Day Four - From the desert to the deep blue sea
As much as I waxed lyrical about the joy of waking up in the woods earlier, NOTHING beats waking up before dawn in the desert. Especially when you open up a bleary eye to find that there are not the expected eight eyes of a tarantula staring back at you. Slowly the sunshine crept down the mountains as two Brits enjoyed their first cuppa of the day in the middle of Death Valley. How did we end up here?
The sunshine bursts forth and so do we, on the road before 7am.
A hundred miles of 365 and it is time to head west instead of the prevailing south that we have travelled for the last 3 days. We hit Highway 178 and are pleasantly surprised by the big sweeping curves climbing up over the hills, pleasingly chuffed by the picturesque Isabella Reservoir and absolutely delighted by the canyon road down to Bakersfield. This bit of road is fantastic, like riding a motorbike down a slalom course, bang bang bang, hard rock on your left a brief but painful drop to the river on your right. This road should be more famous and officially became Twisted Melon Racing's favourite road in the whole world. And Californian drivers, bless 'em, use the turnouts immediately to minimise impediments to our progress. Unfortunately, it is such a tight road that safe photo opportunities were few and far between. This is the best we could manage ...
Into Bakersfield, the biggest town that we had seen in what now seemed like a long, long time, and out again as fast we could go. The sight of fields of nodding donkeys was a new one to us, pumping out the rich life blood of our hobby. This one wasn't working, don't they know we have a petrolium addiction to feed?
Next stop, the coast, via 166, though not without incident. My 800 has a roughly 175 mile range, and by the wonders of the Zumo I had planned our next stop in Cuyama, which had a gas station. Sure enough it did, but sadly it had been out of action for some time, and I didn't have the range to make it to the next station. Arse. I have a quick conversation with a guy on the street ... "Excuse me, is there any gas available in town?" "¿qué?" "Can I get gasoline anywhere? (doing the internationally recognised sign of pointing to the airbox on the GS (if I pointed to the actual location of the gas tank, the meaning could have been entirely misconstrued))" "Si, allá por Maricopa" We retrace our steps 20 miles, fill up and return for another crack at it. Hell, at least we didn't end up pushing ...
Finally we get our first sight of the Pacific Ocean, shimmering blue in the afternoon sun and stage our run up the coast for tomorrow by stopping in San Simeon State Park.
Chris then stepped up to the plate and cooked us a slap up meal, accompanied by a fresh bottle of Captain, a big warming fire and the most extraordinarily fine sunset I have ever seen.