The next morning a very refreshed Dave strolled out to his bike at 7:00am. As you can imagine I was pleased to see one of the balloons from the brothel blown up and attached to the back of my bike, the words, ‘blow job to go’, emblazoned on it. Having said that I was so pleased that my hangover had gone I couldn’t have cared what was attached to my bike as long as it ran!
We left early for the first time in a few days and the riding immediately showed itself to be far more gentle than the conditions we were used to. It became clear after a few hours riding that the best of the route was probably over. Amazingly it had sustained interest and difficulty over a range of terrain for nearly 3000 miles. Pretty impressive! We rode over the usual empty landscapes but with evidence of remote cattle ranches on road signs at the trail edge. Initially it was such a novelty to see a road sign that I stopped and took a photograph. Civilisation on the trail was not what we were used to. We passed through a number of ranches over the next 100 miles as the scenery got greener and we passed through some fantastic water crossings. It was great to see and hear running water again after so long in the dry deserts. In the distance we could see a radar listening station on the top of a mountain ridge and it reminded us that human settlements were not far away.
Not long after this the roll map told Stef that we had entered California and as if by magic we dropped out of the hills and hit a fertile green plain. After 130 miles we needed fuel badly and duly headed towards Fort Bidwell our fuel stop. At this point it is fair to say that things had been going extremely well for at least two days and so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised when we discovered that after 150 miles riding that the only fuel stop in the valley had been shut for some years. A detour to another town was immediately called for and Stef was duly asked to empty the map bag he carried. ‘Ah’, was his reply, ‘we haven’t got any maps for California, were not here long enough’. Hmmmm.. It seemed things were returning to normal!
Jon rode off to see if he could find any local advice whilst Stef and I conserved what little fuel we had left (i.e. dozed in the shade of some trees outside what had been the local store cum petrol station). Our end of day stop was over 40 miles away and I didn’t feel we would make it without a refuel. Jons return bought bad news, the nearest fuel that he could definitely place was at least 30 miles in the wrong direction. And there were no tarmaced short cuts to Lake View (our end destination for the day). At this point I remembered a map Jon had given me nearly 4 weeks previously. It had been for me to ride from Arkansas to Oklahoma after we split up and had come from his decimated road atlas. I remembered clearly looking at the back page whilst at Stacy’s, and if memory served me correctly, and I still had it, we may well have a large scale map of California. The sun shined, I had remembered correctly, and it was still in my pocket where I had placed it 28 days ago. A miracle! We plotted a rough route over our last range of mountains and set off at 30 miles an hour through some wonderful forests.
We didn’t quite make our final destination but got pretty close. My bike finally coasted to a halt 10 miles outside Lakeview. We stopped and I took off my tank and held it under Jon’s fuel tap for a quick 3 litre refill. An hour later we limped in to our final destination with Stef presumably running on gas fumes. We sorted a hotel for the night and went to explore. It was possibly one of the most exciting evenings for some time. Not only were hardly any of the shops derelict but it looked as if there were two main streets each with different shops on. This was so earth shattering that we actually walked onto the second street just because we could and marvelled at the size of this metropolis. It had been over 10 days prior to this stop that we had last seen a town thriving like this. Our evening meal took place in a lovely restaurant and consisted of vegetables and sorbet! We were all amazed. We slept well that night happy in the knowledge that the riding was proving easy and that the hardest part of the trip was over. I was overjoyed that my bike had made it across the desert and happy that I hadn’t let Jon or Stef down with any mechanical problems. It was good we were feeling so positive because true to form the Trans Am Trial (as I was privately beginning to call it) wasn’t going to let us go quite that easily. We were destined to have one hell of a last days riding.