Friday, September 05, 2008

mojave rest stop

mojave rest stop
Originally uploaded by rod lewis
Monday, August 4, 2008
Barstow, CA
432 miles (3,932)

And at the end of a long, beautiful day of riding, there’s the baby Sturgeon moon setting as I sit at a picnic table and relive the moments of the day. When I started this morning, everyone in Flagstaff was saying how strange that the clouds were hovering all day, but they never got rain. How strange that I rode in rain all the way to the exit. What’s more, I didn’t get more than a mile away from my campsite before I was pelted by huge, painful raindrops. They seemed to be framing the mountains in a gorgeous moisturized luminance. For several miles, the crisp, chilled air was invigorating. By the time I reached Williams, I was thoroughly cold.
The temperature stayed cool and refreshing though, until I began to descend toward the Colorado river. There, I could feel the heat rising.
I clipped the corner of Utah, for about half an hour before entering California and following the river to Needles. All the while, the heat was so intense I had trouble catching my breath.
I gassed up in Needles for $1.13 more per gallon than my last tank in Arizona, and started out across route 66. Within a couple miles into the California desert, storm clouds gathered and I could once again feel the familiar storm-brought chill. I rode in comfortable temps along route 66 through Essex, Amboy, Ludlow and finally into Barstow, where I pitched my tent.
Listen kids, this was all new territory for me, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been in such continuous awe for so long in my life. This is a scenic wonder. In next to no time, I descended from 7,000 feet to 1,500 feet and the heat was stifling, but the scenery was mind boggling. My apologies to those who’ve witnessed this, but I ask, have you ever done on a bike?

Despite the breathtaking views of the desert, perhaps the most exciting thing was chasing trains for dozens of miles. As soon as I got back on route 66, I raced a train in the typical, “who crosses first” scenario, but I had an overpass, so there was no worry about winning. We passed, nose to nose at the overpass and I felt exhilarated. Fifty miles later, I crossed with that train again just before entering Ludlow.

I honestly thought that Route 66 through the California desert would be cool because of the exciting history, but I didn’t expect it to be much more than I-40 otherwise. So perhaps I can’t quite put my finger on the thrill that I experienced for many, many miles. Most of my trip today was off I-40 and on old Route 66. After I entered California, I followed I-40 for a few miles, and then when I started on 66, I encountered a bunch of bikers resting beside the road. They flagged me down, so I stopped and met about 20 fellow travelers from France. They had 9 bikes and three cars.

I stopped at Roy’s expecting an abandoned Motel and gas station, but it was open, although the power was out and thus, the pumps wouldn’t work. Fortunately I hadn’t depended on Roy’s for fuel at $5.29 per gallon.
After a stop to visit the Amboy volcano crater, I rode on to Ludlow, where I did find fuel, and had only a 60-mile jaunt to reach my campsite.