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Warning! – Ground temps can exceed 200 degrees during the day – From Sin City to Hell

December 28, 2009


Today I was leaving Las Vegas for Los Angeles. I planned to ride through Death Valley tourist style before heading on to LA. I was glad to be leaving Las Vegas it had been a colorful week of fun, self-inflicted brain damage and sightseeing. The bellman brought my gear to the curb as I pulled up in the Aprilia. At the same time, about a dozen Honda Gold Wing rental bikes lined up along the hotel curb sporting Russian flags and riders who were dressed in an assortment of gear from full racing leathers to what appeared to be a full Russian military camo uniform complete with gleaming black jack boots. They looked like a fun bunch as they lined up together and rolled out to the street – each selecting his own musical selection played at maximum volume. The last rider cranked ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” thunked the bike into first gear and with a smirk pulled into the Las Vegas sun and rode away. Nothing like leaving Vegas with an attitude. Nursing a hangover my departure was more subdued. I simply threw a leg over the saddle and rode away.

Of all the places I went on my trip Death Valley was the most amazing. Its 3.3 million acres of hell. Death Valley got its name from a bunch of 49ers who were looking for a short cut and decided to cut through this garden spot. You can read the details here – Death Valley Historical Info. It’s interesting reading especially when you learn that after they got out of Death Valley they ended up in the Mojave Dessert! Man talk about bad luck.

Info from the Death Valley visitor center.

Like I said previously, I planned to just ride through Death Valley and head on to Los Angeles. At some point during this thought process I had a serious brain lock and decided to ignore the GPS and just head west – the water is that way right? What can go wrong? Well, I rode, and rode, and rode, and rode through an endless landscape towards the lovely town of Beatty, NV. I did enjoy a good part of this section of road as there were no speed limit signs and I acted accordingly running almost the whole length of 95 to Beatty at way over 100 MPH. To my surprise it was lightly snowing/raining in Beatty when I arrived and the entire town appeared to be in a serious state of neglect. EVERY building I saw had glass missing from the windows, holes through the walls, crumbling foundations, sprung doors, junk cars, piles of scrap metal and the like scattered around. All I needed to complete the lovely picture this place provided were a few stumbling Zombies looking for brains. Sheesh, just look at that guy in the picture below!

The Dusty Fender did though have one redeeming quality – weird beer as you can see on the sign below. What sort of weird beer you say? I don’t honestly know all I wanted to do was accept my stupidity with regard to the GPS get some gas and get the hell out of that dump.

So, after deciding to follow the GPS I was presented with more of this – a LOT more of this

One thing about running in the 99% of the throttle is fuel consumption dramatically increases and finding a gas station out here is not easy. At this point I was doing GPS “where’s the gas station” look ups while I was speeding along north of 100mph. What was originally planned as a quick visit to Death Valley had turned into an entire day spent wandering around – and it was getting dark. From Beatty I had entered Los Angeles as a destination and this of course, took me back through the center of Death Valley. With the low fuel light on I coasted into Stovepipe Wells looking for gas. The pumps don’t even have gas prices and quite frankly I did not care at that point. After gassing up and looking at my options I decided to camp there for the night. Stovepipe Wells is dry camping only. For ya’ll who don’t know “dry” means no showers. After the ridiculous luxury of the past week and the stress of wandering the desert for the day I did not care in the least. I picked a site and setup camp.

My basecamp in Death Valley under extremely rare cloudy skies. It actually rained a bit when I was there. This place is a strange combination of beauty and danger.

After getting my gear stowed I wandered across the street and into the bar. Ice cold beer, a jukebox, many, many European tourists and the always charming extremely drunk local slumped into the corner of the bar. Things were looking up indeed. I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered a 24oz frosty beverage and just relaxed.
Death Valley as viewed from the bar.

The best way to see Death Valley – from poolside. The pool and showers were available at the absolutely reasonable price of $4.00 a day. An absolute steal and this made dry camping easy. I spent a lot of time here relaxing over the next several days. I did have a difficult time one day when a bunch of German tourists invaded the pool and two speedo clad gentlemen decided to pull the ping pong table out from the wall next to me and start playing an aggressive match. You don’t want to know those details, trust me. I’d have run screaming into the desert if it had not been for a scantily clad foursome of blonde german hotties lounging poolside.

This really is an amazing place to visit. If you have a chance don’t hesitate to go. It’s a fantasticilly beautiful place that also manages to be terrifying at the same time.

Catching up on chain cleaning and adjustment and lubing. The chain and sprockets at this point have less than 3000 miles. Later in this trip I had to replace everything as the rear sprocket was almost completely stripped with less than 5k on the set. More about that later.

Can you see the motorcycle in this picture?    

Can you say straightaway……………..

And more, and more, and more and more and more and more. Even at 130 MPH you get seriously bored with this.

I think I could easily ramble on about how amazing Death Valley is for a long time. Trust me. If you have a chance go see the place it’s amazing. I really enjoyed my time there and was sorry to leave for Los Angeles a few days later.

Next up – Hunter S. Thompson’s Barstow, California


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