Social Ride to California
by Bill Flannery:
Sam Halgren, Wil Smith and Bill Flannery enjoyed a great impromptu ride to Southern California recently in perfect weather and had a blast experiencing/exploring many of the fantastic roads, viewpoints and scenery SOCAL has to offer:
Day 1: Sahuarita, AZ to Boulevard, CA: 413 miles
- Via: Why, Ajo, Gila Bend, Yuma and Jacumba Hot Springs, etc.
- Lodging: Backcountry Inn (Boulevard, CA). This motel was conveniently located on our route and worked out well for us but isn't what we'd call a 5 star hotel by any means. The local restaurant/pizza shop offers great pizza and italian dishes but is about 3/4 of a mile away. We decided to have our dinners delivered which is a great free service the restaurant offers.
- Relive video: Relive 'SOCAL ride day 1: Sahuarita, AZ to Boulevard, CA.'
- Ride summary/highlights: A fair amount of freeway getting to Boulevard but, as we all know, is a small price to pay to get to the awesome SOCAL motorcycle playground! We made the most of the day's ride and enjoyed several interesting stops along the way: Why, AZ (always a good rest stop when riding through the area); Space Age Restaurant in Gila Bend, AZ for lunch and the Desert View Tower along old Highway 80. This is an absolutely fascinating Historical Landmark to visit. Thanks to Sam for recommending this stop.
Day 2: Boulevard, CA to Perris, CA: 250 miles
- Via: Campo, Dulzura, Julian, Palomar Observatory, Lake Elsinore Lookout Roadhouse, etc.
- Lodging: Red Lion Inn. This is a very nice hotel and worked out well for us but is a bit expensive and didn't offer any sort of breakfast.
- Relive Video: Relive 'Day 2: SOCAL ride: Boulevard, CA to Perris, CA'
- Ride summary/hightlights: An absolutely fantastic day of riding many of the best SOCAL roads and enjoying the awesome scenery. Great viewpoint stops along the way plus: Fantastic lunch/apple pie in Julian, CA at the Golden Apple Bakery/Cafe; Lake Henshaw viewpoint; and normally interesting Lake Elsinore Lookout Roadhouse. Getting to the Lake Elsinore lookout however during Friday late afternoon metro area rush hour traffic however was a bad idea and definitely not worth it. My fault for getting anywhere near a metro area to begin with (I know better...) and for including the stop in our ride itinerary. Lesson learned.
Day 3: Perris, CA to Twentynine Palms, CA: 262 miles
- Via: Joshua Tree National Park
- Lodging: Best Western. Expensive but a very nice hotel with a great breakfast. There are several other, less expensive motel options nearby.
- Relive video: Relive 'SOCAL ride, day 3: Perris, CA to Twentynine Palms'
- Ride summary/highlights: Wow, what an absolutely perfect day of riding. Spectacular/fun mountain pass roads with sweeping views of valleys below. Stopped at Indian Vista, Salton Sea and Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park. Salton Sea was a fascinating stop and we could only guess as to it's history. We surmised that the area was vibrant/full of life and the lake was much larger in days gone by. We discovered what was once a promenade along a road that at one time was likely at the water's edge. It was actually eerie being in the now very depressed and unmaintained area. The ride through Joshua Tree National Park is always a joy. We stopped at Skull Rock along the way which was a very interesting and beautiful area.
Day 4: Twentynine Palms, CA to Ajo, AZ: 380 miles. Actually, the ride down to Ajo didn't happen. We decided to cut the ride short by one day due to the nasty storm forecast for Sunday evening/Monday morning. We skipped the Ajo stop and rode back to Tucson on Sunday instead of Monday.
- Via: Salome, Gila Bend, Gillespie Dam Bridge, etc.
- Lodging: Sonoran Desert Inn. If you haven't stayed here before it's a very unique and beautiful Inn
- Relive Video: Relive 'SOCAL ride, day 4: Twentynine Palms to Sahuarita'
- Ride summary/highlights: Amazing tall signpost out in the middle of nowhere with a mailbox on top (air mail?)...
Day 5: Why, AZ to Sahuarita, AZ: 146 miles. This would've been the route had we stayed in Ajo on Sunday evening.