My first bicycle tour, spanning just 3 days at the end of the year, but a truly revelating experience leading to a significantly longer and even more enjoyable tour in 2013.
Starting point: Joshua Tree National Park
Ending point (planned): Los Angeles
Ending point (actual): Southwest corner of Salton Sea, on highway 78, miles upon miles from any town or services
Reason: punctured tube and shredded tires on the bicycle trailer with no replacements – on New Year’s Day
2 climbers atop a boulder at sunset. First night of the bicycle tour at a campground in Joshua Tree National Park
Adrianne, new friend at the campground, cooking dinner. She had been climbing and camping at Joshua Tree for several days already.
Adrianne and Brian chat over dinner next to the (much welcomed) warm fire. Temperatures dipped down to mid-20′s that evening!
A light snow fell as bedtime approached…
A Joshua Tree against the somewhat hazy sky, light painted by my headlamp.
Nature called in the middle of the night, and I awoke to this beautiful moon-lit scene.
More Joshua Tree midnight beauty.
Frost in the morning on the bike trailer
Brian probably has more equipment and food stockpiled for his winter break at Joshua Tree than some regular households.
Climbers gather in the morning for coffee and chats near the center of the campground with info and materials for newcomers.
And that’s the whole rig. Early 80′s (my best guess) Japanese steel frame, 10-speed, and attached to it is a kiddie-trailer that has been loaded with far too much stuff. But had to learn somehow…
Morning scene of the Joshua Tree desert
These alien-looking trees…
The sunny but chilly weather gave way to cloudiness within a couple hours.
Temperatures dropped about 10F as the fog and clouds covered the sky.
It may be southern California, but winter chills and rain in the high desert can get a bit unpleasant. I biked on to keep warm.
Snapped this as I rode by the sign and a light rain had fallen for about an hour. Felt reassured.
And through a canyon of interesting sedimentary geology towards the Salton Sea
Being late December, the night fell quite early (4:45pm or so). Early campsite setup and chow time! Dinner of cous cous in a cream of butternut squash soup
Private campground… 😉
Moonrise behind dramatic clouds, sprinkled with stars all around.
Coming from ~4,000 feet in elevation the night before to below sea level at Salton Sea, the shift to much warmer temperatures was quite welcomed.
Behold… first sighting of the (in)famous Salton Sea
200 feet below sea level
Saying that real estate in the region is inexpensive could be an understatement
The contrast of the dry desert, an evaporating “sea,’ and snow-capped peaks in the background.
Riding along the sea and highway for most of the morning and early afternoon
office and pull-thrus
big ag industrial monoculture farms everywhere. should farmlands really exist in a region with less than 4 inches of rainfall a year and utilize water pumped from hundreds of miles away?
One thing is for sure though – the region is a hotspot for migratory birds – in huge quantities too
Yet another industrial farm, or more specifically – Confined Feeding Operations/Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CFOs/CAFOs). The public health and environmental impacts are subpar, to say the very least. Not a fan.
Flocks upon flocks of birds across the sky at susnet
Traveling companions above as sunset turns to dusk
Jim, our WarmShowers.org host at the town of Brawley. I met up with my friend Richard at Jim’s that evening, who had cycled from Phoenix, Arizona.
We were hosted along with Peter from Louisiana, who was on the last leg of his journey to San Diego. Jim gave his great hospitality and even fed us a warm and delicious vegan meal as we celebrated the end of 2012 with the sounds of fireworks and shotguns in the air at midnight.
I rode with Richard that morning after bidding farewell to Peter. Everything was going fine until…
… until the puntured tire on my trailer hit abruptly. Ended up hitching a ride home, with the bike on the back of the truck of a friendly stranger. My rescuer asked if he was the first to stop, and I answered yes. He added that it is not surprised, given the (lack of) culture in the west for motorists to help out stranded folks or hitchhikers on the side of the highway. He said that I would have gotten help even sooner if I was in the Midwest, where he is originally from.
Yet another adventure logged and many lessons learned!
Did you enjoy this journey? Check out my much longer bicycle tour in 2013.
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