by2wingsor2wheels

Death…Valley

Funny story. I woke up yesterday in Taft California. This is an oil town about 40 miles outside of Bakersfield. Oil derricks litter the desert landscape. Some of them dipping up and down but most of them idle.

I peaked my head outside into the one level motel courtyard and parking spaces. I noticed the four police cars and ambulance off to my left about 100 yards. I didn’t hear any sirens or much commotion during or before their arrival so I turned around and went back inside to shower and pack up. After organizing myself I headed out to my bike. Matching me step for step to meet me at the bike was a an athletic man in his late thirties. He was wearing cowboy boots with his detective badge on his jeans. He pulled a tin of Skoal from his back pocket and stuffed his lip. He then said good morning and asked me a few questions about who and what I saw the previous night. I replayed my accounts to him which really only was noticing a few men and a lady in their late forties having a few beers in the courtyard. I asked him what was going on and his reply was this, “Well unless you heard someone yelling ‘I’m going to fucking kill you!’ then we probably just had a drug overdose. You have a good day now and ride safe.” With that little tidbit I loaded some Dwight Yoakam on the iTouch and made my way to Bakersfield and continue on to Death Valley.

I am back to reality after being somewhat spoiled on the coast. The run out of Bakersfield to Lake Isabella has a 25 mile stretch through the Sequoia National Park. This is a deep cut river canyon that can not be more than 200 feet across at any given point. The road snakes through the canyon following the river bank. You pop out at the reservoir damed lake and begin the ride to the California Desert and Sierras.

The stunning views continued during the straight away ride up into Olancha and the turnoff to highway 190. Desert valleys surrounded by soft shouldered mountain ranges. I got to the turnoff about 12:30 and was heading to Death Valley for mid afternoon! Perfect. This is pretty desolate country. I was very happy to see cars and bikes again about an hour after I was climbing the the hills towards Towne Pass. Mountain passes are always fun rides. Corkscrew hairpin turns down 3000 feet in six mile stretches. Death Valley was a sight. Desert floor covered in rocks and sand. Walled by 5000 feet of mountains. A lonely straightaway with two other Harley riders and back up a pass into Stovepipe Wells.

The Daylight Pass into Beatty Nevada was brand new tarmac for 30 miles. More twists up hill on a great road. Had a little fright when I heard a loud rumble which I thought was my bike. Figured out pretty quick that it was fighter jets over head doing flybys. Hot and dirty I pulled into the Motel 6 in Beatty to do some laundry and look around town. Population 1,600 and three casino resorts?

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