“Where did you park the spaceship,” smirked the man in the gas station convenience store.

I returned his amusement with a half-hearted toothy grin, too hot and preoccupied about my moto problems to exhume any witty remark.

I was running late with final preparations and a bit nervous about making it to the Valley of Fire, about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, before sunset. My bike was packed for just about any mechanical or weather condition to the point that quantity was a potential detriment to mobility. From the point I put him in gear on the drive, the front wheel felt light, as though it was the front end of a tugboat pulling a tanker .. which in fact with 100-pounds of gear, it wasn’t far off. Rolling down the freeway my boat got the top-heavy wobbles at any speed above 70; was it the weight, the aggressive tires, too much air pressure? It was frustrating, of course, no need to swap-out on the freeway … and how the #$*& can I handle anything technical with this weight. My mind was spinning along.

I arrived in the stunning red rock adorned Valley of Fire at 6:30, seven-hours of a hot, slow wobble through the desert. I knew the area and went straight for the water and proceeded to partake in a nude faucet scrub down in the public picnic zone before the sun went down. Except for an aura of ancient Indian spirits, there were no eyeballs around; no offense given and I was fresh-n-clean.

Dark fell and I didn’t want to dish out the camping fee, so I exited the east side of the park to pitch my dome on the BLM land, gratis. But my loaded ride wasn’t moving easily through the super soft shoulder around the closed pole line gate and down I went. Yes, on day 1. I unloaded to find something to grip under the luggage and was thrilled to find that I cold indeed pick him up, but I was obviously flustered over the petty faux pas. It wouldn’t have been an issue without the weight, I thought. So I turned back into the park to escape the wind and sand for some illegal camping in the Seven Sisters day use area.

I’m here now as I scribble. It’s peaceful, private and the full moon is casting shadows and illuminating the red rocks. It’s a little surreal. I feel like an Indian could pop out of a cave at any minute for a pow wow; would be down with that just about now.

Check out some pictures >>