I was concerned about the next segment of our adventure. We were drawing closer to Las Vegas. Anyone who has ever driven across that town knows that the traffic moves fast. It’s no place for a slow-moving dirt bike. However, we were approaching the Colorado River and there aren’t many places to cross it.
We finally decided to catch US 64 west and then go north on US 95 to Searchlight, Nevada. At Searchlight we would recalculate, because US 95 goes directly into Las Vegas.
Our selected route would lead us across many miles of deserted road. But we could handle almost any situation that we might confront. In one final precautionary measure, Barb and I shared a two-liter bottle of Coke and then filled it with gasoline (not the safest container, but the desert is no place to depend on luck).
We had lunch in Searchlight and then turned west on Route 164. That would take us into California where would ride the shoulder of Interstate 15 for about four miles. Eventually, by following what appeared to be a jeep road, we would reach Baker, California, home of the world’s largest thermometer.
But about ten miles west of Searchlight the motorcycle began running rough, then extremely rough. When it seemed as though things couldn’t get worse, it quit running entirely.
Following a dirt road, we pushed the bike to an out-of-the-way ruined windmill. There we found the remains of a horse corral, a water tank, and a tin shed that so riddled with bullet holes I wondered how it remained standing.
“Are we in trouble?” asked Barb as she took a seat on the small blue tarp I spread out to protect her from the goat heads. I could tell by the tremble in her voice she was scared.
“We’ll get it going,” I assured her, wishing I believed my own words. In reality I wondered if this was the end of the line. Perhaps we’d be thumbing the rest of our way to Oregon.
Again, a test proved that the the engine had spark. By the amount of soot in the tail pipe I was guessing the fuel/air mixture was extremely rich. I pulled the seat and the carb. I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d not torqued the high-speed jet assembly properly. It had worked itself out and dropped down on the float, keeping the fuel valve open.
That was simple enough to fix, but by the time I’d replaced the spark plug and had the motor running the sun was low. We had a sure thing here. Of course, if McBark could have had a voice in the decision he would have disagreed. There were too many goat heads to suit him. So he spent his time on the water trough.
Moving into the corral, we pitched our tent on a cushion of dried horse turds, then broke out our emergency rations, enough food for one cold meal.
Total darkness had settled over the desert by the time we we turned in. We slept through the night.