Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Seat of my Ruckus
Day 8 (Las Vegas, NV > Marina, CA)
Las Vegas > Pacific!
I knew I should have walked home earlier last night as my Las Vegas exploration gave me much less time to rest at the Motel. After 4 ½ hours of sleep, I repacked the bike and set off into the dawn.
Leaving Las Vegas, I made sure to take the obligatory picture of the sign but had a hell of a time with the lighting etc.
Cresting over the hill to Lake Meade, the colors of the desert offset the blues and oranges of the morning sunrise making for some wonderful photos.
I rode over Hoover Dam, took some photos of the engineering marvel considering the many workers who died in its construction.
A boat was sitting here near the entrance.
Backtracking through Las Vegas, I chose to forego the two hour detour to Death Valley in favor of a more direct route to the Pacific through the Mojave Desert, the Golden Hills and fruit country.
The temps warmed but remained mild in the 80’s the entire trip across California.
This large solar array out in the desert near Edwards AFB
Wind Turbines spinning high heading into the Golden Hills
And into the Golden Hills
Absoloutely stunning environment!
I saw my first Dust Devil! They are hard to photograph without a background...
The smells of the hills and grass changed as I rode into the heavily irrigated fruit growing lands around Bakersfield. Almonds, apples, peaches and Strawberries lined the roadside as far as the eye could see. Migrant workers labored under umbrellas, their vans and pick up trucks lining the roadside.
Large trucks loaded with produce crates or filled with heaping loads of raw almonds scattered to and fro slowly down the highway.
They were only slightly faster than the flatbed trailers hauling port-johns to the worksites. Miles of farms and irrigation canals blended into the wine-growing lands of rustic wineries and rolling hills.
The multitude of romantic sounding cellars and silver streamers glimmering in the warm breeze made me wish for a convertible and a penchant for wine tasting, neither of which I possessed.
This hill appears to be shaded by a cloud but is actually recieving full sun. The various darker planted crops provide the illusion.
Moving on, I turn on Hwy 46, excited that this road will take me to the big sea, my goal, The Pacific Ocean. I will forever remember the time I first laid eyes on the Pacific Ocean. Its fogs rolling on to the coast while the temperature dropped 20 degrees from the inland warmth.
With a slight chill, I descend to the sea and point north on California 1 for Big Sur and points unknown. The sea to my left, I have finally made it.
At the first opportunity, I turn in to a beach access, park the bike, and walk to the waters edge.
I MADE IT!!!
Stepping on the wet sand and letting the crashing waves wash over my boots, I soak in the rich sea smells and touch the salty water.
Returning to the bike, I add a wool layer and put on heavier gloves then take of north. I thick fogs make enjoying the view difficult but its density comes and goes, rolling like the rises and falls of the coastal road.
Passing Hearst Castle, I stop to view the Elephant Seals on the beach and chat with another V-Strom owner. He gives me advice on places to see up North of San Francisco and reports of a beautiful campsite in a Redwood grove up the Russian River. He asks where I am going. To this, I reply fondly “I don’t know”.
The views are breathtaking and I stop often for pictures.
Kites along the beach.
I meet an Israeli couple who take my picture with a beautiful concrete bridge poking through the fog bathed in warm sunlight.
I take theirs in turn and then, as a gesture of international kindness, give away two of my prized Fruita, UT peaches. What goes around comes around.
Passing through Big Sur, I see my first Redwood trees riding through the enveloping lush forests. The campgrounds at every state park have “FULL” written in bold letters on their entrance signboards. This guy doesn't hassle me but sure makes me nervous...
The sinking sun at Bixby Canyon Bridge makes for some great photos. I am a big fan of Jack Kerouac’s writings and his novel Big Sur is one of my favorites. I made a point to ascend the dusty gravel ridge up behind the bridge but the lack of time and daylight kept me from exploring down to the private property at its base.
I notice a surfer on the beach below playing catch with his dog on the sandy shore and wonder what it would be like to relax and live here.
As I continue north toward Monterey, the road twists along the rocky cliffs then becomes more urban and eventually a freeway after passing Carmel.
Now this signs a first!
I grow weary of finding a cheap place to camp. Soon, on my right, I spy the concrete depot and loading dock remnants of an Army base through gaps in the rusted chain fence. Exiting at Imgin Rd, I ride through the soft sandy roads of a construction site and begin looking for a place to camp. I park under some trees and scope out the area. There are large construction drainage tubes, 9 feet in diameter lying side by side. The bike rolls in with ease and I stop the engine and put down the kick stand. What a neat little spot!
Little did I know it was actually a time-warp portal!
This will be my home for the night and the price is right. Using the last of my propane fuel, I make rice and tuna while researching the area on my phone. I am camped in a tube at the former site of U.S. Army Fort Ord, an active training base during WW-II and home to a military beach resort for R&R. Comparing old aerial images of the base with the google satellite photography, I can make out the outlines of former barracks and industrial buildings at my current camping spot. I finish my modest meal, roll out my sleeping bag covered with a poncho and fall fast asleep to the sounds of crickets, shore birds and the ticking cooling of my motorcycle engine behind my head.