The long drive, part 3 - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 8, 2020

The long drive, part 3

Ibuprofen is a miracle drug.  If I had to exchange getting a Covid vaccination for giving up ibuprofen for the rest of my life, I’d have to think long and hard about it.

My back is still weak when I get up this morning, but much better than last night.  Regular doses of ibuprofen fortunately seem to be doing the trick.  We’re taking no chances so we let Rachael carry virtually everything down to the car, but I’m hopeful that the long drive to Boulder City won’t be as nightmarish as I’d been fearing last night.

We get an early start, and are on the road by about 7:30.  With a nearly 450 mile drive ahead of us, neither of us is amused when we take the wrong on-ramp onto the highway and find ourselves driving south toward SLO rather than northeast toward Paso Robles.  What’s a few extra miles on a drive this long though?  Just a rounding error.  We’ll try not to make a habit out of it today, and resolve to pay more attention to the navigator.

The first hour is a beautiful drive.  I’m really drawn to the landscape east of Paso Robles.  We should look at this as a possible base for a few nights when we make our way back north.  I’m not sure about riding on Highway 46 itself, but it looks like there are some promising minor roads we might try out.  Any suggestions?

An hour into the ride we come to a rest stop and decide we should take it. I’m happy to report that the driving has gone fine so far, and after stretching out when I get out of the car I’m able to walk around reasonably comfortably.  Much better than I expected. 

50 miles into the drive, we stop at the rest area on highway 46, east of Paso Robles. The array in front of us is a solar powered set of EV charging stations.
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It’s pretty early in the ride for us to be stopping, but Rocky insisted if we didn’t want to have an unfortunate incident on our hands. I don’t mind. It gives me a chance to look around at the inspiring scenery along this highway.
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Another view from the rest stop. That’s enough. We’ll never get to Nevada at this rate.
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The good miles continue a ways beyond this rest stop, but soon we drop into broad, flat, rather uninteresting San Juaquin Valley. I don’t think I’ve ever driven across it before, but I can’t say I’m too inspired by it.  We just drive for a few hours, stopping only in Bakersfield for gas and coffee.  I’m tempted to stop for a shot of the forest of thousands of nodding donkeys pumping up the oil west of Lost Hills, but don’t.

Beyond Bakersfield we immediately start climbing up into the mountains, and the rest of the ride is scenic and striking all the way to the outskirts of Las Vegas.  We stop at a couple of rest stops, and in Barstow at the Subway for a quick lunch.  Otherwise, we pretty much drive straight through and arrive in Boulder City not long before 4.  The whole drive has gone well - no navigation errors once we finally found the right way out of Morro Bay, no other unfortunate incidents.  As good as you can hope for on a long drive.  I’m relieved to find that  my back feels better by the end of the day than it did in the morning, and I’m optimistic I’ll be out on the bike tomorrow.

Oh, one other note about the day.  Rachael has a lot of music stored up on her phone, and we shuffle through the playlist as we drive.  It definitely helps speed through the miles, hearing tunes we haven’t heard for months or years.  As fine as some of the scenery was, the highlight of the day comes when Little Red Corvette shuffles its way to the top.  Suddenly there’s a burst of activity to my right - bopping and nodding, head fakes, hand jives - as much motion as you can expect in this small, constrained space.

Decades ago, not long after Rachael and I got together, she ran a lunchtime aerobics class at our office.  Little Red Corvette was a tune in one of her old routines, and hearing it again instantly brought the routine back to her.  Just gotta dance!

We’ll be in Boulder City for six nights.  We’re staying in a surprisingly inexpensive, surprisingly spacious and comfortable room at the Best Western here.  Looks like a fine place to hole up for awhile.

Another shot along Highway 46 east of a Paso Robles, from the car. Rachael rolled down the window and took a shot with my Panasonic while I silently prayed that she was keeping a firm grip.
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Dropping into the Mojave Desert after crossing the mountains east of Bakersfield, I look in the rear view mirror and see this immense wall. Have to stop.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI recognize that! Just outside Mojave, where I grew up! On the left is the little scattered settlement known as Cache Creek.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI knew you grew up in the desert, but not in the town itself. What a remarkable place to spend a childhood.
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltWell, it is a grubby little town and it has gone downhill regarding being a good place to grow up. It does have its famous spaceport, and the largest wind farm in North America between it and Tehachapi... for a reason! Most in the area have become anti wind-turbine for a number of reasons.

Best to avoid riding west, and especially late winter through late spring. You might not have noticed, but all the creosote bushes lean to the east...

With all the open desert to explore, I learned a lot about nature there. Did lots of bike exploring and rock hounding and Indian artifact hunting. Rode all the paths/trails including the old Butterfield stagecoach line within about 10-15 miles. Not so much now though, because the windmills are all no trespassing zones.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI’d forgotten about that endless wind farm. That was astonishing too, and another place I almost pulled off the road for a photo.
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1 month ago
Looking north from the rest area at Boron, east of Barstow. U.S. Borax operates the largest open pit mine in California here, at one of the largest borate deposits on the planet. This mine supplies nearly half of the worldwide supply of borate products.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThey have an interesting visitor's center.
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1 month ago
At the Boron rest area, looking east across the Mohave Desert to what must be Clark Mountain.
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On the Road, on I-15 east of Baker. A fantastic, forbidding environment.
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My Neal Cassady shot. Rocky is riding shotgun busy scribbling out her magnum opus, when I interrupt her thoughts to pick up the camera.
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Ron SuchanekOk, I feel like I should know this, but please explain "Neal Casasy shot".
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekCassady, not Casasy. No wonder you were confused. If you’re still confused though, Neal was the driver in the cross country ride with Jack Kerouac that resulted in On the Road.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonArgh. I'm the king of typos and failed proofreading in school. You'd think that when I go to the trouble of putting it in quotes I would make sure to get the spelling right. Sheesh!

I knew who he was but was wondering if that shot was something specific that I should have known. I feel better. But it's offset by the annoyance created by my typing efforts.

Interesting (?) Fact: Ted Cassidy, the actor who played Lurch in the 60s TV show The Addams Family had no known connection with Neal Cassady, and their names are even spelled differently. But here is where it gets weird. It's PRONOUNCED EXACTLY THE SAME!
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1 month ago
This eerie, scintillating construct is the Ivanpah Solar Generating Facility. The three towers are thermal power plants, fueled by a huge array of nearly 200,000 heliostats reflecting sunlight at them.
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Home for the next six nights.
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Another view. Roomy enough that we could even bring the bikes inside.
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Bruce LellmanCould? You certainly aren't going to leave them in the car are you?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanWe did in Morro Bay, in the hotel parking lot; and the first night here. Too tired to bring them in last night, but they’re here with us now.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanOh, maybe I read that wrong and you DID bring the bikes inside. My mindset was maybe still on a few days ago when I read that you had left the bikes in the car overnight. I'm just here at home with nothing more to do than worry about you guys!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNo, you read it right the first time - we’ve left them in the car overnight several nights now. It’s fine though - we locked the car. How would anyone get in?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanMan, you guys play fast and loose with your bikes. You thought it was a hassle with Capital One. Imagine how much fun it would be to get a window replaced, buy new bikes and oh, deal with insurance too, all during a pandemic!
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1 month ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
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Bill ShaneyfeltYou should enjoy your time there. Lots of interesting things. I have a daughter and some friends who live in the 'Vegas/Henderson area.

The dam is quite impressive. Red Rock, west of 'Vegas is very scenic.

I like it there once out of the crazy city.

Looking forward to seeing what you dig up to visit.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyRachael - next time you're bebopping to Prince in the car, take a video!
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1 month ago