Arizona - Day 1
The mother road

271 miles

[Friday - October 19, 2007]

This is the day.  I have stayed up late on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights packing and recharging after work.  All that time spend organizing and packing beyond midnight has paid off.  I'm able to take flight this day with a high level of confidence that I didn't forget anything important.  7:30am, Kevin arrives.  At around 7:45am we get a surprise visit from Russell.  He's on his way to work and decided to stop by to bid us farewell on our four day journey.  Not too long later, Russell's back on the rocket to drag himself to work.  A little after 8:00am Minh shows up.  About 5-10 minutes later, we're off and running.  As usual the west bound 210 is packed.  I'm ever so glad we're east bound this time and don't have to contend with traffic.

Kevin is unsure of his FZ-1 and doesn't think it will be able to keep up with Minh's Balckbird and my R12R in terms of fuel range.  He originally asked that I carry the red 2 gallon gas can, but I refused and didn't think we needed it.  The prediction is that the longest stretch of road without fuel stops is 130 miles.  Kevin's bike should be able to easily handle this.  Not only that but most motorcycle manufacturers aim at around 175-200 miles to the tank before hitting reserve.  The trick is, you don't crank yank the throttle and time warp into the next millennium.  Kevin doesn't have faith in his bike, but Minh and I do.

We were all dressed for cold weather and ended up cooking.  We had to shed some furry stuff to
keep ourselves from sweating to death.

Now why in the world did Kevin bring this sheep skin duster polishing thing?

There is traffic eastbound but it is ever fast flowing.  It didn't take long for us to reach the 15 freeway.  Nothing special to report here as we climbed the hill before reaching Hisperia and Victorville.  Once we got into Victorville, we decided to pull over to have breakfast at the Denny's.  About 45 minutes later we back on our way to Laughlin.  All is progressing as expected until we reach the 40 freeway and Minh signals for us to pull over to fuel up.  We ended up pulling over at the gas station in Newberry Springs.  As we turn right off the off-ramp, there is a sign that mentions Route 66.  Minh took notice of this and mentioned that we should take Route 66 instead of the 40 freeway as Route 66 runs parallel to the freeway.  I was all game for the change as I'm never fond of freeway riding unless we have to or we're in a hurry.  My experiences with highways have always been one of interest because it's a slower pace and it allows you to truly experience your surroundings.

Once we were done fueling our bikes, we pulled off into the shade to take a quick break.  While I was standing there getting my gear off and wanting to reprogram the GPS, Minh motioned to me to take a look at a bicycle leaning against the mini mart.  It was a bicycle with a sign that read, "I love route 66".  That's so awesome.

I want one of those signs too.  I wonder where he got it at?

Unfortunately I don't remember the gentleman's name.  I'm so bad with names.  I hope he writes so I can put his proper name in this article.  Anyway, he's from Germany.  He over here in the US on a VISA.  He started in Vancouver and wounded in our neck of the woods.  He's been riding Route 66 and wanted to take it to the very beginning (e.g. Santa Monica, CA).  Looking at him I have to say I feel very humbled.  Here we are riding our motorbikes hundreds of miles while he's riding a bicycle hundreds of miles.  I have to say, laughingly, that I'm such a wimp in comparison.  Nonetheless, we're all out here for a reason, to experience life and all the experience that I can bring to those who are adventurous enough to make tracks beyond their porch.

As it turns out, this gentleman really likes motorcycles.  However, he had to give it up because of what he seen in Germany.  He mentioned to me that during one of the celebration days in Germany, there were 10 motorcycle fatalities within a period of 3 days.  This was all due to automobile drivers no being aware of motorbikes.  As a result, he gave up his motorcycling days for a bicycle instead.  Even though he might have given up motorcycles I can see the fire in his eyes when he looked at my R12R.  I sensed his appreciation for the new BMW motorbikes as we spoke.  We exchanges more words, I gave him my SC card, and wished him good luck on his trip to the beginnings of Route 66.  He has to get to LA by the 25th because that's when his VISA is up and he has to take his flight back to Germany.

See, the gas station is devoid of motorcycles except for the three of us ... for now.

"That's Route 66 right there."

He was talking about his friend who died from a motorcycle accident in Germany.

I had over filled my tank and the extreme angle of the bike on the kickstand
cause a lot of excess fuel to dump out beyond the charcoal cannister.

Minh and I estimated his age to be in the 60s.  However, from the looks of things, he's as fit as a 30 year old.  In fact, I dare say that he's plenty healthier than myself.

Funny thing about us stopping at gas stations.  We come in when it's empty.  By the time we leave it's packed with folks.  While we were talking a set of Harley folks popped on in.  When they finished fueling, they walked over in our direction.  Greetings are passed back and forth and next thing we knew they said they are from London, England.  They're making a big tour of California.  They started in Las Vegas, went to Mammoth, and are now making their way towards Kingman before heading back home.

A surprise "Hello!" for a photo.  Everybody looks happy.

Back on the road again...

Next I knew a gal showed up with her little puppy.  The dog had been couped up in the car for so long that she decided to give her a little break.  Man did she take the opportunity.  She marked her territory and the proceeded to laze about in the grass until the owner forced her to get up.  Too funny.

Next a really nice guy with a Harley rode up.  He was on his way to and from San Diego and Kingman.  He's riding solo visiting some relatives in Kingman.  He's pretty much taking Route 66 to and from his destinations.  He looked at our get ups and said...  here's the fast bike (pointing towards Kevin FZ1),  here's the experienced biker (pointing at Minh's Blackbird), and that's the most expensive one of the lot (pointing at mt R12R).  To that Kevin suggested his Harley is the most expensive of the bikes.  We all got a good laugh out of it.

Since he's being so friendly, I decided to snaps some photos of him and handed him my SC card so he can hop onto the net and check this site out.  What's the first thing he ask me, "What are you selling?"  I said, "I ain't selling sh*t!  It's just my website with my motorcycle stories and such."  He got a good laugh out of the comment and said, "That's cool."  Ultimately we bid farewell to everybody and we all took off toward our destinations.

So it begins.  This is the first time I'm riding Route 66 beyond LA.  My house is actually 1/4 miles south of Route 66, but that is the glorified and supped up revamped Route 66.  Now I'm getting a chance to experience the route the way it was meant to be, in the middle of nowhere.  The route started off well enough but eventually became a bit rough.  I knew my R12R is suppose to be able to handle almost any terrain but I wasn't sure if it would be OK on this section of the route.  This is when I wished I had the 12GS.  Oh well, too late now.  After about 15 minutes, it didn't feel so bad.  I had to dodge pot holes and things of that nature, but the bike handled everything fine.  I later learned that Kevin had the same reservations I had in the beginning, but he too settled into the rhythm of things.  The first twenty miles or so was really rough.  The road was cracked everywhere and in need of repair.  I guess this section of the road doesn't see too much traffic these days.  Most people are taking the 40 freeway just to the north of us.  With a simple ever so slight twist of the neck, there is freeway 40 with all the big rig truck bellowing its diesel smoke.  The freeway is at most 1 mile away from us.

Proof we are riding Route 66.

Hey!  Minh is trying to take a picture of me taking a picture of him.

The more and more we ride this rough road, the more we understand it's characteristics.  After a while I was noticing that speed really helps the matter.  Similar to riding washboards, riding faster in this rough stuff does reduce the shake factor.  After a while we were gliding over the majority of the brain blender.  It looks like 60-65 MPH is the magic number.  When I took a quick glance at my shocks, I can see it doing its business to keep me comfortable.  Oh how I would hate to ride this road on a stiff bicycle without any suspension.  I can only wonder how the German fellow we recently met felt about this section of Route 66.

The further we went east, the better the road became.  After a while, it's silky smooth tarmac again.  While I was in the rough stuff I can't help but think about this "Mother road".  How it's a bit of history we're setting our rubber tires on and it is in need of repair.  Not only that but the thought of what are now old vintage cars, built in the hay day of automobiles, the '20s, use to travel down this road to get to their destination between the Chicago and Santa Monica.  If this road can talk, I wonder what it would tell me.  All the people it would have met and all the oddities that would have traversed its path.  Will the state government or the federal government recognize the need to further preserve this road and not let it get picked apart by mother nature?  It's such a shame to see such a wonderful piece of history being cracked and pitted to the point of oblivion.

We make a sharp left turn, went on 40 freeway the over pass, and then a sharp right turn to continue on the National Trails HWY, Route 66.  This stretch of road is nice, smooth, and clean.  We see the west bound freeway 40 traffic rushing towards and going right pass us.  Once again, my and Kevin's thoughts are the same.  It's so nice to ride the highway roads because we're not rushed by 18 wheelers trying to improve that one $ by getting there faster, gamblers in a hurry to the casino so they can lose a couple more $s, nor the soccer mom forever in a hurry even when their on vacation.  Face it, people don't drive any more, they do low level flying.  Commercials on TV make mention of the pleasure of driving, but is there true pleasure in driving when all car drivers are trying to do is get from point A to point B?  I'm forever happy to be on the highways because we have the entire road to ourselves.

Once again the road twists and turn at Ragtown so we end up on the correct side relative to the 40 freeway.  We stop a bit to ponder our route and to take a quick breather.

Taking a break at the 40 freeway underpass in Ragtown.

There were a lot of bikers.  Groups of Harleys passed us on the 40 freeway while we were continuing our detour on Route 66.  From here out Route 66 is smooth as silk.  There were occasional patches of rough stuff but it's far and few in between.  We see cargo trains immediately to the north that would eventually be to the south of us.  We wind back and forth for a bit and then we make it to Amboy.  As we went through Amboy we passed the Roy's Motel and Cafe.  As I glide pass I was thinking, "Hey, wait a minute.  We should stop there.  That's an interesting looking place."  Little did I know that this is a historical site.  I stopped, pulled over and talked to Minh.  "Let's go check out that place."  We doubled back and pulled in.

Welcome to Roy's Motel & Cafe.

Notice the gas pumps and their apparent inoperable state.
There's a story that goes with this later.

I don't know about other people out there but I'm forever impressed with the US Post Office.
They're everywhere and they will deliver for a mere $.41.

So here we are.  At Amboy parked slightly under the awning of what use to be a gas station/diner for Roy's Motel & Cafe.  Kevin was afraid of parking so close to the gas pump while attempting a smoke break.  I said to him, "What are you worried about?  These pumps have been decommissioned.  They're all rusted."  To which Minh chimed in, "They cut the hoses to the hand pump."  With that, Kevin struck a match and no further mention was needed.

The fellow that tends the place was out and about so a "Be back in a few" sign, or something like that, was being shown in the window.  In the meanwhile Kevin and Minh were laughing it about the motel rooms because of their memories of the movie "Vacancy".  I haven't seen the movie so I have no idea what they're talking about.  It turns out the movie is about strange motel grounds keepers that walked around with machetes slaughtering people in their motel rooms.  The part that really got them going was the fact the guy running around Roy's Motel & Cafe, in his little golf cart, was dressed very much the same as the people depicted in the movie.  Again, I didn't see the movie so I had no real comments, but at least they're having fun with the entire situation.

Ultimately the door opens and we go in to see what the diner looks like.  It's been well restored.  It almost looks like they can serve meals again.  Anyway, the only thing we can buy in there are some souvenirs, hats and/or T-shirts.  Kevin and I each bought some T-shirts.

We were all outside getting ready to depart when several SUVs pulled up next to the gas pump and several kids jumped out.  They look to be Marines from Twentynine Palms, their hair cut gave them away.  They were searching for gas.  I think they're going to have a hard time getting any gas here.  Funny thing is one of them grabbed the pump handle and noticed there were no hose attached.  Can't they see by looking at the state of the pumps that it's all rusted?.  Anyway, one of them ran in to ask about fueling up.  He quickly came back out as the grounds keeper told him there is no gas here.  Back into their cars and off they go.  I was standing there scratching my head wondering, "Can't they see these pumps are non-functional?"  Not too long after, we're back on the road.

There is a big difference between this section of Route 66 as opposed to the previous section.  There is a lot more traffic.  I'm not sure where everybody is coming from and going to but I keep on having to wave cars to pass us because we're slow going.  "What;s the hurry people?  Try some sight seeing.  It does the heart some good."

We continued on Route 66 as long as we can take it until it hits the 40 freeway once again.  Reluctantly we get on the freeway to finish off this section of the trip.  We're about 50 miles out from Laughlin so it's not going to be too bad of a ride.  By about 6:30pm, we pull into the Harrah's Laughlin hotel/casino, secured the bikes, and checked in with the hotel.  All in all this section of the trip proved to be interesting because we got off of the freeway.  If we had stayed on the freeway, we wouldn't have met some of the interesting folks out there, and wouldn't have experienced life that little bit more.  It was a smart decision to take Route 66 so we'll do more of that when the opportunity appears again.

Prep work
Day 2 - Is it Yosemite or is it Sedona?
Day 3 - Should we pray to the wind god?
Day 4 - Firestorms at home

Written on: October 23, 2007
Last modified: October 26, 2007