21 Days to dirt bike Baja road sign of milage to other destinations

Baja Bound

Baja bound van loaded up with dirt bikes

Well, here we go again!

Sometime back in September Travis and I were planning a spring vacation to the desert to ride dirt bikes. We were thinking, set up camp in Durango CO and go explore southern Utah recreation areas. Then, by the time December rolled around, this plan had morphed into riding dirt bikes down the Baja peninsula.

Now, here we are on our way from Las Vegas to Cabo via off-road routes on a Husqvarna 450 and a KTM 500. We may or may not have entirely too many things packed but it is better to be over prepared than under when it comes to off-road travels.

Roadtripping

I have been on the road since last Thursday driving our van from Wisconsin to Vegas and enjoying every mile. The Midwest is a tad flooded and windy this week but the van just cruises along passing everything but a gas station.

I spent my first night at a rest area near Des Moines Iowa waiting to see if roads through Nebraska and Colorado would open up. A wicked winter storm system passed through creating a Bomb Cyclone (never heard of such thing) and producing 100 MPH winds. Needless to say, the roads were not quite passable for a day or two.

Baja bound sunrise at iowa rest area

As luck would have it, I-80 was wide open when I woke up in the morning. This meant that I could follow through with my plan to visit Dad in Evergreen and then head south to a hot spring resort. I had needed a new route to replace my typical Ridgway, Ouray, Silverton, and Durango path. Unfortunately, Highway 550 was still closed down after the avalanches last week.

Baja bound colorado sign and van

New Places and Great People

Best detour I have ever had the pleasure of stumbling upon. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday at Valley View Hot Springs. I camped out in the Roofnest, soaked in several ponds and enjoyed close encounters with the local deer population. Of course, coming from Winter in Wisconsin, I did not think to put on sunblock. Let’s just say I redefined the term sunburn over about 80% of my flesh. Ooops! Regardless of that minor detail, it was an excellent wind-down weekend full of new found friends and soul soothing soaks.

Baja bound deer eating by hot spring pond

I continued my drive Sunday afternoon, made it to Green River Utah before turning in for the night. Monday morning greeted me with extraordinary sunrise views. I cruised my way through the rocky desert hills on my way to Vegas blaring my iTunes. The scenery along highway 15 is splendid, I didn’t even notice the hours passing by. Before I knew it, I had arrived at the airport about an hour ahead of Travis.

Time To Pick Up The Other Half

I impatiently waited in the shade watching the chaos that is Las Vegas unfold. Ironically, the song “welcome to the twilight zone” came across the radio. I was looking homeless as ever in my cut off sweatpant shorts and one of Travis’ Tee shirts. Not really caring much what people think, I strolled into the private terminal to use the restroom. The group of wealthy retired women may or may not have clutched their belongings tighter as I walked by. I would have fit in much better at the local Walmart.

Soon, Travis arrived and we began bouncing around with excitement of the upcoming three weeks. Next, we were changing into desert “vanning” clothes and headed to the local Costco for supplies. Water, snacks, and Tequilla…what else could we possibly need?!

Now, What Do We Do First?

The plan was to check out the storage facility in Searchlight where we would leave the van Tuesday morning. Of course, we would need to figure out where to stay as well. We pulled into Searchlight Boat and RV Storage and there wasn’t a soul around. After dialing up a few numbers we got the host on the line and she said she’d be right over. We waited a few minutes and were greeted by a nice lady and her pooch. The site was ideal and the price was right so we signed the papers and asked about local hotels.

The plan was to check out the storage facility in Searchlight where we would leave the van Tuesday morning. Of course, we would need to figure out where to stay as well. We pulled into Searchlight Boat and RV Storage and there wasn’t a soul around. After dialing up a few numbers we got the host on the line and she said she’d be right over. We waited a few minutes and were greeted by a nice lady and her pooch. The site was ideal and the price was right so we signed the papers and asked about local hotels.

This is when we stumbled upon the El Rey Motel. I’d guess it was a booming business in the ’60s but now not so much. We walked up to the door called the cell phone number on the sign. Then, waited for our host to drive down and sell us a room for the night.

I guess they do things differently in Nevada, instead of hiring an onsite host, businesses just leave a phone number. Not a bad idea, works out if folks aren’t in a hurry. Honestly, there isn’t really anywhere else to go that’s convenient so I suppose people don’t mind waiting.

As I suspected, the room was complete with wood paneling and brass trimmed lamps along with floral printed curtains. Classic. Super clean and it had four walls and a ceiling, so we were satisfied.

The next adventure was hunting down something for dinner. There was a sign at the beginning of town for the “Roadhouse” which I assumed to be a supper club. I was way wrong. The Roadhouse turned out to be a casino with Denny’s inside and enough cigarette smoke to choke the Marlboro Man. So, we wandered up the hill to the other truck stop/casino/convenience store and settled on some of McDonalds finest cuisine for the evening.

Life, If All Went As Planned It Would Be Boring

All we could do was laugh at ourselves as we ate and thought about our upcoming dirtbike excursion. Life was definitely good and about to get better. I’m not sure others could wade through an evening of these experiences and still be so content with their situation. But, we certainly were.

After dinner, we walked back down the hill to the hotel and sat outside with our wine and Tequilla. I decorated the van with new stickers as Travis went over maps and plans for the morning. A few other people stopped in and phoned the host for rooms for the night. We made casual conversation with two couples who had rented motorcycles in Vegas. These people were out experiencing life on two wheels together for the first time. This conversation lead to storytelling and experience sharing, the 1st of many conversations of this kind to come.

The sunset and we turned in, unsure if either of us would get any sleep. As we anticipated the mornings’ events we finally calmed down and drifted off. It was shortly before sunrise Tuesday morning and we were wide awake and waiting to get our day started.

Let’s Roll!!!

First, we needed coffee and breakfast, turns out McDonald’s has both so up the hill we went. Then, it was time to drive to storage where we’d load the dirt bikes and leave the van behind.

We sprawled gear out all over the parking lot, the locals probably thought we were setting up a yard sale in the parking lot. After an hour or so both bikes were loaded to maximum capacity. Time to fuel up and get rolling.

Travis opted for the race fuel and discovered it was $19.99/gallon, wow! Then, his riding pants were suddenly soaked down the back. His camelback had sprung a giant leak. So, that went in the garbage and everything else could just air dry along the way. Crisis averted…for the moment.

Baja bound us geared up and ready to ride

Ten A.M. and we were riding off into the desert heading towards the California BDR. We went off-road a few times and found some excellent scenery. Hills to climb and Joshua trees everywhere, the day was gearing up to be quite fantastic.

About two hours and 22 miles in we rolled into Nipton CA. This groovy little town had a general store, the Hotel California, a campground, and an amazing bar/restaurant.

Hmmm, Do I Detect A Problem?

We spun the bikes around to get pictures in front of the sign, adding state #42 to my riding roster. As I pulled up my bike died and came to a halt in the pea gravel. Travis thought I forgot how to operate a two-wheeled machine. But, I was a tad concerned something was not functioning properly on the two-wheeled machine.

After a few photos, it was time to grab some lunch, the sign claimed Nipton has the best burgers around. (There is nothing else for over twenty miles in any direction) But, they were not lying the food was delicious!

However, as I wheeled down the street, my bike seemed to lurch forward even with the clutch pulled in. I told Travis I thought the clutch was slipping, he was sure that I just wasn’t turning the throttle enough. The idle was set a bit too low so I shrugged and agreed. Okie dokie. We ate, a lot, and got ready to roll again. This was when the deciding moment of what the issue really was happened.

Day 1 of our 21-day tour was starting out with a bang. I’ll be typing up the rest of this story as I make my way back to Wisconsin. And, you can all find out what happened in my ebook coming soon!

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