BrammoBlog: From San Francisco to Albuquerque: with an ill-fated stop in Baker, Ca. Thank God for Abducted Cow Alien Beef Jerky or the stop would have been a total loss.

19 01 2013

Blog 63: The Pickup Part 3. Or: All Good Things Come to an End, so why do bad blogs go on forever?


So Part 1 was about getting to San Francisco. Part 2 was about being in San Francisco. And this, Part 3, is about getting the bike back home.

Needless to say it should be the most boring. The ADVENTURE is always about the trip. The discovery. The conquest.

The Hobbit: There and Back…was about the getting “there”. Back was a few throw away pages at the end. The Legend of Zelda always has Link winning the fight and then “game over”. Once Ganondorf is slain you don’t see Link at home heating up a pot pie and catching up on missed episodes of Breaking Bad on his DVR. Hmmm, maybe I should come up with less geeky references. All my street cred is gone. Ok. I never had any to begin with.


But back on topic. Getting home. Personally I hate taking a return trip that is exactly the same as the one going out. To me this seems, and is, redundant. So for the trip home I decided to veer north at Barstow and stop at a small town called Baker, California. Home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer. This path would take me closer to Death Valley and I thought a night in Baker could be fun. It was not. Though the next morning ended up being much much better than the night I arrived.

Ah…were shall I start? So it turns out that there is only one motel in Baker still open. And that motel is currently for sale and staffed by people who kinda just don’t care. Likely they are just poorly paid caretakers in the employ of a far distant owner. The room had a strange odor I’ve never smelled before and was heated by an old, in-wall heater. When I turned it on…well it just didn’t seem right. I was fairly sure it was putting out tons of carbon monoxide and that I would surely perish. I tried watching a downloaded episode of Shameless on my iPad and the image seems to shift and jump and blur just a bit. It could have been my tired eyes, a bad download or a number of things–poor electrical lighting in the room or the beginnings of my much expected psychotic break…but I chose to focus on one thing: The beginnings of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

I didn’t really want to die in Baker. I kinda didn’t want to stay overnight or even be in Baker for longer than a quick fill up of the pickup’s gas tank and go. But dying in Baker was pretty far down on my list of things to do on a weekend…or weekday. Especially now that I had just gotten the Plus back. Oh, and my lovely family…I would miss them too. So I turned off the heater and decided not to use it. I also decided I was going to sleep in my clothes on top of the bed. Yes, it was that kind of room.

Well the temperatures dipped into the 20’s and I found myself freezing without the use of heater or covers. So I decided to open the bathroom window for ventilation and turn the heater back on. Not only on, but on HIGH to battle the cold cold outside air. I figured the outside air would dilute the carbon monoxide enough to keep me alive. Possibly with some brain damage, but it likely wouldn’t be worse than any one of a thousand nights I had in college.

Which is how it came to be that; on top of the bed sheets, fully dressed, with the heater pumping hot air at me and the bathroom window allowing freezing air inside, I slept. Mostly I slept because of the comforting hum of the Brammo Enertia Plus charging in the room with me. A) I love sleeping to that sound. B) It’s always nice to get an overnight charge. And C) I didn’t trust the bike being outside. Heck, I wasn’t too sure I trusted it in the room with me. Cheap, old fashioned door locks with a key older than the one I used as a kid when I was a latch-key kid…in the freaking 60’s. So that door was little protection. That and…

THIN WALLS. I could hear the people next door talking very clearly. Not quite enough to hear exactly what they were saying, but close. And the conversation, the ebb and flow, the cadence and pattern, all suggested a friendly and flirtatious relationship. I was very very VERY worried that the talking was going to become “something else”. And I really didn’t want to be in that room, fully dressed and laying on top of the bed sheets, both freezing and overheating, having the carbon monoxide slowing killing me, while also listening to two strangers Go at IT. It would have been toooooo much. Luckily the room fell quiet and the people either left (if they were smarter than me), fell quickly to sleep or were good WASPs and did the nasty in complete silence.



Bike in room…killer heater in the wall


So, somewhat surprisingly, I survived the night. And it was a rather quick getaway from that room as I was already dressed 🙂 . I had looked at the shower and decided to skip it. My wife would be surprised. A) I always take a shower in the morning. It is what wakes me up. And B) I’ve bathed in some fairly sketchy places. For me to forgo a wake up shower means that the bathroom was pretty bad. And it was.

So I got up and packed up the car with everything except the Plus. I was determined to get a short ride in before leaving. After all I picked Baker so I could possibly ride into Death Valley. And to see the World’s Tallest Thermometer (which doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe they just turn it off in the winter? Or maybe, like almost everywhere else in Baker, it has been forgotten, neglected and finally succumbed to time, apathy, inertia. A Ghost Thermometer for a Ghost Town. An abandoned relic for future generations to puzzle over).

It was a pretty morning. Pretty and cold. I thought of Death Valley and assumed it would be warmer, even in mid winter. My ride was at 32 degrees exactly. And I had my Fall gloves. Grrrrrrr. The wrong gloves…it is a reoccurring theme for me. Heck, it could be my autobiography title. The Wrong Gloves and other mishaps and missteps.

But I soldiered on.


big temp final

World’s Tallest Thermometer. Not working. The building behind it was empty too.




It seems the Thermometer is owned by Bob Big Boy…it also was closed.

photo6YOU”RE HERE….(but really wish you weren’t)


So the next stop, before I realized how cold it was, was to be a nice ride down Death Valley Highway. I didn’t go far. 8 am, 32 degrees, wrong gloves, 60 mph road, bad night of sleep and carbon monoxide poisoning all worked against me. The cold got to my hands pretty quick. But I rode a few miles north on Death Valley Highway and took a few photos.



When I first looked at Baker and the Death Valley Highway I really wanted to go to Shoshone. A) I live on Shoshone Rd. B) Shoshone is the home to Death Valley High School. And I really wanted a photo of the Plus in front of Death Valley High School. The name alone makes it perfect for an old drive in movie plot line. But 56 miles each way was just too much for a photo op that could have been crappy. So that part got scrapped.



Death Valley off-road Panorama.

As I said, it was a beautiful day. Now if only it had been 20 degrees warmer.



Shoshone sign panorama


So I did about 10 miles round trip on Death Valley Highway. Maybe in the Fall I’ll go back and do a proper trip. But the cold and lack of sleep forced me back into Baker to load up the bike and finish the trek home. BUT….

Next to the motel was a store front proclaiming: Alien Fresh Jerky.

How does one skip that? The answer: They Don’t. So I drove over, thinking it closed too, and took some photos. Which are here:





I did my best DeNiro here: What are you looking at? You looking at me?

Sadly my DeNiro is more like a slightly mad pee wee herman. The Alien was not afraid.





All together now: I Park Where I Want.


While I was taking the photos a couple walked out of the store and into their car. So the place was open for business. Nice. And in I went. While inside I talked a bit to the man behind the counter. Telling him I liked the store and disliked the motel next to it. He commented that the motel was nasty but that the owner of the Alien Jerky store was planning an Alien themed hotel. I told him that I would have loved to had stayed in an Alien Themed hotel and it was a great idea. I also commented that I bet they get a lot of people taking photos of the store. He said yep, but that my motorcycle seemed to be getting more attention than the store. I looked out and a group of people were surrounding the bike. I told him, ‘Yeah, that happens all the time.

He pointed to one of the guys around the bike. “That’s the owner of this store.” Oh….So I went out and had a nice talk with him. About the bike. About his store. About his planned hotel (3 stories. Already breaking ground behind the Fresh Alien Jerky store. Should be completed and open in 2015). Nice guy. Hope it does well. But Baker seems a town already on Hospice care. Whether it can be saved/revived, who knows?

At least the nice little ride, and then the visit to the Alien Store, took some of the bitter taste from my mouth. That and the Jerky and treats 🙂



After that it was a fairly uneventful drive home. And the next morning I got to ride the Plus for my commute to work…in a slowly increasing snow fall. Enough to delay school the next day. Sigh. Still it was nice riding, even if a bit wet and snowy and cold.



Till Next Time…



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photo copy 4

Wasn’t sure if I should be offended or flattered that they used my likeness…


photo copy 3

My Fortune was merely: “Your species, like your hairline, is doomed.”

Now that I was offended by.


photo copy



photo copy 2

Driving away from Baker, this rock formation summed it up for me.



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