Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day 9 - Too dam cold to ride

Last night was spent in Walker, California at a wonderful old fashioned roadside inn. This morning when we awoke it was 22 degrees on Doug's bike. A few last minute photos and we were ready to leave.

The plan was to get gas down the road, unfortunately when I checked the Garmin it said gas was 86 miles down the way in Bishop, Ca. So just 16 miles south of Walker we turned around and headed back hoping to find gas in Walker. We did at $4.50 per gallon. With full tanks of gas we started again. Oh, the first time through the mountain pass south of Walker Doug reported that his ambient temperature gauge quit reading below 14 degrees, so apparently mother Honda doesn't think motorcycles should be ridden below 14 degrees. It was cold! Thank goodness for electric gear and heated grips.

We stopped in Bridgeport, Ca for breakfast. There's a great little cafe in town that serves a fantastic breakfast. All their orders came with biscuits and gravy as a side instead of toast. Yum! The waitress was great and kept our coffee cups full. Considering how cold it was outside we downed a good bit of coffee while we were there.

It was 10am when we finished breakfast and got back on the road. Our destination was Death Valley so we continued down 395 toward, Lone Pine. For much of the way down we had snow on the ground all around us but the roads were clear and mostly dry. Once past Mono Lake, the snow was a distant memory.

In Lone Pine we stopped for fuel before heading toward Death Valley. Just a few miles before the stop I noticed a head light error and took time to diagnose the problem. I suspected the ballast for my low beam HID bulb had failed so I switched the low and high beam ballasts. in the process I pulled the connectors off the ballasts and had to recrimp them. With wiring swapped we headed out 190 into Death Valley. Switching the ballasts helped me to determine that it was actually the low beam bulb that had failed.

Once in Death Valley we stopped at the ranger station to get our permit with our annual pass. Then continured on to the museum to learn about the park. I did not know that there had been minimg for Borax in the past. After visiting the meusem we headed over to the gift shop and checked out the mining museum. Doug started looking at the map to figure out where we'd stay for the night while I worked on straightening out my headlight situation. I needed to put the good bulb in the low beam side and move the bad buld into the high beam reflector. With that done, we headed down to Bad Water to see the lowest point in the western hemisphere. It's very salty around there.

We decided to head back up to 190 and head east over to Pahrump, NV. As we were leaving Death Valley the sun was setting and the temperature was falling. We had about 40 miles to go in the dark to get to a hotel. Luckily the light fixes I made worked and I even had the high beam occasionally. With the addition of my driving lights I had plenty of light to look out for criters.

Just after 7pm local time we rolled into Pahrump, and filled up the tanks. Then found the Best Western and checked in. The rate here is pretty reasonable, especially a hot breakfast buffet is included with our stay.

Today we covered 400 miles, dealt with a head light problem, and got to see Death Valley. It was great day and maybe the last time I'll be riding in temps below 20 degrees on this trip. Of course we are talking about going up into Utah on the way back so chilli temps are still possible.

Tomorrow before we head out I'm going to perform my 600 mile service on the final drive. Lucky for me there was an Autozone next door to the motel. I couldn't have planned that better. Hopefully this will be the last bike maintenance thing I have to worry about for the remainder of the trip.

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