WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderSouth 2 - Kingman, Arizona
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 17:47:38 -0800

When a problem is not a problem ... or,
Some Lessons Need To Be Learned Again, And Again.

    It was a perfect Monday morning for a ride. The dust storm that tore through Death Valley yesterday was gone. So too were most of the Airheads, since I slept late knowing it would be a short day. I took time packing and just before leaving decided to, um, 'dust off' the remains of the dust storm on the bike. All was ready and I felt good. Swing a leg over, turn the key, and - nothing.

    Not a gauge moved, not a light shined, NOTHING.

    But wait, now. Everything was fine Saturday night. Let's try again. Off, reseat the key, on.

    Ok, one lesson I learned long ago was always check what you did (i.e. "fixed") last. My headlight burned out Saturday, and Lou offered his spare which Greg helped install. Several hands had been moving wires, maybe something got dislodged. Recheck, replug, try again.

    Hmmm. The battery is not dead because the FuelPlus still works. Looks like a major disconnect somewhere ... better push it down to the gas station 1/4 mile away in case I need a charge (or thinking the worst, a place to leave it).
    As I was pushing out toward the highway, a rider came past and, seeing me, turned around to offer help. I told him what, and went to show him. Key on, and HEY! I got gauges! Woah, what's loose? Let's try a start. Push the button, and I get about 1/2 crank before it all shuts down again.

    Now here is the Lesson To Be Learned Again. And I must admit with chagrin - I am a motorcycle safety instructor, CMSP recognized and MSF certified. What is the starting process for a bike? FINE-C: Fuel (nope, injected), Ignition, Neutral, Engine cutoff switch. Oh, groan.
    Back to Hard Learned Lesson #1: what was the LAST thing I "fixed" on the bike? I dusted the bike with a towel. It ever so slightly disengaged the kill switch - not enough to be obvious, but obviously enough. Sigh.
    <All endorphins please return to the staging area. Panic is over.>
    <Red corpuscles proceed to the facial cheeks. Embarrassment commencing.>

    The ride to Pahrump was wonderfully uneventful, and the feelings of starting cross country on a 'hinky' bike were left in the valley. Someone at the campfire had said the name of this excuse for a crossroad came from the sound a car makes when it goes over a cattle guard. Pah-Rump. 'Spose it could be.
    It has been about 20 years since Rebecca and I first saw Pahrump. My how it has grown. When we drifted through those many years ago we saw new streets paved up into the hillsides as though a grand development was about to be built, and we wondered why would anyone think this place could expand so greatly. My how it has grown. Can you say "land swindle"?
    After we drifted past Pahrump into Las Vegas 60 miles away, we happened upon a 'tourist services' booth where we were asked in rapid succession: Need a divorce? Want to get married? Want a free tank of gas? No, no, sure. Well, being adventurous (and having a 40 gallon tank in the van at the time), I bit. All we had to do was listen to a 'investment opportunity'. They packed 6 of us into a bus and took us to - you guessed it - Pah-Rump. The CalNeva company was selling lots which they didn't expect you to use, but hold and sell. It was wonderfully amusing. The CalNeva office is still there. My how it has grown. I saw exactly 10 houses built on the 50 or so 'new' streets that are now 20 years old.

    I am beginning to get into the mindset of motorcycle travel again. Passing through Las Vegas on surface streets, I begin to absorb everything without concentrating on anything, to scan without staring. This process occasionally lets some strange images push through the veil of attention. Two building signs, one just feet above the other: UMC Quick Care for Women; Quick Lube. You can imagine for yourself how this 'pushed through the veil'.

    Hoover Dam is one of those places that was already being 'loved to death' by too many tourists, but now with terrorist security changes, it is in the 'never be the same' category. There is a checkpoint miles from the dam. No trucks or RVs are allowed over. Parking at the visitor center costs $5, the used-to-be-free tour that went through the dam interior now costs $10 and you get a packaged presentation to save you from the tiring experience of actually walking. So I rode on. Nice rocks. Big puddle. What's next.
    Moving down into Arizona, I rejoin the open desert. Here the stark terrain gives definition to the words skyline and shadow. The jagged crest of red rock ridge sears a trace line across an indigo sky. This crisp demarcation is what city skylines are purported to remind one of, but they pale in execution. And the valleys open so widely that the entire shadow can be seen of a cloud that itself covers a third of the sky. Cities could fit in that shadow. One thinks wide, if not deep, thoughts here.

    The lure of the road pulls at me. I am out only 8 hours and I want to go longer ... but I force myself to stop for the night. This is supposed to be a relaxing trip and I'm going to relax even if I have to work at it! As Allen, the ex-pilot said, Plan the Flight - Fly the Plan. Oh well. As you have already seen, I have fallen off the pattern of Ride Write Sleep. These segments might not come every day.

Randumb observation for the day.
    At the campfire one person was discoursing about an objectionable individual he knew. He was calling this person a "mouth breather" and a "bottom feeder". Standard insults, there. But as I was watching a hawk twist and turn in air currents to keep a steady position in its hunt for food, it occurred to me, in this sea of air we live in - WE all are the bottom feeders.

250 miles
Furnace Creek CA190 Stateline NV160 NV159 I515 US93 Kingman
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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