Monday, August 21, 2006

Leaving LA...Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire

1. Richard (daughter's boyfriend), Jes (daughter), Logan (son), Sarah (son's expecting wife).
2. Only a small section of windmills.
3. How hot can it get?
4. Typical scene for the day.

Dad Was Yelling At Me Today

August 20 Sunday - 300 Miles

If you had tuned in to the beginning of this trip, you read that my father is accompanying me. That is, some of his ashes are, placed in an Indian medicine bag and tied to the handlebars.

Well, I left LA at noon and, by a roundabout method, got on I-10 east. The temperature began climbing and now, at 9:30, it’s still in the 90’s. While we were on the road (check out the temperature gauge), Dad began to yell, “Holy Shit! I’ve already been in the oven once! What are we doing here?”

Well, there is no easy way to get out of LA and keep cool.

I drove east about 100 miles and had to stop. It was just so hot I couldn’t continue. I got some Gatorade, the first of several bottles for the day, took off my boots to use as a pillow, plugged my XMSR portable satellite radio’s earbuds in, and took a nap in the shade of the Valero gas station sidewalk. I woke up about 30-40 minutes later. Tiger had continued to kick butt in the golf tournament and I felt I could go a little further.

At most, I could manage 30-40 miles before having to pull over. In one place, the road sign read, “Turn of A/C to avoid overheating!” Yeah, right!

Apparently, in some times of the year, one area gets a lot of wind, judging from the windmill farms.

Every service stop along I-10 was strangled with cars, trucks, and passengers getting out for cold drinks and ice cream.

I was a little concerned about running the Harley in such heat, but after several others blew by me figured it would be ok.

Finally, I turned north on 177, just east of the Joshua Tree State Park. There, thank god, I gassed up. The attendant, cousin to the bad guys in Deliverance, took my $20 and tried to make change for a $10. He never batted an eye when I pointed out his error.

On 177, Harley and I plowed over waves of rolling desert, with some peaks and troughs so steep and abrupt that I could feel the negative and positive g-forces working on us.

I turned right on 62 and then left on 95 toward Needles. I had thought about taking I-10 to 95 and then go north, but it’s a good thing I didn’t because it was closed part of the way I would have taken I found out. Hell, I may have ended up in Phoenix!

All the way from east LA, the road ran thru desert, but once I turned north on 177, it became obvious that this was true Mojave Desert country. There was no shoulder on the road, and two cars that had pulled over or gone off were stuck.

I was heading north, with the setting sun on the left side of my face, but, thankfully, not for long, because it set behind the Old Mountains. As it did, it lit up the Whipple Mountains on my right.

Here and there were turnoffs leading to God-knows-where. I was having visions of mechanical trouble, wondering where and how I would pull off safely. But, knock on wood, all was fine.

As it grew darker, the heat only slightly loosened its grip…it was now 7 or 7:30 and it was still over 100.

About 30 miles out of Needles these really weird little trees, or big bushes began showing up. The plant looked as if a green, multi-tentacled octopus had been hurled from the sky and buried its head in the sand, with its thin, hairy limbs still streaming out behind.

About 20 miles from Needles I came upon the Sacramento Mountains. Now, don’t think of these as much more than well worn foothills, but winding up and through them was a great change of pace from the undulating desert waves that comprised the flatland of the desert.

The dry air is just killing my sinuses (or nasal passages or both) and I get all clogged up at night, which prevents me from getting really good rest. But, onwards and upwards. Tomorrow I’ll be riding historic Route 66 some.

It was great to visit with my babies in LA, but now I’ve charted course for home. By next Monday, I’ll be hard at work in my office-in-home, both getting it set up and continuing to work with my clients.

Low point of the day: Hitting 118 (temperature, not speed) on the road.
High point of the day: The final through-the-coming-darkness-badlands-canyon ride to Needles.

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