The Flight of Bear Canada

Day 9 - April 21st
Bakersfield CA to Pahrump, NV

Today was a day of highs and lows. The riding was better than yesterday, especially considering that I was warmer and dryer today. That is always a good start. One the lows came while riding through Tehachapi. Temperatures dropped to 2 degrees C. I even got snowed on. (The irony here is that this is the first snow I've seen this year and I live near Vancouver which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.) But soon after hitting the snow I dropped altitude down to the desert and more desert like temperatures. I had checked the weather and the route before I left Bakersfield. I had shifted my route a bit more south. My new route was a bit lower. I hate to think what it would be like to cross my original route with a pass 2000ft higher than the Tehachapi pass.


Snow? WTF! Tehachapi pass, balmy 2C.

After California City I headed back north towards Death Valley. I decided to check out the ghost town of Ballarat. I had a cool conversation with a trio of the locals. (One of whom happened to be an electrician like me.) They regaled me with tales of the Ballarat Bandit who evaded authorities for several years. The authorities assumed that the bandit was ex-special forces. They laugh because the Bandit was found after killing himself, and the Bandit was a simple drywall taper.


Me in Panamint Valley



Downtown Panamint and the Panamint City Welcoming Committee

I returned back to the pavement, and got buzzed by an F/A-18. The shriek of the 18's jet engines was cool. So this qualified as a high.

I crossed a couple of more passes and into Death Valley National Park. The ride was nice and warm. I had once again shifted my route south to avoid some menacing clouds. I took a loop through the wonderful colorful geography or Artist's Palette. Then I rolled into Badwater and had another low of the day. 282ft below sea level kind of low. After Badwater, I crested another pair of passes and dropped into Nevada. The sun was close to dropping out of the sky, and black clouds hung in the sky to the north. I decided to hit another hotel in Pahrump, Nevada.


Artist's Palette, Death Valley


The lowest spot in the US. The trippy part is a sign 300ft up a cliff face that says "Sea Level"

Oh, and another high part, was being warm enough to drop a layer of clothing.

Day 10 - April 22nd
Pahrump, NV to Phoenix, AZ

The ride today was literally threading the weather needle. There were black clouds nestled up to the mountains on either side of the valley, and I was riding down the middle. I made it to Vegas, but any idea of spending the day in Sin City were quashed by the biggest blackest rainstorm that hung over the city center. I rode over to Hoover Dam and on towards Kingman.
I raided the Boulder City tourist office and was promptly pegged for being a Canadian. (due to the way I said "about") I joked that I decided to come south for the warmer weather. Still haven't found any.

Kingman is a quaint little town that has captured the nostalgia of the legendary Route 66. I spent time that the museum and found out about the history of the road, from its roots as a wagon road west. The modern Route, took shape after WWII when discharged soldiers went from the wintry east coast to the warm southwest. The reason for this migration was the boom in prosperity after the war and during the war; most military training took place in the southwest to allow for training all year round. So discharged soldiers simply wanted to return to the nicer climate of the southwest. I don't blame them.


One of these bikes is not like the other, Can you spot the difference?

I did notice a lot of Harley's on the roads heading for the Laughlin Run. I kind of wonder what it is like to ride in the rain and cold with just a 3/4 helmet or a beanie. I'm fully wrapped with about several layers of clothing and full face helmet. I couldn't imagine riding with anything less. Mind you in Arizona I started to see riders without helmets. I find that they do shelter your head from the elements so well. Once I rode in North Dakota without my jacket due to the heat. Well the wind over my bare arms felt to so weird that I had to put my jacket on. (The wind blowing over my hairy arms, tugged the hairs to the point where my arms felt tingly even after stopping.) It's amazing what one can get used to.

Funny with the spate of bad weather in the southwest, I've become obsessed with the weather channel. But it looks like the cold and miserable rain might end tonight and that it might be warmer for the ride to Yuma.

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Contents Copyright (C) Michael Fodor 2012.