Southwestern Car Interlude. March 17-21, 2015.

This map is a bit misleading.

Part of the press to turn north again was to meet up with Tim (previously referred to as the Giraffe) for a southwestern road trip. The map above doesn’t cover car territory – this is partly because I’m more concerned with scooter tracks, but it’s also because we only had one charger in the car and I couldn’t keep my GPS running all the time. In any case, this would be a bit like a whirlwind vacation from riding for me, a rest from the emotional intensity of Baja as well as catch up time with a dear friend. So, less talk and more photos now?!

Seems like a good camp spot, free on BLM land. I evicted a brilliant pink-tailed lizard for this spot though, hope they doesn’t come back at night with all their buddies…
In recompense, I decided to let this little camping buddy stay. In the morning, hew as still there…but I noticed he was feeding on the spattered remains of his buggy brethren on my windscreen. Was probably feasting all night.
I prefer my dinner: tiny avocados from the Mexican market, mash with tuna, and chase with whiskey (still in a Downtown Grand bottle from the rally, ha!).

The desert doesn’t know borders, but I suppose it was sort of a relief to be back on US soil – I had cell service, in spite of setting up in the middle of nowhere.

Outside a market before I set up camp, a rider with a mohawk helmet that matched his yellow Honda sportbike pulled into the gas station lot next to me.

“Where you headed?” I responded that I was going to camp outside Yuma about 15 miles west. “Oh, I live in town. Just got back from a 40 mile ride from the east. You come from east or west?”

“Uh, south. Algodones.”

“You were… south? Where did you come from?”

“I left from Ensenada this morning.”

And conversation kind of halted. “You… must really like riding,” were his parting words.

After the sun set, the night sky swam with stars.

Before I left my desert campsite though, I had a ghost town to check out: Tumco. It’s one of the earliest mining towns in California, and it’s still being mined today.

After Baja, this hard-packed dirt road was as good as riding on asphalt to me.
Current mining area?
The end of American Girl Road.
Active strip mining.
Desert blooms.
Bright colors in the desert.
Proceeding to explore ghost town on foot.
Desert is deserty.
Graveyard of cans. Uncanny.
Most of the trail looks like this, with signs and barbed wire around open mine shafts.
Or gates.
Graveyard of…unmarked graves. Creepy.
Quartz sparkles along the dirt roads. A really dumb hobby for a live-onboard scooterist: Rock collecting.
I love riding alongside trains.
Different kinds of giant cactus around here.
Enough Ethiopian food to take down a buffalo, Waldo (trying to hide from camera), his daughter…
…and special guest from Rhode Island, Tim!

Due to being sick in Ensenada, I would only be pausing in Phoenix for a night before taking off with Tim again. As per usual, the mileage and pace demanded a rental car. Waldo, whom I met at the Las Vegas High Rollers Rally, graciously housed my scoot and took us out to an Ethiopian feast.

A quick map check reveals this is Pinal Airpark, a boneyard for commercial crafts.

Tim wanted to visit the Pima Air & Space Museum, among other sights. Arizona’s dry climate and expansive space makes it perfect for dumping old airplanes.

Like a kid at Christmas, this one. Let’s go see the planes!
Tim was telling me about the marking on the side being records of kills.
Woa. The Super Guppy, a plane for carrying oversized cargo.
I like the nose art exhibit.
Nose sense in arguing.
Vespa?
Doofus.
Riding passenger in a cage again can be a bit boring, so in between the music and Nightvaleepisodes I took lots of photos of the changing landscape.
Kind of crazy how much it changes with weather.
Pew pew pew. Getting our tourist on in Tombstone, AZ.
They said “Foood!”
The interior was decorated by a deer friend.
Costumed characters roam the streets, like Disney but with less hygiene and more guns.

Although touristy, Tombstone, AZ was actually pretty cool. I got the sense the locals and actors just want to preserve the history that put the town on the map.

Crossing into New Mexico, “Dust storms may exist.” I want to believe.
I like this photo mostly because you can see the shadow of Tim’s hand, waving.
The nice thing about camping with Tim is that he bothers to cook.

With the persistent rain, Tim and I bailed on camping the first night and stayed in a motel in Nogales, AZ (where he repeatedly got lost and kept pointing the car towards the Mexican border, without his passport, but that’s another story). Although I’m perfectly happy to split motel costs when I can, he was determined to use the camp kitchen he hauled on the plane with him so we found a nice spot in Aguirre Spring.

Good morning, rental Chevy Sonic.
Does that tent look familiar? That may be because I was borrowing it on the scoot as far as San Francisco, before I bought my own solo tent. I didn’t think I’d be seeing it/cursing at setting it up again so soon.
Nine antelope bounded across the meadow here in the morning.
The chile was hot, but the establishment otherwise unremarkable except for having an enormous sign in the middle of nowhere, and playing ska, which just made me nostalgic for scooter rallies.
Moisture has no home here, and clings desperately to craggy mountain peaks.
Tiny nesting baskets at the White Sands Visitor Center! My miniature heart desires…
There are tracks where people sled down the dunes.
We don’t have sleds, so cartwheels it is.
World’s largest pistachio nut. Really.
Also had wine tasting. Red Chile was interesting.
Ohshitson, glad to be in a car now.
Could not resist. The lady at the gas station said they weren’t too hot. I concur, and they are indeed tasty.
Camping in a lava field. Valley of Fires, NM.
As we approached Albuquerque, signs started to look cool.
Pie break at a thoroughly southwest themed diner.
I like the details.
There were too many cool signs along old Route 66, so here is just one.
Indulging in fandom in a certain TV show, at Rebel Donut
Yup, fandork time is now.
Friend recommended getting a burrito at Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque.
I’ve never had it swimming in sauce like this… It’s delicious.
Also, New Mexico exploded in here.
More fandumb.
I like the show, but Tim is a huge Breaking Bad fan. I think it changed his life.
Tim is looking for gifts for family and friends. Shopping feels odd, I so rarely acquire anymore.
But I can oggle some crazy boots.

We only had time for a drive-by of Albuquerque, which was enough to determine the city is trapped in the 70s…in an awesome way. I loved the old neon, and the general aesthetic, against the backdrop of desert scrub. Also, please put green chiles on everything, I am definitely okay with this.

The continental divide is a good place to sell crap.
Well, no fun at this rest stop.
It’s like they knew I was coming!

In three short days, we blasted through places Bisbee, Tombstone, Nogales, Douglas, Duluth, Asheville, Holbrook, Payton… I don’t even remember in which order, I only remember the names in my notes. Tim was on a timeframe, and I was along for the ride. On the last day, he drove 635 miles back to Phoenix to catch his red eye back to Providence, RI – an unthinkable distance for me.

I settled back into Phoenix to rest at Waldo’s. It was good to be reunited with my scooter again, and chill with Waldo. I felt ready to explore the southwest on my two wheels.

I agree, Waldo, the livingroom is perfect for scooters.
No stay with a scooterist would be complete without a garage tour!
We watched videos of Waldo taking this scoot on trails. He would have handled Baja in a way that put me to shame.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.