2019-happy-trails-tour-great-lakes-niagara-falls-and-the-smokies – Day’s 1-6

We are into day 5 of our cross country motorcycle tour, journeying The Great Lakes and destined for Niagara Falls and The Smokies; this is our Celebration tour. As this July 4th is our 40th Anniversary.

I absolutely LOVE when our dry bags are bungeed onto our bikes, helmets on, intercom connected, engines started, kick stands are up and we start down our driveway. I am smiling. The adventures begin.

Day 1 – Sunday, May 26th (400mi)

Rain riding much of the day and lodged in Des Moines, Iowa

Day 2 – Monday, May 27th (211mi)

Some rain riding, though not as far to go. We lodged in the home of my cousin Kay; she hosted us with comfort, rest and good food. It was so good to visit with her, as it had been many years since seeing her. When she heard we were coming through her area, she insisted we spend the night. We spoke of our relatives, their history and heritage, her daughter has put in long hours of discovery and research into ancestry.

On our way to her home we had passed Austin, Minnesota, where my Grandparents, the Schmelings (German heritage) had lived. I recognized the names of many near by towns I had not been near in decades.

Day 3, 4,and 5 – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, May 28th, 29th and 30th (85mi)

We headed for Bloomington, Minnesota; a short day of riding. The 1st couple days of riding are always the hardest for me, we were both exhausted and planned for Bloomington to be our hold up for recovery before we begin touring the Great Lakes.

Our lodging was 5 minutes from the Mall of America…kinda planned that. We rested up, Mall walked, went to a movie, went to the Aquarium and just enjoyed …. hanging.

Day 6 – Friday, May 31st (164mi)

Bloomington was expecting temps in the high 80s when we left this morning, but we were headed towards the 50s in Duluth, Minnesota, just 2 and a half hours away, so we dressed accordingly.

We arrived down town Duluth, just in time to see the historic lift bridge in action.

http://www.duluthharborcam.com/p/bridge-cam.html

https://www.johnweeks.com/river_stlouis/pages/stlL02.html

Give me Jesus


I have never been one for pictures of Jesus. Only because I don’t want someone else’s impression of what Jesus looked like to get stuck in my head. I don’t think any of us can imagine the character of his God-like face, the humanity of his facial features, the sinless lines and angles formed of his life here on earth. 
This is not the same picture that hung in my Grandma Fern’s bedroom. That picture may have gotten lost in the shuffle of life. Though this is the same picture print of my Grandma Fern’s and this one has a special story. 
As a very young child laying in my Grandma’s bed, this picture held my eyes countless times. Before I fell asleep and when I woke in the mornings. I would think, concentrate and ponder; this is Jesus. I lived in uncertainty. My mother and father divorced. My mother left when I was 7.

I felt nothing as far as genuine affection.
Years of uncertainty, confusion. Adults in my life held no real security.
That image, that picture, moved with my heart through my life.
Through my young years of rebellion. Blurred memories of disappointments in myself. How good do I have to be. How could Jesus Love me? Do I want him in my life, because I believe I have some ideas of my own and he does not fit in? Who is he? What does he want of me?

Jesus calls, he gently draws on my heart. I am not ready, I know who you are, and I am not ready yet.

Who will ever love me? There is nothing in this world perfect. There are missing pieces everywhere. I feel empty, in need, and aimless. Who will save me? Who will ever love me?
As I cried out my heart in the night, I felt his presence and overwhelming love reach out to my brokenness. I surrendered. I never looked back. God’s Word became my path. I understood straight away that his Words belonged to me. His Holiness would become life inside of me. He is mine and I am his – belonging and loved.

I was 16 years old. I stumbled, I fell, I roamed off on my own sometimes, but I always felt sick with repentance when I disobeyed. 

Again, this picture is a special gift to me from my Jesus: A few years back I committed to telling  my personal story in my church of coming to know Jesus. It was not the 1st time I had shared my story. It was just at a time I felt weak, uncertain, and scared  of stumbling over words because of how personal and sacred my story is to me. 
The very next day while dropping into a flea market in my community, I looked down and saw this picture setting on the ground propped up and looking at me. $6, and I walked away with it smiling.
Again, I am not one for pictures or statues of Jesus, as I know someday I will see him face to face for REAL. But honestly, this picture holds a place of great honor hanging in my bedroom. 
Every night I lay down in its  presence. Every morning I wake up to it – I meditate, worship, praise, pray and ponder the very breath and heart of my Jesus. 
I see the long journey of my life in that picture.

Jesus was love nailed to a cross, sinless though taking with him, the sins of the world. That was PERFECT love – Our belief in God’s mission of his own son’s death delivers us from our sins, with our sincere repentance and belief.
That PERFECT love is our HOPE….. It cast out ALL fears.
The absence of fear is…JOY. We have eternal life free of all brokenness.
So in this one scripture, it presents security in God’s plan of salvation.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18

Happy Trails and Life, cross country motorcycling, Orthostatic Tremor awareness, and RVing to come

Home

Thursday, 5/26/2016

HOME – in our own bed, NOT getting up, packing up, loading up and scooting on down the road.

When we went to retrieve Elroy at Curt and Sam’s (brother and sister-IL). Elroy went flying from their living room couch and came sliding a good 4 feet across their kitchen floor trying to get stopped before landing into our arms. We all about busted a gut laughing at his exitement. It was a robust long welcoming with lots of kisses and hugs.

So I wake up with my heart FULL of THANK YOUs.
That Elroy was well cared for and loved the whole time we were gone, by Curt and Sam, as always.

Thank you to my sister Debbie who cared for our cat, Gracie. Low maintenance cats; leave her food and water out and check on her every few days, she has her own door.
Debbie said she only saw her from a distance.

Al worried if she might leave us. I told him that we have never ever lost a cat. We had long term – (19 and 20 years) – Poncho and Kathy who did not have a cat door. We simply have always come home and found our cats.

I told him Gracie will hear your motorcycle and come as she always does. We got home, I opened the front door and in she came. She annoyed Al the rest of the evening. While he unloaded the bikes, while he tried to concentrate on his note-pad, she squeezed around and finally; Al fell asleep with Elroy tucked close in and Gracie asleep on his chest. All is normal at our house and for that I am THANKFUL.

We have Angels that mow our lawn, all 2.6 acres! THANK YOU Angels, you know who you are. 🙂

THANK YOU to all our prayer warriors who prayed everyday for our safety. We are home SAFE. And GOD SMILES.

Our bucket list great adventure, cross country motorcycle trip has passed with SUCCESS.

Over 5700 miles of; in the saddle-motorcycle time. And believe me we get what I call numb b###. No tickets, and believe me we deserved them. And no accidents or even near misses.

Just Thankful today.

 

Add 10 miles, because I forgot to set my trip odometer 10 miles late  – every mile counts. 🙂

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This is is the navigating system, our Captian/Navigator kept us from rain and storms all day yesterday coming home. And Oklahoma can produce some nasty storms.

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Shade – very important for stops such as this. Looks like a ghost station to me.

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These are 6 of our 8 GRANDchildren. They turned our journey into a geography lesson and they prayed us all the way home safely, too. The red yarn tells the journey for them to understand.

God has blessed us and Life is GOOD.

Day 19 – Tonight Altus OK and tomorrow HOME !

 

Tuesday, 5/24/2016

Started the day off right; doughnuts, the breakfast of happiness.

We are in the city of Altus, OK
for the night. We have traveled today around 375 in miles, arriving here at around 5:30pm.

We crossed into Texas on some two lane back road and crossed our way through the pan handle on into OK.

Tomorrow HOME!

The long flat, boring, straight back roads are very unpopulated and gives way to much thinking, much meditating and prayer too.

We wrestled with some cross winds. We neither one even mentioned it. We laughed as we agreed; after the monstrosity of the winds (25-35 mph with 50 mph gusts) we battled a few days ago, upon leaving Hoover Dam all the way to Flagstaff Arizona, it will be a long time before a few crosswinds shakes our boats.

Of course I have no high points of interest to share from today’s journey’s. Barren land, lots of fields, farm equipment; although there is a particular farm contraption that I find fascinating. I’ll google up a picture of it.

I tell Al – I think we could drive right under one of these.  🙂

 

The giant wind mills.

 

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LOVE this – old frontier/new frontier

I really worked at getting this particular picture on the way by – the small ole wind mill was spinning diligently serving its purpose while the bigger ones on either side it, they were facing the wrong direction and not spinning at all. Many of the big ones were facing the right direction and spinning strong.

***********

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:5-8

Nicodemus; he ask all the right questions for all the world of people that came after him needing the same questions answered.

Freedom from sin – Freedom to spin with our purposes in Christ.

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I do follow a very fascinating fellow. And we are well over 5000 miles together on this trip.

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Yeah – still not stopping at the state signs. They don’t have them on the 2 lanes we cruise on. Some of them have been on bridges and some just too risky. So …..I fabricate my own now.   🙂

Oh WOW – it will be a full 8 hours of riding tomorrow.

ALWAYS bittersweet that last day of riding.

Sweet as in – Home Sweet Home

Bitter – The journey comes to an END.

Day 18 – Roswell

 

Monday, 5/23/2016

We missed our state entrance pictures from both Arizona and New Mexico. So…hey, I just googled me up a couple.

All day today when we drove past unique interesting stuff. I just thought hey – I’ll just google it and thief the pictures. At this stage in the trip, both Al and I are not stopping on any of the pull outs and tour stops, we are in high gear and logging up miles; homeward bound.

We have been through some of the New Mexico mountain ranges today – knowing we are leaving the last of our favored mountain riding behind, we are all too familiar with the mountains that begin to move out to the distance all around us as we drop in elevations we feel the temperature changes and then all the mountains are in our rear view mirrors. And there they go.

We are in Roswell, NM for the evening.

Things that made us go – hhmmm, today

We passed by some fields with these huge strange satellites all over.

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And here is the interesting story ;

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/14701

And then strange black broken lava looking rock formations that went on for a few miles.

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And here is the interesting story ;

http://southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southeast/Lincoln/ValleyofFires.html

When the road goes mile after mile after mile, you see the end and you know when you get to the end; you will see the whole thing all over again. Over and over and over. FLAT LANDS……………………..

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Traveling off the main paths; staying away from the interstates leads to open range and really out of the way cowboy fuel ups, it becomes just really interesting. This below was our lunch and fuel up around 2pm today.

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Nice hardy hamburgers served up here.

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Ladies bathroom decor

HAPPY TRAILS heading homeward.

Day 17

Day 17

We packed up at our ‘Primative’ camp site, loaded and strapped it all down to our bikes. My Hubby does most all of that stuff. I organize and reorganize and forget where I put stuff. Between the 2 of us we are fairly quick at setting up camp and taking it all apart too.

We found a Great breakfast place called the Coffee Pot in Sedona. Just stumbled in and realized everyone else did too. There were people standing around everywhere and a sign in sheet with a 20 minute wait, a shopping store with it. Not a Cracker Barrel but it was good.

After we had full tummies we fueled the bikes and then attended a church that Al found.

Cathedral Rock was next, one of the many Red Rock hiking mountains in the surrounding Sedona area. I say we…and well… I sit under a cool shade tree and relax. Today I seemed to be completely out of the path of all the many hikers.
Just sitting in peace. It’s a beautiful day, as was yesterday.
Al texted me when he was at one of the highest points, I tried to see him but he was to high. Then I went back to my perch and waited.

It was around 2pm when we headed out of town in the direction of the interstate, simply to get us to a two lane. We stopped at a McDonalds off the interstate to evaluate the two lane roads most scenic for our homeward journeys. Al is the navigator as we both assess the map over our Coke, sweet tea, hot fudge sundae and Al’s ice cream cone.

Sometimes when we walk out to our bikes there is someone looking at them and our Arkansas tags and waiting to ask about our journey. Usually it is a rider who relates. This time it was a friendly guy from Alabama. We always enjoy relating and bantering- motorcycle talk.

We passed through what is called the Mogollon Rim, another very beautiful range of mountains, bringing us within 50 miles of the New Mexico border, spending the night at a town called Show Low here in Arizona yet.

As a side note when riding motorcycles cross country, passing through high and low elevations we have an arsenal of riding jackets. A mesh jacket is light weight, I think of it as an air conditioned jacket. And then we have heavier jackets. I have one that is my warmest, a combo jacket, with a zip out jacket. I wear either of these two, alone or together, I can with stand temperatures into the upper 30s with both together.
As we pass through a day from morning to evening we shuffle jackets and outer wear along side the road many times. There is also rain gear.
And if I really need it, I have a heated jacket that electrically connects to power from my bike battery.
Two set of gloves – I wear a fingerless pair in heat, they protect my upper hands from burning. And then a warmer pair for cold protection.

We keep all this in our saddle bags handy to shuffle at any given temperature changes.

We even may charge our phone and helmet intercom on board our bikes.

Today is Monday morning. I did not have internet service last night, just could not connect to it.

So I am scripting this as we are getting ready to load up and head on into New Mexico.

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That is me not HIKING.

Al loves to hike and I enjoy relaxing peacefully in the shade. It’s ALL GOOD.

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This guy pulls up with his gas trailer as we are standing by our bikes deciding how much further down the road we want to go today. Using our hotel apps for best rates and such. He waves to us no problem he has plenty of room as he drives a few feet right by us and misses my bike by less then, I believe 10 inches and we just stood there and laughed at his great confidence and my despair.

Day 16 – Sedona Beauty

 

Saturday, 5/21/2016

We continued on from the Flag Staff, Arizona area to our next destination of Sedona. A place we love to visit; a beautiful winding mountain ride that leads into the very interesting red rock mountain terrain of the infamous Sedona land. I always get excited as we reach the bottom of this mountain to see Slide Rock.

Years ago when we came through here on a family road trip with our daughters, Lindsey and Laurie, we had our first experience on slide Rock.

Slide Rock State Park provides a very popular swimming experience along the Oak Creek Canyon where there is a long series of natural water sliding FUN. I will provide a picture, as it is really indescribable.

We have been on some interesting motorcycle rides in this area and Al also loves the hiking here. I hike until I find a comfortable place to just sit and relax while Al hikes on….and then comes back to retrieve me. I sit and have interesting conversations with passer by hikers or I read and just enjoy the views. There are MANY serious hikers in the Sedona Red Rock and Forrest surrounding areas, it is simply a very beautiful interesting terrain of land.

But….when we rode in yesterday the crowds were massive just as when we were at Big Sur just a few days ago. SCHOOLS OUT and the crowds are everywhere in the bigger tourist attraction areas. Our plan was to leave early enough in May to beat the crowds and not so early as to be in the yet cold climates. That is a narrow margin in time. And my sprained knee docked us a week. But it is what it is.

Cars lined the side of the road as we neared the Oak Creek water attraction of Slide Rock. As we drove by we could see the multitudes of people sliding away, all along the creek bed as the water rushes them all along. So much FUN.

Well, we drove on in and went to figure out a good camping area. Long story short; every camp ground was full. Al and I had never seen Sedona so full of people. It was a beautiful Saturday and every one came. We did walk around down town, ate a very late lunch, got the T-shirts and then headed to look for a campsite.

We finally were directed by a nice fellow at one of the campgrounds to an over flow, “primitive” tent camp area, where we set up camp.

We were set up by 5pm with both of us exhausted. We bedded down early in our coziness, complete with wiring off Al’s bike as we always hook up and recharge our devices (Phones, iPads and helmets). We even have service on this mountain we are camping on. So there we lay watching Netfix together on my iPad in the twilight of a very full moon, tucked into our huge cloud like queen size sleeping bag. The only disturbance were the strong gust of winds rushing through the trees and also blowing our rain flap. Winds must want their own season around here.

And that was the ending of day 16.

The pictures I am going to provide will be fabricated from Mr.Google.

 

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Behind me there, is called – Snoppy Rock (he is laying down)

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Primitive camp site

Day 15 – Bucket List Journey 2016

Winnie Pooh ain’t never seen a Blustery Day like we just Seen.

Friday, 5/20/2016

Today was by far our hardest riding day to date. We fought 25 to 35 mph winds with gust into 50 mph all day after leaving Hoover Dam. We wrestled with our bikes moving in waves back and forth on our lane all day. Early on, we both, just kept thinking we would ride out of it or away from it. It’s a fearful thing watching Al’s bike lean hard into the fierce winds over and over, pushing up against the strong winds. Bracing for unpredictable very strong gust. Passing semi’s and bracing along side them and also as you get around them, the burst that hits. UGH !

Once when we stopped to take a break at a real dumpy place where we stopped out of desperation and fatigue, Al was turning my bike around for me, I sat down to poor my Coke into my thermal mug, sand was flying all around us. I gave up to go inside to pour it. When I went to pull the door open, the wind was so severe, I could not pull it. A man walked up and opened it for me.

When I came back out, Al and I both expressed one to another the dread of getting back on our bikes and on the road again. But mile after mile we both just simple became more fierce warriors and determined to fight hard and push through. Seriously; a day we are both glad that it is over.

We are in a small motel about 12 miles from Flagstaff. Our length of travel today was only 260 miles, it felt like 500.

Those of you who are riders, are thinking – yes I have had days just like that.
Those who are not riders, are thinking – WHY ! 🙂

We will be entering into different terrain tomorrow. Really great riding. I simply LOVE to ride, always have and always will.
Can’t be explained.
For those who don’t know; I began riding at age 9, I was licensed at age 14.

Flat lands, prairie lands and desert lands are never my favorite. Curves, hills, mountains and twisties will always be my Favorite.

Hoover Dam has a story and it was a hard fought battle for taming the Colorado river and turning it into power and productivity for a wild dry thirsty land and all the people who had a future vision.

This is a brief explained summary – https://www.nps.gov/nr/TWHP/wwwlps/lessons/140HooverDam/140Hoover_Dam.htm

And this is a time lapsed Youtube video

That information is mainly for my following GRANDS, as they are following this blog. I LOVE you my GRANDS !!
I miss all my babies – all of you. 😉

 

Big bug splat – went BLAAM, Al said he heard it hit over the intercom. I rarely ride with my shield down. This is my 1st modular helmet and I only flip it forward in rain, wind or cold. Fortunately I had my shield down and my modular flipped forward also today. Ironically, also I have a Great wind shield on my bike and yet that bug found me. I have NEVER had such a big bug go right into my vision. YUCK !   Pledge – bug remover too.

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This was the highlight of our day. YUMMY for our TUMMY’s

Day 14

 

Thursday, 5/19/2016

TEMPERATURES – HOT
Desert terrain – UGH

At the beginning of everyday I am Ms Optimism. And then I dwindle as the day goes on.

Yesterday at the end of the day, I went into what I call, Jonah syndrome – ‘I am dying’ – ‘I just know I am dying’

I survived and a nights sleep always revives me.

Today :

Really I weathered it well – we rolled into Las Vegas around 3pm, so a short day helps.

Al’s smart bike has a temperature read out on board.

Me – what’s the temperature
Al – you don’t want to know.

(He does not want to tell me.)

Me – what is it, I want to know.
This was are intercom speak for about 4 hours, in temperatures ranging from 88 to 98. I know it could be worse.

Snow/hail, sleet, mountain top passes last about 45 minutes. You get through it and have a happy dance.

Heat and hot dessert winds all day …….. UGH just UGH.

We take extra long fuel ups. A large Coke and my favorite chocolate zingers push me
through. Al always gets a monster energy drink.

We had DQ for lunch as it was at one of our fuel ups. The smallest hamburger was $6. Al and I each ate a hamburger and I got a chocolate dilly bar, Al got a small cone, his cone cost $3.49.
Gouging in the middle of the desert !!!

Price line.com pulled through for us once again. We are holed up for the night on the 10th floor of The Red Rock Hotel a few miles away from the heart of Las Vegas.

Valet parking kinda frowns on motorcycles. But we worked it out when the head valet shouted from one of the cars – follow me.

We are in a huge beautiful room
With a full on marble bathroom.
A bath tub with a television above it. Inside where the toilet is located there is a
telephone ??   🙂    Seriously !

We walked through this very Luxurious Hotel lobby sweaty and desert grimy with our helmets, wondering where the guy rolled off with our 3 tons of bags and gear. They said it would show up in our room. When we got off the elevator on the 10th floor, magically a Bell guy rolls off another elevator with all of it. Big black gentlemen who is a rider and named off two different bikes he owns both Harley’s. One was a V-Rod, that’s the ONLY Harley I like. (muscle engine)

We both showered and cleaned up nice. I tried to style my hair with the blow dryer and melted a clump of hair. When I tried brushing through it in the bathroom, Al looked on the floor and there lay a mess of my hair as if I had cut a chunk out.
I put a couple bobbie pins in it, hoping to look nice and GLAD to not have helmet hair. Put on my light weight mary-jane crocks, GLAD to not have motorcycle boots on.

Off we went to indulge in a bountiful, all you can eat buffet.

Al and I both observed; this Hotel is like a cruise ship with multiple restaurants, high class boutiques, bowling, a movie theater with many movies to choose, lots of gambling and a massive beautiful pool.

 

We ate and then walked around watching people. We thought about going to a movie and then decided to go to our room where we rented – ‘In the Heart of the Sea’, Moby Dick movie.

With a full glass wall of a window, we have our curtains fully opened where we can see all the lights of Las Vegas in full view tonight – and that is COOL.

Tomorrow we plan on going to Hoover Dam and then head in the direction of Sedona. That will offer good riding and a little cooler climate.

 

Day 13

 

Wednesday 5/18/2016

We left our camp before most campers were up. Our neighbor next to us, who we shared their fire and long conversation with the night before got up to see us off.

It was around 7:30am. We were getting away before the big bicycle race event. We rolled quietly up the steep grade out of the camp valley area and laughed as Al had to get off his bike and open a large gate, we drove through and then he closed it, like we are escaping.

We drove about an hour in heavy sea fog; south from the San Simeon area to the small town of Cambria where we fueled our bikes, ate breakfast and did our laundry, all in a quaint village area clumped together.

On the way there we did see the elephant seals in their notorious place. We had watched the shore line for long enough we thought we might have passed it when suddenly appeared on the beach 100s and on and on in several areas of beach area 100s upon 100s they lay populating and wedged together covering the beach area very visibly. We stopped on a couple of different viewing areas complete with decks built for the observances of tourists. Here is a very good article on their domain there on this particular California coastal beach of Piedras Blancas.

http://www.elephantseal.org/

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We headed California inland from Cambria, leaving on 46 hwy and through a small mountain range that overlooked the clouds covering the sea below where we were leaving. It was a view of good- bye route one – you will be a sweet cherished memory.

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We journed on and ate a combined lunch/dinner around 6:00pm in Bakersfield CA. and took that time to plan how much further we could go in the 90s temperatures we had been experiencing when we came down out of the mountainous regions and into the flat dessert heats. When we stopped I felt over heated and exhausted of energy, though after we ate and cooled down as we looked at our map we decided to ride a few hours longer. Al checked temperatures; where we were heading was not any better and was not even cooling off later. Although the elevation of the mountain ranges we would be riding through were cooler so we journeyed on into the evening with a purpose to cover some miles.

Gorgeous mountains with a rocky western flare in appearance, driving into swooping long curves, some of these mountains seemed to fold up around us.

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Al navigates us well as we chose this particular direction over the heat of the interstate. We drove on through Lake Isabella CA, a gorgeous oasis in the mountains there and on into Ridgecrest, CA where we are lodging after a long hot day of riding.

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Lake Isabella -this is a manufactured picture off google. 😏

Ahhhh
We were exhausted, it was nearing dark and 9pm when we checked in.

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Dessert bowl vehicle – how I felt riding through arid heat in the highest of 97 today.

Hoover Dam is our destination tomorrow.

And that is a wrap for this 13th day.