Death Valley '09 - Day 2
He needs a SPOT.
Total: 137 miles
Estimated travel time: 2:52 hours
[Saturday - March 14, 2009]
This is one of two sun rises that the
Captain gets to experience in a long long while.
I hear a lot of laughing. It's that distinct
laughter that can't be anybody else other than the Captain. I'm
asleep but I can hear another voice. Then I start hearing mention
of topics related with work. At this point I'm curious enough to
find out what's happening that I get up. Oh man, last night's
sleep wasn't so good. It was so cold that even the 30 degree bag
failing to keep my body temperature high enough for a comfortable
sleep. I'm up and I distinctly notice an itchy
throat. Oh no. This isn't good. I don't want to get
sick while on a ride. This stinks. Oh well, I just have to
deal with it.
As I climb out of the tent I see the Captain having a conversation with
The first question that was asked of me, "Do you know David?" I
don't recognize him. David goes on to mention a couple of
projects that he's been on recently. I recognize the project
names, but I don't remember seeing David. He knows the service
organization that I work in, but I don't recall working with him.
Then again I meet so many different people at work every
day that I can't say that I can remember all the faces.
Bottom line, we can't get away from the people at work. They seem
to proliferate the planet when it comes to vacation spots.
Here we are, at least 250+ miles beyond LA, and as yet we have a
neighbor that works within a 2 square mile facility. How much
more coincidental can it get? Still, it's always good to see a
David and the Captain.
At last we get to see the cause of our rude awakening last night.
Yup, it's a typical Harley group. Leather vest, chaps, tank top,
bandannas, etc. You name it, they look it. What's even
better? Guess what they're having for breakfast? A couple
of bottles of beer. Oh yeah, nothing like a little alcohol to get
the dehydration started. Hey, maybe they're functioning
alcoholics that need beer in order to ride their bikes. Sounds
like a disaster ready to happen, but then again what do I know.
Not much apparently. While Nu and I went to the restroom to wash
up, a gentleman walked along with us while commenting on last night's
disturbance. It seems like the bad ass dudes are truly making a
good name for themselves. Eventually they clear off with their
support SUV in tow. Remember, it's all in the looks and
attitude. Once they're gone, only the dirt bike and ADV riders
are left behind. In other words the fun and friendly group.
David is on his way to check out numerous sites (e.g. Devil's
Racetrack, Wild Rose, etc.). As for us, we're getting our
coffee and doing the typical maintenance on the bike after 300+ miles
of riding (e.g. lube the chain). Suffice to say, we're not in any
real hurry today. It takes us a while to get around to doing
We're greeted by Dennis and Bob this morning. Both of whom are
out here for about a month, perhaps longer, to enjoying the road and
riding. Bob has a KTM 990 Adventure and a Suzuki DR400 (sorry
Dennis, I don't remember what type of ride you have). We compare
notes and exchange experiences. What can I say, they are how
bikers should be to one another.
"What do you guys use as lubricant for your chain?", ask Dennis as he
looks at Nu using his ketchup bottle to lube his chain. Uh oh,
conversation is going to go to hell. "I just use synthetic motor
oil," says Nu. I then whip out my Balsamic Glaze bottle and
advertise, "I prefer balsamic vinegar myself if you ask me." I
also use synthetic motor oil. Then the captain
whips out his wax and Teflon spray bottle. "I read about this on
a forum. A lot of people are saying this lubricant is really good
and it's much cheaper than the motorcycle lube," says the
Captain. Then Dennis walks off and comes back with his
version of lubrication, "This is what I use." Dennis flashes a
spray bottle with Teflon in the lubricant. It's really no
different than what the Captain is using. The only difference is
it's not wax based. "This has to be better than your lube," as I
look at the Captain. "Yours doesn't have PTFE on it." I
get a giggle out of everybody. We converse a little longer until
we're all done and ready to head out.
"Should we leave the tents here?" ask the Captain. "It looks safe
enough. It looks like everybody else is leaving their tent
behind. Even David's tent is just sitting there," I yelped.
As a result we travel just a little lighter today. Essentially we
leave the tent, bed roll, and sleeping bag behind. Everything
else is coming with us.
Hah! Both the Captain and Nu have their SuperChunks hat on.
Bob's Suzuki DR400.
Man it's already 11:15am. Time sure does fly when you dilly
dally. First order of business, we need some food. We're
hoping for some breakfast but I'm not sure the restaurant across the
street is serving breakfast this late in the morning.
Ack! Breakfast ends at 10:00am. At this point we might as
well get lunch. We just have to wait another 10-15 minutes before
the place opens up. By the time I get back to the bike and we
pull any necessary items off of the bike, it's 11:30. OK.
Lunch it is. Hot dog with chili fries (Nu), Hot dog with fries
(Captain), and a BBQ 1/2 lbs burger and chili fries. Man this
stuff is excellent. It's not that far short of the steak house in
Furnace Creek. Once again Nu checks to see if he has cell phone
signal. I look at my phone. Nope. Again, the Captain
offers to let Nu use his phone at $5 a minute. Once again he
claims he has cell phone signal and Nu almost bought it.
Fortunately for Nu he learned from last night's incident and is a bit
more cautious to the Captain's claims. Ultimately, Nu ask the
waitress if there is cell phone signal here. Her answer ...
"Chuckle! You go 90 miles west pass Panamint Valley over the
mountain and you'll get cell phone reception. You go 50 miles
east to Beaty and you'll get cell phone reception. You can also
go about 75 miles south to Ridgecrest and you'll get cell phone
reception." In other words, don't bother. In the end the
Captain and I come to the conclusion "He needs a SPOT
." I bought a SPOT
for this trip, but I
didn't bring it because I haven't installed the platform for the SPOT
. Plus the on-line
account is not fully configured. They're only so much I can do
before a trip. Next time I will bring the SPOT
No I'm not trying to scratch my butt. I'm trying to put away the
video recorder. At least that's what I like people to believe.
The food is good. The hostess and waitress are extremely
polite. Now it's time to make ourselves legal. We need to
get National Park passes for the time we're here. It's off to the
ranger station we go. It's an entire 100 yards away.
Paying National Park fees.
Knowing the Captain's picky nature, in terms of fuel, we're not going
to fuel up in Stovepipe Wells. They only have 87 octane at the
convenient store. For the full range of different grades of
gasoline, we have to go to the Chevron at Furnace Creek. It's
only 30 miles away and we have at least 76 miles left to the
tank. No problem.
Simple enough, we're at Furnace Creek. We pull into the gas
station to fuel up. We end up waiting for a Hummer to finish it's
fueling process. They're taking their sweet time fueling and
cleaning their windshield. My comment to Nu was, "Man they sure
are taking their sweet time."
OK I don't' get this. What's the deal with some lame BMW idiots
and their stupid ass attitude about a GS that has to be muddy in order
for it to be effective? This one old fart on a R1150RT comes up
to me and ask me why my GS is so clean. What's it to you
buddy? If you're jealous because you can't afford a GS, then sell
your 1150RT and get yourself a GS. Oh wait, maybe it's because
you're 1150RT isn't worth squat! If you like to see my 8GS dirty,
then buy it off of me with cash and get the dam thing dirty
yourself. What a prick! Just because your sorry ass can't
handle the wind and you have to ride something with a big ass fairing
that you're sorry prune ass can hide behind is not my problem.
The next idiot that comes up to me and ask me "Why my GS is so clean"
is going to get a pounding. Trust me, carbon fiber is much more
resilient than bone.
I thought the Hummer folks were bad until a group of Harleys decided to
show up. They start swarming the gas station without
consideration for others. I jump in to grab a spot before these
idiots can preempt me. Yup, another bunch of loser Harleys.
They definitely give bikers a bad rap. Them and their adolescent
noise making machines. Hey, maybe one of their annoyance machines
will burst their kidney(s) from noise and vibration. I can only
hope. Suffice to say I was ready to pulverize somebody between
the idiot Beemer and Harleys. In the end I had to let it
go. I'm not going to let ass holes ruin my day.
OK, first stop is Badwater. Then we'll swing back for the
Can you spot the Sea Level sign?
Is the Captain looking out for crows to avoid any potential down
fall? Nope, he's looking for the Sea Level sign.
Hey! It's kind of chewey and rubbery.
Here it is. What can I say. It's just another spot in the
world. There's nothing that spectacular here other than the fact
that you can claim you've been to a spot that is 282 feet below sea
level. Other than that you can just look at a lot of crystalized
Now is the Captain really taking a picture of the sign? I'm not
OK, so he was taking a picture of the sign.
We double back north to check out Artists Palette. I've head of
it, but have never traversed it. It's an interesting road.
A single one way road. From a distance I can see why they call it
what they do. A lot of brown and tan. Mix some rust in and
you have the Artists Palette. Once we get to a valley over look,
we have to stop and be like the rest of the folks, tourists.
1, 2, ...
... 3! A magic rabbit comes out of the hat.
Oh, there's the magic rabbit. Now you can see him in full form.
"Keep looking" they both said. I knew they were up to something.
Too lazy to turn around for a
photo. However, I think this photo is just as good.
Later sections of the Artists Palette is really cool. When the
sign indicates there is a dip, they're not lying. It's a regular
nature made roller coaster. I feel compression and negative Gs as
I hit the valley and peak. You definitely don't want to catch air
because you'll end up off the road and into the boulders. Maybe
even over a cliff. There are even a couple of hairpins that is
sufficient to challenge a motorcyclist. If concentration is
lacking, you'll find yourself in the dirt and sand. It's a fun
little road. As usual it ends all too soon. If it hadn't
been for the fact that I feel lousy, from the cold, I probably would
have headed south and did the little loop again. Having no water
doesn't help the situation much either. I'm starting to cough
more and more because of the extremely dry air.
Much has changed in Death Valley even as of two years ago. The
park is making a concerted effort to modernize and touristize the areas
of interest. I remember three years ago Badwater didn't have a
parking lot, concrete ramps, nor wood decking. All I remember is
a turn off and swamp land all the way up to the road. A kind of
"pull over at your own risk" type of thing.
From here we're suppose to head to Dantes View but I don't think I can
make it without something to drink. We can go back to Furnace
Creek, but let's have a look at the Furnace Creek Inn. This is
the first time I've seen it open. Every time I've been in DV, the
Inn is closed for the summer. We go up to have a peek and maybe
get some water and/or other drinks. The Valet tells us there is a
store where we can buy water. Once into the lobby, there is no
such place. Ritzy! A little too fancy for my taste.
The gift shop has nothing other than fancy clothes and jewelry.
The only source of water is the inn's bar. It's definitely better
than nothing. A Shirley Temple for me, a Coke for Nu and the
Captain. Oh it hits the spot. The additional glass of water
also helps. I didn't realize how dehydrated I was until I started
drinking. The bartender tells me that fruits and food items don't
last very long here. The air is so dry that it pulls moisture out
of everything. A lemon, once cut, will last no more than one
day. It's a wonder how human beings are able and willing to live
in a place like this, but they do.
OK, let's see what Dantes View is all about.
A quick rest at the Furnace Creek Inn for some refreshments.
Yes the fountain look inviting and Nu might have had thoughts of
jumping in, but he didn't do it.
Tust me, it looks a lot better than it smells.
The temperature climbs and falls again. OK. If it gets any
lower than 53F, we're going to pull over and put some clothes on.
Sure enough, it hits 51F in no time. Alright, it's time to find a
spot to pull over and put on pants and coat liners. Oh that's
much better. It's about 5:00pm so the Sun is also less effective
in generating warmth. According to the time we about 1 1/2 - 2
hours of day light left.
We snake our way through the remaining 2 miles to Dantes View.
It's pretty technical. I sure am glad I'm a motorcycle instead of
a car. I can see how cars would have a hard time climbing and
decending this small stretch of road. Indeed, it is a
reward. Look at this view.
The Captain says, "I don't know that guy!"
What does the Captain want to do now that he's finally made it to
Dantes View? Go to Disney Land? Hardly. When I ask
him there was absolutely no excitement in his voice. What is up
with that? Come on, we reach one top of the world and he just
mumbles something or other. I thought he would be simply
delighted. Then again, it's only a view. Now if he were to
win a couple of $K from the Beaty casino, I'm sure he would be jumping
for joy. Hm... maybe not. But at least I know he'll be
Alright, now that we're done with the viewing for today, let's get over
to Furnace Creek for some water, gift shopping, and eating. I'm
looking forward to that the Filet Mignon that I had two years
ago. Hey, just because I'm camping out, who says I have to rough
and tough it when it comes to food.
Disappointingly it looks like the steak house is not open. It's
completely dark. The sign says it's open for dinner at 7:00pm but
I don't see any signs of life inside the place. Now the question
is posed by the Captain, "Do you want to go back to Stovepipe Wells or
head over to Beaty?" There is gambling at the Beaty casino, but
the food isn't so hot. Plus it's another 30-40 miles to get to
Beaty. On top of that we'll be riding back in the pitch
black. Having the HID lights does help. In reality if it
hadn't been for this stupid cold, I probably would have gone for
Beaty. However, I don't feel up to it. As a result I
insisted that we just head back to Stovepipe Wells. We fuel up
one last time at the Chevron in Furnace Creek (they started closing
down some pumps because they're running out of fuel), and head back to
our home away from home for some dinner.
As we pull into the campsite, two things happened. 1) I can see
that we forgot to put away some of our food and garbage. Some of
the crows had a field day. They even pecked holes in the instant
coffee thinking it's food. We're normally not this bad. It
must have been all the conversational distractions that prevented us
from cleaning up. I distinctly remembered putting this stuff
away. I was wrong. I'm sure the one, or more, bird(s) that
had a taste of the coffee is quite spastic right now. 2) The
Captain flags me down and ask why I didn't stop at the
restaurant. I said, "I was thinking we could walk over
there." David, back from his sight seeing and was setting up for
dinner, laughingly mocked me, "You've got to be kidding me.
You're going to walk over there when you have motorcycles?" I
then turn to the Captain and said, "You decide. Do we ride or to
we walk?" Indecision upon indecision. In the end I said,
"Alright, let's ride over there." All three of us push our bikes
out of the parking area, up grade, and rode off to the
restaurant. Perfect! That's just what David wanted to
hear. As he said earlier today, "You get out here, set up camp,
and you're going to go across the street and have breakfast?" Oh
yeah baby! If it's there, why not.
Dinner was good. It's a little slow in coming because the
restaurant is really busy, but the food is good. The onion soup
was really tasty. The spaghetti and marinara sauce is so
so. Hey! I'm not complaining. It's a real meal.
We finish up, head back to the campsite, cleaned up, started the
lantern, fired up the stove (boil water), and downloaded images into
the computer. What is the conclusion for today? The
conclusion is I'm stupid. Why? Because I have all the
clothing possible to keep we warm at night and I didn't bother using it
last night. Dam I can be slow sometimes. Actually, it's
been a while since we camped so it's easy to forget about these
things. For tonight I decided to wear the Kanetsu airvantage
coat, fleece pants, pants liner (over fleece), winter buff, etc.
In other words, I'm well insulated. Just like the kid in "A
Christmas Story". Well, not as bad as him, but at least I know
this will help me sleep tonight. Performing a little acupressure
on myself also helps the matter. Anything to help reduce the
itchy throat. It actually works. Thanks to Nu.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, in terms of this cold, and we
can have a good ride home. Bottom line, don't get sick on a ride.
Day 1 - Lake Isabella / Fairview
Day 2 - Finally got cell signal
Written on: April 2, 2009
Last modified: April 6, 2009