Friday, June 30, 2023

Sunset Campground to Calimesa

I woke up and broke down camp. I got everything packed up, drank my coffee, and hit the road around 9:30. I headed out of the park on the Generals Highway.

Shortly after leaving the park, I encountered the first examples of my GPS being on crack. TomTom, what are you doing? TomTom tried to send me on a Forest Service road off the main highway. Normally, I don’t have an issue with Forest Service roads, but as soon as I turned, it looked like an evil dark tunnel out of a horror movie. The road was covered in fallen tree debris, and the road had deep ruts. While this road may have once been passable by most vehicles, it certainly appeared that the previous winter was not good to this road. Not something I was going to do alone.

I got back on the main highway and continued west. A few miles later, TomTom tried to send me on a road that was blocked by several construction trucks. TomTom, what is you doing?

I got back on Highway 245 and took it to Hogback Drive. If it was good the first time, the second time would be twice as nice. I’ll do this road all day. Indeed, it was just as fun the second time around. I continued onto Dry Creek Drive toward Lemon Cove.

In Lemon Cove, I made a quick stop at the old Richfield gas station.

TomTom tried to redeem himself by directing me onto a side road through the farmlands north of Lindsay. The road went through the Yokohl Valley and over a pass between two hills. I soon found myself on Highway 65, heading south. Highway 65 was still boring, but there were a lot less trucks today, so it went a bit faster.

Soon, TomTom struck again with his crackheadedness. As I got to Bakersfield, TomTom had me exit Highway 65 to take some surface streets heading east out of the city. After turning left off the highway, TomTom had me go to the next intersection, make a U-turn, then get back on the highway I had just exited. TomTom then directed me to go one more exit and ride through a part of Bakersfield that looked more like Tijuana. TomTom then sent me through this part of Bakersfield, as I watched the temperature climb to the high-90s, before making a final turn to put me on Highway 58, which I would have gotten to if I had stayed on Highway 65 for a few more exits. I suppose TomTom was looking for his crack dealer.

I took Highway 58 for a few miles, then got off to take a side road into the Tehachapi Pass. Bena Road followed the path of the dry Caliente Creek, and boy was it caliente out there. I watched the air temperature gauge on my bike stay in the high-90s and hit the low-100s a couple times. I needed to stop for water, but there weren’t any shady spots to stop along the road. I thought I would get lucky by stopping under a highway overpass I saw, but there was a creepy guy in a white van parked there. Not today, Chester! I continued on and drank hot water from my backpack in the sun. Bena Road ended and put me back on Highway 58 for a few more miles until I got to Keene. I hopped on Woodford-Tehachapi Road to continue climbing the pass. It was just as fun going in the opposite direction.

A short distance from the Tehachapi Loop, I spotted a train going toward it. I didn’t want to miss it, so I gave the old wrist a twist and beat the train to the top. Seeing the train coil over itself was a cool sight.

I stopped in Tehachapi to top off the gas tank and to get some lunch in someplace with air conditioning. It was 95 degrees when I parked (in the shade) at the Burger Spot (since 1956!). I dropped my jacket on a seat and ordered a Western bacon cheeseburger and a big soda. I was hurting all over from the trip, and the heat was sapping my energy. I had planned a night near Wrightwood, but the thought of a nice shower, a dip in the hot tub, and night in my own bed overpowered the desire for another night of camping. I decided it was the same amount of time to get home, so I chose to head there.

From Tehachapi, I took Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road south through the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm. The farm is home to more than 3,000 wind turbines and was one of the first large-scale wind farms in the United States. In total, the giant turbines in the pass generate more than 700 megawatts of electricity for the state.

When I got to Palmdale, it was up to 108 degrees. I stopped for a Gatorade and a cool-off in the shade at a gas station, then continued the push for home. It was about 3 p.m., and the Friday afternoon traffic was already starting to pick up. Traffic came to a standstill near Little Rock, and the mercury had risen to 110. For my own safety, mostly to prevent spontaneous combustion (or maybe to prevent heatstroke), I took to the shoulder and rode to the front of the line as fast as I could.

Pretty much what it felt like between Palmdale and Phelan. (Image: Gunshow Comics)

Each time traffic slowed, I did what I could to keep air moving over me to keep me cooler. Traffic stopped again in Phelan, where the temperature was 114 degrees! After feeling like a pot roast in the oven, I finally reached Interstate 15. There was some traffic on the freeway, as is always the case, but not so much that it was slow going.

I ditched the freeway and the holiday traffic in Highland and took the back roads home. I got home around 4:45 p.m., parked the bike, dropped my jacket, and walked directly to my shower. Now, I felt like a million bucks with another adventure in the books.

Miles: 297
Total Trip Miles: 678