The Breakfast Club: Death Valley Spring 2022
Report starts here
Pictures from Carl and Tom
Thursday, 7 Apr 2022
9 AM … meet at Flapjacks for breakfast. Tom, Russ and I (Carl) had a good breakfast outside. It was warm already. The plan was to get in as much 2-lane riding as possible. That meant 25 to 198 to 33 to Lokern Road to 58 to 178 to Lake Isabella and the Lakeview Motel … short of 300 miles. Amazingly, it all worked … with several stops along the way for refreshment and relief (old guys gotta do what old guys gotta do). High temperature along the way was 104 in Bakersfield. Best stop was Lower Richbar day use area on the Kern River. Our destination was the Lakeview Motel in Mountain Mesa. No luxury, but clean and accommodating. Local restaurants served us well … El Portal Mexican restaurant for dinner; the Red Rooster Cafe the next morning. Both places attract a lot of locals.
Friday, 8 Apr 2022
Friday was an easy ride to Death Valley. After breakfast, we made our way along Hwy 178 and stopped at a roadside shady spot about 12 miles east Onyx, about half way up Walker Pass. Our route to Death Valley took us through Olancha topping up our tanks with the last reasonably (??) priced gas for awhile. Then across the 190 plateau with a stop at Father Crowley Point, twisties to Panamint Springs, up the hill to Towne Pass and down into Death Valley - getting a little light in the springs from time to time. Arriving at Stovepipe Wells before check-in, we decided to take a run over to Furnace Creek for lunch. Arriving just before 2 PM cafeteria closing, pickings were pretty slim. Nonetheless we pulled together suitable lunches and enjoyed one another’s company in air conditioned comfort (it was 102 outside). After lunch, we said so-long to Russ, who had lodging at Beatty. The plan for the next day was for the three of us to meet back at Furnace Creek for lunch. Tom and I were also thinking we might loop through Beatty (and meet Russ) as part of our morning ride out to Ubehebe Crater. Sometimes plans work out, sometimes not. More on that later. As Russ went to Beatty, Tom and I headed back to Stovepipe wells. It was still too early for check-in, so we had to cool our heals (and throats) at the Badwater Saloon. After getting settled, the evening at Stovepipe went well. We met some interesting people and enjoyed the sunset. The weather was perfect with hardly a breath of wind.
Saturday, 9 Apr 2022
Saturday morning was beautiful … clear and still, and warm. After morning coffee and a little breakfast, we we planned to go to the crater and then out of the valley past Scotty’s Castle and out to Hwy 95 and down to Beatty where we’d get gas and maybe spot Russ. Well, the ride to the crater was very pleasant with the early morning sun highlighting the desert landscape. And the ride back - exactly the way we had come - was nice too … not the plan, but nice nonetheless. As things turned out, the road to (and beyond) Scotty’s was closed. With really big barriers: the kind that made it clear, not even ye bikers with your knobblie tires shall this way come. And we didn’t even have knobblie tires. So, back to Stovepipe we went for a little quiet time before meeting Russ at Furnace Creek.
We arrived at Furnace Creek a little before 1 PM and found Russ waiting for us in the cafeteria. Lunch was … meh. Nice facility, but they need to step up their game. Plans were made for Sunday morning’s departure. Then Russ headed toward Badwater and Tom and I headed back toward Stovepipe Wells … after a stop at the Furnace Creek gas station. It’s funny, but after hearing that gas there was approaching $10 a gallon the week before, the fact that Tom and I “only” paid $8.38 a gallon seemed like a deal. Another 102 degree ride back to Stovepipe, and we were glad for the luxury of an air conditioned motel room.
As shadows got longer and the sun began to set, Tom and I brought our chairs beyond the fence line to enjoy the day’s end. And then the wind started to come up. And then we went inside. A short trip to the saloon. Back to the room. To bed early with night sounds punctuated by the howling wind. When we got up Sunday morning, it was cool (in the 50’s) and the wind was still blowing, with the mountains across the valley obscured by the dust. And our bikes were covered with what seemed like chalk dust … our windshields had a layer of frosting over the bugs. So, we packed our bikes, met Russ at 7:30 and began the ride up and out of the valley. By about 3,000 feet elevation, the dust cleared and we were left with a windy and cool ride to Olancha for breakfast. I saw 46 degrees as we headed west across the plateau. Of course, I had my jacket liner in, though it would have been more effective if I’d remembered to close my vents!
Sunday–Monday, 10–11 Apr 2022
Breakfast at the Olancha Cafe, and back up the hill and down toward Bakersfield. We took the low effort route to Paso Robles via 99 and 46, and met our fellow travelers at the Melody Ranch Motel. Following check-in and a room-front gabfest we walked to dinner at nearby Pappy McGregor’s Pub (good choice, Mike). It was the usual Joe’s Place for breakfast on Monday morning and then we split into smaller groups to find a variety of ways home.