Lone Pine, CA to Valley of Fire, NV
Song of the Day: Panda – Desiigner
I wanted to get an early start and beat the heat (as much as possible) so I got up at 5 and was on the road by 6 AM. There was almost no traffic and it was a bit windy heading across the valley to the small range of mountains that border the western edge of Death Valley. Dropping down into the valley was pretty neat….it kinda felt like being on the moon or something. I went through Panamint Springs first. There was a group of about 20 bikes there at the motel and gas station. I only saw one of them gearing up. The rest were likely having breakfast or something.
The temp wasn’t too bad, only about 80 (forecast was for a high of 110 that day). I crossed another little range and dropped down into a broader section of the valley. I stopped to take a picture of the sand dunes — kinda neat, sand dunes just there in the middle of nowhere. There is also a much larger area of sand dunes smack in the middle of the desert on the way from Beatty to Vegas.
After climbing out of the valley I stopped by Rhyolite, an old ghost town. Not much had changed since I was there in ’99 except that they had restored the Bottle House and everything was fenced in. So I took a few photos and headed to Mel’s Diner in Beatte for breakfast, where a guy can still get some country gravy and they don’t look at you funny when you ask for an english muffin. Then off to Las Vegas.
The ride to LV was a slog. There is nothing, NOTHING, between Beatty and Las Vegas and I think I counted 4 very gentle curves. The posted speed is 75 so it’s not so bad — you can haul…..but it’s still a slab.
When I got to LV it was about 100 degrees. I found a coffee shop to take care of some remote IT work and then picked up a few things at the store and headed for the laundromat to wash up the funk. I spent most of the time waiting for my laundry reading. When I spied two young girls trying to figure out what to do with a fitted sheet (I think their mother or older sister was elsewhere), I jumped into action and asked them if they would like me to show them how to ‘fold that thing’. They both nodded at me so I proceeded to give them a class in fitted sheet folding. They sorta seemed like they appreciated it, but they also looked kinda ambivalent about the whole thing. I think they just wanted to get the laundry folded so they could go do something fun ;).
After that I got the opportunity to meet up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for years for a bite to eat. It seems that in the age of social media it’s much easier than it used to be to keep up with people from afar via their preferred method of presentation to the virtual world. But actually sitting down, in person, to have a conversation with someone who we haven’t seen for years is so much more truthful. Things about us change; and some things stay the same. And then there are the revelations of all the things you have forgotten – like walking into an old house at night and turning on the lights as you walk though – I remember that, and that, and that. It was a very nice visit.
I packed it up and headed out from Vegas around 6:30 I think. Given that I was about to be burning daylight very thin, I almost decided to head out to Valley of Fire via I 15. But I decided to stick with my original plan and head out Lake Mead Blvd. which runs along just north of Lake Mead. I was glad I went this way; the ride from Vegas to the park entrance of Valley of Fire is definitely worth it (although most of it is 45 MPH on a road that screams to be ridden at 55-60 🙁 ).
I entered the park just after sunset and it was getting dark fast. All of the staff had gone home for the day and there were only a few campers when I found the first campground. It was a COOL campground with many of the sites pretty isolated amongst the large rock structures. So I set up shop, mostly in the dark, and went to bed. I then woke up at about 1 AM to folks talking and milling about in front of my bike. They were apparently setting up these lights and stuff to take pictures at night of the stars. After several exchanges and confirming that, yes, the stars were very stunning, indeed….I finally pressed the matter and told them to move on. Thankfully they did. It had been a long day.