This ride into Death Valley makes it my third trip for 2020; once on a four day jeep camping trip with the San Diego jeep club; once MotoCamping with my friend Tom and now MotoCamping and lodging with the Bike Bro’s.
I’m still seeing new places to explore in Death Valley and have finally come to the conclusion that not everyone feels the same way. People take many things for granted these days like their homes, their family, their relationships. Once that newness wears off, it’s so easy to forget how special it is. To ride this far for only one day in DV is doing this National park an injustice but, that’s just what we did with the Bike Bro’s.
Death Valley has long appealed to the adventurous, the unconventional, and what many people consider the “crazy”.
We met some of those too on this trip at the Steak and Beer and the Delights Hot Springs. Delights Hot Springs in Tecopa was the start point of our day Death Valley ride. The ineffable vastness of the Death Valley landscape, the feeling of us mere humans and our motorcycles being so small; lends itself to the kind of internal journey traveling on motorcycles that should have a radical and long lasting impact on our very soul. But, not at a Bataan Death march pace. That’s exactly how it felt for me this trip.
In the olden days your laundry soap used to travel from mines across the Mojave Desert to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles away in Mojave. Seriously, haven’t you heard of the 20 mule team? The routes were from the Harmony and Amargosa Borax Works to Daggett, California.
I now wonder to myself? Why are we now coming all this distance to spend just one day riding in Death Valley?
Originally the group consensus was five riding days for a ride to warmer climes, weather, spicy foods and margaritas. And then the pandemic travel warnings caused panic within the group. Sort of but, not quite like the dangers of traveling to all of México. All we were interested in doing was doing our own little slice of upper Baja to possibly as far as Guerrero Negro.
I’m not the Doc of the group but, my observations now label it as FOMO. One in the group and I’m not naming names but, you really couldn’t miss him in a police lineup has some serious FOMO, He can’t seem to get enough riding time in. Even on Christmas Day he was out riding. He rode so hard that day though that he fried his rear brakes. I won’t now go into the drama of it but, he somehow with help from his Bike Bro’s managed to 1) find the parts for a brand new BMW 2020 1250 GSA; 2) get them installed by the likes of Benny and the jets and Elvis. Now you may start to think after reading that last line that I’m pulling your leg but, it’s a true story. We really do have a guy named Elvis in the group.
Coach actually pulled it off!
Sam: Coach Im having blackouts!
Coach: Kind of nice break in the day, isn’t it, Sam?
If you don’t yet know FOMO it’s this innate fear of missing out. As humans we want to do it all and get sadly disappointed if we feel we’re missing out.
Fortunately for the Bike Bro’s we can now look back on our historical files like the WhatsApp for our answers as to what derailed this ride train.
For three of the group one grueling riding day in Death Valley was enough. They soon headed home. Benny and the Jets, Raul and David and the Dead Sea.
For some, a leisurely ride from home to our meetup area, stopping along the way periodically to enjoy historical sites or pictures. For others it was a frantic mad rush to fix or repair their steed after a Christmas Day FOMO ride.
Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are now our fuel during this pandemic. No one wants to see others having fun and missing out!!! Is that any of you now reading this story?
Are you now feeling envious about Javier and I nearly freezing our arses off in the pouring rain, hail and snow while pounding out 100 ride miles in three hours to Kernville of all places?
We don’t need no stinking heated vests. The remaining four Bike Bro’s are Kevin, Ky, Javier (aka Cheech) and Elvis.
It takes a long time on straight, curvy and up and down roads to get out of Death Valley to our second destination, Kernville, California. Why Kernville you might ask?
The day is not yet over so, if I survive the rain and snow over the pass on my motorcycle, getting to our coastal destination, then perhaps I’ll live to write about it.
Woopeeee!! I survived and now lived to tell the tale! We are in beautiful gorgeous Morro Bay. From the dry comforts of a Chevron gas station. Ky took this amazing circuitous route to get to it from the 101. Earlier about 50 miles back I said I needed to pee; no problem he said we’ll just pull over at the next gas station he said, then he proceeded to get us lost on Paso Robles streets. Me thinking these guys are now just ‘ucking with this Senior citizen and there are laws and consequences out there for that. But no, turns out the guy is a free spirit, just like my wife Patti whom I’ve been living with for over twenty years and have yet to decipher the code.
As Motorcycle riders we’re happy and content riding around all day long in our protective helmet bubbles during a pandemic. Unfortunately, on occasions we have to dismount to refuel, eat and sleep.
This riding adventure, for some is simply a break from the new world order ways of operating. And if it all works out – those office jobs may continue to function from the comforts of one’s home or closest WiFi.
Southern California is now under the state’s strictest measures. Last night in Kernville California I had to either sign a paper saying I was homeless or set my tent up by the Kern River under a picnic table.
And since it was freezing cold outside I signed ze papers. Probably makes more sense to those of you now familiar with a Cheech & Chong bit. In the bit they are watching an old man getting interrogated by Nazi’s.
It goes back and forth with “Sign ze papers” – “I cannot sign the papers” says the old man. And why can’t you sign ze papers old man; because you have broken all of my fingers. Sort of the way my hands and fingers now felt.
In California now you can’t sit down at restaurants but, takeout is still available. Casinos and golf courses are open. Dissenters can protest and churches can hold indoor services; and so can the strip clubs in Nevada. We stayed out of Nevada didn’t we?
Nonessential travel is prohibited. So why are we now here? Someone considered our sanity essential. And judging by traffic now on the Freeway others are out looking for any desert escape possible.
When your routine is or was waking up at 5:00AM every morning, commuting somewhere or sitting at home staring at a computer screen all day all of what we’re doing feels really good now.
Another hour to commute home, an hour at the gym, in bed by 10:00PM, then rise, repeat, and do it all again until those two days at the end of the week arrive.
So how does a ride like our ride originate? If you are still into this story feel free to read on.
If you have lot and lots of money you pay some outfit to guide you somewhere to see amazing scenery. They take care of all the details.
Sort of like what I did with where to stay, fuel and eat. The rest is easy to Google.
Can others now learn from this adventure that a little prior planning like making reservations at Steak and Beer go a long way towards group harmony? Probably not.
Step 1 – Our group thread is developed on WhatsApp so that all in the group could comment as to their desire to also join in on the ride. First there is the usual banter comments from those that value their lives, in my humble opinion, just a little too much.
Then a comment or two about safety and narco traffickers that eventually settles down to, ok Ill go!
In our riding group are also the special requirements folks. You know, the ones with “special needs”, such as, I can’t camp, spend over this amount of money, must be home or depart by this date and time, eat spicy foods, ride on dirt roads or no speaky Spanish?
Step 1 or 2 I now regress – Suddenly, out of nowhere another ride is offered up from Douglas MotoCamping Meetup group. This is a 1,000 mile ride all the way to Cabo from the Tijuana border. And it all free!
Most of our Bike Bro’s do not want to ride that far, on account of wanting to stop, smell and consume copious amounts of tacos plus ride the twisty roads but, only on their conditions.
And then the Baja experienced chime in that they know baja, speak the language, and driven/ridden it multiple times by car, truck and motorcycle but, never at the same time.
And so that’s how our Version 2.0 of the original planned itinerary is born, to entice the less timid into signing on to the ride.
What no whales someone soon points this little itinerary item out? Our original intent was to ride down Baja way to see the whales. Only someone and not the original ride planner (me) did a little research and quickly told the group the offshore whales don’t yet arrive until at least February or March.
Step 3 – And so as if by magic, Version 3.0 of the ride itinerary is soon born. A new and revised plan resembling nothing like the original, so as to accommodate the lack of whales and the final two holdouts of our original group.
Now just you stop and pause for a moment at what a beautiful itinerary this is: Dec 26, 2020, cross the border at Tecate; visit the Wine Museum; stroll through the displays that showcase the history of wine production in Baja , since the arrival of the missionaries.
And more! And so my friends, this is how Bike Bro’s MotoCamping group transitioned from a Baja Ride to a Death Valley ride.
No we are not in Mexico, not on account of the narcos this time but, on account of something you can’t see. Covid 19.
.Step 4 – On day one the majority of the group settles down to nearby cabins while Raul and I keep up the MotoCamping tradition.
Everyone in the group carries the obligatory camping gear but, today it’s mostly for show.
Today most adventure motorcycles ride all the time with saddlebags. Yes I know we aren’t riding horses but, that’s just what they call these things; with no trunk, you need a place to stow everything like a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, food and drink.
No, it also doesn’t matter what you wear. Most everyone stays in the same clothes for the duration of the trip and we also dine out but, we must carry extra clothes and food – just in case.
Soon everyone is ready for dinner. Our choices are: Steak and Beer for Prime Rib dinners or we cook. Guess where we ended up.
The temperatures are starting to drop but, we’re all set up outdoors under a propane heater and a first class rip roaring Cowboy style camp fire. Everyone huddles around the camp fire while sitting behind a table. Somehow it all works out. The brewery growlers arrives. The bbq prime ribs are cooked to perfection, desert desserts are consumed. My cherries jubilee was perfect.
Scientists all seem to agree that the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic is thought to have begun with birds, and HIV with apes and Ebola with bats. So, what started covid? Puppies. That’s what we agreed upon. Eating puppies! You have got to be kidding? See. Should’ve gone to Mexico!
Soon the locals start to chime in. A woman by the name of Sandra becomes our desert spiritual goddess. She talks to us about the locals hot Springs, the many hiking trails all around, the mysterious night sky. No one asks her one question about what she is talking about except what nationality are you? Seriously! Yes. It’s her beauty that charms us all. Turns out she has a Japanese mother and a wedge like curly hair shape that magically shines with the full moon now 100% out and that rip roaring camp fire. Im now dizzy from that 9% alcohol growler I think I totally consumed.
At some point one of the millions or so viruses circulating in the animal kingdom jumped to a Chinese human and the rest is now of pandemic proportions.
Hey I now say! Similar to this once again, dare I now say it EPIC RIDE! Thank you Bike Bro’s you truly are what make the experience and this world a whole lot better even if you have this incurable FOMO disease but, at least you don’t yet have covid.
God bless Bike Bro’s and god bless America!
Here’s to 2020 in our rear view mirrors.