Our departure day began with a spectacular sunrise. I forgot to go to bed with my camera as I had intended, and by the time I was awake and hauled myself out of the tent the colours had faded, but it was another beautiful start to the day and as they say 'the early bird catches the worm' so here is David's take
We headed along the 127 through the Mojave National Preserve stopping at the
Kelso Beanery for a coffee. Then on to find a spot for lunch and a stroll to have a look at the Salt Creek
Then off through the desert
towards Furness Creek in Death Valley where we proposed to spend the night. As we arrived we were greeted by a mass of RV's which we were later informed were part of the 49'ers celebration of the Death Valley Pioneers in 1849 . We do not exaggerate when we say that a tranquil oasis deep in the heart of Death valley where we had spent a few nights only a couple of weeks ago, had been transported into a humongous RV park.
David wanted a snap shot as we left the following morning, you can't really see it here but the RV lay like pieces of white Lego over great swathes of desert
we reckon this woman was running away!!
Heading off the next morning towards steely grey sky we stopped to fill up with gas and climbed from sea level to 4000 feet where we stopped to put on some more layers Suddenly after I had finished delving into my pannier for my heated waistcoat, Nancy just leaned over in the gravel and lay down. I just hate it when she does that. I go into panic mode. Somehow seeing a bike so big and so laden with gear lying down like a tired old elephant, is deeply troubling. After the initial shock accompanied by a sharp intake of breath something like aarghhh!!! we put all our weight behind her and brought her upright and discovered that the side stand had twisted. So from now on we would have to use the centre stand until it could be fixed. Onwards and upwards towards Searles Lake Trona where we had hoped to get a coffee, but found nobody home only machines grinding away in the background We had read that Trona was once a company town, built simply to service the Borax industry. It is a strangely defeated town. Isolated and desolate. The shops look open until you get up close and find they are deserted. The supermarket is just about hanging together, and the folk we did see on our search for coffee, had a oddly blank look about them. The only sound was of the borax chemical plant grinding in the background.
It was cold so we had all our layers on, by the time we stopped for lunch by a river at Kennedy Meadows
I have given up being concerned about my appearance! I posted home my nail varnish, jewellery, hair adornments, little summer dresses and pretty shoes!!!
After lunch we made our way towards the Sherman Pass over the Sierra Nevada in the Sequoia National Forest mountains
As we climbed it became colder and low and behold we came upon snow and ice! Not to be deterred our intrepid leader ploughed ever onwards and upwards, until about 1000 feet short of the summit, at the Blackrock Ranger Station at 8150 feet, we came upon a fork in the road both of which were snow bound, and it was beginning to snow. 'No problem I heard him bellow'. Not on your nelly I thought. Whilst stationary (I must stress)I clambered off the bike to investigate the depth of the snow at this point in our journey. About 3 inches and not just for a few meters in the shade. I put my foot down with a firm hand and quietly insisted we retrace our footsteps. I was not about to risk becoming snow bound on a mountain pass, upon which we had passed no-one (do you think they knew something we didn't?). So reluctantly our leader admitted defeat and we turned around. Of course the next challenge was to renegotiate the snow and ice so far encountered. Damn! And as we approached a rather pretty and deceptively treacherous stretch, our leader slowed down. I sensed he was thinking 'photo opportunity' for the Blog. Well sometimes there is no point in trying to dissuade a particular course of action even if you know it can lead to ruin. And it did!
And so we made our mark alongside the pretty deer footprints (in the foreground). Once again my heart lurched as the front brake locked and we gracefully skidded laying Nancy on her elephantine side. As we lay momentarily with our trusty stead, I realised David had landed hip down on my right wrist (ouch!). We wriggled apart, I felt a searing pain, heard a 'sorry' and we both scrambled to our feet to rescue Nancy. A bit trickier this time as our feet skidded beneath us as we tried to get some leverage. Lucky in some ways there was no other traffic, but we could have done with some help. Nevertheless with a huge heave ho! we did it. The problem now of course is we don't have a side stand, and David was on the wrong side of the bike for getting on. Steady girl! With a balletic hitch of his leg, whilst I endeavoured to keep her still, David leapt onto Nancy, started her up before she slipped again and gingerly motored his way to a 'safe' spot, whilst I recorded what I could for posterity. Of course virgin snow looks so benign and Christmassy, glistening on the ground and blowing gently from the boughs of pine trees. I found myself pining to go skiing, but not on the bike!!
A few thousand meters later we were bathed in sunshine and desert with so sign of the white stuff It was still cold though and just before dusk, we came upon a KOA where we decided to camp for the night. I was so cold I couldn't stop shaking. So once Nancy was safely perched on her centre stand, David packed me off to have a hot shower (first in about 8 days!!!) whilst he erected the tent. All warmed up we abandoned the idea of cooking and headed for the campground bar which offered a limited menu, but who were we to complain. So for $3.50 per choice we opted for chilli poppers, potato wedges, a 3” pizza and chicken wings. But we were offered a drink on the house to wash it down. Strangely, this KOA had a fully functioning swimming pool in temperatures below freezing, yet the KOA in Moab where temperature were around 90°F it was all closed up! Sometime there's no making sense of things.
By 20.00h we were ready to hit the sack. Too much excitement for one day. The following morning we woke to what felt like damp sleeping bags and a tent which crackled like a bag of crisps, but rather than a dusting of salt and vinegar, it was thick frost and ice and a temperature of about -7°F As we de-frosted the tent, packed up and our hands froze, (no breakfast it was too darned cold) we warmed our hands on Nancy's hot pods (good old Nancy!) David sure knows how to show a girl a good time!!
At Nelda's just a few miles on we stopped for a hearty American breakfast, (and guns and ammo if you are so inclined!) of 2 fried eggs easy over, hash brown's and toast. I couldn't face pancakes. They always come with maple syrup and cream which doesn't quite float my boat with eggs and hash browns for breakfast. After lashing of hot coffee we departed with a jar of Nelda's home made Jalapeño Jam-delicious!!