After weeks of anticipation, it was finally here, the first day of our trip to Death Valley! I hadn’t been on the road for so long, I almost forgot what it was like. I got on my fully-loaded 2006 BMW F650GS, always a pleasant bike to ride, and left home. Jewel hadn’t been on a long trip since last summer (Glenwood), so I am sure she was happy to get out on the road, even burdened with luggage and girl.
I met up with Hal at our usual place for “north” rides, but for this trip he was on a rented F800GS. I thought it looked great when I rolled into the gas station that is our meeting place. The bike is the same platform as my F800ST, and has a lot of the same features, so I spent a moment showing him the dash panel and how to reset the trip odometer. Then we were off.
Our first stop was close, in Wickenburg. You might ask, why stop so soon? It’s just because of the rest of the planned stops. The next stop is in Kingman, 130 miles, and then we don’t stop until past Las Vegas, 150 miles. Here we are in Kingman:
It’s always so busy in Kingman, all the trucks going toward I-40, and people returning from Las Vegas. It’s a real cluster-(you know).
We soon went over the Hoover Dam, into Boulder City, which was less clogged and impossible than last time we came through. It took 45 minutes to get through Las Vegas, and even though I wanted to stop at the Pawn Stars shop, we didn’t. Judging from an internet search that turned up the following comment, “This is not a tourist attraction, it is a business!” they don’t think too much of people just stopping in for photographs, which is what I wanted. So it’s just as well that we by-passed the exit to get to their shop. Too bad, that show is one of my favorites.
Past Las Vegas is my favorite part of this trip. Civilization drops away and there is only wide open space on both sides of the road. I was thinking to myself, You know what is between Las Vegas and Indian Springs? Not a frickin’ thing! And that’s good. The next stop was Indian Springs, and we got off the bikes for a while, had a cup of coffee, and took a break. It was only 73 miles to Beatty, our destination, from there. As I gulped some coffee, here is a shot of the mountains in the distance, covered in snow:
I used my little pocket Canon camera instead of the usual Olympus, but you can still see the stunning view. So much different from when we were here last July when the temperature was in the 100s F. Today it was almost cool, even with a coat on.
And then there was the obligatory casino:
I don’t know why I like this little place so much, maybe just because of the convenient gas station with decent coffee. We always stop here. It is also the location of Creech AFB.
As we rode toward Beatty, I again thought of how beautiful and open the desolate landscape is. At one point the road went uphill slightly for miles in front of us, and the road became a mirage, it turned shimmering white, the same color as the sky at the horizon. We rode into the infinite light.
Soon, at the side of the road we saw a sign, “Last services before Area 51.” It depicted aliens, of course. Again I thought how easy it might be for a person to just disappear from here and not even be missed for a long time. I was experiencing the feeling of insignificance amidst the magnanimity of the surroundings. Near Beatty, I saw the remnants of a building at the side of the road, and then the gathering of trailers or buildings farther out in the desert, neart the foothills of the mountains. A dirt road went past the dwellings, and disappeared as it wound up into the mountains. Where does it go? I wondered. What is at the end of it? This is what this bike makes me think. Not oh I’m scared to go there, or I am worried about being off pavement! This bike makes me feel like I can go anywhere, I do not have to worry for an instant about exploring anything. Some day I would like to go back there and find out where that road goes, but it remains to be seen if we have time on this trip.
We rolled into Beatty around 5 p.m., after 8 hours, including stops, on the road. Not too bad. Beatty already feels like home, and over dinner we looked at our maps and planned our day tomorrow. I know I will sleep well tonight. I am relaxed and happy, and the worries and depression of home seem very far away already.