CKROCKRIDER – Riding is Like Breathing, You Just Have to Do It!
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CKROCKRIDER – Riding is Like Breathing, You Just Have to Do It! CKROCKRIDER Moto Photos Riding is Like Breathing, You Just Have to Do It! Motorcycle Trip to Benton Hot Springs and Death Valley July 29, 2015 by Cyndy K. Leave a Comment May 6-9, 2015. Snow, Wind, Rain, and Sun. Adventure Girl Fun! Lorraine Lance (She Rides 2) and Cyndy Kelso (CKROCKRIDER) May 7, 2015. I write this from the places we camped as our adventure unfolded and as the weather put on a grand show along the way. Yesterday I had the Subaru packed with camping and riding gear. I have an ice chest full of food, my DRZ was loaded onto the trailer and I was ready to go. I drove away from the house slowly, and as I got to the road I stopped and checked my phone. Lorraine had sent me a text asking if I had chain lube with me. I didn’t, but I walked back to the house. We live in the country and the driveway is about 300 yards long. My husband looked at me, and asked if anything was wrong. I told him no I just needed to get some chain lube. I walked back to the car and made a right turn. I was off for another adventure with my friend Lorraine. However we decided to tow our motorcycles to our destination because bad weather had been predicted. That wasn’t going to stop us though. I drove up to Jackson and got onto highway 88. Heading up and over Carson Pass, the mountains were beautiful. The day was sunny, and patches of snow still sat on the high peaks. There were big white puffy clouds floating high overhead. Looking at Silver Lake When I got to Minden Nevada I could feel the winds picking up. I drove south on highway 395. Stopping in Topaz Nevada for gas and snacks I continued on my way driving through Bridgeport, and past Mono Lake. The lake was a unique turquoise green color. The clouds to the east were bunching up and taking on a darker blueish gray color with big white thunderheads way up high on top of the darker lower clouds. I drove through Lee Vining and made a stop at Whoa Nellie Deli which is also a Mobil gas station, and mini mart. I bought a map for the Bridgeport to Bishop area that showed all the off road trails. Lorraine and I planned on exploring some nice back roads in this area. The clerk helping me was a young man in his 20’s. He had long curly brown hair, and was wearing a bandana to keep his hair pulled back. As I was buying the map and he made change for me, he said he wished heaven would come down here. I asked if he meant something like the rapture. He said no, he just wished this world had peace like heaven. I said that would be nice, but this world has too much crap in it. He acknowledged that, and then asked me my name. I told him my name was Cyndy. Then I asked his name. He said it was James. Then he said, “have a blessed day”, and I looked him straight in the eye and said, “you too”. I got back into the car and drove southbound for a few more miles until I had to make the turn onto highway 120. It was 3 pm and I only had 50 more miles to go until I reached Benton Hot Springs. As I made the left turn into the middle divide of the highway I stopped to wait for the northbound traffic to pass. I looked across the road and noticed two guys with backpacks on. They had a little cardboard sign with VEGAS written on it in all capital letters. There was a big fancy black Cadillac SUV in front of me. It too was heading east on highway 120. The black SUV slowed down and looked at the hitch hikers. The two guys thought the SUV was slowing to give them a ride. They were excited and ran over to the Cadillac, when all of a sudden it accelerated away from the two guys. The look of disappointment was painful. They walked back to the corner and tried again. I crossed highway and took a long look at the two hitch hikers. They were young, white men, slender builds. One guy had glasses and a beard. The other had a baseball hat on. Both were wearing shorts and sneakers. I stopped in the road and rolled down my window. The guys came up to the car. I said I can give you a ride, but I’m only going 50 miles and Vegas is a long way away. They said 50 miles was better in a car than walking. So I pulled over to the side of the road. They introduced themselves as trekkers from Belgium. John, had the beard, and Drace was his friend. I made room in the Subaru for their gear. John sat in the front passenger seat and did most of the talking. He said he had flown to Portland Oregon and hitched to San Francisco where Drace had flown to. Together they took Bart and a train to Tracy, and hitched to Yosemite. I asked if this was their first time in the USA. They said yes, but they are experienced travelers. They’ve trekked all over Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Their plans were to meet up with a friend in Las Vegas the next day, then they’d go to New Mexico and on to Monterey Mexico where a friend from Belgium was studying. Drace was a video/camera person for commercials. I don’t know what John did for a living. They thought it was pretty cool that I had my motorcycle on a trailer and was meeting my friend for an adventure. As I drove on highway 120 which is very remote, wide open and has spectacular views. The road itself has many turns and twists. There was a sign that read DIPS. John asked what this meant. He didn’t have to wait very long, because DIPS on the 120 is like a roller coaster that goes on for a few miles. The guys said there was nothing like this where they come from. They meant the scenery and the roads. I told them about the hot springs, and that if they couldn’t get a ride further down the road before dark they were welcome to camp with my friend and I. I dropped John and Drace off in the tiny town of Benton. It is at the crossroads of highway 120 and 6. There is a café and gas station on the corner. Both fellows were thankful, and very nice. We waved good-bye, and I turned around to go check in to the hot springs. It was around 4pm and I was an hour later than I’d told Lorraine I would be there. When I pulled into the campsite, I saw her hanging out in an old hammock with a beer. The perfect picture of bliss. The mountains to the south were lit up by the sun, and huge white clouds were in the distance. The smell of sage brush was in the air. The wind was picking up a bit. Lorraine got out of the hammock and gave me a hug. I got a beer for myself and we sat in the camping chairs and took in the scenery. We knew a storm was on the way. That is why we trailered our motorcycles instead of riding them. However it was the wind we mostly wanted to avoid. Those 50 mph gusts can push you into the other lane and scare the crap out of a rider, but we didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Lorraine in a hammock We got up from our chairs and took a walk behind the campground. The late afternoon sunlight cast a golden hue on the sandy hills and rocks. The hot creek that feeds all the hot tubs has a little trail alongside it. We followed the creek to a large round pool with a fence around it. The source of the hot springs had brilliant colors of green, rust orange and indigo blue. The water itself was crystal clear it was the minerals in the water that made for the pretty colors. There was steam rising from the pool and the creek. Hot springs source Lorraine knelt down beside the creek and was going to stick her finger in the water to test it. I said be careful it’s hot, and you might cook your finger to the bone. Somehow she didn’t believe me and stuck her finger in the water anyway. Hot springs creek The water is hot, but a nice soothing warmth, not a bubbling cauldron that some hot springs can be. Anyway after our short hike we decided to make dinner before the sun went down. The wind had picked up strength as it sometimes does right before sundown. Darker clouds were noticeably moving in over the land. The White Mountains Lorraine cooked up delicious filet mignon steaks, microwaved big potatoes, and corn. Her camper van is nice and very convenient for cooking and sleeping. We ate a wonderful dinner sitting outside, and taking in the peacefulness of the country. campsite #5 hot tub After dinner, and after the sun had set behind the hills, the wind had died down. We made a fire and sat around it. A little while later we put on our swim suits and got into the hot tub. Wow did that feel good. The clouds had moved out, the wind was gone and the dark sky showed off the twinkling stars. We sat in the tub laughing and talking. We had no idea what time it was when we got out, dried off and changed into pajamas. Sleep came easy as we each had our blankets and pillows in the back of the van. Morning arrived with low gray clouds and partial sun showing occasionally. We made coffee and bagels for breakfast. Around 11 am we packed up and moved over to the Benton Inn. I just knew the storm would be here soon so we made a decision to get a room for the night. We checked into the cowgirl room #4, called Ma Belle for a woman who lived here before the place was turned into a bed and breakfast. The room was cute. Two double beds decked out with southwest style Indian blankets. The floor was tiled and was heated. There was a little table, a TV, and small refrigerator in the room. It was a comfortable place to hang out. The inn said they had WIFI, but it was spotty and didn’t work very well. I tried to watch TV, but it too didn’t work. The heavy dark clouds were low and moisture laden. Obviously blocking any signal this place could possibly get. The wind had really picked up now and it was chilly outside. We put on our jackets and baseball caps and went to take a walk around. Benton Inn is old, and solidly built. There is a big patio in front with a large Spanish style fountain. There are flowers and grass, and cottonwood trees planted on the grounds. There are two large hot tubs for the guests of the inn just behind the rooms. We walked out toward the street and down the sandy shoulder of the road. There was a lot of old rusty farm machinery, tractors, and other implements used to work the land. Everything was neatly placed around the old houses, still occupied by the town residents. They obviously take pride of the old ways. There is a large historical building that used to be the Wells Fargo stage coach stop, and hotel at the edge of town. A sign on the wall stated the town celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014. Beyond the Wells Fargo building was open hillsides. A few yards up the road we saw what could be described as a graveyard for old wagons and wagon wheels of a bygone era. The sun came out briefly and the contrast of the very dark clouds over the mountains and brilliant yellow light made for some great photos. The wind was howling now, and it blew my cap off. I had to chase down, and also had to be careful not to step on any cactus while retrieving it. Further up the barren hillsides were four old cabins. Long abandoned, and in bad shape as the elements have really taken their toll on the old structures. We made our way back to the inn. We could smell the rain in the air, and knew it would be here soon. Lorraine and I decided to take advantage of our down day. We had really planned on riding our motorcycles, but knew that wouldn’t be smart with the storm arriving. We got our swim suits on. The inn provided bathrobes for the guests. We walked out to a very large hot tub and sat in the silky smooth water. The clouds we’d seen gathering over the 10,000 foot White Mountains had now obliterated them. Sitting low in the tub the wind blew the cottonwood tree branches above us. Rain began to fall and life was good. We sat and watched the storm all around us, and smelled the sweet sage brush in the air. Rain came down harder, the wind subsided and now big fat drops fell on our heads. Steam rose from the hot tub and we took it all in. Not saying a word for a long time. It was very peaceful. After a while we went back to the room. The skies opened up and the rain came down hard. I took a shower and put on my warm fleece pants, and pullover. Lorraine put on warm clothes. We both sat on our beds and she did work off line on her computer and I wrote in my journal. Then I took a little nap. It was late in the day, we were getting hungry. We made chili and hotdogs in the van, and brought the food back to our room to eat. It was an okay dinner. The rain was still coming down. The evening passed into night and by 9 pm I was asleep. I woke up to the sounds of dripping water, and snapping sounds from outside. It was 6 am. I opened my eyes and took a look out the window. There was nothing but white everywhere. The rain had turned to snow and dumped at least 4 inches on the land. The cottonwood trees burdened down by the weight of snow in their branches were snapping off. Huge branches were strewn about everywhere. I put on my warm Uggs, and jacket. Lorraine was snuggled under her blankets and did not stir. I quietly went outside and walked all around making fresh tracks in the snow. I went to see our bikes on the trailers. They were fully covered in snow as was everything around. I walked out into the street. The little town had changed overnight. From the sage brush, sandy colored hills to the white, gray light of day, and snow covering the land, houses, cars, old tractors, wagons, fences, everything but the hot creek. It was not affected by the weather. Nor were the hot tubs except for a few branches that fell into one of the tubs. I went back to the room and Lorraine was still under the covers. She was awake, and asked where I’d been. I told her to look outside. She poked her head out from under the blankets and took a look out the window. “Oh my gosh, what in the world?” she said. Then we both laughed really hard for a long time. It was pretty funny how we were worried about the wind and now we had snow. I told her I’d been out walking around. It was quite the sight. At this point we didn’t know if we’d be able to get out of here, and we didn’t know if the inn had room for us for another night. We had an 8 am breakfast reservation in the dining room. The innkeeper had coffee, ham and egg scramble, country potatoes, and a small bowl of fruit for us. She told us this would burn off, and for us not to worry about leaving. Breakfast was good. We went back to our room. The snow kept falling. Big fat white snowflakes came straight down from the sky. No wind at all. Tree branches still snapping. Workers were out with chain saws and a big tractor with a bucket loader cleaning up the mess. We weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere hoping the weather would clear. I decided to go sit in the hot tub, the one not under the cottonwood tree. I put on my suit, got the bathrobe, and I put on my Birkenstocks. I walked through the snow. Hung the robe up on a hook and sat in the warm tub. Wow, how awesome it was. Pretty soon Lorraine found her way to the tub. Lorraine had only packed one pair of shoes and didn’t want to get them wet so she braved the snow walk in her bare feet. She said her feet were stinging cold. She soon was warmed up by the water, and we enjoyed sitting there watching the snow coming down. We stayed in the tub about an hour, but realized we had to get going. Back at the room we took our wet suits off, and got dressed. We packed up our stuff, and went over to borrow a broom from the innkeeper. She gave us one so we could brush the snow off the car windows. The temps were getting warmer and the snow was turning to slush. Although snow was still falling it was turning into rain. The innkeeper told us she’d called a friend who lived in Bishop. It had not snowed there. We were headed that way, and Bishop was only 40 miles from Benton. We loaded our bags into our vehicles and got on the road. A truck with a front blade attached to it had been by clearing the roads earlier. We drove slowly, and as the day warmed up so did the highway. Steam was rising from the road. The snowy landscape was pretty, but after 20 miles of descending the snowy hills gave way to brown sandy scenery. The clouds were still very low and covering the huge mountains that are all around. We drove into Bishop, bought food for our dinner and gassed up the vehicles. We were headed to Death Valley. Southbound on highway 395 once again. It rained on and off. It was windy and the temps were in the mid 40’s. There were motorcycle riders heading northbound and I wondered if they checked the weather. If not they were in for a big snowy surprise if they were headed up by Mammoth Lakes. I heard chains were required. We stopped for a brief lunch break in Lone Pine by the visitor center. We checked our emails as we knew none would be available in Death Valley. We drove onto highway 136 then turned onto highway 190. The sun had come out, but the clouds were very much a part of the scenery. Blue skies, huge white, gray, and dark blue clouds filled the sky. Joshua trees, sage brush all around. Large rocks and hills in hues of burgundy, dark charcoal gray, creamy white, and sandy brown dominated the land. We stopped at Father Crowley Point and stretched our legs by walking to the overlook at the edge of the cliff. Down in the Panamint Valley was the campground resort we’d stay at this night. Father Crowley Point While taking in the scenery and watching the clouds, it was pouring rain over the valley, but the rain not touching the landscape. Then all of a sudden we heard a thunderous sound. It was an Air Force jet doing training maneuvers. Low level fly bye’s and breaking the sound barrier. It was ear shattering and exciting to see! The jet made several passes over the area and dove deep down into the canyon before pulling up and up higher and higher till he disappeared. Then we heard the jet coming back, but it was so fast you couldn’t track it with you eye. It was pretty amazing and I couldn’t get the song, “I’m Proud to be an American” out of my head. A few more miles and we arrived at Panamint Springs resort. We checked in to a campsite with power so Lorraine could plug into electricity tonight and not have to run the generator. It was mid-afternoon and I took a shower. Then we sat outside in the warmth of the day. What a big difference from this morning to now. As day turned to evening we made dinner, and got a campfire going. It was truly awesome. No wind, no bugs. A fellow camper stopped by to talk to us. He and his wife were on holiday from Australia. He asked how we got such a nice campfire going. I went to the car and got a little Duraflame started log for him. I told him to light the ends of the paper and place the kindling on top. Then add the bigger logs. He’d never seen such a product and was thankful. Later he came back and was proud to say he had a terrific campfire going. Lorraine and I enjoyed the fire till it was late and everyone else had gone to bed. The fire had gone out and we went to bed too. Plenty of room in the van, and we were tired. In the morning we made coffee and bagels and got packed up to go. Not much to do really except put the chairs away. We were headed to Mesquite Springs campground. Lorraine’s van is heavy, and she is pulling a bigger trailer with her F650GS tied down on it. I have the Subaru Outback with a lighter Kendon trailer and my Suzuki DRZ400 tied down on it. Since I was lighter I was also faster. We made our way up to Towne Pass, and then began the long descent down to Stovepipe Wells. Stovepipe Wells has a small motel, general store, campground, and small plane airport. It is quite steep, twisty, and there are many dips along the way. I had no trouble and was way ahead of Lorraine. I had stopped in Stovepipe Wells to wait for her. I went into the general store and bought her a Death Valley sticker for her bike panniers. Something I started doing in Zion, and I had bought her a Yosemite sticker in Lee Vining. She finally arrived and was in need of a break. She said the van was scary heavy and the brakes were shaking. Everything was too fast and things got tense. She made it safe, but we took our time getting back on the road letting her brakes cool down. It was high noon now and we turned on the road leading to Scotty’s Castle and Mesquite Springs. The sign said 32 miles, but that was the longest 32 miles ever. It seemed like 132 miles by the time we reached the campground. The place is really remote, wide open and no shade. We picked a spot not far from the restrooms. I think I saw maybe 6 to 8 other campers there. The camp host had long since packed up. This is huge place and we were here late in the camping season for this area. Normally it would be in the 90’s for temps, but because of the storm it was warm out but not unbearable. We unloaded our bikes because this was the last day to do any riding. We got our motorcycle gear on and rode the short distance to Ubehebe Crater. I’m flying for a nano second! We took a few photos there then headed to The Racetrack. The sign said 27 miles. This is all unpaved. The bad thing about the road is that it was terribly wash boarded. Deep and close together, and there was sand piled up along the edges of the road. Not fun or easy. In fact it seemed like the bike was rattling and shaking so much it would fly a part in pieces. I stopped about a mile or so down the road. Lorraine pulled up beside me. She asked how my bike was. I said it felt awful. She said her bike did too. We made the decision not to go on. Two fold: the awful road and the lateness of the day. We rode to Scottys Castle to look around. It was nice there. There is a picnic area with green grass and a shady oasis of palms and cottonwood trees. We had brought some cheese and salami for a snack. We walked around the grounds, and went to the visitor center before heading back to the campground. We weren’t done riding so we rode around the campground and took photos. It was mostly hard packed but there was some soft sandy areas. Lorraine was riding between some sage brush and dropped her bike at a slow speed. I snapped a photo of her before she could pick her bike up! What are friends for. We did a few more laps around the area and were done for the day. We were hot and so we got out of our motorcycle gear and into something cooler. We set the chairs up in the shade of the van and sat for a while. A soft breeze was blowing through the Mesquite brush. I got out my journal and she put on some headphones to listen to a book story on her computer. We needed to get our bikes loaded on the trailers too. Ah, but first I took a short nap. Life is good when there is no time constraints. Lorraine’s trailer was actually a quad runner trailer. The ramp has wide triangle shaped metal for the tires to grab hold for loading easily. However not so easy to walk a motorcycle up on. I decided to ask a fellow camper for help. I rode the DRZ over to a young couple’s campsite. I asked the wife if her husband could help us load our bikes if he didn’t mind. She said yes, that he was taking a nap and would be over later. Yay! About a half an hour later a nice guy named Brian came over and helped us. He said he rides bikes. We showed him Lorraine’s trailer. He asked if she minded him riding the bike up the ramp. She said no problem. Brian rode the F650GS up like a champ! Then we got the bike strapped down tight with his help. Next my bike was loaded. That was easy, but Brian helped get the straps nice and tight. He said he was from New York, but had come out to California to work. He is a nurse at UCLA. It was so nice for him to help us. With the bikes loaded safely that took a big load off our minds. Lorraine and I sat in the shade of the van again, but after a while she put her head phones on and went for a walk. I wrote more in my journal, but got tired of that and decided to walk around. I found Lorraine laying on a nice flat rock in the sunshine. I walked along the edge of the dry river bed until I found an easy path down. I walked in the dry river bed looking at the patterns made in the mud by past flood waters moving through. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds. A little breeze was blowing, and the day was nice. I found a flat area that was perfect for a project. I collected a bunch of small to fist sized rocks of all colors and shapes. Then I spelled out CKROCKRIDER and took a photo of it. It felt appropriate to make this here. I know it’ll be washed away in the next storm, but for now it’ll be here for the lizards to climb on. I walked back to where Lorraine was laying. It was 6 pm, and I asked if she was hungry. She said yes. We walked back to the van and got the food together to make burritos. We also had a bag of salad. I cut up the avocados I had brought, she cut up some red onions and red bell peppers. I had a can of refried beans she heated up in the microwave. She had to start the generator to do this. There was a weird dude camping in a site about 75 yards from us. As soon as that generator came on he stood by his picnic table staring at our campsite. As if he was magically willing the generator to stop. Blah…ha ha…it did not stop by him staring at us. We took our meal out to our picnic table and had a nice dinner. The wind was kicking up and we knew tonight we were not going to have a camp fire. After dinner Lorraine needed to turn on the generator for a few minutes to run the water. Weirdo dude again stood at the edge of his campsite and stared over our way. He finally went somewhere else, and it was getting dark. The sun had just set below the hills. The ever present clouds to the east took on a beautiful pink hue and the mountains below the clouds were dark denim blue. Then just like that, the last light of the day was gone and the sky above was dark and the hills all around the valley were silhouetted in dark gray. The planet Venus shone brightly overhead. Stars one by one came out, and we could see the Big Dipper. Bats appeared and we watched their erratic flight as they fluttered around the camp catching bugs. And the gentle breeze blew the scent of sage across the desert land. We called it a night. With van windows open tonight as the temperature was very pleasant as we drifted off to sleep. Waking up at 6 a.m. and Lorraine made coffee. Neither one of us was hungry at the moment. We got dressed and sat for a few minutes visiting and reminiscing over the past few days. Counting the days until we can get out again and go on another adventure. With big hugs good-bye we took off in the early morning light. I turned north towards Tonopah Nevada, Lorraine headed south. Waving our arms out of the car windows as we each turned to go a different way. I stopped in Tonopah for fuel at the Chevron station and got a Subway breakfast sandwich to go. I made it all the way to Carson Pass before I stopped for a break and some lunch. There was a considerable amount of snow on the pass than was here when I drove over a few days ago. I had plenty to eat in my ice chest, and had some cheese, crackers and salami. I drove the long and winding road down the west side of the Sierra Nevada’s. Out of the mountains, through the dry foothills and oak trees, and arrived home around 4 pm. It was nice to be home, but as always I’m planning the next ride as you read this. Filed Under: motocamping Adventure Motorcycle Riding in Monument Valley April 25, 2015 by Cyndy K. Leave a Comment … [Continue reading] Filed Under: motocamping CKROCKRIDER ADV Girl, Photograpy, and Nature     Recent Posts Motorcycle Trip to Benton Hot Springs and Death Valley Adventure Motorcycle Riding in Monument Valley Categories motocamping Copyright ? 2015 CKROCKRIDER. All Rights Reserved. Whois

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