Day 2: From Barstow to Needles

Sunday, August 29

On the next day, we just wanted to check the valves on Stevie's bike because it had made ticking noises the day before. "Sounds like a valve has too much play", and so it was: The counter nut on the intake valve of cylinder #1 was - well, not loose, it was missing! At least, Barstow has two auto supply stores, but a 6mm metric fine thread nut was a bit too much to ask for, even in Barstow.

While we were busy discussing options, Ute realized her throttle grip was almost snapped. No way to go on a trip through the desert with that. We tried different fixes, but none of them really worked. And breaking down in the middle of the desert because a makeshift repair gives way certainly is one thing you try to avoid. Some of us went looking for a motorcycle shop or breaker's yard to look for both an adjuster nut and a throttle grip, while Mark continued to share his stories of how he got stranded in Barstow. No shop, no yard, no luck. In the end, Jason, who had to return home together with his dad Jer today anyway, volunteered to go home, check his stock of spare parts and come back to Barstow by car with the parts needed.

Another day in lovely Barstow, and New Orleans still looked so far away.

This was were we ended up on the first day

Bikes at the Desert Inn

Ute and her broken throttle grip

Lovely Barstow in the middle of the desert

Jason, Andy and Mark

Gotcha! Mark and Ute in motel room

There's not much around but desert

All ready to go we are waiting for Jason to save us

Luckily, Jason showed up in his air conditioned Chevy Caprice with all the needed parts at about 3pm, and at 4pm we are on the road again. On a hot desert road... temps are well over 100 and I am glad to wear my gloves otherwise the air would be just too hot.

Soon after Ludlow we left I40 and followed the old Route 66, where we stopped at at Roy's Motel which was no longer in service, unfortunately. It was operated from 1938 by the same owner until 1995 when it changed hands and since then is marketed as a filming location. Actually, the whole village of Amboy was on Ebay in 2003 but remained unsold since the reserve of $1.9 million was not met with the highest bid of $995,900

Old Route 66

Roy's Motel and Cafe

Andy offering other transportation

Ute and Stevie enjoying the shade

Easy Riders in the shade

It says CLOSED since 1995

Amboy Crater

We hit Route 66 again. But somewhere down the road we realized we have lost someone.

Fabrizio, Ute, Tim Mark, Elwood, Axl (and Andy behind the camera) - but where are Dustin and Stevie?

Yes, we are missing somebody!

We asked a couple who came our way in a RV, and yes, there had seen two bikers some miles behind us who apparently were broken down. So we split up, Andy and Elwood were heading back to help Dustin and Stevie.

Stevie, Dustin and Elwood with Stevie's bike

Dustin checking the bike at sunset

Sunset in the Mijave desert

...while the others continued to follow Route 66 through Essex, and Goffs - villages marked on the map but which turned out to be just a few houses. These villages as Amboy, Cadiz, Essex etc. are old railway stops and they are named alphabetically: Amboy, Bolo, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner, Goffs and so on. In Fenner, a few miles back from Goffs we filled up at a gas station named The Hi Desert Oasis, which actually makes up the whole town. The gas there was the most expensive on the whole trip at over $3 per gallon (but still cheaper than in Europe). A sign at the entrance explained that the employees are not responsible for the high prices - it would just cost a fortune to run that business in the middle of the desert. Meanwhile it was well after sunset.

Bikes and riders at Fenner's Hi Desert Oasis

The good news was that Stevie had hitched a ride for him and the bike to Needles, and we would meet up with him at the Motel 6 in Needles. Which was what we did (a big thanks to the truck driver!).

Time for another episode of Ghetto Garage! The bike had lost power, and then spit oil all over Stevie's legs. First, we tried to adjust the ignition which was way off, and then tried to start the bike, but... almost no compression. Dammit! Not sure what it was, but whatever, it was beyond the capabilities of Ghetto Garage.

Eventually, Stevie decided to abandon the bike in Needles and look for a rental bike or car the other day.