Thursday, 12 September 2013

Day 1 - Monsoon season

(I'm already behind in my postings. With "Free internet" you get what you pay for, which is often non-existent, inconsistent, or generally unreliable access. But, loyal readers, don't despair; I will catch up.... eventually.)

It was already 90 degrees under a blazing sun when we left our hotel (The Tropicana). We arrived at Eagle Riders Las Vegas at 9 AM as advised, only to find a group of 10 or so riders from France had arrived at 8:59. With international drivers licenses and the obvious language barrier it took a long time to clear the group and so we didn't get geared up and on the road until almost 11. Having said that, the Eagle Rider crew were great, moving things along as quickly and efficiently as they could. (And with good humor. One of the crew, in an attempt to demonstrate his admittedly limited French, shouted "Vive la France!" but got a rather tepid response, in part, no doubt, to the fact that he was wearing a German army helmet at the time.)

We had selected Electra-Glides for this trip. My brother normally rides a Road King and I a Dyna so neither really appreciated how heavy (with a capital "H") these would be fully loaded and two-up. Getting a feel for the bike in Las Vegas traffic while trying to find the right way out of town was an interesting experience to say the least. But we managed with no drama and soon we were on the road.

The wrong road as it turned out.

But we corrected and after a short 14-mile detour were back on the road to the Hoover dam.

We'd been to the Hoover dam before but two things really stood out this trip. The most obvious was the new bridge - what an incredible engineering feat that must have been to get across that span. The second was how low the water level was in Lake Mead. I don't know if it's at a worrisome level yet, but to my uneducated eye the reservoir seems to be very low indeed. We parked, took the requisite photos, had an overpriced lunch, and replenished our water supply. (It was nearing 100 degrees in the sun and dehydration was a real concern. But not for long.)

Next stop: Kingman and the fabled Route 66.

Heading east on Hwy 40 we could see the storm clouds gathering ahead with the odd lightening bolt sparking to ground. It was a big one and right on our path! The storm hit hard about 15 miles west of Kingman. Within seconds we were totally blinded by the volume of rain and hail beating down on us. My riding glasses got so wet on the inside(!) that I had to take them off so I could see at least a little bit - poor eyesight being better than none at all. With nowhere to pull off the road  all we could do was put on the 4-ways and ride it out. Fortunately there wasn't a lot of traffic but it was still probably the most dangerous riding I've ever done - certainly the most nerve-wracking. By the time we got to Kingman it had eased to just a normal downpour so we took the time to stop at the Mother Road H-D dealer for the requisite tee-shirts and a short break from the road.

The original plan was to follow Route 66 from Kingman up through Peach Springs and back down to Seligman but the heavy rains and poor visibility dissuaded us from that option, and we elected instead to shoot straight across Hwy 40 to Seligman. By the time we got there, an hour or so later, the rain was down to a light drizzle. We stopped and took a few photos before picking up the last 20 miles or so of Route 66 into Williams, our home for the night.  

Within 7 hours we had gone from sunny and high-90's to 60 degrees and rain. And when the newscaster began talking about various washouts and other damage done by the "monsoon conditions" (in a desert no less!), forecasting more of the same weather for the next 4 to 5 days, I began to wonder if this was the adventure I thought I'd signed up for.


  1. Canajun:

    WHAT !! YOU MISSED OATMAN ???? We bought carrots ahead of time so we could feed the donkeys.

    We also got caught in a flash flood when we were there. gread minds think alike. We also stayed in Williams. It started to snow so we stopped at the first place before going down the hill

    Hope the weather forecast is wrong.

    We also had problems with internet on my trip. I could get a good WiFi signal, but could not connect to the internet. Try in the Morning. I think they have a limit as to how may users can be on at the same time

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Bob - Haven't seen snow yet and I hope it stays that way. The weather, though still iffy, is improving. Actually having some cloud and rain is lending character to the scenery and keeping us cool, but I've never experienced rain like that first day.

  2. Wow, riding in rain like that can never be fun and especially on a bike you wren't familiar with.

    Glad you made it to the hotel safe. Hope the weatherman is wrong and it lets up for you.

  3. Dave, thanks for sharing your ride. What a great route you've got laid out. Hopefully the law of averages that brought you the monsoon, will bring stellar weather for the rest of the trip.


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