Annual Desert Pilgrimage

Feb 7, 2023

Well, wouldn’tcha know, it’s that time again.  Time to mount the Kawasexy and roll south and east to the Mojave.  Since I’m in a line to access ChatGPT, I went to resource 1.2, Wiki, to make sure my understanding of “a pilgrimage” was at least in the ballpark, or desert, as it happens.  From Wiki: 

A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about one’s self, others, nature, or a higher good through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.

That sounds pretty high minded.  Not like mindedness after edibles, but mindedness beyond the capacity of my mind, high or otherwise.  Since I’ll be in the company of my motley band of brothers, the Silverback Dirtbags, I can’t vouch for their mindedness except to say Pete is all in and Andy is somewhat equivocal.  It’s not that Andy has anything against expanded meaning or higher good. In colloquial Dirtbag, Andy, like a Rorschach, is as clear as dishwater in his intent.  I suspect if we asked him for a mandala to clarify, he would produce something along the lines of a compass rose, leading us to no clear intent. It may be, if I take him at his word, that his decision to join us depends on a diagnosis and favorable prognosis with regards to an orthopedic issue.  

Speaking of orthopedic issues, my guy, Dr. Beauchman has cleared me for any and all activities that will fuel my desire to keep on keeping on in search of self, others, nature and/or higher good.  All with the caveat that I will use my good judgment to, Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy, Lighten up while you still can, Don’t even try to understand, Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy. 

As is my indefatigable desire to plan, our journey will twist and turn us on backroads, some familiar, others foreign in keeping with the pilgrimage theme, through the Sierra foothills to Three Rivers.  From Three Rivers we’ll make our way over Alta Sierra, past Lake Isabella, over Walker Pass to Ridgecrest. 

From there it’s to Trona, the garden spot of the Owens Valley, (left, the bustling Searles Valley Minerals plant where Na2CO3•2NaHCO3•3H2O is processed and right, the Trona Pinnacles, tufa,or calcium carbonate spires). Then it’s on to the Panamint Springs Resort.  It’s as much a resort as Trona is a garden spot.  But it is the desert and we are there not because the “resort” is unknown, moreover, that it is a reminder of “daily life” in the middle of the Panamint Valley where we can enjoy victuals, beverages, and fuel our steeds.  Two nights.  

The next day we will venture forth to unknown or foreign places to expand our understanding of ourselves, others, nature, and a higher good through the experience of Rhyolite, NV.  Okay, it’s not entirely foreign, though it is in Nevada, or for that matter unknown as 40ish years ago I explored Rhyolite in another life.  I expect the venture to be rewarding nonetheless. After Rhyolite it’s back to Panamint Springs for the night. Not foreign but there will likely be foreigners there.

Day four of our journey will find us back in Three Rivers for the night in a foreign campground, not our favorite and familiar first night destination at the Three Rivers Hideaway, but now opting for the Sequoia Campground and Lodge for the night. 

Day five will be the return route to our daily lives where our no doubt expanded consciousness of self, others, nature, and higher meaning, along with dirty laundry awaits.  Stay tuned for the post ride update on Cheers!

There and Back Looking for the Other Abbey’s Road … If you’re willin’

A Proposal of Twelve Days/Eleven Nights on Motos from Sunday, Sept. 26 – Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

 Lowell George & Little Feat – Willin’ Live 1977 

 Linda Ronstadt – Willin Live 1977 

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari

Tehachapi to Tonopah

Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made

Driven the backroads

So I wouldn’t get weighed

And if you give me weed, whites, and wine

And you show me a sign

I’ll be willin’… to be movin’

The road beckons, as usual, Sisyphus and Associates are willin’ to scratch the “Quest into the Unknown” itch on this proposed journey that will reprise a scene or two from where we’ve been before (check out the links). This is to satisfy our incurable quest into the unknown, including some new territory close to Tucson and Tucumcari. Tehachapi, meh.

As the seasons begin to change, we hope the weather cooperates and foregoes any extreme behavior. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Our first two days are familiar as they include previous stops in Tonopah and Cedar City with drive throughs in Torrey, Caineville, Hanksville, and Green River. Our ultimate destination and turnabout will be Santa Fe in the Land of Enchantment.  I’m curious how the state motto, “Crescit Eundo,” translated from Latin, means “It grows as it goes.”  I’ll have to ask Bob and Suzanne our enchanting hosts about the allusion to dynamic progress…  

Sisyphus is an insufferable map geek. The roads over which our route will take us fall into the Butler designated “road qualities” of Lost Highways, G1, G2, and G3 segments. Check out Mojave Moto Spring 2021 for Sisyphus’s expansion of the Butler “road qualities” descriptions at There will be deserts and high forested mountains, river valleys, and arroyos to cross through small towns on backroads that are our preferred intermediate waypoints. What did folks do before Google Maps and Earth? Okay, our quest will sort of be into the unknown. Sorry Mr. Natural.

You may think this trip isn’t so much a quest into the unknown what with having covered ground on previous rides and extensive use of mapping. And you’d be correct. The quest into the unknown isn’t so much about the terrain. We know we’ll be awed by the varied landscapes we’ll ride through. The quest is more about the journey following some of Edward Abbey’s travels and the romance of the road that seems to permeate the long-haul trucker’s, poet’s, and map-loving motorcyclist’s zeitgeist. So, why not let’s call it, There and Back Looking for the Other Abbey’s Road (Trip 2021).

For background on Edward Abbey see

For the deep Abbey dive, I recommend his book, Desert Solitaire, as a start. For a dip of the toe, try

First Edition Hardback Cover

The Route

Sisyphus humbly offers a scroll-worthy (at least click on the blue map links) proposal for this twelve-day moto adventure, broken into Part 1, Eastward We Go, and Part 2 Westward Down and Bound.  Bring your imagination along and join us if you’re willin’ as a brief narrative of the route with some images captured previously in-person and from the interwebs detail our intended waypoints and consider the ese on Guest-friendship that follows.

Part 1 Eastward We Go Merced to Santa Fe ~1400 miles

Day 1 – Merced to Tonopah ~281 (~309?) miles

Merced to Tonopah

There’s nothing creepier than a cemetery next to a Clown Motel

The Sierra poses the first “obstacle” to overcome. We’ll take CA-120 by way of J-59, CA 132 to Smith Station Rd. (281 miles) with the Tioga Pass Option, or the CA-108 over Sonora Pass Option (~309 miles) to Bridgeport then Lee Vining on US-395. It just depends on which route is on fire…

From Lee Vining, it’s US-395 to the junction w/ CA-120 to Benton (Hot Springs). From there we make our way on US-6 to Tonopah, across range and basin country, where Sisyphus and his Associate Pete stayed in the fall of 2020. You can read about that trip and the next two legs we are reprising from the Burr Trail Here We Come blog post., Burr Trail Here We Come

Day 2 – Tonopah to Cedar City ~288 miles

Tonopah to Cedar City

From Tonopah, we ride on US-6/NV-95 through Warm Springs and catch the road to Rachel on NV-375. We hope to avoid being abducted by aliens who are allegedly held captive at Area 51. That doesn’t preclude stopping for a souvenir T-Shirt at the Alien Research Center at Crystal Springs should we escape. T-Shirt safely stowed, we proceed on US-93 through Caliente, perhaps for a delightful lunch, infusing cash into the local economies, to the junction w/ NV-319 in Panaca.

Sisyphus’s Associate, Pete at the Alien Research Center in 2020

From Panaca it’s NV-319 to the Nevada/Utah border where the road becomes UT-56 to Modena. Modena, just an R away from mRNA vaccine name recognition fame… I wonder if there’s a Pfize Utah?

From there we will climb to Cedar City on UT-56.

East of Cedar City, Cedar Breaks from the Chessman Ridge Overlook

Day 3 – Cedar City to Moab ~339 miles

Cedar City to Moab 

Following breakfast, an early departure takes us on UT-14 to Tod’s Junction meeting UT-14 and US-89 through Hatch to the junction w/ UT-12 through Tropic, Cannonville, Henrieville, Escalante, and Boulder where we will tip our helmets to the Burr Trail, then roll into Torrey to the junction w/ UT-24.

State Route 12, Utah

From Torrey, it’s UT-24 along the Fremont River, past Capitol Reef, through Fruita, Caineville to Hanksville. Staying on UT-24 we make our way through Green River via a brief spin on I-70 to US-191 to Moab, Arches, and red rock country.

Day 4 – Moab to Chama (?) ~265 miles

Moab to Chama

The irony of technology vs the written word was not lost on Edward Abbey

Via Moab US 191 through the La Sals and into the Rockies to Monticello and the junction w/ US-491 we make our way through Lewis and UT-184, to Mancos and UT-3 and US-160 to Pagosa Springs. Here we take US-84 through Chomo, cross the Colorado/New Mexico border to the junction of US-84 and US-64. The last leg on US-64 is to the junction w/ UT-17 into Chama.

Day 5 – Chama to Santa Fe via Taos (?) ~164 miles

Chama to Santa Fe

Via US-64 from Chama, we pass through Brazos, staying on US-64 at Tres Piedras, we cross the Rio Grande on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge on our way to Taos. It’s fun to walk to the middle of the span and jump up and down. More fun if an 80,000-pound rig passes by. 

From Taos, it’s UT-68 to Pilar, where we roll alongside the Rio Grande to Espanola and Pojoaque, then take US-285/US-84 into Santa Fe.

The Rio Grande near Taos

= OR =

Abbey’s Road Trip 2021 V1.1, a.k.a. The Aspen Anna Option (with a nod to Taos) (?)

This route option skips the Moab to Chama, Chama to Santa Fe Days 4 & 5 legs of The Other Abbey’s Road Trip V1.0.

With this option, the riding distance for days 4 and 5 increases by 140 miles so that we might visit Aspen. One of the other Associates, Andy, who you will recall from the Riding Under a Fool Moon post, has daughter who resides there. And Anna happens to be a former student of Sisyphus. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie riding their bikes, neither of whom is a former student, but Aspen is a small town. The bonus of crossing the Continental Divide resplendent in fall color looms as we make our way through the Rockies.

Day 4 – Moab to Aspen (?) ~315 miles

Moab to Aspen

Briefly, south out of Moab on US-191 to the junction w/ UT-128 to junction w/ UT-46 in La Sal. A short distance to the Utah/Colorado border where UT-46 becomes CO-90 we roll to Naturita where we don a few extra layers and take CO-141 up and up to the junction w/ US-50 just south of Grand Junction to Delta. Junction US-50 w/ CO-92 to Hotchkiss and junction w/ CO-133 to Carbondale and the junction w/ Rds. 101, 100 to CO-82 on to Aspen. Lots of twisties in the mountains.

Day 5 – Aspen to Santa Fe*(?) ~323 miles

Aspen to Santa Fe via Taos

Thank goodness for heated grips

Out of Aspen, likely wearing every stitch of clothing we’ve packed, it’s CO-82 over Independence Pass. Unless closed whether the weather! Then on to the junction w/ US-24. US-24 due south to the junction w/ US-285 near Johnson Village. US-285 to junction w/ CO-17 to Alamosa where we pick up US-285 crossing the Colorado/New Mexico border to Tres Piedras and US-64 to Taos. From Taos it’s UT-68 to Pilar where we roll alongside the Rio Grande to Espanola, and Pojoaque and take US-285/US-84 into Santa Fe.

Should the decision be made to skip Taos, remain on Hwy-285 to Santa Fe (Aspen to Santa Fe) ~303 miles. If my vote counts, I say Taos it is.

Meanwhile, on to Santa Fe…

Day 6 – Santa Fe Layover*

Mask man to the rescue!

Without imposing too much, while in Santa Fe we anticipate that the Bob and Suzanne Delaware, our resident hosts, will consent to allow Bob to summon his considerable skills as a platinum tour guide to provide Sisyphus and his Associates with a condensed tour of Santa Fe. This skill set has been honed over a number of years shepherding student travelers to the nation’s Capitol and the Big Apple, as well as his personal European and stateside rambles. 

Land of the Enchanting Delawares

Hopefully we’ll not have to deal with any plague spreading oppressors! Besides, Bob’s tour will get us out of Suzanne’s lovely red hair…

Part 2:  Westward Down and Bound Santa Fe to Merced ~1,554 miles

Day 7 – Santa Fe to Mexican Hat ~322 miles

Santa Fe to Mexican Hat

From Santa Fe, we head north on US-84 to Pojoaque and cross the Rio Grande on US-285 to Espanola. Remain on US-285 to La Quachia (US-84) along the Rio Chama to Abiquiu, with Georgia on our minds, or choose the option to head west and visit Los Alamos via NM-502, -501, -4, and check out what’s shakin’ at ground zero for mutually assured destruction. In either case, then proceed to NM-126 through the mountains to the junction w/ NM-96 and US-550 near La Jara. From the US-550 Interchange, we roll through Counselor, Nageezi to US-64.

On to Farmington along the San Juan River to Shiprock where US-64 will take us across the New Mexico/Arizona border to Teec Nos Pos and the junction with US-160 and the Four Corners Monument north on US-160, a six-mile (x2) round-side trip.

Back on US-160 near Red Mesa, we cross the San Juan River just west of Bluff to the junction w/US-163 to Mexican Hat.

Es un hermoso sombrero

Day 8 – Mexican Hat to North Rim Campground ~265 miles

Mexican Hat to North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Okay boys keep the bikes in the middle of the lane

From Mexican Hat on US-163, in the midst of the Navajo Nation, to Kayenta and the junction w/ US-160 and AZ-98, up to Page and the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell where we’ll spend a moment considering the abject reality of climate change, then head to the junction w/ US-89 across Antelope Pass to Bitter Springs and US-89A crossing the not so mighty Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge across Marble Canyon to Jacob Lake (from Mexican hat it’s ~220 miles to Jacob Lake Campground) where Hwy-67, which takes us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, lies some 45 miles south from Jacob Lake.

Day 9 – North Rim to Williams ~267 miles 

North Rim to Williams (Via South Rim)

Backtracking, as the North Rim is an out-and-back, we take US-89A back to Bitter Springs, then US-89 south to Cameron, where we roll to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on AZ-64.

Leaving the South Rim, we motor on AZ-64 to Williams before getting on the Historic Rte-66 the following morning. Maybe we can find a corner to stand on with fine sights to see, not Dallas Alice, but the takin’ it easy girl…

Williams Arizona, lost in time

Take’ It Easy You may recognize JB. How ’bout the fiddle player? Hint: DL

Day 10 – Williams to Shoshone ~327 miles

Williams to Shoshone

Getting our kicks on Historic US Rte-66 while takin’ it easy, we roll through Ash Fork, Seligman, Yampai, Peach Springs, Truxton, Cozier, Valentine, Hackberry, Antares, Hualapai, Berry, Getz, to Kingman perhaps to mistakenly stand on a corner scanning to see a flatbed Ford. Road-weary, a kind passerby reminds Sisyphus that the corner about which Jackson is singing is in Winslow, not Williams, or Kingman for that matter, though either city’s name satisfies the meter of the song… There’s probably a corner in Seligman we can stand on too, though there is one too many syllables. 

In Kingman we take US-93 to the junction with AZ-68 to the Arizona/Nevada Border.

Entering the great Mojave at the interchange of AZ-68 and NV-163 and crossing the Colorado River again, what’s left of it downriver from the Davis Dam, this time in Laughlin, we head to Palm Gardens on NV-163. From the junction w/ US-95 in Palm Gardens, we roll to Searchlight and the Nevada/California border as NV-164 becomes Nipton Road to the I-15 (Barstow Fwy).  From there we “slab” over Mountain Pass past the historic but abandoned and vandalized Hi-Lo Restaurant, to Baker and the world’s tallest thermometer where the Mad Greek Restaurant and Alien Fresh Jerky all await a similar fate.

From there we cruise through the remaining Mojave National Reserve to Shoshone on CA-127, the Death Valley Rd. We will heed the Desert Oracle’s advice and, Episode 127, Try Not to Die

Somewhere in the distance is the Amargosa River that “flows” through Shoshone

Day 11 – Shoshone to Goldfield ~147 miles

Shoshone to Goldfield

Our early departure from Shoshone takes us past Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House on CA-127 or we detour through Death Valley CA-190 ~164 miles to Lone Pine*

CA-127 becomes NV-373 at NV border where we continue to the Interchange of NV-373 and US-95 to Beatty, maybe catching Rhyolite on a short side trip on NV 374 (six miles, twelve round trip) that we missed on the Riding Under a Fool Moon, Death Valley by Moonlight ride (because of Sisyphus’s navigation error) for a picture or two. Then it’s back on US 95 to Goldfield (to check out the Santa Fe Motel and Saloon). Parenthetically speaking.

*Death Valley, Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, through Panamint Springs on CA-190 to Lone Pine:  DV to Panamint to Lone Pine

Goldfield prior to becoming a ghost town

Day 12 Goldfield to Merced ~317 miles

Goldfield to Merced

From Goldfield we take US-95 south, backtracking as it were, to the junction w/ the Lida NV-266 junction crossing the Nevada/California border to the junction w/ CA-168 at Oasis where circular irrigated alfalfa fields thrive. This was the scene of an alien abduction during our Riding Under a Fool Moon, Death Valley by Moonlight moto adventure linked above. This was a pre-pandemic ride in the fall of 2019 with the Associates Pete and Andy, one of whom mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately, for Anna’s sake, he was released by his captors and we were reunited in Big Pine.

Alien guidance systems posing as circular irrigated fields

Over Gilbert Pass, past Deep Springs College, where Sisyphus regrets not having the wherewithal to have attended, and over Westgard Pass to Big Pine Hwy on CA-168 where we take US-395 to Lee Vining and CA-120 over Tioga Pass and CA 140 to la douceur du foyer where there are numerous corners to stand on, but not many flatbed Fords. Thus ending the story of our route with a hard-to-read text, according to my editor…

Deep Springs College features fewer distractions than Chico State, Sisyphus’s alma mater

But wait, there’s more…

Abbey’s Road Trip 2021 Layover Days:  Lessons From the Past Regarding Guest-friendship, An Ese

Where Sisyphus considers a dialog with an Homeric epic.  The italics indicate Sisyphus’s considerations…

While ours is scarcely an epic journey, Sisyphus will reflect on how the classics deal with road trips and apply their wisdom to our contemporary adventure. Sisyphus has considerable regard for how the past informs the present and future.

According to J. B. Hainsworth, in the course of the Homeric epic Odysseus encounters several examples of xenia, “guest-friendship” providing models of how hosts should and should not act.  The Phaeacians demonstrate exemplary guest-friendship by feeding Odysseus, giving him a place to sleep, and granting him many gifts and a safe voyage home, which are all things a good host should do.

The Delawares have Phaeacian DNA.

Polyphemus demonstrates poor guest-friendship. His only “gift” to Odysseus is that he will eat him last.  Calypso also exemplifies poor guest-friendship because she does not allow Odysseus to leave her island.  

Polyphemus and Calypso offer classic “six of one, half dozen of another” poor guest-friendship outcomes.  I’ve always known the Delawares to offer the finest beverage upon their guests’ arrival and to offer exceptional repast and delightful conversation before bidding adieu. Neither Bob nor Suzanne have ever once hinted at cannibalism. Their abiding hospitably permit their guests who’ve either satisfied or have exhausted their memorable visit to exit with good cheer. The Delawares conduct all guest-friendship with exceptional grace and decorum unlike Polyphemus or Calypso.


Another important factor to guest-friendship is that kingship implies generosity. It is assumed that a king has the means to be a generous host and is more generous with his own property. This is best seen when Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, begs Antinous for food and Antinous denies his request. Odysseus essentially says that while Antinous may look like a king, he is far from a king since he is not generous. 

I promise to not relegate Pete or Andy as beggars to test Bob’s hospitality, as Odysseus did to Antinous since I know Bob, unlike Antinous, is kingly in his every manor and exhortation. If at all flawed in his sincere humility, Bob is indeed kingly in his generosity.  I am reminded of his wise counsel: It never happened.

Guest-friendship follows a very specific pattern:

The arrival and the reception of the guest.

Arrival will be on September 30, 2021, mid afternoon, baring the incalculable unforeseen delays of any quest into the unknown.

Bathing or providing fresh clothes to the guest. 

A garden hose or perhaps a refreshing Santa Fe thundershower will do.  We may need to do laundry. Perhaps we can obtain a wash tub and scrub board from one of the vendors on the Plaza.

Providing food and drink to the guest. 

We will sustain the first three rounds of any beverage occasion.  Beyond that, neither Santa Fe nor the Delawares bear any responsibility for poor choices.  The Delawares may still be on the hook to shuffle us off to the nearest pub or contact our loved ones for bail.

Questions may be asked of the guest and entertainment should be provided by the host. 

Good cheer and maybe a beverage or two are the only requirements for entertainment since exposure to centuries of Santa Fe culture and history requires more time to absorb and greater tolerance than the Delawares can muster for weary moto riding dirtbags despite my earlier comments about Bob’s superb skills as a guide.

The guest should be given a place to sleep, and both the guest and host retire for the night. 

A curb for our mounts, a yard for a tent, perhaps a couch or a chaise lounge will do. Should the Delawares elect to get a room for the night elsewhere, I think we can support their choice, as we pledge to limit damage to their domicile.  We can’t guarantee that no harm will come to Bob’s tomatoes, however.  

The guest and host exchange gifts, the guest is granted a safe journey home, and the guest departs. 

Our gift will be our departure.  As for the safe journey home, guaranteed.  We will leave more or less on time.

Another important factor of guest-friendship is not keeping the guest longer than they wish and also promising their safety while they are a guest within the host’s home. 

Departure will be on the morning of October 2, having stayed with our gracious hosts Bob and Suzanne for two nights max. It likely takes longer than that for the Santa Fe authorities to evict us. Regardless, the Delawares know Sisyphus’s attention span is limited.

Sisyphus will guarantee the safety of our hosts, only insofar as the pharmaceuticals and preventives guarantee our safety. We will respectfully do our best to erase any plague spores the heretofore mentioned oppressors have spread…

Thanks to Wiki for informing Sisyphus of the specifics of the Homeric epic.

The actual post trip narrative will arrive sometime in October, Sisyphus is already feeling it…

Just something to leave you with,The Road to the Sun, Pat Metheny.  

See you again in October!