DAY 20: September 14, 2011 (Wednesday)
Lone Pine, California to Kramer’s Junction, California (Four Corners): 122 miles (928 thus far)
Wake up call let me leave motel at 6:40 AM. Sun rose about 3 miles south of town. Several miles south, I glanced over to the northbound lanes of US 395 and saw two bicyclists with full panniers, so I waved. They waved back. I stopped. They turned and rode over to me. They were Claudia Wit and Christian Ewen from Luxembourg, who were riding their diamond framed bikes from Anchorage, Alaska to Mexico for their American vacation. Strong accents, very cordial and fun to visit with. They maintain a website about their travels at http://ccgoesamerica.blogspot.com. We shared our travels for a while, and then proceeded on our opposite directions. They were going to tour Death Valley as part of this trip, probably in about two days from now, so they asked me many questions about what to expect, since I have written two books about the national park. Passing through Olancha, California, I wondered what kept this near ghost town alive. Only a Chevron petroleum station at the south end of town seemed viable (and new), so I stopped there for some ice cold refreshment and food (the usual goodies for this health nut, of course). Two huge grades made me ride over them in my quest to reach Apple Valley, one out of Ridgecrest, California, which I rode in late afternoon and cloud cover, and one going into Johannesburg, California, which I rode in the dark with full lighting on my trike. Both would have done me in had it been sunny and hot during mid afternoon! Got lucky this time around. I witnessed one of the most incredible meteorites I’ve ever seen on this stretch. It lasted more than 5 seconds and was so bright I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! North of Johannesburg, I got to see an awesome moonrise, where the atmospheric conditions were just right and the moon appeared to be an ultra huge yellow/orange orb. The old town of Red Mountain was off in the distance. Long after the sun had set, I rolled into the tiny old mining town of Johannesburg (8:45 PM), where everything had closed down for the night, stopped at a closed Texaco station and mini-mart, and ate a bunch of food from my panniers on a little picnic table out front. I was dead tired, and figured I’d just sleep on the trike tonight, so tried to get some shuteye. After a couple of hours, a pack of three dogs came snooping around, but I just kept still and watched. They eyed me, but never approached, and then ran off quickly. The smell of the sage in the desert was strong and pleasant after an afternoon rain (which I didn’t get in fortunately). Called my mom and sister to tell them I was getting close to their abode, and that I should be there by September 16, my sister’s b-day. Napped for a while longer, but really wanted an ice cold Naked protein drink, so decided to trike on and get on down to Kramer’s Junction, a 24/7 truck stop that would have anything I wanted to revive myself. Besides, this next stretch of desert would be better traveled at night under a full moon, so off I went. The lighting on the trike, along with the reflectors, makes me as visible at night as in the day, if not more so, and the light traffic had no problem seeing me and providing plenty of clearance (including the 18 wheelers). Got my protein drink at Kramer’s Junction, some more trail mix and a Muscle Milk drink at the Pilot Travel Center. This place is always loaded with trucks on Highways 395 and 58, which cross here, thus the Four Corners nickname for the locale. I was so tired by this point that I slept for a couple of hours on the trike, right next to the doors at the front of the truck stop, and finally awoke as first light was appearing. I was bushed, having averaged 72 miles per day for the past 9 days, but I was determined to make it to my family’s house tomorrow, a day early, and starting out at sunrise was a necessity to try to beat the heat.