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I’m talking about the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe who are the native people of Death Valley.

Death Valley

Destination: Death Valley

With multiple weeks of nice weather, our posse departed Portland, Oregon early morning on September 17th with a cold front and threat of rain and the occasional spit of rain drops in the face. We haplessly listened to the V-Twin’s drone on as we traveled east on Interstate 84 for 426 miles.

Long delay due to overturned semi on I-84

Long delay caused by an overturned Concrete semi on I-84

We arrived in Boise late afternoon which was hosting Oktoberfest in the Basque Block part of the vibrant downtown!  We enjoyed some island fare and refreshments on the rooftop tiki patio at The Reef.  Crowds gathered in the closed off streets for authentic German biers, food and of course the occasional chicken dance.  And in what has to be one of the best Idaho cover bands — Pilot Error — rocked the crowd most of the evening.  Here is a video of the band doing a Def Leppard cover with Derek Roy as lead vocal and the awesome Roger Witt – on lead guitar.

As the evening wore on it seemed filled with young college kids who were trying hard to “be” the club scene.  Like those videos produced by I’m Shmacked.

Idaho Basin

Snake River and Great Basin area

The next morning was a continuation east on the mind-numbing straight road of Interstate 84. However, we really clicked off the miles to Twin Falls doing the freeway speed limit which is now set at 80 mph!  We rolled along and were surprised by how many 18-wheelers tried to pass us.

As a side bar, you might recall that in the mid-1970s, Congress established a national maximum speed limit by withholding highway funds from states that maintained speed limits greater than 55 mph. Do you remember the “I can’t drive 55” days?  The requirement was loosened for rural interstates in 1987 and completely repealed in 1995. As of today, 41 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Oregon state legislators who seem to know more than the average citizen about how to protect us from ourselves just recently increased some rural interstate speeds to 70 mph.  Texas is the fastest at 85 mph.

Idaho

In route to Ely, NV

But I’ve digressed.  This part of our arid motorcycle journey took us on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway which runs through the Snake River Canyon. We rode through bright green irrigated fields, crossed the Snake River, saw a waterfall spilling from the top of a high bluff, and watched windmills turning in the stiff wind.  As we headed further south on U.S. Route 93 we split the Great Basin that covers most of Nevada and part of Utah. There were mountains to the East and West, and the traffic thinned to an occasional tractor-trailer hauling freight or cattle.

Our ride ended that day in Ely, Nevada, which was founded as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express, and later became a booming copper mining town.

We parked the bikes and enjoyed a nice dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.

On the Lonliest Road

On Nevada’s Loneliest Road

The following day we were up early and continued our ride south on one of Nevada’s loneliest roads.  I’m not sure about you, but I find the Nevada desert to be immensely beautiful and awe-inspiring. Even though most of the roads are flat and straight, the scenery is grand and I always enjoy the ride.

Just a few miles south of Ely is a turnoff for the Ward Charcoal ovens.  We didn’t travel down the eight miles of gravel road, but there are beehive-shaped stone kilns built by Mormons around 1876 to produce fuel for the silver and lead smelters serving the mines on Ward Mountain.  As you look across the valley at the Big Basin National Park, there is the 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak standing off in the distant.

More Lonely Road...

More Lonely Road…

We traveled the mostly straight 240+ miles and finally rolled into North Las Vegas and could see the skyline of the famous Las Vegas strip.  Speaking of the city that never sleeps, our posse picked up a lot of traffic at the U.S. 93/I-15 interchange and were immediately greeted with a dude on a sport bike weaving in and out of lanes.  Then adding to the traffic drama he started to split lanes at full on freeway speeds.

I must have missed that part of the training about how motorcyclists should always make sudden moves in heavy traffic!  Most people who’ve had any experience driving in and around Vegas know that it can be a bit treacherous. Cages with locals that always seem to be in a hurry and cabbies are out in force all day and night driving fast and cutting across multiple lanes.  Add to that the tourists trying to navigate a new city on the freeways and it’s a perfect storm of distracted drivers.

After all the traffic hustle and bustle I was looking forward to parking the bike for awhile and relaxing around the pool for a day.  That evening we took on the “clickers” (i.e. porn panderers) who stand on every corner of the Strip and aggressively try to shove advertisements for adult entertainment in your face.

Selfie

Departing Las Vegas

Don’t take me wrong, Las Vegas has world-class restaurants, cool bars, amazing entertainment and great weather, but after a couple of days of breathing air freshener the casinos pump into their ventilation systems to mask the reeking of camels, cigarillos, cigars and those slot machines going ding-ding-ding… I’m ready for some fresh air and wind in the face!

We did have an opportunity to walk through the sprawling Harley-Davidson dealer across from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  We checked out the new Milwaukee Eight touring bikes and spent some time chatting with a knowledgeable sales person about the 2017 differences.


It wasn’t too long (about 48 hours) and Las Vegas was in our mirrors as we rode out into the desert on Hwy 160.  We departed the city early so that we could tour through Death Valley before it got too hot.  It was still in the high-70 degree range as we departed.  We increased altitude going through Red Rock Canyon National Park toward Pahrump as the desert landscape morphs from sandy, rocky terrain dotted with low brush and creosote bushes.  Big stratified rock formations and hills define the valleys in the distance, closing in on the road periodically before opening up to a wide expanse of flat desert floor. It’s a wonderland of muted color.
Rearward pic

Looking back on Hwy 190

We fueled up in Pahrump which is an interesting town.  Like in the rest of Nevada, gambling is legal in Pahrump, and there are several casinos to take advantage of that fact. But, unlike Las Vegas, the casinos in Pahrump are present but not dominant. They’re smaller and a little less intimidating.  There might be some wisdom in staying overnight in Pahrump instead of the hectic scene in Vegas. Certainly the traffic situation would be a lot less stressful.

At the Death Valley junction we turned west on Hwy 190 and headed for Furnace Creek where the Native American tribe known as the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California are located.

Initially it was was quite comfortable, but as we descended into the valley it felt like someone was turning up an oven.  It was still early and the temps were in the high 80’s but by the time we stopped in Furnace Creek it was 100 degrees.  Surprisingly hot for the end of September, but the scenery is spectacular!

Death Valley

Death Valley – Timbisha Shoshone Tribe

It’s some of the best “landscape” on the planet that looks a bit like you’ve arrived on Mars. There’s nothing growing out there higher than your knee yet it will be forever etched in your memory as not just one of the greatest motorcycle rides ever but one of the most beautiful.  At one place in the park you can look down at one of the lowest points on earth at -280 feet in one direction and up to the highest point in the continental U.S. in another (Mt. Whitney, at 14,494).  It’s an amazing color contrast.

Existing Death Valley

Exiting Death Valley

We scurried on out of the national park and headed toward Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395.  The first real town you come to is Lone Pine. In the early to mid 20th century, the area around Lone Pine, particularly the Alabama Hills, which lie between the highway and the Sierra range, was a popular setting for western movies.  Just west of town you’ll get another nice view of Mt. Whitney.

By the time we rode through the Inyo National Forest the desert heat had faded and we were getting hit with cooler air.  Much, much cooler as we gained altitude and it started to spit rain drops.  Not enough to soak the road or require rain gear, but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable.  Our ride on this day ended at Mammoth Lakes which is a ski and outdoor-sports town.

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Surprisingly it rained most of the night, but the sky cleared up in the early morning and we departed Mammoth Lakes with the temperature only in the high 40’s.  A brisk start to our riding day as we continued north on Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra’s.  We rode around Mono Lake, and we climbed to another 8100-foot ridge, which offers a great view back to the Mono basin before starting back down past the turn-off for Bodie.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

The last real town before your reach Nevada is Bridgeport.  We stopped at the Bridgeport Inn, for breakfast.  A nice place built in 1877 and about 23 miles from Mono Lake.  It’s a family run historic period Victorian hotel, old Irish pub, and fine dining restaurant.  After warming up a bit we continue our ride and crossed into Nevada about 50 miles after Bridgeport. Aptly named Topaz Lake covers the state line next to the highway as you cross.

We arrived in Reno for the start of Street Vibrations 2016. Downtown was rumbling with motorcycles of all shapes and sizes for the fall rally which marks the last big motorcycle rally of the season for the west. There was no shortage of vendors and having been to the event a number of times we repeated some of the events over a couple of days.

The Posse

The Destination: Timbisha Indian Country Posse

Part of the posse departed early Saturday morning and some headed out late morning to return back to Portland.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t take many photos on the return trip from Reno as I’ve been on these roads a lot over the years and just focused on riding home vs. scenery.


In summary, we traveled over 2100 miles in 8 days with no mishaps, tickets or mechanical malfunctions. What more can you ask for?

 

Street Vibrations UPDATE:  There was some disappointing  news surrounding Street Vibrations which I learned of upon my return.  Jeffrey Sterling Duke, 57, of Georgetown, Calif. was shot to death on Interstate 80 near Truckee on Saturday night.  According to law enforcement he was semi-associated with the Vagos Motorcycle Club and his Facebook page noted that he was a Green Nation Supporter.

According to officials three motorcyclists rode up to the victim and fired multiple gunshots before taking off.  It’s not clear if this shooting is associated, but you might recall that five years ago this past weekend, members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs exchanged gunfire during a deadly brawl on the floor of a casino in Sparks.

Randy Burke (Road Shows) applies some media “spin” and explains why the Street Vibrations Rally is not to be blamed for the shooting.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog
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Eastern Sierra Mountains

Eastern Sierra Mountains

We left the last blog post talking about heading to Death Valley via the eastern entrance and planning to overnight at Stovepipe Wells and ride around the valley floor for a day.

When we got up it was 36 degrees in Hawthorne so, we waited for a couple of hours to let things warm up some before pointing our tires at Tonopah which is at the crossroads of US 95 and US 6.  There were some dramatic views of the snow-capped Sierra Mountains.

Highway

Highway 95

The most prominent symbol of a boom-and-bust history in Tonopah is the Mizpah Hotel at the center of the city. Built in 1907 and ’08 on the site of one of Jim Butler’s old camp sites, the five-story hotel was immediately the center of glamour and elegance in dusty, hard-working Tonopah. It had steam heat, electric lights and elevator service, and advertised itself earnestly as “The Finest Stone Hotel on the Desert.”  Some trivia about the town is that back in 1957 the reclusive/crazy billionaire Howard Hughes married Jean Peters in room 33 at the L&L Motel in Tonopah.

Tonopah

Goldfield County Court House

In 1979, after nearly 60 years of decline, Tonopah erupted in its second mining boom of the 20th century with Anaconda’s molybdenum mine north of town.  Fleets of buses hauled the men out of town to work.  And then one day the boom was over as the market for moly went so bad that even mighty Anaconda had to close down its operation and sit on its $240 million investment.

Goldfield High School

Goldfield High School

These days the nearby Tonopah Test Range (TTR) is one of the main economic foundations of the town.  There are approximately 250 military and civilian workers at TTR conducting aeronautical research and development.  It’s located in the northwestern portion of the Nellis Air Force Range in south-central Nevada and its facilities are located approximately 30 miles South East of Tonopah.  The F-117 was initially based on the Tonopah range, also known as Mellon Strip, where the F-117 Stealth fighter became operational in 1983.

Death Valley East Entrance

Death Valley East Entrance

Tonopah is clearly in a steep decline, but the 2500 or so people who call Tonopah home would probably disagree that it’s a “ghost town.”

And speaking of ghosts, the next town we rolled through was Goldfield.  Gold was discovered at Goldfield in 1902, and it soon became the largest town in Nevada with over 30,000 people. Only 440 people remain in Goldfield now, so it’s kind of a ghost town, but people still pan for gold.  The Goldfield Hotel is said to be haunted by a lady of the evening who was chained to a radiator while giving birth by George Wingfield who owned the hotel. She died and her child was thrown down the mineshaft that the hotel was built over.  There are many web sites that talk about how you can see her in room 109 and hear her baby crying on dark nights.

Death Valley looking at Furnace Creek

Death Valley looking toward Furnace Creek

The massive old high school now stands empty and is falling down, and the castle-style Esmeralda County Court House is an architectural curiosity of the Edwardian variety, is open to visitors. Inside are the original Tiffany lamps and there is a plaque on the outside of the building about the 1902 prize fight for the Lightweight Championship of the World between Battling Nelson and Joe Gans.  It was hailed as “The Fight of the Century” and the biggest purses in the history of prize fighting: $20,000 to the champion Nelson and $10,000 to Gans, the black challenger.  The fighters battered each other for 42 punishing rounds before Nelson, bloodied and sagging, fouled Gans in a clinch.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

At Beatty, NV we headed West on Highway 374 then pointed tires onto Highway 190 as we dropped down into the northern part of Death Valley into the small way-station of Stovepipe Wells.

We got one of the last rooms at Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel which offered up terrific views of Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and the surrounding mountain ranges.  The people were nice, but the restaurant wasn’t anything special and the room was like a low budget Sturgis motel that included the room rate overcharges.  The rates only went higher at other locations and we were glad to have a place to throw some bags, take a shower and have some refreshments.

Stovepipe Wells

Stovepipe Wells

It was interesting place to take in the dark night sky and try to find satellites and the various planets with the naked eye passing overhead.  It’s one of only a few places in the world where you can do this.

All the cold weather in the region turned out to be a blessing down in Death Valley.  The temp’s were in the mid-80’s and we enjoyed some very nice riding in the desert.

The experience the next day was a mix of desolate desert landscape along with the Furnace Creek oasis which opened in 1927 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company.  These days it has the world’s lowest golf course at 214 feet below sea level.

We rode out to the Harmony Borax Works that processed borax ore in the late 1800’s and looked at photo’s of Twenty Mule Team wagons that hauled the ore to the railhead 165 miles away.  We also rode into the area called Artist Drive. It’s an impressive place with all the multi-colored claystones from ancient ashfalls that generate the different colors formed in the mountain.

Death Valley is over 3 million acres of designated wilderness and includes hundreds of miles of trails in all directions. The terrain is as varied as it is extreme, from vast sizzling desert and rocky canyons to historic sites and snow-capped peaks.

Artist

Artist Palette on Artist Drive

We enjoyed riding around the desert floor, but it was mid-afternoon and time to leave the valley.  We pointed the tires south and proceeded toward Las Vegas via Pahrump, an “RVer’s Paradise” that is easy to reach and easy to forget.

Aquarius Hotel

Aquarius Hotel

As we got closer to Vegas the Red Rock Canyon lit up with the afternoon sun making me wish for a few more hours to visit and photograph, but we needed to cover the next 110 miles in time to meet up with the rest of the “Wolf Pack” aka the riding posse in Laughlin for dinner.

Sure, the rain and cold during the first 5 hours of the ride were hideous, but overall the ride didn’t feel rushed and in taking three days to ride down to Laughlin it allowed us plenty of time to see some terrific scenery and experience the various environments.

I’ll avoid doing an in-depth summary of the Laughlin River Run event.  We’ve all been out to Oatman and have the “been there and done that” t-shirt.  A Mohave Daily News report stated there were more than 45K bikers in town.  I think that number was inflated because cruising down Casino Drive just didn’t have the same clogged feel as previous years.  The good news is no motorcycle-related fatalities as part of the event were reported.

RoadGlide Heading East

On the RoadGlide heading East

One item I want to mention was the Friday night BBQ near Needles.  The posse attended the annual “Dave’s BBQ” on the Colorado River.  He pulls together a high quality event each year for the folks visiting Laughlin that includes grilled shrimp and tri-tip and everyone is hooked on the luscious dishes from chef Manny.  We were all licking our fingers and asking for more.  A big shout-out and thanks to the BBQ crew for pulling it all together!

It was great to see everyone and the BBQ was one of the highlights of the trip.

The Ride To Laughlin 2014 – Part 1 (HERE)

Photos taken by author.

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Shark Week III - Utah

Shark Week III – Utah

This blog post is a continuation from HERE.

The next day we decided to avoid the large group ride, instead to venture on our own ride.   We planned to do an approximately 300 mile loop to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Though one of the smallest of southern Utah’s national parks, it’s visually stunning, particularly at sunrise and sunset when an orange wash sets the rock formations ablaze.   There are steep trails that descend from the rim into the 1000ft amphitheaters of pastel color daggers, then continue through a maze of juniper trees in the high-mountain desert.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The high altitude meant cooler temperatures (80°F)  than in St. George.  And if we were looking for solitude on the road we wouldn’t find it out here.  The crowds and RV’s had arrived in force clogging the park’s main road as we watched ill prepared visitors explore the trails.

The Native Americans once called this colorful landscape of jumbled rocks and sedimentary canyons the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow and it was easy to see why when you snapped a photo.

'Glidin' Bryce Canyon

‘Glidin’ Bryce Canyon with Sandcastle-like Spires

We made a number of stops in the park and walked around for photo op’s and then made our way back to the entrance.

Prior to leaving the park we had a late lunch in the Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room.  Yeah, they had National Park prices, but it was quite tasty food.

Afterward we headed back through the park to St. George and the oppressive heat.

Bryce Canyon Panorama

At Bryce Point Overlooking Bryce Canyon – Panorama

The St. George’s forecast was Howard Beale-esque.  “We’re hot as hell, and we didn’t want to take it anymore!”  Apologies to actor Peter Finch’s rant as the “mad as hell” broadcaster from the 1976 film “Network,” but Utah was in a sizzling grip of triple-digit temperatures and we were getting sick of it!

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

It was the first time I could recall where I’ve been on a motorcycle ride and unable to sit outside during the evening.  At 11pm at night it was in the high 90’s.  We didn’t need to watch the news to understand there was a heat advisory.

We sat in the A/C room looking over maps and determining what direction or ride to take on the next day.

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

We had a member of the posse that attempted an “Iron Butt” ride.  He departed a couple days later than the main group on Tuesday, July 30th and was scheduled to arrive that evening from Portland, OR to St. George UT (approx. 1034 miles) in less than 24 hours ride.  He arrived around 9:30pm with all the documents and gas receipts in hand as well as a navigation unit with the stats to validate his ride.  Congrats and BIG props for that accomplishment!

"Big Ben" Completes Iron Butt - 1034 Miles!

“Ben” Does An Iron Butt – 1036 Miles Under 24 Hrs!

One of our riders (MC) had to split from the group and return home early for a friend’s wedding.   He planned to leave early the next morning and the remainder of our group had decided to ride out early to Las Vegas, stay overnight and then loop back north on Highway 95 and take a couple extra days for our return ride.

It’s very difficult to write/post the following…

More Bryce Canyon

The Land Of Sleeping Rainbows

We awoke early Wednesday (July 31st) morning to get a jump on the heat of the day.  We were just getting out of the showers and packing up the gear about 7:30am when the cell phone rang…

It was the sheriff and he stated that “MC” was hit by a car in the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the hotel.  The person who got the call rushed up to the intersection.  The rest of us got there about 10-15 minutes later.  We arrived to see the paramedics working on him and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris and gather up some personal belongings.

Life Flight Takes MC

Life Flight Takes “MC” To Dixie Regional Medical Center

We talked to St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding about the accident.  He stated that “MC” was traveling northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  This is the last red light leaving town!  There is some disagreement by multiple eye witnesses whether “MC” was on a solid green or just changed to yellow light. While traveling through the intersection, “MC” was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway.  Some witnesses reported that “MC” yelled at the first car before being hit in the side by a second car who had clearly run the light and was also making a left turn.   None of it mattered as the driver of the second car was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.

The impact left “MC” with significant injuries to his left leg (multiple compound fractures).  He was in surgery for nearly 4 hours.  He has a broken collar bone, severely smashed ankle/foot, head trauma (3” gash around the left eye) and other miscellaneous cuts, scrapes and bruises to his arms and hands.  He was coherent at the accident scene and the reason why we got the phone call so fast.

"MC" Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

“MC” Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

It’s one thing to read and blog about motorcycle accidents, but quite different being there in person and knowing the rider.  The 4 mile ride to the hospital was very difficult.

In the trauma center doctors told us they were extremely concerned with the potential loss of his foot.  In fact, they prepped “MC” while in his pain medicated state about how he could lose the foot.  We all thanked God that he was alive and not paralyzed.  Dr. Clark told us following the accident in the trauma center…“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”

We stayed at the trauma center for a couple of days until significant others arrived in St. George.   We then started our return ride home be it with some riding anxiety and shaken confidence.

The EMT’s, Life Flight personnel, the trauma doctors, and nursing staff all deserve a HUGE debt of gratitude.  Also a shout-out to Dr. Clark!  Yeah I know that a shout-out from this blogger is not nearly enough, but it’s a small start and I’m sure when “MC” is feeling better he’ll show them this post.  I also want to send a big shout-out to Mike aka “Shark Daddy.”  He rushed to the scene prior to the Life Flight arrival and helped in an immeasurable way by talking and holding onto “MC” as he was being worked on by the EMTs.

Lastly, I want to extend a special thank you and evangelize my appreciation and gratitude to the Shark Week organizers and attendees.  During the closing awards dinner the group passed a hat around and collected over a $1000 cash and presented it to “MC” in the hospital to help out with medical expenses.

Ron “Stray Mutt,” you and the group are absolutely awesome and I can’t begin to remember or list all the names of our new “best friends!”  Just know that we’re telling everyone about the groups generosity and kindness.

Final comment is to “MC”… get well buddy so that we can all ride another day!

Part 1 of this blog post is HERE.

UPDATE: August 13, 2013 – It’s been almost 2-weeks since MC’s accident.  All the prayers and outreach have helped because the news and trend on his recovery and foot/leg is positive each day.  Thank you!  He was recently transferred to an Acute Rehabilitation Unit where he is undergoing intensive physical therapy.  MC is in good spirits along with getting terrific support from his sig other (Sherry).  Both have an attitude to push forward and through the healing/rehab process and I’m sure we’ll continue to hear good news.  Yesterday he spent a couple hours in a hyperbaric chamber with enriched oxygen to increase blood flow and to help heal his foot. 

Unfortunately he is facing mounting medical expenses.  The driver of the automobile (using his girlfriend’s car) had minimal insurance coverage and MC is unemployed and under insured.  We’re looking into fund raisers to help, and appreciate everyone’s continued positive thoughts and prayers as we work on a plan to get him transported back to Oregon.

UPDATE: August 21, 2013 – MC was scheduled to be release from Acute Rehab today, but unfortunately he suffered a major heart attack while lying in bed this morning.  MC was rushed to the Dixie Regional Medical Center ER for emergency surgery.  He will be back in the ICU within a couple hours. Reports are that the angioplasty and stent placement surgery is going well.  Sadly, this is exactly where MC started out twenty-one days ago almost to the exact hour. The trauma doctors at Dixie are awesome and he’s in a good place if this was going to happen.

UPDATE: September 18, 2013Many are already aware of this, but in case you just landed on this blog post and didn’t know, you can now get updates or follow MC’s recovery progress HERE on Facebook or on his blog HERE.

Photos by author.

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Death Valley Map

Death Valley Map

I’m not talking about the Miami Heat or the Glenn Frey (Eagles) song from “Beverly Hills Cop.”

Rather, the smothering dome of high pressure from Montana to Arizona that has immersed the northwest in a heat wave.  The nighttime heat is especially excessive.

And as I read about the numerous river rescues over this past weekend a story about how the mercury rocketed to 129 degrees in Death Valley National Park, which tied the record for the hottest June day anywhere in the country and reminded me of a trip to Laughlin River Run.   I wasn’t certain, but the highest temperature ever recorded on earth was 134 degrees in Death Valley in 1913.

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

At any rate, we were headed to the Laughlin River Run and rode through Death Valley a couple years back (HERE).  It was the end of April, but it was hot below sea level!

We entered Death Valley from the West entrance on Highway 190.  We traveled east and there was flat and spectacular scenery with sculpted hills and shifting sand dunes.  We went from high level vistas to the below sea level and enjoyed the hottest place in the U.S.

RK-DeathValleyAbout 20 miles into the park we stopped at Father Crowley Point and ran into a group of riders from Germany.  We made another stop at Stovepipe Wells village for a photo opportunity of Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes then headed east on Daylight Pass Road to Beatty, NV.  It’s an immense area and we were in route to Las Vegas and spent little time standing still experiencing the dry heat.

I’m not a fan of riding in extreme heat and the Harley seems to have no “issue” producing high levels of engine heat even on a cool day so 100+ degree ambient temperature just adds to the discomfort.  I’ve tried mesh jackets, t-shirts and leather jackets with vents adjusted wide open.  Very little relief from evaporative cooling occurs and  I’ve learned to just carry much more water than is typical.

Photo’s taken by author.  Map courtesy of Death Valley Nat. Park.

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welcome-vegasI’m talking about Las Vegas where the average tourist gambles only four hours in their 4-day stay.

After a couple decades of being the fastest-growing city in the U.S., Las Vegas has seen its growth stall in recent years.  Portions of the strip are dotted with steel and concrete shells as construction was halted and developers attempted to refinance projects and avoid bankruptcy.  Just as Americans did with their homes, casino owners borrowed way too much money to build hotels that were way too big.  The unemployment rate ballooned and for a while the city had the honor of having the highest foreclosure rate in the country of ANY metro area with at least 200K people.

I visit the city often for various work conventions or when attending motorcycle rally’s and recall getting gouged on the rooms and expensive food so, over the last few years I could not be more unconcerned or feel less guiltless in taking advantage of the town when it was down.  Hotel room rates have been slashed and suites that a few years ago went for $400 were recently selling for $125 a night.  And, I’ve wanted to get some of my money back from the card tables for a while now.

An artist rendering of the new Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership near the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign on the south end of the Strip.

An artist rendering of the new Las Vegas Harley-Davidson dealership near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

But, economic defeat on the strip in this dirt wasteland is being reset by none other than Harley-Davidson.

Mr. Andress and Tim Cashman are building an $18M flagship dealership on the south end of the strip.  You may remember that this is where the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign attracts large numbers of tourists for a photo op.  The Cashman’s plan to tap into the 40M annual visitors and build a 50,000 square-foot, two-level motorcycle complex which will clearly draw visitors off the strip.  They purchased the 5.25-acre site at the bargain basement price of $8M and expect construction of the dealership to be complete in October 2014.

The Cashman’s are no strangers to Las Vegas where they have three other Harley-Davidson dealerships and also control 10 alternative retail outlets (ARO’s) that sell everything in the alphabet with a H-D logo sans the motorcycle.  Their total annual sales in 2012 was about $60M.

Clearly the strip is on its way back!

Photo taken by author and dealership rendition courtesy of Las Vegas Review.

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Vectrix Electric Scooter - Police Edition

I’ve been in Las Vegas for the better part of January doing a work gig where 3DTV, Audio/Video equipment and musicians saturate the Consumer Electronic Show.  It’s the largest trade show in the world and is quite the rat race as people grind it out over days of endless announcements and product demonstrations.

It was all there.  From 50 Cent’s launch of his new branded “Sleek” headphones to Lady Gaga’s new high-tech sunglasses that double as a camera.  Even Harley-Davidson got in on the evangelization with a testimonial of Intel’s AIM Suite – a product that anonymously monitors viewer metrics such as age, gender, and attention span in a retail setting.  Ms. White of H-D Canada gave it a glowing report.

While running around with the other 140,000 people attending CES plus the additional 27,000 photo snapping people attending the Adult Entertainment eXpo I was nearly run over by law enforcement on a motorcycle.  An electric motorcycle in fact.  It turns out that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department recently unveiled the no gas, no noise electric motorcycles at its Convention Center Area Command. These motorcycles were donated by the Consumer Electronics Association and are nearly silent with a top speed of 62 mph.

Lady Gaga - Camera/Sunglasses

The scooters are manufactured by Vectix Corporation who advertise them as the world’s first pure-performance electric maxi-scooter.  On their web site there are testimonials from Police officers who have pushed them to 65+ mph. Clearly not for high-speed chases, but they are being used on “The Strip”, and the convention center – both location some of the most congested areas in the entire state.

 

Vectix Corporation is a well financed and international effort with production facilities in Poland.  They’ve received start-up help from Lockheed Martin, Alcoa and Parker-Hannifin.

There’s a perception that Police scooters make people feel closer to the police by taking away the barrier created by a squad car.  I’m not so sure about how it changes the approachability, but can provide my experience as a person with no criminal intentions… I wasn’t looking for a “stealth officer” on two wheels and the no noise device startled me when I didn’t hear it coming.

Photo courtesy of CEA, Lady Gaga and Vectrix Corporation.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Practicing the piano for 10-years does not make you creative.  It just allows you to replicate what’s been done before.

I’m not sure who coined that phrase, but for some reason I’m reminded of Harley-Davidson and the debut of their 2011 models.

I can neither confirm or deny that I’ve been busy testing a sample of the 2011 H-D motorcycles.  I cannot confirm or deny that I’ve signed a NDA/embargo agreement to not disclose, either in print or talk about what the good folks at Harley-Davidson have been up to until July 27, 2010 – the date that the company will roll out some new thunder.

The plant is filled with journeymen, skilled at their jobs, but the motorcycle models are not famous. Because to be famous you’ve got to make jaws drop, people have to forego crucial financial activities in order to invest in H-D motorcycle ownership, people have to want to tell others about your brand.  In order to succeed you’ve got to innovate.  It requires perspiration and it demands inspiration.  I’m talking about innovating in such a way that a large percentage of the motorcycle riding public cares.

We’re in a era of marketing.  Because it’s so easy.  Go online and tell your story.  Start a Facebook page, upload some stop-action videos and evangelize to the ADHD 20-somthings.  Tweet about anything and everything.  But, isn’t it interesting that as more motorcycle manufactures go online trying to sell, fewer motorcycles are moving…both sales-wise and emotionally.  The key isn’t about putting a motorcycle in front of people.   It’s about creating something so good that it builds its own audience.  It’s an incredible challenge.  To employ a classic art form, include pop references, but come up with something new.  So new that the new thing excites us, that not only makes our blood boil, but makes us want to tell everyone.  So good it gets inside your psyche and affects you…not like the lasting power of a popsicle.

For so long the basic tools have been ignored and Harley-Davidson has taken the easy way out.  It’s been about marketing an image or brand over product innovation and their spot in the firmament is at risk.  They’ve always been good about building relationships, but too much of the H-D model line-up can be denied.  You can play that “tune” for a friend and they just ignored it.

The 2011 models need to tap us on the shoulder lightly and then wrap itself around our heart.  In other words, be so good we can’t ignore you…

Photo courtesy of Deviantart.com

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