So the night before both Vik and I were pretty wired. We arrived in Vegas around 11pm, so it wasn't until about 2pm until we got into our hotel room. Watching TV and chatting until almost 4 resulted in another late night. Even though we slept in until about 9:30am, we had to check out of the hotel, so yeah, another night of very little sleep.
We had to check out of our hotel and it was 4 hours til we got our next hotel room so what do we do with our bags? Welllll for small fee, the MGM would stow our bags in the bag check service, nice.
We headed out onto the strip. Well once we go through the lobby, through the huge casino of the MGM, through the lions cage and through the restaurants and shops of the MG, we walked out onto the strip.
Outdoors was smoking hot, easily over 100 degrees. Little did I know that in the coming days that would be considered a nice cool balmy temperature.
Neither of us are big on gambling but we enjoyed the spectacles of the hotels. New York, New York was pretty cool. The attention to detail and perspective type construction to give the illusion of street scenes was impressive.
Pretty kick ass for going for ice cream eh?
The Luxor was a real feat of engineering I can appreciate. A massive hollowed out pyramid with diagonally travelling escalators and the only single light visible from space sticking out of the top of it make it very impressive.
Vik says this reminds of the brush saw I have at The Lot.
The area was sooooo hot that at one point Vik touched the ground while climbing onto a giant Sphynx statue and sort of burned his hand.
There is a helicopter in this picture.
We continued on to check out the City Central development in the heart of the strip. This is a combination of casinos, hotels, residences and community facilties that is one huuuge development with some very interesting architecture. Total cost? 7.7 Billion dollars….for one set of hotels! Big.
Paris was nice. I like the effect of the Eiffel Tower being both in and outside of the hotel at once. Very impressive re-creation.
Ceasers Palace, wow what a huge place. I can’t believe the attention to detail, the cost, the spectacle of it all.
This is a pic of a circular escalator, kinda cool.
Vik and I stopped at a Planet Hollywood for a casual lunch. We couldn’t help but notice the stressed out woman pacing around and looking very uncomfortable near us, near the hostess station.
We offered a seat as she seemed to be waiting. She declined but proceeded to share with us how she was attending a wedding in about an hour and half and was at Planet Hollywood picking up some flowers or something. At Planet Hollywood? None of us understood that one.
Anyway she had to get the flowers, get them to another hotel, get to her hotel , change, and get to the wedding. In an hour and a half? When it takes about 30 mins just to walk past a single hotel? Yeah. Needless to say she was stressed.
Anyway as it turns out the manager could not find the flowers but was trying a few more places to look. As all this unfolded she did sit down with us, and we tried to console her and to help with some plan B type solutions. We were contriving plans of raiding the flower arrangements of the MGM we had seen earlier as they were the right colour! We even ordered her a drink, lol.
Eventually the guy found the flowers and Emily was off like a shot…see ya.
Ideas for Lantern Festival?
One place I had to walk by was The Bellagio. The next day I will be visiting with a software company that is providing services to us and their roots are in the construction of the Bellagio Hotel.
We headed back to the MGM, got our bags and cabbed them to the next hotel. The bikes were safely ensconced in the free parking of the MGM so we didn’t need to move or use them for now. All the while I was plotting how I was going to repair my broken throttle cable.
bein a freak.
In the new hotel room we actually had some time for a short nap in air conditioned comfort, ahhh bliss.
From the there we took a taxi to a show – La Reve, that was a fantastic show, Great costumes, crazy stages and props and wonderful music. I even got to have a beer while I watched it.
After the show we had a late dinner in Denny’s and did some more walking around, my feet were wearing out as I did not have the right shoes. We ended watching late nigh tv before crashing.
So between so much happening in Vegas resulting in another late night to bed and me needing to get to business meeting in the morning resulted in another short sleep. That added to the fact that my feet were killing me form all the hot walking in poor shoes made me in less than ideal shape for a tour of a software company’s facility.
I had a 9am tour scheduled with the software company whose software I am implementing as part of my work. As I had no idea where anything was in Las Vegas I decided to use the newly acquired GPS Vik and I bought just before the trip.
We somehow dubbed it The Oracle. All seeing, all knowing. I can’t figure out how we got along without it before! Next gas station – easy, place to stay for the night – a list of dozens, rest area off the highway – no problem, where the hell am I cause I am lost in the desert – no worries!
So Vik, our default navigator – he loves the maps and calculating distances etc, I just follow and cruise, had been using the Oracle to this point. I decided it was time to give I it a go. I had the list of directions I had printed out earlier on my tank bank so I knew I could get there no worries. I then proceed to turn on the Oracle and follow its wisdom.
So basically it tells me “Leave the hotel turn left, drive 200 yards”
“Turn left and drive 2 miles”
“Turn left and drive 500 yards”
Just after taking that left I see the logo of the company on the building.
What the hell? I am here already?
Essentially my hotel was at one end of the airport and the company was at the other! All I had done is drive the length of it! So much for the priceless technology, LOL.
I had a great tour and a nice chat about software implementations, Las Vegas and motorcycles with the lovely Cherisse at Tririga then proceeded to navigate my way back to the hotel, navigate by eye that is!
Vik and I then checked out of the hotel and loaded up the bikes, cringing all the while at the already oppressive 100 degree heat and burning sunshine. With bikes loaded we went to the local diner for a good feed before setting out into the desert. By this time it was pushing noon if not later.
In the diner we got to chatting with two lovely women from Lithuania. It turns out they were leaving the next day but had been in Vegas and surrounding for a week or so. We talked about all of our weird experiences and had a few good laughs.
They told us they were going to the Blue Man Group that evening, and being a fan I looked to see Vik’s reaction to the thought of staying another night to catch the show with our new friends. Well, being a great drummer himself Vik was totally into catching the show but had concerns about schedule.
I had an ulterior motive, I still had not fixed the throttle cable on the bike and much preferred to do it in the concrete parking garage than in the hot sun.
We exchanged numbers with the girls and told them we would think about it.
Given the show, the late hour, the throttle cable and me just generally wanting to see more Vegas we decided to stay one more night.
After we checked back into the hotel and had a short nap, we took my bike to the concrete parking lot of the MGM grand where we had parked a few nights earlier. Even under several stories of concrete the heat was a force to be dealt with.
I got my bike in a good spot with some room and proceeded to undertake the changing of the throttle cable. This operation involved tearing a lot of the top of the bike to get good access including the gas tank, air filter, air breather and housing and a few other pieces, all of which were sprawled all over.
I also had to unpack some bags etc to get all the tools and lights etc I needed to do the job right. It was kinda funny having people walk by, spectate and in the case of the security guard, give us the strange looks.
Anyway, long story short I not only got the part in but I was able to put the other cable that I had jerry rigged back together so everything worked perfectly!!! That doesn’t happen often in most McGyver jobs.
I was back at 100%. That felt good.
That evening we met up with the girls and had a great show with the Blue Man Group, really a fun performance. We ended up getting upgraded and sat in one of the very front rows. So close at one point one of the Blue Men was dancing on the arms of Vik’s chair!
After we took some pics with them and even got to try out the weird plumbing instruments they play. Vik was really good on it, he got everyone in the store dancing!
After the show we had a late dinner and ended walking around exploring more of Vegas until all hours of the night.
Since Vik and I vowed to get an early start this was proving to be yet ANOTHER low sleep night. They were starting to take their toll, I was getting grouchy, punchy,, and my body was all achy. I needed serious rest.
Well we finally did it, we got up early and left Las Vegas. What is it about that town the makes one stay up late into the evening? The night before it was the show at 9pm, THEN dinner and a ton of walking around til all hours.
Regardless, with a few hours sleep we did one last bit of a drive of the strip and headed south to find that one famous sign of Las Vegas. We turned around many miles out of our way and gave up. Never did see the damn thing.
The day was actually abit overcast and marginally less hot than the day before. Although the extra day in Vegas put us off schedule, it was better riding weather.
Anyway, with both of having not been on the bikes much lately, well more so for Vik, we had some stuff to sort out and buy regarding gear etc. This resulted in a lot of small stops, adjustments, photostops, fuel stops, nav stops, gears stops and stop stops. It was getting frustrating as I just wanted to roll.
We headed for Death Valley. DEATH VALLEY, ominous eh? Hot, no shade, sparsely populated and baren. Hmmm 26 year old motorcycle. Hmmm. Well the old girl had been through the deserts of Mexico, was well maintained and had given me no problems. Bring on the death, I mean heat.
By the time we got out of the city it was getting towards noon and we needed to eat. We agreed we would ride til about noon then have a break, maybe a nap and carry on. Well in the town of Pahrump we stopped for KFC and found a ball park to nap in. It actually had big trees for shade. The temperature was not too bad for nap but the damn flies were driving us crazy. Regardless we were both surprised that we had been semi conscious for an hour and a half.
The first real destination was Dante’s Peak and a place called Devils Outlook. It was a really nice climb up to about 5000 ft with a spectacular view of the salt covered flats below and the desert track we had just driven through.
Stunning. Vik walked out to the scenic point and took some pics. I didn’t go, I was feeling really sleep deprived and my feet were still blistered from trudging allll over Vegas.
From where I was perched I could clearly see the road we were about to drive along to get the lowest elevation in North America , -283ft below sea level. We could see, as the informative signs posted told us, the piece of tectonic plate that had tiled creating the low point and we could see how any moisture flowed to that point. What we couldn’t see from our nice cool high elevation purch, was the heat.
We headed down the mountain and back in to the heat. The comparative coolness we experienced in Vegas in the morning had definitely given way to hundred degree heat again.
We knew the dangers of the heat, we were drinking lots of water and keeping our salt intakes high. There was no shade and unfortunately we both only feel comfortable wearing good gear, full jackets and jeans. In my case, as per pics, I was wearing the beany helmet.
I clearly recal the moment the REAL heat hit us. It was rounding a corner near Death Valley junction and SOB was it HOT! It almost took my breath away, like hitting a sauna blast. Hot, damn hot, like…Africa HOT. We were told that it broke 120f that day!
I was boiling. I could get a bit of cooling effect by sticking my arm out at just the right angle to let a breeze go up my sleeves and cool me off abit. Again, cooler when moving. Vik’s bike gives him more direct breeze so he warned me about letting that hot wind hit you too long, it sucks the moisture right out of your skin!
After a few more futzy stops and nav stops we made the trek, about 50km’s round trip, to the lowest elevation in North America 283ft below sea level and walked in the salt flats abit. It was an interesting experience and mofo hot, so we booked out of there.
With the combination of the heat and the lack of sleep I was getting grumpy. I wasn’t nearly as hot when we were moving so I wanted to keep moving.
One of the great things about Vik and I travelling is our communications, both psychic, hand signalled and discussed. We sorted it, we needed to keep moving and when we did stop, get all the crap done you need to do, then get moving again. I think it was around here that I put my metal rimmed sunglasses on and burnt my face as they had been sitting in the sun. Oh yeah, don’t touch ANYTHING if you can help it!
Yes I got abit sunburned, lol.
I liked how the sand was blowing around on the road and the drifts at the side of the road. It felt very desertish.
Somewhere in there we came across this area that was like a small mountains valley but was totally filled with sand dunes, at sunset. I took about a million pics here, all arty and stuff.
At the next fuel stop in a place called Furnace Creek we both guzzled a full 2litres of Gatorade and had a snack and rest. We fuelled the bikes and tried to stay out of the wind, it was hotter than the normal air! No wonder they call it Furnace creek! Another town was name Stovepipe mills. Hot there too!
From there we headed up into the mountains again on lovely roads. It was getting dark now so hopefully it would cool down soon. Oh how right I was, lol.
The heat had not abated but the light certainly had. I had to take my sunglasses off. Fine, but it only took about 5 short minutes for the smoking hot breeze to dry out my eyeballs and render me almost blind. I limped to a stop and dug in my bags for some drops, and water. I dug out my full face helmet with the sweet new clean visor and continued on.
We had a gorgeous ride through some twisty roads. The moon rise that night was amazing, a huge burning orange moon, gorgeous. We rode on into the night and basically stopped at the first hotel in the first town, Big Pine, we found.
We both crashed right out.
Long story short, I got a full 11 hours sleep that night!!!! I woke up feeling like a champ!!!!
Well today was a great recovery day. After about 6 days of totally sleep deprivation and killer hot days it was much required rest. To add to needed rest I had inappropriate shoes for walking sooo much in Las Vegas, so I had sore and blistered feet for the last few days.
This morning was abit funny because we woke up in a town we had never seen. We rode in the night before from the desert and it turned out the town we were in was in the mountains, very dramatic ones. The cliffs rose high high above us on both sides, quite shocking to wake up to.
The morning proved a nice temperate ride, abit cooler than the day before and totally windy thus requiring some warmer gear . Its funny riding along with the bike leaning at a crazy angle and the occasional gust shifting your position in the lane. I think I was getting a bit more of it than Vik as I have that HUGE fairing in the front of the bike, major wind sail.
We stopped in a cute town named Lone Pine, at a Mexican restaurant. I showed off abit of my new found language skills and ordered and said my please and thank you’s in Spanish, kinda fun.
So yeah, American portions are notorious for being big. Well I guess it made sense that the prices were high because when our food came, both Vik and I were so stunned we needed time to process the volume of food before us. Taking pics of it helped, lol. Having just been in Mexico, seeing a burrito the size of a small pig was a total aboration.
I couldn’t but overhear and laugh at the little kid in the next booth blabbing on and on to his parents and little sister about how great his quad was now that it was fixed. Mom says studiously “Just make sure you wear your helmet”. To which he replies safely, “yes mom”.
On the way out of the door I noticed the gumball machine sold little skulls and crossbones and tough guy stuff in one machine and little pink do dads in the other. Reaching in my pocket I came up with 4 quarters…one for me, vik, the boy and the little sister, perfect.
I got the trinkets and realised that as the bikes were visible out the window of the restaurant the little boy was staring at Vik and I with all our gear on like were aliens or something.
I walked over and asked him friendily “so do you ride a motorbike?”,
He looks to both mom and dad, I gave them a friendly smile.
“answer the man” says Dad.
“well yeah, I have a quad” he says tentatively.
“Do you wear your helmet all the time?” asks me.
“yeah” he says, checking that Mom doesn't give him away.
So I said “good man, ok then, this is for you, and this is for your sister”
Wow did his face light up!
Well, then of course he starts going on and on about his quad, lol.
I listened for a minute while Mom and Dad laughed.
I had to interrupt him and said “ok, keep the shiny side up”, he looked puzzled but Dad got it so I walked out.
That was fun, plus I got a cool skull thing to hang on my bike!
We rode along the mountain ridge we woke up on and then descended into a high plains type of area. This is where the wind was. After the high plains area we started ascending again, up into the mountains. This led quickly into the Mammoth Lakes area, Mammoth ski hill.
Can you read the red sign behind Vik??
The day before we were melting....
We toured around that area abit, cute town and went to the bottom of the lifts. Here we found some residual snow from the winter and had to play in it abit. We also had to add another layer of warmth. We both had a good laugh at the irony of melting the day before in Death Valley in 125 degrees and minus 283 ft elevation, now we were around 6000ft, and about 40 degrees in snow!
I had a huge rest the night before and was looking forward to a nice long ride today. As the roads were awesome, the scenery stunning and everthing just working for me I really just wanted to roll. Well as I mentioned earlier I was not alone this trip and Vik does love his photos. Although it can frustrate me its all good because he does get some really great shots.
However when I am sitting waiting for Viktor I have nothing to do, so I have created for myself a new hobby. I now take pictures of Viktor taking pictures. Seriously, after all the trips we ahve done together etc, I now have literally hundreds of pictures of Viktor taking pictures. I mention this now because in reviewing the pics to attach to this posting of the blog I noticed that a pic of vik taking a pic is right beside the pic vik took whilst i was taking his pic. So for your viewing pleasure, here is a pic of vik taking a pic and the pic vik took.
OK so now that you have seen that one, I have to share with you one of the prizes of my Vik taking pics collection. It was taken, funny enough, just yesterday! Rememeber the ppeak of Dante's lookout? Well Vik walked out to the end lookout and i stayed behind nursing blistered feed and tired bones. Well I used the super zoom on my wee little camera and, as I knew what he would do, I caught him just as he raised his arm to take the pic! You can see it in the progression, how far away he was! Also, I think the pic he was taking was one of those funny self portaits as seen in the yesterday's post.
The highways led us quickly up into stunning views and higher elevation mountains as we approached Yosemite Park. It was getting on in the day and the park was closing soon so we rode as far in as the main gate, took a million pics again and futzed around in the snow abit.
Where the Yosemite entrance met the highway we stopped at a little rest station and chatted with a couple of guys from Vancouver Island on KLR’s, good guys.
There was a scenic lookout there and we took a few pics. As the gas station and restaurant were only a couple of hundred feet across the parking lot from the lookout I figured, ahhh no helmet.
Well sure enough there was a Sheriffs convention at the restaurant and one saw me. Of course he lectured me, duh, preaching to the converted. What struck me as funny was how he was going on and on about how THIS state has helmet laws and THIS state does not tolerate that behaviour and THIS state is this….blah blah blah. Since Viktor was navigating I had absolutely no idea what the hell state I was in!!!
Besides being in a state of almost laughing at the irony I had no idea if I was in Nevada still, California, or somewhere else, nor did I particularly care, the riding was nice.
I respect appropriate laws and agree with helmet laws so I dutifully said my “yes sirs” bashfully and let it pass. I did consider if I should surrender my skull and cross bones trinket out of respect for the little kid with the quad…. No way, he probably rode no helmet abit too and I really like that trinket!
From the entrance to Yosemite we rode along the edge of the stunning Mono Lake, in the light of the day at the time it was absolutely beautiful scene. I took a few pics but really just concentrated on soaking it up.
A quick sweeping road climbed up the surrounding hills abit and one point we came around a corner and I saw a stunning scene that literally made me say wow in my helmet. It was fabulous. In our stopping and starting I kinda lost track of Vik so I backtracked a bit then had to race forward. Anyway long story short is I didn’t get a pick of the place. You know those pics that you just didn’t get? The one that got away? Well that is one of those, oh well.
It was not far from here we stopped for a good scene of the sunset, which we did get pics of. Stopping for sunsets has become a bit of a ritual for Vik and I. We both really feel connected to the environment and the lands we are travelling through when we do that. It allows us a breather, a chance to just be still and reflect on where we are, what the terrain is, how the locale changes when the sun goes does down. Plus it makes for great pics and a chance to do some gear adjustments.
These gorgeous rolling hills rolled along the side of some high altitude lakes. Cold, worn, and buffeted by wind Vik and I agreed to motel in the little town of Bridgeport for the night. We consulted The Oracle for a suitable place to stay, then when driving around comparing prices, we realised that we could see almost every motel from one spot on main street! I love small towns.
We ended up staying at the Bridgeport Lodge and Inn. I like the name Lodge, feels rustic to me. Could have been a ski lodge from the weather the next day.
I had to check email and do some work while Vik warmed up in front of the TV. As you can tell by the volume of writing and pics it was a very full day. Typically at the end of these long days we just have something light to eat, a reffreshing beverage or two and chill out, not doing much before sleep.
Unfortunately this was a working trip for me so I had to dial into my work email, reply to some emails and do abit of writing. In the morning I would need to make a few phone calls, process some more emails and write more. Oh well, at least I was on the road.
By the time I had finished I was just that, finished. Vik was asleep and i rolled into my bed exhausted but fulfilled form a great day of riding, scenery and physically challenging miles. I love it.
Vik and I roused ourselves from a sound sleep which, as it turned out was a ‘warm winters nap’, it was SNOWING!!! A day and half ago I burned my face on my metal rimmed sunglasses cause it was so hot, now its snowing!! Unreal.
Vik and I moseyed across the street to diner and watched the now fall while we stuffed our faces with a huuuuuge carcinogenic cholesterol bomb of an american breakfast. Listening to people who lived in the area talk about ‘the pass’ we had a slight sense of dread about being storm stayed. Where we were the snow was not sticking but all the pot bellied hunters in the room seemed to be of consensus that it was going to stay later in the day. I guess that makes blowing away helpless critters from miles away easier and therefore more fun.
Keeping a close eye on the pavement for any signs of the dreaded snow that stays we walked about the town seeking warmer gear. On the way down to Phoenix from Vancouver the fear was of massive heatwave so second layers of gloves and long underwear were strategically not packed. Yes we did underestimate the altitude.
The snow abated abit while I went into do some more work before we headed out. I made a few calls and did some emails for about an hour and a half, not bad for a part days work. I also made sure my phone was charged as I had to make a call in about 2 hours and I picked out an appropriate place on the map to stop to make the call.
After the work delay Vik was eager to get going so we geared up with some new gear and got ready to depart this one horse but 10 cop town. One cop for every Larry with a rifle? Probably not but there sure were a lot. And yeah, it had started snowing again.
From Bridgeport we rode through the snow, along lovely river valleys and narrow canyons with a wide burbling and likely ice cold river running through it. Damn good country for an ambush or at least a good 6 shooter fight. Very wild west.
All this time it had been snowing steadily, even heavily at points, but it never did stick and eventually abated. We pressed ever on.
After about 2 hours the time for my conference call was coming up. I was looking for suitable places early and its thankful I did, there was no cel service anywhere!!! None of the little towns we were going through had service and I was getting panicky. Balancing work and this trip was proving tiring and a compromise on the schedule, but I had to do the work part. If I didn’t do the work part successfully the whole thing was a failure.
Well, I have been working with technology etc fo rlong enough to know to have a plan B. At the first sizable gas station I bought a phone card but, they were calling me on my cel phone for the call, so I still needed to get to service. We raced ahead trying to find those precious bars on the reception indicator on my phone, all to no avail.
I used the phone card to call my admin person to tell her to tell them I would not be available. She had just found out the whole thing had been delayed an hour. Hot Damn Enus, let’s ride! We ripped to the next big town and thankfully it had strong service, sweet! The call came in as expected and the work/bike trip balance of my universe held strong.
We rode through Carson City then Reno. I really liked Reno, it was neat. I guess with all the cool Vegas style stuff, the cool signs and light bulb neon it was sort of what I had expected from Vegas. Basically Vik and I just launched the bikes on a main corner, took pics and watched the world go by.
Vik taking a pic.
Me taking a pic of Vik taking a pic.
While we are standing there this older guy was wrestling with a parking meter. He noticed us noticing him and asked us if we had change for dollar. Well the guy seemed genuine enough and nice enough and also seemed abit rushed and confused so I basically just gave him some change…better than loosing it in slots I guess eh? Well he thanks me effusively and tells us about flustered and in a hurry he is as he was on his way to get married in a chapel and was worried it was going to close! Wha? Married, now?
“Yup, getting married right now”
Well he feeds the meter and helps his elderly bride to be out of the car, all dressed in white she was, and barely slows down for us to get a pic of them!
We were talking about schedule and route planning etc and it was about this time the Viktor realised we were a day behind, lol. I guess he hadn’t factored in the extra day in Vegas. I was working so was still very aware of days and schedule (not so much with my location that is true). I could feel the palpable sense of urgency start to emanate off Vik.
We looked at the whole trip remaining and decided to cut one leg a bit shorter and do a bit longer days, and possible and do an ironbutt day need be. Iron butt days are lonnng days in the saddle. ON my other bike, the sport touring VFR, that meant aobut 500k, for Vik it was abit more, maybe 650kms. Well, having ridded 2100kms in 2.5 days just a few weeks earlier to get from Puerto Vallarta to Phoenix, I knew that on the Goldwing I could do a 900km, maybe more, if needed.
From Reno we crossed back over into California then up into the mountains with beautiful valleys and a great sunset. That ride was really remote and really beautiful, stunning with a gorgeous rainbow. I borrowed Vik's super 10meg camera and got all arty.
For some reason this sunset made me think of Africa. I have been thinking about Africa alot lately, (shout out to Mirembe, my own personal Goddess of Peace) and this got me to thinking how stunning it really must be to be there.
After sunset it got super cold and snowy. The roads were still dry so we pressed on to the next town, Alturas, California.
It was near the end of the day, we were worn from hyper vigilance in the snow, worn from the cold and worn from new sights. We were driving casually, heads steady, hunkered down for the last cold leg before a warm hotel room. It was about this time I decided I needed one more layer of upper body warmth when I looked back and saw the flashers as Vik was being pulled over. What the? Speed was reasonable, no erratic behaviour? Turns out vik had an light bulb issue and as a result no rear taillight. What ever.
We cruised into our next town, consulted The Oracle for a place to stay and cranked the freakin’ heat. I had no work til the next day so we just hung out in the room recanting the days events and warming our bones.
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