Monday morning. The Girlfriend was up early, another great full body hug and kiss, and she was off to the airport. Turning point in the trip... time to re-calibrate my head so I'm watching for "East" roads and not "West" roads all the time. Headed back towards Iowa but going to see more pretty country and great roads along the way.
The Girlfriend brought me a Butler map for Socal that I'd bought but didn't have before I left. Butler maps are geared for riding and pick out the best scenic curvy roads there are. Between the map and input from steve_k in San Diego (who was fighting a 102.5 degree temp at last message) I had what should be a nice route across Cali.
The beach was socked in with fog but when the landlady came to check me out of the condo, she said a mile inland was clear and sunny. And she was right. Easy ride out of the San Diego sprawl on I-8, climbed to around 2000 feet then jumped off to ride the Sunrise (S1) highway. Great road climbing and twisting in the Laguna mountains. Got up to around 6000 feet. No snow but had to watch for sand they'd put down in some sections.
My pictures for the day do not do any of the ride any justice unfortunately. Seemed like I was constantly catching someone on the road, they'd let me pass, then I'd feel bad about pulling over to snap a picture just to have to pass them again. Plus I was usually having too much fun and didn't want to stop.
Sunrise highway dumped me off around Julian, CA in the mountains where I picked up 78 and did what they call Banner Grade. Started seeing a few other motorcycles out playing like I was. Very cool. Banner Grade put me down on a high desert run going east. Lagunas behind me.
Then picked up S2 north to catch the Montezuma Grade (S22) over to Anza-Borrego and the town of Borrego Springs. The Montezuma Grade was my favorite of the day. Starts up around 4-5000 feet and drops you down to 600 at Borrego Springs. Could see forever across the desert and over to the Salton Sea.
Borrego Springs was a nice town in a cool location. Beautiful day of riding. Clear blue skies. Was perfect temps up in the mountains and mid-to-upper 70's in the lower elevations which just about made it "hot". I might have even perspired a bit. I know all of you back in Iowa are feeling bad for me.
Took S22 from Borrego Springs to Salton City and the Salton Sea. Fairly straight road but runs right through the Ocotillo Wells OHV area. 80,000+ acres of nice desert riding from what I saw. Would love to come back and explore. Instead of mountains, it's a maze of canyons and washes going off in every direction.
Rolled into Salton City... a couple hundred feet below sea level now. The Salton Sea is the largest lake in CA. The location of an ancient salt lake, it was "re-created' in 1905 when the Colorado flooded. It's slightly more salty than the Pacific ocean, but it's salinity is increasing each year. It's almost like a ghost town in the area. Salton City for example is plotted as a huge town with street lights and paved roads... but there's very few houses. You can buy a 1/3 acre lot with utilities for around $4,000. I rode down to the shore on what would have been a fancy divided road called Yacht Club Drive and when I got to the water, you could see there was probably quite a bit going on at one time, but deserted now except for some curbs, concrete, and re-rod. It's obvious they've tried to make the area a tourist attraction and draw in residents... but it's obviously not worked for some reason. A cabin in Salton City would make a great headquarters for forays into Ocotillo Wells though... not to mention escaping winter.
The landlady in San Diego said the Salton Sea has medicinal/spiritual healing qualities. Mmmm. It smells pretty bad from where I was. Seems like anytime a body of salt water doesn't move, like in a still bay off an ocean... it smells. Maybe that's whats driving people away. I decided I was healthy enough and passed on sampling the health benefits of the Salton Sea water.
Rode north to the Coachella area and around the north end of the sea. There's a heavy middle east influence in the area. Lots of date trees, vineyards, citrus farms, strawberries.... you name it, I probably rode by it up there.
Jumped onto another great little twister called Box Canyon Road.
As I rode this section, which has a real "middle of no-where" feel to it, I came up on a semi tractor-trailer parked on the side and something was crossing the road. As I got closer, I could see it was a hispanic fellow driving the three-wheeled forklift thing that you see hanging from the back of flatbed trailers that deliver construction materials and such. Ok. Now I'm interested. As I passed, there was a gal in a tight red dress that was cut high and low in all the right places. Wearing a fedora. Ok, still interested. As I got past, I could see up a side canyon about a 1/4 mile there was a small suv of some sort apparently stuck in the sand. Ahh, the beauty of human charity in action. Why this gal, dressed like that, was trying to drive up that canyon is beyond me and the scenarios I can come up with probably aren't good.
Box Canyon Road dumps out along I-10... there's really only two ways in or out of southern California from AZ... I-10 or I-8. Time to just get it done. Traffic wasn't bad. Stopped at the first place in AZ for gas and late late lunch/early dinner.
Was trying to get back on the road to make it to Tonopah, AZ just west of Phoenix but lost about 20 minutes to a good old boy that works in the "solar fields". He was asking about the bike, he was from part of Baja Mex I'm familiar with, so ended up having a fun chat considering my broken spanish, his broken english, and his lack of teeth. I became his new best friend when I noticed he hadn't put the gas cap back on the company truck he was driving.
Used up every ounce of available light and rolled into Tonopah. Really nothing there except a couple of gas stations/fast food, one Family Restaurant & Cantina, and the mom-pop motel Steve_k had mentioned to me. The place was cheap and absolutely adequate for my needs. Rode up to the Cantina for a couple tacos, chips/salsa, and a Blue Moon then back to plan my attack for Tuesday using suggestions from buls4ever. 373 miles and two states... good progress back home.