Sunday, April 12, 2015

Death Valley Airheads Rally - 2015

 We had prepared for a 5 day road trip to / from Death Valley which turned into 7 days.  The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire week. Leaving Yuma Wed. AM we did have a bit of wind...and blowing sand while passing through the nearby dunes. Darian tried to capture the sand blowing across the road as we passed through but the photos didn't do it justice.
                    (left click on photos to enlarge)
 Due to the wind starting out the day, we decided to bypass the Glamis Dunes Route and ran up some miles on I-8 which goes through Holtville CA. That also delivered us to Calipatria CA. and our favorite Mexican Bakery / Taco Shop for lunch.

Traveling around the east side of the Salton Sea, we crossed through the "Box Canyon" Road north to Joshua Tree Nat. Park.

We had never traveled into the Western portion of the Park, opting to always take the direct "North / South" route for the sake of travel time. This time we decided to explore the western section. We drove into our past favorite camp spot, "White Tank", but most all the camp sites were taken. The only one we saw available was sandwiched in between two occupied sites. We decided to travel on towards "Jumbo Rocks" Campground.
Approaching "Jumbo Rocks" you pass the "Skull Rock", which "peeks" out at you as you pass..
We found a very nice secluded site with a fire ring/barbeque and table.
We had a very nice sunset. Took a walk through the entire campground. Lots of large RV sites further in. There weren't too many unoccupied sites. We carried 2 different tents with us, since we had plenty of room. One is the small Eureka and the other is a massive Eureka. After one night in the crowded small tent, the larger tent will be used from here on out. I wanted to have the small tent along in case we ran into high wind situations.

The campsite was rather loud during the night. Someone kept opening / slamming a van door throughout the night. Didn't really bother me but did wake me up a number of times in the night. 
 We had our required morning coffee prior to heading out in the AM. We ran through the Park, exiting at the town of Joshua Tree.

 There are some climbers on this big rock....
 This was our first ride through this section of the Park.
 A small Moon crescent in the upper edge of this photo.
We stopped at 29 Palms for a Macdonalds breakfast and fuel. Heading from there to Amboy and the old Route 66.....  Kelso and then to Baker CA.

The old train station at Kelso was once again active. The cafe was closed last year when we went through. 
Much of the road from Kelso to Baker was in pretty rough shape. Plugging along at 55 mph gave me plenty of time to dodge the largest protruding rocks and pot holes. 

 The old "Worlds Tallest Thermometer" has been renovated and is back to working condition after a few years of deterioration.
We pulled into Tecopa Hot Springs at a fairly early hour. Set up camp right near the Hot Springs and enjoyed the mineral pools. No photos from there....
 The next morning we headed to Shoshone CA. and had breakfast at the one and only cafe in the town. Slow service but great food....besides, we were not in any hurry. Leaving Shoshone we took the "Bad Water Road" into Death Valley. A somewhat longer route but much more scenic than the Armagosa Junction entrance.
 Down and down and down we go......
 The temperature increased every few miles as we dropped down in elevation. Death Valley in the distance.....


We made numerous stops along the route.

You can see the run-off / silt deposits below which come off the mountain.

Stopped at "Badwater" to look at the view. As usual, had a couple folks stop and visit about the sidecar.

We arrived at Furnace Creek in the early afternoon. The Park Entrance Fee must be paid at the main Park Service Visitor Center to gain access into the campground.

 There was already a pretty large contingent of "Airheads"  present we we arrived.

Also our favorite "vending chefs" were present. Kevin Kempton and Kelly Pixton made fantastic meals for a modest fee.

An interesting restoration on an "Earls Fork" model BMW:

"Home" for the next few days:
 We've attended the Death Valley Rally at least 10 times over the years. If there is a chance of rain, one needs to be diligent and pick a tent site on "high" "high", I mean a spot a foot or two higher than the area we were set up in. We've witnessed water running through tents set up on "low" ground during a rain event. Since no rain was in the forecast, we weren't concerned much about elevation.

We typically just hang around the campsite during the rally, but since the weather was so beautiful, we decided to ride over to visit "Scotty's Castle". I "dropped" the trailer in our parking spot.
The views along the route are wonderful:

 We stopped at a Ranger Station along the way...

 We had never stopped at the "Castle" before, although we've passed it a couple of times. They offer tours through the place but we opted not to join the crowds and did our own tour. Dozens of people were lined up waiting for the scheduled tours. +80*  outside and nice!

This photo shows an area which would have been full of water, which in turn powered the generating plant for electricity back in the day. There are windows in the sides of the structure so the underwater scenes could be viewed.

The Clock Tower:

Nice little "Oasis" in the desert.

We made a loop tour over to Beatty NV...quite a few remote miles of desert terrain and minimal traffic.

Our friend John. hauled out his authentic WW2 Era (1941) BMW R-12 . He took it for a few rides around the area. I love this bike!

The machine is mostly original and has some "Wermacht" stampings in the castings. Many civilian machines were requisitioned for military use  by the German Govt. during the war. Eventually all production from all companies went to the military.

"Tool Box" access under the round plate....would make for some "hot" tools!

Some friends hauled supplies out to the Rally in a pickup...we decided to do a "4 wheeler" afternoon in the truck.

Good friends....good times....

We drove a few of the easily accessed scenic dirt tracks in the Park....lots of different colors from mineral deposits evident.

"Dantes View"

Back to the camp in time for dinner and a nice sunset... We hung around the fire ring for a few hours and visited with old friends and made some "new" friends. "Back in the day" I would definitely intake my fair share of "adult beverages"....not so much

 The final day at the Rally, I spied this sidecar which had come in.

 Seeing the "logo" on the back, I was aware I had talked with this guy via the Internet over the years. He owns / operates a sidecar building / import business out of Bejing China.

By chance he had moved his family to Nevada a couple years ago.  He and I had a short visit and he passed a business card to me.

 Photos from the trip end here....only narrative of our "troubles" from here on

The following day was time to head South to AZ. We planned on a stop outside of Henderson NV. at a little truck stop / casino which we had some promotional "free rooms" available. That made our day ride shorter and gave us a nice break from sleeping in the tent.
When we stopped for fuel in Pahrumph NV., we then had a quick Macdonalds breakfast. When I restarted the sidecar I noticed that the "generator / charging light" did not light up. The light is supposed to light up, then go out when the engine starts and rev's to 1200 - 1500 RPM. It is normal to have the illuminated light at lower RPM's as the charging system has minimal output at lower RPM's.
I pulled the headlight from its' shell to check the light connection....all seemed OK. We decided to proceed to Henderson, about 75 miles up the road. Made it to Henderson and everything seemed fine.....battery appeared to have "juice". I did not have my testing light / multi-meter with me as I usually do....darn.
We had a nice evening and a good dinner. The next morning the bike started right up and the light was still "out". About 35 miles down the road I noticed a "low voltage" blinking light on our GPS accessory receptacle. I then decided to head back towards civilization and Boulder City NV. Going further South towards Searchlight would have had us in the "boonies" and away from any services.
Made it to Boulder City and to a fuel station.....filled up....went to start the bike and it was 100% "dead"...bummer!
I remembered the card from "Jimbo Sidecars"....pulled it out to maybe call him and get his opinion of my issue....I'll be darned but he lived right there in Boulder City. I called him and he showed up in 5 minutes with a "multi-meter....sure enough a "dead" alternator.

I travel as prepared as possible. I had a spare rotor and the removal tool required to take it off....but dead battery and no way to charge it. Jim gave me a "jump" and we fololwed him to his place and a battery charger. I swapped the rotor in short order and the battery charged for 5 hours.
Jim has a huge cache of BMW goodies and is building / restoring old sidecars in his garage. Had a great tour of his place and Darian "hung out" with Jims' Wife while I repaired the bike.
By the time the bike was ready to go it was nearly dark so we opted for another night in Henderson. The following day the bike worked fine and got us home to Yuma. Darian had a scheduled plane trip to MT.from Mesa AZ. the following day so we made it home just in time.
Many thanks to "Jimbo" for his help getting us back on the road!

Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.