Burro town

Day 12: Monday 15th July 2013

The Trooper and I wasted no time today and hit the road as soon as I was up. The ride to Kingman that I didn’t complete yesterday is relatively flat with hills in the distance. There’s not much along the route, but we found a rest stop which, like everywhere else is trading on Route 66 nostalgia, and why not?

From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013

Later, the rocks came closer to the road and had me back humming Bon Jovi again.

From Arizona, July 2013

After Kingman, I’d been told by several people that I should ride the old Oatman highway, so I did and I didn’t regret that advice. It is one the best roads I’ve ridden so far this trip. As I started out down the road, it seemed much like the ride between Seligman and Kingham, except now perhaps it was narrower and there were lots of dips with signs warning of the risk of flooding. But the day was hot, and I came across an old gas station now a tiny museum-cum-gift shop-cum-refreshemnt store. I carry a litre of water on the bike but it is really only for emergencies. It gets so hot in the bag that you wouldn’t choose to drink it unless you really had to. It was already a hot day, over 100F, and on day’s like that, I grab cold water wherever I can get it, so I pulled up onto the forecourt.

From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013

First stop was the restrooms, and they must be the cleanest, sweetest smelling porta-loo I’ve ever used. It seemed to be just one big guy running the place, and as I paid for my water I asked if he got a lot of people passing thought. He said I was about the 100th today –  it was about midday by then – and on hearing my accent he asked where I was from. I’m still not entirely certain how to answer that question, with where I live or with where I was born? I answered Scotland, I guess I’m still that English Ambassador For Scotland.

“Oh you’re the fourth today” he said.
“What? Fourth from Scotland?” I said.
“Yeah. 3 others came through about an hour ago. Said they were heading for Vegas. They were on bikes too.”

He asked which way I was heading and when I said west, he said “Oh, you’re in for a treat. The next 8 miles has over a hundred curves and switch-backs”

Then he spotted my Trooper tattoo and said “Shit. That’s Eddie”.
“They’re all Eddie on this arm” I said.

He then proceded to examine both my arms in detail.

“Guess you’re into Iron Maiden, eh?”
“Yup, and Rob Zombie. And I’m getting to see both of them on this trip”

We chatted about music and bands for another 5 minutes or so, before I decided I should put those hairpins to the test.

He hadn’t exaggerated, the road ahead was the most challenging I’d ridden so far this trip, but with no one behind or in front, it was a relaxed fun ride, except there seemed to be an awful lot of horse shit on the road, and that got a bit hairy trying to avoid that on some of the bends.

From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013

As I pulled into Oatman, the reason for all the horse, or to be more precise, donkey shit, became apparent.

From Arizona, July 2013

Oatman had been a gold mining town, which was largely abandoned in the 1940s, but the miners had left behind their donkeys, which had gone feral and now roamed the town as if they owned it.

From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013
From Arizona, July 2013

And with the donkeys comes there natural waste product.

From Arizona, July 2013

I stopped for some lunch in Oatman. And when I got back on the road the temperature was getting higher. It was getting way too warm to be comfortable, even the wind you get riding along is hotter than your blood and doesn’t serve to cool you at all.

As it was only early afternoon when I emerged off the old Oatman highway, I tried to press on and cross the Mojave desert. Only a crazy fool does this on a day which I found out later is 110F/44C, and at 2pm when the sun is at it’s highest with the temperature still rising.

It didn’t take me too long to realise this was too much for an unaccustomed Brit to manage. I tried looping back to find somewhere to stop. That loop brought me up into Nevada, but it was another hour before I found an sanctuary from the sun. But that time, I was feeling weak and dizzy, and seeing black blotches in my field of vision. I pulled into Laughlin and managed to navigate to a gas station and sat in their air-conidtioned environment until I had downed two litres of ice cold water. Only then did I feel able to check out what my options were. Looking at Laughlin, it seemed to be just a strip of Casinos dumped on the Nevada side of the Colorado River to tempt stupid people from Arizona to part with their cash.

Those that remember my brief foray into Las Vegas during my last visit will remember I am no fan of casinos, or the stupid people that plough money into them. But each to there own, I guess. In any case, I had no desire to stay in one of the casino hotels and I rode back over the border into Arizona to stay somewhere more pleasant in Bullhead City.

The third motel I tried had a room for me and as soon as I moved my gear in, I stood under a cool shower for at least 30 minutes. At 8 o’clock in the evening the temperature was still 108F/42C and the forecast was telling me that it wouldn’t drop below 90F/32C during the night. I felt I’d really suffered attempting the desert in the afternoon. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for fellow blogger Jesse McKay when he rode through the desert in even higher temperatures. I was going to take a leaf out of his book, and I planned to get up early and attempt to ride through early in morning.



7 thoughts on “Burro town

      • Man, I don’t know which direction I am heading this year. I will let you know if Sturgis is in my path. It would be good to meet up with you and Jesse. Enjoy those redwoods. There are some insane roads in Northern California. 36 and 3 are major twisties. Or for a shorter, beautiful ride further north try 199 along the Smith River. It’s one of the few rivers in the states that has no dams. Pristine beauty!

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