Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Dans Take the Leisurely Way Eastbound: Picacho, AZ Camp/Ride

Pancho and Lefty Play the hits of Charley and Ewan: The Dans take the Leisurely Way Eastbound

”Man, I gotta get away. This job has been sucking lately.”

“I hear ya, brother. Where to?”

“I’ll think of something. Be at my place at noon tomorrow.”

And so on Saturday I headed to my good friend Dan's place in Escondido for a mystery ride, thinking about where we might ride/camp. Big Bear? Idyllwild? The Hillbilly Haven north of Lake Henshaw? My only caveats were: Limited highway and back by noon on Sunday.

Pulling up to Dan’s place, I could see he was ready to ride.

“Yuma,” he said.

“No slab!” said I.

He nodded, hit the throttle and we were off.

The route was Valley Center, Rincon, the 76 to San Felipe Road, the 78 to Ocotillo Wells (where we stopped for a cold one at the Iron Door), Westmoreland to El Centro via the 111.

Then the I-8 to Winterhaven where we stopped for Mexican chow before fueling up and heading to Picacho Road. It was 18 miles of a fun gravel/sand road to the Picacho State Recreation Area. There are quite a few burros in the area and I saw a mother burro and little burrito along the way. At the end of the road was a well-maintained campground right on the pretty Colorado River.

There was only one other occupied campsite so we paid the fee and chose a place near the water and the showers (yes, there are HOT solar showers).

We set up camp, broke out the stogies and tequila and commenced to relaxin’. We quickly dispatched Dan’s tequila (the last of the Frida Kahlo) and started on my Patron.

The sun went down and the full moon came up, lighting up the campground like a streetlamp. We sat and talked about bike stuff and work and retirement and other Very Important Subjects. After solving the world’s problems, we retired to our tents, like Old Guys are prone to do. Neither of us had put up a rain fly and I drifted off looking at the starlight display.

On a related side note, I recently bought a compact cot and I’ve used it twice now. (OutAd Ultralight Camp Cot, a Chinese knock-off of the ThermaRest one: See my Amazon review here: -- yes, it IS that purple)

I gotta say, it’s quite an addition to my camping kit. Could I live without it? Sure. But I’m at that age where comfort takes a back seat to minimalist camping. I slept so well that I’ve pretty much made up my mind to keep using it.

We were up and having coffee by 6:30. As we sipped on the java, there were some vultures eagerly eying the chubbier rider in our group. Nuff said.

A nice park employee stopped by to chat with us as we were enjoying the cool morning and she recommended that we take an alternate route back.

Pointing to our bikes, she asked, “Those things have 4-wheel drive, right? Cuz’ you’ll need it to get to the really good places…like Taylor Lake).”

That sounded like a fun challenge, but, alas, it was not to be. I had to get home by noon for a family function and couldn’t do any more exploring this weekend. That’s OK, it’ll be our next 2 or 3-day ride…

We packed up and headed home riding quite a bit faster on Picacho Road on our way out. We hit the I-8 and slabbed it all the way back through some blowing wind. Good for green energy, not great for ADV bikes…

Of note, I waved at a group of bikers coming up fast on my left. They waved back as they passed us and it was only then that I saw it was a 6 pack of Hell’s Angels. Shortly after, a much larger group of them passed us…and they waved, too. Interesting. Maybe I’ll join up. Start an outlaw dual sport club. Yeah, I can see it now: OMG indeed.

Dan peeled off at the 67 and I was home right at noon. Nice, quick camp/ride. Already making plans to head back and see the rest of the area.


  1. Outlaw dual sport club!! You should do it.

    'As little highway as possible' sound like the perfect ride.