The Second Annual Death Valley Daze
Death Valley, California, January, 1997
From: Terry Guder
[boy - I'm tired! Hope I'm readable....]
My trip started on Thursday - my goal was to go to LA to do some priming (literally drink a lot) with an old college buddy, get up on Friday and head to DV. The trip down was largely uneventful, but not bad. I took 101 south, and it was pretty much dark. I did get from Pismo to LA without a stop (some 200 miles, no huge deal to some, but I'm on a pretty-open R65, and it's COLD). I sure had to p...oh nevermind. I got there in exactly 7 hours and I was ready to drink a beer, so I did, exponentially and with much fervor. It tasted good.
Next day, I get up ready to go, and find a nice puddle of black gold under my bike. This really sucks, I think. I had found earlier in the week during some bike maintenance that the valve cover gaskets were too prone to ripping. A cork gasket had to be made for one side, and the other gasket was turned over (so the rip was on top). The cork worked fine, but the other clearly didn't. I got to replace that, delaying me for more than I wanted. I eventually got on the road mid- to late-afternoon. This put me right into Friday go-home traffic, and my bike was none too pleased. By Pomona it was running real bad, so I got off and went to Brown Motor Works. Gerry there (a REAL saint!) did some adjustments here and there and the bike sounded so much better! But, it was almost 6p by that time, and I had no idea what would be up at DV so I chose the saner (?) option and went back to LA for more beer.
OK, now I'm sure I upset at least one person (I'm still sorry Arno, but I _really_ did try to call the bars in Furnace Creek - 2 of 'em, apparently). I get up on Saturday and pack up the bike (again) and hit the road - finally! I'm a little nervous simply because I don't know what to expect. I'm not even sure if I have a place to stay, but I just decide to flow, and enjoy it as I go with it. This is the first time I wore earplugs, and I was thoroughly impressed. I could hear what I needed to, and otherwise not what I didn't. The soft silence heading through Trona and through the Searles Valley (I think that's what it was) was positively surreal - very much like flying. I was in fact, the 650 was just humming along the road, quite quickly. I barely realized that the engine was turning a steady 6k or so. The speedo only bounces around 90-100 at that engine speed, take it as you will. I got to the campsite in a great mood, and the first person I met was the proprietor of Arno's Sporting Goods and General Supply, out of Tuscon. The man's a saint for carrying my lodgings all the way from there (for a perfectly fair and nominal fee, of course). Having secured the roof, I was ready to perform my presidential duties, and did so long into the night.
I met a bunch of interesting and genuine people - I'll never forget. And the open generosity of people like Joe Denton (painfully good food) and Tom Childers (my favorite landlord and a new inspiration to zymurgy), and of course Arno and all the people I rambled on with really made the trip meaningful for me. I'm sorry that I missed the group photo, as it was my goal for the day - next time, I guess.
Going home (San Francisco) was going to be a predictably miserable trip as I was intending the quickest route, which was apparently the 5. Getting to the 5 was a blast, over 178. Very beautiful, especially the Kern River valley, where the mountainsides come right down to the road. The trip back up the 5 was largely uneventful, I froze quite completely and was happy to get home. I wondered if I would have been better [self-]served had I zipped over to 25 or even 101, I didn't do it because I felt like I was in a hurry. Next time I won't even question it. Now I've got my priorities right!
When I got home I peeled off the layers of clothes and proceeded to wash off the remaining layers of oil and dirt. A few fine beers and some fine German cuisine at the local fine German restaurant (to celebrate and honor the bike, of course!) capped a perfect weekend; even including my mechanical and time mishaps, which were somehow absorbed and by and then forgotten in the ebbing bliss of the trip....
Here's a riddle from a road-numbed mind:
- - How does a Harley rider travel 1-5?
I passed this guy three times - the bike looked really pretty, all tied up and polished. I was so cold I was almost jealous.
Anyway, reality dictates that I sleep now! If you read this far, you get to look at this smiley --> :)
As if it wasn't as bad as your porridge....
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