Home / Journal / Deserts and Heat


**DISCLAIMER – This entry was originally written May 23, 2017, in our motel room in Pine Valley, California, the night before we crossed the border into Mexico. We saved it as a draft, meaning to post it once we edited some video together from this leg of the trip (our plan once we hit Ensenada). Life, however, had other plans.**

Winnemucca was a whirlwind of visiting old friends and doing maintenance. We arrived late Thursday afternoon to a comfy bed and some much needed rest. We stayed with our good friends with whom we had also stayed with briefly before heading back to Minnesota, and with whom we also fly paragliders. The first order of business was to replace some of the parts in Smokey, specifically the bearings that hold the clutch basket in place while utilizing the clutch. Parts were already waiting for us there, so Friday morning we tackled the project and got everything completed just in time to let the RTV dry on the case cover while we took off for dinner with some other friends from the area.

The next day found us running around Winnemucca visiting more people, talking cars and a bit of travel and seeing what new things have transpired since we left last summer. We found out that visiting, while well worth the time and effort, takes a lot of time (much more than we had expected). We ended up running a bit behind on a few other items that we should have addressed, but were not necessary at the time. We enjoyed talking with people but needed to get ready to head out the next morning, yet again. At this point, looking back upon the previous two weeks since leaving MN, it seemed like we could have used a bit more time in some places we visited—Winnemucca being one of them.

Sid’s – our favorite greasy spoon in the Mucc.

The next morning, we had some breakfast with some more friends and then headed off to Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. We went here specifically because we spent about three years volunteering at this big cat sanctuary, much of that time spending at least one day every weekend helping to build dens, build enclosures, do general maintenance, and even do some electrical projects. It was a very satisfying time of our lives spent working on various projects all the while learning about sanctuaries and big cats in general. A few of the cats they cared for were lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and a few other animals as well. Most of the animals came from desperate situations from which they were rescued, and the sanctuary serves as their permanent home. Many changes took place since we were there last in 2015, including a few new animals (lions, tigers, and now bears, oh my!).

Residents of Safe Haven, lions Kovu and Ifaw. Kovu has since passed away (this photo is from 2011)—nowadays Ifaw has a lady lion friend named Mona to share his enclosure with.

We ended up leaving the sanctuary heading south on Hwy 400 and over the hills to rejoin I-80 near Lovelock, Nevada, to save some miles. It was pretty late in the afternoon at this point and we were attempting to get to the Mono Lake area for the night. Only a couple hundred miles passed before darkness started to fall. We fell a bit short of our goal and ended up just north of Hawthorne, Nevada, at Twenty Mile Beach, basically a beach of stepped plateaus with dispersed camping on Walker Lake. It ended up being a nice night, although there were some rather large rocks under the tent (unavoidable, given the terrain). We also messed around with some long exposure photography just for the fun of it.

Group photo at dusk with Walker Lake in the background.

Ehren’s first stab at light writing after attempts by Britt were.. rather illegible, to say the least.

The next morning we got going after a way-too-large oatmeal breakfast. Our goal for the day was to end up in Joshua Tree NP, however that was around 460 miles away, and it was a bit warm out. It was in the 90s for most of the day and we ended up droning down the highway for hours on end. There were pretty parts of the ride, but some not so fun parts too. It got a little hotter the closer we got to Joshua Tree. We pulled into camp just before dark and luckily found a campsite as it was pretty busy (as we were told Joshua Tree would be). The park itself we explored the next day and is pretty cool. The rock formations are obviously really neat, but there is a whole host of flora and fauna to explore within the park as well (cholla!). We checked out a dam built for cattle back when the area was heavily used for cattle ranching. Apparently it had more annual rainfall many years ago.

Quick sunset photo as we got into camp.

Britt with some lovely cholla cacti.

Ehren finds relief from the sun in a shady spot on the trail.

Luckily the day we left Joshua Tree NP, we only had a couple hundred miles to complete, much better than the day before. Upon exiting the park, however, the heat was already becoming pretty intense—the temperature was reaching into the 100s. We took a small, scenic canyon road down into Mecca at the northwest end of the Salton Sea. The canyon was a road built in a riverbed; we could only assume that in times of either rainfall or big snow melt, the road gets absolutely covered by rushing water. What really stood out about this route was the intense heat. Being in the canyon was like being in an oven. Near the end the temperature was reading 115. The bikes did well and we worked our way over to Highway 86 to get some fuel and stop for some lunch. At this point it was still heating up and we just could not drink enough water and other liquids to keep hydrated.

Back on the road, Ehren with his mesh jacket was overheating by quite a lot. We made it about 30 miles before the heat took over and stopping was necessary. All the signs of heat exhaustion were showing, the only thing we could do was stop and try to take the edge off by dousing down with water. This process repeated every 20 miles until we could work our way west and into higher elevations. Sweet relief came in the form of cooler weather as we pulled into the town of Julian. We chatted with a few guys in the library parking lot we pulled off into in order to check our route (and relish in the lower temps, which had plummeted to the mid-80s).

85 degrees has never felt so good.

We then made our way into Pine Valley, where we got a room for the night (mainly for that sweet, sweet A/C). For supper we grabbed a burger and fries at Frosty Burger down the street and had a nice walk back to the motel. After packing our unwanted items in a box to ship home, we called our respective parents to let them know we were crossing into Mexico the next day. We’ll try to stay in a hotel with wifi within the first few days to check in and make sure our communication methods are still solid. After saying our good nights and getting off the phone, we took showers and, feeling both excited and anxious about the next day, tried to settle our minds in for a good night’s sleep.. wondering what trials and triumphs tomorrow would bring.


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