Lake Mead
Day 2
Cottonwood Cove ... are you sure?

127 miles - estimated 3:06 hours

8:30AM or 9:00AM.  I don't know exactly what time it is but I'm up.  Already the morning sun is beating down on my tent and heating things up.  It's definitely going to be hot today.  The forecast says it's going to be in the upper 90s.  We'll see.  From the way it feels, I think it's going to be in the triple digits.  The Captain is the first one up.  I can hear him milling around before I declare myself as being up.  Last night sleep wasn't too good, but I managed about 6 hours or so.  The first order of business is to boil water for some much needed coffee.  We have to get the morning started some how.  This is the perfect way to do it.  Nothing like a double dose of coffee to get the juices flowing.  Man this stuff smells and taste so good.

Today's plan is to pack things up, ride to various places around Lake Mead, and then eventually setup camp at Cottonwood Cove, just east of Searchlight.  In this way, we will have less of a ride for the trip home tomorrow.  Among the packing, bullshitting, and more coffee, we finish the packing process at around 10:30AM.  That's a little later than I had hoped, but it's OK because today's ride promises to be a short one.  It's estimated to be around 160 miles or so.  The first stop for today is Hoover Dam.  We're at best 15 miles west of the dam.  It should be no more than 15 to 20 minutes to get there.  But before we head to Hoover Dam, we might as well go down to the shores of Lake Mead and check things out.

For $10 a night, these accommodations are really good.

The campsite is well maintained and very clean.

Proof we paid.

Yup, pack it up because we're not coming back here again for the rest of this trip.

We make our way down to the lake.  Yeah, Lake Mead is being sucked dry by Las Vegas.  The water is at least a hundred feet below the original water line.

Proof we are here.

There's really not much to see at Lake Mead.  Just a lot of boaters, mountain bikers, MX riders, and other people performing similar activities.  So we put our gear back on and headed out to have a look at Hoover Dam.  As we near the dam, we notice a road being built just to the south of the 93 HWY.  It looks like a freeway system with east and west bound lanes.  The freeway is going to bypass Hoover Dam.  The closer we get to Hoover Dam, the more we see construction in progress.  Even though we haven't seen any brochures, it's obvious they're in the process of building an arch bridge that will span the Colorado river just south of Hoover Dam.  Cable guides and cable haulers are busily moving equipment back and forth between the Nevada and Arizona sides.  I imagine this is really going to mess up the beautiful aerial view of Hoover Dam.  However, as we ride over Hoover Dam we can see why the new freeway system is necessary.  The amount of traffic on Hoover Dam is alarming.  Be it because of tourist, like us, or because of people wanting to get from point A to point B, Hoover Dam definitely needs some reduction in congestion.  It's stop and go traffic from Nevada to Arizona.  It's easily 15 or more minutes to travel 1000+ yards.

Regardless of the hydrolic clutch, my hand is getting tired.  I'm also a bit concerned about the R12R over heating because of the stop and go traffic, but nothing much came of the hot situation.  The bike did get a bit warm but it wasn't anything to be concerned about. We try to find general parking but there is nothing to be had.  In the end we went to the paid parking area.  $7 per vehicle.  Despite the fact all three of us can squeeze into one car spot, each of us are required to pay this fee.  Frack!  If that's the case, we're not going to be polite motorcyclists.  We're going to take up one parking spot per bike.  That's exactly what we did.  Despite this cut throat price, this turned out to be a smart move.  We now have covered parking so there will be no worries about hot seat riding when we get back.  Plus, any level of UV protection is better than no level of UV protection for the bikes.

Getting ready to tour Hoover Dam.  We should have brought our hats.

This is one of two enormous spill ways for when the dam reaches maximum
water capacity.  It doesn't looks like it has been used a lot.

It's not enough that Nu is trying to make sure this guy doesn't fall ...

... the Captain also jumps in to help out.

We're hungry.  We haven't had breakfast and it's already 11:45AM.  We spot a cafe and decided to see what they might have to eat.  Once we got there, it's obvious it's more like a cafeteria than a restaurant.  Looking at the menu, there's nothing truly appealing.  Instead we decided to get a drink and some ice cream to cool us off.  It was pretty hot wading through the crowd outside to get to this eatery.  The Captain got one scoop, Nu and I got two scoops each.  When you say "one scoop of ice cream", what do you normally envision as being one scoop.  I normally think of half the size of a fist.  If you're 6'5", then I envision 1/3 of your fist.  When we went to get our scoops, the employee gave us a single scoop equivalent to a fist of a 8' 10" giant more buff than Mr. Universe could ever dream of being.  Man those scoops were huge.  I swear my two scoops worth of a cup looks like a pint of ice cream.  In the end I only finished one scoop and gave up on the rest.  Even the Captain was hard press to finish his single scoop.  Noticing this the Captain make the comment that the ice scream scooping guy must have been a disgruntled employee.  Otherwise why would he give us so much ice cream.  He's trying to get back at his employer.  Sure enough, when we walk pass the next set of people getting ice cream, their scoops are nowhere near the size of our scoops.  Dude must be really pissed.

You've got to be kidding!  $35 for a DAM tour?

"Alright, let's head back to the casino we passed on the way here.  They should have a buffet there." was the Captain's recommendations.  Sure thing, even a mediocre casino buffet is better than this little cafe.  We got back to the bikes, suited up, and double back.  Man there are a lot of biker going through here.  We see cruisers, sport bikes, and enduros.  You name it, it was here.  As we were heading back, an R1200GS joined the group for a short while until we reached the casino.  $29 for a helicopter ride.  At $4.50+ for one gallon of premium gas, we're all wondering if the ride was trimmed down to just a vertical take off and land type of ride.  I can't imagine how much it cost for airplane fuel.  It's already bad enough as it is with the stuff we put into our bikes.  How can they possibly turn a profit if it's only $29 for a ride?  Plus, I'm not going to take any helicopter ride especially when the Captain mentioned one of the Grand Canyon helicopter tours recently crashed killing all people on the ride.  I've entertained the idea of a helicopter ride, but I'm not keen on a death ride today.

The Hacienda Hotel and Casino.  It's almost 1:00pm and we are going to eat brunch.  It is better than the little cafe, but not by much.  Once done, we linger around the casino and gamble a bit.  I broke even while the Captain lost a bit of money.  It's expected.  You're really playing for the fun, and not really to strike it rich.  If your luck is good and that happens, that's fine too.  Right before we got into the Casino, the Captain mentioned the Valley of Fire.  Something to the effect that we should visiting the site today.  Unfortunately we're doing too much of that lingering effect at the casino.  We even sat in on a makeshift cinema area showing a film about how Hoover Dam was built, or was that an opportunity for Nu and the Captain can catch up on some ZZZzzzs?  By the time we got out it's about 3:30 at which case I reminded the Captain about the Valley of Fire.  "Oh yeah, we should go!" he says.  It's kind of late in the day, but Valley of Fire it is.  Who knows when we'll be out here next.  We might as well make the trip regardless of the time/timing.  The original plan was to make our way to Echo bay, but seriously, I don't think there is really much to look at in Echo Bay.

Back into the park we go.  This time, we have to pay the entrance fee because it's early enough in the day and there are park rangers attending the entrance booths.  $6 per bike.  We make our way north to go to the Valley of Fire.  Man it's hot.  My bike shows 100.2F at one point on the road.  When we reach a vista point, we pull over for some photos, drinks, and perhaps a soaking of the cool vest.  Unfortunately, there is no water faucet so no cool vest soaking.

Advertising a Pepsi?  He's not doing a good job because he's covering the label.

I think the sun and heat is getting to Nu...

Photos taken, "OK.  Let's get moving."  We're off once more.  This time it's straight to the Valley of Fire.  There is a decent head wind so my R12R's handle bar is vibrating a bit more than usual.  This sometimes causes my hand to go numb, but it not too bad this time around.  At least the road is really well maintained so that helps to reduce some of the vibration.  From where we are, it's only 53 miles to reach the Valley of Fire.  However, it's eventually slow going because of traffic.  Being so close to Las Vegas, we see a lot of cars from there.  About 15 miles left on the stretch of road to the Valley of Fire, the road turns ugly.  We reduce our speed because of loose tarmac and rocks.  There are cracks everywhere on the uneven road.  I guess not too many people venture out to Echo Bay.  I was doing a bit of standing up on the bike to save the rump, and I get reminded by the Captain that I can get a ticket for doing that.  Yes I know.  The next thing I know, we're at the Valley of Fire State Park.

Aside from the fact that these rocks are extremely red, they have the curious characteristics of having numerous cavernous chambers.  As you can see, some of these caves are capable of housing at least one adult.  Good sleeping accommodations if you ask me.

Unfortunately we can't take long at the park.  The sun is starting to set and we need the time to go all the way to Cottonwood Cove.  It's already past 6:00pm.  The shadows are getting really long.  At this rate, we'll probably end up setting up camp in the dark again.  Just like last night.  Oh well, we do what we have to do.  Right before we head out, the Captain mention he wanted to stop by one of the natural springs we passed up on our way here.  He is thinking of going for a possible dip.  Hm... I don't know about that.  Some of these springs and ponds are known to harbor life forms that can potentially alter your life towards the bad.  Still, we'll stop by a spring because the Captain is so insistent.  As for me, I just want to make it to reach Cottonwood Cove in time to set up camp.

The first spring.  There is no spring in sight.  It looks more like a dried out creek.  To that, the Captain mention there is another spring just a mile or two down the road.  We get to the second spring.  Upon parking the bike, I can smell the foul odor of the air.  For me, that's a clear sign we shouldn't be getting into the water.  At the least, there is a heavy level of algae in the water.  Upon closer inspection, there are signs posted all over the place indicating there is a bug in the spring that will cause death should a person decide to wade through the water.  The note said something to the effect that you shouldn't submerge yourself where the water can enter either the mouth or the nostrils.  If such an event were to take place, you are liable to introduce a single cell amoeba into your system that will cause brain damage and death.  There you have it.  It's a clear sign to listen to your nose.  I walk along the spring's edge at a little water fall and what to I see?  An item no modern woman would do without.  It's that monthly female hygiene product.  Even here, out in the middle of nowhere, the human presence is ever visible.  Not that I really need any type of convincing, but I'm definitely not going anywhere near this water source.  Aside from the death dealing amoeba, my stinky feet will probably kill all the fish in the spring.

It's a nice enough looking oasis, but you don't want to go wading through it.
There are a plethora of little fishies in that little pond.

We pull out and are making good time heading back.  We reach and pass Echo Bay in no time.  Our luck, however, doesn't last very long.  We encounter a mini van that refuses to pull over for faster traffic.  He stay on the road and skips turnout after turnout.  Obviously this guy doesn't know how to be a polite driver.  What's even worse is this guy doesn't know how to drive curvy highway roads.  He's having problems with the simple windy road at Lake Mead.  He won't survive Yosemite if he ventures there.  Every approach of a corner, the breaks are engaged.  Corner after corner, the same thing.  I was pressuring the the van a bit but I didn't want to be a jerk so I hang back giving him plenty of opportunities to take one of the turnouts.  This game keeps up for a bit until the driver nearly runs himself off of the road.  "Dude, you suck and you need to go back to driving school," was the thought in my head.  This scared the crap out of me so I backed off even further.  I'm not in a hurry, and definitely don't want to be the cause of an accident.  If a vehicle does crash in front of me, who knows what piece(s) I might inherit from the idiotic incompetent driver's vehicle.

By the time we reach the three way junction between 147 and the 166 HWY, it's already 8:00pm.  It's dark.  Then I get a squelch on the radio from Nu that the Captain is signaling for us to pull over.  So we pull over.  "I think you're head light is too high." yelped the Captain to Nu.  "All is can see is head light and nothing else.  You need to adjust your headlight so it doesn't blind people."  Poor Captain, his mirrors just happen to be at the same exact height as Nu's F650GS's headlight.  As for me, I'm fine because my mirrors are higher up.  We're attempted to kid the Captain about his mirrors, but he's too busy being adamant about things.  We're all getting tired so I don't fault him.  Oh well, the headlight has to be adjusted later.  Now is not the time to do it.  I look at the clock and it's showing 8:10PM.  According to the GPS we'll be at the Cottonwood Cove campsite around 10:45PM, and that's not counting us stopping somewhere for dinner.  I then pose the question to the Captain, "Cottonwood Cove.  Are you sure you want to go to there tonight?  If we do go, that means we'll get there around 10:45.  It's probably better if we stay at this campsite tonight."  To which the Captain replied, "OK, let's not go to Cottonwood Cove.  Let's stay here for tonight."  "OK.  So we'll just go to the casino for dinner and then come back here can camp out."  "Yeah, that sounds good." said the Captain.

With that we head out of the Lake Mead Recreational Area once more to the Hacienda Hotel and Casino for dinner.  Ugh... dinner is no better than brunch.  Then again we already knew that so it's not a surprise the second time around.  I'm still filled up with water so once again I'm finding it hard to eat.  This coupled with the not so tasty food doesn't help the appetite at all.  I downed a piece of roast and thought it needed some serious helping.  I paid the money but didn't eat much.  Recalling what dessert was like for brunch, I didn't have high expectations for anything exotic.  As a result I stuck to the normal stuff.

We're at the gates of the Lake Mead Recreational Area once more.  I thought there might be a ranger at the gates so I prepped myself to hand over the recites for the three bikes.  10:00PM, there is nobody in sight.  It's just like the night before.  This time around I made sure the kickstart was down.  Again Nu and the Captain went in tell what campsite we're taking.  Guess what number they gave me?  First guess doesn't count.  Campsite 32.  We're right back where we started this morning.  No matter, at least we're familiar with the campsite so setup should be really quick.  Sure enough.  1/2 hour later, the campsite has tents pitched, lanterns lighted, and we're going to the restroom to clean up.

OK.  The restroom has a sign that says "No bathing allowed" at the one sink, but do we have a line outside waiting to use the sink?  No.  Not only that, we're practically the only people up and about.  Still, the Captain kept on telling me I'm not suppose to bath at the sink.  Easy for him to say.  I don't want to spend another night sleeping with my sticky self.  So I gave myself a quick wipe down and I'm good for the night.  Now why does the Captain have to scream to the world that I'm not suppose to bath at the one sink?  We have to do something to survive this heat.  This is as good a method as any.

Once I'm done defying the law, with the Captain in tow screaming about me breaking the law, we all head back and close down for the night.

Greater than 10 tons at 80MPH - Day 1
Should have used the Coolvest yesterday - Day 3

Written on: June 2, 2008
Last modified: July 5, 2008