Sandblasted in California!!
After our great lunch, the second part of our day started out going west of Yuma on I-8 and it wasn’t long before we hit the Imperial Sand Dunes in southeast California. Let me tell you, this is not much fun on a motorcycle when the winds are blowing about 20 MPH and you are traveling along at 65. Let the sandblasting begin! Now you might think that this must be the worst of the ride but you are incorrect, the worst is yet to come…
This was my first trip through Lower California and I can almost assure that it will be my last. There is nothing to see as the land is very desolate, flat, and nothing but sand. I was waiting to see a camel come over the dunes at any time (wink).
We rode in this area for about an hour until we came to Calexico, CA. Being from South Carolina, I wanted to go see what a border crossing site looked like. Boy was that the wrong decision! We realized our mistake as we turned south on Main Street and saw it was 4:30 in the afternoon. All the people that worked in Calexico from Mexico were now on the way home.
We turned the bikes around and headed north on CA 111 trying to get to 78 / 86 to go on the western side of Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is a shallow, saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, predominantly in California‘s Imperial and Coachella valleys. I read somewhere that this was a great motorcycle ride in Southern CA.
When we got to the split, we decided to just stay on 111 and go up the east side since it was shorter and it was getting later in the day. We wanted to get to Rancho Mirage before it got too late. This turned out to be one of the smarter decisions we made all day. As we were heading north, the cross wind started getting stronger and stronger. We later learned that it was a sustained 50 mph wind. Now imagine if you will, having to lean the bike over at a steep angle and turn the front wheel sideways just to stay upright. The real fun was when a semi and trailer came from the other direction and blocked the wind for a few seconds. The bike wanted to go up the hill then it had to be forced back down to the yellow line getting ready for the next blast of wind when the truck passed. This went on for the next 52 miles until we got north of the Salton Sea.
Around 30 miles into the ordeal we went through a checkpoint and asked the border patrol officer if it was always this bad. He told us not quite. Since there was a tropical disturbance in the gulf, it was bringing strong winds over the mountains and across the sea, which is 234 feet below sea level. He informed us that it was a good thing that we had not taken CA 86, as the winds were much higher and the visibility was down to 5 feet from the blowing sand. Hence, the best decision we had made all day.
Now I have been riding motorcycles for 45+ years and this is only the second time that I ever been glad to get off of one. The other time was also with John (big surprise there), when we got caught in a snow storm in northern Arizona.
Brewventures: Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse
We made it through the area beat and tired, rolled into Rancho Mirage, and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. I would highly recommend this motel if in the area as it is clean, great customer service, and an awesome breakfast bar. It was getting long in the day and the big boys were in need of some food and a cold adult beverage. We asked the desk clerk and she said Applebee’s right next door was good. No offense to Applebee’s or any other food chain, but we like to try out the local establishments if given the option.
One of our favorite apps, Untapped, which keeps track of the craft beers that I have tried over the years, can also locate breweries in the area where you are. We were in luck! There was one about a quarter of a mile away and just across the street in a strip mall. Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse sounded just like the place we needed to head to and boy are we glad that we did.
They were voted the 2015 Brewery of the year at the California state fair. I can see why after trying their flagship beer, Blackfin Lager, a dark pour with a robust flavor of dark malt. Since we only had to walk across the parking lot we ended up drinking every beer they produced and they were all fantastic. Of course we had to eat, so we started out with the spicy sausage sampler, which had an awesome smoked flavor and a little heat on the back end.
Beers Tried: Babe’s Pinche Cervesa Vienna, Blackfin Lager, Beligian Vanilla Blonde
Then it was on to a BBQ sandwich. Did I mention that John is a BBQ connoisseur? The sandwich had a nice smoky flavor and the sauce was not over bearing to take away from the pork. After finishing up our late dinner, buying some t-shirts, and closing the joint down, we headed back to get some rest. Looking forward to another great day of riding and marking some more National Parks off our list tomorrow!
Live Your Adventure!
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