Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yucca Valley Trip - Part I

Update on Boots - For anyone who read my "New Boots and a delimma" post, just wanted to say that Revzilla did an awesome job of sending me out a brand new pair, with three day shipping! At no charge!  They shipped them out before I even RMA'd back the old boots.  I can't compliment them enough!  I will certainly be ordering from them again.  So I had my new boots by Thursday, just in time for my trip on Saturday!  Which brings me to this post...Yucca Valley!  Just got back last night!

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The catalyst for this expedition was a friend of mine, Jacob, who currently lives in Oceanside, just bought a new Kawasaki Concours and was jonesing for a road trip.  I won't go into the details of how I'm always telling him my next bike should be a Concours, and he felt the need to go out and buy my bike.  Get your own dreams buddy!  Just kidding.  Anyway we picked our dates and decided to use Yucca Valley as our base of operations.  Jacob grew up in Yucca and knew all the cool places to explore.  February weather can always be unpredictable.  Luckily we dodged a bullet and missed a bad cold front that moved through the area.  It actually snowed in Tucson on Wednesday of last week.  If that had come through on Saturday not sure if this trip would have happened.

Saturday morning!  The well known departure picture from my front sidewalk.  Thanks honey!
Gila Bend was my first stop.  After filling up, I did a quick inspection of the bike to make sure all the straps looked good and that there were no issues with the tires. This was when I noticed some oil on the right side of the engine.
The oil had been blowing off of the cooling fins and flinging onto my pants legs, and the right side cover panel.
Uh oh, panic mode.  Do I have a serious issue here.  Am I going to have to cancel the trip?  Ok relax.  I checked the oil level in the sight window and it looked ok.  I didn't have oil dripping onto the ground, just a small amount coming off of the cylinder head.  Since I wasn't losing a large amount of oil I figured I should be ok until the next stop.  I wiped off the excess and continued on to Yuma.  The good news is I couldn't find any additional leakage in Yuma so I continued on. (We later surmised that I have a loose Cam cover screw and oil was coming out of that.  I still need to take Bonnie in and have it checked out.  But I never saw any additional oil for the rest of the trip.)

Jacob and I had picked Brawley, California as our meetup point.  I found him wandering a grocery store parking lot like an extra from the set of The Walking Dead.  If I hadn't come along when I did who knows what kind of trouble he would have gotten himself into.
My future bi....I mean Jacob's current ride.  This bike is so sexy we had to shoo away the bevy of young Brawley women who started to cluster around hoping for a glimpse.  "Sorry Ladies! no time for joy rides today. We have to make it to Yucca by night fall!"  And off we went.
We headed up highway 111 which took us up the east side of the Salton Sea.  I'd always wanted to visit this place after seeing a segment on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show.  After hearing rumors that it smelled like rotting fish I was surprised that it smelled normal.  To be honest I would have liked to explore the area a bit more, but we were short on time and had to move on. 
We had decided to drive through Joshua Tree National Park on our way to Yucca.  There was a quicker route if we headed through Palm Springs, but that would have involved interstate and I'd already had enough of that.  As we entered the park we stopped at the first visitor center but it was closed for the night.
When you're done taking in the awesomeness that is Jacob, I'd like you to look at the sky in this photo.  No wind, clear conditions.  Just a good day all around. 
Would you believe we drove two miles down the road, came over a ridge, and headed straight into a sandstorm.
The wind was manageable, but there was so much dust in the air it made the throat sore.  As the Sun started to set temperatures took a dive.  We pulled over to add layers.  A couple of open top Jeeps drove by, young kids hooting and hollering, giving the thumbs up sign.  Apparently they like motorcycles??
We pulled into the hotel after dark.  After unloading the bikes we walked over to a nearby Mexican restaurant (La Casita Nueva) and enjoyed a great dinner.  I had the fajitas of course!:)
The next morning we started off with a good breakfast at the Ma Rouge Coffee House.
We both had the Quiche Loraine - eggs with bacon and swiss cheese and wheat toast.  We also split a organic wheat waffle.  Life on the road is pretty rough.
After waddling out of the coffee shop we headed northwest to a local landmark just outside of Yucca. If you're a local you'd say it's up on the mesa.  Anyway we visited Pioneertown.  This place started as a live-in Old West motion picture set built in the 1940's.  And yes it was quite chilly that morning so I was rocking the red ski cap:)
We arrived pretty early on a Sunday morning.  So there wasn't much foot traffic to speak of.  I felt like a lone cowboy getting ready for a shoot out in the street.
They even had a working post office.
All this photo needs is the sound of prairie wind and a tumble weed blowing by.
Possible future home, if I can talk the wife into it.  It might be a tough sell.
Hey go sit over there I'll take a photo.
Hey go stand over there I'll take a photo.
We left Pioneer Town how we found it and started making our way back through town.  Jacob showed me his old stomping grounds.  These people never knew what they were releasing out into the wild.
Well it's getting late.  Part II coming soon! Where you'll see us exploring more of Joshua Tree National Park and we'll get to meet Jacob's dad! The cooler, better looking, side of Jacob's DNA tree.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New boots and a dilemma!

Last year my wife told me she'd buy me new motorcycle boots for my birthday.  All I had to do was tell her what I wanted.  Seemed a simple enough request.  Yet a year went by and I couldn't give her an answer.  My biggest problem was that I didn't like any of the boots in the local stores, and I was a bit leery of ordering shoes from the internet.  How many times would I have to send them back before finding the right size?

Two things changed last week. 

One, I have a small trip planned this upcoming weekend.  I'm slightly concerned about running into rain.  Cold miserable February rain.  Rain that wants to find a way into my old hunting boots and dampen my socks, toes, and spirits.  Waterproof boots would make me feel a little better heading out the door on Saturday. 

Two, one of my favorite motorcycle podcasts is called "The Pace Podcast".  The last couple of episodes they've been discussing TCX boots which got quite a few positive remarks from listeners.  Some of the stated positives were they tend to run on the wide side, as opposed to a lot of other European manufacturers that produce more of a narrow boot.  They also got high marks for fitting your current shoe size.  If you wear a size 11 order a size 11.  If you wear a size 12 order a size 12, or a size 46 in this case since that's the European size for a 12.  Last but not least a lot of people said they got a lot of use out of the boots and they didn't wear out after a year of riding.

So after careful deliberation, and my strong desire to look like Mad Max, I ended up ordering a pair of Infinity Gore-Tex boots from Revzilla.  A few days later UPS dropped off a rather large box at my front door.
I carefully opened it, taking my time, thinking of ways I could re-use the shipping material.  Yeah right! I ripped into it like a lion feeding on a gazelle.
Just a slight size difference from my old hunting/riding boots.
Hey look, boot bling.  Just in case you feel the need to tap dance after getting off your ride.  Umm, no thanks.
The size was perfect, and while they weren't as wide a pair of Keen's, they didn't feel narrow at all.
Now the bad news.  While gently caressing my new found love affairs, sorry honey, I noticed a small scratch in the leather on the left boot.  If it were anywhere else I wouldn't care, but it happens to fall right where the boot naturally creases if I kneel down or walk.  I'm worried it might turn into a full blown hole or a place where water might get in over time.  Bottom line I paid a lot of money for these boots and I'll have that nagging feeling in the back of my mind every time I look down and see the scratch.  What to do, what to do.  Keep in mind I never return anything.  I've even been known to eat meals brought to me that weren't what I ordered.  I figure it's in front of's hot, why not try something new.  So it's a pretty small scratch..I really want to use the boots on this trip.  ARRRGH!  Revzilla isn't open on the weekend.  So I have to call tomorrow morning and see if they can cross ship me a new pair of boots, while I send them back this pair.  All before Saturday.  High drama here folks!  Usually you have to pay for this type of entertainment.  Stay tuned! 

Bonus Photo!  My parents went to Vegas this weekend, with my sister's kids.  My dad texted this photo of him and my nephew waiting to get inside the "Pawn Stars" shop.  No word if they got to see Chumlee or not.  Got to hand it to the History channel, they put on some pretty addicting shows.  I love me some American Pickers! 
Until next week!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prescott Hunting Trip 2013

Last weekend my dad and I took a couple of days off and headed up to Prescott to hunt with my uncle and an old friend from California.  When I was a kid my dad and I would go quail hunting every season.  It was serious business back then. We'd get out to where we were hunting before sunrise, hike all day, and get back to the trucks as the sun was setting.  (As I wrote that last sentence I went to go check my old photo album and found these.)
Me and a friend (Matt) probably ~25 years ago??
My dad and I hunting in northern Nevada
Flash back to the present.  We haven't been hunting for a couple of years now.  You get busy with other things, work, vacations, motorcycle trips.  So when my dad asked if I wanted to go I found myself really looking forward to going.  Here we are getting ready to leave Thursday morning.  Some of the areas we wanted to hunt required ATV's so my dad brought his.  I was going to ride my mom's ATV..the yellow one.
Five hours later we arrived at my uncle's place in Prescott.
We were greeted by the usual suspects, Sweetpea and Tucker, the wonder dog.
Since our last visit to my uncle's house he had acquired a new trailer to store his multiple rides.  We got the full tour.
 It started to get a bit chilly so we headed inside for dinner.  My uncle's German Shorthaired dog "Champ" had the best seat in the house.  Right next to the roaring fire.
 My uncle made pot roast with salad and mashed potatoes.  It was quite tasty!
 Tucker did the dishes.
The next morning we headed out.  It was a little chilly in Prescott, notice the frost on the windows.  We were actually hunting west of town, which drops off in elevation, so it warmed up nicely by the time we arrived.
 That's my Uncle Sid to the right, and Bens, a friend from California and his dog Maggie.  She was raring to go find some birds.
 We got lucky with the weather!  Here we are waiting for my dad to load up.  A few jokes may have been told about how often we have to wait for him to get ready:)
 We'd ride the ATV's on jeep trails until we'd find a spot we liked. Then hunt that area for a couple of hours before moving to the next spot.
 It's amazing how beautiful the county is out here.
It had rained hard the week before so there were quite a few streams to cross.  It's always amazing to see water in the desert. 
I know it's hard to tell, with all the camo, but my dad is riding a ATV in this picture.  Take your time, we'll wait until you can find him.
At the end of the first day we celebrated with mexican food.  I ordered fajitas, of course.
The morning of day 2 started at a old Windmill.  We were hunting on state land but ranchers also used this area for cattle and horses.  The Windmill slowly pumped water into that black tank in the background. 
Getting ready to head out, the dogs partake of some water.  The former, slightly damaged, water tank can be seen to the left.
Speaking of horses they were checking us out as we arrived.  These weren't wild, they were owned by the ranch.
Because of the terrain we ended up getting split apart.  I took this picture of my dad and Bens at full zoom.  I could just make them out on top of a ridge.
Time for artistic water and saguaro shot.
Looks like the set of a country western movie.
No birds around so I pose for rugged man in the desert shot.  I keep telling Kiri that I could be mistaken for John Wayne.  She just rolls her eyes.
The horses keep staring at me.  I'm starting to think they're planning something.
I knew it! They make their move and try to make off with my Uncle's Rhino.

Towards the end of the day we take a few minutes and relax as the sun sets.  We've completely worn out the dogs with all the hiking.  Day 2 was probably the highlight of the trip for me.  Just a really good day to be outside.
I spot some old wrecks nearby and go check them out.
The bottom one was an old Desoto.

I snapped this picture of the center of the steering wheel.  You can still make out the image of Hernando de Soto if you tilt your head to the left.
This must have been the dumping ground of the nearby ranch house as I find the area littered with old rusting objects.

 The sun's final rays of the day catch Maggie and I as we wait for the ATV's to arrive at our location.
As Maggie and I explored the junk pile, my dad, uncle, and Bens went to go grab the ATV's.  I caught some video of them coming back to our location.  Not very exciting video, but I took it.  Might as well show it right?? Maybe not.  As my uncle goes past, in the Rhino, you can just make out Champ riding in the back. 
That night we had dinner at the local steak house.  Not a great picture of me, if I look pale its because I had applied a great deal of sun screen that day.  Also Caroline can been seen in the center, she's a friend of my uncle.
Day 3 was going to be a half day of hunting.  This was Superbowl Sunday and Sid and Bens wanted to get back in time to watch the game, while my dad and I had to work the next day.  So we had to make the 4 hour drive back to Tucson.
Champ was a little sore, but still eager to start hunting.  "Lets gooo!"
The weather report had upped the chance of rain to 30%.  It had been 10% earlier in the week.  Can't complain much after having two days of sun.
I tried to get a picture of one of the dogs pointing but wasn't fast enough with the camera.  Instead you'll have to settle for a picture of Maggie retrieving a bird for Bens.  Ladies! stop staring at Bens' butt!
The terrain on day three was pretty rocky.  Makes for slow walking.
As we headed back to the trucks it started to sprinkle on us.  You can make out drops of water on my dad's ATV.
It was a great trip and supposedly there are plans for another one next year.  Can't wait!  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Until next time!