In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    689
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 461

    Arizona

    The Grand Canyon is outrageously grand. 10 miles wide, 1 mile deep and 277 miles long. It's so grand in fact that it's quite difficult to appreciate it at the human scale. We arrived into the National Park and pitched our tent in the now slightly warmer nights of Arizona. The following day we found an unmarked hiking trail that creeped right onto the canyon rims edge. We had the entire place to ourselves. Amazing really, how people will travel from all over the world to see the grand canyon, but not hike the extra 15 minutes to truly look into the gaping mouth of the canyon itself. Most folks we seen were perfectly happy to hop on the state provided sightseeing shuttle bus and take photos from the overcrowded viewing platforms.

    The sheer volume of tourists here at the canyon is just unreal and we barely got a space in the 500 camp spots available.

    We were happy to move on, but not before taking an extra long moment to appreciate just how impressive the view actually is.

    That night we were accosted by 3 State Park Police who came to tell us that we had illegally collected firewood and were breaking the law. Admittedly I was guitly, so I hid in the tent whilst Kyla spoke to them in deliberately shattered English and long paragraphs in convoluted Afrikaans in hopes they would give up. A trick that worked a treat in Asia. In America, I wasn't so sure.

    It took the cops about 4 minutes before they gave up. They told us that we really should learn English if we plan to come to America and that next time we would not be let off so easily. I guess nobody wants the headache of writing a fine to people who don't have an address.

    "Jammer, baie dankie." - Kyla waves and smiles as the police walk away with their notepads void of any verbal evidence.

    Arizona proved to be somewhat frustrating for us in our search for lesser travelled roads. Perhaps it was bad luck, but every track we wanted to take was gated off with a 'No Trespassing' sign posted. It forced onto the highway until we stumbled upon Route 66.

    I had heard of Route 66 before but never really read into it. Turns out it's a jigsaw of historic and abandoned sections of road that was once an iconic Trans American Highway. Over the years the route was mostly replaced by modern freeways, but sections of the route have remained, and through various efforts it has survived in some form to serve as a step back in time to when the Route was an absolute integral part of American infrastructure.

    Small towns and storefronts appear by the roadside at random intervals and almost all are frozen in time from the 1930-1950's. I especially like the old hand operated antique petrol pumps with the glass vials that sit outside the fuel stops, or the old 40's Ford and Chevy trucks sat roadside to advertise the themed cafes and bars. The road was heaving with Harvey Davidson riders, clad proudly in black leather suits with all kinds of tassles and studs present. As we travel West on 66 the climate changes sharply, it grows hotter by the hour and we find ourselves truly back into the heart of the Mojave Desert. You'd never know it was November. A stark change from sub zero Utah.

    Route 66 kept us entertained for 300 miles or so. There isn't really anything to do on 66, but cruising along is still fun in itself. I even found myself slouching in the saddle, kicking back... this is Harley Davidson territory for sure. Luckily, before I ordered a set of tassles, I came to my senses, and we found a gravel track through an Indian reservation that branched North of the iconic 66. The track took us around the perimeter of the reservation and into the acreage of a few working limestone quarries. By now we were following no particular direction, nor route. We are truly just following the weather now. Chasing the sun.

    The track popped out close to a town called Laughlin, right on the Nevada/Arizona state line. It seems to be a kind of resort city, a mini-Vegas almost, where old folks would come to gamble on the 25c reels without fully committing to the chaos of Vegas proper. In the true nature of directionless adventure travel, after a day of historic routes, dirt tracks, Indian reservations and quarries, we finished the day by staying in a tacky casino hotel that was made to look like a giant Victoriana era paddle steamer boat for just $17 a night.

    Some days are really wierd.

    Next up; we have no idea.

    Love,
    Brucie

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  2. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    689
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 464

    The Joshua Trees

    It's a peculiar place, Nevada. This small town of Laughlin was no bigger than a Walmart carpark and yet it had managed to crush in at least 30 gambling halls. Some in the form of enormous themed Casinos that would look more at home in Vegas, others barely a hole in the wall. We stayed there an extra day purely for the rest and an escape from the heat. The mid-day sun can still hit 30+ degrees in late November. The American West continues to surprise me with it's inhospitable climate.

    Our exit route took us twice over a skinny section of the Colorado river, it's the same river that's cuts the mile deep scar at the Grand Canyon. One side of the river is Nevada, the other is Arizona. Each side exists in a seperate time zone, and so most shops that lay by the riverbank have two clocks that hang over the cashier, with two sets of opening times on the front door. It turned out when we had checked out of the hotel, we had actually done so an hour earlier than expected, as we were looking at the Arizona clock in the lobby, rather than the Nevada one barely 6 feet to the left.

    Our plan for the day was especially vague; Our goal simply to get to Johua Tree National Park before nightfall, and try to find some interesting things in the desert en-route. Top tip for anyone planning a road trip; the desert never fails to entertain.

    Most people who reside in the desert, and that is any desert on Earth, are either completely insane, or at some advanced stage on their long journey toward insanity. These insane people also tend to be quite friendly and talkitive, and as such the deserts of the planet harbour some of the most intersting people that the human form can muster up. That includes Mad Mike Hughes; a guy we met somewhere deep in the Mojave desert who has built his own steam powered rocket and plans to propel it, with himself inside, thousands of feet into the air. His goal? He believes that the Earth is flat. He plans to take off at some point next week using his motorhome as a launch pad. Worth noting that he tried to do this last year, but the rockets 'return-to-land' mechanism broke down (a big parachute) and he crashed and almost died. He has since healed up and ready to go again. What a guy.

    The road to the Joshua Trees is a true desert ride. Dry air, dusty trails, and peculiar little cactus' sprouting from the cracked earth. I can quite easily find beauty in the bleakness of the desert. My home climate, that of Scotland is so wet and cold that every second in the desert feels alien and exotic.

    Joshua trees themself are actually quite alien too. From a distance they look like some kind of dried up skeleton of a plant, but as you get closer you can see the tiny green bladed leaves at the tip of the rusted limbs. The sides of the trees that face the intensity of the sun are bare bark, and the shaded side have a scaly frond-like skin. Almost no other plantlife exists in this part of the desert, so the Joshua Trees stand proudly, spaced at even intrevals - never in clusters; truly the most antisocial tree i've ever encountered. Every so often you would come accross a dead one that had fallen and been baked under the sun. They leave a carcass behind - a fragile ash grey husk. They are really very weird and totally deserving of their status as a protected plant in a protected region.

    We left the park by the way of the Berdoo Canyon, a sandy dried up riverbed that trickles down through a rocky route towards the West. The canyon bed highlighted the truly dire state of our tyres, that had still eluded replacement for the last thousand miles. Kyla, being the reigning undisputed champion of crashing motorcycles in sand, managed to do so by washing out in a tiny sandpile no more than a foot high. The completely bald tyre just slid through like a sandal on ice. She never really had much chance. Luckily she was unharmed and the bikes thud into the soft sand was otherwise devoid of any real drama.

    The bottom of the canyon opened into a wide valley just shy of a main road. The whole roadside was choked up with parked trucks from which families had come from all over the whole region to shoot guns at various targets placed out in the valley floor. I saw one guy shooting an enormous rifle, that shook the whole earth around him with every shot, at a washing machine placed perhaps a quarter mile away. Another guy fired in a laughably inaccurate fashion at some rusted tin cans on a rock. My personal favourite was a man, dressed enthusiatcly in some kind of thrift shop army gear, who was trying to convince his extremely unimpressed teenage daughter, to fire a rifle at a paper target he has set up against a piece of cardboard. I'm not sure what I laughed harder at, the fact that the teenager was so wholly disinterested, or the fact that the target kept blowing over in the wind.

    We had our own target; to get to LA and find a tyre shop.

    Love,
    Brucie

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  3. kozy69

    kozy69 n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Victoria BC, Canada
    Dang!!!! I missed you guys. I just got back onto Adv Rider hoping to catch you in Canada. I followed during the planning stage then life did what it does and I was taken away from my dream of an adventure bike. I'm back with my dream bike and I was really looking forward meeting up while you were here on the West Coast. I live in Victoria on Vancouver Island.

    Congratulations on your journey so far, what an amazing adventure. I will be following from here on in.
  4. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    340
    Location:
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Great stuff Guy's!

    Ever heard of this song by Prism?

    "Spaceship Superstar"

    Every night is a different flight to a different galaxy
    Do a sold-out show, then I hit the road in my starship limousine

    Get so damned tired and uninspired doin' all these one night stands
    It's a giant leap for Rock'n'Roll...but it's too much for just one man

    I'm a Spaceship Superstar... gotta solar-powered laser beam guitar
    I'm at the top of all the charts on Mars...I'm a Spaceship Superstar!

    On Mercury, they're crazy about my stellar rock'n'roll
    And I always sell out in advance at the Martian Astrobowl

    The fans, they swarm like meteorites to our concerts on the moon
    You should have seen us knock'em dead on Venus doin' all our favorite tunes

    I'm a Spaceship Superstar...gotta solar-powered laser beam guitar
    I'm at the top of all the charts on Mars...I'm a Spaceship Superstar!