Rob’s post-COVID solo motorcycle exploration of the American West
Day 1 – Tucson, AZ – Barstow, CA ~500 miles.
Day 2 – Barstow, CA – Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay ~400 miles.
Running total ~900 miles
Finally, a tree! 8:30 am on Day 2 and I’m riding past a beautiful, tall, deciduous tree – evidence of water and higher altitudes – and then an entire row, a c colonnade of such trees! An hour ago I saw mountains for the first time, I mean real mountains, although they were still arid, denuded, bone dry and forbidding. Death Valley is only a hundred miles East, and these are its desiccated surrounding mountains. But I was at the Southern entrance to the Eastern Sierras.
Day 1 was brutal, all desert, all day. Even though it was 70° F / 21 C when I left home, the temperature climbed relentlessly. The mid 80’s / 30 C was comfortably warm, but at the half-way point on the California / Arizona border it reached the 100’s and soon 104° F / 40 C. I drank four liters of water and sweated out more. The motel in Barstow was cheap, and, well, cheap. No blanket on the bed, just a sheet, and no trash receptacle. The trash was mostly distributed across the courtyard outside. But there was the minimum necessary – a bed, air conditioning, and a shower.
The next day, when I got North of Bishop, CA was glorious. The sky turned deep blue at 6,000 then 7,000 then 8,000 ft altitude and the temperature was perfect. A few miles North of Bishop an icon appeared on my dash that I swear I have never seen before. It looked like Aladdin’s lamp, or a teapot. Was my BMW suggesting I stop for a cup of tea? Or was it thirsty itself, for oil. I guessed the latter and stopped in a few miles where I could find some shade. I do carry oil, at least I did up to this point. In a liter bottle, wrapped in shop cloths, inside a Ziplock bag, inside a second Ziplock bag, enclosed in a rag. Because oil is slippy. And the bottle was slippy, when I dropped it and lost half a liter into a California oil slick – I’m sure California has laws against this.
I rode through Carson Valley in Nevada – touted as “Rugged, Relaxed and Reachable” before re-entering California. It occurred to me that was diametrically opposed to England where I grew up – “Comfy, Tense with Brexit, and an Island”. It was nice to finally reach Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay State Park campground.