Monday, November 5, 2018

Sand, hawks, and starry skies in Joshua Tree California

Friday was a gorgeous day in Arizona, with bright blue skies that I call "Arizona blue" and temperatures in the mid 60's as we headed south and then west toward Joshua Tree, California. Fall is a wonderful time of the year for motorcycle riding in the Southwest as the daytime temperatures range from the 50's to mid 80's and there's rarely any threat of rain.


We started our trip down familiar roads through the Weaver Mountains in Yarnell where we enjoyed the winding, twisting curves that are one of our favorite motorcycle rides.




We rode out of the mountains and into the Mojave Desert that covers over 25,000 square miles in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California. U.S 60 took us through tiny, isolated, dusty, sandy former mining communities like Aguila and Salome that oddly enough and due to irrigation are also centers of agriculture. It was a bit of a shock to see the blue Colorado River running through the desert in Parker, AZ and then we were back into the sandy desert.


We have been this way before and knew that it was 109 miles from Parker to the next town, Twentynine Palms so we stopped for gas before heading west on CA Route 62.


Everything looks dusty and grey, and for good reason because the annual rainfall is about 5". There aren't any trees in the Mojave Desert, but there are a wide variety of small, spindly bushes that dot the sandy landscape to the mountains that rim the desert.


Mike had to be extra cautious along the 2-lane paved road because much of the way there is no paved shoulder, and the 'shoulder' is typically deep sand.

A railroad runs along the north side of the road for a few miles, and the sandy bank along the sides of the railway are lined with rock and railroad tie graffiti, such as a heart outlined with white rocks surrounding initials and names spelled out in black rocks or old railroad ties.



I can't imagine the amount of time someone put into painting rocks bright blue, deep red and white and then hauling them out here to make this statement.

We stayed at the High Desert Motel in the town of Joshua Tree, on the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park and where the famous Joshua trees are just about everywhere.


Saturday morning started off just as the sun was rising as we rode 10 minutes down the road to meet with Lorrie Agnew, Master falconer of JT Falconry Adventures to learn about his birds which include three Harris's hawks, two peregrine falcons, and a kestrel, the smallest of the falcons. Lorrie explained falconry and about the birds and we even were able to pet the Harris's hawks soft feathers. It's amazing that these fierce birds of prey with long sharp talons and even sharper beaks sat quietly on Lorrie's gloved arm as we stroked their backs. Lorrie then took us into the desert with the Harris's hawks to watch them hunt.

Lorrie Agnew, hunting dog Sara, and Skippy the Harris's hawk




It was fascinating to learn about the birds and how much time, effort and love for birds falconers put into their hobby.  Here is a short clip of Skippy, Lorrie, and Mike.

We ate a late breakfast at Larry's and Milt Western Cafe in Yucca Valley, saw the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie, and then I ran the Joshua Tree half-marathon that started at sunset. I was the only one of about 3000 runners who arrived on the back of a motorcycle! We started the day at 6 am and ended back at the motel about 10:30 pm and packed a lot into that time.

Sunday morning we retraced our route back home to Prescott, where the BMW's odometer rolled over to 12,000 miles while we were riding through the sandy Mojave Desert.


We traveled 640 miles during our 3-day quick weekend trip into California on little-traveled roads that allowed us to zoom along the mostly straight roads with the sunshine on our backs. We're still smiling.

https://goo.gl/maps/r85v3CApDEK2  for a map of our route

1 comment:

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