Sep 11

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What day is is now? 8?

It is September 11, and to start out, my prayers are with the for all the victims, in the widest sense possible, of the 9-11 attacks.
I feel like every day I attempt to write up the events of the last 24 hours, I have no words to describe what happened. Today is no different.  The day started early, and while I thought I would wake up before the expected sunrise hour, I got the whole time shift thing wrong and the sun was already up by 6:30 am.
The bike was lightly packed, mainly with tools, camera stuff, and water, all riding in the top case. The Safari cases remained behind.
The weather was chilli, and looking on the GPS altimeter, I was sitting at over 4,000 feet above sea level.  I descended into Death Valley, and entered the park through Hell’s Gate.  As I soon would find out, pretty much all names in the park have some infernal connection.  As I rode down into the valley the temperature started picking up, as the feet started dropping.  A wild ram was there on the road side to great me, as I noticed the feet on the altimeter kept dropping.  Soon I reacher -226 feet below sea level.  Trying to describe Death Valley is like trying to describe what is going on in a snow globe that has just been up ended, or in one of those tornado bottles at the museum store.  It all just seems like an over simplification.
Before getting to the park’s visitor center, I stopped by the borax mines.  I walked around, and on the way back, I happened upon a group of elderly German tourists, who were to happy so see a German bike in ‘der Wueste’.  One of them was from Bayern, the B for BeMWU, and very proud to see the work of her city represented.  I, on the other side, was proud to see how well my rusty ol’ German actually worked.
I checked in to the visitor station, where a patient park ranger explained to me what I should try to hit in the two days that I am visiting the park.  She said she thought I was a really funny guy, to what I said that she should let Sandra know that.  She promised to send her a post card saying “I am visiting with your husband, and he is a really funny guy”.  She actually praised me for making sure I was wearing the proper motorcycle safety gear and gave me a good number of excellent pointers.  Unfortunatelly, she also mentioned that the Eureka singing sand dunes, and the moving rocks, should not be attempted by a lone motorcycle rider.  While disappointed, since those were part of my goals of the trip, I was quick to take her advice.
I spent the day riding around, filled wiht joy and praise for our Creator.  I must highlight though, the ride through the Artist Drive, which is a single lane road that takes one through a twisty canyon, where the colors of the minerals create a veritable artists palette right in the middle of the the desert.  Also worthy, is the Devil’s Golf Course.  A dirt rode of about a mile, leads to this site, in the middle of the salt plane, which is an expanse of bowling ball out crops from the grounds, that are all festooned with salt crystals.  It is hard to decide if what was pushed up from the ground, and what was eroded down.

Freedom Flag at BadWater

A bit down this road, is one of the most famous land marks of Death Valley, the Badwater region, which is a salt flat area, bigger than New Jersey, and below sea level, where salts and minerals accumulate above the surface.  I took a picture there, of one of the flags for the 27 million, but out of respect for the natural environment, I did not plant it there.  Still, I walked down quite a bit into it, and took a photo with one of the orange flags.  Back in the parking lot I met a nice, young couple from Switzerland, with whom I shared the reason for this trip.

After Badwater I rode a few more miles South, before returning to the visitor center area for lunch.  There I observed a number of German visitors riding Harleys.  What a contrast, a single guy from the US, me, riding a BMW, and a bunch of Germans riding Harleys.
After lunch I went to fill up the gas tank.  Boy do they think highly of their gasoline there.  I had a chance to meet another BeMWu rider, a guy who had ridden down from Alberta.  We talked for a while, and I took the chance to ask him about a sound that has been nagging me.  I have been having the suspission that the starter motor may be flakey, but after describing it he said they all do that, and not to worry.  My impression is though, that when it is cold, it has a hard time turning.  Thing to do, make sure to warm the beast up in the mornings.
From the gas station it was up to Zabrisky Point, another famous landmark, where one can see the ocre hills. I was thinking, and may still try this tomorrow, that this would be a great place for sunset.  Feeling pretty good about myself, I took on the next thing, the Twenty Mule Team Canyon.  This is another dirt road, and I was just feeling like Ewan McGregor, riding standing on the foot pegs. Well, like Ewan, I also went down when the road took a sharp turn, and the sand made the rear wheel spin right off from under me.  Dog!  The thing I did worry about.  I was out in the middle of a dirt road, which means many toursist do not come down that way, with a 600 plus pound bike down.  First of all, I must say I the safety gear I was praised for earlier in the day, did its job.  Not a single injury.  The bike, likewise.  The crash bars protected the whole thing.  I turned the engine off, and tried to upright the bike.  You are supposed to do this while by puttind the small of your back against the bike seat, and one hand on the tail rack, and the other on the handle bar.  Then push back, and the bike should slowly come up.  Small problem here, the ground was so slippery with sand and pebbles that there was no pushing back.  Next best thing was to prop it up as much as I could with the tail trunk under the bike to keep the gasoline from spilling from the top of the tank, drop as much of the gear as I could, take all the water bottles with me, and walk to the begining of the trail.  In my mind I was contemplating walking at least a few miles to the road, in 100 plus temperatures, to get someone to help me with the bike.  I had all the water I could carry, and my safety whistle.
Well no sooner had I started walking, than a young couple from Italy came barreling down the road on their rented SUV, and in less than it takes to tell, they helped me upright the bike.  We talked for a short moment, and they made sure I was OK.  Then they noticed the Parma Panthers sticker on my tail trunk, and we had a good laugh together.  They followed me at a distance to make sure all was OK, and that I would be able to make it back to the tarmack.  From there, it was up to Dante’s View, where one can observe the expanse of the valley.  I sat there for a while, and it was there that the slip and fall caught up with me a bit.  In the end, it was a very gentle reminder that things can indeed  happen everywhere, and that His hand can soften any fall.
Back in the parking lot, I met another group of Harley riders, this time from France.  They were on a two-week tour that had left San Fransisco.  One of them shared his praises for the BeMWu design, and mentioning how ‘Theze Harley’s, they just loud putt, putt, and fry your legs”.  What can I say?  This is the second time I hear that in as many days.
Feeling a bit tired, I decided to head back home with the idea of finding the famous Amargosa Opera house on the way back to Beatty.   I failed miserably at this, but I could hardly complain.  In Beatty I checked got to my motel room, changedmy clothes quickly, especially my boots, which are finally fally appart after eight years of service, and walked to a local saloon to have a cold beer.
What I found there was a scene right out of a book or a movie.  A couple of guys in full cowboy outfit with single action revolvers hanging from their belts, and one of them with a handle bar moustache that would have made my dad, or Jack Schuster, envious.  There was an old lady there too, and a guy from Amarillo, who has been touring the country for the last 3 weeks on … a Harley.  We talked about Wolf Creek pass in Colorado, and that darned Raton route in New Mexico, all while a bunch of people over 50 drank beer, and shots, and watched a re-run of the Lawrence Welk show from 1979.
P.S. The Brit who is riding with this dad just left a not on the BeMWu.  They are at this motel too.  🙂  ??

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2010/09/11/what-day-is-is-now-8/


  1. Ade

    Makes me miss my blogging days. So visual!
    Di dove erano gli italiani?

    1. Carlos Solis

      Io mi recordo que eran de central northern Italia. Jarr. Jarr. Pero para mi fueron angeles del cielo.

  2. valerie krohn

    Hi Carlos, enjoyed reading your post so much, and your wonderful description of the places you visited today. Made me want to go back to DV. Drink lots of water…

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