Desert Tour Story

15 days & 4200 miles on a motorcycle

Fran, I and an Indian Chief set out on 8/24/2001 for Las Vegas to get married!

With follow on stops at Fran's parents in 29 Palms California and a tour of Southwest America’s Deserts


Ken's view of the ride - in Blue   -    Fran's view of the ride - Pink


Day One 8/24/2001

Set out from home at 8:30 on a cool foggy morning. Nice ride to Mt. Hood, very chilly up and over though. Weather cleared as we headed out through Eastern Oregon. We stopped in Warm Springs Indian reservation to view the museum and eat; very nice. Drove on to the High Desert Museum; Excellent & Recommended! Finished the first day in Burns, OR.

Great Day – Good Ride _ Bike Flawless


DAY ONE - Friday, August 24, 2001

8:30 am. – 4952 miles on the odometer. Of course this being Oregon and in the middle of summer, it’s about 37 degrees this morning and so foggy you can’t see across the street. And we are taking this trip, why? I guess seeing the sun a couple of times during the summer has been an idiosyncrasy of mine. The fog lifted when we got to the Sylvan Hill, about the same time I had to chastise a guy reading a magazine while driving in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway. He had it draped across his steering wheel so I guess he thought it was okay. It’s difficult to remove those items from one’s chest after the steering wheel imbeds it deeply during impact.

We continued east on Highway 26 over Mt. Hood, which I observed had a new sprinkling of snow. It was very chilly and I was extremely happy to see the pine trees start to disappear and the terrain open up into a more desert-like setting. There are some very amazing basalt cliffs along the road close to Warm Springs. We arrived at Warm Springs about 12:30 and toured the Warm Springs Indian Museum. It was nice, but not spectacular. We ate lunch at a restaurant nearby. Both the Indian and Ken’s coat attract an amazing amount of attention.

We continued on towards Bend where the landscape is a mixture of canyons and flat desert-like terrain sprinkled with sagebrush and pine. We stopped in Bend in a parking lot behind the Chamber of Commerce when Ken spotted an Indian going by on the road in front of the building. We jumped on our Indian and followed them to the I-Hop. It was a man and his daughter from the Bay area who were on their way home after a trip to Cody, Wyoming. They were camping out and had the bike loaded with rolls, backpacks and a sheepskin on the seat, presumably dead before they placed it there. They were quite travel-weary at this point and I think anxious to get home. He said they had been on the road for 14 days and was probably disgusted at our perky, starting-out enthusiasm. Ken was quite appalled at how dirty their Indian was and vowed ours would never look like that.

We made a point to tour the High Desert Museum. It was more spectacular than I remembered. We listened to a talk about birds of prey. I didn’t agree with some of the things they were telling us about how they couldn’t be trained to hunt if they had been raised by hand. I watched Tascia, the Ferruginous hawk Norm and I had, instinctively pick it up. She had a harder time learning how to fly.

We left there around 4:30 and traveled southeast to Burns. The landscape is totally boring, boring, boring. Flat land with sagebrush and the road is straight as an arrow, disappearing over the horizon FOREVER. We got to Burns around 7:30, got a motel room and ate a gourmet dinner. We seemed not too worse for wear and it looks like this trip may possible after all.


Second Day 8/25/2001

Pulled out of Burns early. Topped off the tank at every opportunity today. Long stretches of open deserts scrub lands. We rode at 80+ all day on into Nevada. Met Hoke Janaszak from Port Orchard WA, riding an Aprilla “Mille” on an endurance run. Amazing coincidence! Nether Fran or Bike, have complained once. I am really enjoying the ride. My mind has been wondering about the hard life of the cattlemen, building a house for Fran & I and the general lay of the wide open land. We stopped at Winnemucca for a beer and the air conditioning. The end of the day found us in Battle Mountain, NV. We stopped at a good Mexican restaurant after drinks at the casino. Fran & I spent the night at “The Big Chief Motel.” I had a good swim at the pool.|


DAY TWO - Saturday, August 25, 2001

We started out about 9:00 am. and continued southeast in the most boring scenery imaginable. More sagebrush, more flat land, more straight roads. We stopped at Burns Junction, a sort of wide spot in the road, at 11:00 for breakfast. There was guy in a motorcycle-racing suit sitting in the restaurant/hardware store quietly eating his breakfast, but he was not able to hide his Aprilla from Ken. Of course Ken, shy retiring guy that he is, couldn’t help but engage him in conversation. It seems he was blasting through the desert at 100 mph just to see what the bike would do. It turned out that he was from Ken’s home area and went to school with one of Ken’s brothers (yes, small world). The guy finished his breakfast, hopped on the bike and blew a dust cloud all the way into the desert. Hope he doesn’t hit a cow on the open range.

About five miles south of Burns Junction we encountered an RV in trouble. This old couple and their two grandsons were in a Homer RV, towing a Dodge Colt, which may indicate their intelligence level. Apparently about ten miles north of Winnemucca a tire blew on their tow trailer and they continued merrily on their way, unaware that the tire shredded off the rim and the rim was dragging on the road so long it had ground it exactly to the axle. Someone from the Parks Department stopped them to tell them what had happened. So here they were by the side of the road and probably had been staring at it for a good hour before we came along. Ken took over and showed them how to replace the wheel while lifting the trailer with his brute strength. These people were REALLY STUPID and I’m sure if he hadn’t helped them, they right now would be a set of skeletons along the road.

Back on the road again, only this time the scenery is altered with the aftermath of serious range fires so recent we could still smell it. One of them went on for miles. It’s amazing there was anything to burn because the landscape is so bleak. We crossed into Nevada about 12:30 and continued on to Winnemucca for a beer at 2:30. It is very hot riding. Road kill you probably wouldn’t see in Portland: one porcupine and one cow. I also saw a couple of antelope trotting next to a fence along the road.

We got to Battle Mountain at 4:00 after enduring more of the same flat, hot landscape. We stayed at the “Big Chief” motel since we were riding the big Chief. A real flea-trap and they hadn’t even bothered to change the sheets from the last patron. We walked to the Owl Casino for a couple of drinks and had the place to ourselves, apparently not a happening town. At the direction of the bartender, we had dinner at the best Mexican restaurant in town, obviously the only Mexican restaurant in town.

After dinner, we wandered over to the city park to observe a Basque Festival, which consisted of a bunch of kids dressed in matching stupid costumes attempting some kind of folk dancing. Basque? Excuse me, where are the sheep?

After walking the entire length of Battle Mountain, we went to bed. I don’t even know why this town exists because I could observe no visible reason for its being there.


Third Day 8/26/2001

Left at dawn South on 305 through 88 miles of barren scrub. A very peaceful stretch in the cool morning light. We had breakfast in Austin. Well I am way behind. It s now Wednesday the 29th and I’ll have to catch up. After breakfast we rode on to Tonopah. Quite a bit of elevation change to 7100 feet elevation, the bike ran fine, I find I could not tell by the way it ran or the mixture gauge. More turns, hills and fun, then&ldots; “Roadwork next 35 miles.” Oil and gravel roadway; Oh my God! Turned out to be well packed and as it is still early, the heat hasn’t made it very wet. We drove on without trouble or detectable damage. On through great wide valley after another in this unending no-man’s land. The few ranches out here live up to the death valley namesake. Yes, we even saw a dead cow on the road being eaten by crows. Tonapah, our next stop, is yet another very lame town with a casino (Oh Boy?). Fran agreed to push onto Las Vegas. Another 200 miles on to of the 179 planned, made this our longest ride yet. Starting out in 100° weather and arriving at 110° was rough, but when we got to Sin City we had to sit in stop and go traffic. The engine ran fine but was giving off intense heat waves. Fran and I continue to wear full leathers and full face helmets. By this point nether of us are doing well with the heat. Fran confirmed our registrations and go the keys while I wiped down the bike in front of the Luxor. We parked, unpacked and locked the bike before making our way through the casino to our room. After a long break with showers and a nap, we ventured out through the casinos, shops and walkways to see the night. Las Vegas has no concept of coffee or beer. Turns out we were both still too drained from the road to enjoy ourselves much this evening. So we turned back to the room for the night, but not before getting a blister on one foot. I checked on the Indian before tuning in and found all the gas had run out of a newly melted hole in the fuel line. It seems I had not routed it carefully enough to preclude it hitting a cylinder cooling fin. After 1000 miles of riding through desert, the Las Vegas heat coupled with a super heated engine had melted the fuel line. The knowledge of this led to a fitful sleep.


DAY THREE - Sunday, August 26, 2001

We got up early, Ken wiped down the bike and we left by 7:00 a.m. It was pretty chilly riding. We continued south for a long, long stretch through rangeland consistent with what we previously had been riding through. We started to climb into some higher ground and the countryside got a little more interesting. We stopped in Austin for breakfast at 8:30. Austin is a very interesting little town, very old and obviously a mining town. When we left the restaurant, we started to climb over the mountain where I could look down into a ravine filled with old rusty 1940’s cars and I immediately thought Ken’s brother, Tom, would be interested due to his undying fascination with the unrestorable.

Continued south to Tonopah which was our original destination for the day. It was noon and Tonopah was the same pit in the earth I had remembered. We went into the biggest casino for a couple of drinks and dropped $40.00 in the nonpaying slots within five minutes. Enough of that, there was no way we were going to stay here for the night and decided to try to make Las Vegas.

More straight highway, but the scenery is more like the desert in Twentynine Palms - lots of creosote, black brush and Mojave yuccas. It is REALLY HOT. We stopped in Beatty to cool down with double-scoop ice creams and beer. Yum. We encountered some local drunk who insisted on blasting us with poisonous alcoholic rhetoric about how he really wanted our Indian. We rudely left.

Still REALLY HOT. We stopped at Indian (do you see a theme here?) Springs for another beer about a hour later and then traveled past Area 51 and the nuclear test site of the Cold War. The people here have a certain glow about them,

We pulled in to Las Vegas about 6:00 p.m. It was 112°, the traffic was at its usual standstill, the traffic lights changed approximately every 15 minutes, we were dripping sweat and the Indian’s engine was probably at 2,600° and was emitting noxious odors. We finally made it to the Luxor, both completely brain-dead. Ken stayed by the bike while I went to the lobby to see it they would give us a room a day early. I was one big sweat-ball, my leather pants were sticking to me, my hair was plastered to my head and my face was similar to a giant red rubber ball. No wonder people parted to let me through. Fortunately they were able to give us a room for the extra day so I got that all set up and went back to Ken and the Indian. We parked the bike in the motorcycle parking area of the hotel garage and gratefully collapsed in our heavenly air-conditioned room.

We literally had to peel our leather pants off. We took a shower and a nap and then ventured out of the hotel around 8:00. It had cooled down to about 100° by then. We went over to New York, New York, looking for something to eat. The place was wall-to-wall people and there were long lines at any eating establishment. We dragged our sorry butts back to the Luxor and had to settle for hot dogs in the food court.

We got back to our room and Ken, still paranoid about having the Indian out of our sight, went to the parking garage to check on it. He discovered the fuel line had melted into the cylinder and dumped all the rest of the fuel on the floor. Most likely this will have to be fixed before we can ride it again – later. We collapsed into sound sleeps.


Fourth Day 8/27/2001

I took Fran’s suggestion and we rented a car in the morning for our stay. We found the Clark County Court House and got our marriage license. Fran and I agreed to see the justice of the peace, who was very nice and did a great job. We found ourselves short a witness. Another couple came in right after us in the same situation, had already abducted a girl off the street with car trouble. We all got married except the witness now photographer with the dead transmission. Fran is been doing her best to keep the marriage certificate from getting folded in her saddle bag.

We went to the Harley shop and got some fuel line, and picked up a gas can got it filled. That night we saw a 3D animated show at an IMAX theater in the Luxor employing LCD flicker glasses. I felt we were standing among the animated people and objects; amazing! We walked down the street through New York and watched the Bellaggio Fountains; Wonderful choreography between the music and the water show. Across the street we had a drink and went up the Eiffel tower and watched the fountains put on another tune from the top. What a view of Vegas, this is one of the best places to take it all in. On the way back from Paris we stopped in the Harley Davidson Café to view a fantastic collection of bikes and memorabilia old and new. Now we both returned to the room with blisters on our feet.


DAY FOUR - Monday, August 27, 2001

Our room is on the 3rd floor and as I gaze from our window, I see the sun rising over the butt of the Sphinx with a glorious view of the roof. It’s about 7:30. We wandered down to the garage to see if anyone had freed the Indian from being chained to a fence, replaced the fuel line and filled it with gas, but it was still the same as we had left it. We decided to rent a car to make getting around the city easier. We had to wait until a car was returned so we toured the Gaza Gallery in the hotel where Ken bought a silk shirt and got me a pair of earrings and an Isis pendant. We went back to the car rental place about 10:00 and agreed to take the first car that was turned in without waiting for them to clean it out. It turned out to be a Dodge Intrepid (Insipid). What a dog!! It was very nice and plushy inside but it had no power, took decades for the transmission to shift and handled like crap. I see these cars on the road all the time and now I wonder why people buy them.

First things first, we went downtown to get our marriage license. The information page I pulled off the Internet previously said we needed a form of ID like a driver’s license to get the marriage license. Not true, we could have given them any name, any address and age and they would have merrily typed it up on the license, only concerned that they had everything spelled correctly. There was a couple filling out the information sheet next to us who were obviously really in love. You could tell by the way they were fighting and yelling at the seventeen kids who only belonged to her, a result of her 14 previous husbands. That part of the plan only took about 15 minutes. We had given up on any kind of special ceremony, so we immediately walked a couple of blocks to the Marriage Bureau to get married. There was only one other couple there besides us. The justice of the peace lady said we needed a witness and the other couple had conveniently talked an innocent person off the street whose car had broken down in the parking lot to be their witness and she agreed to be ours also. We all went into the little marriage room together and the other couple were married first and then us. This was around noon, August 27, 2001. (Note: remember that date). They also had a camera and broken-down-car girl took pictures which they promised to e-mail to us. The whole marriage adventure took about a half-hour and $100.00 – the only way to go!

Next on the agenda was a trip to the world famous Harley shop in Las Vegas where we got the fuel line to fix the Indian. The shop is big and nice, but I think Destination Harley in Tigard is just as good.

We had lunch and went back to the Luxor. Waiting for us were two bottles of Champagne – one from USI Northwest and one from Coffman. USI also sent a box of chocolates which was very thoughtful, but not something you can pack in the saddlebags in the middle of summer to eat on the way. We drank Champagne and tried to take our picture in mirror without much success.

We went downstairs and then up the escalator to the IMAX theatre and watched a Cyber show in 3-D. It was phenomenal! We left the Luxor and went to Mandolay Bay and put $20.00 in the huge $2.00 slot machine. We managed to play for about 15 minutes and it was fun while it lasted. We took the tram to Excalibur and went down to Las Vegas Boulevard. We walked up the Boulevard and stopped to watch the water fountain show at Bellaggio. We then went across the street to the Paris Hotel, had a drink and then took the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. By this time it was dark and we could see all the lights of Las Vegas. It’s amazing how widespread this city has become.

We got back to the Luxor at 10:00, totally walked out. Our wedding day was a very good day.


Fifth Day 8/28/2001

I went down and replaced the fuel line and tied it so it could not touch the cylinder barrels. I put our gallon of fuel in and ended up having to throw away the gas can. Fran and I went to The Star Trek Adventure. This expensive exhibit has an excellent museum with a detailed time line and uniforms, weapons and objects from space travel past present and future (Star Trek). We went through a time warp while visiting the enterprise and ended up in a battle with the Klingons before finding the rift in time leading us to Quarks bar on the Promenade deck of Deep Space Nine. Quarks has the usual fare of imported food and drink. Next stop, in the speed exhibit I drove a Farrari very badly. Then we rode a roller coaster, which shot the riders out using a linear accelerator in to a turn and loop then up vertical to a stop then backward through the ride to the start point. After two rounds of this I was quite green and dripping from the sweat of sickness. We took the rental car to the Hoover Dam signing up for the longest tour. This included the generators, turbines, penstocks and interior corridors of the dam itself; very interesting.


DAY FIVE - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Ken got up early and fixed the Indian. We decided to keep the car another day, mainly so we wouldn’t have to wear hot leather while zipping around in the 110°+ heat. We headed for the Hilton to see the Star Trek show. It was kind of a Disneyland-like ride, but nowhere worth the $25.00 each it cost to get in. It was okay and I think Ken really liked it, but I was disappointed. Their main concern is getting you to the Star Trek gift shop and Ken almost succumbed to the enticing Star Trek trivialities. We had extraterrestrial drinks in Quark’s Café and went on to the Sahara. People actually pay money to stay in this place which has to be the seediest casino in Las Vegas. Our reason for being there was to ride the roller coaster called “Speed” or something like that. It’s one of those that launches you immediately, goes through a loop, blah, blah and ends up sending you straight up 50 feet where you suspend for a second or two and then drops you back down and sends you backwards through the entire 30-second ride. If that wasn’t weird enough, you get to do the whole thing again. That’s just enough to make you yak, and then you have to wander back through the Sahara casino – double yak.

We gratefully climbed back into the Insipid and went to Hoover Dam. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve been there and now they have this huge parking structure instead of a gravel lot in the middle of the desert. We took the “Hard Hat” tour which also included our very own hard hat to keep. That was the main draw to that tour. It was the extended tour that actually took you inside the dam itself so you could look through one of the little vent holes down the side of the dam. I knew Ken would like it and after all these many years, the dam is still impressive.

We went back to the Luxor, anxious to get back on the bike in the morning.


Sixth Day 8/29/2001

We left Las Vegas early and about 50 miles out met up with three bikers from Alberta Canada headed for Mexico to go on a run and return home. Total time for their trip 8 days. I tried to hook up with my buddy Rene Solis in Apple Valley CA, but I could not find him in the phone book, so my wife and I headed out to Yucca Valley. Fran and I could not get her on the phone so we headed on to her parents house. We pulled up unannounced both are very nice and fun to get to know. Tom is quite a craftsman, his scratch built cars are of excellent quality. He built about 20 including 2 Stanley Steamers. Fran seemed to be having a good time catching up. Apparently very little had changed from what she remembered. The house is absolutely full of recovered and restored items cast off by others. We spent quite some time going through old photos and talks about cars.


DAY SIX - Wednesday, August 29, 2001

We got up, packed up the Indian, turned in the Insipid and checked out. We were on the road by about 7:30. We headed west through the desert, stopping for coffee by the state line and crossed into California around 9:15. The temperature is noticeably cooler than Las Vegas. The world’s tallest thermometer in Baker registered 95°.

We stopped in Barstow for a butt-break and met three guys from Canada (the state to the north) who had ridden this far from Alberta in two days on their way to Tijuana for a bike race and then they were going to go back to Canada by Monday. They really looked leathery and spent the entire time at the gas station greasing themselves down with sun protecting lotion after the fact. Too late, guys – cancer city!

We cut off Highway 15 just before Victorville and dropped down into Apple Valley. Ken tried to call an old friend of his, but couldn’t get the right number so we continued on to Yucca Valley. When we got to Yucca Valley, I was happy to see WalYMart had set up shop in that fair city. I called my aunt about three times, but all I got was the answering machine. I’m sure they were home, but I didn’t have a number to leave for them, so we left to go on to Twentynine Palms.

We showed up at my parent’s house at around 2:00. They both came out into the yard after hearing the Indian pull up. I hadn’t seen them for 18 years and the only change is that are obviously older. The yard is overgrown with all kinds of foliage, trees, palms, you name it and there’s still some grass struggling to exist with my mother’s constant watering. The temperature was actually pretty nice under the canopy of trees and bushes. Ken and my dad got along famously as I knew they would. My dad makes these amazing model antique cars out of metal from scratch. The only things he goes by is a picture in a magazine and then he creates the car in perfect proportions out of scrap metal, bullet casings, and various objects you may find around the house. They are perfect, all the doors work, the steering wheel turns the wheels, the engines are exact replicas and I’m sure they would start if you could find some tiny gasoline. One guy hounded my dad to buy his Franklin replica because he knew the guy who owned the original car until my Dad finally gave it to him. A few months later, the same guy came back and handed my Dad $1,000.00 from the guy who owned the original car.

My Mom dragged out the old family albums so Ken could see what I looked like as a kid. I wandered around looking at the millions of things they had collected and stashed in every available space. My Dad throws out birdseed every day in the backyard and has a menagerie of quail, doves and an occasional roadrunner who dine there regularly. We even saw a tiny bunny in the yard.

We left there about 7:00 and checked into Twentynine’s finest Best Western. The hotels have improved 100%, but Yucca Valley is still a more progressive town.


Seventh Day 8/30/2001

Fran and I did our laundry in the morning and went back over to her parent’s house at noon. Tom and I looked over many of his projects and their construction methods. Talk of craftsmanship and the politics of the work place continued until it was time to say our goodbyes and retire for the evening. I very much enjoyed getting to know them both.


DAY SEVEN - Thursday, August 30, 2001

We got up around 8:00 and made coffee in the room’s coffee pot. It tasted exactly like iodine. When I lived in Twentynine Palms, the water was the best, but my dad said some government agency came in and decided good water was not necessary and put all kinds of additives in it to make the vilest tasting possible. The bottled water companies probably paid them off. Anyway, we threw that away in haste. Ever since we left the confines of Portland, good coffee and beer were not possible to find. I asked for a Heffeweisen in Nevada and they said “What?” We had time to kill since my Mom requested we not show up until after noon, so we wandered around town, stopped at the local “custom” bike shop and Ken looked around in the simple shop which elicited no visible means of support. I had to stand outside because the proprietor was smoking the cheapest cigar he probably found tossed in the gutter by some Marine. All the old desert rats who wandered by to check out the Indian told us to go eat breakfast at the Carousel “because Denny’s charges too much and you don’t get enough to eat”. Since Denny’s charges $2.99 for their Grand Slam Breakfast, I was curious to see what a reasonable meal would cost. We did eat breakfast at the Carousel and it was pretty average and I think breakfast ran in the $5.99 range.

Ken wanted to wash his clothes so we found the local Laundromat (What ever happened to Sparkle Plenty?) next to the old defunct supermarket. The usual mix of colorful locals and Marines were in there washing their duds. An old man showed up, muttering to himself, smoking a very smelly pipe and proceeded to load all his known clothes into a washer right under the “No Smoking” sign. He went outside and sat in a chair in the sunlight, happily smoking his pipe. Then he moved inside happily smoking his pipe. The stench was overwhelming and finally Ken went over to ask him to put the pipe out. Being colorful local that he was, he feigned ignorance about anything Ken said to him until Ken got really pissed and yelled in the guy’s face until he finally went outside, grumbling to himself. All the ladies in the Laundromat at this point were agreeing with Ken (the big bully) and pointing out the “No Smoking” sign, but they would have suffered in silence forever.

After all Ken’s clothes were all fluffy and clean, we took a mini-tour of Twentynine Palms and I showed him all the places I went to school. By then it was time to show up at my parents.

The afternoon was spent just talking and my dad showed us his collection of cars from the Franklin Mint – at least 100, plus all the rest of the cars he had made. Ken and my Dad swapped stories and I talked with my Mom. Around 5:00 they wanted to take us out to dinner at guess what – The Carousel! We had a decent meal and then it was time to go. We hugged them goodbye and there was a tear in my Mom’s eye. I know they really like Ken, so I done good.


Eighth Day 8-31-2001

Today we headed out of Twenty Nine Palms and into Joshua Tree National Park. This is the land of Roadrunner and Coyote, stacked boulders, Joshua trees, Yucca, assorted cactus and lizards. Wonderful views are linked by great twisty roads. We snaked out of the park, East along Hwy 10 to Goodyear Arizona just West of Phoenix. After our meal I had a good swim.


DAY EIGHT - Friday, August 31, 2001

We left Twentynine Palms at 7:30 and started up into Joshua Tree National Park, my backyard when I was growing up. We went past all the giant boulders you will see in most any commercial on TV and up to Key’s View, which overlooks the entire Coachella Valley. It was fairly clear and we could see Palms Springs all the way to the Salton Sea. We encountered a young coyote begging for food on the road. I was amazed at how tame he appeared, but I guess people have been feeding them at the campsites. Also saw a roadrunner dashing through the bushes and several ground squirrels and chipmunks. We traveled back down from Key’s View and headed south through the other end of the Park. Went past the Cholla Gardens and Ocotillo Patch. We stopped at the Cottonwood Visitor’s Center at the end of the Park for a break.

We reached Highway 10 and turned east towards Blythe (Blight) and stopped to eat lunch at Desert Center, which seems to be the stopping place for all UPS trucks. We continued happily on through desolation until we hit the reserve tank and only empty desert stretching for hundreds of miles in either direction. We knew we had to be close to Blythe, but how close was the question. Another grueling 13 miles and we found a gas station – 4.72 gallons in the 5-gallon tank. Way too close for comfort!

We crossed into Arizona about 1:00 and the temperature again is up into the 100’s, in fact the thermometer at Quartzsite registered 101°, but it felt like 130°. The minute we crossed the border, the landscape changed from looking like California to looking like Arizona, i.e. Saguaro cactus and the mountains of an entirely different composition. It’s really, really hot.

We got to Goodyear and Ken wanted to buy another disk for the camera so we stopped at Office Depot. There are different camera disks with the same memory with big differences in price so Ken asked the clerk what the difference was. His answer: “One is $69.00 and one is $119.00.” (Stupid answer #1). Since Ken’s question was too technical, the clerk got his manager and the manager’s answer was “One’s thicker.” (Stupid answer #2). After about 15 minutes, Ken figured out on his own which one we should buy.

Since it was 4:00, we decided to stay in Goodyear. We got a room, took a shower and a nap and then walked to the local Applebees for dinner. It was a very popular place and we had to wait about 30 minutes to get in. We waited outside (something you can’t do in Portland) and were amused by the banter of the local teenagers.

We went back to the hotel and noticed the place was awash with crickets. I hadn’t seen those little guys in years.


Ninth Day 9/1/2001

Today started early to get through Phoenix before the locals headed out for work. Finally leaving the boring plane of Phoenix we ascended the mountains along Hwy 60. These hills are some of the most beautiful I have ridden through. The town of Superior is too very picturesque. Scenery was soon replaced by boring desert which persisted until Las Cruces New Mexico. We put nine hours in the saddle today.


DAY NINE - Saturday, September 1, 2001

We left Twentynine Palms about 7:30 and already it was 80°. Since we were tired of being wrung out by the heat, we decided against going to Tucson and settled on a more northern route with a higher elevation. It took forever to get through the Phoenix area, and we were thankful it wasn’t a weekday. The countryside is very beautiful, lots of saguaro, very green ocotillo, giant cholla and beautiful mountains. As the elevation rose and fell, the plants changed. We stopped in Superior for gas and Ken really like that area. There was a bunch of Goldwingers there on their way to Silver City, New Mexico for the Labor Day weekend. We continued east through mountains and copper mines to Globe, sort of riding with the other bikes and then dropped down into flat land, which became immediately tedious.

We stopped at Safford for a break and a piece of pie. This is a huge cotton-growing area, much like Bakersfield.

We crossed over the New Mexico border about 1:00, convinced that Nevada doesn’t own all the boring landscape. We got to Las Cruces around 5:30. It was pretty hot but that didn’t stop Ken from stopping at the Harley shop for a look-see while I dipped sweat all over the floor. We got a hotel room and I was amazed at the hotel clerk. Most of them are very prim with starched white shirts and ties (or scarves) but these guys looked like they were on a rehab program out of the local prison. He did recommend a great place for dinner, however – yummy southwestern cooking, very spicy. We went back to the hotel and watched “The Eagle Has Landed” one of my favorite movies.


Tenth Day 9/2/2001

We left Las Cruces very slowly as it is such a speed trap, and headed Northeast on highway 70. The White Sands Missile Base is spread out over a huge plain. The mountains leading up to it are read cool though.

In the middle of the unceasing plane the engine quit. Switching the gas tank to reserve and the engine kicked to life but I cannot see any sign of a town; we slowed down to 70 to conserve fuel. We rode along a while and came a crossed a check post whose inspector indicated we could get gas 6 miles up the road. After 6 miles we are seeing road signs but the first gas station appeared at 12 miles; a very close call.

We back tracked 12 miles to the White Sands National Monument to ride and walk among the dunes. Alamogordo has a fairly good space museum with a lot of exhibits. After three more stretches we arrived late in Albuquerque New Mexico for the night.


DAY TEN - Sunday, September 2, 2001

We left Las Cruces – a place I could easily live – at 9:00 (slept in). We headed northeast to Alamogordo, a place recommended by a guy Ken works with. The scenery turned rapidly boring after we crested the local mountain. We continued past the White Sands Testing grounds in the middle of nowhere when the tank once again went into reserve. There was NOTHING visible on the horizon and I knew we most assuredly would be walking this one out. We had to stop at a border check (no illegal aliens in our saddlebags) and asked the guy how far to the nearest gas station. He said 6 miles. It turned out to be 13 and we put 5.32 gallons into our 5-gallon tank. We have got to stop doing this.

We backtracked to White Sands National Monument for a tour. I’ve always wanted to see this place and it was beautiful. The sand is super-fine and very white (gypsum). We stopped and climbed over a couple of the dunes that were awash with all kinds of little creature tracks.

We continued on to Alamogordo and couldn’t figure out why Ken’s friend liked the place because it held no special interest to either one of us and the countryside wasn’t that great. We went through the Space Museum, which could have held Ken’s interest for a few weeks, but I was happy to leave. There were a lot of rockets about, however. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant and continued north. We ran through some lava fields, which looked as if they just oozed out of the ground because I could find no evidence of any kind of crater nearby. We also hit a spattering of rain just south of Highway 380 where we turned west. Still a lot of wide-open spaces.

We stopped in Socorro for a beer at the local tavern. There were some locals in there who obviously spent most of their free time sitting on the stools, sucking down Bud Light, conversing about anyone not there and complaining about their kids and ex’s. Fascinating conversation.

We then headed north on Highway 15 towards Albuquerque, following the green band of trees next to the Rio Grande. We arrived in Albuquerque around 6:00. It appears the only two places to live in New Mexico would be Las Cruces or Albuquerque because all the rest of the towns are pretty pathetic. It also looks like the most lucrative business to have in this area would be a mobile home dealership.


Eleventh Day 9/3/2001

Left early after a small breakfast at he Hotel. We headed west on Hwy 40. This best looking lands in New Mexico So far.

At the Nevada border is the red cliff tourist trap. The scenery dropped off in Arizona and we ended up in flatlands. We stopped for the night in Flagstaff.


DAY ELEVEN

Monday, September 3, 2001 (Labor Day)

We left Albuquerque around 8:00 and the temperature is very cool. We headed straight west and the countryside is absolutely beautiful. There are a lot of red bluff mesas and the desert is a deep green. We encountered more lava outcroppings with no discernable source. We got to the Arizona border at 10:30 where the beautiful landscape abruptly ended. We skirted the end of the Painted Desert, but it wasn’t very impressive. We stopped a couple of tourist traps, looked around and took pictures. We got to Flagstaff around 3:00, just barely missing a thundershower and I swear I saw a mini-tornado touch down on the open plain for a moment, but it dissipated rapidly.

We checked into the hotel, changed our clothes and went to a bar close by called “The Museum”. It was made out of logs, had a high ceiling held up with actual trees stripped of their bark and shellacked and lots of mangy stuffed animals stuck here and there. We found a table which one woman told us was haunted and noticed the place seemed to be quite the biker bar. This large woman who was very drunk, very loud, very uninhibited and very funny adopted us. It turns out she rides a Harley (no surprise) and her occupation was railroad salvage. She spent most of her time making fun of everyone else, calling the table of European guys “pussies” and harassing the Kaoke singers. She claimed to be married and I really couldn’t call her a bull-dike, but she was definitely was bisexual as I discovered after agreeing to dance with her.

There was also Melvin Johnston (he told me to remember his name) who retired from the railroad. He came over to talk to me because I was sitting by myself since Ken was over conversing with the RUBES (Rich Urban Bikers). Mel was also on the drunk side and told me a tale about how he was an engineer and derailed 45 cars due to a broken rail he had previously reported to the authorities that they didn’t get around to repairing. He said a lot of the rail cars were carrying new automobiles and they were scattered all over the countryside. I wonder if big bi-sexual woman picked any of them up.

Oh yes, there was also Al who was the drunkest, lacked most of his teeth and could sing the best of anyone in the bar. He said he would sing “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”, but he couldn’t follow the words on the screen, only singing the chorus which made us believe he probably couldn’t read.

We left the bar around 9:30, said goodbye to Big Woman who nestled her face into my breasts as we attempted to leave. And a good time was had by all.


Twelfth Day 9/4/2001

This was by far the best day of riding to date. We rode north on highway 180 through pine forest over 8000 feet.

At breakfast with a couple also looking for a new place move to. We dropped down to the Grand Canyon; very cool with lots of great views.

I struck up conversations with many bikers, coming over to look at the Indian, including a tour group from France on rented Yamaha Road Stars. We also got into a long talk over lunch, with another biking couple over the best deserts and roads to ride over and live in. We took their recommendation of Highway 89A and rode along below the cliffs of the painted desert. This curves around about 40 miles along the valley floor under 1000’, crimson, pink and white striped cliffs. The coral cliffs erode into sand from rain and wind. The sand builds in to multicolored dunes along the bottom. The valley floor is also broken with the Snake River Canyon and washes. This region begs for a return trip.

Pulling up out of the valley gave us a great chance to look back on the run. The Indian pulled us out and up to 8000’ through some big sweeping turns. The forest shadows at the top were broken by the glare of the sun setting in the west as the evening came on us. A buck dear took that opportunity to bolt out of the shadows directly in front of us. I hit the brakes hard from 70+ mph. and missed him by no more then a yard. It all happen so fast nether of us had a chance get very scared, although it was a very close call.

Fran and I stopped for the night and did laundry, just over the border of Utah.


DAY TWELVE

Tuesday, September 4, 2001

We left Flagstaff about 9:00. We had the usual Continental Breakfast in the hotel and sat at a table with a couple from Tucson who were looking for property around Flagstaff because Tucson was too hot. After talking to them, I was sorry we hadn’t taken the Tucson route.

We headed north to the Grand Canyon. I saw a small herd of antelope by the side of the road. We got there and it’s still as spectacular as I remembered. Ken took 1,000 pictures and stopped at every possible point just to see the same thing until I refused to no longer get off the Indian. The place was crawling with bikers and Ken had to involve each and everyone in long conversations. We met a French guy who took people on motorcycle tours around the United States on Yamaha Roadstars. That must have cost them a whopping load of money.

We finally pulled away from the Grand Canyon and headed north. We stopped in Cameron for lunch and shared a table with a couple on bikes from Tucson (should have gone to Tucson). They advised us to take Highway 89A north because it was a more beautiful route. Ken bought me an opal ring in the tourist-trap gift shop at Cameron – what a guy! The couple gave us good advice because we went through the Painted Desert, past the Vermillion Cliffs and into the mountains. It was getting late afternoon and we came within a second of hitting a buck deer that leaped out right in front of the bike. Ken hit the brakes and we narrowly missed disaster, not to mention the deer. We stopped at a lookout for a break and to still our shaking legs. Ken bought me a Hematite bracelet from an Indian lady selling jewelry. What a guy again!

We came down out of the mountain and continued north to Kanab. We got there 7:15 and got a more expensive hotel room than usual simply because that’s what they charged. The clerk at this hotel looked to be the result of generations of inbreeding, but he wasn’t backing down on the price.

 

Thirteenth Day 9/5/2001

We had to fix the rear center console mounting boss as it has torn loose last night. We found an Ace Hardware store to get a large washer and longer bolt to make a temporary repair. We headed out for Mount Zion National Park.

 

WOW! Totally Awesome deeply carved valleys of painted sand stone. It is like driving down through the grand canyon. We passed through tunnels and switch backs. The landscape remains wonderful for most of the morning until giving way to farming country. We had a lot of miles to make up from yesterday but when we got to Salt Lake City the traffic way very heavy and fast. I did fine for a while but the fatigue of a long ride set in so we pulled in for the night just shy of the city itself. The dark clouds that were threatening as we pulled in broke loose during the night with a thunderstorm and a rain shower.


DAY THIRTEEN - Wednesday, September 5, 2001

We left the hotel at 9:00. Ken had to stop at a hardware store because the area around the nut on the panel which holds the speedometer on top of the tanks had cracked and he wanted to put some rubber and metal washers there so I wouldn’t crack any more until we got home. We went to Ace Hardware and I was amazed to see them sell everything in that store, including fabric. It was like the Fred Meyer of Kanab. I was devastated to realize that may have been the only fabric store in town, so I definitely would not be settling anywhere near this area!

We finally got back on the road and went up to Zion National Park. Very exciting and beautiful sandstone mountains. Ken took lots of pictures and we traveled through the longest tunnel I have ever been in, following a huge RV towing a pickup, of course. It had to travel through the center of the tunnel lest the air conditioner on the top of the RV shear off, bounce on the cover on the pickup bed and land in our laps.

There are some little towns right outside of the Park that are gorgeous, but very isolated. I previously observed that the minute we crossed the state line from Arizona to Utah, either the median income of the population increased or they simply took more pride in their accommodations because the 1960’s singlewides had entirely disappeared.

We continued north through what was basically farmland and more rolling hills, but the road was still straight as an arrow and monotonous. We stopped for a break at some dirt-ball town and I indulged in a banana split. It was hard to make the waiter understand I only wanted hot fudge on the whole thing even though I was allowed three toppings. Some choice, blueberry, cherry or hot fudge.

We got into the Salt Lake area around 6:00 and decided to stay in Sandy because the traffic was really heavy. Rainstorms were happening all around us and we knew it would be seconds before we got caught in a torrential downpour. We made it to the hotel and it didn’t really rain until the middle of the night and it sounded like a huge thunderstorm. The poor Indian was sitting outside and I’m sure that’s the first time it’s ever been rained on.

 

Fourteenth Day 9/6/2001

Woke up early to avoid rush hour to dry roads and a very dirty bike. We left pre-dawn to avoid the traffic and rode out of town in heavy traffic but I think we missed the worst of it. We stopped shortly after we got out of town for gas and drove on for another thirty miles before stopping because it’s cold. We had breakfast and warmed up before heading out again just as the sun came up. Sixty miles later we found another café in Snowville, none to early. Not having packed for winter riding I was just freezing. On the road now very close to Idaho we only got about 15 miles before we hit a light rain from the big black clouds of last night. A timely rest stop appeared on the right. Turns out to be heated with a covered patio to park the bike under. We sat there for about 40 minutes while the rain passed. Utah has some bad bumps in the road and long stretches of uneven concrete slabs. We are now in Idaho and will see which state has the better roads. Leaving toward a clearing sky the cold is back upon us. We pulled up to and over a ridge in to more cattle ranching country.

Then we hit 40+ mph side winds. We are leaned over to the left just to go straight. The truckers are having trouble keeping their trailers behind them. Shortly there after the road turned putting the wind in our face. We did not know it at the time but we would be driving into a 40 mph. headwind all the way

 to Twin Falls Idaho. Traveling at 80 into a 40 mph headwind is like trying to drive a high speed rotor tiller while pulling a wagon tied to your helmet. Shortly my neck throbbed and my hands ached. This was by far the most punishing, hard, riding we have had to deal with. We pulled into Twin Falls frozen and beaten.

We found a great coffee shop to sit and shiver in for an hour. We rode through Twin Falls and Jerome Idaho so Fran could see the changes from when she lived there. During Our gas stop the nozzle leaked all over my glove and the bike. Out on the road the coffee shop warmth quickly faded. The wind is unrelenting and smacking me around like a boxer.

Fran and I looked for a room in Boise Idaho only to find it a major and high priced city now. We settled on a room just past Boise.


DAY FOURTEEN - 

Thursday, September 6, 2001

We left Sandy at 6:45 because we wanted to miss the bulk of morning rush-hour traffic. The Indian was filthy from being rained on (remember Ken’s vow to not let it get dirty?). It was really cold and dark. We made it past the densest traffic and stopped for breakfast and a warm-up in Roy. We continued northeast towards Idaho and the further we went, the darker the clouds became. It was freezing cold. We stopped in Snowville for a cup of coffee and to get warm about 10:00. We started to hit rain just past the Idaho border and pulled into a rest area. The rest area was a heated building with a canopy to pull the Indian under. What are the chances of that ever happening in a lifetime? We waited there for about 45 minutes. The clouds had lifted a bit and the rain had settled to a fine mist so we took off. Not only was it freezing, but no sooner had we left when we encountered at least a 30 mph headwind. We kept riding toward Twin Falls and my entire body was aching from being tensed up from the cold and being buffeted by the wind. We stopped for soup and a latte at a coffee place in Twin Falls (yea! A real coffee place) and spent about an hour getting warm.

I didn’t recognize anything in Twin Falls and was blown away that the town had expanded its borders right to the edge of the Snake River Canyon edge. When I lived there, it was at least a mile before you hit the town from the canyon. We went over the Perrine Bridge and toured through Jerome, which had about tripled in size and also was unrecognizable. The Tupperware plant was gone, but I see good old

WalYMart had set up shop.

It was still cloudy and windy, but a lot warmer. The clouds disappeared about Mountain Home, but the wind was still relentless. We got to Boise about 6:00 and stayed in Meridian. We actually had dinner at a NON-SMOKING bar!!! Yea!


Day Fifteen 9/7/2001

We took off early hoping to make it all the way back home today. We really don’t need to but the opportunity exists if things go well. All the joints in my hands still hurt from yesterday and the wind is still blowing just as hard. We road through farming land with large rolling hills until Pendleton; at least it’s not cold. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a model train that runs through every part of the building, through tunnels along the booths, overhead and carefully crafted scenes. The wind died back as joined up with the Columbia River Gorge. The ride through the gorge was beautiful and uneventful. We stopped for fuel one last time at Arlington and stopped again at the Bonneville hatchery to give my but some relief before getting home around 5:45 pm. Fifteen days and 4100 miles equals the biggest and best adventure I have ever had. This trip made possible by the trust and faith Fran has shown me. Her bold trip planning was so ambitious I would have thought it Impossible. We pulled it off a day early and without any major problems or even a disagreement. I am a lucky man to have her good company by my side.


DAY FIFTEEN - Friday, September 7, 2001

We left Boise at 9:00. The wind was still blowing and it wasn’t very warm, but tolerable. We crossed the Oregon border at 10:00. It was getting chillier and we stopped in Baker City for a coffee warm-up. The waitress got kind of miffed that we weren’t there for a whole breakfast and rapidly snatched the menus off the table. Ken had Mocha, but I ordered a regular cup of coffee and was limited by her to only one cup for punishment.

We continued west, crossed the Blue Mountains and dropped down into Pendleton where we stopped for lunch. It was much warmer and the further west we got, the less the wind blew until we reached the Gorge, of course. Even then, the wind wasn’t as bad as it was in Idaho.

We made it to Portland just in time to get in the middle of rush-hour traffic. In fact, the only places we were held up in traffic on the whole trip was Portland.ot home at 5:46. 9,139 miles on the odometer – 4,187 total miles!! 

Thanks for sharing in our trip - Copyright Ken And Fran Adkison