I planned to get away over the weekend and do an overnighter. My destination was the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Time to lash on the Alice packs and hit the road. I've done a shakedown cruise before but this is the first real remote, off road trip I've done. Over the past couple years I have been gathering equipment and outfitting the machine. Crash bars, skid plate, racks for the bags etc. The tires are at about 25% life left. I was thinking about getting some meatier sneaks but I'm tired of waiting around. Let's go! It was a pleasant 87 degrees when I left LA about 1pm. Traffic was a bear until I cleared Magic Mountain on the 5 North. Smooth sailing after that. Things got chillier as I approached the Tejon Pass. The crosswinds were pretty brutal at the summit. Stopped in Gorman to put on a layer and close up the vents. I realized my hands and wrists were buzzing real bad from the death grip I had on the handlebars. After a hot coffee and a lousy Danish I was ready to truck on. To get to Carrizo Plain from the 5 you take the 166 exit for Maricopa. I wasn't sure if the gas station on the exit was the fabled "last gas" until New Cuyama many miles west. Stopped in to top off the tank just in case. The farmland surrounding was uneventful but the hills begin to grow. I passed orchards and oil pumps. Nothing much going on out here which makes for a great 70 mile an hour burn due east. The town of Maricopa is many miles from the 5 and very close to the Carrizo Plain. Get gas if you have not yet. A few miles past town you will see signs for the "Elkhorn Road, Elkhorn Grade." This is the steep, fun way into the Plains. Maybe next year when I have a couple more off road trips under my belt and some better rubber on the rims. The plan was to hit Soda Lake Road and head northwest through the Monument. Route 166 is a freshly paved, nicely banked collection of hills and sweeping curves. Blew right by Soda Lake Rd and the entrance! Turned around and turned in at the old 76 station which is on the corner of Soda Lake Road.