... time to catch-up on this blog again. So much territory and events going past.. if I get behind by one (or in this case, two) nights, it takes a lot of effort to get back on track. I'm taking something like 50 photos a day, and as such I have to load them onto the computer, go through them one at a time, write down a fewe that might be interesting,.. then WRITE something that actually might enlighten you guys to what riding a sportbike across these LARGE and varied states. All when I've finally found a hotel and am pretty much trashed from a full day of battling the Road.
Okay... no more excuses! Right now I am in a tiny mountain village on the razor southern edge of Utah, just outside Zion National Park. I have a decent motel, circa 1955, clean and well appointed. Outside the wispy desert sunset finally gave up and retired over these red cliff mesas... the word NAVAJO might give you an idea... more on that in a moment.. Lets RECAP:
Ah, yes.. leaving Tahoe, I think we did. Good.
I rode all the way down the west edge of piney Lake Tahoe in crisp 65-degree sunlight... took a few shots of Emerald Bay..
Wind down and down and down those endless, twisting corners...watch those cliff edges for Christ-sakes because you often have many hundreds of feet worth of drop-off two feet off the edge of the crumbly tarmac.
All the roads in the Sierra Nevada run Southwest to Northeast... there wasn't any way to get to Yosemite without riding back West again... hours in the dwindling afternoon sunlight, and you reqally don't want to get caught out in those wilderness areas after dark. LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS, ha ha. Don't even mention deer.
Continuing onward... Miles to cover..
Dumped my stuff of and ran to some little lodge thing as I was told food would only be available for a very short time. Turns out it wasn't a big issue, and besides, they had a credible bar open. Tank Back. The lodge was packed with people speaking Germanic or Nordic languages... a bazillion Euro Toruists go to Yosemite it seems.
I rode Rte 120 east, through the park for about thirty miles, and the views were wild and grand... it's still Yosemite, but not the "famous" sites. But as most of the Western leg of this trip has been, the landscapes are evolving rapidly and dramatically. Winding Winding Winding down and down through increasingly dry "western" looking mountains.... suddenly the world opens up in front of you and here's weird Mono Lake splayed out across the desert horizon.. looked to be a salt flat lake or soemthing. I dunno... go Wickepedia it or somnething. What do I look like.. a geologist or sumpin? I'm just a motorcycle rider, for crying out loud.
I continued out Rte 120, heading for Nevada, and as you can see, it became increasingly "desert". Also, desert-ED... as I was often on the road by myself. I crested the Sylvannia Mountains near Benton, CA, at 9000 feet... then dropped down again to the Nevada side at an area bordering Death Valley near the Funeral Mountains. The road I was on was long and deserted... no signs of human habitation for fifty miles at a clip.
And another ENDLESS highway run down Nevada Rte 95... on and on and on.... I was TIRED and everything hurt... my left clutch hand...right wrist... ass-bones...my ear-holes from the Mp3... and oh yes, especially my tortured NECK which now, if I have the earbuds in but no sound on, I can hear what sounds like sand in my neck vertebrae when I turn my head. All just part of the Fun.
ah. So,,, BANG suddenly I'm in downtown urban Vegas.... covered with dust and eyeballs still vibrating from staring into the blackened desert night... and whammo, The Strip. I had no idea of what to do or where to go. Jena had mentioned some place "one street off the Strip"... but I couldn't remember the name and I was bonkers exhausted. The bike grumbled under the sudden change to city-hot stop-and-go traffic...and I had not the slightest clue about how to find a ..motel..?...casino hotel..? I stopped into a gas station and aske the fat kid but he got weird and sadi he really didn't know of any hotels in the area. what?? We're one BLOCK fromn the Strip... where do peoiple STAY... Casar's Palace has that many rooms?? I even stopped a beat cop on patrol... he scratched his head and even he had no suggestions. What the hell is going ON in this town..
Finally I trundled down the Strip and low and behold, right between all the big casinos were a batch of cheapo, drive-in normal MOTELS. What kind of people the got working out there.... I picked a crumbly joint with good old fashioned, park-outside-your-room style... paid a little more than I probably needed to ($45)... but was happy to be finally settled in somewhere. Showered and changed into the only collared shirt I have and headed out... for Sinatra's stomping grounds. Next stop: Caesar's Palace.
Which turned out to be a lavish rip-off. They all are... and I don;t need to go into the pros and cons of casinos here, but it's all just one big tourist shuck, on steroids. I crusied through a few pl;aces.. the Flamingo... Bally's... had one drink and didnt gamble... until finally I took a taxi back to the Sahara, which was walking distance to my hotel.... started boozing there (hey! I thought drinking was supposed to be cheap in Vegas!).. and sat down at a $5 Blackjack table with some noisy midwestern dudes...
I'm not much of a gambler and last night proved it... lost $100 sitting there. Fun,, yeah, I suppose... but I'm already over budegt on this trip and I didn't need to blow $200 last night..(remember those drinks? I also had to do IHop at 4AM)
Alrighty then... I finally detached and somehow wound my way out to I-15, heading for Utah. It was HOT... and here we go again with that South Dakota shit again.... giant hair-dryers blowing 110-degree 80-mph wind on you all day. But this time I was hungover... dizzy and tingly.... slightly panicked to realize the immense desert I was heading into... found a Heaven-sent hot dog truck 30 miles outside of Vegas, and the nice Mexican lady sold me cold bottles of water and cheered me up. Back to the Intense Hydration thing again.... pour that shit into yourself until you want to puke.... at each and every stop. Even still you get dizzy and edgy.\
Into the mountains and the desert lanscape changed and changed again... various styles of stratified rock cliffs and mesas... changing shape and hue. Past some clever little towns that have managed to carve out a toe-hold in a seemingly very inhospitable place... faux-adobe Spanish/Indian-Misson style of architecture... but places like Mesquite and St George and Hurricane... tidy little modern oasis.
Headed for Zion and the temperatures became cooler heading into the mountains. I never actually thought about it before, but all these places, Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone... they're all high in the mountains. That's what the glaciers and whatever eroding funk carved them out from.
Oh, one quick horror-story as a bonus for those of you who actually made it this far:
Riding along at 60 mph in a long construction zone today... those big, heavy plastic orange marker barrels every 25 feet, and the truck ahead of me clips one. Zing... immediately the thing does a little pirouette and for a split second I flash that it's bounced away from my path but nuh-UHHH it does a little flip and angles straight into my driving line and I have no time to think or react.... b-b-BLUNNNGGG...I clip it as it rolls in front of me, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY it was a few degrees off of center and it sort of skidded away after bashing the front of my bike. Scared the crap out of me, doing 60.