From: (Tom Childers) email@example.com Date: October 11, 1995 7:10:00 PM PDT Subject:BMW: Joe and Tom's Excellent Adventure (long)
...or "If It's Tuesday, this must be Utah!"
Apologies to presidents outside of the US: this is written in highly idiomatic American.
* * *
I'm sure others have reported on the success of our lunch in Carlsbad, NM (I don't know yet, since our mail system is in deep trouble!) However, I thought I'd describe the trip that Joe Denton and I took from Northern California to Carlsbad and back in five days.
Joe and I hooked up because we were both interested in attending the lunch, and we both live in northern California. However, our trip rapidly became something larger...a quest for Iron Butt license plate frames! Joe expressed an interest, and I had to admit that felt inspired by Bob Higdon's recent write-ups. So we planned a thousand-mile day.
The adventure began on Thursday, October 5th, when I left work at 4:00, finished packing my 1989 K100RS with clothes and camping gear, and took off for Joe's house near Auburn, CA. After 115 miles and a half-hour lost in town, Joe and I finally met face to face. He keeps superb beer in the 'fridge, by the way. We had a fine evening, chatting with his lovely wife Robin, planning routes, discussing equipment, etc.
Which brings me to Frau Guttentite, Joe's exceptional R75/7. She is painted like a 1930's Chris Craft, like planked and pegged teak wood. The entire bike, and Joe's helmet, look like a maritime parquetry exhibit. In fact, our entire appearance was a study in contrasts, since Joe is a leather-jacket and cowboy-boots kind of guy, on a classic boxer, with leather saddlebags, while I appeared in an Aerostich and new Shoei helmet on a KRS with tankbag radio, radar detector, integrated white BMW bags, etc. Sort of like "Roger Ramjet Meets Quickdraw McGraw".
So off we go on Friday morning, bound for Joe's parent's house in Anaheim, CA. We had a fine, twisty ride down CA Highway 49, up to Highway 89 in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and over Monitor Pass to US Highway 395. Then we had to zip south, down to the Mojave Desert, to pick up the slab into the Los Angeles/Orange County area. We finally got to Anaheim after 9:00pm, where a full family party was in progress. Of course, I didn't get to sleep until after 12:00am, although Joe was a bit more intelligent and sacked out earlier.
Saturday, The Day, arrives. The alarm wakes us up at 4:30am. Coffee, last minute packing, and we jump on the bikes to begin the trip to Carlsbad. We leave at 5:15, get gas (and the first dated/timestamped receipt required for Iron Butt documentation), and charge east across the desert at 85-95mph. Dawn was beautiful, traffic was sparse, adrenaline was high. My log shows:
Odometer Time Location
63088 0520 Ahaheim, CA
63245 0755 Desert Center, CA
63313 0920 Quartzite, AZ (Breakfast)
63444 1153 Phoenix, AZ
63594 1420 Benson, AZ (Lunch)
63665 1615 Douglas, AZ
63817 1850 Deming, NM
63941 2115 Alamagordo, NM
63987 2240 Ruidoso, NM
64094 0105 Artesia, NM
64149 0230 White City, NM
Yes, we finished at 2:30 PDT, 3:30am local time. But the numbers don't tell the full story. The blast across the desert was quick, and uneventful. We looped down through Douglas, AZ to ensure that we had enough miles to complete the 1000, and that side trip proved to be the best part. Southeastern Arizona is beautiful, more so in the autumn. The San Pedro River valley was full of cottonwoods and other trees, in full autumn color. Bisbee, AZ, home of the once-largest open-pit copper mine in the world, has been completely restored from near-extinction in the 1970's, and is now a somewhat-touristy western town with neat shops, hotels, restaurants, a microbrewery, surrounded by a square mile of bare orange-lavender copper ore. The road is wonderful, very hilly with lots of curves, and I'm looking forward to another, more leisurely trip down there.
North out of Douglas, into New Mexico, we traveled at ********* speeds on a nearly empty Arizona highway 80. We passed dozens of bicyclists going the opposite direction on some sort of race through the area, but very few cars. Near Rodeo, AZ, a full moon rose over orange desert mountains in the east, as the sun set behind us. Brilliant greens and yellows decorated the desert floor, where a few cattle scrounged for edible brush. Sometimes I really miss the Sonoran desert, where I grew up in the 1960's...
So then it's dark, and we'd reconnected with the Interstate (10) east through Lordsburg, Deming, Las Cruces. From there, we picked up highway 70 through Alamagordo and Ruidoso, as the temperature fell and the altitude increased. By midnight, it is about 40 degF and 7000 feet in elevation, and believe me, we were cold. You can see from our log that we stopped about once every hour or two to defrost and absorb more coffee. We actually spent more than an hour in Ruidoso, getting our circulation back. The last three hours of the trip were spent cruising empty roads with high beams on, bleary eyes peeled for wildlife, our stomachs a warm lake of coffee and granola bars. 10 minutes after we get into our motel room, I was out like a light. 1061 miles.
Of course, check-out time is 7 hours later, so we got up at 10:00am after barely 6 hours sleep, and wandered over to the Velvet Garter...to find out that they are not open for lunch! The manager told us that Leah would not make it, helped us find another restaurant...and we sat in the desert for about an hour wondering if anyone was going to show up.
Fortunately, they did, and I'm sure others have described the rest of the afternoon. We had a GREAT time, got our Iron Butt Eyewitness Forms signed, took group photos, and I distributed a few IBMWR patches. By the way, those of you who bought them - those patches sat in my shirt pocket throughout the 1000 mile trip. My apologies if they smell funny :-)
So now we can start relaxing a bit - after all, we have 2-1/2 days to get home :-) Joe and I rode up to Santa Fe with Ira Agins, his friend Andy, and several riders from Colorado. We had a nice, 280-mile cruise up the middle of New Mexico, and narrowly missed getting tickets thanks to signals from traffic headed the other direction and Ira's quick thinking. We arrived at Ira's around 9:00pm and, with some pizza, beer, laughter and bike talk, we were ready take advantage of Ira's hospitality and fell asleep around midnight.
Monday got off to a slow start, with the four of us sipping coffee and talking about bikes and computers until nearly noon. Finally, Joe and I got our act together, packed up, and took off towards the northwest. We went through a lot of incredibly beautiful country, like the area around Abiquiu, NM, where Georgia O'Keefe lived and painted for many years. Great mountains, lots of trees in fall colors, and excellent roads. Durango was on our route, so those of you who attended the BMWMOA rally this summer know the area. We quickly realized that further sightseeing was out of the question, since the Grand Canyon, Four Corners area, and other attractions were a bit out of the way, and roads heading towards home were few and far between. So we reluctantly headed up to US 50 in order to get home Tuesday night. Around 11:00pm, we pulled into Green River, Utah, and claimed a motel room.
Tuesday, the final leg home, was basically a tour of US 50. 6:40am (California time), we left Green River and headed west over the mountains, through spectacular red rock country. It's a good thing we didn't leave earlier, because the air temperature dropped to 35 degF or lower, and we were pretty cold by the end of the first 100 miles. It was so cold that I could not tell whether my electric vest was working...and I was wearing a 'stich behing a fairing. Joe, on an open bike, had even more fun.
But the sun climbed higher, the road dropped down into Salina, Utah, and we found a fine cafe ("Mom's") for breakfast. The next gas stop was Ely, Nevada, followed by Austin and Reno. Other folks have written about US 50, "the lonliest road in the US", and I've ridden it a few times before this trip. I think that US 50 is the nicest road across Nevada, but that isn't saying much. I enjoy the geology, the towns, the occasional military installation or rare appearance of military aircraft chasing through the mountains, but there is a lot of straight, dull road to endure.
We hit Reno around dusk, gassed up, and finished the final leg to Joe's home, US 80 over Donner Summit in the Sierras. This is not a pleasant road: lots of trucks, narrow, curvy lanes, high speeds, and it is about 90 miles long. With some relief, we got to Joe and Robin's house around 9:30pm, and after a short visit, I continued down US 80 towards San Francisco. I made one gas stop, and realized afterwards with some amusement that I had spent less than 5 minutes off the road to get gas. The attendants looked at me like I was a visiting alien as I hopped off the bike, pulled the two wires connecting the radio and electric vest, popped the tank bag, filled, paid, plugged in, and hit the slab again. Practice makes perfect.
It was 11:45pm when I rolled into my driveway in Corte Madera. My wife Nancy was still awake, and listened to the story with some amusement as I threw incredibly dirty clothes into the laundry and found a Belgian lambic beer to dilute the coffee in my system. Final statistics: 3315 miles, perfect weather, 1 road kill (small bird hit my helmet), no tickets, no accidents, no bike trouble!
And now I have to consider, would I do 1000-in-1 again? Probably, but not too soon. It was great to see so much country so quickly, but I really would rather stop in places that look interesting and stay for a while. About 10 years ago, I did a couple of 1000-mile days with another rider, and we split up in the middle of a trip because he was totally into traveling big distances. Also, it seemed easier to go enormous distances when I was in my 20's :-) :-)
In the mean time, I have a very high respect for the maniacs who attempted the Iron Butt Rally. And there is a storm coming in off of the Pacific. If we had been 2 days later, we would have gotten nailed by the first winter snows in Nevada. Whew! -tdc