May 11, 2011 – Yesterday we met Death and her Valley (Death Valley in California). It’s Day 12 of MotoPhoto Adventure, we’ve hit the Pacific coast and it’s time to update the blog!
Day 11 started off early in the city of Pahrump, NV which lays on the edge of Death Valley. We wanted to get off to an early start so that we wouldn’t be riding thru Death Valley in the heat. As things would have it, we once again we would be surprised with an epic journey and opportunities for magnificent photos that only Mother Nature could provide.
In route to Death Valley I guess you could say we (or surely I) had a preconceived notion that Death Valley (lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America) was just that, a big hot Valley. Of course being a Valley there had to be a change of elevation but never expected the vast amount of Mountain ranges that run thru it. With the busy riding schedule I keep telling myself that my blog entries will be short and really just the photos from the journey. But then again, would it be a blog if I didn’t let you know any of the details or cool experiences we’ve had along the way. As we made our way into Death Valley National Park the first big difference I noticed was that there wasn’t the typical park entrance with a Park Ranger collecting the entry fee, instead there was a box where one was to pay the necessary park entrance fee. We luckily have a year long National Parks pass so we could forgo this stop. I do wonder how many other people actually pay the fee. Reminds me of how the Houston Metro Light Rail works, you can just get on it and only get fined of a Metro Police ask you for a receipt.
Anyway. a few miles into the park I pull into one of the first view points, Mooty, turns around as he notices I’ve stopped. We hike up to the view point, see a kickass view and it’s photo snapping time. Badass, I’m starting to like this park already. Who would have thought it would be so cool. Guess that’s why it’s a National Park. Once we hike back down to the parking area where our motos are parked, we see a few Harley riders and greeted them. Craig starts up a convo and somewhere in the middle of all that I hear “We’ve been riding for 10 days and have not had a single day with Rain”, famous last words, haha. We get back on the bikes and start heading West. We next stopped at a Dune section which was way cool and by this time I’m burning up. I had my jeans on underneath my riding pants and it’s time to start shedding some layers. Back on the bike and the journey continues. One of the nice things about the day was that it was overcast the whole morning which makes taking photos really nice with the great light. As we’re crossing a really flat section you could see the grey skies over the mountains and what looked like rain. We pulled over to get some more photos (I also dropped the bike making a u-turning because of a soft sandy shoulder that made the front end wash away). Craig rides back to me bust out his trusty Nikon pocket camera and takes a photo. I made light of the situation, no harm done and we pick up the bike. I’m sure the photo is on his blog so make sure to hit up www.motophotoadventure.com. Guess snapping a photo of me with dropped bike wasn’t a good idea because Karma has a way as Craig said it later on the edge of he Kern river (another photo there :p)
Remember that quote of “We’ve been riding 10 days with no rain!” earlier? Sure enough, in the middle of Death Valley (driest and hottest place in North America) it starts raining and the temp drops to 43 degrees. Talk about cold!! No heated seat or grips on the VFR like Mr. Goldwing man, haha. I can honestly say that I really loved Death Valley and rank it #2 so far behind Zion National Park. The mountains and overlooks into the valley were incredible and the diversity was awesome. I really hope the photos can give you an idea of how pretty and amazing the place is. Another one of my favorite photos was taken outside of Death Valley and was an overlook of Owens Dry Lake. This was right after a turn-off to head to Olancha, CA which would have us headed South on 395 towards 178 into Bakersfield.
So now we’ve had desert heat, freezing rain and wet mountain passes in Death Valley. The rest of the ride should be cake. Of course that wasn’t the case. Soon as we’re on 395 we’re hit by high winds again. Let me tell you, if there is one thing that sucks when riding a bike, it’s high winds. Well on the VFR and it’s side cases loaded down, it really makes things tricky. A lot of weight on the back, a light front end and it’s not easy keeping it pointed straight. Heck nail it 1st, 2nd, or 3rd and the front end is off the ground. Well we managed to make it down 395 and hit the 178. Another great road which was twisty and scenic all the way to Bakersfield. Closer to Bakersfield it ran right next to the Kern River and was super technical requiring flicking of the bike on many stretches. What a way to end the ride. Check out THIS MAP to see the great route which is the Kern Canyon Rd.
If Day 12’s update is short, it’s because it really is. Seems like fighting high winds and the adverse Death Valley conditions had us a bit more tired than normal so we decided Day 12 would be a chill day. Try and make it to the coast. We wake in Bakersfield, CA and our definitely staying in the Mexican part of town, I felt right at home! We decided to go grab some breakfast and we hit up a place down the street from our hotel called Super Taco which was very tasty. I had a chorizo con huevo, tripas and carnitas taco…all very good. We next hit up a camera store with me needing to pick up some sensor cleaning solution and swabs which they didn’t have. The girl working the counter (Lisa) was super helpful and nice even though they didn’t have what I needed.
Morning complete and now it’s time to hit the coast. We took 58 (recommended by Craig’s friend Mike) out of Bakersfield thru Button Willow and ending up in Morro Bay, CA. Another great windy road in the mountains that even had me chasing a green 911 which passed us. Heck took me about 20 minutes to catch up to him once he blew by us but I was feeling a little racy. It’s hard not too when you have a sweet bike like the tuned VFR. A quick stop for lunch in Santa Margarita, then a 30 minute drive down the 101 and here we are 🙂 Right around lunch time I was hit with crazy allergies with all the pollen from the early spring here and feeling like crap now. Arrived in the room and crashed out till just now. So those of you who have emailed or texted, I’ll hit you back tomorrow.
Oh yeah, did I mention the perks of having one of the only gas stations in Death Valley?