Once a year, some photographer friends of mine get together for a multi-state motorcycle ride. For the last few years, it’s been branded and put on by Ron Henry, the founder of BLACKRAPID. This is the last and 4th part in this series documenting this year’s ride. (See Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3.)
As everyone headed out from the Santa Barbara docs in their various directions, Mike Ridinger, his son Cade, and myself made a route home that would take us on backroads through Death Valley and the Utah Salt Flats.
Cade as the passenger on Mike’s bike would check routes and give us options as we rode. It allowed us to avoid all the LA traffic and large freeways clogged with cars, and instead take the most beautiful scenic side routes in California.
We slowly weaved our way northeast, spending hours curving through farm land and orchards. It was a completely different view of California than I’ve seen previously. It was a sea of orchards and farms, interspersed with little towns perfect for gas stops.
In one town, there was this building on the left with a series of colors. I stopped to photograph it while changing up clothing. We seemed to go through warm areas, then cold, then rain, then back to warm all along this route. We’d go up mountains and hills, down, and the weather would constantly change.
At one point we stopped along a roadside to change up our clothing and gear. Mike got this photo of me and Cade chatting and looking at the sunset.
It’s amazing how open and wide the country is when you get off the main roads. While stopped, I took a photo of my bike on the side of the road.
As we looked off at the sunset behind us, we were amazed by the colors and the layers of mountain peaks in the distance.
As we continued on into the twilight, we found a town with a suitable hotel and got some dinner for the night.
The next day we got up, packed our bikes, and headed for Death Valley. It started out as a hot morning, and as we rode through this area, we had no internet. But Mike’s thermometer consistently showed we were in the 100º-115º range depending on our elevation. At this temperature, the “wind-chill” that happens when you ride is actually makes the temperature feel even hotter. At a certain temperature point, the wind blowing past you as you ride isn’t cooler, but hotter.
Being this hot, this was a great place to stop to eat, cool down and gas up. I liked this old truck with the sign saying, “Last Gas for 45 minutes.” Gas out here is far and few between – as we find out later. But first, we absolutely enjoyed our time and Death Valley. My phone kept shutting down from the heat, even if I put it in my pocket out of the sun. At one point, we visited a gift shop, and I put my phone in the ice cream freezer to get it to start working again.
From Death Valley we headed to a town called Tonopah to fill up – it’s the last gas station for 170 miles on the way to Ely, Nevada. Mike’s gas tank is bigger than mine, but I had some spare gas on me too, just in case. My tank, with normal riding can go about 120-140 miles before I run out of gas and have to switch to my reserve tank, where I’ll get another 30 miles. It was cutting it close on making it the 170, but we were too far away from anything for another route, plus I did have extra gas on board.
So we gassed up and headed out to Ely. Along the way we’d talk and re-calculate, wondering how close to town I’d get. Eventually, my main tank gave out and I switched to reserve. Eventually, that gave out and I poured the rest of my gas I had with me in my tank and we continued on. When that puttered out, we were about 9 miles from town. Mike and Cade went ahead into town to get me gas, while I pulled over and watched the night and the empty road. Before long, they were back with extra gas for me and we went on into town, got a hotel, and talked about our day’s adventures over dinner.
The next day we headed to Wendover, Utah, dodging storm clouds and getting hit at one point with the edge of a wild rain storm. I shot this image at a Mexican restaurant were we cooled down and got some lunch.
With a new tank of gas, we went out to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.
We took some time to enjoy the flats and photograph our bikes on the stark, white salt. My blue bike really popped with the color scheme of the flats – blue sky and white clouds and salt.
Mike brought a small studio flash and we had some fun playing with lighting on the Salt Flats.
From here we headed home to my place in Utah, a few more hours to the east to relax, eat, and decompress. The next day Mike and Cade packed up and headed home to Lewiston, Idaho. It was the end of a great adventure. Over 2100 miles and friendship and adventure.
And on a portrait note, kids are back in school and fall weather is coming. It’s the perfect time to update family and kids’ portraits before the pretty green dies off. Give me a call at 801-728-3317 and let’s set something up.
And until next time, America.