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Old 02-20-2013, 10:48 AM   #16
HardWorkingDog OP
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Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Gotta love Garmin and Routes
Yeah, I still don't know what was going on. I rechecked those saved routes last night, and everything looks just the way I'd layed it out in BaseCamp.

Hey DaFoole, gsstampeder, GB, WoodsChick, Cabrito, slackmeyer, chrish4ku, Kevan, BigNastybrp, jnyrav, jimbones, Roadracer Al--good to have you along. Dang, that means the pressure is ON now, I've got to keep up with the report.

And SFMCjohn--I should have included you as a big help my route planning--you contributed a lot of valuable insight to get us down to Baja my long way. Thanks!

DISCLAIMER

I've read some amazing reports here, from BigDog & GasPipe to LionBR, DockingPilot & Cannonshot, the absolute zaniness from LittleWan, and the downright lyrical art from larryboy.

This is nowhere near these masters...I missed ALL the good shots...but I'll keep plodding along until the plodding is done. Hope you find it worth the heartbeats.




ps, did anyone click that first link, to the Bronson clip? I was going to make it a link to Michael Parks singing Lonesome Highway, but found that classic piece from the pilot film...apologies to LittleWan
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #17
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hey dog, I miss ya'lls nonsense at the monthly meets, being sequestered in Okieland. Out my window is 6" of fresh snow, first of the year and I am really really looking forward to your upcoming posts about Baja.

To compensate for the envy factor I have for you Cali-wankers I bought an el cheapo Transalp in Cork, Ireland recently thru WheatWacker on here, and just now booked my rt ticket for 5 months starting in late May so i can woof around the Isles and who knows where else? Anybody up for the Mann Gran Prix?

Big smile from Stephen
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:20 PM   #18
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hey dog, I miss ya'lls nonsense at the monthly meets...
Ya missed some good nonsense last night. Good to hear from you, a Transalp is one of the few Honda's I wouldn't mind riding--cool stuff, and good luck!
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:04 PM   #19
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I'd set up tracking service with my Spot device, and set it up to follow me on Spot's service and something an inmate here had set up--WhereAmIRiding.com. Unfortunately they both only show tracks from the last 7 days, and I knew most of the stuff would be gone by the time I got back. Strega is working feverishly to be able to show past tracks but as of now still hasn't got it working--I'm sure he'll get it. But at the very last minute I'd learned about spotwalla which keeps all tracking data, set it up literally hours before we left and somehow missed the last verification step. It wasn't until 10 days into our trip that I was able to go back and fix it, so the first week, so far, is lost in cyberspace as far as tracking goes. So here's a BaseCamp map of Day 1's track.



The track is orange, and you can see the magenta route I'd prepared. Notice how as we neared San Jose, the track heads northwest instead of south? That's when the gps seemed to lose its mind...I pulled over and paged through the route step by step...it was trying to get us back home. No idea what went wrong, but from this point on I never used routing again.

OK, enough on technology failures...



The night was cold, and I was just barely warm enough. First night sleeping in this combination of gear, and it took a few days to dial everything in. We had done a lot of research and chose the tent and sleeping stuff based mostly on compactness and quality. Son had already tested it a few weeks earlier during a climbing trip to Joshua Tree and we knew the bags were going to be the weak link. We had chosen synthetic Marmot Cloudbreak 30's--Marmot has a great reputation for quality, the synthetic fill seemed the right choice because of our exposure to damp conditions (and budget), and the bags stuff down to a package that's about an 8 inch cube. They make a 0 degree bag, but it's about 50% larger when compressed.

The test had shown it was barely warm enough in freezing temps, so we added a Thermolite Reactor bag liner. While we knew we'd be camping in freezing temps the first week, the majority of the trip was going to be in semi-tropical weather and the only thing worse than a bag that's not warm enough is a bag that's too warm. It worked out very well. This way we'd be able to add the liner when cold and remove it when warmer--just like the layering approach to staying warm.The bag liners are very thin--we just left them in the bags when packing--and don't look like they'd make a difference but they do.

For comfort we used Big Agnes insulated air mattresses. I've never been able to sleep comfortably on ensolite pads or thermarests, and they are incredibly bulky. The BA air mattresses solve all the issues: comfortable as a bed, insulated, and they pack down to a package about the size of a roll of tp. Perfect.

This photo from backcountry.com shows the relative sizes of our bags and pads...



Anyway, we woke up early New Year's morning to a clear and cold day. Our water was frozen, our bikes were covered with frost, and we decided to quickly pack up and get going to our next destination--the promise of our first hot springs of the trip. We made coffee (Peet's of course), ate a clif bar, and packed. I think it took no more 30 minutes and we were back on the road, faceshields frosting over, mirrors coated with ice, and smiles on our faces. We rode south on 25 heading for Clear Creek. This lonely stretch of road is one of my favorite places--green fields, rolling hills, low mountains, a few scattered ranches, and more or less deserted. Of course, no photos. Gear lesson number 1--a GoPro type of mounted camera would've been really nice to have. I'm not a big fan of videos in ride reports, but a few stills as you're riding would be a great addition. For some reason once I get going it's really hard to stop, pull out the camera, click, put the camera away, and start up again.

As we roll down the grade and slow for the Clear Creek intersection a HUGE bobcat sprang across the road directly in front of me. It was a beautiful animal, clearly a bobcat, but looked like it weighed close to 50 or 60 pounds. I could see the unique face and bobbed tail...really wish I could've got a photo of that.

We stopped for a few minutes at the entrance to Clear Creek.



Son and I have great memories of riding enduros at Clear Creek, and it's very frustrating that it's been closed to off-road riding. There's simply no good reason for it, and I'm hopeful the closure can be overturned...

We continued on south, towards Coalinga. As we wound out of the mountains and onto the edge of the Central Valley through the oil fields we noticed what looked like the Eye of Sauron (via google image search)



Chevron has built a 100 acre array of mirrors that focus the sun onto a small area high up in a tower to generate steam that is then used to help recover oil. (photo via google image search)



The photo doesn't give any sense of how bright the collector is--it is painfully bright, and as you approach it your eyes can't help but look at it...weird stuff out here.

We made it to Coalinga, hoping to find a cafe, worried that being New Year's day nothing would be open. Whew, Perko's was open. We pulled in, frozen, and tromped inside. Slowly thawed out, ordered big breakfasts, and drained cup after cup of hot coffee. As we headed out to the bikes to move on it started to rain. And then hail. Crap. Oh well, let's ride. By the time we'd made it out of town the rain stopped and as we headed south and east it gradually warmed up. In order to save time we cut south down I-5 for a few miles and then headed east towards Bakersfield and Lake Isabella, our destination for the day. The little 250 did just fine, holding a steady 70+ mph in 6th gear despite the 50 tooth rear sprocket.

Stats for the day:


We made it to the hot springs area and set up camp.



Rock climbers were nearby and Bryn joined in while I talked to the locals to get the lowdown on exactly where these mythical springs were located. It's kind of a sensitive issue, so I'll just say it is close to Miracle Hot Springs, on a dirt road along the south side of the Kern River.

Here's a couple clues, and a thank you to the Stewards of the Sequoia.




Not too hard to find if you keep your eyes open. We made dinner--chicken/garlic sausage with sauteed peppers and onions on french rolls, some oranges and cookies, and hot tea. Nothing could beat that meal...put on our headlamps and headed down the trail for the pools.

No photos again, but it was a pretty magical place. Pools were built into the edge of the river fed by the natural hot springs. You're sitting in the hot water, hearing the Kern river rushing by your feet, watching the stars fade as the moon rises. We met an amazing assortment of people while we were there, everyone full of stories and experiences from the oil derrick worker showing us iPhone photos of his beautiful Columbian bride (just hadn't quite figured out how to get her to the US) that first evening to a very thoughtful and gracious Native American couple who were traveling nurses and had lived some fascinating experiences who we met the next morning. It was a great time. We felt very lucky.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:06 PM   #20
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Ahhh......2 blue and white bikes to Baja!!!

I am in!!!............watch out for those Pesky donkeys!!!

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Old 02-20-2013, 07:15 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by HardWorkingDog View Post
And SFMCjohn--I should have included you as a big help my route planning--you contributed a lot of valuable insight to get us down to Baja my long way. Thanks!
Hey HWD,

Everything I know about routes, I learned from ADV (cough-larryboy-cough), so I was just paying it forward ... ha.

It has been great fun watching the progress of both of you on the GPS links you posted in BAARC, especially around your Laguna Salada adventure ...

I've seen a bobcat down by Clear Creek, too, recently ... fun!

Great job so far here in Ride Reports with the big dogs ...

On my way to click on Bronson ...

see you around the campfire,
-- SFMCjohn
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:14 PM   #22
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...put on our headlamps and headed down the trail for the pools.

No photos again, but it was a pretty magical place...
No photos? Not even of the hot springs??



You're fired!




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Old 02-20-2013, 10:25 PM   #23
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No photos? Not even of the hot springs??



You're fired!
I know, this report SUCKS

But did you like the Bronson clip???

Just wait, there's even moar cool stuff that i didn't get photos of!
And dangling participles at no additional cost.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:34 PM   #24
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:36 PM   #25
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I know, this report SUCKS

But did you like the Bronson clip???

Just wait, there's even moar cool stuff that i didn't get photos of!
And dangling participles at no additional cost.
"That's a fast bike, you know? Hey! you know, heh...that's a lot of bike! I just wanted to see how she'd go, you know?" Yeah, I watched it
We watched that show in my house! My mom liked motorcycles.




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Old 02-21-2013, 07:42 AM   #26
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We've been home almost 2 weeks and I woke up early today, before the sunrise, thoughts of our trip filling my head. I miss seeing the stars fade,
watching the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez, the quietness.







I get up and make coffee, walk out the front door to see the dawning sky, see streaks of color that remind of waking up in the interior of
Baja California Sur where we'd spent the night at Rancho Piedra Blanca. The cows were impatient, time for milking, and the family
came out to start their chores while it was still dark.







Standing on my porch I hear the dull background roar of commuter traffic.

I am very grateful to have experienced this place.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:53 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by HardWorkingDog View Post
We've been home almost 2 weeks and I woke up early today, before the sunrise, thoughts of our trip filling my head. I miss seeing the stars fade, watching the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez, quietness.



Standing on my porch I hear the dull background roar of commuter traffic.

Baja trips are good for the soul....Looks forward to the rest of this journey.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:46 PM   #28
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I got ahead of the story. Back to Day 3, we're still in California, the not-so-secret hot springs along the Kern River.

We'd had our morning soak to take the chill off--temps dropped below freezing again last night, water bladders froze--hiked back and made breakfast, packed up, anticipating rolling into Death Valley that afternoon. Bryn had never been there before and this was something I was eager to show him. We make last minute checks of our gear, swing legs over the bikes, and I hear.............nothing as he punches the starter.

Crap, dead battery on the DR. One of the things I'd worried about before the trip was the battery. The bike was 5 years old, a well cared for battery normally lasts no more than 4-5 years. I'd checked it, seemed strong, it wasn't the original battery and there was a charger pigtail on the bike so I figured the previous owner had taken normal care here.

Wrong.

(Note: a recurring theme here...guess what? No photos of this day's struggles. I realized much too late in the trip that my camera stayed in my jacket pocket at all the best opportunities, i.e., when things went to hell didn't go according to plan. Which was Most of the Time. I guess my only excuse is that I cut my ride report teeth on rec.motorcycles.dirt which is(was?) a text-only usenet news group. Yeah, like WoodsChick would ever buy that excuse...)

We did manage to get it bump-started but the DR was running like crap. Wouldn't idle, poor acceleration. Figuring we could at least ride the bikes to the nearest town to look for a new battery we headed for 178 & the town of Lake Isabella. As we made the turn from the frontage road onto the crossover Bryn almost high-sided--the engine died in the middle of the turn and he left a 15 foot arcing skid before he got the thing under control. Hmm. Maybe there's something more here than a dead battery?

We limped back to our campsite and removed the battery. I packed it up and rode to town and found a Carquest auto parts store. They tested the battery, the tester indicated it was good, but just undercharged so they put the battery on a charger. An hour later we put the battery back in the DR and headed off. Still ran like crap.

WoodsChick, right before we left, had offered her and her husband's cell phone numbers...just in case...and I swallowed my pride and gave Eric a call. Eric is pretty much a motorcycle genius. 'Nuff said. Could a bad battery make the bike run like crap? Well, yeah it could, but maybe it's a fuel issue. He knew about the ridiculous in-line filter Suzuki puts in the carb inlet (hadn't noticed that before), advised me to drain the bowl, check the filter, make sure it was getting fuel. Everything checked out fine, but it still ran like crap, and by now the battery was dead again.

OK, the most obvious problems were 1) a bad battery or 2) a bad charging system or 3) both or 4) entirely something else. I went with 1). Now, where to find a battery. Found one at CycleSmiths in Kernville. (HIGHLY recommended, btw.)





By this time we were resigned to spending another night on the Kern River, so we filled the battery with acid in the parking lot of Carquest (Cyclesmiths was actually closed when I rode up, but by coincidence they happened to be driving by and saw me forlornly looking in the shop window puzzled by the OPEN sign they'd forgot to shut off; they opened the shop for me on their day off and sold me the battery!), got Carquest to do the initialization charge, and while we waited bought some groceries and then limped back to our same campsite from the day before. It wasn't quite so much fun setting up camp as it had been yesterday but we had food and beverages and a hot spring. Poor us.

Luckily we had cell phone coverage even at the campsite and were able to let everyone at home know we were OK and what was going on.

The next morning the bike fired up on the first try with the new battery despite the freezing temperature, and seemed to run perfectly. I was still concerned there was a charging issue so we rode out to Kernville where Wendy at CycleSmiths tested the voltage--14.4 VDC (gear lesson #2, a small voltmeter is a good thing to have in the tool kit)--so I put that worry out of my mind and we were off to Walker Pass and Death Valley.

At last.

We rode around the north side of Lake Isabella since we'd made the detour to Kernville.



Saw people playing golf outside Kernville. They were------determined. 45F, 30 mph winds, and the greens were the color of, well, dead grass.

The road up and over Walker Pass is a great twisty piece of tarmac.



Of course as we climbed to the pass at 5200' we were riding alongside snow--



--yeah, it was cold of course. We were just warm enough to ride thanks to our grip heaters, the only piece of electric riding gear we used. A heated jacket would've been nice but having warm hands was a necessity. Just to have one warm place to focus on made all the difference.

We dropped down onto highway 395 and turned north to reach 190, the western entrance to Death Valley.



The road winding down through Rainbow Canyon is one of the top bits of twisty tarmac that I've ever ridden.



As we got closer to our destination we could feel the air warm up and by the time we reached Panamint Springs it was, for the first time on this trip, downright comfortable.



I love this place.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:43 PM   #29
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Hey, I've been watching.

IMO, the park vehicle outside on a freezing night battery test is the most foolproof test there is. A garaged and tended battery can deceive long after it's days are up.

Enjoy your trip. I'm sure I will.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:57 PM   #30
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Baja trips are good for the soul...
Amen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diggerled View Post
IMO, the park vehicle outside on a freezing night battery test is the most foolproof test there is...


Glad I dragged you out of lurk mode
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