I met Mick at the Rawhyde's Moab rally in 2011 and we became almost instant riding buddies. Since then we have ridden together many times and I have met some of his riding buddies from Arizona on our rides. Mick is one of the driving forces behind a group of riders from the Phoenix area that is known as the "GS Riders of GO AZ BMW" - these folks are very active and post their rides on Facebook. If you check out their Facebook page, you'll see that these rides are very interesting with most of them offering some pretty good challenges.

In northern California, our adventure riding opportunities get kind of slim in the winter after the first storms of the season. Most of the mountain roads are snowed in and/or closed to the public, which leaves the foothills and the valley which are quickly exhausted. The coastal area roads are usually impassible due to mud. Not so in Arizona - winter is the ideal time.

All winter I followed the "GS Riders of GO AZ BMW" and got a little jealous of their great monthly rides. I decided that I was going to ride down to Arizona and join them at the first opportunity. That opportunity came when Mick announced their April ride would be held on April 14, 2013.

When I mentioned the ride to my riding buddies, Bill and David, they both expressed interest in riding down to Arizona with me. Coincidently, Bill was thinking of traveling down to Arizona to check out some property in the Wickenburg area, very close to where the April ride would take place, and this would be a good excuse for a ride. David has some friends in the Kingman area that he wanted to visit.

When all was said and done, Bill and I met up at the Early Toast restaurant in Folsom on the morning of April 12, 2013, and after breakfast, we headed for Phoenix. See our routes to/from Phoenix on GOOGLE EARTH. Each day's route is shown in a different color.


Getting ready to depart from Early Toast in Folsom, CA

April 12, 2013
Folsom, CA to Barstow, CA

We originally planned to cross the Sierra and travel through Beatty, NV and Las Vegas on our way down. Unfortunately, there was some event going on in Death Valley and there wasn't a motel room to be found in Beatty or Pahrump. Not wanting to ride 600+ miles on our first day, we opted to travel Highway 99 to Bakersfield, then head east.

This isn't the most exciting of rides and to make it a little less tedious, I routed us on some backroads through the farm country east of Hwy 99 . . until we reached Turlock. It was a nice ride - the weather was perfect, traffic was light, and the countryside was brilliant green. The foothills and east valley are spectacular in the springtime. Unfortunately, my camera was packed away and I didn't get a single photo.

The only excitement we had came when Caltrans, in its infinite wisdom, closed a lane for some construction. Highway 99 has a lot of traffic and is plenty bad enough when all lanes are open - limiting it all to one lane resulted in a loooooooooooooooooong queue. Luckily for motorcycles, lane splitting in California is a completely legal alternative to waiting in a long line of queued up traffic. So, for better than 5 miles, Bill and I slowly worked our way between the two lanes of very slowly moving traffic. Most people gave us room when they saw us coming - there was, of course, the occasional grouch who tried unsuccessfully to block our path.

We stopped for the night in Barstow at a pretty nice Best Western. There were no nearby restaurants in sight but the desk clerk assured us there were some places about 1/4 mile up the road. After stashing our gear in our room and changing into street clothes, we started walking in the direction she pointed. It seemed like a long 1/4 mile, but we kept walking, and eventually wound up at Los Domingo's Restaurant, inside the Quality Inn. The place was hopping and it wasn't long before we found out why - they serve up some mean Mexican food. Bill and I both stuffed ourselves and were thankful for the long walk back to our room. The actual distance between the motel and Los Domingo's is 3/4 mile.

Miles traveled today:  430
Miles traveled total:    430

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth

April 13, 2013
Barstow, CA to Phoenix, AZ

We didn't set an alarm and got up when we woke up this morning. We then enjoyed a pretty good motel breakfast, before suiting up and heading for Phoenix.

At Newberry Springs we saw an exit signed historic Route 66 and decided to check it out. The road was in terrible condition and we followed it only for about 10 miles before getting back on Interstate 40.

At Ludlow, about 25 miles further down Interstate 40, we again decided to check out historic Route 66. This section of Route 66 was shown on our highway map and we figured it might be in better shape.


Historic Route 66 at Ludlow, CA

It might have been in a little better shape, but not much. It was really kind of depressing. There were a lot of abandoned roadside business from the heydays of Route 66 - I wondered how many peoples' lives had been disrupted or destroyed by the construction of Interstate 40 in particular and the entire Interstate system in general. I guess it was necessary . . . . that's progress . . . but an entire way of life seems to have been lost in the process.


One of many abandoned businesses along Route 66

We traveled historic Route 66 for about 75 miles and saw a few interesting sights. It looks like at one time someone thought about maintaining this route for its historical significance, but in recent years it doesn't look like much maintaining has been done. You might also note that there was so little traffic that we didn't worry too much about being parked in the middle of the highway.


Historic Route 66

The scenery was of the typical California/Nevada/Arizona desert variety with lots of long, straight stretches of deserted highway stretching ahead for many miles. Some people might think it's boring, but I enjoy it a lot.


Historic Route 66

We turned off to take a look at Amboy Crater, a National Natural Landmark. The BLM has recently invested a lot of money into this obscure site. The 1/2 mile road into the parking area is newly paved. The parking lot is also freshly paved with new sidewalks and curbs. There is a nice, new, modern bathroom building, some picnic tables, a nice paved footpath out to a covered viewpoint on a little hill, and a few informational placards. There is a hiking trail out to the crater for people who have 3 hours to kill. I wonder how many travelers are up to a 3 hour hike in the desert - not many, I'm guessing. I signed the guest list, which made me the fourth person in the past three days - I'd say visitation is low.

We didn't have 3 hours to hike out to the crater, so we limited our visit to walking out to the viewpoint provided for "mobility challenged" people. The view from this viewpoint wasn't much better than the view from the highway.

Not to be negative, but ........ in my opinion, the development of this place is a huge waste of money. I'll bet it was much more interesting when there was an unmaintained dirt trail leading all the way to the crater. We would have ridden our motorcycles right out to the crater and had a good look and a little adventure. The people who didn't want to conquer this road would whiz by on the highway, note the sign, and still see as much of the crater as they do now. The people who like to hike for 3 hours could have still made the hike.

I'm guessing it cost several million dollars to develop this little boondoggle that had four people sign the guest book in the past three days.


Amboy Crater viewed from the "Mobility Challenged" viewpoint

Route 66 continued for another 50 miles or so and joined up with Interstate 40 just west of Needles where we stopped for fuel . . . . and a little sticker shock.


Fueling up in Needles, CA

A little further down the road, we crossed into Arizona and stopped at the Crossroads Cafe in Parker, AZ, the first eating establishment we ran into. I don't remember what Bill had, but I kept it very light with a grilled ham & cheese sandwich with fries.


Crossing into Arizona just west of Parker, AZ

After lunch, we continued east on through Salome, AZ where we fueled up again, then through Wickenburg, AZ, and finally to our motel in Happy Valley, AZ just north of Phoenix. I'm not sure why, but I didn't take another photograph the rest of the day and don't remember anything of significance other than Wickenburg.

One of the reasons that Bill wanted to travel to Arizona was to check out some property in the Wickenburg area - his wife had some friends there and she liked the area when she visited briefly not too long ago. They have been talking about moving out of California and Wickenburg was high on their list. I didn't form much of in impression as we rode through, but we had set aside Monday to check out the area.

We had reservations for the next couple of nights at a Hampton Inn. This chain is usually out of my price range, but it was close to the meeting point for tomorrow's ride and the price was right at $85 per night. When I mentioned to the desk clerk that I was surprised at the very reasonable price, she told me that a couple of weeks ago, the same room went for $199 - supply and demand; the hotter it gets in Arizona, the cheaper the hotels. We really enjoyed this hotel and I'll be adding Hampton Inn to my list.

After getting settled into our hotel, I sent a text message to Mick letting him know we were in the area. We then walked about 1/2 mile to a Red Robin restaurant and gorged ourselves on bacon burgers and fries - one of the joys of motorcycle rides is eating any damn thing we feel like.

We were scheduled to meet Mick and the guys at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning which meant getting up at 5:00 AM - that is really early for someone (me) who is used to getting up at 9:00 AM. We hit the rack about 10:00 PM.

Miles traveled today:  380
Miles traveled total:    810

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 14, 2013
Tour de Harquahala

Both of us were awake before the alarm went off and we arrived at our meeting place, "The Good Egg" restaurant a few minutes before 6:00 AM. Mick, Michele, Jason, and Wendi rode up a few minutes later and we made our greetings and introductions. Unfortunately the restaurant didn't open until 6:30 AM so we hopped back on our bikes and rode across the street to Denny's. I really enjoyed the company of these folks as we chatted over breakfast.

After breakfast we met up with the rest of the group at a nearby gas station and I met a few more folks that I knew from previous rides - Kyle, Brandt, Glenn - my apologies if I missed any one. We then headed west and stopped in Wickenburg to pick up a few more riders from that area. I didn't take a count, but I'm guessing there were about 20 riders.


Meeting point in Wickenburg

The ride was in three increasingly difficult sections, and people had the option of continuing or bailing out at the end of each section. I hate to admit it, but these folks have a little different standard of 'ride difficulty'. The first section was billed as 'easy' but there were still plenty of places for the inattentive rider to get into trouble. I didn't have any trouble, but I found myself working a little through some sections.

I wasn't sure where I fit in the group as far as ability and quickness. Nonetheless, I decided to ride near the front of the pack because I don't like to get caught up in the drama that usually occurs in the rear of the back - crashes, break downs, etc.

I didn't envy Mick his sweep rider duties. The sweep rider has to be one of the strongest, most resourceful riders of the group. The sweep rider is the one who winds up helping riders pick up their bikes after they've fallen, fix their flat tires, and make field repairs to their broken bikes. People near the front of the pack get to rest when the pack regroups. Folks at the tail end of the pack don't get to rest nearly as long. Maybe I'm just lazy... no, I'm definitely lazy.

Once we hit the dirt and riders started to find their positions, only one rider passed me and I wound up riding about 5th. Jason set a pretty good pace and I found myself pushing a little to keep up . . . that's a good thing as long as I don't start riding way beyond my capabilities and crashing. I didn't get this old by being reckless. On the the other hand, maybe I'm just extremely lucky.


Jason, our lead rider


Me, with both wheels on the ground

Bill dropped out after the first section. Since the main purpose of his trip was to check out property in the Wickenburg area, he made an appointment with a local realtor and spent the afternoon looking at property. As far as I know, the rest of the riders continued on to the second section which was billed as "easy with some intermediate sections".

This part of the ride did indeed have a few intermediate sections. There were a few more washes to cross, there were a few pretty good, rocky climbs, some stretches of sand . . . at least one of them was pretty deep, and the trail was a little more unpredictable.


One of the washes we had to cross


One of the riders exiting the above wash

At the end of this section we pulled into a service station/convenience store in Tonopah and took a little break. Everyone had something cold to drink, and either ate a snack they brought with them or bought something from the store. We hung out in the shade discussing the day's ride so far and anticipating the climb up Harquahala Mountain, which was billed as 'intermediate". I met a few more people and it was very pleasant talking with them. A great group of folks.

About a dozen of the riders decided to call it a day for one reason or another, leaving eight of us to continue on to section 3 of the ride. It is only 10 miles of dirt roads up to Harquahala Summit and the first 4 or 5 actually weren't too bad - I was feeling pretty cocky about half way up. Then the road started to climb, things got much more interesting, and my cockiness faded.

The next couple of photos show the steepest section of the road a couple of miles from the summit - it's much steeper than it looks, trust me. Jason and Mick knew this section was difficult, so, after successfully making the climb, they stopped to help anyone who might have trouble.

The photo below shows me making the climb . . unfortunately, not too far beyond this point, I wound up stalling my engine and needed a little help from Mick to get going again.

At this point , I was the third rider behind Jason and Mick. Once Mick got me going again, I was the lead rider . . . . and I just kept on going until I made it to the top of the mountain.


Me, just before stalling out

I have to confess that I was bushed when I reached the top. I parked my bike, then made my way way down the hill a little to put myself in a position to photograph the rest of the riders coming up. Well, I sat there for over 30 minutes before the rest of the riders started appearing - it seems that that climb gave more than one of the riders a little problem.

Maybe I should have stayed and helped the rest of the folks, but it never occurred to me. I was too focused on my own doubts about holding up the group and figured it would be better if I just continued on. I feel a little guilty about not doing my part - I guess it was my lazy nature winning another one. In any case, the 30 minutes of rest and water was just what I needed to recuperate - I would have had some difficulty making it back down the mountain without that rest.

The 360° view up there is really something. It is the highest point around for many miles at 5682 feet.


A rider making the final ascent to Harquahala Peak.


Looking southeast from Harquahala Peak


The eight riders who made it to the top
Back, L to R: Jason Apelquist, Gato Garto, Peter Tam, Doug Printz, Kyle Moore
Front, L to R: Jason Houle, Mick Williamson, Chris Jones

The ride down was more difficult for me than the ride up. When going up, gravity is my friend. On the way down, however, it is easy to gain too much speed - when this happens, it is very difficult to rein in a 600 pound motorcycle and bad things can happen. Also, on this descent, there were a lot of very rocky sections and picking a good line was critical.

We stopped at the bottom of the steep section that caused the problems on the way up and Mick and Jason Apelquist decided they were going to conquer the section. So back up they went. If you look closely, you can see that the first run Mick made didn't end well.


Mick's first attempt to conquer the steep section
I'm not sure why he did it again, he successfully made it on the way up

Eventually, both Mick and Jason made successful runs - the rest of us were just happy to be done with it and we rested while they played.


Descending Harquahala Mountain

When we hit pavement again, we were a long way from where we started. A couple of the riders left our group and made their way home, the rest of us headed east towards Phoenix. After about 50 miles of riding, we stopped at a sports bar near the town of Buckeye and wound down the day. We stuffed ourselves with wings, nachos, and pizza and had a great hour or so enjoying each other's company. We also said our good byes since everyone was heading home from here and we wouldn't be seeing each other until the next adventure. These guys are some of the greatest people I've ever met and I would have liked to spend a lot more time with them.

We still had another 50 miles or so of freeway riding before I took my exit to my hotel. I hated parting company with those guys.

When I got back to the hotel, Bill was relaxing after a busy afternoon of looking at property. He had decided that Wickenburg wasn't for him. That left us the entire day tomorrow to do some exploring, since we wouldn't be spending the day checking out Wickenburg as we originally planned. I played around with my GPS and created what we thought would be a scenic route to Roosevelt Lake and a return via the Apache Trail. By the time I finished with that, I was bushed and ready for bed.

Miles traveled today:    245
Miles traveled total:    1055

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 15, 2013
Phoenix, AZ to Parker, AZ

via Apache Trail

Originally Bill and I were going to spend today checking out the Wickenburg area - both of us have been mulling over the idea of purchasing second properties to spend the winters. We already had motel reservations in nearby Parker, AZ for the night. Since that plan was out the window, we decided to check out the Apache Trail, about 25 miles of dirt road east of Phoenix.

We headed south and east from the hotel, taking some freeway and some local roads to Highway 87. We passed through some really nice looking areas, the Fountain Hills area was particularly stunning this time of year. It is set among some small mountains, and this time of year, all the desert plants were blooming and everything was green. The roads, neighborhoods and business areas are nestled among the landscape without a lot of excavation and it all looks like it belongs. The fact that this is a very upscale area doesn't hurt.

Just out of Fountain Hills, we turned north on Hwy 87 on our way to Roosevelt Lake. This is a very pleasant ride - the highway is mostly a 4-lane freeway which is usually not my favorite kind of road. This terrain, however is mountainous, and the highway has plenty of high speed sweeper type curves which I enjoy a lot. To make it even better, traffic was very light and the scenery was great - a lot of green this time of year.


Hwy 87 north of Fountain Hills


Hwy 87 north of Fountain Hills

When we reached Highway 188, we turned south. This is also a pretty great road - two lanes of pretty good asphalt with lots to see. We ran across some RV and boat traffic along this stretch of the road. After about 20 miles, Roosevelt Lake came into view.


Roosevelt Lake viewed from Hwy 188 southbound


Roosevelt Lake viewed from Hwy 188 southbound

It looked a little low to me, although there was still plenty of water. We saw lots of folks camped out alongside the lake - some of them looked like they were there for a while and others looked like they were just out for the day.

The following photos are of the bridge that spans the Salt River just above the Roosevelt Dam - it marks the start of the Apache Trail which follows the Salt River as it heads west down a canyon.


Roosevelt Dam Bridge


Roosevelt Dam Bridge

There is an observation point/rest area between the bridge and the dam and we pulled in to contemplate these great works of man . . . and for a short break. We hadn't been there for 5 minutes when an old car came screeching to a stop and three kids/young men came storming out and running over to take a look. They were very talkative and told us about how they were waiting for a water release from the dam so fishing would be better downstream. They talked about some kind of venomous water snake that usually accompanied these releases - apparently they like the cold water from the bottom of the lake - and said it's smart to wait for them to calm down before going near the water after a release. They even opened their trunk to show us a nice looking large mouthed bass they had just caught. They also showed us the body of a very long (about 7 feet), thin (1 inch diameter) water snake with no head. I don't remember if it was supposed to be poisonous - I doubted their story of the poisonous water snakes but Bill says they exist.

Anyway ...... after our pleasant little encounter with these guys, we headed down the Apache Trail. The Roosevelt Dam is only one of a series of dams on the Salt River to provide for water, flood control and electricity to much of central Arizona. The Apache Trail is an old stagecoach trail which follows the Salt River Canyon west and there are a lot of good views of the river and small lakes created by the other dams. Much of it is paved today, however, there are 21 miles of gravel roads west from Roosevelt Dam. The road is very easy riding and very well maintained.


Apache Trail

There is one pretty good climb with lots of switchbacks at the west end just before hitting pavement. We stopped for a short break at the bottom of this climb. As we were checking out a bridge over the creek, a car stopped and a middle aged couple and their 40 year-old son struck up a conversation with us. They were curious about our motorcycles and said they reminded them of the motor bikes that Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor took on their famous ride, "The Long Way 'Round". When I told them that that ride was what inspired me to get into this kind of motorcycling, they were a little taken aback - it's true though. These folks are from the UK and they had never seen anything like the Apache Trail. Nice folks.


Bridge on the Apache Trail


Apache Trail


Apache Trail

We fueled up at Apache Junction then headed west through the Phoenix area. From here on, the day quickly went downhill. We got on the Highway 202 loop, which is a freeway, took it to Highway 60, then headed north towards Wickenburg. Traffic on the Highway 202 loop came to an abrupt stop near the airport where a lane was closed down for construction. Unfortunately, we were not in California and lane splitting was out of the question. We spent a long time waiting in line and going very slowly. In addition to the lane closure there seemed to be dozens of busy on ramps with impatient people wanting to merge. I was relieved when we finally saw the exit to Highway 60 and we left the freeway.

Silly me. Hwy 60 cuts across a grid of streets and intersects with each of them where they intersect with each other - this makes for a whole bunch of nightmare 6 way intersections and interchanges. Almost immediately after getting on Hwy 60, we had to wait about 5 light changes to make it through. Since there are so many moves, each cycle was about 5 minutes - you can do the math. Anyway ...... it was very slow going. We endured this stop and go (mostly stop) traffic for about 20 miles until we finally worked our way through Sun City and onto the open road.

By now, both of us were little stressed - I had a headache - and I was ready to call it a day. Unfortunately, we still had about 150 miles to go to Parker. We stopped in Wickenburg for fuel and talked about taking a break and getting something to eat. We decided that if we did, it would be too hard to get back on the bikes, so we just continued on. Thankfully, the Ibuprofen I took in Wickenburg, and a few miles of open road improved my spirits considerably, and when we cruised into Parker, I felt pretty good again.

We checked into the local Best Western and walked across the street for something to eat after we got settled in and cleaned up a little. It must have been unremarkable because I can't remember a thing about the meal.

It's funny how quickly an evening in a motel passes. Do a little email checking, a little Facebook, call the wife, a little chit-chat, take a shower, rinse out socks/shirts/shorts, get your gear ready to roll for tomorrow . . . . and it's time for bed. I don't think Bill and I ever turned on a TV set the entire trip . . . and that's a good thing.

When I talked to my wife before going to bed was when I found out about the Boston Marathon bombing. It was a little difficult falling to sleep that night wondering what all those folks must be going through.

Miles traveled today:     364
Miles traveled total:    1419

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 16, 2013
Parker, AZ to Tonopah, NV

Heading north today. I was really looking forward to it since I had never traveled these roads before - all new road to Pahrump. I'm one of the few people who has never seen the London Bridge in Lake Havasu . . . not for much longer.

After a pleasant, scenic 15 mile ride up the Colorado River we came to Parker Dam and took a short detour to drive across it. Nothing spectacular, but I'm glad we took the time.


Parker Dam


Bill at Parker Dam

Our next stop was Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge. We had a little trouble finding it and finally had to stop and ask for directions. It turns out that I should have believed my GPS - it was trying to lead us there, but I was convinced it was wrong and ignored its advice. If you didn't know what it was, you could drive right across the London Bridge and never know it - from the road it seems just like any other old bridge.


London Bridge and me


A little better view of London Bridge without the distraction

The continental breakfast we had at the motel had worn off by now so we headed for a Denny's restaurant we'd spotted on the way to London Bridge. The temperature had warmed up to the low 90s and it felt good to be in an air conditioned environment - the food wasn't bad either.

We continued on Hwy 95 then got on Interstate 40 and rode back into California. This bridge on the left crosses the Colorado river and the border between Arizona and California.


Crossing into California on Interstate 40

We didn't stay in California very long. A few miles up the road we took the Hwy 95 exit and about 20 miles later we left California again, this time into Nevada.


Hwy 95 west of Las Vegas

As we moved north of Las Vegas, it started to look like it might rain - neither of us was looking forward to that.


Looking like rain on Hwy 95 just north of Las Vegas

As we continued to ride, the weather continued to look threatening and the temperatures dropped. Luckily, every time it looked like we might run into a storm, the road bent in our direction and we continued to stay dry. The temperature, however, was a different matter. It was about 3:00 PM when we rolled into Pahrump, but the temperature had already dipped into the 40s and it was time to break out the electric gear. Since we'd already been traveling a while in cool temperatures, we decided to stop at another Denny's to warm up, maybe catch a little bite to eat.

It turns out that Bill's electric gear wasn't working. It worked fine when plugged into my bike so we figured it must be something on his battery connection. In keeping with the K.I.S.S principal, our first guess, a blown fuse, turned out to be the answer and the problem was solved in a couple of minutes by retrieving a good fuse from my stash.

My GPS told me that it was 165 miles to Tonopah, NV, our destination for the night, so we also fueled. That should have given us plenty of fuel to spare since our range is 180 to 200 miles. Yeah, right!

By the time we left Pahrump, it was after 4:00 PM which meant we should get cracking to get to Tonopah before dark . . . . so off we went at a pretty good clip. The stormy weather continued. To make matters a little worse, we picked up a northerly cross wind once we got back on Hwy 95 which made the chilly weather even more chilly. Not to worry, however, our Gerbings gear was doing its job.


Another storm north of Pahrump

It was about 5:00 PM when we rolled through Beatty and it was getting much colder. On a brighter note, the sky had cleared up and it looked like the threat of rain had ended. The air was crystal clear and the scenery was unreal. It was 97 miles to Tonopah and there would be no more services until we arrived. Since we had just filled up with fuel in Pahrump, I had no doubts about getting there OK.


Hwy 95 north of Beatty

The further north we went, the more directly north Hwy 95 points. That northerly cross wind became a direct headwind and picked up in intensity. About 60 miles later, my fuel warning light came on telling me that I had 34 miles of fuel left - the only problem was that my GPS was telling me it was 47 miles to Tonopah. On top of that, my computer's frost warning had been flashing for the past 30 minutes warming me the temperature was below 35°. So . . . . the temperature is 31°, the wind is blowing steadily about 30 mph, we have about another hour of daylight, and it looks like we might run out of fuel 13 miles from civilization. By the way . . . I can't remember seeing a car in the last half hour.

Oh well, there were no alternatives but to continue. I dropped my speed to 50 mph to try to squeeze out a few more miles - Bill slowed up right behind me and I knew he was thinking the same thing. I started running through scenarios of how it might play out. My plan was to keep going until the bike stalled. Some people say that is very harmful with fuel injection and can result in some costly repairs, other say it is no problem. In any case, I figured to cross that bridge when I came to it - for now I was riding it as far as possible. I thought that if Bill ran out first, I would just keep going. If I made it to fuel, I would run back and tow him into town. If I didn't make it to fuel, at least I was closer to it.

I did a lot of worrying in that 45 minutes. Once the motorcycle died, that was the end of our warm, electric clothing. Without the electricity, it sure isn't up to 10 miles of walking in 30° weather. I sure didn't want to give it a try. Hell, I wasn't even sure if my old body was up to walking 10 miles under ideal conditions, let alone in this cold and wind.

Slowing to 50 mph picked us up a few miles and when my computer warning told me I had 0 miles remaining, we were only 10 miles out of town. We kept going and I was really happy when we rolled into a gas station on the outskirts of Tonopah. Bill's computer told him he had 7 miles of fuel remaining. When all was said and done, I averaged 35.6 miles per gallon on that tank - a long way off my typical 45 mpg. By the way, I put only 4.7 gallons of fuel in my 5.3 gallon tank - BMW over kill with the warnings. By the way, Bill said that his plan was also to continue on if I ran out of fuel first, and come back with a tow strap. Great minds . . . . .

It was so damn cold that Bill and I were both shivering before we got fueled up and on our way to the motel. We got even colder as we made several trips to unload our gear and get it into our room. There were no nearby restaurants so we decided to stay warm in our room and forgo dinner. Instead, we drank hot coffee, and ate cookies, and apples, the motel served 24/7 for snacks.

We hit the rack early and both slept like babies. It was GOOD TO BE WARM.

Miles traveled today:     414
Miles traveled total:    1833

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 17, 2013
Tonopah, NV to El Dorado Hills, CA

We originally planned to ride about 100 miles of dirt roads north of Tonopah to Austin but decided against it due do the weather. April is still pretty early in the year and almost the entire 100 miles is over 6,000 feet. About 40 miles of it over 7,000 feet and one summit approaches 8,000 feet. Since we'd seen a lot of precipitation yesterday, it figured that those elevations saw some snow. Besides that it was only 25° when we poked our noses out of our beds this morning. We decided to head directly home by the shortest means possible.

Bill has a new GPS and wanted to plot us a route home to get more familiar with it. He plotted the route without any problems and our way home was set. We had only 340 miles to ride, all of it on paved roads, and it looked to be an easy day of riding . . . a little cool maybe, but easy riding.

We dawdled over a great breakfast at the motel - I can heartily recommend the Best Western in Tonopah - we got our money's worth last night in coffee, cookies, and apples. The room was comfortable and WARM.

By the time we started loading up the bikes, the sun had warmed things up into the low 30s, but we were still getting cold making several trips to get our gear all loaded up. It felt good to crank up the Gerbings on our way out of the parking lot.

The weather was superb. The air was crystal clear, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky with some fluffy clouds here and there. The mountains had a fresh dusting of snow and stood out stunning 3-D. Since Bill had the route in his GPS, he led the way.


Hwy 95 east of Hawthorne


Hwy 95 through Hawthorne

Even though we'd traveled only about 100 miles, we decided to fuel up to avoid any 'shortage of fuel' fiascos like we had yesterday.

The riding was very pleasant - nothing exciting, but very enjoyable.


Hwy 95 at Walker Lake


Hwy 95 south of Fallon

We rolled right through Fallon without stopping. I think Bill was ready to be home and so was I. We continued on to Carson City where we did stop for fuel and a short break. The temperature had never warmed up past the low 40s and we were still using our heated gear when we pulled into the gas station. As I often do, I forgot about being wired to the motorcycle and just stepped off, tearing the connectors apart rather abruptly. Usually this doesn't really cause a problem - you just plug in when you get back on and everything is OK. This time, however, I apparently damaged a connector without realizing it - it caused a small problem a little later down the road.

From Carson City the roads are very familiar and both Bill and I have ridden them many, many times. Nonetheless, the ride over Spooner Summit into Lake Tahoe is always a pleasure. Climbing up the east side is a joy of fairly high speed, sweeping curves that always gets the adrenaline going a little - especially on a day like today with almost no traffic.

Dropping down into the Lake Tahoe Basin on the west side of the pass presents many stunning views of the lake.


Lake Tahoe viewed from Hwy 50 westbound


Lake Tahoe viewed from Hwy 50 westbound

We also passed through the South Lake Tahoe metropolitan area without stopping - been there, done that - and started climbing Echo Summit. As we neared the summit, it was obvious that there had been a little snow last night - I'd guess 8-12 inches at the summit. As is usual, the east side had much less snow that the west side which still had snow down to about 5,000 feet.


Hwy 50 east of Echo Summit


Hwy 50 east of Echo Summit

As we neared Echo Summit, I noticed that there was a hot spot in my electric jacket just left of my belly button. My initial thought was that it was my undershirt had lifted and the warm jacket was directly on my skin. I squirmed around trying to readjust my clothing which worked for a few minutes then felt hot again. I played around with it until we descended below 5,000 feet and I no longer needed the electrics to keep warm. The hot spot on my stomach turned to pain . . . it seems that the connector I unknowingly damaged in Carson City caused a poor connection which heated up enough to cause a rather nasty burn. When I got home to take a look, I had a nice blister about an inch long and about a half inch wide, plus some first degree burns in an area of about two square inches. I'll be more careful next time - now I know better.

Anyway . . . . the descent into the valley was also nice. The warmth from the sun was melting the snow in the lower elevations and we got pelted a little as the melting snow fell from the trees onto the roadway - not much, just a little.


Hwy 50 west of Echo Summit


Hwy 50 west of Echo Summit

Bill and I split up in Placerville and went our separate directions home. I pulled into the driveway about 2:00 PM - another great motorcycle ride under my belt.

Miles traveled today:     341
Miles traveled total:    2174

Click Here to see our route on Google Earth
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