Saturday, December 08, 2007

 

Charlie's Place - Thanksgiving '07 (part two)

Continuing my story from my last post . . .Thanksgiving night was really cold. I think it was around 34 degrees. I don't like the cold, but I'm stingy with the heater. Mainly because running the heater pulls a lot of power from the trailer's batteries. So I had the thermostat set low, and the heater cycled a few times throughout the night. We let Nina sleep with us. So at least the three of us (Laura, Nina and me) were warm. Brady - not so much.

Laura had her alarm set for 5:00 a.m. Why, you ask? Well the day after Thanksgiving is still a huge shopping day - even if you're in the desert. Laura had her posse of shoppers all set up from the night before. It was the usual crowd: Laura, Cindy N., Diane S., someone else whose name escapes me, and this year, Brady joined them. Anyway, they headed for the Wal-Mart in Ridgecrest before the sun came up, and were back before 9:00 a.m. with a truck full of Christmas gifts.

Meanwhile, I was planning to ride to Randsburg. There was big group of club members going to the pinnacles, but I wasn't interested. That's just as far in the opposite direction, and no White House Saloon or other bar & grill. I didn't tell anyone (other than Laura) where I was planning on going, because I didn't want to lead a group. It was just going to be me and Nina. Laura had already said that she didn't want to ride. She was actually going to go back to Wal-Mart by herself to get more gifts.

I anticipated that Nina wouldn't make it all the way to Randsburg, which is about 17 miles away. That may not seem like a long way in a car on a paved highway, but it's a really long way on a quad (or a motorcycle) on dirt trails. So I brought my tow rope with me. I knew that the trail I would take would be easy enough for Nina. Right before I left, Kelly & Monica asked me if I knew whether anyone was going to Randsburg. They had planned on going with the big group to the pinnacles, but misunderstood the departure time. (The big group left before K & M were ready). I told them that they could join me.

So off we went. We didn't get very far before I had to stop and wait for Nina. She said she was holding down the throttle, but her quad was hardly moving. I hooked up the tow rope, and away we went. Immediately I was traveling at twice the speed as when Nina was in control, and we were still moving at a very slow speed. We drove about 7 or 8 miles before we encountered our first challenge - a steep hill. I dropped it into 2nd gear, and slowly pulled Nina up the hill. I thought she would be screaming for me to stop, but she didn't. Then we had to go down the other side of the hill, which surprise, was just as steep. Well that was it; everything changed. Nina got scared, and didn't want me to tow her. Kelly suggested that I let her drive downhill. That worked for a few feet, but Nina was just too scared to drive or be towed.

Nina decided to walk. That presented a big problem, because I would have to drive my quad down the hill a bit, let Nina get to that point, then walk back uphill to get Nina's quad. Since Nina's quad is way too small for me to ride, I had to throttle it and run behind it downhill. Well I was exhausted after a few minutes. Luckily for me, there were only a few series of hills. We were now at a point where we could cross Trona Rd. and take some trails that are more challenging. These would lead to a wide, flat trail that hugs the railroad track for a couple of miles. Then Randsburg was up the hill, but we could move onto pavement for the last two miles.

The problem with the trails was that they were narrow at times, and came across other obstacles, such as dry creeks flanked by burms. These are created when it rains, and the water run-off creates channels that drain down hill. When a trail comes across these, the trail drops a foot or two and then climbs back up on the other side. More scary stuff for Nina. Also, these tend to be very sandy, and Nina's quad doesn't have the power to blast through the sand at slow speeds. I soon realized that we were not going to make it. I towed Nina to a huge camping area where there were many trailers, and it was accessible to Trona Rd. by only a couple of hundred yards.

I felt bad for Kelly and Monica, because they were counting on me to get them to Randsburg. But most of all, I was disappointed that I would not get to go to the White House Saloon. I knew I couldn't try again the next day (Saturday), because the club had a Poker Run scheduled. I pointed Kelly towards the railroad tracks, and told him to follow them to U.S.395. From there he could find his way up to Randsburg. I also knew that I couldn't tow Nina back, because we would encounter the same scary stuff on the way back.

So I called Laura on her cell phone. Luckily for me, I had reception. Laura was actually in Wal-Mart getting ready to check out. The next problem was getting Laura to me. You see, Laura is directionally challenged. She was lucky to find Wal-Mart by herself. Never mind that she's been there four or five times before, including earlier today! But on those trips, Cindy was telling her where to go. So I told her how to get to me: go back to our camp at Charlie's Place, but don't turn off the road. Keep driving down Trona Rd. I asked her, do you know where the Punch Bowl is? No. Great.

Now a side note for you reading this post. Every time we've passed the Punch Bowl, whether we were headed to (or from) Charlie's Place, or to nearby D.O.M. ride locale, Searless Station, I've pointed out the Punch Bowl. I've also mentioned how I would like to camp there. Laura has always acknowledged my comments. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I told her to look for a landmark that I thought she would recognize, and she didn't know what I was talking about. Well we had to chance it. I continued: Passed the Punch Bowl, and as you take a turn along Trona Rd., you will see a large group of trailers on your right. I told her that from her angle, they would look like someone threw a hundred white Legos in a big pile of sand.

About a half hour later, I recognized our truck rounding the curve. I waved Laura into the turnoff, and between the two of us we loaded Nina's quad in the back of the truck. She headed back to camp, and I headed . . . no, not to Randsburg. I also went back to camp. I knew that by the time I got to Randsburg, it would be about 12:30 p.m. I knew it would be crowded beyond my level of patients. I got to camp at about 1:00 p.m., and started drinking beer. Well, I ate lunch too.

So even though I didn't get to my destination, I was very proud of Nina for having gone a little more than half the way to Randsburg, albeit being towed. My story continues in the next post.

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