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Getting To Know You

I've been in the Desert for a little over a week now, and am still getting settled into my new surroundings and trying to make myself at home. Aside from a slight cold snap the first few days I got here, the weather has been glorious, with sunshine, cloudless skies, and temperatures in the mid 70s. Can't ask for better winter weather for sure.  This winter I'm staying with my friend Danny in Desert Hot Springs, which is up against the North foothills of the Coachella Valley, across the I-10 freeway from Palm Springs itself and the rest of the string of desert cities that all make up the greater cluster that everyone calls either Palm Springs or "The Desert".
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This area is decidedly NOT the upscale uber rich part of Palm Springs for sure. There are no wide boulevards lined with walled and gated subdivisions with immaculately groomed lawns and street-scapes. There arean't miles of golf courses, or upscale name-brand shopping areas. No, it's a kind of hardscrabble, blue collar, "poor" section of town if you will, albeit with wonderful views of the surounding desert and mountains. Its a part of the valley where the neighbors talk to each other, the kids play in the street, and folks barbeque in their front yards. It can be very windy and sandy/dusty here as well, and when we go into Palm Springs itself it's about a 10 mile trip which we refer to as "going into town".

I had time yesterday to get out in the afternoon for a nice 70 mile ride on the new bike. I don't know quite what to call him yet -- I'm still leaning towards Angus II or Junior, since so much of the old bike is on this one and it is the exact same make/model/color as the old one, albeit with a bigger motor.  It was a chance to explore some of this side of the Coachella Valley, where I've spent very little time. So I headed out of my subdivision and turned East onto Dillon Road, figuring I'd ride out to see where it went.
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The road meandered along the foothills with great views back across the Coachella Valley, and ambled past a number of trailer, err, mobile home, err RV parks (now named "resorts"), so I figure that if a tornado ever hits the valley this is where it will likely land. Eventually the road turned South East and dropped back down towards the North end of the Salton Sea and ended at the I-10 freeway in the town of Coachella, a few miles East of Indio.  There I turned around and headed back to Desert Hot Springs along the same road.


This was not only a good opportunity to get the lay of the land and get oriented to a new area, but also a good chance to test out the new bike. It's really the first long ride I've done on him since I bought him in Seattle in November.  I love the power and torque of the bigger engine, and it handles just like the old bike did if not better. There are some adjustments that need to be made to it, but there is plenty of time for that as the Palm Springs Harley dealer is actually in this part of town. I'm gonna want some new exhaust pipes though, I'm not happy with the sound of these (and we all know how important a bike's sound is). The biggest problem is that will likely have to wait for a visit to friends in Phoenix later this winter, or when I get home to Seattle since California prohibits dealers here from modifying bike exhausts, and no after-market exhaust systems meet CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulations.  The nanny state exists here as well (although we aren't separating our trash to the N-th degree like back home -- yet).

The sun started to set as I headed West back to the house.  I love the light in the desert, especially at that time of day, with the sky turning a deeper blue and the rest of the land becoming bathed in a golden light. As I was riding I came across a couple of roadside memorials -- you know the cross/candle/flower displays marking where someone lost their life in an accident. The deeply Catholic and Latino population in the region tends to make shrines here -- some that will break your heart.  I paused to take a few pictures in the late afternoon light -- I'm thinking this might make a good photo project for me as well.

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