Friday, 6 September 2013

223 Needles and Barstow

Thursday 29th August 
Miles today   110  Total  19,239
We retraced our steps today and headed back to the out skirts of Vegas and then onto Needles.  

Furnace creek motel

Dispite all our efforts at keeping ourselves wet and hydrated, we were exhausted and hot, when we all decided that an air conditioned motel was the way to go. 

Heading off into the cooler sunrise

Looking back on Death Valley

We all dripped into a "Motel 6", who after the initial "oh my god, 9 motor bikes, most of them Harley s" finally rubbed their hands with glee when they realised we are all pussy cats.  Bikes were cleaned, swimming pool was taken over and air conditioning turned up high.  We joined a few others for dinner later on and ended up in another big thunder storm.  It was one of those flash floods, which are actually very, very scarey, the water completely flooded the roads, and cars and staff were trying to leave the diner, before they were stranded for the night. We were told that we might not be able to leave tomorrow, if there had been too much damage to the roads. I decided that I was going back to our room, but Ray and a couple of the others risked the knee deep walk to the bar, where they tried to wait out the storm..  We have since learned that we are in monsoon season, the locals just deal with it, we were completely excited and in awe of the power of it all and disbelieving all in the same breath.

Friday 30th August  
Miles today   145 Total  19,384
The storms last night did nothing to relieve the temperatures.  The roads are passable. We are all still very hot, and today we are on our way, via, what still remains of Route 66.  This part of the journey is still very bare, sand, rocks and tumble weed, and old houses that are just decaying wrecks.  

Old mining trucks by a roadside cafe.

Route 66 motel. Also where the cops pulled me in.

The journey was broken up by many water stops and lunch and just as we were entering Barstow, one of the Harley s wheel barings went, (Ray is surprised they have lasted this long, not the barings, the bikes).  We stopped and made sure all was organised for recovery and then joined the others who had booked into the "Historic Route 66 Motel". It was okay, and certainly not the worst we have stayed in, but unfortunately one of the couples really ended up with the crappiest room.  So everyone decided the best plan of action was to get drunk and go to bed comatized, that way it would soon be morning and time to move on again.  (Any excuse)
Prior to this, we were enjoying a can of beer in the forecourt of the motel. It was like a pow wow without smoke signals.  We were standing in a circle, discussing the comparisons to tractors and Harley's.   Ray had taken only a couple of sips of his when he was offered a go on a Harley.  We have ridden one before, but it was a completely different model, and many years older.  Not a good experience for him, just noisey for me.  None of us gave it a thought as he drove around the courtyard and out onto the road, until it dawned on us, that California, is the only US state where you have to wear a helmet.  Oh how we chuckled when we stood there in our wisdom discussing how funny it would be if he got caught by the old bill. 
Well timing and placement is everything, and the only Sheriff's car this side of LA, saw him and pulled him.   Beer cans were flung at a high velocity into the undergrowth, I ran to our room to grab his driving license and bail money, and we all watched as Ray dazzled the officer with his smile and on being asked if he had a helmet, pointed to our room in the corner and said yes, it's over there.  Luckily for all of us, the officer gave him a small  reprimand and soon, after a bit of searching, beer cans were retrieved and normal service was resumed.  
It had been quite a hectic, and some might say fraught day, so after dinner, a quick trip to the bar, we were all safely in our rather historic rooms on Route 66.  
Historic, now has many different meanings to all of us. (decrepit road, bed, room, furniture, cars, bugs, I could go on, but it is all part of life's learning curve). 

Saturday 31st August 
Miles Today  75   Total  19,459
I think everyone was awake early this morning.  Ray and me probably had the best room, but we came out in sympathy for the others.   We were leaving later than normal, because, Alex, (whose bike had broken down),  was not looking like it was going to be fixed until midday and we were going to pick him up on the way. Timing is everything. We are only 40 miles away from him in Victorville, so we poodled along, grabbing coffee's and Ray and I needed an ATM to get some cash out.  I went for coffee's and Ray jumped on the bike to find the nearest ATM.    He had washed his socks and undies in the shower last night, but hung them over the bike to dry in the heat, shame he forgot to take them off the bike before he whizzed down the road.  It was only on his return journey that he noticed them lying in the road and thought he recognised them, some days it scares me how we have survived so long.  We have decided that getting old is a marvelous excuse for most daft things we do now. Barstow, was pleased to wave us off.
All of us had watched Billy Connolly do route 66 on a trike, and we came across the bottle tree farm that had featured on his show.  We met the man who runs it and he was really funny, in a nice, if not a tad strange way.  Lets face it, you live in the middle of nowhere, you make trees out of bottles, and you put in guns, albeit, decommissioned ones, wrecks of vehicles, singer sewing machines, what is left but to grow a beard and become famous.  He has the most massive satellite dish I have ever seen, but he says he is not famous and he doesn't receive those programs that showed him.    People, come from miles away just to see this, so I suppose if you look at it like that, who is having the last laugh.  He did say to us he thought Billy Connolly was a nutter.    I personally think it's too close to call.

I took one of these guns to the Falklands.

We stopped for a late breakfast and then eventually made it to Victorville and got Alex and his bike and then trekked off down to San Bernadino.  Obviously with such a big group, choosing motels is not easy, and this being America's last big holiday weekend before Thanks Giving, it is a bit busy.  This is called Labor Day weekend, and the good news is that all motel, hotel ect, prices will now be out of season, after Monday, but today, yeah, you get to pay through the nose.  So 9 bikes rolled into town, and we found a motel that was relatively cheap. They had any number of rooms available, all "non smoking", complete with a full supply of extra's, at no extra charge, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and muggers, and just for good measure, all non smoking rooms stunk of smoke, we decided that this was probably not our best move, as we still have about 70 miles to do to LA, it would be a long walk with motor cycle frames, so we moved on.  Satnav's are a wonderful thing, but they don't tell you, "You idiot, don't you know you are on the wrong side of the tracks, welcome to the States, now become a statistic". 
 We went another half a mile, pulled into another equally appealing place,  and a Sheriff's car, with "Supervisor"on his door, and "we provide excellence" on the rear panel of his car, pulled in behind us.  We all checked to see if Ray was wearing his helmet, he was, but to the Sheriff's credit, he was lovely, and warned us about staying in this particular part of town. He advised us to go about 2 and a half miles to the other side of town, to the Best Western, where we, and our bikes would survive the night.  He did however also tell us to say he'd pulled us over for speeding, and not advice. 

All I can say is Karma is a good thing.  You have a good day, you have a bad day, but it all equals out. I think this officer should be thanked for his help.  He looked after us, and I really appreciate it.   We all drove to the other side of town, and the biggest party was going on at the Best Western.  As it is the holiday weekend, the hotel have put on a party for all their staff.  They were so taken with us, that we were greeted with a can of beer, given the best rate for the room that we have had for a long time. The rooms are fabulous and then we were invited to join the party.  What a good end to a trying couple of days.
Tomorrow We are off, "on a dark desert highway, cool wind in our hair.......welcome to the hotel California," (Eagles hit from my youth quote for any oldies out there), Santa Monica , on the last part of our journey.  We all go our separate ways on Monday.
I hadn't been looking forward to this part of the trip, as in meeting up with all the guys. I thought it was going to be a macho, muscle comparing, do you remember when, kind of nostalgic bun fest, but it has been a great hoot, and I have met some of the funniest and nicest people, who really enjoyed themselves,  and made it another special part of our trip.  Val, who is Alex's mum, had her daughter Kathleen as her pillion, and handled the Harley better than some of the guys, was an inspiration and all of them contributed to making the trip more interesting and fun.  It was good for Ray too to have other people to give him a hard time.

Sunday 1st September  

Miles Today 81 Total  19,540
  We all had a leisurely start to the day and were finally off to get our kicks on route 66, the final miles at about 10.30am.  My understanding was, we only had 80 miles to do and so us girlies and some of the blokes, were looking forward to getting our "welcome to the hotel California", after 1pm and hiring a limo to take us on a tour of LA, before our final dinner all together at 7pm.
Into the setting sun after a hot slow day

Another bloody set of lights.

Hollywood film studios. See the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background
The Pacific at last. The end of route 66

Our final meal together and a celebration for the guys that did all of route 66

Yeah right.  It was the longest, hottest, most boring 80 miles we have driven.  Route 66 disappears into the twilight zone at various stages, so we spent our time getting lost, doing U turns, stopped at red lights and then stuck in traffic.  It took us nearly an hour to do the last mile.  We rolled into the hotel car park at about 6.15pm, knackered, all with hot backsides and when we saw, "The Hotel California ", it was the smallest, oldest place on the planet.  (I am prone to slight exaggeration when grumpy).  We actually were lucky on getting our room late and ended up with almost a holiday flat.  We were charged 240 dollars for the privilege, for one night, so I hate to think how much the newer, bigger places are along the beach cost, not that we can see the beach, not even if we hang out of the bathroom window, but we do know it is there.
It was showers at the double and then back to a British pub for the meal.  It seems that we have spent more time in British or Irish pubs here, than we do at home. (I have already admitted to slight exaggerations).  There were a few extra people who joined us, known to others in the group, so it was quite an entertaining evening.  We girls did the sensible thing, and retired early, the boys were left choking on Cuban cigars and swinging the lamp. 
Tomorrow, everyone is doing a star burst.   Ray and I are off to another part of LA on the coast to meet up with Bear and Stephanie, who we last saw in Whitehorse, northern Canada. Some are going sky diving, some just sightseeing, but most flights have been booked back to New Zealand and England for early next weekend, and others are riding on back home to Canada.  
It has been a very entertaining week.  It seems so much longer time wise, as in you feel you know people and it is the norm, and as I sit here in the room, staring at the Shirley Temple poster advertising a film from the 1930's, I wonder, was I really there at all?  (I never mentioned that Jean Claude Van Dam watched over us in Vegas,  plastic America, you couldn't make it up.)?  Next I'll wake up and find out I'm going back to Vegas and Donny Osmond is going to sing to me.  Oh, that bit is going to happen, my childhood crush, stood me up on our last visit to Vegas, so we had to rearrange the dates, it has caused us to re think our next couple of weeks as we have so much we want to fit in, but still aren't quite sure how to go about it.  Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and I know for a fact we won't get stuck for ideas. 
In reality, we are watching the news and Obama's decisions on Syria.  The public are a bit hostile to the idea out here, and doesn't sound like Cameron got a good reception either........ 

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