Death Valley '07
Day 2

[Saturday - March 17, 2007]

7:45 AM, or about that time, Russ and I received a good pounding at the door.  It took me several minutes before I can get up to answer the call.  Once I got up I couldn't find anybody in the hallway.  I thought it was the cleaning crew and was going to kill somebody.  I didn't get to bed until 1:00 AM or later.  There was just so much to do to prep for the second day.  It was a short night but it was enough sleep that I should be good for the rest of the day.  Plus, if we stay in bed any longer, we'd be burning the day away.

Russ was processing acres of trees last night.  Fortunately for me I had my ear plugs in place and was hardly effected.  Not too long after the initial rap at the door, Minh showed up again.  He told us the group of Enduro riders started their bikes at 7:00AM sharp and woke him up.  Funny thing was, Minh wanted to ride out to see the sun rise this morning, or at least that was one of the thoughts last night.  My comments to that was, "Uh, yeah!  You can go see the sunrise if you want but don't count on me.  This is even more so the case because it will be with you instead of some hot blond chick.  A brunette in the case of Russell.  Either that or you tell me you're taking me to a party with all kinds of naked beautiful women and you have a deal."  I got a good chuckle out of Minh.  The reality is I knew that we're all going to be hard pressed to get up this morning.  I was right.

Since I'm up, I might as well get started with the prep work.  I originally thought about leaving my panniers at the hotel for the day, but ultimately decided it was more of a hassle than it's worth.  It was already bad enough having to shuffle things between the top case and the panniers let alone taking the panniers off and shuffling some more.  Since I haven't seen the casino in proper lighting I thought I head outside to survey the situation.  I also need to change out my low beam headlight bulb.  It's a good thing I'm prepared and have extra headlight bulbs at all times.  I learned this lesson a while back when the low beam headlight bulb burned out on a commute home from work.  In that situation I also had to use my high beam as an alternate just like last night.  I didn't think about it at the time but I could have swapped the high beam bulb with the low beam bulb and end up with a good running light.  No worries this time around.  I even have a choice between two different types of bulbs.  One is a PIAA Xtreme White and the other is the Philips Vision Plus.  I chose the Philips this time around thinking that it will last longer than the PIAA.  This turns out to be a good choice for later today.  10 or so minutes later, the bulb is replaced.

Minh was already wandering the parking lot taking pictures and prepping his bike. 

That's right folks, 5 bikes in one parking spot.  Some people were taking up one spot for one bike.  How rude.

Annoying chirping birds.  Also the ones that crapped all over Russell's bike.

The pool and spa that we never used.

I was walking in and out of the hotel between my room and  the bike a lot.  When I spotted it was 8:45AM, I knocked on Kevin and Primo's door to see if they're up.  I hear voices from behind the door and then it opens.  Primo stuck his head out.  I told him I was just checking to see if they're up.  Kevin was in the bathroom getting ready.  Primo crawled back into bed while waiting for his turn.  I mumbled a couple of things and left them to their awakening.  I headed back out to finish my prep work.  By this time Russell was finished with his morning routine and was outside prepping his bike also.  Since we all got up kind of late, I was hoping that we can find a minor breakfast, something like pastries, to hold us off until lunch.  This that and the other thing the next thing I knew it was 9:30.  All my prep work is done and Primo and Kevin are now prepping their bikes also.  I asked Primo to go into the hotel to see if they had pastries so we can get a quick bite to eat.  Primo went in and came back out.  Nope.  No such thing.  At this point Minh was getting anxious to get going because the minutes are ticking away.  We decided to go into town and see if we can find a place to grab something to eat.  Primo took a look at the gas station a 100 or so yards down the parking and asked me if there is a name brand gas station.  Something like a Shell or Chevron.  I told him that the Nav system shows there's a 76 in town.  It will be a good place to fuel up.  Before we got ready to go, Minh had told me that he wanted to stop at a ghost town on our way back into Death Valley.  "Sure, we can do that if it's on the way to DV."  The last thing we did before heading out is to fill out Camelbaks with ice.  We left the hotel parking lot at about 10:00AM.  It's later than I had wanted to leave but oh well.  We're on vacation after all.

As we rode back into Beatty, we pulled into a Union 76 to fuel up.  I tried to get the pump to take my credit card but it refused.  The pump kept on wanting me to enter a PIN but I don't have a PIN on this card.  OK, into the mini-mart I go.  As usual, I get plenty of looks from people with my suit configuration.  I handed the clerk the card and walked back out to fuel up.  All done, walk back in grab the card, got out moved the bike, and then proceeded to tell everybody to go into the mini-mart to grab something quick for breakfast.  Primo wasn't happy to hear we're eating food from a mini-mart.  What level of proper food can you expect to find from a mini-mart?  The answer is no real level of proper food.  As for me, a quick rummage through the store yielded a cinnamon roll.  Sure it's full of preservatives.  This will ensure that I'm mummified properly without any effort from anybody when I die.  I'm choosing this horrible food in the interest of time since we're way pass 10:00AM and we're still sitting in Beatty.  Primo had decided that he didn't want to dine at the hotel cafe because of last night's experience.  What can you say, there aren't a lot of choices around here.  Primo circles around the store grumping about anything to eat.  As I was helping him to find something to eat, an older woman looked at me and start to comment about my setup.  I over heard her take note of the item on top of my helmet and replied, "Helmet cam!"  She was fascinated and tickled pink about the whole situation.  It must have been such an oddity to her.  She asked me if I did this professionally.  I said, "No, I have the helmet cam for safety and to record rides I go on."  She told me to wait and proceeded to run off to get her friend.  When she came back with her friend, the both of them were checking out the spectacle.  We spoke a bit and then I bid them farewell and walked off to pay for my cinnamon roll.  I think Primo was still undecided as to what to eat.  Out the door I went.  I asked Kevin if he'd be willing to share my cinnamon roll as I don't think I can finish it myself.  "Yes," is the reply.  Off the helmet goes to make eating an easier task.  We're all hanging around the mini-mart chewing away at our sucky breakfast when the two ladies approached the group.  They wanted to have a better examination of the helmet cam and the bike associated with the camera.  I proceeded to show how them how the entire thing is rigged.  Where the connection for the camera is and where the camcorder lives.  We were having fun talking about several things until I decided that it will be cool to take a picture with them for the record.  They happily agreed to the photos.  Here you are ladies.  These picture should make your husbands jealous.

The guys in the back ride the blue Harley.  He wouldn't acknowledge my existence when I gave him the hi sign.
I guess riders just aren't any good unless they have a Harley.

Here we are chewing on our mediocre breakfast.  Nice red gas can huh?

Feeling the mercury rise, even at 10:00AM in the morning, the ladies asked if we were concerned about being hot.  I replied to them that it's OK once we got moving.  In addition we also have cool vests just in case it gets really hot.  "What is a cool vest?"  To which I replied, "They are vests that you soak in water to absorb water and then you put on for cooling via evaporation."  They and the Harley guy behind us were intrigued about the technology.  From what I can tell cool vests are a new application for the Polyacrylamide polymer which has been around since the 50's.  The polymer is more well known for its use in gardening products like Soil Moist.  In the case of the cool vest, the polymers are ground down to the size of sand grains and embedded within a layer of the cool vest fabric.  The Polyacrylamide polymer has the amazing ability to soak moisture into the polymer and store up to 200 times its weight in water.  Once the polymer is no longer exposed to water, the polymer slowly releases it's watery content, and cool you off.  We exchanged some more fun words with the ladies and then suited up to go.

Once we got out of Beatty it happened again.  What?  That little thing called Zendom.  Yes, it's reoccurring and I don't mind it one bit.  Once again man, machine, and music is combined to form the ultimate in Zen.  Writing this now I don't remember what song it was but it doesn't matter.  The landscape, the tarmac rolling underneath me, and the absolutely gorgeous blue sky makes me feel alive.  Unfortunately, I'm so alive that I forgot to take the turn to go see the ghost town.  Minh rode up next to me and made all kind of gestures.  I don't know what the heck he's trying to tell me.  We slowed down, I turn down the intercom, and I finally hear it, "We missed the ghost town turn off."  Oops!  "Sorry Minh.  I forgot.  Can we check it out tomorrow?"  "OK," Minh agreed.  We're going delay the ghost town excursion until tomorrow as we leave Beatty for the last time.  We started up again and keep moving.  Next thing I know we came to the entrance to Death Valley.  The expanse of Death Valley between the Armagosa mountain range and Trucki mountain was sprawled out in front of us.  It is a magnificent panoramic view.  Time to enjoy the scenery and take pictures.

Minh took a really good picture of Russ' R1.  I will post it if I ever get it.  Where are the rest of
your pictures Minh?  I need picture contributions.

Finally, the picture of Russ' bike that Minh took.  Cool photo.

Yes, once again pictures in the middle of the road.

My turn at being in the middle of the road.

Russ' foot on Mars.

Cool reflective shot Russ.

I'm video taping in the back and Russ' taking picture of Kevin taking a picture of him.

This is just funny.

For those that want to really read the sign.

Russell has his ear buds taped to the side of his head.  Can he really hear Primo?

"Is he pissed off at me or something?"  "Who?" asked Russ.  "Minh.  I talk to him but he doesn't answer," I said.  "I don't think so," said Russ.  "Well, even if he is pissed, it's not my problem," was the last thing I said to Russ as he walked back towards the bikes.  I asked Minh something before and he didn't answer me.  I thought he was pissed because we were leaving so late.  Ultimately, I decided that if he is pissed at me, there's nothing I can do and I resolved to enjoy the vacation regardless.  So as I finish taking my panoramic picture (above) and my taping of the valley below I started walking back.  When I got to the bikes I took a look at Minh.  BINGO!  There it is.  He still has his ear plugs in.  No wonder he didn't answer me.  He can't head a damn thing!  I slapped Minh on the shoulder and motion to him to take his ear plug off.  What was the first thing Minh said to me?  "What?"  I start laughing and told him that I thought he was pissed at me for some reason.  He said no and mentioned that he's so use to having the ear plugs in that he forgets to take them out.  Here I was thinking he was giving me the silent treatment.  Too funny.  So now I know.  The next time he doesn't answer me, he has is ear plugs in.  I'll just have to make funny faces at him or something because he can't hear a single word I say.  I wear earplugs too but I don't shove them two inches deep into my ear canal.  This is mostly because I want to be able to hear my tunes.  For me I just want to block the majority of the wind noise but still be able to hear people or vehicles in my proximity.  Only recently did California pass the law to allow motorcyclists to wear earplugs while riding.  Before this law was passed, it was illegal for motorcyclist to use any type of hearing protection.  For more information about hearing loss due to wind noises, click here.  Russ and Kevin, you guys might want to read this article and consider using earplugs.

As we were all sitting at the entrance enjoying ourselves, reviewing some of the photos that was just taken, and taking note of the park entrance paying machine, I didn't notice that Kevin had snuck off to the local restroom.  Once he got out he walks over to me and told me the restroom is most unpleasant.  To which I replied, "It's a chem toilet."  He said, "No, it's gross in there.  It's basically a hole."  To which I replied, "It's a chem toilet.  I didn't say it was nice, just that it's chem toilet.  They throw some chemicals down there to control the smell.  Just be luck you're not a woman and have to sit down."  I'm all too familiar with this as I was expose to such facilities back when I was in a refugee camped at Guam almost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Such is life.  You have exactly 1 1/2 minutes to do your business because that's just about the length of time you have before you have to release your breath.  If you're going to wiz, you better do it fast.

Just about the time we're suiting up to continue to Scotty's Castle, a mini-van drives pass the rest stop, stop, put it in reverse, drives backwards, turns into the rest area and parks it.  When the car initially passed us I can tell they were using nothing but breaks to slow themselves on the down grade.  I turned to Russ and mentioned, "These people need to take their van out of overdrive.  They're going to catch on fire if they keep using the breaks."  Russ said, "You should go tell them."  I took Russ' advice and pranced over to talk to the driver.  It was a van full of kids, at least what I perceived to be kids.  Foreigners too from what I can tell.  The driver had a hard time answering me.  Thick accent.  I told the gal she needs to take the car off of overdrive and let the engine help slow her down.  If she keeps using the breaks only, she's going to burn up the breaks.  She looked at me dumb founded.  I told her to look for an overdrive switch in the car somewhere.  Perhaps on the shifter.  I looked and looked but no button of any kind.  I told her at least put it in Lo2 but not in Lo1.  Hearing "Lo2" she said, "There is a Lo3."  "Yes, that's it!  Put it in Lo3.  That's the same as taking the van off of overdrive," I said.  At this point Kevin and Russ were also hovering around helping out the best they could.  Popped goes the hood.  No problems with engine.  They said they're going to rest here for a while for the breaks to cool down before heading off again.  They thanked us, we got on our bikes, and we wished them luck.

1150GS here, 12GS there, and 12RT over yonder.  BMWs are all over the place.  Forget calling this place Death Valley it should be called BMW lane.  There are some Harleys but they are far and few in between.  I don't know whether it's an Adv Rider get together or not but I definitely see Beemers all over the place.

It's a short hop from the DV entrance on Daylight Pass Rd to North Hwy.  It's about 11:30AM and lunch will be upon us soon so we better hurry to Scotty's Castle so we can get some lunch.  The DV map shows there is a dining facility at the castle.  Perfect.  Primo had zipped in front of me to take the turns at speeds.  Again, I understand why the speed limit is 35 MPH, this is because of the grade relative to cars, but in this vast expanse of nothingness, I can't keep my speed down.  Plus it will take us forever to get from A to B at that crawl.  Next thing you know, Primo is waiting at the stop sign on the corner of Daylight Pass Rd and North Hwy.  Right turn it is to head to our destination.  The stretch of road from Daylight Pass Rd on North Hwy to Scotty's Castle is only 30 miles but it sure feels like it takes forever.  What's even worse is we got stuck behind a slow car for a good part of the road.  When it was clear, I passed the car at a good clip.  Shortly after the rest of the guys are right behind me.  What's next?  Russ passes me.  Not too long after, here comes Primo and Minh.  Once again I was leading the pack from behind with Kevin in tow.  Eventually, I got tired of the monotony and decided to rev it a bit to wake myself up.  At this point Russ and Primo had slowed down.  Zipped I pass Russ and Primo.  Minh is in front of me and keeping the pole position.  We wind back and forth even went through some dips.  I sped up to catch up to Minh but he can out run in a heart beat.  In front of us and coming up fairly quickly, the Grapevine Ranger Station.  Minh finally gave up his pole position and let me pass.  I ride up to the ranger station and greeted the park ranger.  I was talking to her for a little while until the entire pack came up.  At that point she said she can't hear anything.  I signal the guys to kill the engine.  I, being the National Park supporter that I am, purchased the Eagle pass to show my support for the National Parks.  Whether I go to another park or not doesn't matter to me.  For me, the National Parks have always been in my heart as a worth while investment.  Knowing the fact that 90-95% of the park funds go directly to the parks makes all the difference to me.  If you ask me to make a contribution to another government organization (e.g. election funds), you'll hear the sweet words, "I don't think so!"  National Parks?  Sure.  I'll gladly make a contribution I'm comfortable with.  What's so sad is the fact the Feds are cutting more and more funding for the National Parks every year.  In my eyes, it is the one United States treasure that is worth preserving for future generations.  As yet the politicians are too busy giving themselves their well deserve raises.  If thoughts of pond dwelling scum suckers enter your mind, let the image ride and even let yourself get a little pissed.  Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him.  They should have cloned him years ago.  $80.  It's gone up.  No matter, I think the cause is justified.  In years pass I have purchased eagle passes to only leave them sitting in my wallet and never setting foot in a National Park.

My reward for the Eagle Pass and the Eagle Pass itself.

From the ranger station to Scotty's Castle is about 5 miles or so.  How can I describe this? Slow, winding, and stuck behind a government truck.

Ah, Scotty's Castle at last.  I have never been here before.  I don't know much about the place other than the stories that Scotty swindled money from people to build this castle.  Regardless, forget the swindling, we need to eat.  First order of business, we need to park our machines.  This spot, that spot, what spot?  We pull into a spot and somebody told us there is motorcycle parking a little further down.  Kevin checks it out.  "Over here."  OK, we take the motorcycle spot.  It's shaded.

Minh's entrance pass.

  A quick glance at the clock (e.g. asking Minh what time it was) shows about 1:30PM.  Yes we're hungry.  It took us a while to take our coats off and lock everything up, but we're done.  We're all anticipating good hot food in the restaurant.  We walk through the door and what do we see?  A gift shop and a snack bar.  There is a full kitchen so we asked what's on the menu.  The answer, "All we have is what is over there."  The cashier pointed towards a refrigerator with cold sandwiches.  Hm, this has the makings of a mini-mart to me.  Suffice to say, the guys aren't too happy.  Russ and Primo were rummaging, while grumbling, through the fridge looking at sandwiches.  Next thing you know, they were complaining all the sandwiches are expired.  To which a voice from behind the counter said the dates they're looking at is the date the sandwiches were made. Look at the date on the bar code instead.  Sure enough, the sandwiches are still good.  I'm thinking, it's still food.  Even thought it's not really appealing food.

I was hoping to see a real restaurant.  In the meanwhile the guys were still grumbling left and right.  Then it struck me, I've been carrying 5 MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) for the last day and a half.  I mentioned to Russ, "You know, I do have 5 MREs in the panniers."  You should have seen it.  Russ' eyes perked up as if the sweet sounds of heaven is calling to him.  Eugene, little did you know, you saved the day.  Admittedly, I felt bad for the guys because I fed them a shitty breakfast to start with.  Now lunch is a fiasco.  Where did it all go wrong?  Russ' comments, "OK, let's do the MRE thing.  I would much rather take the MREs over this stuff any day."  We all put our sandwiches back into the refrigerator.  I told Russ we should still get some drinks and then go back out to the bike for the MRE feast.  Kevin and Primo had never had MREs before and had looks of doubt in their face.  I told them that they would like it.  It essentially is a gourmet meal.  Reluctant and semi willing Primo and Kevin walked out the door with drinks in hand.  As I was paying for my drink, I apologized to the cashier.  It was rude of us to come into the place making a spectacle of ourselves by yelling and screaming.  We could have just walked out quietly if we were displeased.  They said it was OK.  As for the guys, I don't blame them either.  However, the problem is soon to be solved.

When I get to the bike I pull out 3 MREs from the right pannier and 2 MREs from the left pannier.  These things should be called life savers.  Last year's DV trip was also reliant on MREs on the way to DV.  Eugene and I packed two MREs each for the trip and ended up using one MRE for the unusually long haul.  You can read more about last year's hellish ride here

I don't remember exactly what each meal was but I was sure there were two Jambalaya meals, one vegetarian, and the other two was something.  It doesn't really matter.  All that matters is that we get some good food into our system.  Between this morning's breakfast and a failed attempt in the snack bar, this is the first real meal for the day.  We all started up our heat pack and begin to heat up the main course.  While we're waiting, we all examine the remaining contents to see what we have as our side meal.  Primo had oatmeal cookies (that he shared with everybody), I had wheat bread and jam, Kevin had all kinds of things including a Tootsie Roll, and Minh is trying to swindle the coffee packets from all of us so he can indulge his coffee fix.  No problems, we all surrendered our small packet of coffee without so much as a, "OK, I don't drink coffee."  Here is a thought for future trips.  I have all the necessary tools to make the trip even better but didn't think of it when I packed yesterday.  I knew the MREs had heat packs but haven't seen the heat packs fail to heat up anything until this trip.  The next time we're going on these trips, regardless of whether we're hoteling it or not, I'm going to bring my camp stove just in case we need to heat up MREs.  The little heat packs are good for heating water to make a cup of coffee but that's about it.  We need real heat to truly get the main meals blazing hot.  Oh well, at least the food is good.

Sure enough, Kevin and Primo are sold on MREs.  Next thing I know they were asking me how to get some.  I told them Eugene is the man.  Let him know how many you want and he'll get some.  They were babbling about splitting a box or not splitting a box.  Next thing you know, they each order a complete box.  Once again Eugene, you saved the day.  I only save 1/4 of the day because only two of the MREs are mine.  With our bellies full and joyous, we laze about the picnic area resting a bit before continuing on to our next activity (e.g. a tour of Scotty's Castle).

There is suppose to be a coyote in this picture somewhere.

"Come on guys, I'm not your mother."  was the comment as I look at the picnic table top.  There are hordes of plastic bags all over the table.  It's cool that we're full and happy, but man, we have to clean up.  The gusts of wind is tossing things here and there.  In the end I get to play mom and picked up after everybody.  Bunch of lazy bums.  Being a concerned park citizen that I am, I always make sure I don't leave anything behind.  If there is trash, it better not be my trash.  Once again, we lock up our gear and head over to the ticket booth to get our tour tickets.  I'm sure we were quite entertaining to the ticket person.  $11 bucks each and we get to catch the next show.

When it's show time, we're briefed about "NO TOUCH!"  What's worse, we're not allowed to bring water along the tour.  It's a hot day, but we're not allowed.  Bummer.  This is particularly bad for the woman of an elderly couple who appears to have some type of dehydration problem.  As for us, we're all asked to put our Camelbaks on a bench seat next to the entrance.  "Take one last sip guys."  I stow my brownie also.  Cameras and flash photos are fine but that's it.  This tour is done in the "living history" fashion.  This means the curators giving the tour believe they're living in the past.  In this case it's the 1920s-30s.  "OK..."  It's probably fun for the curator but I think it makes the tour a bit drawn out.  If it was just a tour where the curator simply identifies elements of the building, architecture, and tid bits of information about the characters involved, things would have been fine.  Oh well, it is what it is.  Not too long after the start of things, I can see we're all loosing interest.  There were parts of the story about Scotty that was interesting but we're talking about a lot of filler here.  Like Minh said, "It's not like it's hundreds of years old like in Europe.  Everything is so recent."  Bottom line, Scotty was hamming it up to a rich couple and smoozing a bit but that's about it.  Everybody within the circle knows what the other person is about (intent) and nobody really swindled anybody.

Getting bored.

An extremely well preserved and very modern organ that is suppose to be created in the 30s.

Tour over, Russ and I headed to the gift shop to get some souvenirs.  Doing the good father and husband thing, I picked up a couple of things for the kids and wife.  As Russ and I walked out, we decided to take a look at the Harley we had spotted earlier.  When we approached, we met a couple with a 18 month old kid.  Big kid for 18 months.  They mentioned that he loves the ride.  We continue the conversation and I found out that they were the child's grandparents.  The kid's mother died in Iraq not too long ago.  They are now the legal parents of the child.  I said with a somber realization, "Oh, you're one of those folks."  To which they responded, "Yeah, we're one of those folks."  They also mentioned that their son is currently on his way over to Iraq.  Bad news if you ask me.  I've never been fond of this war.  It has no real purpose and is completely senseless.  What's worse, it just keeps on going.  I wished them luck with everything in their life and continued back to the bike.

I was busy putting my souvenirs away and getting ready to suit up (forever fumbling away trying to find things in my panniers) when Russ mentioned about somebody needing gas.  I looked up and repeated, "somebody needs gas?"  Russ said one of the bikers is almost out of gas and they won't be able to make it to where they're going.  He motioned for me to talk to a guy with a Honda Goldwing.  I approached and asked him if he needed gas.  He said it wasn't for himself but for one of his riding buddies.  I said I have two gallons that I can give him.  He was elated and ran off to call his friend over.  I went back to the bike and took my red gas can off the top case.  Digging around inside the panniers, I found the spout.  Primo was a little concerned about his fuel situation.  He asked me how far it is to the next gas station.  "30 or so miles," I said.  "OK.  I'll be OK," said Primo.  With that, I gave up the two gallons to the Victory.  The guys were so glad to have the fuel as Scotty's Castle area no longer supplies fuel.  His tank is full.  He was astonished.  Now he and his friends doesn't have to worry about the distance for a while.  I didn't care for any money but the guy gave me a $10 anyway.  He insisted that I take it.  To which I accepted because of his insistence.

Distractions aside, we need to head south again to get to Stovepipe Wells for the next refuel before continuing to Furnace Creek.  Eventually we'll appear at Dantes View.  There is hope for Badwater also (the lowest point in the United States. -280 feet below sea level), but it's getting kind of late.  By the time we're suited up and are riding out of the lot it's a little after 3:45PM.  I'm banking on the sun setting a little later but there a good chance we're going to ride back to Beatty in the dark again.  No matter, off we go.  We pass the Grapevine ranger station and continue south.  The Nav system shows about 32 miles.  That's shouldn't be too bad.  If we keep our speed up, we'll be able to make it to Stovepipe Wells in good time.  About the half way mark on North Hwy, I'm leading from behind again.  Primo, Russ, and Minh are enjoying their zippiness again.  I'm a bit concerned about Primo as I know he doesn't have a lot of fuel but as yet he's running off like a speed demon.  I hope he knows what he's doing.  By the time we get to the North Hwy and the 190 junction, Primo is expressing to me that he's concerned about his fuel.  Hm, go figure.  We continue on, but I made a short stop at the dunes to show the guys what it looks like since we passed it up last night.  Again, Primo is telling me that his fuel level is below empty.  I told him that we don't have that much further to go.  Another 2-3 miles.  "Take it slow so you don't burn excess fuel that you have left.  Worst case, I go and get fuel at Stovepipe Wells and bring it over to you," I said.  The remaining 2 miles wasn't too bad and everybody made it to the gas station.  I found out later from Russ that Primo didn't top off his tank when we fueled up this morning.  I don't know why he didn't do that... whatever.

The first comment I heard from everybody was the fuel is only 87 grade.  To that I responded, "No choice.  But at least we have fuel.  If anything, we can fuel up again at Furnace Creek as they have a Chevron there."  It's not the best fuel in the world but at least this will let us keep moving.  Furnace Creek is only 30 or so miles East South-East but in Primo's condition, he's not going anywhere if he doesn't fuel up.  We paid, fueled, and got back on the road.  There is nothing special for the ride from Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek.  We passed the dunes (once more) and drove right on through the Devil's Cornfield (once more).  We can't get there from here without passing through these two scenic locations.  However, as we got further South East I was pleasantly surprised to see that we don't have to double back all the way to the 190 and the North Hwy intersection just to get back to Beatty.  There is a turn off several miles south of the sign "Salt Creek Interpretive trail" that we can take to head back to Beatty.  That's cool.  Any less we have to drive in the dark is fine with me.  We got to Furnace Creek, and drove right on through.  We were suppose to take the right turn off of the 190 to head towards Badwater but I really doubt that we have the time.  This proves to be the right decision as it's already 5:00pm.  Our shadows are starting to look pretty long.  I even have doubts about us making it all the way to Dantes View.  As an alternate, I stopped at Zabriskie Point.  As we pull into the parking lot it was obvious most of the guys are tired.  As for Minh, I swear he's an 18 year old kid that has just finished intravenously taken a gallon of coffee.  As for Russell and Primo, the day is done.  The magic words were spoken, "I'm really tired."  When I told Minh about Russ and Primo he said, "Man, I'm at least 10 years older than you guys and I'm not even tired.  You guys are suppose to be better than me."  As for me, I could have made it all the way to Dantes View and probably not had a problem.  I'm tired also but I'm not to at my limit yet.  I can still continue on and not have a problem.  Personally, I think the guys have it easy as it's more difficult to lead because you always have to look out for where you're suppose to go.  Oh well, I'm the stuckee.  I don't mind it though.

So we hang around Zabriskie Point for a while taking photos and resting a bit before heading back to Furnace Creek for dinner.

Minh's post card photo.

Kevin's are good too.

Long shadows.

3 miles.  That's about the distance we traveled to get back to Furnace Creek.  As we approach the Southern end of Furnace Creek, the sun is fading fast.  The Panamint mountain range makes the sun set a little sooner than normal.  This time around I know we're in for a treat as this is a really good restaurant.  Furnace Creek Steak House it is.  It didn't take us long to get a table.  It's remarkably light this night.  It's not like the last time Eugene and I dined here, which is last year.  We were quickly seated.

When it came time to take our order I went ahead and dove into the deep end by getting the 8 oz. fillet mignon.  It was pricey $35, but what the heck.  I'm only here once a year anyway.  The meals took a while to come out.  We thought they stuffed us in the corner and forgot about us.  Just about the time I was ready to track down our waitress she pops out of nowhere and told us that our meals are coming right up.  Plan foiled.  Maybe she read my mind.  She clamped me down before I can say anything.  That's not fair.  She kept to her word.  Not too long after her appearance our meals arrive.  Wow!  The fillet mignon is excellent!  I never thought I would experience steak melt in my mouth but here it is.  It's so tender that it's practically falling apart.  Suffice to say, last night's steak is nothing in comparison to this fillet.  We all gladly and happily chowed down our best meal yet today.  Mind you, I'm not necessarily putting down the MREs but there's no substitute for a really juicy steak.  If we come back next year, I'm definitely going to make it a point to stay in Furnace Creek.  It's such a convenient location relative to all of Death Valley.  We finished up, gave a good tip, and headed out to return to Beatty.  As expected, it's pitch black.  Having experienced this last night, it's no surprise.  However, this is yet another stretch of road that I have never been on before.  The good news, this time around Kevin is going make it a point not to drift too far behind.  The last thing we need for this night is a repeat of last night's boondoggle.

We pull out of the parking lot and all elected to not refuel at Furnace Creek as we only have about 30-40 miles worth of riding to get to Beatty.  No bats and rabbits to contend with this time around, but Beatty Cutoff road is in need of some service.  Taking this road should eventually link us back to Daylight Pass Road which will head into Beatty.  Two things went through my mind as my headlight pierce the thickness of night.  1.) I don't want something to jump out in front of me and cause me to go down hard, and 2.) even with the Nav system I can't tell how tight some of these turns are.  All these things along with a car in the far distance ahead of us doesn't help much because the car gives a false pretense of how the road is laid out in the distance.  The good news is Russ promises to stay on the low beam so I don't go blind and worry about casting a shadow tonight.  I don't know how far into the stretch we got but Primo decides my pace is too slow for him.  He passes me and goes on ahead.  This doesn't help because I have to go back to low beam so I don't blind Primo.  I don't know why he does these things.  Riding without abandonment in the absolute darkness of night can't possibly be good.  He's taking unnecessary risks without even thinking twice about his situation.  I just hope Wild E. Coyote doesn't jump out in front of him and cause a hard crash.  Even doing the superman for a millisecond is not in my vocabulary.

Eventually we meet up with Daylight Pass Road and got back into Beatty.  As like the previous night, the parking lot is completely full.  We saw plenty of the bikes that was there the night before.  Eventually we found a parking spot.  As I pull up, parked, and shut down the bike for the night, I got a comment from one of the guys in the parking lot.  He told me I should put knobbies on the GS and in his words, "Take the bad boy off road."  I laughed said yeah and walked off.  I'm sorry but I know better.  I'm no off road rider and never pretended to be one.  Plus it's kind of hard to take my GS off road and leave the rest of the pack behind.  Perhaps he didn't notice that 3 of the 5 bikes were sport bikes.  Oh well.

It was easily 10:00PM by the time we're doing taking things up to the rooms.  Russ and I eventually went down to the bar and got a couple of beers and brought it back to the room.  We toasted a bit and then went to bed.  Once again, ear plugs in place so Russ can mow down as much timber as he wants.

Pre-Trip [March 13-15]
Day 1 [March 16]
Day 3 [March 18]

Written on: April 3 , 2007
Last modified: April 23, 2007