Lake Mead
Day 1
Greater than 10 tons at 80MPH

353 miles - estimated 7:54 hours

7:50AM.  I still have a little time but I'm going to run late if I don't get myself out of the house.  I still have to pay my bills, shower, and get some cash from the ATM.  Bills done.  Shower taken.  Now it's just a matter of running over to the ATM kiosk and take out some money.  Onto the 210 East I go.  I'm sure I didn't forget anything this time around.  The last trip, Central Coast, has me easily prepared.  One thing is for sure, the bike feels a tad funny.  All the weight I'm carrying has shifter the center of gravity more towards the height of the gas tank.  The bike has a tendency to easily tip on slow turns.  It's a bit of getting use to but it's not a problem.

We are to meet at the Denny in Azusa off of the Irwindale and Camino de la Cantera at 8:30AM to start off the trip with a good breakfast.  I'm a little late, 8:40AM, but it's better than a "Bail"/MIA.  It's good to see the remaining people who said they're going are able to make it.  I, of course, know that I wouldn't miss it for the world.  As for the Captain,  he was starting to doubt his Navigator.  He was so paranoid from the Sergeant bailing out that he logged onto the forum and check to see if I had mad mention of bailing also.  He even called me to see if I'm bailing when he didn't see me at 8:30AM.  Doubt in his mind?  I think so, but I don't blame him when two additional people that were suppose to go, bailed out at the last minute.  With the three amigos together be licked things off with a good hot breakfast.

What else do you think we're talking about for the next 1 1/2 hours.  Every minute of the conversation seems to be focused on the Sergeant bailing out at the last minute.  Oh well, what is done is done.  We finished up, tipped the waiter (who passed us the wrong check initially), and then headed out.

10:10AM, we're heading out.

Heading out on the 210 East, things are going well.  Nu has recently acquired the F650GS from the Sergeant who had purchased the new F800ST.  Funny thing is, the F650GS was my first bike.  It has come back into my possession, relatively speaking.  I welcome the bike with open arms and I'm glad to see Nu putting it to good use.  Nu and I had spend a good part of the previous week prepping the bike for this trip.  We got the bike a brand new stock seat, and put on a 43 teeth rear sprocket.  The smaller sprocket makes the 650GS a little slower on the acceleration, but it's top end is much better and smoother.  It also makes the bike have crazy mileage.  In the 75+ MPG.  So far so good.  Nu is able to stay up with us at freeway speeds and not fall too far behind.  We take the carpool lane out the majority of the way on the 210 freeway.

15 freeway ramp.  We look around and what do we see, cars and low flying living rooms expending much effort to go around a milk truck as it also takes the ramp to go north on the 15 freeway.  Gas prices aren't what they use to be and these people are still burn it like they're driving an alcohol funny car.  Amazing.  As for us, we stay behind the truck until it's time to merge onto the 15 freeway.  Eventually we catch up and pass the same set of cars.

At last, our journey begins.  All this freeway riding is just a means for us to get out of town and start our trek.  We exit the 15 freeway and get onto the 18-Happy Trails HWY.

Several miles into the HWY riding, the Captain screams at me, while we're waiting for the light to turn green, "Let's get some ice and cold drinks."  "Sure."  We'll definitely need it for today's ride.  We turn left onto Apple Valley road and stop at a Valero gas station.  2 bags of hot fries, 2 bottles of Coke, 2 bottles of Gatorade, 1 Berry Propel, 1 Sobe Pina Colada, and 10 lbs of ice.  Guess what?  It all fits into the REI cooler sitting on the R12R's pillion.  While we're standing here a girl from the gas station attempted to convince us to let her demo a wash and wax product on our bike.  That's alright, we're not suppose to apply waxes to our bike's finish.

With drinks in the cooler and a nice big bag of ice to keep it all cool, we're off and running again.  It's the rocks I tell you.  Just looking at the formations while we're scooting along the HWY, it's sure proof that this use to be at the bottom of the an ocean or sea.  There are signs of erosion reminiscent of lapping water rounding out rock's at a shore.

Since we're so slow in cruising around, cars were pilling up behind us.  We pulled over to let them pass.  Eventually just pull over to take a restroom break.

A quick break at Pioneer Park in Lucerne Valley.

Nu thinks he's ducking down and going really fast.  I hope he realizes he's just on the kickstand.

The 18 HWY turns into the 247 HWY.  Everything is starting to look the same.  In other words, typical desert riding.  We get a bit of a reprieve from the monotony when we approach Yucca Valley.  Now here's something to ponder.  As we make our way through the out skirts of Yucca Valley I can't help but notice the plethora of Joshua trees in this region.  When I say "plethora" I'm really referring to a forest of Joshua trees.  I even dare say the count is greater than what was seen in Joshua Tree National Park.  The Captain and I should have just went here to look at Joshua trees instead of riding through Joshua Tree National Park.  One thing is for sure, it would definitely be less crowded than JTNP.

It's pass 1PM.  From all the drinking I've been doing to hydrate myself, I don't feel hungry at all.  Being a former mountain biker, I know this condition can be dangerous as it's a false sense of fulfillment.  I can very easily bonk if I'm not careful.  For those that don't know what the term Bonk or Bonking means, check this out

Since we've been around these parts (e.g Joshua Tree ride this last March) we might as well visit the fine Mexican food restaurant at the north west gate of Joshua Tree National Park.  Oh yeah.  Fish tacos for me, Chilly Verde for Nu, and a shrimp platter for the Captain.  As like before, the food is good.  A simple lunch.

Twentynine Palms Marine Corp base.  We see an unmarked military bus ahead of us.  He's hauling butt alright.  Eventually he turns left.  He must heading into base.  As for us, we tour downtown Twentynine Palms.  The Captain says, "let's get some fuel."  One gas station, another gas station.  Nothing to our liking is appearing on the horizon.  I pull into a Beacon gas station thinking that Beacon should be sufficient.  The Captain rejects the station.  "Hm... why? what?  Oh whatever." was my thought.  I just hope he is able to handle the ride through Amboy and still have enough fuel to get to a gas station near the 40 freeway.  I remember when he use to question Valero as a reputable gas station.  I just hope the other two can handle the distance.  I know the R12R can.

We're about less than 1 mile out from where we make a left turn to head to Amboy.  Amboy road, it's regular enough.  Like most other desert roads, it's straight as an arrow.  That is until we take a dog leg left and ride in the saddle between two mountain ranges.  It's starts off slowly, but eventually gradually twists and turn to descend down to the next valley below.  It took me a while to snap out of the straight and mundane straight roads.  I eventually did and appreciated this little section of road.

We pass numerous Hummers on our way to the town of Amboy.  They must we performing exercises close to the Twentynine Palms base.  I wave hello but they don't acknowledge.  Eventually we reach a section of road where it appears to be a salt flat.  We later discover it's salt mine's harvest field.  I've seen plenty of these fields, and have never set foot on one.  I know the speed seeking people out there use salt flats as their playground.  I've often wondered why they've decided to do such activities on salt flats.  Once and for all, I have to see for myself what all the hubbub is about.  We stop.  The salt looks soft enough but when I jump on it, it's like concrete.  You can tell me I'm blissfully naive, and you're right, but I don't normally have opportunities to set feet on salt flats.  Being an ex-farm boy, I only get to push dirt around, and toss fertilizer here and there.  This is pretty cool.  This also explains why the salt flats are chosen to set land speed records.  When I set my boot firmly on the salt and try to push it around, it doesn't move.  Rock solid.  Pretty cool stuff.

Looks can be pretty deceiving.  It's not as soft that the eyes lead you to believe.

Today is warm, but when we're moving, it's not too bad.  We get into Amboy and discover the restoration process has been going well.  Since the last visit, about 6 months ago, they now have one functioning gas pump.  You can purchase either regular or premium.  Of course, at the price of a little over $5 for fuel, the Captain turns down this purchase also.  However, we get to check out the film crew trying to shoot a scene for some disaster movie.  They setup this scaled down power pole for some pyros later tonight.  We could hang around to check out the scenes, but we would totally miss the rest of the ride.  Still, it's a cool model.

"Take a picture of me to show the scale of the model," the  Captain says.

We push on without fueling.  After 20-30 miles, the music breaks and Nu comes on the radio, "How much further do we have to go until the next gas station?  My trip Odo is showing 146 miles completed already."  "OK, from what I can tell, we only need to travel another 30 miles to the next gas station."  That said, I start looking out for the nearest gas station.  We could have turned west on the 40 freeway to reach a gas station, but elected to stay on Route 66 because we saw a gas station on our route.  Suspiciously, the gas station doesn't have any postings of the gas prices.  We didn't see the price until we pulled up to the pump.  That's when it hit us.

You go it! $6 for one gallon of premium.

Regular faired no better at $5.60 per gallon.

Nu lucked out with only needing 2.4 gallons. That is the beauty of the F650GS.

I paid $20 and filled my bike up with 3.33 gallons.

The Popsicles sucking Captain put in 3.6 gallons.

Despite the requirement to hand over the deed to the farm to fuel up, we did it nonetheless.  Fortunately for us, we're not cars and don't need crazy amounts like 13 or 15 gallons of this crazy fuel.  $78 and $90 for the tank?  That's messed up.

A quick break and we're back on Route 66.  As we pull out of this wonderful gas station, I can't help but think, "Suckers! more victims." to the big trucks with boats in tow pulling in to fuel up.  They must be speeding in excess of $300 to fuel up their truck and boat.  I don't know about those people but I don't want to spend any more than I have to for mobility.  Having a monster truck is definitely not in my equation.  As we continue on Route 66, we get passed by a brand new, no license plate, big truck.  Once again people are driving like fuel prices don't effect them.  I don't get it, but then again I'm probably not suppose to get it.  What's better is the fact this guy burns all this fuel so that he can wait at a train crossing.   The tracks are filled with box cars and the only way to get to a bypass is to double back 20+ miles and take the 40 freeway.  I pose the question, as the three of us are sitting on our bikes in the heat waiting for the train to move, "Do we want to double back and take the 40 freeway?"  To which the Captain says, "By the time we turn around, the train will probably be gone."  Why would anybody want to doubt the wisdom of the Captain.  Sure enough, several minutes after the question was asked, we hear metal to metal grinding.  The train is moving.  The crossing clears and we continue on.  Yup, the truck driver is as much of a jerk as before.

Boring and as vibee as hell.  I expected the 95 HWY to be straight but I didn't expected it to be this boring.  Then again, it's desert riding.  What do you expect. Right?  Right.  We're going uphill, and into the wind.  This is the worst possible scenario for the R12R.  Why?  Because the windshield is mounted to the handlebars, it generates excessive vibration on the handlebar due to the turbulence.  As a result, my throttle hand goes numb.  Additionally, our shadows are getting extremely long.  With the hand up to the sun estimate, we have about 1 1/2 hours until sundown.  At this rate, we're going to be setting up camp in the dark.  Still we make yet another stop.  The stops are starting to be more frequent because we're getting more and more fatigued.  We pull into Terrible's Casino in Searchlight for a drink and a breather.

Freakin' Nu is showing off his dentures again.

While we're standing in the parking lot sucking down some drinks, a guy with his custom chopper pull up next to Nu.  "Greetings..."  I'm normally not interested in choppers but this is pretty cool one.  "Nice bike!"  We chat a bit and made joke about crazy people on the road and then he takes off to rest for his ride back to Arizona the next day.  We stall for a little while longer then get back on the  road to finish off the day's ride.  We have a good 60+ miles left.

Typical. We get back on the road and end up stuck behind an 18 wheeler.  It's a moving truck with all kind of goodies strapped to the back.  I want to pass the truck once we get to an open section of the HWY, for safety reasons, but what I'm about to see and experience has me saying, "Oh my god, run away!"  He's in the fast lane.  I look down at my speedometer and see 75 MPH.  That's nuts!  A vehicle that weighs over 10 tons is moving at the speed of a passenger vehicle.  Not only that he also weaves in and out of the slow and fast lane.  We're doing 75 and we're barely able to keep up with this guy.  I don't want to be behind him if he crashes.  Who knows what he will throw in our direction.  Once a window of opportunity appears, we go for it.  At 80 MPH, we're barely passing him.  I swear I was a desert tortoise making a mad dash to a juicy cactus bloom.  I had enough.  I push it up to 90 MPH and squeeze by.  We change to the slow lane and drop back down to 75 MPH.  Holy cow!  He's catching up.  We increase speed to 80 MPH and we're barely able to stay in front of him.  For once in my life I find myself agreeing with one of the California's state laws.  I wish other state would adopt the same speed requirements for 18 wheelers (e.g. 55 MPH max speed limits on highways and freeways).  The amount of energy a greater than 10 ton truck can really devastate anything that comes into its path.  If this moving truck jackknifes, it's going to explode and frag everybody.  What is worse is we have to fight wind gusts also.  Insult to injury.  Even what looks to be a 400+cc enduro books it and pass us.  He on off-road tires.  This guy is nuts too.  I understand that Nevada is the state of independence but geez.  Does everybody have to be so insane when they drive?  I never thought I'd be so happy to see the Highway Patrol, but I am.  When everybody sees the flashing red and blue lights from a car receiving a special gift on the side of the road, all chaos turns into order.  Speeds are moderated and the big rig, that was threatening to flatten us, finally falls back and stay in line.  Amazing.

Boulder, Nevada.  All we see are fast food restaurants on this stretch of road.  We pull into a Panda Express for dinner.  This is plenty fine as it's getting late.

The campsite is not that far now.  It's about 8 miles out.  In the pitch dark, I follow the GPS's instructions to get to the campsite.  If I try to do this visually, we would be going around in circles for quite some time.  At last, the Lake Mead park entrance.  It's so late that no park rangers are at the gate.  We scoot right on in to search for the campsite.  Unfortunately for me, the GPS doesn't have this campsite on the map.  We have to do a bit of Zen driving to find it.  Sure enough, we're not too far off.  All three of us are parked on  the side of the road reading about the camping fees.  I fill out the form and find out we need to write down the campsite number.  Since Nu has the intercom and radio, I asked him and the Captain to go ahead and find a campsite then radio to me what the site number is.  I write it down, put the $10 in the envelope, and drop the payment into the park fees box.  As I get ready to go meet the others at the campsite, I realize I had forgotten my gloves behind me on top of the cooler.  I didn't want to drop the gloves and have to find it in the dark later.  With the kickstand up, I turn around to grab my gloves.  This twisting motion of my body causes the bike to lean towards the left.  Since the kickstand is up, the bike started leaning further and further until, "Oh screw you", it went down for the count.  Being fatigued, I refused to save the bike from it's fall.  I know I would strain myself.  I hopped off and looked at it lying there thumping away.  I hit the engine kill switch to shut off the bike.  There you have it, after a year and a half of clean biking fun, I finally drop my bike.  Yup, nobody is immune to such activities.  If you have two wheels, you're going to eventually drop your bike.  I laugh about it and then radioed to Nu for assistance to pick up this monster.  He comes over, we both push it up and got on our way.  Man it's dark.  I get to the campsite, position my bike and this time, made sure the kickstand is down.

It took us about 45 minutes to setup camp.  Afterwards, we each go do our cleanup and relax a bit before calling it a night.

Cottonwood Cove ... are you sure? - Day 2
Should have used Coolvest yesterday - Day 3

Written on: June 2, 2008
Last modified: June 22, 2008