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About Me

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Motorcycling has been a life changing experience. I hope sharing the info and pictures on the Blog gives you some idea how impressed I am with the experience, travel and the people I have met. Made new friends especially among Riders here in Orange County. Special recognition to Johney (Wrench)-helps with all the maintenance stuff+rides, plus other great riding friends: Ken Y., Luis V. & Minita, Chuck & Patty, John R., Joe, Carolyn, Gregg, Charlie & Carol, Rick, Stan P., Ed & Susan P., Barry, plus Terry, Bob B., Brian H., Glenn, William & Daveta Jo, Bob (Concho) and others. ************* DISCLAIMER: This is my personal write-up (Blog) of motorcycling news, rides and events that I am involved with in some way and not affiliated with any group, organization or club that might be mentioned herein. There should be no confusion regarding the fact these are my personal comments and not those of any other entity.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.
Monument Valley, Utah-9/2011 photo by Johney Harper!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Trip to DEATH VALLEY 10/31 TO 11/03

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This was my come-back trip after a crash a couple months ago, and what a trip. A lot of people were telling me not to go...the list is long, but with STAR Chapter members Joe, Ken, Wayne, John, Johney, his cousin Cody, Tom and me going, it seemed to be an opportunity I could not pass up. I had never been to Death Valley and weighing all the pluses and minuses, there was no choice, so Off we went. Ken, Wayne and I met up at 7:00 Am Friday morning and we left a day earlier than the rest of the crew and were to meet up with them in Beatty, NV about 20 miles beyond Death Valley.
We were invited by Joe Pilon to join him and a larger group of motorcycle riders that get together for this ride every year at this time. It's a loose association of riders from all over including Utah and who knows where else.

The trip started out on the 57 Fwy in a slight rain but stopped quickly. On our way up the Cajon Pass to the Summit restaurant we hit rain again, and further on a truck driver passing on the wrong side of the road over a solid yellow line heading right for me plus other assorted adventures including more and heavier rain made it a very adventurous ride. The guy pulled back into the line of traffic before any serious close encounter. Looking at the map you can follow our route through the town of Trona (gas stop) and on toward Panamint Springs Road in Death Valley

Our first stop in Death Valley was a photo opportunity at route 178 and the cut-off to Panamint Spring Road to snap a few pictures and then head on to Stovepipe Wells for gas and refreshment.Ken sitting on his V-Star.
Wayne in the red jacket. Ooops, left my ignition on.
Our first real look at the desert on a grey morning.
Long straight roads as far as you can see.
Baked at 120 deg. for 500,000 years and it's almost done.
No idea why I look so grim, Wayne just snapped it.
Civilization at last...Stove Pipe Wells

Up through those mountains is our destination Beatty, NV at about 3,300 foot level.
Hard to tell but that is a dirty motorcycle, Oh the poor Chrome!
We arrive at the Death Valley Inn and our Deluxe executive suite. Oh wait, no closet to hang clothes, towels were basically made out of pressed lint, but the shower and bed were OK and the TV but not the remote worked.

Friday afternoon and we had time for a short sight-seeing trip to the ghost town of Rhyolite, just a few miles outside of Beatty, NV. Way back in the very early 1900's about 10,000 people lived around this now abandonded and empty area.

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This is the old railroad station for Rhyolite. There used to be tracks behind the building and train delivered people and goods and hauled away gold ore. The only building still standing mostly in one piece. It's cold out here.
Ken's last sight seeing trip and picture. While turning his motorcycle around he slipped and it fell over. Wayne and I rode off and I looked back and no Ken. We went back and picked up the V-Star with very little damage, but he had hit his foot somewhere and it would be a problem later.
Hardly any sign of 10,000 people that used to live here.

This is Ken getting ready to ride back home at 3 AM if you can believe that. His foot started to really hurt along with some swelling. As an expert in motorcycle bruises, I had him ice it down and eventually it did improve.
That's Wayne getting ready to ride out with Ken at least to the first intersection about 26 miles away. Ken would arrive at Baker, CA 140 miles away at about 6 AM. I woke up at 6 when he called to let me know he made it, and Wayne was still out riding but stumbled in the door a few minutes later. He decided to do some sight seeing through Furnace Creek at 4 AM in the dark. I was sleeping.
Why this ornate clock is standing here by the road is a mystery but it does work. Across the street behind me is a Mexican Cafe we soon established as our official food location.
Highway US 95 in front of the motel, it's Saturday morning and it's just Wayne and me waiting for the rest of the guys.
We head for Death Valley and our first stop to take pics as we head for Furnace Creek and Bad Water. This is a short cut and the vistas just go on as far as you can see, but it's still cloudy and some light mist.
It's Saturday morning and still rather cool even as we head further into Death stop Bad Water.
Bad Water at 282 feet below sea level. Mountain behind us goes up to 5,400 feet.If you look really close you can see a white sign about 2/3rds up the wall to the right, it says SEA LEVEL.
Up there is Dante's View at 5,400 it is an overlook vista point looking down on where we now are standing.
The white stuff is brine and salt that people are walking on.
Picture of the SEA LEVEL sign again, different angle. Lots of canyon walls and rocky hills. There is nothing growing and all the soil has been baked away leaving just the rocks and sand and gravel, very little vegetation except on the valley floor and then it's all small, short growth.
Hard core biker.
View Larger MapYou have to zoom out to see the route we took, and hopefully it will be clear. My version looks a little weird, but it's probably the lap top screen
We take a side trip on the way back through Artists Palette drive. Turns out to be a crazy road and I nearly drive right off the road while sight seeing. Freaked me OUT. A couple dips that looked like they went into a negative curve going down hill but we made it.

.Next stop Dante's View, overlooking bad Water from 5,400 feet up directly behind where we were standing a little bit ago. It's hard to tell, but the last 1/4 mile is posted 15% GRADE, and it's wet. I must be nuts. But up we go to the top.At the top and it's cold, windy and wet with some mist, but the view is amazing.

We rode back down that hill and on to Furnace Creek where we had lunch. Good hamburger and it only cost $15 with tax and tip and drink. I was feeling a bit under the weather (so to speak) and we decided to head back to Beatty where the main group should be showing up about now. Off we went and right into a rain storm. It was raining in Death Valley and we had to get through it, which we did. When we arrived everyone was ther and for some reason I did not take one picture. Behind the motel in a city park there was a motorcycle/chili-cook-off going on so we wandered over and found a few interesting sights.Motorcycle judging and some kind of obstacle course.
Is this the best firetruck the town owns?
One of the characters at the fair. Look close at his ears, had to zoom in as I did not want to get too close.
The group except for Joe at breakfast the next morning Sunday, in the cafe across the street, our food supplier. That's Wayne on the left, John next to him, Cody visiting from Texas, Johney (He fixed the Road Star), and Tom on the right. Breakfast over it's time to head for the valley and Scotty's Castle.The intersection of the road from Beatty and the North Highway heading to Scotty's Castle.
Johney is heading to the road-side restroom, the smell is horrendous and he did not survive the trip. Imagine what it would be like at 120 deg.

Scotty's Castle a really unique place in the middle of nowhere, built by a millionaire in the 20's for a con man and land promoter named Scott, cost about $2,000,000 and was fairly hi-tech for it's time.
There is an above ground tour of the home and a tour of rooms and tunnels built below ground. We opted to just visit and then go. Scotty is buried on a hill above the castle.
A huge swimming pool, no idea if it ever was full of water. There are windows below grade that would have looked into the water if it was full.
Central courtyard
The power and pump room.
We ride right up to the top of the Ubehebe Crater. A result of steam and hot magma creating a huge explosion.

A Parking lot right at the top of the crater.
The road just drops off down there and you hope you can land upright. Actually it is a very narrow rough road. The seams in the asphalt have pushed up and create ridges in the road making it difficult to go into a turn.

They wanted me to take a couple steps back to get a better thanks.
Back at Furnace Creek and heading in to get some lunch.
The rider on the Roadliner with the wings is the famous Joe. We finally run into him here at Furnace Creek. This is about his 15th year coming here.
I took a side trip to Gold Canyon while the rest of the gang went to Artists Palette Drive, where I had my encounter with the edge of the road. This was a hiking trip back in to see these gold colored cliffs.

Scenery along the road.

From here it was back to Furnace Creek to meet up and then head back to Beatty to get ready for a Monday morning departure. Wayne and I decided to go back early and that turned out to be a bad idea as it turned very cold overnight and we froze. Our route back was down US 95 to the turn off for Baker via route 127, about 140 miles before we hit baker, CA and then home. We had to slow it down due to the wind chill factor making it so cold.
Wayne trying to warm up his hands on the muffler.
Waiting for the sun to come up on our ride back, maybe it will warm up a bit, Brrr.


BAM said...

My buddy and I almost went to Death Valley a few weeks back. We opted for Joshua Tree National Park instead.

After reading this and seeing the pics, I'm putting Death Valley on the must see.

Hope Ken's foot is better!

Rubber Side Down

BAM Ridez

Ray said...

Awesome trip and pics Richard! Glad you made it through.