Wintering In The Southwest
by Marina Ackerson
The skies are blue and the bikes are out. Everyone itching to go for a ride somewhere, anywhere. I joined the Southeast Arizona Touring Riders for a run to Death Valley the end of January. We “roughed” it at Furnace Creek campground. To get to Death Valley from where I am now – the far east side of the Phoenix valley, you must travel west across the Sonoran Desert. The plan was to meet for lunch in Salome – ride to eat, eat to ride – BMW riders are much the same everywhere. I traveled the I-10 to the Salome road which angles up across open desert and has huge signs painted right on the pavement COWS CROSSING ROAD. I slowed down and remembered my motorcycle safety stuff and kept scanning the road left to right, right to left. It was my lucky day – none crossed the road while I was on it. I was told to meet the group at an adobe brick restaurant. Not much in this town to speak of, so I found the place easily and was the first to arrive. The rest of the group rolled in a few minutes later. With fuel in our bellies, we traveled on across the desert to Laughlin, Nevada, where we spent the night at the Colorado Belle which is a big boat right on the river and also a high rise hotel. We checked in, and met at the hotel pub an hour later. Prime rib dinner followed at the Riverside Hotel down the strip. There were 25 SEAT members in attendance and a good time was had by all.
On to Death Valley in the morning via breakfast in Searchlight, Nevada. When you leave Searchlight, you travel across high desert with Joshua trees alongside the road. Wherever there are Joshua trees, you know it is likely to be cold, so I had my cold weather Atlas jacket on. There isn’t anything on this road EXCEPT the Joshua trees until you get to Nipton which is on the edge of the Mojave National Preserve. Wayne and I stayed there some years ago in a hippie like place with rooms along a hallway, bathrooms down the hall and a great room for folks to gather. There are also hot tubs outside and camping spots. Train oficiandos gather here as the tracks run right behind the motel and all kinds of vintage trains travel here. You can watch the train go up and around the desert for 100 miles in a big circle. There isn’t anything else out there except desert and the train tracks.
We made a stop in Shoshone, California, to gather for the rest of the ride into Death Valley. Following Shoshone, CA, we stopped in Badwater inside Death Valley to check out the salt flats. The mountains in Death Valley are like no others. Water paint colors cover them and they change with every movement of the sun.
Furnace Creek is an oasis in the desert. They even have a golf course. I “roughed” it with the campers although some stayed in the motel about a half a mile from the campground. There was 15 pounds of beef brisket in that pot and canned vegetables. If you bring a can of vegetables you get to partake in the feast. Boy did it taste good that night following the award ceremonies. These folks know how to “rough” it, build a huge campfire, look at the endless stars and howl at the moon. The real coyotes have a chorus at night. One coyote starts it and then they all join in. Sunsets are amazing.
BMW people are the best in the world. You are never alone if you can find a few of these good people. See you all Marina