direction to take to get out. On one hand I could go back the way I came where everything was familiar, or I could go the way I originally wanted which was listed as much more aggressive road in the park map. (very handy, btw) In fact it wasn't until I got to a place called "tea kettle junction" and stopped to look at my map I made my choice. There was a white 4x4 there with an older man and his wife. I didn't think he had come from the direction I wanted to go, but was surprised when he offered information on the road. (Book by it's cover again) He said the the road I wanted to take was worse than the one I took yesterday and that he turned around at the first mountain pass because it was too narrow. Something about this exchange actually made me feel more comfortable and I started on the new path without any more concern.
What my friend forgot to tell me was that the first several miles were very loose gravel followed by short periods of deep sand. Sadly with a dead camera I was only able to capture some video and these few pictures from my phone:
Well as it turns out the track was some of the most fun riding I've had yet and I was sad to finally be back on blacktop. You'll have to wait for the video, but it's amazing where these bikes can take us.
One last detail, although all I have is a screencap of him, I spotted this little guy on the way back to Furnace Creek. I think it's a coyote but I'm not sure. He wasn't aggressive, but he wasn't too afraid of me either. Cute little guy.
Current location: Tempe, AZ. Headed for Tuscon area next then continuing east. About 4200 miles on the clock so far.
Tom Hanks Castaway!
Enjoy your day today.
Yup, and I'm still training for more sand riding. That is, if you consider wishing for less sand to be training? Whatever works...
I was thinking this trip might deserve something more like, "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." Now you'll spend the next two days of riding with Morgan Freeman narrating your every turn.
I forgot the first day of Death Valley, and there's some really cool stuff there too.
Just on the outskirts of the California/Nevada line I stopped to check in with my wife. I didn't remember any cell signal in Death Valley when I was there in 2008, so I wanted to stop while I could and update my wife who has supported my craziness thus far. She informed me that some of the ruins I had been looking for weren't very far away. So, I headed for a ghost town called Rhyolite, one of the largest, well preserved ghost towns in the area.
More on it here if you're interested.
Unfortunately my timing was off and it was a race against the sun to get any pictures.
Sadly, many of these buildings have fences around them, but not all.
Rhyolite was a classic flash in the pan and fell apart almost as quickly as it rose. It's fascinating to poke around the many dirt roads here, but watch your step.
Perhaps the most photogenic, the Cook Bank building seen in many movies including "The Island"
Lastly, I'll leave you with current gas prices in Death Valley. Should make you feel good about whatever you're paying.
Ding ding ding! The man knows his movies.
Damn, that's an earworm that will be hard to shake.
And yeah, that's not too far from the truth. If you're not growing, you're dying.
Slowing down a bit to let time catch up with me. I'm hoping to visit my uncle Dick near Tuscon, where I'll raid their icebox and leave a ring around their tub they'll be talking about for years. He promised good coffee too and I'm keen to hold him to it.
It's a nice change to feel welcome somewhere, yesterday seemed to get the better of me I'm afraid. I sat outside of McDonalds stealing wifi with parents yanking their kids away from me in a painfully obvious and insulting manner. My hair can't be that bad, can it? Admittedly, I was there for a while staring at a map and GPS trying to find a place to lay my head, covered in 4000 miles of dust, dirt and a few undocumented bug species.
To make things a little more interesting campsites with showers are hard to come by down here. For some reason and I was willing to pay the extra cost for a KOA yesterday until the price climbed to $30 and they didn't seem real friendly toward scooter trash. Payment in full after hours, exact change please.
Aggravated I was determined to find a better place to crash, and for $10 more I found a cheap hotel in Tempe. I felt vindicated and and my attitude improved. I even felt welcome in this run down little hotel. Breakfast left a little to be desired though.
This was their idea of "coffee, juice and pastries" This was the only pastry.
But after driving around Tempe (prounounced 'tempEEE' with a lot of sauce on the ee"
I desperately wanted breakfast, but it was already 10:40, too late for breakfast at my usual. I looked in the GPS and to my amazement there was a Dunkin Donuts only a few miles away. When I got there it had since changed to a pizza joint. Bummer. I pulled in to fuel up and noticed a motorcycle cop. I pulled up and started to chat. Mike was his name and real friendly and very interested in the trip. It really boosted my morale to be reminded of how lucky I was. He retires next year and plans to do exactly what I'm doing, just ride with no plans. Sometimes you get caught up in the routine of anything and forget how lucky you are. Mike was my reminder for the day. Thanks Mike.
Although he pointed me to a less chain oriented caffeine fix, but I really wanted a little slice of home. Success.
Like a lot of riders, we follow others' RR and hope to emulate them one day. I appreciate your honesty and emotional input to this report. Spiritually we follow you and wish you the best, and hope you find peace and a future purpose that suits you. Lovely photos, good text and honesty. Thank you for sharing this with us. It's a great gift from you to us and I thank you.
Didn't you tell me you wanted to host another BBF cranberry country tour? So hurry home so we can pick a date eh.
Well, from McDonalds actually, as usual. Yesterday was a day to catch up on some bike maintenance since I had some time. I don't like taking things apart when I'm out in the boonies, always seems safer to do it when you have some resources available so while I was in the Tempe area I decided to head for a BMW dealer in case I needed anything.<br />
My real concern was the engine light staying on longer than I remembered so it felt good to plug into the computer and see what she was complaining about.<br />
<a href="http://s525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/?action=view&current=ECE3E040-10F8-4A17-9EB9-DEEB5333AF57-6403-0000085286A286F1.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="Photobucket" border="0" src="http://i525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/ECE3E040-10F8-4A17-9EB9-DEEB5333AF57-6403-0000085286A286F1.jpg" /></a><br />
Nothing really, just an ABS fault from a switch I installed to kill the ABS on the fly. Really glad I installed it too considering how much dirt I've encountered so far.
While I was in there I decided to check things over and I'm glad I did. All these washboards have rattled loose a bolt that holds the fuel tank to the frame. It was probably only one more dirt road away from falling out (the bolt, not the tank).
<a href="http://s525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/?action=view&current=C4AF478F-D6A1-4C7F-9D8B-22A870EB5DA8-6403-0000085295C9EF21.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/C4AF478F-D6A1-4C7F-9D8B-22A870EB5DA8-6403-0000085295C9EF21.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
Lastly on the list was this little gem. When your job every day is riding, you become sensitive to the small changes in the bike. The last day something didn't feel right and I think I found the reason.
<a href="http://s525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/?action=view&current=67B4AD1C-7550-4AF1-B764-A8DE7AE77EF8-6403-000008529D3D996D.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="Photobucket" border="0" src="http://i525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/67B4AD1C-7550-4AF1-B764-A8DE7AE77EF8-6403-000008529D3D996D.jpg" /></a>
Easily fixed with a plug in the parking lot. Tubeless tires are so much better than tubes. This would have been a hassle on another bike.
<a href="http://s525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/?action=view&current=1E676698-784D-41B7-979E-124CEF76C4CB-6403-00000852A48FABB1.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="Photobucket" border="0" src="http://i525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/1E676698-784D-41B7-979E-124CEF76C4CB-6403-00000852A48FABB1.jpg" /></a>
Arrived at my campsite about 6:45pm and went straight to bed. The evening was filled with cars passing through camp on their way to a penitentiary (didn't learn this until morning). The headlights made interesting shadows in the tent all night.
<a href="http://s525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/?action=view&current=9126B3A9-DD87-424E-B6A5-EA5F90F61C26-6403-00000852B21AE6CD.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="Photobucket" border="0" src="http://i525.photobucket.com/albums/cc331/howlingmadadventure/2012-10%20Walkabout/9126B3A9-DD87-424E-B6A5-EA5F90F61C26-6403-00000852B21AE6CD.jpg" /></a>
And just to add a little more excitement I awoke to pack of wild pigs passing through my camp. probably 15-20 of some of the ugliest animals I've ever seen. Of course, no one really looks very handsome in the glare of a flashlight in the middle of the night.
It was a boring ride yesterday so my head started to compile some numbers. In no particular order...
Days traveling - 17
Miles to date - 4270
Average fuel econ - 39.3
Est Fuel consumed - 108.6Gallons
Est Cost of Fuel (based on $3.50) $380.27
Meals eaten to date - 51
Meals eaten with others - 2
Repair costs - $0
Coffee costs - $tilt, recalculating.
Max Temp - 94F
Min Temp - 19F
Days of Rain - 1
This is my usual view whenever I'm stopped.
Thanks for that, sometimes when I re-read my posts later I feel like it sounds like a teenage girl on some emotional roller coaster ride. Probably painfully accurate, actually.
I've read a lot of other people ride reports and lots of books on the topic. They range from manly man reports like Striking Viking (Two Wheels Through Terror) and Emilio Scotto (The Longest Ride) to highly entertaining like Lois Pryce (Lois on the Loose) but my favorite is Ted Simon. I really appreciate his honesty. He's not out to impress us, but bring us along for the ride through the ups and downs, courageous and scared moments. I've tried to honor that as best as my inarticulate ability will permit.
P.S. Not to say Lois is anything but honest in her style, really love her stuff. Lois, you rock