Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dam...Hoover...that's a lot of concrete
Awaking to pre-dawn light is always a special experience.  This morning was one of those moments.  Early golden sun light shimmered off of Lake Mead as the sky turned deep colbalt blue.  Grabbing the camera, looking out the window of my motel room, the scene took my breath away.  In a sleep caused daze, quickly adjusting the ISO, shutter speed, and f stop, the stunning moment was captured.  Realizing I was shooting in black and white, I went back to bed.  So much for color photography early in the morning.
The first concrete was poured into Hoover Dam on June 6, 1933.  Bureau of Reclamation engineers calculated that if the dam was built in a single continuous pour, the concrete would take 125 years to cool and the resulting stresses would cause the dam to crack and crumble.   Instead, the ground where the dam was to rise was marked with rectangles, and concrete blocks in columns were poured.  A total of 3,250,000 cubic yards of concrete was used in the dam before concrete pouring ceased on May 29, 1935.  The wedge-shaped dam is 660 ft thick at the bottom, narrowing to 45 ft  at the top, leaving room for HWY 93 connecting Nevada and Arizona.  Times have changed things.  Today HWY 93 no longer spans the dam.  You are able to ride or drive across the dam, park for $10, then walk the length of the massive chunk of concrete.
Leaving Bolder City HWY 93 joins a section of I515 snaking through downtown Las Vegas.  Transition is insanely abrupt: the barren desert, then wham bam: Sin City.
Several miles east of Las Vegas HWY 93 appears from under Interstate 15.  A sweeping turn to the north puts me back onto a peaceful two laner.  Finally, out from under the interstates cutting and covering the classic highway.  
HWY 93 traverses the entire length of the Pahranagat Valley.  The valley is a narrow ribbon of green, no more than 1 mile  wide, like an oasis in the vast Nevada desert.  It is approximately 40 miles long running north and south.  The southern half of the valley including two lakes is home to the Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge.
The Pahranagat Range marks the beginning of the Great Basin.  Great it is.  Ranges of mountains  rising  rapidly from the plains.  Clouds filling the sky east to west, north to south.  Breathing easy now.  Feeling the rhythm of the road.  Shadows from the clouds cool the air on my back.  My heart becomes one with the thump of the motor.
Kickstand down in Alamo, NV at Windmill Ridge Cabins.  Cabin 4: fishing cabin with rods and reels on the wall.  Don't plan on much fishing, but the rods and reels are handy just in case I have a fishing dream.

Did you know Elvis was a motorcycle guy?  Had many bikes.  History tells us his favorite was his Harley-Davidson.  Look close...I'm riding the same type Harley Elvis rode.  Maybe a better way of saying it...I'm riding with Elvis.  Couldn't get any better than that.

be strong, be safe, Carlan  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

North from Wickenburg
Running on the original pavement of HWY 93 leaving Wickenburg this morning.  From Nogales to Wickenburg the old road has been buried under an interstate.  A few miles down the road survey crews are measuring and marking the roadway.  New signs ahead.  "Future corridor of Interstate 11."  HWY 93 will soon become extant.  Replaced with a high speed multi-lane interstate running border to border.  Good to be experiencing the old road as its known today.
Morning light illuminates the ancient Joshua trees along the road.  A forest of prehistoric beauty.  The Joshua tree is a yucca that grows as a tree and has clusters of spiky leaves, native to arid regions of southwestern North America.  Mile after mile they stand as sentinels across the desert plains.
Late morning breakfast at the Wikleup Trading Post.  Spanish explorers, padres, and miners came to the area as early as 1550.  Indian encampments  are dated much earlier.  Flo and Milo Morgan came to the area, gathered up discarded materials, surplus ammunition crates from WWII, discarded railroad ties, and river sand from the Big Sandy River to build their restaurant.  Flo soon became famous for her tasty family meals and delicious pies.  It is easy to say their proud history and tradition for good food and service lives on.
North of Kingman a short detour from HWY 93 leads to the town of Chloride.  Following the discovery of silver in 1860, Chloride became the oldest mining camp in Arizona.  Dedicated residents preserve the once booming mining camp.  Digger Dave's Biker Bar is the classic spot in town.
Digger Dave came to Chloride to dig over 350 holes and trench a ditch for a water line.  He decided to stay when the water line was completed.  Dave is a biker, family man, lover of all mankind, and owner/operator of DIGGER DAVE'S BIKER BAR.  In less than five minutes we were like a couple of long lost friends sharing and working out all the problems of the world.
Dave is proud of his bar, his home, his Harley, and the special lowrider bike he is building for his grandson.  The world needs more people like Dave.
Back on HWY 93 fingers of Lake Mead began to appear in the canyons.  Mountains rapidly pop up from the plains.  Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the western hemisphere, contains 30 million acre-feet of water, just over nine trillion gallons.  It irrigates some 2.5 million acres of land in the US and Mexico.  Hoover Dam just around the corner.  

Kickstand down near the dam.  Looking for the big wedge of concrete in the morning. 

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Whoa...what a day
Ever had a day when the sun goes down you can't believe where you have been and what you have seen?  Today was that kind of a day for me.  Sun up having breakfast in Nogales in a small family cafe.  As William Heat Moon would say.."a three calendar type of place".  Eggs cooked perfect with chorizro, beans melt in your mouth, rich black Mexican coffee.  Pay the bill, leave a tip, the waiter thanks me, blesses it and puts it into a coffee can.  Two other individuals in the cafe.  Both look up and wish me a good day and a safe trip.  Fire up the bike.  Ride half a mile and hit the border.  Looks like a war zone.  Makes you wonder.
Few short miles north from Nogales is Tumacacori.  In 1691 Eusebio Francisco Kino and his party approached the Pima settlement of  Tumacacori.  It was the beginning of Spain's northward expansion along the west coast corridor home of the Piman Indians.  In 1751 some Pimas attacked the Spanish settlement. The Spanish were driven out for a short time.  By 1786 only a hundred Pima Indians remained at Tumacacori.  Disease, encroaching settlers, and lack of government support changed their homeland.
The original HWY 93 is buried under Interstate I10 from Nogales to Wickenburg.  Temperatures reached upward of 106 degrees.  Ride 40 miles.  Stop drink a bottle of water.  Ride 40 miles.  Stop drink another bottle of water.  Yet, through the heat and burning sun the beauty of the desert continued to create a sense of wonder and beauty.
Checking into a motel in Wickenburg tonight I am greeted with a bag..."Thanks for braking with us...Yahoo".  A special "thank you" for bikers on HWY 93.
Wickenburg: A town that grew up as a gold mining camp in the 1860's.  Cowboys are often seen riding through town.  A few crusty prospectors still search for a strike.
Dinner at the Rancho Bar 7 in Wickenburg.  Ellsie shared local stories.  Met a retired art director from LA.  She told me how she only hired photographers who were free spirited and willing to take a risk.
Good to have the kickstand down in a biker friendly place.'s a Mecca.  Another hidden paradise along the Blue HIghways of America. was a very good day.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Packin' the gear
Pack in' up the gear. Headed out at o dark hundred for a flight to Tucson. Pickin' up a bike there. Road story for HD HOG magazine. Nogales,Az to Canada via US HWY 93. If you are along the route give me a shout out.
Flyin' back and forth across the southwest just to get to Tuscon.  So much for travelin' through the skies.  Looking for the the black strip of highway with the yellow line. Tucson HD had the bike polished and ready to go.  Harley dealers are unique.  It really is all about family.  Travel to a new destination, pick up a bike, be greeted like family.  Doesn't get any better.  Roll on the throttle, ridin' south toward the Mexico border.  First stop San Xavier Mission, the white castle of the desert.  

At Amado hit the brakes for the worlds largest concrete cow skull.  Big Horn Grill.  Closed.  For sale.  Sign reads: "Don't stop here if you are trying to sell us anything.  We are broke.  Keep moving on.  If you have any extra beer you can share with us, please come on in."  What a time not to have a cooler of cold ones with me.  Keep moving.
Nogales tonight.  Real Mexican food.  Only the cook and waitress working.  Know I am close to the border.  Make the turn at wall in the morning and head north to run HWY 93 border to border.  A good day to be on the road.

be strong, be safe, Carlan 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Holy Hail Storm
The story goes something like this.  Beautiful August day in New Mexico.  Blue sky, few clouds floating around, 78 degrees, no wind, current weather forecast...dry.  Perfect ridin' day.  Talk to one of my ridin' buddies.  Let's run some two lane about 35 miles, stop get a coffee, hang out a bit and catch up on local news.  Good plan.  

Nice ride to Madrid.  Park right in front of the coffee shop.  Order up some strong brew.  Find a table in the shade.  Doesn't get any better.  Thirty minutes into that laid back catch up conversation...BIG rumbling sounds.  Sun disappears.  Sky gets coal black.  First some light sprinkles.  Turns to hard rain, turns to BIG hail.  Oh...HOLY HAIL!  Grab the rain gear out of the bike bag (oh yes...always carry rain gear..always).  Use the rain jacket to cover the tank to soften the hail pounding down on the bike.  No place to run, no place to hide.  Wait it out.

Highway is running wild with 6" of water.  Arroyos creating new channels.  Need to find a new direction home.  Not hitting the back roads on this one.  Running slow and easy.  Wet ride home.  Temp drops to about 60.  Only in New Mexico.  You know what....doesn't get any better.

BTW: ALWAYS carry rain gear.

be strong, be safe, Carlan