Day 15
June 25th, 2002
San Luis Obispo, California

I was already up sorting my things when my alarm went off.  It was another gray and foggy morning.

I flipped on the TV for some weather clues.  "Inversion fog on the coast, hot and sunny in the Valley," I hear the man say.  I am pretty austere with Hotel California lingo.  I know where the Valley is, and I know inversion is the the fog that socks the coast.

By 7am I am riding north on 101 to Santa Margarita to run SR 58 to Bakersfield.  Tim Mayhew from the   www.pashnit.com site highly recommends this road.  He was right about 96, so I have no reason to doubt him about 58.

I see a thick fog hugging the hilltops and when I reach the crest I can't see much.  I descend down the other side into bright daylight.  Damndest thing I've ever seen.

I take the 58 east exit and begin the trip back to Alabama.  For the next 2,500 miles my direction will either east or south (except for a run to Central Utah from South Utah, that had a easterly tack).  I mark the occasion at 7:05am.

I pull to the side, and switch to my Oakleys in the bright, as a cancer bed tanning lamp, morning sun.  A school bus jostles by, while I my fish glasses out of the Tourmaster.

SR 58 takes begins to take shape a few miles east of the city.  The S turns begin to grab and I move up in the saddle. 

Brothers, this road belongs in a museum.  Another smooth and twisty fair lane.  I shift around for a more aggressive position, and begin the ride in earnest. 

I flip the tinted shield of the Arai down.  At times I am looking right into the sun.

I climb in elevation by a series of hills, all the while leaning.  I reach a series of crests and, then 58 spins me down the backside.  The hills are not all that steep, but the S's come at me quickly.  It is early in the day, I feel good and fresh.  I'm only 50 miles out, so I pick up the pace.
A sample of the great riding on Calif. 58
I pass a couple of times on the double yellow, but not to worry, I have more then enough room.

A steep left hander jumps out at me and I'm a little fast.  My mind goes into overdrive to overide the nervous twinges in my body.  HOLD it Guy, hold the line and lean.  Lean it, KEEP leaning, toes of my left boot touches down, but I don't waiver.

I slow the ST down.  That one made me a little nervous.  Not like the squids, I DON"T need a shot of adrenaline right now.

A west bound crotch rocket is in a sharp right hander.  He is in full leathers, and his right knee is almost dragging.  His Arai racer replica glistens in the bright morning sun.  Out having a little fun before school or work I see.

Soon the highway is showing me quiet farmland.  I ride among the hills, looking to take in all I can.

I stop for a butt break along a few quiet rocks.  I lean against the fence and soak up the scenery.  I was there for 20 minutes and only 1 old man in a pickup came by.
​Taking a break on 58
Coming out of the hills 58 slings me into a vast long run out through the Carrizo Plains.  The sight of a empty highway before me causes the ST to jump up to 90. Running smooth as silk I mumble.  After devouring 50 or so miles of twisty road, I begin looking for something sweet, and here comes my desert. Suddenly, I'm looking at a series of short, but steep hills, with snapping tops.  I have a stomach wave  when I reach the top of each one.  I repeat the scenario 8-10 times.  FUN.

​I blitzed the Carrizo Plain portion of 58, at 100mph.   Try that in Connecticut!!
Down, down out of the hills I come and I feel the temp rising-drastically.

For all y'all California brothers who have NOT been on SR 58, Shame!! Shame!!  This road has it all.  Challenging twisties, high speed run outs, and great scenery.

The fun ends in Mckittrick, and the desert lies before me.

My Gas stop is a Exxon in Buttonwillow.  I get out my phone and call Leo.  An RT rider that wanted to meet me for lunch.  I scroll past 30-40 numbers till I find him.  I hear his friendly voice on the other end.
"Sure! I'm still looking for ya.  Come on!"

Bakersfield is chock full of utility distribution lines, and oil fields.

I find the Pioneer Mercantile in downtown Bakersfield.

I chat with Leo outside his store then I follow him back to his residence.  Leo has all kinds of toys.  Race cars, a 64 Corvette renovation, and several other things.

He brings the silver RT around,  and we take off on local roads to Tehachapi.  I get a chance to ride a few roads only locals get to.  

We stop at the railroad loop vista and take a view pics.

It is hot and dry now.

In the city we find a good Mexican cantina and I have 2 enchiladas, and lots to drink.  Leo tells me he is going to Gunnison for the  RT bbs rally.  It will be his first time to do such a thing, and he's looking forward to it.
I thank Leo for the lunch and the ride.  A great guy and a new friend.  Time to put down some miles.

​Leo and his 2002 1150 RT
SR 58 takes me through the desert to Barstow and I-15.  A city stuck in the desert, surrounded by sand, rocks, and heat waves.  The desert just sits out there waiting for the means that brings the life giving water into Barstow to quit, so that it can reclaim this island of life for the Mojave.

I check my gas, good shape.  I can make it to Nevada if the sign "ain't lying."

I-15 through the Mojave is just like I-40.  Ugly. Why do they fence these routes?  There is nothing out here to wander across the highway except horned toads.

Traffic moves along at 90 mph.  Again just like I-40.  The shoulders are littered debris.   Radiator hoses, recaps, fan belts, litter, discarded gas cans. Reminders of those who didn't make it.

I-15 takes a long gradual climb into elevation.  Signs are posted advising cages to cut the AC off.  I guess people think the sign is kidding.  I saw 5 cars in 15 miles over heated.  Three were pulling campers.  

My ST climbs the 15 miles of elevation at 90 mph and the temp needle was one width from the spot it sets on a 40 degree day.  What a machine.

I did not see a single motorcycle north or south bound on this section of the ride.  It was 110 degrees.  The heat from the road under me, rose up in my face, so I HAD to keep the Arai shield down.

I stopped at the few exits I saw and bought fancy water.  The desert is deceiving me.  The dry air makes me
think, I am not sweating, when in reality I am.  It just evaporates so easily.  In Alabama it takes days for clothes to dry out in the moisture laden air.  All in all the desert does not feel all that hot to me, but I respect it.
The 90 mph run across the Mojave fires off my reserve my light prematuely, and I am NOT in Nevada yet.  How much farther is it?  I drop off the interstate to gas a station looking thing ahead.  Out of business. A green Camry pulls in and circles to me.  It is occupied by a mother, daughter, granddaughter combination.  Not the last time I will see such a combo.  They are Asian and their English is a "no comprende."  I can't understand her, so she points to her gas gauge.  She is lower then me.  I get out my atlas and see Primm should not be far ahead.
With enough broken English to get us by, I get her to follow me.

I get back on the interstate and ride at 50mph to extend the Camry's gas tank.  We ride for 30 miles and hit a Chevron station in Primm for gas.  She makes a appreciative gesture as she jams the nozzle in her tank.

I see 2 Harleys and a Wing off to the side.  I look around for their owners and see them at a table.  They don't look very happy.  Two of them are badly sunburned, all of them have chapped and broken lips.  They are tired, and hot. Two bikes are 2 up, the third is solo.  They have Hotel California plates.

They are wearing tank tops, and shorts with leather chaps.  One of the female passengers is not doing good.  I have treated and seen enough overheating bodies in my day to know she is toast.  She is propped in the corner of a booth.

"hey, brothers hows it going"

"not so good"

"we are miserable. Tired, hot, and want to go home"

"where ya headin?"

"Upstate NY"


I learn 2 Harley riders have been riding less than a year, and until today the longest trip they had been on was 75 miles. All are inexperienced.  They are from Fremont.  It has taken them 2 days to get this far.  They are beaten down and sunburned and scorched.  Their lips very dry and cracked.

"look here she ain't doing good, she is too hot.  She how pale she is? Weak? Hot to the touch and not sweating?  She needs water in her and a cool swimming pool. I don't wanna to tell y'all your business, but call it a day."
"but were behind"

"she'll never make Vegas and y'all don't look much better"

I also suggested they turn around and get out of the desert.  I reminded them Utah is also desert and once out of the Rockies the Plain states this time of year, are not much cooler.  They appeared to not like my advice, so I left.  

I ran the factors in my mind, as I walked back to my bike.  They are from a cool climate, inexperienced, riding almost fully exposed in the desert sun.  I believe you are much better off protecting yourself from the sun. 

Cover up from the sun, and the hot dry wind.  Most of all, use common sense.  If you are not acclimated to hot weather, don't try to ride across the Mojave in June.  If you must, do it at night.  Don't ride cross country when the furthest you've ever been at one time is 100 miles. 

I don't know how those folks came out.  I left them my card, but never heard a word from them.

A short ride later I enter Las Vegas.  My first time here.  I have a reservation at the Motel 6.  My plan is to indulge a little and have some fun. After all, I am on a long ride and need to unwind.

I exit 1-15 and work my way to the Motel 6. For the first time I am hot in the 110 degree heat.  As long as I'm moving I'm ok in the Roadcrafter.  I see a big sign in front of the Excalibur proclaiming a special rate.  On impulse I pulled in to check it out.  I went in to the desk and find out I can a room here, for a great price, and have covered parking for the ST!  Just a few bucks more then the Motel 6.  

The hotels along this area are big and fancy.

I told the valet parkers they WON'T be riding my bike. I will park it.

I unloaded my stuff and parked the ST in the first floor of the parking deck.  Special spot just for bikes.  Looks like I'm not the only long rider in town.  Several bikes of all the brands were represented from far away states, including New Jersey.

I rode 533 miles today.  Most of it in the desert.

The lights and sounds of the casino are amazing to me. 

 I have not a clue how a slot machine works.

I go up to my room, take a loooooong hot bath, and turn on the TV.

Ninety minutes later a cleaned and refreshed Guy walks the casino.  I saved just a few bucks in a special place to use in Vegas.  It's not much, but all I could ever afford to lose, and if I do, I will chalk it up to entertainment and go watch TV.

Supper was at a Italian restaurant in the hotel.  I hate it when they give me a male waiter.

I do the slots but I'm unimpressed, so I go to the poker room.  There I find a beginners table.  Which means dollar bets.  They are playing 7 card stud.  A favorite of mine from my college days. If enough guys are playing, you can win a few bucks if you are patient.

They deal me in and thus starts one of the best times of the trip.  Not many are speaking at first but soon things loosen up and I meet some nice folks.  We play hand after hand, I win some money, but loose some also.  A couple of times I lost with really good hands.  Once I lose a big pot holding a queen high flush, to a king high flush. Ouch.
"hey y'all sure y'all are beginners?"

When they find out I'm riding cross country on a motorcycle I am fielded question after question.  The atmosphere is very relaxed, more like the guys at my kitchen table then strangers in Vegas.

I look at a lady with a LARGE stack of chips around her, she is way ahead.  A few of those chips are mine.
A new dealer comes in, and I move to his right hand to change my luck.  His name is "Buggles."  A mid aged black guy from Atlanta, so we like each other.

A weak pot is out there, and most of the 7 players folded by the 5th card.  Judging by that, I feel like my pair of Kings might win.  I throw a few chips out, and I get called.

I get beat by 3 sixes, and Buggles says-

"all he had was a Dolly Parton hand"

"wazat??" a guy in a hat asks

"A big OLE PAIR"

I play till the wee hours.  I said good night, good morning to everyone and go upstairs.  A fun way for a lone rider to unwind after a great days ride.  I will spend 1 more night in Vegas before heading out to Utah.