Dave's Cross-Country Trip 2003

Day Twenty-two and Final Thoughts

by Dave Schultheis

Monday, June 9, 2003 - Needles, California

Make no mistake, this is a railroad town. All night long there were locomotives idling behind the motel, trains going through, and car and truck traffic down Main Street. I did not get a whole lot of sleep. I was awake at 2:40 a.m., then again at 4:20 a.m. At this point, I made the decision to get up and go.

I dressed, packed and loaded the bike. The thermometer at the motel said it was 90 degrees F.

I left the room key at the office and hit the road at 5:00 a.m. It was cool and comfortable as I got onto westbound Interstate 40. Except for one 60 mph construction zone, there was little traffic and clear sailing, 75 mph for many miles.

Thoughts that occur while riding: why are truck trailers 53 feet long? Many have exterior lettering saying they are 53 feet long. Why not 50 feet? Why not 55 feet?

There were several instances of bridge work, _most_ of which had signs warning of a dip in the pavement. But not all.

About an hour and a half later, I stopped for fuel at a Union 76 Station in Ludlow CA. Fuel was very expensive!

I rolled into and through Barstow at 7:15 a.m., transitioned onto southbound Interstate 15, then just a couple miles later turned westbound on CA Highway 58. I've been on this section many times, both on the Road King and in the car. It's two lanes for a long ways, then four lanes, then two lanes again. Very annoying with all the trucks. On the other hand, they're probably annoyed with all the cars.

I reached Kramer Junction (CA 58 and U.S. Highway 395) at 7:40 a.m., stopped at the AM/PM mini-market for water, and noticed it was getting warmer.

I saw a stalled car on a frontage road east of a rest stop about 28 miles east of Mojave, and realized that the occupants included a handicapped woman with a cane and three small children, so I took an offramp and stopped to call the Highway Patrol. My Sprint PCS phone wasn't getting a Sprint signal, but I got a good signal when I switched to analog roaming.

My 9-1-1 call got CHP somewhere (they didn't say where), and when I gave them the location, they connected me with another CHP somewhere else (they didn't say where), and the dispacher said they would send someone to help the folks.

A little closer to Mojave, I passed, and then was followed by, an "unmarked car" for about 10 miles. Eventually he turned off Hy 58 and into the parking lot at the Kern County Sheriff's Office in Mojave.

A few blocks later, at 8:35 a.m., I stopped at McDonald's in Mojave, where it was getting warmer. For many miles I had been anticipating a Steak, Egg and Cheese Bagel, but they didn't have them! I asked why, and the employee could not explain. I asked for the manager but he wasn't there. The "person in charge" was busy. So I continued.

At 9:10 a.m. I pulled into a Shell Station in Tehachapi. After fueling, I asked the guy in the gas station where the restroom was. He pointed in the direction (outside). I walked over there, only to find the door locked, so I had to go back and ask for the key. Would it have killed him to say, "The restroom is that way, and here's the key."? What a turkey!

While riding back through Tehachapi, I found another McDonald's. They also did not have Steak, Egg and Cheese Bagels, but front counter employee Josť certainly knew his customer service. He apologized and offered an alternative. Those pea-brains back at the store in Mojave could learn a lesson from Josť.

I continued west from Tehachapi on Hy 58, past the Tehachapi Loop, then in Bakersfield turned north on CA Highway 99 for a couple miles, then westbound Hy 58 again, about 30 miles to Interstate 5, turned north and stopped for water at the Buttonwillow Safety Rest Area.

Looking back, I'm not quite sure why I decided to take I-5 instead of CA Highway 99, which is my usual route. Perhaps it was because I was just tired and wanted to get home, perhaps it was because I had not been on I-5 for a while, I don't recall. There's not much on Interstate 5 but miles and miles, but it would get me home.

A hour and half later I stopped for fuel at a Union 76 Station at CA Highway 198, near Coalinga. While there, I saw two little dogs inside a great big pickup truck, barking furiously at two little old ladies getting into their large American luxury car.

The owner of the dogs, a heavily-tattooed biker gal, came out of the gas station and I told her that I was chuckling at her dogs. She 'splained that they live near some little old ladies, and the dogs hate 'em. But they like bikers! I was amused.

Another hour later I turned westbound onto CA Highway 152 and rode right into a strong headwind. It was sunny and very windy near the San Luis Dam and over the Pacheco Pass. I don't often see CHP in this area, but they were swarming - all over the place. Of course, I always ride legally, so I didn't attract any attention.

In Gilroy, I turned north on U.S. Highway 101, saw a sign near the freeway that said it was 66 degrees F., then took advantage of brand-new carpool lanes which had been opened while I was away. It was smooth sailing to CA Highway 85 in south San Jose, and I took it to Almaden Expressway, then Blossom Hill Road, stopped at Wolf Camera to turn in my last LPC, and got home at 2:40 p.m.

It was another long and hot day, but Barney was there, wagging his tail, glad to see me, and it was good to be home!

Miles for the day = 512. Miles for the trip = 6941.

It was great to see so many old friends and to make a few more friends along the way.

Thanks to Roger & Karen Elmore (TN) and to Amanda Hargis and her mother Liz (NM) for working so hard to make their get-togethers so successful. It was a pleasure to attend both of these wonderful events.

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Created on January 9, 2004. Updated on February 1, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA