Sunset - Mojave
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

I picked up the bike from the rental place around 9:30. The rain had been steadily getting worse. It took 20 minutes just to get a cab on Market and I got fairly wet. Not a good start.

I brought the bike back to Chaf's and we packed gear as we looked out the patio window. Our plan to wait for a window in the rain was backfiring. Every minute or so the rain seemed to ramp up in intensity until finally it was coming down heavily, gusts of wind shifting it to a 45 degree angle.

Finally it let up a bit and we loaded the bikes and set out.

We caught up to the squall in about 20 minutes. By then my hands were already quite cold - thin leather gloves, no heated grips. After another 20 minutes water was working into my heavy hiking boots, and my pants. I had under-equipped for the trip, apparently thinking I would just get lucky.

An hour out we stopped. It was still lightly raining. Under the gloves my hands had turned a mottled red and blue that looked alien. I think it was a combination of capillaries closing up but the hand still in a grip form. It went away eventually. I switched to Chaf's bulky ski gloves.

To either side of the interstate were deep rows of small trees. I have no idea what they were. Fruit? Avocados? This summer there will be a day on this road when its 85 degress. The grassy hills will be golden, the sun will stream down like a shower of gold coins over everyone and everything. People will dance while they work the fields. The cars and trucks will all smile and skip down the interstate. Everything will be perfect in California.

That day is not today.

After another half hour we had gotten out of most of the rain. Traffic moved, but was heavy at times. I-5 is only 2 lanes, and as we left it towards Bakersfield we were on the main route between LA and Vegas. I warmed up reasonably and the ride got enjoyable, even beautiful. Our goal was Barstow but I had to call it early in a town ominously named "Boron" since my wet feet were turning into blocks of cold as the night comes and the temp drops.

We lucked out to find a great mexican place open near a crappy hotel. They had just closed but made us some to-go orders. A gas station had Corona. The food was twice what we could eat and very good. The breakfast burrito and huevos rancheros made an awesome breakfast the next morning.

From Boron we went through Bartstow and did some hiking in Mojave National Preserve. The high desert was cold, until we started uphill. It's a hassle to completely change out of the motorcycle gear, and leaving all the expensive gear draped over the bike might be a questionable call - but then if you don't you change you are bound to be uncomfortable.

The hike took a bunch of time and we only made it to Twentynine Palms, north of Joshua Tree. A good dinner, and another $50 hotel room priced at $70. We can't complain - we're not wet and cold, and we're on a motorcycle trip. Life kicks ass.

[ tags: francisco I-5 iphone mojave motorcycle rain san trip ]

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