Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Another turn around the sun so off I went...

On Sunday the 22nd of April I left Alameda for the first leg of an 8 day trip. Below is the route (read it counter clockwise).  A total of 1,455 miles in all, mostly pavement with occasional dirt.

Santa Barbara is always a step back into nostalgia since I attended UC Santa Barbara and as usual, I was hosted by Jim who I've known since college days and he fetes me like royalty anytime I'm around. We went whale watching on Monday for a couple of hours, saw two gray whales with calfs as they made their northern migration. We saw countless dolphins, common dolphins to be exact. The dolphin pod stayed with our whale watching boat for quite sometime, surfing the wave at the bow.

Then on Tuesday (my actual day-of-birth), I left to head East through Ojai, then north on the 33 to Lockwood Valley Road and due East to Lancaster. About 30 miles north of Ojai was a complete moonscape because of the Thomas Fire that went through there in December of last year. The devastation was eye opening, melted signs, melted guard rails, occasional remains of homes, a bare outline of stone, small hints of new life just beginning to come up with purple flowers.

evidence of the Thomas Fire from December 2017

the most deluxe outhouse you'll ever know
I arrived in Lancaster in the later afternoon and was treated to the "wood king" experience at "the Ranch". It's really unique there at the ranch -- chickens, artifacts, interesting souls that hang out there and stuff that defies explanation. I believe it might be a portal to another dimension.

throne on the wood pile in Lancaster

the sunset "Queen of the woodpile" experience ~ hello to all
oh the things I learned about chickens ~ they are amazing creatures
And from Lancaster off we went, me and the wood king Timbo ~ destination Death Valley Junction. Our destination was the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. I have heard about this place for years and wanted to stay the night there. The interesting woman behind the legend here was named Marta Becket and this video fills you in on her vision and life at the junction.

the wood king, Timbo and his GSA

the Amargosa Hotel

inside the opera house 
the commemorative chair for Marta

The weather in Death Valley was hot. Yes it was early season to be quite so hot. Riding a motorcycle in 104° F is like going through a blast furnace, don't know why people say "oh you'll cool down once you get on the bike." 

We took a tour of the opera house in the morning and then onward to Darwin to beat the heat (well not entirely but we tried). Darwin is outside of the park and sits up at altitude close to 5,000 feet above sea level so it was more comfortable with the temperature. My friends Jude and Pierre have lived there for some time now. This video is a good overview of life in Darwin and Jude appears in the piece (around the 1:57 minute mark).  David and his dog Cinder are always a "must visit" and when his mom Ida is there, it's a real treat. The gentle souls of these people give one hope that the world is indeed filled with kindness and creativity.

Father Crowley overlook, near Panamint Springs

Darwin, CA

my favorite statue and dog Kane in the background

me near sunset in Darwin, CA
David and his dog Cinder

Leaving Darwin, the F18 Hornet is an almost daily occurrence around here because of the nearby Naval Station. The air seemed to rip in two when one came by me from the back and I didn't see it coming and of course didn't know what the hell was happening for a moment. I felt like I could have driven off the road with surprise. I could practically see the face of the pilot. 

in Lone Pine, heading north

Silver Lake at June Lake loop
Jackson California
The drive North up the 395 was relaxing and nice with the end of my day in Walker, California. It seems like a big fishing area and it was the opening of fishing season so lots of people on the rivers. '

On Sunday I went up and over the Sierra Nevada pass via Highway 89 and Monitor Pass. The roads were clear and I noticed the fires had touched these lands too for many miles. The weather was clear and cold of course. So most of my time across the Sierra was average of 35 °F but not actively snowing thankfully.

My final night out was in Vallecito in the gold country and then home the next day, Monday the 30th of April.

Kit Carson pass over 8,100 ft

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