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Death Valley--Beatty/MLK Pre-Run Completed!


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Okay, here's a more complete update on the Death Valley MLK weekend Pre-Run which Phil, Bruce and I did last weekend!






All the pictures from the Pre-Run are still up on my SmugMug site: HERE. Unfortunately, the new "Edit Captions: Bulk" tool that they wrote is a PITA and scrambles the pic order, so I have to hunt around to caption them. They're working on the bug and hopefully they'll get that fixed, but in the meantime here is the pertinant info:


The rooms at the Exchange Club are going fast if you haven't gotten your reservation in already (as of yesterday) there are only eight (8) rooms and one (1) suite left and all are smoking rooms! Also, a word of warning: it is Nevada so "non-smoking" is a relative term! dopeslap.gif When we commented to one of the help on the fact that the whole top floor was "non-smoking" she quipped: "Oh, just let me know and I'll get you an ashtray--It's no problem!" eek.gif







It looks like there are also a half a dozen folks staying at the El Portal, so they should still have room if you wanted to stay where Wurty is staying--okay, 'nuff said on that one . . . . tongue.gifthumbsup.gif











The ONLY road [/b]into[/b] Death Valley that is closed is the 190 from Death Valley Junction (at the 127) to Furnace Creek: all the rest are open.






The only real drag here is that the roads to Zabriske Point and Dante's View are on this section, so they are inaccessable.




There was quite a bit of roadbed washed entirely away (and it all ended up in Furnace Creek), and it'll be at least April until that road is fully rebuilt.


There are a few smaller side roads in the Valley that are either closed or have a few spots that have sand across the road and the ones we found on the pre-run are:


The Artist's Drive is closed. (a small winding road through a canyon of some wonderfully colored sandstone formations, also Artist's Pallette)


Titus Canyon is closed. (a 4WD/GS only road that cuts the corner from the road from Beatty via the 374 over Daylight Pass to the 190) This is not to be confused with the other paved cutoff to the 190 from the 374. Coming from Beatty the longer side-route to the 190 is now repaired and open--the shorter main-route to the 190 intersection is now closed for re-paving and it may be re-opened by MLK, but take the side-route--its much more fun! clap.gif Even if you're going to Scotty's Castle, it is only a 7 mile backtrack to the north.


Westside Road (dirt) is open from Badwater Road. (a 4WD/GS road leading to a few other attractions i.e. The Devil's Golf Course, and paralleling Badwater Road through the valley heading to the south.)


On the 178 coming from the south (through Trona) into the valley from the west via Panamint, there is a side-route called Wildrose Road that goes through some neat canyons by the campground at Wildrose. There has always been a section of this road just south of the campground that was not paved and it looks to be in the same condition still. Bruce on his GS and I (on Maynard) took Wildrose with no problems (a few more shots of the dirt sections are on the site linked above), but it is not for the faint of heart or PhillyFlash. blush.gif Phil took his LT on the main road (178 to the 190 at Panamint) and it was all clear!






This shot of the gas prices is at Panamint Springs. The rest of the gas is a LOT cheaper (even at Furnace Creek) and Beatty is in Nevada (cheaper, and NOT Kalifornia gas! clap.gif ) so keep that in mind if you've got a smallish tank.







Our Pre-Run route:


We came in from the south (I-15, to CA-395 to the 178 to the 190) into the valley from the west (via Panamint Springs), went northwest at the junction heading for Scotty's Castle (open) and took the 267 through Grapevine Canyon to Scotty's Junction at the NV-95, and turned SW into Beatty. This entire rouite was all clear with only very slight dustings of sand in one or two corners, but no problems at all on our sub-Hoon pace. It was 480 miles from San Diego including the loop up and around to Beatty. We checked out the El Portal, the Exchange Club and the Burro Inn--all are comparable in quality and price. A few pics of the first addition of the El Portal rooms are on the SumgMug site. Sorry, I didn't get pics of the others.


Also, if you're staying at the El Portal, be sure to ask for a room with a heater that works, unless you're bunking with Wurty . . . . blush.gif (Don't say I didn't warn you. tongue.gif ) There is also a hotel at the big casino The Stagecoach, just down the road a block in the other direction from the El Portal as well as a Motel 6.





We had $1.25 beers in the bar in the restaurant/lounge/bar at the Exchange Club and later had dinner at the Restaurant at the Burro Inn (a block down the NV-95 towards Las Vegas).






The food is all pretty much like the lodging: nothing great, but tolerable. There is a mexican greasy spoon across the street from the Burro Inn and also a restaurant at the Stagecoach Casino, but we heard the food there is not any better and the prices are higher. The Burro Inn has the only separate "non-smoking" dining room ( thumbsup.gif ) and also has a bar-cum-casino. It is about a 4 block walk from the El Portal and 2 blocks from the Exchange Club.


There is a Death Valley National Park Information Center on the road between the El Portal and the Exchange Club as well as the Beatty Museum across the street. There is a Union 76 gas station right next door to the Exchange Club and an "Old Tyme Candy Shoppe" by the Stagecoach Casino across the street and almost a block down. There are also at least two functioning brothels (that we found) on the NV-95 to the north of Beatty heading towards Scotty's Junction.




Sunday morning we had breakfast in the restaurant at the Exchange Club (typical diner food) and headed back down the 374 into Death Valley via Daylight Pass. We stopped at the Ghost Town of Rhyolite and took a few pics but really didn't stop to look around much.






The entrance is about 6 miles from Beatty and accessible from Bullfrog via a newer paved road. There is also the original GS road from a bit further north, which is shown on your GPS, but I wouldn't take an RT or LT on it. eek.gif ) There are many old buildings here in various stages of decay dating from the turn of the last century--including the "famous" bottle house. The current population is two (2), and they are preserving what is left, adding many interpretive signs and generally making it more accessable to tourists. There is no charge for visiting, and there is a primitive "Visitors' Center" where you can sign in and get more info.


We stopped at the DVNP Visitors' Center in Furnace Creek, and drove by the FC-Ranch and the FC-Inn. There is some road damage still visible at the intersection heading out the 190 towards Death Valley Junction (pics on SmugMug), but Badwater Road exiting the valley to the south (to Shoshone) is clear all way! It is amazing how green the south end of the valley is! I've never seen so much grass and "lush" vegetation not just on the road cuts, but also on the hillsides. Remember though--green is a relative term--especially for you wet country types. We left through Shoshone and down the 127 to Baker where the "Tallest Thermometer in the World" read 54*F. The temperature was unpredictable: it ranged from the 30's in the mornings at altitude, with highs in the 70's. The valley runs north-south and the eastern, west-facing slope was quite warm in the afternoon sun, but cold in the morning. Some passes were warmer than the valleys and vice versa at other times of the day.


I took the Dry Town Crew's "traditional" route home (520 miles from Beatty to Casa de Edmonds), and we all rode together to 29-Palms for lunch at Ed Chada's. On the way back on the road near Amboy we saw a terrible sight:





Then it got worse:






Phil split off there to head home to San Juan Capistrano and Bruce and I continued on through Joshua Tree NP and said our farewells at the junction of the I-10.






I continued through Box Canyon and Mecca, around the Salton Sea and up through Borrego Springs and Ranchita (via S-22/Montezuma Grade). I had added some STP injection cleaner topping up at Mecca and was banging the rev limiter all the way up Montezuma Grade and kept the RPM's between 6K and 8K all the way home! What a RIDE!!!! cool.gif I took an AWESOME ride up a totally DESERTED SR-79 to Julian for pie with BarryBeemer a few days later (everybody was in the malls Christmas shopping! thumbsup.gif ) and changed the oil the next day: it was carbon-black and thin! blush.gifthumbsup.gif I did the rest of the service yesterday and when I pulled the plugs noted just a very fine coating of carbon on the pistons. smile.gif


I had a great run and an awesome 1000 mile weekend. Many thanks to Phil and Bruce for the company and being such great riding companions! thumbsup.gif Bruce probably won't be able to make it for MLK unless something changes with his work schedule, so we'll certainly miss his company. frown.gif I also have to give major kudos to Phil for all of his hard work dealing with the lodging, etc., and for getting this whole thing off of its death bed in the first place--we all should buy him a beer in Beatty!! Phil, I'm your wingman anytime! smile.gif His lovely wife Carole pilots her own RT, and is also an Iron Butt in her own right! thumbsup.gif


For those of you who don't yet have a Annual Park Pass, you can buy one at any of the entrances to DV (or J-Tree, if you're coming that way). They are $50.00 for a couple and good for a year. I think the Grand Canyon alone is $25.00 per person, so if you throw in a Zion and a Bryce visit in the mix, it is a great deal! Usually, the couple's pass is good only if you're in the same car, but Leslie just pulls up along side me and hands me her CDL, and I've never had any trouble anywhere. Prior to figuring out the pass, we had to pay separately for each bike--and that adds up quickly! blush.gif


We are planning on doing this ride every year over MLK weekend as a nice in-between from the two Torrey's in May and September. For those of you from the northern climes who couldn't make it this year: start planning how you're going to get here next January! clap.gif We've got garage space, guest room, couch, floor and tenting space--even lots of on-street parking for trailers! blush.gifgrin.gif We'll see how Beatty works out as a home base this time, but we may want to change the venue in the future. We can check out the Stagecoach and other options, but this is really a very inexpensive way to spend a nice four days and three nights riding some of the most beautiful country this time of the year. The $300.00 you save by not staying in Furnace Creek pays for a good part of your plane flight and Goldwing or Harley Rental in Lost Wages (or a R-1150-RS in San Diego), and you can't beat the price on lodging--you can't camp in a lot of places for only $30.00/night! grin.gif


The Village Idiots/Airheads (and the IBMWR.org group) started this idea years ago and deserve full credit for the concept. Unfortunately, they have moved their rally off of the MLK weekend to get away from the crowds at Furnace Creek, but many folks like to take advantage of the three-day week-end. It is also a HUGE valley and it really wasn't that crowded on the roads last year, though the rooms at Furnace Creek did fill up early. I also felt a bit bad for elbowing in on the Airheads' Rally--though I don't know many of them well, they are a very nice bunch and it is always neat to see the old bikes. What I have in mind for DV-Beatty is more of a UnRally/Torrey type of gathering, where the riding is the focus rather than the tenting and just hanging out in camp. Beatty is kind of a diamond in the rough as a tourist destination, but it is growing and slowly cleaning up its rough mining town appearance . Pahrump, NV is another option to consider for future rides, but only after the 190 is repaired and opened back up.


Those who wish to join the Dry-Town Crew for the "traditional" ride to DV, meet us at the Apple Country Restaurant in Santa Ysabel for breakfast around 08:00. We'll plan on departing around 09:00, stopping for lunch in 29-Palms, and depending on how many non-touring/4-gallon bikes are in the group, arrive in Beatty around sunset. Leslie and I are really looking forward to seeing everyone at Death Valley-Beatty/MLK in three weeks! WooHoo!


Let's MOTO!! cool.gif

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Thanks for the pics. I hate to say I am going to miss it this year. A most awesome place and I wish I could be there with all my friends.

I better start saving my days for next year thumbsup.gif

Maybe Al could send me some video after the event.

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