RACER JOURNAL The desert road trip
After having visited the magnificent USS Midway in San Diego, a group of motorcycle friends was waiting for me at Death Valley, where we would join a group of approximately 50 motorcycles made up of various biker clubs in the region.
We meet at Furnace Creek Ranch to begin one of the most coveted trail rides: The Death Valley to Grand Canyon West route. I had wanted to do this ride for several years and now was the right time!
Death Valley is a desert valley located in southeastern California, in the Mojave Desert, on the southern border of the Great Basin Desert. In summer, it is one of the hottest places in the world, along with the deserts of Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. October is a good month for this trip to avoid extreme temperatures on the planet. Its name derives from having been a natural limit border for the old colonizers, given its inhospitable and dangerous nature at that time. The Valley later became a Borax extraction center. A natural material essential to make soap, paint, and many other products.
After a meeting set by the organizer and one of the best pit barbecues I've ever eaten and a few cold beers, we got ready to rest to hit the road the next day. We had a hearty ranch breakfast at 7:00 am and right after we were on our way. Despite being in the desert, the nights and mornings were quite cold. On a racer road trip of this type, it is essential to be prepared for any kind of weather and only carry what is strictly necessary, since there is not much cargo capacity available in the saddlebags of a bike. Very good motorcycle boots are essential as enough water, protein bars, sunglasses, and of course your fav Racer Jacket!
A few miles north of our starting point, the Badwater Basin is located which is the lowest point in North America and the United States, with a depth of 282 ft below sea level, contrasting with Mount Whitney with an elevation of 14,505 feet becoming the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, at only 84.6 miles from Death Valley heading northwest. Furnace Creek, our meeting point, holds the record for the highest recorded air temperature in the world, 134 ℉ on July 10, 1913!
After refueling our motorcycles, the almost 50 motorcycles left on the CA-190, heading southeast towards Zabriskie. A viewpoint that has one of the most spectacular views of the region's capricious mountainous formations. There we made a stop to admire the breathtaking landscape and where we were able to observe the phenomenon of the walking stones. Death Valley was once a dangerous stumbling block for old-time settlers (hence its name). It later becomes a borax extraction center. Material of important use in paints and soap industries among others.
We continued along this lonely road appreciating the most spectacular desert landscapes until Death Valley Junction, where we turn north towards Amargosa Valley, leaving behind the valley and just after crossing the state border with Nevada, we arrived at the Longstreet casino to rest a bit, freshen up and refuel.
Some miles further north we arrived at the picturesque Area 51 Alien Center and at the Veterans Memorial Highway where we relaxed, had lunch, and saw the factory that boasts the world's largest firecrackers. We continued our route, passing through the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, which is a community that lives and develops around the military air base. This entire area is influenced by the enigmatic and controversial Area 51, which is located a few miles north and is always surrounded by Aliens' stories and conspiracies.
A few hours later we reached Las Vegas where we would spend the afternoon and spend the night. The meeting of several bikers in a bar on the stripe was a lot of fun, with a good dinner, beers, and all kinds of anecdotes and stories.
Las Vegas is always exciting whether you like to gamble or not since here you can see the best shows in the world and do great shopping and it is now a benchmark for world cuisine. It is not for nothing that it is known as the entertainment capital of the world. This city has had a vertiginous evolution in not so many years since it was founded that has positioned it as one of the main tourist destinations not only in the United States but in the world.
Back in 1829, Antonio Armijo, a merchant from Santa Fe, New Mexico, led an expedition of sixty people, including a caravan of one hundred mules, along the so-called "Spanish Route," from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, California. While Armijo's expedition was camped on Christmas Day at a site about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas, a small group headed west in search of water. The young explorer Rafael Rivera separated from the rest of the group in the direction of the unexplored desert to the west, in search of a shorter path, eventually stumbling into this beautiful oasis where he was able to observe the water sources and the vegetated plains in the very center of the desert. Rivera returned to the group to inform his findings. It was that the Armijo expedition took note of the exuberant fertility of these plains that surrounded the water sources. They called it "Las Vegas," which in Spanish means "plains or low and fertile lands." Fertility was due to the presence of artesian water springs.
The next day, we meet up at Sunset Mall to continue our journey, leaving Las Vegas for Grand Canyon West on this last 125-mile stretch. The morning was very cold and the immense sky totally blue welcomed us. Our group had been reduced to 35 motorcycles, making the obligatory stop at Hoover Dam, then following the same direction of the Colorado River between these infinite landscapes until Pierce Ferry Road junction that heads northeast towards Grand Canyon West.
An amazing place that offered us one of the greatest and most spectacular views I have ever seen, and that led me to conclude just how wonderful this country is. Our road trip ended here, and it was certainly an outstanding way of filling the spirit. The spirit of the desert. The spirit of the road!
The only question left is: are you ready to hit the road?