Hooooo, boy! It has been a while since my last blatherfest.
Lots of nifty little adventures, including overnight camping trips in my lovely Oregon desert to working ‘vacations’ in Portland to assist friends, have been occurring right under your nose.
Yes, yes, I promised big bold write-ups of my little moto romp through the desert Southwest and I’ve been fantastically lazy concerning writing about it.
An overview shall follow.
In the beginning, there was the end of a contract with Apple. The cry “Hallelujah!” rose up from the masses. Well, me to be exact. Shit was packed into Mighty Whitey (the Soob) and hauled to Bend, a flight was procured to return to Silicon Valley and my bike, and thus the adventure began.
Being a comedy nut, I hit the jackpot in the days before heading out as Bill Burr and Doug Stanhope (with Morgan Murphy and Brett Erickson) were doing shows on consecutive nights at the San Jose Improv. Nearly wet myself with glee. Both shows were sweet and really set a good tone for kicking off a new adventure.
My route took me through a lot of So-Cal sights I’d never been to before, but had seen photos of and heard about from friends, magazine articles, etc. over the years. Hit up Carrizo Plain National Monument the first night, I’d been there before, but it’s always good to get the kinks worked out in familiar territory. Pissed down rain all night and proved my choice in tents was a gooder. Fellow riders, if you want a good, small, light solo tent the REI Quarter Dome 1 is reasonable. The foot area is a little funky to set up, but I had plenty room and stayed dry. What more do ya need? The next morning a heavy mist was about giving the feel of being on the moors.
Carrizo Plain NM
And as many have noted, the desert flowers were blooming like crazy everywhere. Photo evidence to follow.
Starting out with a pile of wet kit to pack wasn’t the top of my list, but got it out of the way early and it was dry as hell most the rest of the trip. Headed through lovely Bakersfield where I met a cool fellow who had moved there from PDX at a Starbucks and chatted a bit about bikes, pedal and motor.
A short aside concerning Starbucks for my PDX coffee snob friends. Yes, Portland is a mecca for all coffee aficionados who love the Stumptown bright, light to medium roast that every company copies thinking they are recreating the wheel in their own special way. There are many parts of the country that would kill for Starbucks as shitty watered down Folgers still dominates the small town cafe scene in the Great American Beyond. As a traveler, ‘Bucks fucking rocks. Clean shitters, solid WiFi and decent coffee. Not to mention a lot of travelers hit it for the above reasons so you can meet some interesting folks there. Not 5th and Alder downtown interesting, but fun interesting.
Totaling 3500 miles and 17 days the trip far exceeded expectations and led to meeting a bunch of cool folks and seeing some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. The route took me to Trona Pinnacles, Death Valley where I rode through the awe inspiring Titus Canyon, Mojave National Preserve for a hike up huge sand dunes:
Kelso Dunes, Mojave NM
and Joshua Tree NP which was packed, but I still found a sweet little place to camp and hike sans other people. And a desert tortoise. Well, a former desert tortoise.
Hard Livin’ in the Desert
Salton Sea was very full according to the local guy I bought a soda from in a tiny little lakeside village. And smelled like rotten fish ass. Cruising along, I noticed a film crew and checked them out. They were filming a spin off of Sons of Anarchy. Chatted with a camera man and a few actors for a bit and got a shot of a sweet moto rigged to film riding scenes:
Can’t imagine it was fun to ride, but the results are worth the headache I’m sure.
Hit Salvation Mountain and Slab City as I’ve heard about them for years and was curious. There were a couple very cute young women taking sexy shots of each other at Salvation Mtn, which I thought was a hoot. This dude’s monument to Jesus and the girls are taking ass shots in the middle of it. Figured, what the fuck, and asked if they would take a shot with my bike and they were in, so:
Seattle Gals with Thumper
Sometimes you just have to ask.
Oh, here’s the Mountain:
was cool and gross all at once. Cool little camps, a library, funky social clubs in a place government has forgotten about. On the down side, the volume of random trash reminded me of photos of third world shit holes and was EVERYWHERE. Apparently living off the grid and away from the clutches of The Man requires folks to be goddamn filthy pigs.
My one actual crash was soon after Slab City, going from a deep gravel road that was freshly graded and shitty back on to the main dirt road. My front tire washed, the bike went down fast and my foot got pinned facing the wrong direction under my cargo box. I flipped over fast feeling the tension on my knee and took about 5 minutes to get positioned well enough to use my other leg to push The Pig off my ankle. Another gear plug, my ankle would have been fucked bad except I was wearing my Sidi Adventure GTX boots. I had around 300# resting on my ankle and a lesser boot would not have done the job of protecting my leg. Both my knee and ankle are a little funky still, but they weren’t destroyed thanks to good gear.
A 60 MPH cross wind for many hours through the rest of So-Cal and a subsequent sand storm finished up the California in memorable fashion. Plus it was hot. Very hot.
A couple gals I went to High School with live in AZ, so I visited Tammy in Cottonwood and hiked around near Sedona and reminisced about the good old days, then turned south all the way to Sierra Vista to see Candy. On the way I attempted to visit the memorial for the Granite Mountain Hotshots that burned up in 2013, but was so pissed off by the bullshit “Our Heroes” whitewashing of their demise I chose to pass. One day the truth about that burn-over will come out and a few fuckers who are protecting their and other folks asses will be held to account. Fucking scum. For those of you unfamiliar with why I give a shit, I was a wildland firefighter for 20 seasons and had friends die in the line of duty. Our desire to get the job done was usually taken advantage of and the results were sometimes horrific. Nuff o’ that.
Candy took me on the tourist loop and we checked out the cool sights including this amazing Celtic cross:
Our Lady of the Sierras
75′ tall, way bigger than it looks here.
All the adventures up to this point, however, ended up being a warm up for the best part of the trip and, truth be told, the previous year.
So, I mentioned early on my fandom of comedy. Well, it turns out my favorite comedian, Doug Stanhope, lives in Bisbee, AZ a short distance from Sierra Vista. Musician Mishka Shubaly and Comedians Kristine Levine, Anthony Desamito, and Carmen Morales had a show planned in Bisbee so I got tickets, an AirBnB and spent a couple days checking the place out. Met and BS’d with Castle Rock Kenny for a couple hours and checked out Floyd’s shop. Before hand I had made Twitter buddies with Tom Konopka, a long time friend of Doug’s who runs their little haven and loves on the dogs. Mentioned I’d be in Bisbee on my trip for the show and would love to meet him if possible. Ended up scaring the shit out of me while I was hopping on my bike at a diner. Apparently, he was across the street when I tweeted a thanks for recommending the place so he swung by and grabbed me in a big bear hug. Very friendly and warm, super cool guy.
The show was top notch. Mostly locals and friends of Doug’s larger social circle in attendance. I stood out as a visitor, but it made chatting with folks easier. Saw Tom and he introduced my to Bingo, Doug’s super awesome wife and a few others including Chad Shank, one of the coolest humans alive with a voice perfect for story telling. Met Greg Chaille, Doug’s business manager, and got invited back to the Funhouse after the show.
Doug was on tour, but just being invited back to after party with the friends of my favorite comedian was spectacular. Turns out Kristine Levine grew up near where I lived and we chatted for hours about that and how Portland turned into a hipster hellhole and plenty other stuff. An impromptu concert kicked off with Mishka doing a set and Chaille riffing on guitar while 2 smashed comedians scream sang along. Met Henry Phillips and Ichabod, the aforementioned dogs Tom looks after and a number of others heard about often on the podcast.
Time came to head back to sleep and got great props from Chaille and Tom, being thankful I was polite and respectful. I still giggle thinking how awesome that night was.
The Bingo Sign
The trip wrapped up short due to a last minute interview in Portland, so I ended up riding 1700 miles in 3 days across Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. The weather got progressively shitty the further north to the point of riding through a riving snow storm outside Fallon, NV. Still pretty though as this shot in northern NV shows.
The last little blast home involved a night at Crystal Crane Hot Springs outside Burns, OR for a chance to warm up and decompress after 3 days of hard riding. I try and hit this place 2-3 times a year as it’s the perfect finish up for adventures and is cheap and chill.
Rolled into Bend with stiff fingers and a taint in desperate need to be off the seat of a KLR. 18 days of a whole lot of fun that has inspired plans that will be presented in the next installment of Ken finally decides to get off his dead ass and write.