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The trip was amazing. The scenery was amongst the best I've ever traveled. I had a couple disposable camaras with me and stopped as often as I could justify to grab a few shots. I wish I had a video cam strapped to my helmet for most of the trip.

I knew Sunday was goin to be a long day so I did my best to keep on track. My travel plans had me spending the night near (it turns out in) Death Valley. I wanted to get across the desert as early in the morning as possible. I headed down 49 and took the Sonora pass across the Sierras. It was my first time on 108 east of Sonora and it was wonderful. The one thing about traveling by bike is being careful about distances between gas stops. My normal range is about 160 miles on a tank, so tried to plan my route with no distances over 120 miles between gas. My first planned stop (Pineview) didn't have any gas. I got directions to gas about 20 miles up the road and was able to make it Dardondale. $3/gal later I was filled and rolling.

I hit 395 and headed south. There's a couple of great looks at Mono lake coming over the grade. I passed on agreat picture op figuring I could catch it on the way back, when I would be a little less pressed for time. 395 is a pretty specatular route if you like colorful rock formations. For one 100+ mile stretch there were 2 completely different mountains on either side of the road. On the right was the familliar steely granite tree covered Sierras. On the left was a mountain range reminiscent of Grand Canyon colors. Reds, whites, greens, browns, blacks. It was quite amazing that these two completely different mountain ranges probably less than 10 miles apart.

I hit Lone Pine and took 136 west towards Death Valley and my first night's stop. At this point, I was well ahead of my expected schedule and was able to stop alittle more to take a few pics. I wouldn't be returning this way so I wanted to get as much as I could. Some very cool stuff.

I rolled into Panamint Springs Resort at about 4:00 (having left home at about 7:00) and got checked in. I was pretty dispointed in this place. "Resort" was a huge overstatement. I wasn't expecting too much at $65/night, but this place was a bit of a joke. Short of easy access to the desert (of which I had no desire after 8 hours in the saddle, most of which in pretty hot conditions, there ws nothing to do but hang out at the bar. I grabbed a pitcher of beer and went out and sat in the shade having to ward off a handful of big-ass crows who seemed interested in taking my pitcher away from me. I had a nice chat with a Scottish family who just came from Vegas heading to Yosemite San Fran and then down Highway 1 to LA for their trip home. Went and had dinner in the "restaraunt" and learned that they didn't open for breakfast until 8:00. No way Jose, I'll be long gone by 8:00. I talked the waiter out of a couple hard boiled eggs and went to my room.

The east side of the desert was very picturesque as well and I got a few good shots on the way out. To my horror, my low fuel light came on about 20 miles earlier than expected and I had to switch to reserve as I was leaving the desert with 15 miles to the next gas stop. I guess a steady flow of 75-85 MPH isn't so good on gas mileage. :lol: I made to Beatty OK and filled up. 2 hours to go.

95, in great contrast to 395 and the desert was pretty much the same thing for the 100 miles to Vegas: Sage brush and craggy mountains. 10 minutes of it would have been beautiful , but 2 hours got a little montinous. The only shade I found was about 25 north of VEgas when I came across an overpass. I was a little surprised to see 20 miles of urban sprawl when I got into the Vegas area. Construction, smog and crazy dirvers made for an unnerving welcome into the city. The map I had tricked me (there wasn't an off ramp for Desert Inn rd.) so i ended up going a little farther (to Flamingo road and doing a couple miles on the strip back to my room.

(See my other Vegas reports for Monday and Tuesday events.)

I got up early Wed morning and hit the road by 7:00 heading north on 95. My plan was to get back to Bishop for my stop over and check out the games at the Paiute Indian casino Wed, night. Well, as CCR sings, "looks like my plans fell through." As I rolled into Beatty, I felt a a little thuimpa, thumpa in my rear tire. I figured I had caught a rock in the treads and wasn't too concerned. (Every where I had to pull off for breaks or pics was gravel.) I continued north on 95 planning to cut across into CA at Big Pine. About 15 minutes north of Beatty, I hear and feel a big kathump-a clank comnig from my rear fender. Rut-roh - that can't be good. There happened to be a big paved area (presumably for the truckers) just up ahead so I pulled over to see what i was dealing with. It's hard to see the rear tire on my bike because of the bags, so I got behind looked at the foot of tire I could see, and kept rolling it up a little at a time. Didn't see anything - the tire had plenty of air. Hmmm. I rode it around on the pavement a few time and didn't feel anything. Must have been some road debris that I didn't see.

Got back on the road again and 10 minutes later again kathumpaclank. I looked back and saw a big hunk of tread rolling along behind me. I pulled over (this can't be coincedental!) and did the tire inspection again. This time I found a big section of tread missing from my rear tire. Great. Here I am 30 miles from Beatty and 25 miles to the next town. Good thing I have my cell phone.

I pull out my phone service. Great. That's the main reason why I even have the damn thing - just in case. I flag down a couple of bikers who pull over and try their phones. they have no connection either. I start weighing my options (none of them very good at this point) and decide to try to limp the bike to the next town where at least I'll be able to use a phone. I got back on the road and rode at about 35 mph up the hill to a little town called Goldfield. Riding on a one-way highway at 35 when the rest of the traffic is doing 80 plus is no pleasure. It seemed like everytime somebody came up behind, there was oncoming traffic so I just held on for dear life everytime people appraoched.

I made it to Goldfield and, as the bikers had warned, ther was really nothing there. I pulled into the gas station/cafe/only game in town. I discovered that I had cell coverage and called AAA. "We don't cover (translate "help") motorcycles." WTF, I'm just looking for a tow to somewhere where I can get some help - I don't expect the driver to fix/change my tire ort anything. "I can help you locate a tow." OK "The nearest tow we can find is in Indian Srpings" which is 100 miles south of where I am. I wen tin and asked the shop owner and she gave me acard to a tow company in Tomopah, 25 miles north of Goldfield.

Well after several calls and a half hour of juggling, I got: a Tomopah Yamaha "dealership" to order me a tire (I didn't expect there to be one in stock) and a tow from THE tow company.

An hour later, I was standing in the Yamaha "dealership" (they sold bike via catalogs but didn't service them anymore. I asked where I could get the tire mounted. The Yamaha gal and the tow truck driver looked at each other and kind of shrugged. SHe dcalled down tho the tow company who assembled thier new bikes for them and found someone who was able to do it. So I had the driver take my bike up to their shop to wait for the tire.

We got back to the shop and the owner said "We don't do motorcycle tires." WTF? Aparently one of the workers used to work for the Yamaha dealer and said he would do it wihtout the boss's approval. After a few tense minutes he finally agreed to let the work be done but without warranty. I really dind't have a reasonable choice at this point, so I said "if that's the way it has to be, than it has to be. Do it.

The tow driver was real helpful and friendly and drove me and my gear back down the street to the Best western where I would be spending at least one night. They had a room, he dropped me off and offered to come get me and the tire when it came in (hopefully) tommorrow. I went in to get the room and discovered they wanted $71/night. I should have walked down the street to a $30/ night room, but I didn't want to confuse my transportation issues in the morning. I checked in and changed out of my road clothes so I could get something to eat. (I hadn't really had a meal yet that day, so at 3:00, I was pretty humgry.) The nearest food was 5 long blocks down the road. That's a long ways in 105 degree heat. Grabbed some lunch, stopped and got a 6-pack and a snack for dinner and headed back to my room.

They're in the process of painting this place so all the windows are taped uip so I couldn't even look out the window. The little pool was crawling with rug rats and there was no shade ther anyway, so I just turned on the TV, had a few beers and vegged for the rest of the night.

After the wonderful continental breakfast, I was on the lookout for the UPS truck which was due between 10:00 and 11:00. I wasn't sure whether to pack up or not. The UPS guy showed up at about 10:30 but no tire. Great, I'm stuck in this useless hell-hole another night. I decided to wander back down the road to a "casino" I had seen coming into town. Casino was a pretty loose term. They had about 50 slot machines. Well, I made the mile walk up here and nothing bettter to do, so I plunked $20 into a nickle machine. I was surprised when the machine immediately spit $20 worth of nickles in my lap. This was an "old style" machine that didn't keep track of credits like most do now. So I spent an hour shoving nickles in this thing and hit a few decent hits. I ended up $10 up and decided to have lunch.

After lunch, I killed anothe 2 hours on another nickle machine (one of the cartoon generation that tracked credits and wound up dropping $20. Enough of that. I wandered back up to the motel. I had noticed at breakfast that hey had a couple computers set up in the lobby for guests to use. There was noone ther in the middle of the afternoon so I sat down and started my Vegas posts. The first one went fine, the second one I had to do twice (time out issues) and the third one I lost all together when I lost connection. Great. I was kind of planning on doing some online poker for a few hours. Wrong. Took a quick dip in the pool, went and had some dinner, got another six-pack and headed back up for the night.

The tire came in at 9:30 on Friday. The guy from the tow shop who had offered to pick me up was in Reno. The lady at the Yamaha dealership gave me a ride up the road. the tow shop is just swarmed with people needing help and seemed shorthanded to boot. After about a half hour, the motorcycle repair guy was able to get on it and completed a 2 hour job in 3 hours. I was realy uncomfortable not being able to at least watch (I could have done most of the work for them if they would have let me) but there was just no choice. This place is the local tow shop/repair shop/ Uhaul/impound yard so they didn't like starngers in their yard. Hoping to get some comp out of Dunlop for the bad tire, I was going to ship it home via UPS. "UPS? Oh you need to get them stuff between 7:30 and 8:30 - that's the only time thery are open." Great. I managed to find a way to throw it on the bike and there it sat all the way home.

I finally got back on the road at about 1:15. I rerouted my return to take 6 towrds Bishop and catch 120 west to 395 at Benton. It was hot, but I could see rain clouds in my future. When I first saw them I actually welcomed a little rain, but I didn't encounter any actual rain until I hit Bridgeport which is right when the road starts getting non-straight. I had a steady flow of rain for about 5 miles and it wasn't too bad. My plan was to catch 89 (over Monitor pass) and head back up 4 through Murphys because I knew there was gas at Bear Valley resort. Of course my original plan would have had me there around noon. It was 7:00 before I got there and discovered (as I had kind of feared) that it was closed. They don't have the credit card on the pump feature so here I am. Luckily I had begun to be very mileage conscious and had backed off the throttle for the last hour. I had plenty to spare and mad my way down to Arnold for gas and dinner. Got out of Arnold at about 8:30 and did my last hour and a half with headlights, home safe, sound and tired at about 10:00

With the exception of the whole tire fiasco, the trip was great. I'll definately take a ride or two and catch some of those roads again. It was very hot most of the trip, but the decision I had made to weat a long sleeve shirt (white of course) paid off. I carried plenty of water and would justy stop every 45 minutes and wet my shirt and head down. It was real refreshing for about 15 minutes to ride with a wet shirt. I really wasn't that bad most of the time.

As far as the tire thing, nothing I could do, I was prepared for every other roadside "emergency": had oil (even thogh I never go through any oil), coolant/water for the radiator, fix a flat, rags, hand cleaner, tools - I was ready. Can't reasonably haul spare tires and a jack around with you though. I have to coinsider my self fortunate that the tire didn't blow potentially leaving me and the bike sprawled out in the desert somewhere. Other than that, I didn't come home from Vegas feeling too lucky. Let's throw some damn cards!
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