July 21, 2005 – Thursday – Day 26

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 364 – Total Miles: 6,297 – Average: 242.7 (travel days)
11:30am-9PM (9.5hrs)

Unluckily, the right rear directional signal was out. Luckily a motorcycle place was virtually right next door to the motel. Luckily the folks there said they could look right at the problem. Unluckily, it wasn’t just a bulb, but rather the signal wire looked like it had dropped down from inside the back fender and rubbed itself apart on the tire. Ryan, the nice young fellow who took time to look at the problem taped the rest of the wires up to avoid any further problem.

Much of the days lately have been numbers. Route numbers. Today looked like this: 46 west to 99 south to 58 west to 15 north.

We lunched at 1:30pm at Quizmos in unpronounceable Tehachapi, CA. We were about half way for the day. The nice manager lady let us take as much ice and water from the soda machine as we wanted to wet down our vests. She warned us of “scattered thunderstorms” in the desert.

Before hitting the desert, we rode past some vineyards and some almond orchards, and some fields of roses. Of the latter, Karen said the fragrance was heavy like putting one’s nose into a bouquet of roses.

I’ve spoken on earlier days of the heat licking at us ferociously. And also of days when waves of heat have washed over us. But today, especially as we crossed the Mohave Desert, it was oceans of hot air flooding across us, bathing us in constant deep sometimes searing warmth. Our orange cooling vests helped somewhat, but against the onslaught of the high temperatures it was difficult to do anything except keep hydrating steadily and barreling ahead. Occasionally the metal part of the handlebars would be too hot to touch as the temps ranged significantly above 100.

Today we rode at mainly 80 and 90mph through what turned into mostly all scrub deserty areas punctuated occasionally by a small town or two. Otherwise, just lonely emptiness. And the horizons were generally ringed with very high mountains.

One town had modern windmills all along the ridges of the high mountains generating gobs of electricity from the steady winds.

We rode through a mountain range. Steadily rising to over 4,000 feet elevation. At 4:30pm we pulled off and battened down the hatches, ready to continue into the desert. We now saw storm clouds, lightning flashes, and dim skies on the mainly flat panorama ahead. Shortly there appeared distant mountains, and darkened skies over them that emitted bolts of light sometimes two or three at a time or pitchfork-pronged.

We pulled off at Baker for a little supper. When back on the road the darkness had increased, the lightning strikes over the mountains into which we were heading had multiplied, and the road surface had worsened (and the potholes couldn’t be avoided because NOW they couldn’t be seen!). By the time we got the 25 miles to Primm, Nevada (our 23rd state), all the above had intensified. It was only 8:30pm, but about black as night. I was quickly coming to the conclusion that it was not safe to ride in this, but there was nothing but darkness along the roadside. As we saw the Primm oasis of lights in the distance, the final blow to going further occurred – and that was the wind gusts that had strengthened. A couple bursts blew the bike over a few feet on the roadway. We were only 40 miles to Steve’s and I had the sinking, depressing feeling in the realization that we’d have to stop sooner somehow. I suppose we could have gone on and kicked it in, but the odds just weren’t there – and I suppose that’s what Vegas is all about, eh? Knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em.

So even though we were amazingly close, I pulled into the Primm exit and there was found a dreamland of bright lights, casinos, and all the razzmatazz glitz and pseudo-glamour that goes with the gambling scene. (And to think! This was only the little sister of the excess that lay up the road!) It was quite the contrast to the desert sameness of the road grind.

I called Steve, a former second grade student and told him of the tantalizing so-close predicament – we were only 40 miles away!!! He sounded disappointed, which intensified my disappointment. He volunteered to drive out and lead us in. In the end we agreed to meet for breakfast tomorrow.

We got a room for what seemed to us to be an amazing price – only $39.99! Cheapest of the trip. Guess they wanted people’s gambling money and so made the rates attractive. With the help of the obligatory valet staff, Karen bundled our stuff upstairs into the big resort casino while I rode off a little ways to the motorcycle parking area.

The room was a good one and we quickly spread out and went over maps thinking about friends Bryce, Zion, and GC that we hoped to see the next day.

Author: Joel Perlish

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