Start: Sherman Oaks CA (31362)
End: Flagstaff AZ (31854)
Up early, loaded up and out the door for my three-week vacation. The Official First Odometer Reading is 31362.3 miles. Sunday morning traffic is light. I am heading to Barstow to pick up 1-40, to head east to my first destination, Murfreesboro TN.
Of course I didn't eat breakfast ... I managed to clean just about everything out of my fridge before leaving so there was nothing to nosh at home. So I stop for a quick bite in the Cajon Pass, a couple of chicken soft tacos at Del Taco. It's the start of Weird Road Eating, I guess. Thus fortified, I continue on.
Just past Barstow (in Nebo, actually) there's one of those brown signs saying "Historic Route 66" and I think, why the hell not, and pop off the interstate. I've been on parts of this stretch of old 66 before, parts of it not, but never on a motorcycle. Might as well start the adventure now! The road parallels I-40 for a little while, passing through towns now made dusty and deserted by the interstate, and then swings south through the middle of the California desert. Closed gas stations and motels are markers of motor history. Lookie there, it's the World Famous Bagdad Cafe, ratty and run-down yet still open for business, apparently. It's worth stopping for a picture. Just outside of Amboy, I see a bunch of tennis shoes hung up in a smoke tree ... urban legend holds that tennis shoes hung on telephone wires mark a drug dealer's location; I wonder what it means out here? LOL. Then, past the Cadiz road, what I imagine to be the local kids have taken stones and spelled out messages on the highway berm, like the coral on the lava beds of the Ironman Triathlon in Hawai'i. This amuses me. Most of the messages are of the "Jenny + Greg 4Ever" variety. Speaking of lava beds, there's some really impressive ones out here, and a couple of craters, that I have never spotted from the interstate.
I stay on old 66 as far as it will take me. The road is not good, very full of potholes in places. The day grows hotter. 66 finally runs out about 23 miles before Needles and the Arizona border, and I am forced back on to the interstate. Gas costs a LOT in Needles, the middle-of-nowhere price this week is $2.999/gal for unleaded 87. Yikes. Again, I bless my small tank, it never costs very much to fill it.
I fill up again in Kingman AZ, and again in Williams. Oh, crap! In Williams, I am switching gear and as I go to tie down my jacket, my brain takes a few seconds to parse what is wrong with what I'm looking at ... hey, there's something missing from my bike! Where is my sissy bar bag? It's flown off somewhere between Kingman and Williams, and that means it's gone gone gone. I'd had it tied on with zip ties, but they were the little ones, and obviously not sufficient for the job. In the bag was my rainsuit, my winter-weight gloves, and a couple of tools. Well, I didn't like that rain suit anyway. I'll pick up a cheapo replacement at a Wal-Mart somewhere. Yeah, everything is replacable, but still a pain in the butt. You'd think I'd learn, but for me it's not a road trip if something doesn't go flying off the bike at least once. At least I'm getting it out of the way on day one. Heh.
I pull into Flagstaff and check in to my room for the night, a Motel 6. It'll do. I call Turbo, who lives here, and who is having dinner at her house for the gang heading out tomorrow. Marty, Kathy and Bob have already arrived. Sue will be coming in later. Turbo hops in her car and comes down to pick me up. It's burgers and brats for dinner, and shrimp, and coleslaw and potato salad and some really fabulous cheesecake. Yum. This will be the last home-cooked food for a while.
Eventually we say our goodnights, Turbo gives me a lift back to the hotel, and everyone beds down early for our 7:00 am start tomorrow. We want to beat some of the heat through Arizona.
Next: Day Two