By Mary Anne Erickson
Route 66 Ride for the Relay – Day 11
Tuesday September 16, 2014
From Barstow to San Bernadino, California
We stayed in Barstow Monday night with the ordeal of crossing the vast Mohave Desert behind us. (It actually wasn’t so bad for Jen and myself because we had the luxury of being inside an air conditioned car, but the riders really suffered). They told us there had been hotter days in previous rides, but 110 degrees sure felt brutally hot to me. Especially when you looked around and could only see desert and spots of sage brush stretching out in all directions and craggy brown mountains off, way off in the distance. Thank goodness our Quality Inn had a fabulous outdoor pool that offered relief from the heat at the end of the day.
We all gathered for our second to the last morning meeting and discovered that today was going to be a very easy day with only 70 miles to travel to San Bernadino. This would be our last stop before being poised to make the final leap to the Santa Monica Pier on Wednesday morning. I decided that today was THE DAY and now was the time to finally take Gary up on his offer to ride on his motorcycle!!! I just couldn’t get my courage up until now, but heck – it’s the last day and if not now when? So I ran up to our room and quickly threw on some jeans as the riders were preparing to leave.
Gary has one of the coolest bikes and trailers in the group and told me that everywhere he goes people stop and take pictures of it. It’s not so much the bike itself (a Honda Goldwing) but his trailer – it looks like a mini Corvette! Rodger (the group leader) also has a super cool mini car trailer and the two of them often parked their bikes together near the front doors of the hotels. (I imagine this was to ward off potential vandals or pranksters).
So away I went for my first motorcycle ride in probably 40 years! It wasn’t as hot as yesterday, but it must have been pushing 100, so it felt great cutting through that warm air and being full out in the 360 reality show – riding a motorcycle – wow! The first leg was relatively short as we stopped at a Route 66 train museum in Barstow – good – gave me a chance to ease into this whole thing. So far, so good.
Our next stop was going to be The Bottle Ranch – out in the desert and this meant going fast on the bike. Whoopie! He was thoughtful and kept his speed in check, but you can bet I was holding on tight to my camera which I had nestled between his back and my chest. What a great way to take pictures – no roof, windshield, or windows to roll down. I stayed on the bike with him all the way to The Summit Inn – our lunch stop – a famous Route 66 stop that according to legend was Elvis’ favorite spot to dine when he drove from LA to Vegas. So cool in fact, that Jen and I were invited by Rodger to sit with them for lunch at Elvis’ special booth!
After lunch I chose to get back in the car and ride with Jen, but I have to admit that on the last day of the ride I was really happy to have had the experience of knowing what these folks have been doing the last 11 days. Really really cool!
At 5:00 the hotel manager in San Bernadino had a reception for all of us and it was great to hang out with these kind people one last time. Judy, the photographer for the ride, had put together a slide show from last year’s journey and people cheered as they saw places and friends who were here again or those who didn’t make it. I stayed a long time and really enjoyed schmoozing with folks I hadn’t had a chance to connect with before. The mood was like one big family now. Jen and I had been affectionately named “Mary Anne and Ginger” or “the blondes” and although we originally looked very different than all of them (easterners, driving a car, always typing away on our phones) we are now ONE with this family – this Route 66-lovin’ family. It is truly heartwarming to be a part of this group of lovers of the “road”. And I have a huge new appreciation of the motorcycle culture and the open road now – so thank you Gary Gallo for your persistence in inviting me for a ride on your fine machine!
We will hit the end of the road, the SM Pier with a bang around noon on Wednesday – as Rodger has permission for all the bikes (and us) to drive out onto the pier and park! Then I’m sure there will be festivities and of course the long-awaited raffle drawing. I sold a lot of raffle tickets back home and we will wait with baited breath to see who wins. I will keep you all posted.
Once again, thank you for coming along on the ride. It’s been a glorious experience!