Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Distance: 555.0 miles
Duration: 9 hours, 32 minutes, and 23 seconds
Average Speed: 58.2 mph
Minimum Elevation: 328 feet
Maximum Elevation: 8843 feet
This day was all about making miles and getting to my destination. I didn't even drag the good camera out one time. My primary mission today is to get a shower, because it's getting bad. Of course, as things go, it'll get worse before it gets better.
Second mission is to fix my bike. The head issue is pretty bad, especially under hard braking or rough roads. Thankfully, which we usually don't say on this kind of trip, today will be a lot of flat smooth slab.
I'd given thought the previous night about going to shoot the canyon at sunset, but after a party sunny afternoon, we had dark clouds move in threatening with thunder. They were so dark that I didn't even see the sun set at all. I'd also given thought to getting up early in the morning and giving sunrise another shot but the sky was still socked in with solid dark clouds worse than the previous morning. Thus I set myself to packing up camp and getting moving.
Headed out of Grand Canyon I met with some heavy early morning traffic.
These guys were determined to eat grass and annoy me. They'd stand right in the road, and when I'd move forward the ones in the road would get startled and run to the left side of the road. That's good, except the ones on the right side of the road would also get startled and run onto the road. Eventually I worked my way into the group on a moment with the road clear and once I had my opportunity I punched it away from them.
Coming north out of the Grand Canyon I still got some good views and nice motorcycling roads, all while the clouds started to clear to the north. I could still see solid clouds behind me though.
Somewhere I missed coming back into Utah. Not sure if this was Arizona or Utah but I got my first glimpse of fires with this small one up on the mountain.
This whole area was not quite done impressing me with it's desert beauty.
Out this way there's different laws around semi trucks. Lots of crazy rolling road block trains along the highways.
They still have longer trains actually on rails too out here.
And now it's kind of a new state day. I've flown into Las Vegas many times but does that really count? I haven't even driven in this state, just rode around in taxis and stuff. Either way, I've never ridden to here, or ridden a motorcycle here so I consider it a new state day and can now color this one in on my map.
And then it's "Viva Las Vegas" time. I'm just rolling through here, but this is the first big city I've gone through since leaving Dallas, so that requires a bit of a recalibration of my brain to survive this stretch of the road. I haven't been here in a while but this city always amazes me at it's ability to just throw up new huge buildings. The landscape of casinos and buildings is constantly under change and makes it almost unrecognizable after a short time.
A short time later it's time for another sort of a new state day. I've also flown into California before, but unlike Nevada, I've actually drive here, but it still really doesn't count. I spent several summers here with the Marine Corps Reserves driving huge trucks around the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. This usually meant flying into Ontario California and boarding a bus and then seeing nothing but the base for two weeks before boarding a bus to go fly right out again.
On entering California there's a "California Inspection Facility. I wasn't prepared for this and there was quite a backup of traffic here. I lined up behind cars in the shorter line on the right only to eventually notice the red X above it indicating this lane is closed, but they were processing us anyway. I'm trying to think about where my ID is in case I need to dig it out and present it not knowing what's going on. Eventually I'm just waved through. Looking this up later shows "California Border Protection Stations are 16 checkpoints placed at California's land borders with neighboring states and maintained by the CDFA for the purpose of monitoring vehicle traffic entering the state for the presence of cargo infested with pests." That makes sense as they only seemed to be stopping trucks and RV's for full inspection, most cars and certainly motorcycles were waived through. I didn't video here but grabbed this off of Google, and it seems that Google had a lot less traffic than I did.
I got my first bit of sticker shock at my first gas stop in California. Little did I know, this would be a good price over the next few days. Also, I notice that California uses the emissions pumps where you have to push a spring loaded disc around the nozzle back up the nozzle before fuel will flow. This is easy with a car as you just shove the nozzle into the filler tube and the disc pushes back up naturally. This doesn't work for a motorcycle and you have to hold the nozzle with one hand and push it back up with the other hand. We used to have these in Dallas and I was happy to see them eventually go away. I'll be happy when I don't have to do this here either.
I'm going to go ahead and get my complaining out of the way before digging back into the good stuff. One of the dumbest laws I've seen is that in California they have separate speed limits for vehicles towing a trailer. The regular speed limit on I-15 is 70mph, unless you have a trailer and then the speed limit is 55mph. I suppose there's a safety related reason for this but it sets up a situation where the right lane is jammed up with trucks doing 55mph, and a long line of angry cars in the left lane stuck behind some idiot doing 65mph, and a few jerks using any gap in the trucks to haul up the right lane and force their way into the line causing panic braking behind them. I don't have any experience lane splitting and there weren't any motorcycles going my way to follow through, nor did this situation seem like a good place to hone my splitting skills so I hung back and dealt with it until I could get off the interstate.
Free and clear of the crazy traffic on the interstate, there's lots of this kind of terrain.
I have to say, when I got out of the Marine Corps Reserves I was quite content to know that I'd never need to experience the Mojave desert ever again in my life. Unfortunately my rerouting today to avoid the fires is running me smack through the middle of it. It's 106F today in the desert. I needed to stop for gas and to refill my my camelbak, and spotting a gas station with sub $4 gas I pulled off.
Often when doing these kinds of trips, you pass memorable vehicles and then stop for gas and then later repass the same vehicles. Back on day 1 in Texas I kept passing this dirty beat up yellow Porsche. It was pretty distinct due to a bunch of dents in the door just below the side view mirror. After filling up my camelbak with ice and fresh water I walked out of the gas station to see this parked next to me.
Pretty crazy that six days later I'd find that vehicle parked next to me in the lot this far away. I wondered what he's been doing between Texas and now. Again, it was 106F so I didn't hang out waiting on him to come out to chat with him, but I snapped the above photo and got on my way.
Out this way, there's a few natural resources which are extremely plentiful, and California is diligent in capturing them to turn them into energy. First, there's abundant sunshine pretty much year round, so there's a lot of these solar farms out this way.
Second is the ever present wind. Lots of wind farms out here. The farms don't appear to be as big as the ones going across western Texas, but they are sizable here. One big difference between the Texas wind farms and out here is that Texas has pretty consistently sized turbines, but California has multiple sized turbines all over the place. This made it pretty interesting to see the different approach to the same solution.
Eventually the hot desert rocky environment gave way to this hot hilly grassy environment. There's definitely some beauty showing through here.
On arriving in Bakersfield California, I first topped off with gas so I'd be ready to go in the morning. Then I sought out auto parts stores. I found a place not too far off the highway with a Pep Boys, O'Reilly and AutoZone all right next to each other. I should be able to find what I need here so I pointed the GPS to the Pep Boys.
First, the PepBoys was undergoing a remodel, so the main store was closed and they only had their service area open. Then I went to O'Reilly and was able to find sockets for both the 17mm and the 36mm I needed to do the job on the FJR. The 36mm is of course a 1/2" socket and they did not have any adapters to use it with my 3/8" ratchet. I bought these two and went next door to AutoZone. By the way, it's now 108F here so moving around slowly is miserable and I'm continuing to sweat profusely, as if my body needed that. AutoZone doesn't have the adapter either so I just buy another ratchet handle.
Finally I find my hotel. The guy at the desk is filling me in on the hurricane that hit Louisiana as I've been disconnected from the news the last few days. On getting to my room I fire off text messages to check in on the Cajun FJR folks to see if they are doing ok, which I later find out that they are fine, just dealing with electricity issues.
After firing off those texts, it's time for that much needed shower. It's Tuesday and it's been a lot of sweaty days since my last shower on Friday. I deposit my underwear and socks directly into the trash can never to be used again. After using up almost all of a hotel bar of soap, I'm feeling better and ready to go back out into the heat and tackle that head bearing issue.
On removing the MV Motorrad riser I'm able to quickly spot my issue. It seems that maybe when replacing my triple tree that maybe I didn't properly torque that big 36mm nut on top as it's spinning freely. Thank goodness for the MV riser because it looks like it kept it from spinning all the way off which would probably have been something on backorder and I'd have to find something to use to get home. For grins, since I'm this deep in I pull the upper triple off and give a little torque to the steering head bearing nut, testing to make sure it's not binding at all. All seems good so I reassemble it and take it for a few runs up and down the parking lot with hard braking and there's not any click or anything. I got lucky there and am happy that all is good for the days to come.
After that was done, I went in and took another shower. Then I laid down and called the family. First thing my wife told me on the phone was "I hope you took two showers!" I informed her that I did in fact take two showers. After catching up with the family it was time for a cooked meal for a change. One thing my wife is good at when looking at hotels is looking at what's around it. I have a Denny's across the street and an IHOP right next door to the hotel. After a long hot day on the bike, not having to suit up and ride to dinner is certainly welcome. I choose IHOP and opt for the "Quick Two Egg Breakfast."
After dinner I tune into the news to watch the reports on the hurricane in Louisiana and eventually drift off to sleep ready for a beautiful day tomorrow as I salvage what I can from my Sequoia Forest route.