It felt like a road trip this morning. As usual on a road trip, I woke up, took my Harley Road Atlas and shuffled down the hall of the Holiday Inn Express to the free breakfast room. I poured a bowl of cereal, made some juice and had a pastry while I pondered the map one more time. I'd picked out a long looping southerly route to get to Palm Springs from San Diego, along a road that hugged the Mexican border for much of it. After breakfast I loaded the bag on the bike and headed out to pick up the freeway to get out of town. Once the freeway ended I was on CA-94 as it climbed up and over a few rocky passes as it angled southeasterly towards the Mexican border at Tecate. It felt so good to be out riding in the sunshine and blue skies, along a lonely road with no traffic. It was a bit cooler than I expected, but I still was happy to be out free and riding again.
Apparently this road is also the old alignment for the original US-80 which California has designated as a "HIstoric Highway" and has posted signs similar to what they put along old Route 66. I don't know wny 80 would also be considered a "historic highway" but apparently California thinks it is worthy. It was a quiet road, I think I maybe passed a dozen cars in an hour - a nice liesurely ride in the high desert.
Just past Tacate the Mexican border came into view, and I was rather startled to see that the US Government is building what amounts to a Berlin Wall along the border. This high-tech security fence makes the border look like a prison -- or something that was built by the Communists after World War II to keep their people from escaping. I must have passed about a dozen Border Patrol units, and had to go through two checkpoints as well. All in the name of "Homeland Security". I found it more than a bit chilling.
Shortly after this picture was taken I had to hop onto Interstate 8 for a short while as the old historic road had run out. The border fence followed us and cut through like a giant ugly scar up the hilside and mountains, before the freeway turned north and I got off to take the back road into El Centro, before turning north myself and up past the Salton Sea and in the back way to Palm Springs.
I stopped for some tacos at a small road side stand in El Centro, which also surprisingly had Sweet Tea, something you don't see outside of the South. (Well this is the southern most poart of California). Heading north again along the shore of the Salton Sea and past the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge (so where is Cher?) as the day got warmer and I got closer to Palm Springs. This road ran out at Interstate 10, which I had to battle for 15 miles with post-holiday and truck traffic into the oasis of golf courses and perma-tanned people that make up the Coachella Valley. I found my friends house fairly easily and will rest up here tonite before exploring the desert around Palm Springs again tomorrow on the bike.
It's been so long since I've been on a bike that the 230 miles today seemed all too short. Add to that the sun and warmth of the desert and the freedom to go where I want, when I want, and having the bike respond to my slightest touch brought me a little bit out of my blue funk. It was good to get out on the bike, and I've got two more days of it ahead of me before heading back to Seattle and the pending legislative session.