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Footloose in the Desert


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Everything came together just right...weather, no children to watch, and the RT was rarin' to go. With all these signs in perfect alignment it was time for the Lovely Flame and me to don Helmets and point the RT toward the "tri state" area.

For those of you not familiar with this geography, the Tri state area is that point where California, Nevada, and Arizona all converge. In the winter time this is quite often prime riding country! Gorgeous desert scenery, boundless horizons, and crystal blue skies make riding here a joy for about 8 months out of the year.

So, fueled up and smiling, Chue-Shue and me hopped on board for the first leg of the ride, an uninspired 68 blast down I-10 to CA62. This route takes one past the dinosaurs and the old coffee shop at Cabazon CA. What a pity that the old, pictaresque eatery has been swallowed up by the dinosaurs of the 21st century: generic, chain restaurants. From the freeway you can barely spot the old restaurant now that BurgerKing and Denny's have taken over!

North on CA 62 takes you up and out of the low deserts of the Palm Springs area and up into the Morongo Valley and the desert communities of Morongo, Yucca Valey and 29 Palms. We decided to stop for a cold drink at Hutchins Harley Davidson and Diner in Yucca Valley. While I'm not much of a HD guy, Hutchins is well worth the visit. The place is crammed with memorabilia, bikes, accessories, and has a very nice diner too. Besides, a pleasant diversion was running into Tony, who posts here quite often. We discussed my Autocom system, which I'm having troubles with, and swapped a few other BMW stories as well. Tony's a great guy, always willing to lend a hand. We promised that one day we'd do some riding together.

Continuing east, we throttled up as we swept past the giant USMC Combat Training Center, and into the empty desert. Here, it was possible to wick the speeds up to the levels the RT was designed for. Soon we were cruising at 100-110 mph, and we did so for quite some time.

It seems the desert is empty. Deserted shacks and burned out, rusted vehicles are indicators of empty dreams. Dreams of opportunity that did not pan out. We sped past a sign that welcomed us to "Mojave Estates." All that was left of the owner's dream was the charred sign and a couple of run-down shacks.

Yet the desert is not empty. Tiny flowers dot the countryside. Birds flitter through the brush, and when you stop and pay attention to the ground you see myriad tracks of the animals that sleep by day and hunt by night. Nor is the desert empty of people. There are strange sights. We stopped at a tree, one of the few on this stretch of road, that was decorated with hundreds of pairs of shoes! We passed countless dirt side roads that led to mines and small businesses. In Vidal Junction, population 16, we spent some time talking to the owners of the cafe and mini mart. "Do you ever get lonely?" we asked over Cokes at the counter.

Once past Vidal, it was time to run north along US95 to Laughlin CA. Now the truck traffic became heavier. This created an excellent diversion for us. Now, we got to pass people. Fortunately the RT, even loaded with the two of us and our gear has the oomph to pass the monster trucks!

By now, storm clouds seemed to be gathering to the east and north of us. The temps were still in the mid seventies, so riding was outstanding. As the sun began to set below the mountains, the rays flooded the desert valley below the clouds. What a magnificent sight! We began to see what a masterpiece of creation the desert truly is! By the hours end, we were in Needles, a dumpy little truck stop perched on I-40 and the CA/AZ border.

After winding our way through town on Historic Route 66, we found our way north again on US95 to Laughlin and our home for the next two days, Harrah's Hotel and Casino.

As Casino's go, Harrahs is a nice place. With its own beach on the Colorado river, it had cheap rooms and good, inexpensive food. After a dinner and a, well, two margaritas, it was off to bed for a much needed rest.

The next morning we road to Hoover Dam,and then over to Boulder Nevada and Glenno's house. We enjoyed the day tremendously. The ride to Hoover Dam was very fast. We passed on visiting the Dam as we've done so before. If you haven't been here, you need to see it. What an incredible engineering feat!

Now the wind and clouds were up. We hustled over to Glen's house. After the 50 cent tour of Boulder we lunched in town with Glen, his wife and his son. Such nice people! We hope to run into the whole crew again one day.

Now we were on the run back to Laughlin. Even though the wind was howling, we figured to take the back way into Oatman AZ. So, we scooted back down to Kingman AZ and looked for the sign to Oatman. Just out of town we found it. The Oatman Highway is a section of Old US Route 66. We found curves here, yippee! We also found wandering burros, tar snakes, and 10 mph gravel-filled turns, so our exuberance at our find was somewhat muted.

Finally nestled away in the rugged red rock mountains was the tiny town of Oatman. Here gold was mined. Now, it is a tiny touristy place where burros, descendants of the originals walk the street in search of carrots and other handouts provided by tourists. Still, it was a fun place to wander around for an hour or two.

By now, it seriously looked like rain. Chue-Shue and I bundled up a bit and rode the 17 miles back into Bullhead City AZ, and then over to Laughlin. Fortunately, it didn't rain on us. In fact, the front that seemed to be building to our north and east was breaking up quickly.

That night, in clebrating our ride, we decided to contribute a little money into Harrah'a economy.

Monday morning downed bright and clear. After a happy heart breakfast, we got back on the bike, and started out for home. While sad that our adventure needed to end, we were happy to be on the RT, and blasting through the desert again.

Our ride was uneventful as we backtracked the way we came. Entering the Cabazon area we were rewarded by hurricane-force winds that did not let up until we reached San Bernardino. Shortly afterward the winds let up so the traffic could get congested!

What would a three day weekend in So Cal be without traffic?


Steve in So Ca

[This message has been edited by Steves1150 (edited 02-23-2002).]

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Sounds like fun Steve. Enjoyed reading about it.


"Born to Ride"

2001 ST1100

AMA, Honda Riders, Red Knights, STOC, Iron Butt


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Thanks, Guy!

The trick to riding the deserts out here is to do it when the wind isn't blowing like stink....Great warm temperatures often equal pretty strong winds too!



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