I woke up to a stunningly gorgeous morning in Palm Springs -- sunny, clear blue skies, and a temperature in the mid 60s already at 8am. Outside Casa de Madelon the birds were out, the grass green, and it felt like spring. No wonder people winter here. After making and taking a few calls on the patio (work never stops) I saddled up on the bike and headed North out of Palm Springs. My route today was going to take me around and through Joshua Tree National Park in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Just outside of Palm Springs is a huge windmill farm to generate electricity. As there was no wind today they were idle, but they still make for a fascinating sight -- I don't think I've ever seen so many in a single place. But it illustrates the folly of "wind power" -- as in what do you do when the wind doesn't blow? A bit further on up the mountain I ran into snow again -- most likely from last week. You don't often see palm trees growing out of the snow. Global warming my ass! With all we've had in Seattle the past weeks, I'm thinking I need to drive the Hummer even more.
Despite the snow, the sun kept it nice and warm and it was a very pretty and quiet ride in the desert to the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. My route was to take me through the park and back South into the Coachela Valley and Palm Springs. The road through the park is quite pretty, with wonderful desert scenery and very little traffic on this Monday in the holiday season. The rock formations were amazing as you can see.
I motored around the park for some time enjoying the sun and the quiet roads before finding the main road back to Palm Springs. Now my fellow Harley-Davidson riders will attest to the fact that Harley's have notoriously inaccurate fuel guages, which is why it's always good to count miles as well as look at the guage. Well my guage and miles were showing I still had a fair number of miles left on the tank, but I knew it was getting close when I got onto I-10 West at the south end of the park. I'd gone a few miles when the bike simply died. It didn't sputter, it didn't act like it was out of gas, and the starter motor wouldn't even engage. I coasted for a few miles downgrade until I hit a level spot and pulled off to the side and called Harley Roadside Assist. Well apparently they only covered my own bikes not rental ones -- however every Authorized Harley rental I've ever done has had HRA. Apparently the San Diego Dealer doesn't. I sat by the roadside for over almost three hours and watched the sun go down (and boy does the desert get cold when the sun goes down) when rescue finally came.
It turns out that the combination of low fuel and vapor lock caused the bike to stall. A tank of fresh gas and clearing the air in the fuel injection system got her running again. So while I spent the better part of the afternoon pissed off and mad and grumpy besides a noisy and dusty Interstate, after looking back on it, it was just a bump in the road compared to what else has happened this year, and the day out on the bike enjoying the road made up for it.
Tomorrow it's back to San Diego to turn the bike in and fly home on New Years eve and bring 2008 to a merciful close.