The Second Annual Death Valley Daze
Death Valley, California, January, 1997
From: Alice Raia
Took off out of Petaluma, CA at 6am sharp on Saturday morning with my friend Lana (non-Prez type) in tow. Couldn't start the trip on Friday due to a prior obligation...
We were blessed with temps in the 40's in the pitch black of that early hour. Slabbed it thru Marin county to the East Bay, riding thru some *major* fog on 580 until we hit the most boring road in CA, the I-5.
After about 2.5 hours of riding, we stopped for a bite to eat in some roadside truck stop. You can only imagine the looks we got. Here's the scene... Two women, pulling up on motorcycles, somewhere in the Central Valley of Calif (read: not the most cosmopolitan of places -- no offense meant to anyone who lives there), strip off all our gear (stitch's, electrics, helmet hair, etc.), sit down for breakfast. Every eye in the place was on us. I *wanted* to stand up and offer photos for $5 a shot (...gotta pay for gas somehow), but I restrained myself. The food was bad, the coffee mugs still had dishwater soap on them, and it took 45 minutes to get breakfast. Won't be stopping there again.
The boredom of I-5 was shattered by 58W as we ascended into Tehachapi. Entered DV Park at about 4:30. As we left Panamint Springs, we saw a huge fireball up ahead on Towne Pass. I though a plane had crashed. About 15 minutes later, we turned a corner to find a motorhome completely engulfed in flames. The fireball we saw was the propane tank blowing up. The poor guy who was driving the vehicle was standing in shock watching all of his world being burned. He was on a cross country trip, and DV was his third stop. When the fire initially started, he ran back in to get his pet cat, but couldn't find him. He lost his home, companion, and belongings on the way up that pass.
We realized that once the rescue personnel got there, they would close the road until the fire was out. Not wanting to hang around Towne Pass for several hours (especially knowing that there was a campfire, friends, and chow in Furnace Creek waiting for us), Lana & I decided to blast past the inferno on our bikes. This is as close to doing stunt work as I will ever come.
Finally made it to Furnace Creek at about 6:00pm. After a big hug from Roozbeh and Dan Arnold (note: not simultaneously), I immediately hunted down Chris Wenzel to claim the use of the shower in his room (it pays to have friends who don't like to camp..).
Much merriment and frivolity followed as we all BS'd 'round the fire. The more the alcohol flowed, the more interesting and outlandish the stories became. I was partially blinded more than once by the roving photog, Butch Hays, as he snapped all kinds of blackmail material. It's always great to meet up with my old buddies, and to put some faces with the names I see here. I've only known some of my fellow IBMWRers for about a year, but the bond I feel with them runs deep. I've grown to really appreciate these guys' friendship and support. OK, enough sappiness.
I'm truly sorry that I was not in attendance for the gathering that Tom Childers put together at noon on Friday at Zabriski Pt. for Laurie Robertson. Tom's recollection of the event communicated that a very special group of people (those Prez's in attendance) cared enough to participate in the acknowledgement of a fellow Prez who is going thru some tough times.
Sunday morning dawned, and Joe Denton immediately started up feeding the masses ("...what we have in mind is breakfast in the Valley for 40..."). As breakfast was being consumed, some were getting things packed up. I milled around the bikes, visiting with lots of folks, checking out some of the unique methods of tying down gear to bikes, examining fun little accessories, and just plain being nosey.
After most folks had left, Lana & I grabbed the leftover firewood (burned it *all* before we left), and headed out on a tour of the Valley. My favorite part was Artists Place. "Painted" rock, and a skinny, twisty road.
Came back in the afternoon to an empty campground, which, the night before, had been bustling with IBMWR activity. We putzed around, had some dinner, and then watched a group of German and Autralina young women (on some sort of group camp trip run by an outfit out of Nevada) set up camp. I think Lana and I scared the sh*t out of them, because they shyed away from us the next morning when we greeted them with a hearty "Hello". I wonder what they've heard about us bad *ss BMW Biker Babes......puh-leaze !!
Outta the Valley at 8am on Monday, with a prediction of rain. Took a *much* more interesting route home -- 178 east, over Walker Pass, to I-5, to Coalinga, 198 east to 25 North (some of the most *beautiful* country in Calif). We hit big time rain in the Silicon Valley area on 101. The stitch kept me dry. The baggies in my boots worked well also. Safeway brand, 75 bags for $1.99, in case anyone is interested.
Finally arrived home, tired, hungry, aching at 8pm. All told, 1300 miles, 20 or so new friends, buckets of new memories, and one very dirty bike.
Looking forward to DVD III. Thanks Roozbeh...
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