The land was goofy in both a good and bizarro way, nothing made sense but it made all the sense in the World as nothing is more true than nature and a paradox in itself. A place with the name of Death Valley one instantly visualizes bones and sand but not so as the area had it’s own special blend of diversity. Jagged blades making up the impressive behemoths that have stood guard for who knows how long made from the fault-line that makes up the valley. To the west in total juxtaposition Telescope Peak looms in what seems the near distance capped in snow and where Tom and I stand or ride we drop below the level of sea and all is in hot natural Earth-tones. It’s February and it’s tolerable with the temperatures in the high 80′s instead of the additional 50 degrees that easily happen in just a few short months. Evidence of past show humans have dealt and resided here and I can’t for the life of me understand why but that is what makes our species wonderful, always asking, “Why?” Perfect response, “Why not?”
The color spectrum ranges out here and surprisingly the cool tones look like watercolor upon the brown and khaki as when the little rain that does drop, it changes the washes in every which way meaning this valley of death is oh so much alive with it’s own special blend of diversity. It’s weird being below sea-level as it’s one of those things that hurt’s your head like being told the the stars we see don’t exist it’s just the light getting to us. Well how come it didn’t burn out yesterday when my lightbulb decided to die? Don’t strain over what is just be and appreciate. We take it slow and stop when and wherever heading for Badwater where water didn’t show itself but only a dry bed of alkaline persevering where the only neighbor may be saline. I can see it can be lonely out here and as the thought crosses my mind tour buses have landed and the tourists have arrived and here we are amongst them. We look upon the rock wall announcing the edge of a fault and 282′ above us is a sign blatantly announcing sea-level in a simple black and white hand painted sign. Wild.
Into Furnace Creek I piggy-back on Tom’s National Parks card and we hunt out the others that have shown up for the same reason, to hang out in a place of possibly inebriated curiosity. Some of these cats I was introduced to a couple weeks prior at Bashford’s, the Airhead bunch primarily the Southern California contingency. As we roll in John and Gary clap and holler under their shade as the troops are gathering, not for war but the opposite to appreciate company. A swath a BMW R bikes loop the campground and peppered amongst a few different makes and models round us out well as we should be, not exclusive but inclusive. Some gleam in the reflection of the Sun from a recent bath or a cozy spot in the garage as others show evidence of appreciative neglect of the machines being used. Drips and puddles under some and others covered in excessive blowback, carburetors being dorked with and engine covers being removed. I am a part of this World and takes me back to being a child and attending the ‘Hit and Miss’ engine shows with my Papa in Point Pleasant, West Virginia where the old fellers would simply sit around smoking cigarettes, not saying to much of anything and watching the fly-wheels go round and round on their models that sat on top of the wooden cases they were kept in and marked with a simple engraved plaque. I now understand with maturity, curiosity and a dose of ignorance and escape the enjoyment those old fellas got from getting together. Was it the machines or camaraderie or both. Maybe neither and it doesn’t matter as we are all in attendance in spite of any possible reasoning other than we ride astride a simple motor and two wheels or side-car rigs. Toys but toys that carry with them attachments and appreciation, motorcycles.
We, the salt of the earth were sprinkled inside the tuck-ins offered by the alamo trees where we made our simple homesteads and days here spent hanging, talking and general being. Nights spent around the fire that got bigger with each night meeting new arrivals and seeing what they rode in on. The stars out here were unashamed in their arrival and the full-moon held forth with it’s own form of light. Friends made at Bashford’s were met again and relations now more solid, depending on how you look at it as the night went on.
Saturday we decided to ride, it was a close call deciding wether to do that or lounge. Longbeach Glenn, Pittsburgh Dan, Master Tom, Desert Dave and myself headed for Beatty, Nevada in such a loose group that it wasn’t even a group, no cluster-fuck here, ride your own ride. The ride north went up and down and over Daylight Pass that boggles the mind seeing the land stretch far and wide with a hazy over-tone laying atop the desert floor and we all separated. I made it into Nevada and Dan was nowhere in sight. I paused and smoke on the side of the road and still with no sighting, I headed back up towards Daylight Pass to see if all was good as his /5 BMW had attention early with the carbs apart and the tank off. Climbing in elevation I see his dull headlight come into view and with arms thrown in the air signaling it could never be better he flies by with the sound of fluttering lips from the tailpipes.
Entering Beatty we all find each other, some of us went here some of us here but it was decided to hit up the hot spring pools north of town. Upon arrival the roomed pools are full and we meander the petting zoo where older buffalo calfs ate the tossed hay among the billygoats that begged for attention and a tom turkey announcing himself with his patterned feathers claiming territory that the ducks and some small game didn’t care about as long as they were fed. We lounged a moment and headed the five miles back to Beatty where we got grub, Tom got beer and headed back to camp, Glenn went looking for mine shafts and Dan, Dave and I opted for the hot-springs where we had our lunch in the shade and waited our turn for a soak.
Steeping, the water felt fine and the gravel floor made for a perfect wash cloth and the large pool offered space to wade around in for our 30-45 minute allotted time. Ah, hot-springs, is there anything more finer than such? You could hear the soothing features in our long drawn out exhales in between talks and turns at the spot where the warm water entered under the water of the pool. Afterwards the soak did it’s job so well we had to chill in the temperate outdoors before we even thought of leaving.
Dave and Glenn caught Rhyolite ghost town before Beatty and Dan and I went right past meaning it had to be seen heading back to camp in Death Valley. With Dave leaving us in the late afternoon and the Sun going low, Dan and I had a photoshoot at a derelict plane at a whorehouse and then a visit to the wiped out town that the railway forgot, Rhyolite. Half buildings remained or only foundations, rusted tin cans in the thousands littered the area and upon the hills we walked mine shafts commanded our thoughts and some we poked into but not too far.
It was as if we were looking upon the forgotten work of ancient dwarves that once resided here, but it was the work of man and we even forgotten what they were mining for yet here was indications of why they were here. Holes in the sides of hills, some neatly made and some crude and weary thinking of the souls that made it their choice to labor inside the Earth out here in the unforgivable desert. Dan and I had nothing but time on our hands and we spent ever damn last bit of it in Rhyolite and leaving the scene we find the most peculiar art among the dirt. Belgium art it seems of specters depicting the Last Supper and an 8-bit block statue of a natural blonde female on her knees and a stone sofa. Desert trash looked at in a different light as found art and here it continues to rust as time does it’s thing.
With the setting Sun it’s time to make the hour long jaunt back to camp yet we still ride slow and stop here and there with a late arrival home. “There you guys are!” we heard and it’s good to know our friends are concerned with our well-being and safety arriving after dark. The mood was high and jovial around the fire where we mingled and blended, ghosts of smiles in the orange light and quiet laughter at stories and lies we tossed around in our own little club that not all of us belong to myself included but it doesn’t matter. We’re here as brothers and sisters under the screaming stars and a bright moon that has to be howled at. We’re not doing anything special other than sharing the common bond of riding motorcycles and general fuck-offery. Life couldn’t be any better than this and it’s good to share it with others out here in the wasteland.