Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Break Ride Day 1

I will be posting the trip reports after I return because of lap top problems that prevented me from posting from the road. The best laid plans as the story goes.

Sunday morning, 6:15, just gassed up, and ready for my adventure. Leaving without knowing exactly where I may end up is part of the excitement of this trip.

As I headed out I 10, about 20 miles from Phoenix, I noticed the right turn signal on Piggy wasn't working. At the first rest stop I had to check that out because I don't want to ride for a week without a turn signal, especially a right one. The load had shifted slightly and pulled the ground wire from the connector. A quick repair and I was off again, relieved to have all the lights functioning properly.

The weather seemed perfect as I left with mild temperatures. About sixty miles into the ride the wind started to kick up a bit. I also noticed my gas gauge was dropping at a rapid rate. I anticipated a drop in gas mileage, but it was really dropping fast. For a mile or two I thought about turning around and leaving the trailer at home. But, with the spare gas on board I was committed to pulling Piggy with me. At Quartsite the result was 127 miles on 4.7 gallons of gas for only 27 mpg. I wasn't expecting a nine mile a gallon drop, but I continued on.

On to Blythe and left onto California 54 toward Needles the wind really kicked up. At times it was difficult to determine which direction it was coming from.

The low desert all looked about the same through this part of the trip. The wind continued to blow so I stopped for coffee and breakfast in Vidal. It was a nice, 50's style diner with a Western motif that I'm sorry to say I neglected to take pictures of. I should have also taken a picture of the waitress, a woman about my age who still thinks that Daisy Dukes are a fashion statement. But, she was nice and the food was excellent. North of here, around Searchlight, in the road work area, I missed a turn I should have taken and ended up on the outskirts of Vegas. Lost on the first day, in an are that I know! That doesn't bode well for the rest of the trip. However, as it turns out this mistake didn't add any time or miles to the trip. It just about evened out in the end.

I arrived in Death Valley about 2:30 and it was about 90 degrees. In early March it was 90! I guess I know why folks cross it at night in the summer. But, crossing at night causes you to miss out on all of the sights.
This was my accommodations for the first night of my trip. Camping at its finest. This is almost the true experience of roughing it. What you can't see is the out house with flush toilets. There was also a store where I bought a calling card because there isn't any cell service at 198 feet below sea level. The only problem I had here was I forgot my pillow at home, on the washer, as I was taking it out to load. A leather jacket is great for the cold and rain, but for a pillow it is worthless. So, about eight it was dark, I was tired, and I slipped into my sleeping bag for a restfull sleep. It was about that time that the boys from the Air Force started their low level flights over Death Valley. Two ear splitting, earth shaking, passes that you could hear and feel for miles as they approached and departed the area. I fell asleep thankful for all of the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.

Here is the actual route I took today to get to Death Valley.

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