Death Valley Daze 2008

Being down to one camera is a real downer. Especially since we split up one and had to cast lots to see who would get to take the camera. Also the weather was not the best for taking pictures this year so please forgive the small number of pictures from this adventure.

Special thanks to Jim for bringing his camera, taking so many pictures and letting me share many of them on this site. Note that the pictures below of Mengel Pass and Chloride Cliff Rd are courtesy of Jim Cassidy.


Ready to Roll


After some trial and error, we finally got the configuration right to get both bikes onto the new trailer, and the right hitch to the RV. We set out at about 5:30 Tuesday night. We made it up to Flagstaff and decided to stop for the night. Gotta love having the RV, just put it into park, put on your PJ's and nighty-night! The drive up was beautiful- there was a full moon that was gigantic! And snow on the hillsides of the desert made for unique and memorable drive.

*sigh* The next morning we awoke bright and early, and Dave had an epiphany- my riding gear was still at home hanging in the den ready for travel. All of my gear. So, back home we went! Oh well- it could've been worse- we could've gotten all the way to Death Valley and then realized it!

Even with the 'long route' to DV, we arrived Wednesday night at about 5:30, so we had made good time. We got situated in our campsite and settled in for a restful night.

Crozb, at age 14, is almost ready for his driver's permit ; )


Thursday afternoon our buddy, Jim, arrived. We had a good lunch then headed out to see some sights and get some riding in. We were heading to see Rhyolite, one of the Ghost Towns within the park. Jim had scouted out Chloride Cliff Road, which detours off the highway and then loops back onto it. It started out pretty easy, then had some more fun challenges, nothing too tough

(Dave riding Chloride Cliff Road)

Dave does his 'hero' impersonation.


Karla in hot pursuit

Well, as it turned out, Chloride Cliff Road gets a *bit* tougher as you go. Some larger rocks, some ruts, then some slanted ruts on an incline. Jim had spilled his bike at one point, but all was well. That was about the time the road became rutted, uphill, with the sidecar side high (Karla shudders) Nothing that the incredible Dave couldn't handle (my hero!) However, with the timeline creeping into late afternoon, and not knowing if this was the beginning or the end of the tough stuff, we decided to cut our losses and turn back. The Ural had lost the cylinder guard off the left airhead, so now I was a bit paranoid of doing any further damage.


Towne Pass. A little snow never stopped anyone. On the way to the notorious Mengel Pass.

On Friday, Dave, Jim, and another one of our local cronies, Brian, decided they'd like to do the notorious Mengal Pass. This was a long route, with some tough technical sections to look forward to. I was a bit on the fence for this ride, since I had heard every tall tale about this route from other riders from years past, and, with my speed limitations and missing cylinder guard, I was concerned about holding up the group. As it turned out, we came to a perfect solution. Like I said, the guys headed out to 'get their dirt on' and ride the epic ride, while I met up with the 'Ural Invasion' and rode with those guys that day. There were about 15 Ural/sidecar riders there this year, and they graciously invited me along with them. We headed off to Rhyolite, which was perfect since we'd not made it there the day before, and I had never seen that sight before. We had a great time, each of us on our own adventures. (As it turned out, after Rhyolite and lunch in Beatty, the Ural crew decided to go off onto Chloride Cliff Road, which I declined. I was a bit relieved to hear that they had also turned back, but had taken the opposite route.)


Dave's top case fell off. Guess they put a lock on it for a reason.


Jim heading up Mengel Pass

Brian heading up to Mengel Pass

Jim going down Mengel Pass

Dave's turn

Dave's descent comes to a grinding halt (literally) as his skid plate scrapes along

Spencer heading up Mengel Pass (notice the word UP)

Rick planning his assent

Brian's street tires quickly stop his forward momentum

A little muscle power and Brian is at the top

Brian helps Rick realign his approach

Even with the knobs Rick traction slips

Resting before the final stretch out via the wash

Blown fork seal sealed the end of Dave's dirt riding for this trip.

The Ural crew posed at some of the sculptures in Rhyolite. (Karla admits, it was great to ride with a group that had the same speed capacity as me. She also enjoyed watching the skills of each rider, when they did or didn't lean, etc. And also notes that it is nice to hear that the rutted road with the sidecar high-sided made them shudder, too!)


More views of Rhyolite.

The fellow in the green camo is Ernie from Texas. He and 'DaveO' and Karla explored Rhyolite together. DaveO was a wealth of information and quite the history buff. Between DaveO and the park host of that area, they got a great feel for 'the way it was' in this once booming little town.

This building was made from glass bottles. Like, a jillion of them. Quite a sight, and the bottles themselves were a bit of history, as they were marked by manufacture, and some were placed so that you could see what they had once held. A lot of 'blood purifyer' and 'liver purifyer'

Saturday we decided to do some of the more tourist attractions, since we were both limited to road rides. This spot is called the Devil's Golf Course. It is actually salt that erupts to the surface and cracks. Okay, Karla will admit it, she tasted it. Guess what- it's salty.



At some times there is more water in this pool. The legend is that a miner could not get his donkey to drink from the pool, and thus the name of Badwater Pool stuck.

It was an incredible day to ride! The sun was out and skies were clear. Simply beautiful and we could see forever on the vistas and views.

Say "helmet hair!"

We walked out onto the salt flat. We were surprised to find that the salt was wet- it looked a bit like snow slush. We also did Artist's Palate, which was beautiful, and had our picnic lunch there, too.


Why do people like to camp?
picture ripped from joefromsf

Obviously, it rained a bit overnight. We were really glad to be all dry and comfy in the RV. Death Valley actually only gets less than 2" of rain a year, so this weather was a bit of a fluke.

Sunday we rode up to Stovepipe Wells and had lunch. After that, our plan was to ride to Ubehebe Crater and have a look. As we rode, the weather pretty much overtook us. It was raining, but not too hard. We got about 10 miles from the crater, and the fog was so bad we could only see about 30' ahead, so we decided to call it quits for the day.

We packed up and headed home on Monday morning. A wind storm had come in, and it was slow going on our drive home. It was really the nastiest wind I've ever encountered. At one point we were passed by two ADV riders on their motorcycles and they were doing some serious leaning to stay upright.

Overall, we had a great time. Karla notes that she enjoyed meeting and riding with the Ural/sidecar crowd this year, and hopes to ride a day with them again next year. Unfortunately, many other ADV riders were unable to make the travel to Death Valley, so there was less of a presence than in years past. Dave got to do Mengal pass, which he'd wanted to do again. We will be back again next year, no doubt!