Monday, September 20, 2021

NAFO/YFO - Day 12

Day 12

Sunday, September 5, 2021
Distance: 584.6 miles
Duration: 10 hours, 40 minutes, and 56 seconds
Average Speed: 54.7 mph
Minimum Elevation: -250 feet
Maximum Elevation: 8134 feet

It's Sunday, and that's head for home day. You might think this trip is over, but I know that the slog home is usually the worst part if you are just trying to make miles and get home. I have three days to get home so I've decided to make this a part of the trip and have some things to see on the way home.

First up is Death Valley. I'm not so excited about it but it's on the way, let's see it, get the stickers and magnets, and cross it off the list.

The problem here is weather. True to it's name, it gets pretty hot in Death Valley, so I'd like to hit it as early as possible. However, that means shoving off early in the morning when it's still hovering just above freezing. I make a plan to start off right before the sun will come over the mountains so I'll only have to freeze for a little while before the sun starts to warm me up.

It's a beautiful morning and while I can't see the sun yet, I can see it lighting up the tops of the mountains. I'm certainly in for a spectacular sunrise on the road.

It warms up to around 50, then drops back down, then back up, then back down. I see 34F at the coldest point of the morning.

I might be slabbing it south, but the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range sure does make it a scenic slab.

Before turning East toward Death Valley, I stop in the last town and top off the gas tank, have a bio break, and remove all my warm layers as it's now gotten quite nice, and I know what's ahead.

You wouldn't think there'd be twisties out here but the road does twist and turn as the elevation plunges ever lower. I'm headed toward one of the lowest points in the United States.

Somewhere around here I descend to below the altitude of my home.

We go up and twist a little before heading back down down down.

The road descends below sea level and that's when I learn that the Garmin Zumo XT will display negative numbers for altitude. I film quite a bit here trying to find my lowest point. Eventually I get down to 250 feet below sea level. If you head to Badwater Basin, which I did not, you can go down to 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the United States.

I realized somewhere that it's 10am and it's already over 100F here. This is a place to visit in the winter so I do not linger, I stop at the visitors center and buy my sticker and magnet, then give the camelbak a much needed refill and get back on the road.

The hope is that I can climb out of Death Valley and into more tolerable temperatures. The joke is on me and my optimistic self.

I stop off at Rubalcaba's Taco Shop in Pahrump, NV for lunch, a little hole in the wall behind the local Walmart. I do this right after filling up with some finally sane gas prices here in Nevada. Lunch is delicious.

I have plans to swing through Red Rock Canyon on my approach to Las Vegas. The temperatures are around 105F and I've seen Red Rock Canyon before. Even though it only supposedly adds 12 minutes to my route, that's 12 minutes I'd rather not spend in the heat, so I skip it.

Before that I'm passing through Las Vegas again. Only the road doesn't really pass right through the city, it dumps you onto surface streets that you have to navigate to get to get back up to 215.

I've got Hoover Dam set in my GPS as the next location. As I approach, there's a little exit to the "Robert L Mendenhall Scenic Overlook" so I take it. There's not a lot of parking spots and they are all occupied. I wait a bit for a couple to get into their terribly parked truck and finally figure out how reverse works and get out of the spot. I grab my camera gear and trudge up to the scenic overlook and find, the worst scenic overlook of my trip. It's an overlook of the highway I've been riding on!

I exit the highway and take the twisty 2.5 mile road toward the dam. As I round a corner I see a horrific sight in front of me. I can see about a half to a full mile of standstill traffic trying to get through the security checkpoint to get into the dam. I can see once in there that there's a lot of walking and climbing of stairs that I'll have to do in full gear carrying my tankbag and helmet again. Sweat is pouring off me as I come to a stop noting that my thermometer on the dash says 109F. I look at the not moving traffic and decide this is something to come back and see in a vehicle with air conditioning. As soon as there's a break in traffic I flip and U and get back on the highway. That's two things scratched off the itinerary today that I'd planned on seeing, but it's just too hot.

Eventually I see 110F today, which is a long way from the 34F I experienced this morning.

Moving into Arizona I'm tracking south of the Grand Canyon area, which I'd tracked north of on my way west. The views are quite nice here.

It's still freaking hot though. I stop at a gas station to fill up my gas tank and my camelbak. As I get back to my bike with a camelbak full of ice and water, an older guy gets out of the truck next to me and we have the following dialogue.

Him: Hunnertanate.

Me: Pardon?

Him: It's a hunnert and ate degrees.

Me: Oh yes, that's what my dash has been telling me too. {Duh captain obvious}

Him: Stay haadrated, this shitell kell yea!

Me: Yes, thank you, got my camelbak full of ice water

Eventually I climb in altitude, and things get greener and I rejoice at 91F temperatures.

At this temperature the mesh on my jacket does it's job and allows my sweat to evaporate in the dry Arizona air and provide some cooling effects, which is better than the earlier part of my day. I spent about 5 straight hours in triple digit temperatures.

I've spent so many miles on this trip all over on roads lined with the yellow flowers seen above. It's definitely a theme for the trip.

I've been sucking down the water for a while and now that things have cooled off I have to stop and use the restroom, shortly after using the restroom at the last stop. I'm definitely hydrated. Only this is a mistake as I'm dumped into one of the old Route 66 towns. As I gear back up from my stop I get to hear the family having a screaming fight in the car next to me as teenager girl thinks she's being mistreated. I hop back on the road only to find out there's no entrance ramp to the interstate for another 12 miles, so I cruise along reading the recreations of the old Burmashave ads along the old Route 66.

Eventually I roll in and check into my room at the Red Roof Inn+ in Williams Arizona. I'd originally had my heart set on camping in the Flagstaff area because I heard it was beautiful (It is) but there was a slight problem with that plan. See, it's Labor Day weekend and I'm within an hour of one of the biggest tourist spots in the USA, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Every campground is requiring a three night stay because they know they can fill up even with that requirement. I find a local KOA that'll rent me a single night, but it would cost me $50. Red Roof Inn will rent me a room for the night for $55 so it was an easy decision when I was making my reservations.

Williams Arizona is another of those Route 66 towns, but one that is definitely located well to continue to prosper as other towns have long since died off. I walk down the main street enjoying the old Route 66 vibe and swing in for dinner at the Station 66 Italian Bistro. There's a long wait but since I'm by myself I'm let right in. I have the lasagna with garlic bread for dinner.

Later, back at my hotel, I hear all kinds of commotion and booming outside. I step out and am treated to what is apparently a Labor Day fireworks show. Also, man, that's a lot of bugs I have to wash off when I get home.

Continue to Day 13

Go back to Day 11