Here Be Dragons

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by kickstandsup, Jan 5, 2020.

  1. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Retirement = Travel, and 2020 needed to be rung in properly.

    With the Big Ball of Fire warming the desert, I set off to Yuma at the crack of 10:00 am, January 2. It was an "avoid the highway" route, to the extent that's even possible. Mind you, that does not mean twisty, which is an impossibility heading west from Tucson. But it is a pleasant cruise through the Tohono O'odham reservation to Ajo, then up to Gila Bend before the I-8 slab time starts.

    You are confronted first with the Eternal Question:

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    I know why:

    Because it's fun
    Because travel provides perspective
    Because riding requires skill and concentration
    Because why not?

    Why, though, is literally a town named for an intersection. At the time of the town's founding, Arizona town names required, by law, three letters. The founders otherwise were going to name the town "Y." Really, that's Why. Population 167.

    Why is followed closely by its three letter cousin, Ajo, a former mining town trying to survive.

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    This was Ginger's inaugural multi-day trip, and a chance to see how she travels here in the US where the roads are far straighter than what Mia faces in Europe. I-8 from Gila Bend to Yuma is about 115 miles of as straight as you can get, with the usual headwind. Allegedly, Ginger will roll along at 90-100 mph as long as you'd like without breathing hard. Allegedly. Calm, stable, comfortable and quiet; the Farkles working perfectly. I'm a very happy camper but really not surprised; Mia handled the German Autobahn with aplomb at these speeds or higher.

    Yuma is the stop for the day, with dinner at Da Boyz, a surprisingly good Italian restaurant downtown.

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    #1
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  2. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Yuma has an historic downtown area they are trying to preserve and build up. Seems to be working.

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    Clever

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    #2
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  3. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Doesn't this hotel scream out for Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver? I can see the lightning and green slime now...

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    The John M. Roll memorial Federal Courthouse. I appeared before Chief Judge Roll countless times before he was tragically killed in the same mass shooting that severely wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. A fine jurist taken by a senseless act nine years ago almost to the day. Rest In Peace Your Honor.

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    Behind the Hilton Pivot Point is the Colorado River, with California on the other bank. They've created a very nice river walk and park.


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    #3
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  4. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Very nice start! I'll be heading the opposite direction tomorrow am from SCal. Now, I'll need to add Yuma to the return trip.
    #4
  5. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Pivot Point is where the first train entered Arizona in 1877, and there's a locomotive on the original railroad alignment to mark the spot, right next to the hotel.

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    Marking the future, across from the locomotive is the Tesla Supercharger station.

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    #5
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  6. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Through Anza-Borrego State Park

    Friday takes me past the Imperial Sand Dunes and into Anza-Borrego State Park.

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    S-2 through the park is a fun road, marred only by an abundance of tar located frustratingly mid-turn. Why, oh Why...


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    #6
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  7. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Checking in at the Oasis before sculpture hunting.

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    #7
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  8. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Ricardo Breceda has created over 100 life size metal sculptures of prehistoric and fanciful creatures, and strewn them about the Borrego Springs area.

    The Serpent is perhaps the best known and is over 350 feet long, crossing the roadway.

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    #8
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  9. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    I think this one collapsed, but it could have been intentional.

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    The rear leg support has buckled.

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    #9
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  10. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    So cute...

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    This was the really fun bit . The S-22, Montezuma Grade.

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  11. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    To the Salton Sea and Slab City

    You can legitimately ask "Why" on this decision. Because they're there is about as good an answer as any.


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    The Salton Sea has an interesting history. In 1900, the California Development Company started construction of irrigation canals to divert water from the Colorado River to the Salton Sink, then a dry river bed. The area became fertile, but the canals were blocked by silt within two years. In 1905, heavy rainfall and snow melt caused the river to swell and overrun the canals, creating two new rivers that carried the entire flow of the Colorado River into the Salton Sink. The sudden influx of water and the lack of any drainage for the basin created the Salton Sea, submerging the town of Salton.

    In the 1950s, there was some success with resort building in various communities, including Salton City, where the above photo was taken. Most of the communities today have been abandoned because of increasing salinity of the lake due to agricultural runoff and no drainage. Dead fish have been known to wash up on the beaches and the U.S. Geological Survey describes the smell of the lake as "objectionable, noxious, unique and pervasive." They are soft selling it.

    There is a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic feel to the area; abandoned homes, lots of junk, vacant lots, desolation. And I suppose that the Salton Sea is, in fact, post-apocalyptic, perhaps a portent of things to come.


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    #11
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  12. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    If the Salton Sea is dying by the minute, Slab City is the self-declared "Last Free Place in America." Like the Salton Sea, Slab City started as something else: Camp Dunlop, a WWII Marine artillery training base that left the concrete "slabs," now long abandoned. The land is owned and managed by the state of California, the people there technically squatters, but the state has apparently adopted an absentee landlord position.

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    The state provides no services; if you're there, you're on your own. You are unplugged.

    Salvation Mountain, just before East Jesus.

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    I kept looking for the Kool Aid stand but could not find one...time to go!
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  13. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Heading back to Yuma thru Glamis and sand dunes as far as you can see.

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    The route

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    Definitely NOT Slab City

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    Dinner and a hazy IPA at Prison Hill Brewery, very good!

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    Have I mentioned that I like civilization?

    Tomorrow morning will be a quick ride home, again through Ajo and Why, but the trip is essentially over as I write this.

    A fitting start to "Year Two" of retirement. Bring it...
    #13
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  14. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Have a great trip! I can recommend both Da Boyz and Prison Hill Brewery if you stop.
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  15. cpallen

    cpallen Nearly Adventurer

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    Thanks for taking the time to write your trip report. I was stationed at DMAFB in Tucson in the late 70's, and then covered Arizona as a field service engineer from '80-'87 so I know the state pretty well. There are many shortcuts and alternate routes between point A and B. Now that I have retired I hope to spend some time down there in the winter.
    #15
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  16. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Tucson is a pretty nice place 7 months of the year... :photog
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  17. cpallen

    cpallen Nearly Adventurer

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    Actually can extend that some but you gotta get up earlier in the morning!
    #17
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  18. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer Supporter

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    Did you get back to East Jesus? Past slab city?
    Fun area to ride. I just took some of those same pictures a couple years ago.
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  19. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Long timer Supporter

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    Went to the end of the pavement...and I'd had enough of both the idea and the smell... :muutt I can't imagine what Slab City or the Salton Sea must be like when it is 100 +. :hair Of course, YMMV...
    #19
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  20. cpallen

    cpallen Nearly Adventurer

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    Isn't the wood board (plank?) road around there somewhere?
    #20