Strom Trooper banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Even here in California you can get the winter-time blahs. The passes are all closed or (this year) its raining again or whatever. By late February I was definitely feeling house-bound here in the Bay Area. A day-ride down to Pinnacles NM and through the Panoche Valley was nice...but not enough!

Then I saw this story in the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/science/death-valley-is-experiencing-a-colorful-superbloom.html?_r=0

A "Super Bloom" in Death Valley!? Sign me up!:laugh2:

Full disclosure...I have lived around deserts long enough to take stories like these with considerable salt. When the journalist follows an amped-up low-angle pic with "Death Valley, one of the hottest places on Earth, is now a riot of color" I already knew that most of the color would be coming from the desert rock and not the desert flowers. Still, the weather report looked good and my '09 Wee was ready to go so I took off for a nice 3-day weekend.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
There are several nice routes that will get you from the Bay Area to Death Valley, at least when the passes are open. In late February, however, your choices are limited to either riding east on I-80 through Truckee and south on 395, or south on I-5 and looping around through Bakersfield then north on 395. Either way it is pretty hard to avoid superslab, but at least you can cover a lot of ground in a hurry.

I opted for the southern loop through Bakersfield mostly so I could ride some secondary roads through the almond orchards, which were in full bloom.



After several years of a full-on drought this winter has seen almost normal rainfall. When I rains in California it does get green!



The almonds are beautiful but sometimes it feels like you are plowing bees!:surprise: Makes you appreciate your windscreen for sure.:grin2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
From Bakersfield I had the choice of either taking 178 past Lake Isabella or 58 through Tehachapi Pass toward Mojave. I rode the Lake Isabella route the last time I was down there; it is a beautiful but pretty slow ride, and it gets high enough that I wasn't exactly sure of the road condition. So I chose Tehachapi Pass.

Good choice! The wild flowers were spectacular and I decided right then to return the same way rather than looping up north through Reno.

After passing Mojave and turning north on 14 you get into the real desert with little traffic and excellent roads. Red Rock Canyon State Park was worth a stop.



The desert attracts lots of interesting and creative people. This is a motel somewhere around Olancha.



Not far from there I turned up 50,000 miles on the odo.



What a great bike this V-Strom has been!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I rolled into Lone Pine early enough that I had time to ride on up to Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the camps where Japanese Americans were interred. Not one of our proudest moments as a country. Riding back down to Lone Pine I checked into my favorite motel there, the Dow Villa (nice folks, good prices and motorcycle friendly).

Day 2:

My plan was to ride a big loop through Death Valley, up past Scotty's Castle and into Nevada, down to Death Valley Junction, than back through Furnace Wells and return to Lone Pine for a second night. I planned to stop frequently along the way so an early start was in order.



Man was it cold! :surprise: Heated gear FTW!

From Lone Pine to Panamint Springs the road runs through the Owens Valley. There used to be a good-size lake here but most of the water went south to the Los Angeles Basin.



Just after I took this pic an F-16 came roaring down this canyon at or below eye-level!:surprise: Reminded me of that scene in "Empire of the Sun" when a P-51 takes a low pass past the kid who is jumping up and down yelling "Horsepower! Horsepower!" Worth the price of admission right there! :grin2:

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I got into the park and found the road to Scotty's Castle was closed. Apparently it had been washed out in a flash flood. I still hoped to get to it so I decided to try ride into it via the back way; through Beatty, up 95 to Bonnie Claire and back east on 267.

Beatty turned out to be a good place to gas up, but the back way into Scotty's Castle was blocked off too. Oh well...I still got to see some of the bloom!




Back south on 95 to a lunch stop at Amargosa Valley; really just a highway junction with a mostly dirt rest area across from the Area 51 Alien Truck Stop and Brothel (you simply cannot make these things up!). Then down 127 to Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House.

Amargosa Opera House

I had been meaning to stop here for several years but had not gotten around to it before. The story of a New York ballerina who became obsessed with an abandoned hotel/theater and mostly abandoned town in the middle of the desert is interesting. Supposedly she bought the whole place, including the town itself, for $45/month. Then she started performing in the theater, and in between she painted her own admiring audience.





The theater is dark as a cave so my smart-phone-camera was really struggling.



She even had a king and queen in her audience!



...and one of her cats (can you find the 3 kittens?).



As I said...you really can't make these things up!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
From Death Valley Junction it is a long downhill ride to Furnace Creek resort and the park headquarters.



More flowers, from about the same spot as the NYT photo was taken I think.





The temperature was about 80, or about 35 degrees less than the last time I rode through here! Just a beautiful day!:grin2:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Day 3: Another early start from Lone Pine.



Back through Tehachapi Pass, but this time planning ahead where to stop for more flower pics.

Poppy orange!







Then out into the valley for more almonds ...



...and home to the Bay Area.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,078 Posts
Thanks for posting those pics. I really enjoyed seeing them. Don't know if I'll ever get out there though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
226 Posts
Great travelogue! I just took a Joshua Tree tour, also blooming everywhere, I'll have to get your trip into my schedule before things turn into an oven, starting between LA and San Bernadino (I'm a bay area native, currently banished to socal).
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top