Saturday, March 23, 2013

Yucca Valley Trip - Part IV (The End!)

This is the continuation of a trip Jacob, a good friend of mine, and I took at the end of February.  We had just spent the second day visiting Joshua Tree National Park and spending time with Jacob's dad.  For day three we decided to put some miles in and ride a loop.  We were going to visit Calico, an old silver mining town just outside of Barstow.  Then make our way east and cross the vast Mojave desert. Finally finishing the day by checking out the old Route 66 town of Amboy.

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Day three started at the same coffee shop as the morning before.  The only difference this time was being pulled into a friendly group of bikers who invited us over to chat about bikes and our travels.  I'm always amazed how many people you meet once they find out you ride a motorcycle.  It's an instant ice breaker.  After chatting for half an hour or so, we said our goodbyes, and started heading northwest towards Barstow.  It was nice to get back on the road and just open up the throttle.  The mountains surrounding Big Bear were off to our left.  I would liked to have gone up there and explore if there hadn't been so much snow.  Once we hit Barstow we merged onto Interstate 15, uugh superslab, and went a few miles down the road before exiting onto Ghost Town Rd.  We filled up at a 76 and, while stretching my legs, I couldn't help but take a picture of this Jenny Rose sign.  Unfortunately the restaurant appeared to have closed down quite some time ago. I wonder if Jenny has moved onto bigger and better things.
 We arrived at Calico around noon on a Monday morning.  Not many people in the parking lot.
Calico is billed as a ghost town, but I would label it more as an old west tourist town.  Which isn't a bad thing.  Tucson has something similar call Old Tucson Studios.  It's a place you can take the family if you want to feel like you've stepped back into the 1800's.  Jacob told me the last time he had been here was during a fourth grade field trip.
 The horses were ready to ride, but there was a lack of little kids screaming at their parents "Please! Please! Please!".  What's a horse to do?
 Jacob and I wandered down main street, six shooters at the ready.  Looked like the local fire department was prepared for anything.  Budget cuts seem to be affect though, their modern firetrucks had been downgraded to older models.
 Lucy Lane's home.  Which probably doesn't mean much until you have....
her history!!  Just think, when Lucy moved into this house the events in season three of Downton Abby were taking place.  HOW could they do that to Matthew? I mean seriously!
We strolled through the various shops...
Before heading up towards the old mines.
One of the cooler buildings in the entire town.
Dorsey's Dog House is a pet shop made out of old bottles!  Turns out that Calico allows dogs inside the park.  I looked it up and they charge one dollar entrance fee per dog.
 I just got a kick out of the building material.
 Inside, the walls reminded me of stained glass.
 We proceeded farther up hill until we made it to Maggie Mine.  This picture was taken for the guys in the office to chuckle at.  Some low brow humor there:)  Anyway the sign reads "The Maggie Mine Glory Hole, near this spot in 1882 a school boy found a silver bearing rock leading to the discovery of this $65,000 Glory Hole."
 From this vantage point we had a nice view over the entire park.
Feeling we'd had our fill of Calico we made our way back to the bikes and continued 60 miles down I15 until we reached Baker, CA.  After using a sketchy Shell station we pulled the bikes into a closed Bun Boy parking lot to take a break for water and snacks.  We found this lone guardian keeping watch over the Bun Boy empire.  The artist's name was still carved into the wood "C White Ft. Bragg '77". 
 In Baker we cross over I15 and found ourselves at the entrance of the Mojave National Preserve.  Not a flattering picture of me.  I set the camera on a 10 second delay and then had to do a mad dash to get into position.  I think I made it with 2 seconds to spare.
Two things that stand out as we headed into the Mojave.  One was a sign post, with flashing lights, that stated "Watch out for tortoises!".  The other was that the road started off fine but deteriorated quickly.  It hadn't been resurfaced for who knows how long.  The asphalt portion of the road appeared to have washed away leaving large stones, that once served as the inner aggregate, sticking up like spaced out cobblestones.  At one point I tried to cross the yellow center line and it had to be and inch or two higher then the surrounding pavement.  Needless to say it pushed me back into my lane.  A little scary!
 After a rough 34 miles we reached the halfway point between I15 and I40 which is the town/train depot of Kelso.  A quick picture in front of the old post office.
This train depot was built in 1923 and operated until 1986.  They recently renovated it and did a great job!  Check out the size of the palm trees.  The next picture shows when they were first planted.
Unfortunately the 3:10 train to Yuma wasn't scheduled.  We'd have to continue our trip by motorcycle.
We would have stopped for an old fashion milkshake, but daylight was burning, and we still had a ways to go.
After leaving the park we crossed under I40 and kept heading south until we hit Route 66.  As far as I know, the first time I've ever been on it.  We reached Amboy and it was just how I pictured it, middle of nowhere.  I'm a big fan of middle of nowhere.  Couldn't have asked for a better end of a day/trip, no wind, perfect temperature, good ride.
I failed in that I didn't get any pictures inside of the cafe.  There were tons of pictures and neat stuff to look at.  I even bought a T-shirt:)
These were the cottages seen in the background of the Harrison Ford picture in my last post.  They were empty but appeared to have been freshly painted.
What car?
We wandered around for a bit taking pictures.

One last group photo before heading on.  Look bad-ass and say cheese!
A few miles down the road is Amboy Crater.  No, it's not a meteor crater.  Which is what I first thought when I heard of it, but instead an extinct volcano.  It's believed to be 6000 years old and thought to have last erupted 500 years ago.
We parked the bikes and headed over for a look.
Not a great picture of the cinder cone.  Photo was taken with the sun in the background.
Looking east over the surrounding lava fields.  Amboy can be seen in the distance.  Route 66 heading away into another time.
We made it back into Yucca just after sunset.  The Mexican restaurant from two nights ago beckoned us with thoughts of tall margaritas.  My wife is always telling me to "step outside the box" when it comes to my food orders.  So instead of my usual, chicken fajitas, I changed it up and ordered the pork fajitas.  Mmmm! Mmmmm!
The next morning we had to head home.  We traveled together until the southern part of the Salton Sea where Jacob headed west and I continued east.  We both had a great time and I'm already trying to drag him into my next bike adventure.  Trip odometer read 1304 miles.  It all went by too fast!  Until next time, thanks for reading!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Yucca Valley Trip - Part III

This is the continuation of a trip Jacob, a good friend of mine, and I took at the end of February.  We were on the second day, having just finished touring Joshua Tree National Forest, before stopping at Jacob's dad's house for a BBQ dinner.  We had arrived early because Jacob had told me his dad, Mac, had some amazing cool stuff to look through. He wasn't lying!  After helping Mac unload a few items he let us have the run of the place.  It was like being on the set of History Channel's American Pickers!  Jacob and I just started wandering around Mac's property taking pictures.  There were so many cool things to look at I took a million pictures.  What you see below is only a tiny subset of the final :)

Jacob told me Mac has been into motorcycles for a long time.  There were quite a few stashes of bikes in various states of being located here and there.  This is some sort of Honda SS90?? There was a old Trail-90 behind that.
A neat looking Massey Ferguson 85 I think.  Reading through Wikipedia, this made me laugh - (Regarding the company) Its television and radio advertising featured an upbeat jingle, with a male chorus singing, "He's a get-up-early, keep-'em-rollin', Massey-Ferguson kind of a man."
This reminded me of "Built like a brick s.."  well you know what I mean.  And no we didn't use this, Mac does have indoor plumbing:)
A ongoing art project by Mac.  I saw something like this on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show, only with Patron bottles.  I asked my wife if I could implement something similar in our own backyard but got shot down. :(
Quite a few older cars everywhere you turned.
Anytime I see older engines like this one I'm reminded of a line out of the Mad Max movies.  "Last of the V8's"
The old girl still has some life in her yet.  Just needs a little love.
Someone once told me that old Harley tank emblems always go for big money on ebay.  Not sure if that is true or not..but I have looked at old Triumph ones and they do get pretty pricey.
Had never heard of the name, but apparently Garelli Motorcycles was established in 1919!
Jacob and I eventually wandered into Mac's garage.  A chorus of angels chimed in from somewhere. While rays of sunlight streamed in on dusted chrome and metal.  Picture Nicholas Cage lighting the torches in the Mason's treasure vault in the movie National Treasure.  Well that's how it went down in my imagination anyway.
Not sure if this is a Kawasaki or Honda with a Mojave sticker on it, or if Mojave is really a brand.  Can't find much online. Jacob sent me the info on this bike.  See description below.
UPDATE - Bike is a Montgomery Ward Mojave made by Benelli '68
I've been unable to find the correct year for this one.  Something close to a CB77 Superhawk??  I'm not up on all the vintage Honda bikes.  Jacob sent me the info on this bike.  See description below.
UPDATE - Bike is a Puch SR250 sold by Sears probably a '65
I'm trying to find an hold headlight like this off of eBay.  I think it would make a nice art piece for the office.  If anyone knows of a listing, let me know.
About this time Mac comes in from outside and points to a Monark bicycle sitting in the center of the garage.  He says, see that bike there.  Harrison Ford sat on that bike.
Mac proceeds to pull out a picture of said bike with Harrison Ford.  And I say.."What the?".  It turns out that the whole story revolves around a old motel/gas station along the legendary US Highway Route 66.  The name of the motel is Roy's Motel and Cafe.
Long story short, or as short as I can tell it.  First! click the link above and read the history on the place.  If you've seen the Pixar movie Cars, Radiator Springs would be the town of Amboy without the happy ending.  I'm going to link in the important part here from Wikipedia:
White period
In 1995 Timothy White leased the entire town of Amboy and Roy's from Buster Burris, White was a noted New York photographer, who saw value in maintaining the property in a weathered, worn condition as a filming location. White contracted with his 'high school buddy' Walt Wilson to manage the property, and later completed the purchase of the whole town in February, 2000.
As stated Timothy White is an amazing celebrity photographer.  You can see some of his work HERE, including (if you click far enough) a similar Harrison Ford picture on the bike.  Turns out that Harrison Ford would fly his plane into Amboy, occasionally, so Mr. White could photograph him for magazine articles and such.

OK! so what does all this have to do with Jacob and his dad??  While working out near the town of Amboy they run into Timothy and Walt, and strike up a friendship.  About this time the Laughlin River Run is starting to take off and Jacob and his dad end up helping out at the gas station when bikers from the LA area would ride through on their way to the California/Arizona border.  As Jacob describes it, the week before the river run started Amboy would turn into a little camp site with a lot of cool people passing through.  As such, they end up meeting people like Harrison Ford, Indian Larry, etc.  Mac would eventually end up loaning his motorcycle and bicycle out to Timothy for some of his photo shoots.  WHEW!  So there we have it all tied in, I think.:)

Mac allowed me to take some pictures of Timothy White's pictures.  The first one is of Mac himself in Walt Wilson's police car.  Amboy never had a police department as far as I know.  I think the car was created just for show.

A Timothy White photo of Indian Larry.  Taken somewhere in the area of Yucca Valley since we can see the distinctive Joshua trees in the background.
This is a neat photo of Indian Larry in one of the dilapidated buildings of Amboy.  The gentleman in the right of the photo is actually Jacob's younger brother Joey.  On a side note, if you're into Indian Larry, or his bikes, Mr. White produced an amazing book of photos revolving around Larry.  You can find it HERE at Amazon.  Mac had a copy and let me leaf through it.  Amazing stuff!
Mac also had a couple of saved motorcycle magazines from that time period.  Indian Larry signed the first one.
He also saved another magazine after Larry had passed away.  Mac was telling me the small flags came off of Larry's 49th birthday cake.
A couple more pictures taken by Timothy White.  The first is of his brother Joey again.  Jacob recently acquired the car and is trying to sell it if anyone is interested.
I can't remember who these fellows are. 
If I'm not mistaken I think Timothy White is the guy on the left(Ooops! I was mistaken.  Person on the left is a friend named Richard) and Mac is on the right.
Mac is on the right, Richard is the gentleman on the left again.
After looking through all the photos I noticed this picture on one of Mac's cabinets.  I turned to Jacob and told him we had to go visit this place!  Our destination for the following day had found us.
We continued to explore Mac's garage.  Neat looking hubcaps and old lights.
A Chevy Big Block 454 project just waiting to be placed into the right vintage frame.
We dug out Mac's old cruising jacket.  Can't you just see Frank or Mike, from American Pickers, wanting to pick this up at a good price?:)
And old pair of motocross boots sitting in a corner.  I thought the layer of dust added a cool look.
Mac even had a couple of storage containers to peek through.  There were a number of nice looking vintage bikes just itching to be restored.
Jacob was joking around that we should mount this sissy bar on Bonnie.  I told him I didn't think it would fit in with the look I was going for.:)
Eventually the sun started to set on another great day.
Mac's coonhound Shirley came out to tell us dinner was ready.
As the moon started to rise we headed indoors.
Mac's wife Janet had prepared BBQ ribs, beans and salad! Soooo very good!! after a long day of riding with no lunch.
We enjoyed dinner around the living room with Mac, Janet and Janet's mom.  Good food and good conversation!
A final shot of the house guardian Purry.  She/he?? watched over us while we ate.  Jacob and I eventually bid our farewells and headed out.  I had a great time visiting Jacob's dad and came away with some amazing stories!
Stay tuned for Day 3!  Thanks for reading.