Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ultimate First Wave Moto Music Playlist.

Let Me Take You On A Trip, Around The World And Back.   

World In My Eyes -Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode - Violator Press Photo
©2014 Words by Jim Foreman

Several weeks ago, a trip to Joshua Tree National Park inspired a straight-through listening of U2's "The Joshua Tree."

Since writing that article, a constant question has been, "What do you listen to while riding?"

My tastes are quite eclectic, but instead of copying and pasting my playlist, it seemed only right to come up with an awesome and unique playlist, instead.

One of the most interesting decades of music is the 80's. Synthpop, punk and new wave ruled the day.

If you're looking for "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf, you won't find it here.

Here are some songs to consider adding to your music playlist.  They all involve traveling, or an interesting destination.

Initially, a couple songs were omitted on the list because I couldn't stand them (Road to nowhere - Talking Heads) or they didn't seem to quite fit.  Now a bit wiser, I just threw them in the mix and let you decide what you like or don't like.

It's true... Some of the songs are cheats having been released in the late 70's (Jammin) or the early 90's.

If this isn't your type of music.  No worries.  Suggest a playlist to be assembled.

Either way, the goal is to put it out there and have you enjoy it.  If you feel strongly about a song selection or something missed, add it into the comments.  If you wish, a new list with great rock tracks about traveling can be put together.  Perhaps another decade or modern cuts.

All of that sounds fun!  Happy Listening....

These are presented in no particular order.  If you'd like to listen to these songs straight through, here is a YouTube Playlist.  You're house or bike will be perfectly clean at the end of this playlist.

Never Let Me Down -Depeche Mode
This stadium anthem starts with the line, "I'm taking a ride with my best friend."  A great start!  It's a great song for the open road and sure to get you in a great groove.  The video features a BMW Isetta, just to make you smile.

The Passenger -Siouxsie and the Banshees
Originally written and performed by Iggy Pop, this is a great version of the cult classic.  It's also been used in many movie trailers.  "We ride and we ride."

Destination Unknown -Missing Persons
The spectacular team of Terry and Dale Bozzio along with guitarist, Warren Cuccerelo.   Cited as Lady Gaga's key influence, Dale Bozzio lands this ageless song about wanderlust.

Lust For Life -Iggy Pop
 Iggy Pop is a punk rock founder.  When Punk was raw, Iggy led the charge with outrageous live antics.  Lust For Life sums up motorcycling quite well.

China -Red Rockers
This one-hit wonder from the US scored big with this brilliant track.  China is an exciting travel destination and one that offers a motorcyclist some spectacular roads and scenery.

Where the Streets Have No Name -U2
This timeless track still gets one singing full volume inside one's helmet.   Every song on this album is amazing and timeless.

Behind the Wheel/Route 66 -Depeche Mode
A rare remix that combines two huge songs.  The B-Side to "Behind the Wheel" included a great cover of "Route 66".  "Behind the Wheel" is a pulse thumping road trip anthem and the seamless blending with "Route 66" will have you singing and rocking on your bike.

My Own Way -Duran Duran
From their first album, this disco inspired track is fun and whimsical.  It's not one of their mega-hits, but it's worth a listen.

Down Under -Men at Work
"I met a strange lady, she made me nervous.  She took me in and gave me breakfast."  This top 10 cut from the 80's is the breakout hit from Men At Work.  Colin Hay delivers in this song that never gets old.

Nowhere Girl -B Movie
This lesser known track is no less interesting.  The haunting vocals and chorus will leave you listening to this song over and over again.

Roam -B52's
The ultimate party band, this classic from the 'Cosmic Thing' album was the followup to the super-hit 'Love Shack'.

Hot in the City -Billy Idol
If you grew up in the 80's, you will recognize this song as the opening theme song to "21 Jump Street" starring a very young Johnny Depp.  Naturally, Billy Idol is on his motorcycle in this video.

Living on the Ceiling -Blancmange
"You keep me running round and round, well that's alright with me." This is an infectious song with a great riff.

Song 2 -Blur
Wooo-Hoooo!  Play this loud when you're on the race track or are killing it in the canyons.

Jammin -Bob Marley and the Wailers
A bit of a cheat here as this is from the late 70's.  Nobody puts one in a great riding mood better than Bob Marley.  "I want to be jamming with you!"

Boy -Book of Love
Though written by a guy, Ted Ottovanio, this great track from the 80's was a symbol of Women's Empowerment.  It's got a great dance beat and will put pictures of lovely women riding motorcycles in your head.

The Chauffeur -Duran Duran
The Chauffeur is a hypnotic track from Duran Duran.  One of their early examples that set them above much of the other music coming out at the time.  The official video is age restricted, but worth it.  Who hasn't felt like a chauffeur carrying a passenger?

There's No Other Way -Blur
Another great track from the Manchester band Blur.  It's certainly perfect for any kind of riding.

Avalon -Roxy Music
Alas, unless you're a resident of Catalina Island, you won't be doing any riding in Avalon.  Bryan Ferry belts out this great cue and is perfect for the trip home.

Rumble in Brighton -Stray Cats
If the Red Bull you just drank didn't get your energy level up, play this track, loud.  Brian Setzer and the Stray Cats scored a major hit with this upbeat song.

China Girl -David Bowie
Had to slip a song from the immortal David Bowie on this list.

Road to Nowhere - Talking Heads
Talking Heads is one of those groups that one either loves or doesn't.  Regardless of personal feelings, this song undeniably belongs on this list.


London Calling -The Clash
"You know what they say, some of it was true!"  The Clash combined punk, political angst and great guitar licks on this huge hit.

I Could Be Happy -Altered Images
Best know for 'Happy Birthday', Altered Images' Clare Grogan's whimsical vocals make for a happy tune.  It's best play if you're thinking about riding while at work or considering buying another motorcycle.

Transmission - Joy Division
Joy Division is the band at the forefront of the transition from Punk to New Wave music.  The Manchester sound was gaining fans across the world.  Sadly, Singer Ian Curtis' suicide led to the reformation of the band into New Order which continued the drive of the second British Invasion.
Though this song is about a radio transmission, it's only a minor stretch to imagine the transmission on your bike.  It's also an amazing song.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? -The Clash
Arguably, The Clash's biggest hit.  The opening riff sets a rebellious tone that permeates throughout the entire song.  Again, play it loud!

Electric Avenue -Eddy Grant
"We're going to rock down to Electric Avenue.  And then we take it higher."  A great song about social justice that features Eddy on his motorcycle.

Big in Japan -Alphaville
Alphaville is one of the bands that defines the New-Romantic movement during the mid-80's.  This cut will leave you reminiscing about the great times of the 80's.

Pass the Dutchie -Music Youth
When riding in Britain, where Musical Youth is from, you'd always pass a Dutchie on the left hand side.

Life In a Northern Town -Dream Academy
This dreamy song about life in London during the 60's will leave you deep in thought.  The haunting chorus will get you every time.

I Fought the Law -The Clash
Another rebellious angst song perfectly covered by The Clash.

Fascination Street -The Cure
"Disintegration" was one of the biggest albums of 1989.  This amazing release features, 'Lovesong', 'Lullabye', 'Pictures of You' and this amazing and deep hit.

Break My Stride -Matthew Wilder
"Ain't nothing gonna slow me down... Oh no.  I've got to keep on moving."  This is a great bouncy track that is fun and enjoyable.  Blue Lagoon actually did a much more interesting cover of this song, but here is the mustachioed original.

Stop -Jane's Addiction
This track crosses genres and really leads the tectonic shift that became Grunge Rock.  It's a brilliant track and one that deserves to be listened to again and again.

60 Miles an Hour -New Order
Another cheat here.   This time borrowing from the 90's.  Some New Order fans, like seemingly all major group fans, expressed disappointment with the later releases from New Order.  Those fans should listen to this exceptional track.

I Ran -Flock of Seagulls
Flock of Seagulls biggest hit, though not their only hit.  You know the song.  Sing it.

World In My Eyes -Depeche Mode
The opening track to Depeche Mode's amazing Violator album.  There is not a bad track on this album.  This song is about using using travel as a means of seduction.

Vacation -Go Go's
Despite their punk origins, this purely pop track is fun and memorable.  If played in a bar, the entire crowd will be singing the chorus.

New Sensation -INXS
"Live, baby live!" INXS recorded dozens of amazing songs and this one is among them.  Think of what it felt like to be riding your bike when you first got it.

Autobahn -Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk was cool before it was cool to be cool before it was cool.  Kraftwerk is the originator of Electronic Dance Music.  This song deserves to be on your playlist.

Overkill -Men at Work
Another great track from the boys down under.  This song can be about everything compared to riding a motorbike.

Forever Young -Alphaville
Alphaville's second song on this list and certainly it's biggest.  While it will conjure up images of "Napoleon Dynamite" and Jay-Z, this is the original and exactly the way riding a motorcycle makes one feel. For fun, here is a live version from 2013.

Blue Monday - New Order
It's no secret, New Order is one of my favorite groups ever.  After a glorious weekend riding, it's difficult not to have a 'Blue Monday.'  "Tell Me Now How Do I Feel"

A Certain Jeis Ne Se Quoi -Pet Shop Boys
Ok, this one isn't even close to the 80's.  It was released in 2014.  This B-Side to 'Winner' will have you dancing and enjoying your riding wherever in the world you happen to be.

Reap the Wild Wind -Ultravox
Though huge in the UK, Ultravox didn't get as much traction in the US.  Led by Midge Ure, "Reap the Wild Wind" will certainly draw you in with it's deep lyrics and haunting melody.

Home -Depeche Mode
"Home", sung by Martin Gore is a great wind-down song after a great day of riding.  The Chorus, "And I thank you.  For bringing me here.  For showing me home. For singing these tears.  Finally I found that I belong here." will leave you feeling pretty content after a great ride.  Live, "Home" is amazing.

No One Lives Forever -Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo has recorded so many great songs, one could just make a great playlist with only Oingo Boingo tracks.  This one is no exception.  Live it's even better. "No One Lives Forever" from their Farewell Concert.

I Wanted to Tell Her -Ministry
Have you ever made a big purchase without telling your partner?  Maybe a motorcycle? If so, than this is your song.  Ministry would all but disown "With Sympathy", which this song appears.  For many, this is an amazing and diverse album and deserves acclaim.

There Is a Light -The Smiths
While a little morbid in it's nature, this is often cited as one of the best songs every recorded by The Smiths.  Most are familiar with the breakup of The Smiths with guitarist and co-writer Johnny Marr going one way and Morrissey going his own.  Recently, both Marr and Morrissey have been performing Smiths songs.  Take a view of the surprisingly good performance of Johnny Marr at Glastonbury and a recent performance from Morrissey at the Hollywood Bowl.

Round & Round -New Order
From New Order's Technique album, this musically perfect track is a must on any riding playlist.

Russian Radio -Red Flag
Considered a Depeche Mode sound-alike band, Red Flag scored a huge hit with Russian Radio.  Fun and dancey, this is going to leave you grinning big in your helmet.

Blitzkrieg Bop -The Ramones
"Hey Ho.  Let's Go!"  The immortal Ramones.  Also a special live version.

Elevation -U2
In studio, this isn't U2's strongest track, but live it's absolutely amazing.  It's a great song to get one's blood pumping at the start of a great ride.

Suddenly, Last Summer -The Motels
A haunting cut by Martha Davis and The Motels.  It's a great way to reminisce on a great riding season, for those who are limited by riding seasons.

Crash -The Primitives
"You go way to fast..."  The primitives scored their one big hit with 'Crash.'  Used in many movies including "Dumb and Dumber."

Just Another Day -Oingo Boingo
Oingo Boingo is best known in Los Angeles with frontman Danny Elfman.  Yes, that Danny Elfman!  This is a killer song that will amp you up and is perfect for the track or canyons. Oingo Boingo was always known for it's amazing live shows.  Here's "Just Another Day" from their Farewell Concert.

See the Lights -Simple Minds
"See the lights" is another great wind-down song after a great day of riding.

It's My Life -Talk Talk
Later covered amazingly by No Doubt, this song is a perfect explanation for why we ride. Unbelievably, this song sounds great live, too!

West End Girls -Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys broke out huge with this song and never really looked back.  Bet you can recite the rap perfectly.

California Sun -Ramones 
Oh yes, The Ramones.  No list of songs of the 80's list would be complete without the Ramones.

Heaven -Psychedelic Furs
Richard Butler croons a perfect song about what it feels like to be riding on your motorcycle.

Fantastic Day -Haircut 100
How can riding a motorcycle be anything but a fantastic day?

Life's What You Make It -Talk Talk
It's as if Talk Talk was inspired by motorcycling with these two amazing tracks.  Again, the live version is also fantastic!

Mad World -Tears For Fears
From their debut album, The Hurting, Tears for Fears scored a major hit with this oft covered song.
"All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces..."

You Make Me Feel So Good -Book of Love
Book of love's second song on this list.  Not as big of a hit as 'Boy' and 'Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls' but a great song, nonetheless. Perfect for riding...

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For -U2
From the amazing 'Joshua Tree' album.  This anthem is going to take you far.
If you aren't left tingling after this perfect song, it may be time to check your pulse.

Never Stop -Front 242
Front 242 was at the forefront of the Industrial sound.  This surprising dance track will have you bobbing your head in a driving motion.

Kids in America -Kim Wilde
"New York to East California, there's a new sound coming, I warn you."  That song is quintessentially 80's yet timeless.   It's surprisingly deep lyrics will play with your emotions.  No auto-tune here.

Anarchy in the UK -Sex Pistols
"Don't know what I want but I know how to get it!"  A great track actually from the late 70's but whatever.  The cheating has already been acknowledged.

Walking in L.A. -Missing Persons
Another triumph from Missing Persons.  This song still sound new and fresh today.  Play it for a teenager and say it's a new track.

Los Angeles -X
LA's own punk band, X delivers with 'Los Angeles'.  A great commentary on the times.

In a Big Country -Big Country
Big Country's biggest hit.  It's a perfect song for a cross-country run.

Into the Gap -Thompson Twins
"East is east, west is west.  Two different colors on the map."

Enjoy the Silence -Depeche Mode
"All I ever Wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms.  Words are very unnecessary.  They can only do harm."  An amazing song that can really be interpreted into motorcycling.  Amazing live, too.

Again, If you'd like to listen to these tracks Start to Finish, click here for a YouTube Playlist.

Thanks to Irv Seaver BMW of Orange County, CA for sponsoring this blog.  When in Orange County, do stop in to say, “HI!” and enjoy one of the best and largest selections of new and pre-owned BMW Motorcycles in the country.  Please mention that you like these stories.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sky Island Scenic Byway - Mt. Lemmon

Sky Island Scenic Byway.

Can one mountain road justify a visit to Tucson, Arizona? Yes, it can!

©2014 Words and Photos by Jim Foreman

Ride Details:
Destination:  Mt. Lemmon, AZ
One-Way Mileage to the top: 36.7 Miles 
Motorcycles Ridden: 1999 BMW K 1200 RS
Best time to go: Fall, Spring
Fun Factor: 10
Passenger Fun Factor: 12 (per Laura Ruddy)
Natural Beauty Factor 1-10: (10 is best) 10
Website of America's Scenic Byways: America's Byways
Song Stuck in Laura Ruddy's head: Shake It Off -Taylor Swift
Song Stuck in Jim Foreman's head: Autobahn -Kraftwerk
Map Link: Google Maps
Laura Ruddy Gearing Up.
A good friend and Facebook moderator for the BMW MOA (Motorcycle Owners of America), Laura Ruddy, informed me that she’d be spending some time in Arizona for a family matter.  Before leaving her amazing husband Sean, and son, Ian in Germany, Laura asked, in particular, if she and I could go riding.  To that, the exclamation was an immediate and resounding “YES!”
Arizona has a remarkable number of excellent riding roads throughout the state.  While there are wide swatches of nothingness, there is plenty of amazing awesomeness, too.  So much so that Butler Motorcycle Maps has two maps for Arizona.  The most popular is the Street map followed by the Backcountry Discovery Routes map. 
Time was limited.  Many roads called out to us including the magnificent “Devil’s Highway” (US 191) traversing the Coronado Trail through the White Mountains.  Sadly, fortune did not favor the journey, but the road up to Mount Lemmon in northern Tucson, AZ was a ‘Go’.
For those who are familiar with Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2), just north of Los Angeles, Mt. Lemmon is quite similar.  Like ACH, Mt. Lemmon earns the prestigous Butler Motorcycle Maps G-1 rating.  The big difference between ACH and Mt. Lemmon is that the road is much shorter on Mt. Lemmon, but the scenery and elevation (>9000 ft) on Mt. Lemmon is far superior.  A great run is often interrupted with a stop to take some truly amazing photos of rock formations, the mountains, and the valley, below.  Yes, on a clear day you CAN see México. 
Riding the amazing high-speed sweepers
More so, Mt. Lemmon features similar epic sweepers as ACH and even some excellent dining at the top.  Like ACH, Mt. Lemmon also features several Ski Resorts.  Yes, if you’re wondering, it does snow, a lot, in southern Arizona.
Bottom line… Is it worth a trip just for that?  Hell YES! 

Getting There:
Our journey began in Mesa, AZ.  Mesa is a suburb of Phoenix and home to ASU.  From Phoenix, there are two primary ways to get to Tucson.  Interstate-10, a 75MPH super-slab is the easy option.  The other is the back roads that meander through Florence, AZ.  We opted for the slab as during winter; the days are short, and time mattered.  It’s a long a monotonous 100 mile run, so it’s best to break it up into two 50 mile segments with a break in-between.  That way your mind and bum can have a change of scenery. 
Ruins of the Hotel Rockland in SASCO, AZ
Along the way, there is an excellent Ghost Town of SASCO, AZ (Southern Arizona Smelting Company).  It’s an easy graded dirt road that most street bikes can easily navigate.  A GS or another dual sport is recommended.  To get there, exit I-10 at Red Rock and make your way to Sasco Road.  Then follow the dirt road for a couple of miles.  You’ll see part of the old town and jail off to the right and further up the giant smelter and associated foundations and structures.  Just past the main site is the old cemetery.
Continuing to Mt. Lemmon, one would exit at Grant Avenue.  Though several streets can take you there, Grant is not only the easiest, but also home to Iron Horse BMW Motorcycles.  Iron Horse is a very good dealer and a great place to stop in and top off your water bottles and use the restroom. Iron Horse BMW also has many last-minute items you may have forgotten or needed replacing.
Continuing east on Grant Avenue, make a left at Tanque Verde.  This intersection is known for the ‘Dinosaur McDonalds.’
Take Tanque Verde east and veer left at the split and continue until you reach Catalina Highway.  It’s a large intersection.  Make a left.  From there, follow it up to the base of Mount Lemmon.

Start of the Sky Island Scenic Byway
Mt. Lemmon:
At the base of Mt. Lemmon, Laura later recounted that she wasn’t terribly impressed.  Yes, it is pretty with all the Saguaro Cactus but she remained decidedly underwhelmed.
We passed by a sign indicating this as the “Sky Island Scenic Byway” and accelerated in earnest. 
Laura’s doubts vanished after the first sweeper.  It was a beautiful right hand 180º peg scraper.  From that point to the top, a smile was ever present on her face.  Mine too, for that matter.  Corner after corner made for an exhilarating run.  The further up the mountain we rode, the more spectacular the scenery and formations.  The Saguaro Cactus gives way to Juniper Pines, while the crisp mountain air recharges the soul.
throughout it's duration, this road simply does not let up.  Well surfaced, nicely cambered, roadway perfection greets the rider, mile after mile.
Laura Ruddy doing a victory dance in the background
At the top, is an alpine village called, curiously enough, Mt. Lemmon.  Upon arrival, Laura jumped off the back of the bike and began cheering and hoppin' around!  At first, I though she had a medical emergency, but it quickly became evident that she was doing a ‘spike-the-ball’ victory dance.  This roadway has that effect on people. 
The Town of Mt. Lemmon offers three dining options.  The first is the Sawmill Run.  It’s the large café on your left, next to the post office.  Just about 250m past the Sawmill Run is the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin.  They serve great sandwiches, desserts and of course, cookies.  Also, just before entering town there is the Iron Door restaurant at the base of the ski lodge that serves great food.
Lunch for us was at the post-office recommended Cookie Cabin as Sawmill Run was closed for renovation. 
Jim and Doris Mulvaney of Columbus, OH
It was during lunch we met a delightful couple, Jim and Doris Mulvaney of Columbus, OH.  I had expressed that I had been to Columbus and liked the town, very much.  Jim and Doris were traveling and enjoying the beautiful winter warmth of southern Arizona. 
Jim had mentioned how much fun he thought it was to take this road on a motorbike. 
From the top of Mount Lemmon, one may descend the back way, down the mountain, to the town of Oracle, AZ.  The road is a graded dirt fire road.  Yes, you can probably make it on a street bike if it hasn't been raining or snowing recently.  Like SASCO, it's best on a GS or another Dual-Sport.
After Lunch, we got back on the trusty steed and made our way back down the mountain.  This time, we stopped, at several locations, to snap some photos. 

Make sure to thank drivers for pulling over to let you pass.
Riding Advice:
Drivers on Mt. Lemmon are typically quite good about using turnouts to allow others to pass.  If you do pass a slower vehicle, a kind ‘Thank You’ wave goes a long way, as you’ll probably see them at the top or in one of the many vista points.
Weekends do draw a lot of visitors.  The roadway can be quite crowded, especially during the summer, when temperatures are much cooler, at the top. During the weekends, the local Sheriff is usually at the top.  Often he is simply warning motorists to slow down, but occasionally one will earn his need to issue a citation.  During the week, you pretty much have the entire road to yourself.  Mobile coverage is limited so bringing a Delorme InReach, or another satellite communicator is a wise choice.

Final Thoughts:
After a couple of photo stops, we reached the base of the mountain.  I pulled the bike over and looked back at Laura and simply said, “Wanna do that again?”  Her one-word response was cheerfully, “Really?”  I smiled, turned the bike around and opened the throttle.

Special thanks to Irv Seaver BMW of Orange County, CA for sponsoring these amazing rides.  When in Orange County, do stop in to say, “HI!” and enjoy one of the best and largest selections of new and pre-owned BMW Motorcycles in the country.  Please mention that you like these stories.

Laura Ruddy in her trademark Hi-Viz belt

Nice right-hand sweeper

In front of the Cookie Cabin of Mt. Lemmon

Beautiful formations

Two very happy riders

Laura reflecting on the awesome ride

Another motorcyclist enjoying Mt. Lemmon
One of the many scenic vistas

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Joshua Tree National Park

I want to run.  I want to hide.  I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside. -U2 Where the Streets Have No Name

©2014 Words by Jim Foreman Photos by Jim Foreman and Gina Cardenas.

Destination:  Joshua Tree National Park
Round-trip Mileage: 365 Miles 
Motorcycles Ridden: 2002 BMW K 1200 RS
Best time to go: Fall, Spring,
Fun Factor: 10
Passenger Fun Factor: 8 (per Gina only because she got cold toward the end)
Natural Beauty Factor 1-10: (10 is best) 10 
Cost to enter Joshua Tree National Park: $15
Cost of a National Park Annual Pass: $80.00   
Number of times U2's songs will be in your head: Constantly
Map Link: Google Maps

The year was 1987.  Sitting in high school, someone mentioned that U2 was filming a video in Downtown Los Angeles.  Several hundred students instantly disappeared for the day.
That video was none other than “Where The Streets Have No Name.” It was the leading track for “The Joshua Tree", U2’s fifth studio album. “The Joshua Tree” is considered, by many, to be among the greatest rock albums ever made.  It was also the first time hearing of “Joshua Tree National Monument.”  Curiously, The name of the album wasn't chosen until it was completely recorded and the album artwork was being photographed.  Anton Corbijn, the photographer, mentioned to Bono to look over at a joshua tree and he said, "That's It!"
Another common misconception is that the Album cover was photographed in Joshua Tree National Park.  It wasn’t.  It was shot about 200 miles away near Darwin, CA.  The tree itself, on the album, fell in 2000.  A plaque sits there with the inscription, “Have you found what you were looking for?” in reference to the iconic song, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, also on "The Joshua Tree."  The fascinating story of the photo shoot and a great GS ride is found here.

It’s this fascination with U2’s opus that prompted a moto-journey of discovery and awe.
The trek to Joshua Tree National Park originates at Irv Seaver BMW in Orange, CA. It doesn’t matter where one starts as there are only a couple of options heading east.  Expediency reigned supreme, so Interstate 10 was the road chosen.  One can bypass most of the interstates by heading south to Ortega Highway (CA 74) and following it out past Hemet and eventually dropping into the back end of Palm Springs.  An overnight in Palm Springs is highly advisable, in that case.

As a motorcycle ride, Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) is particularly interesting.  Butler Motorcycle Maps rates most of the roads in and around JTNP as G-2 and G-3.  While these are not the pulse-quickening G-1 roads, they remain very interesting and not a boring drone of straightness.   Joshua Tree is also quite fun in a four-wheeler, too.  Especially keen is a 4x4 as one can traverse some of the off-road paths listed in the NPS park guide.  This particular trip was made more interesting because a passenger accompanied me.  My good friend, Gina Cardenas, joined me on this excursion. Gina is an excellent passenger.  She leaned perfectly with me and was good company during the trip.

Box Canyon Road
The beginning of the fun starts in a little agriculture town of Mecca, CA.  Mecca itself is of little importance.  The 1966 film "The Wild Angels" starring Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra and Bruce Dern used the town as a primary filming location.  "The Wild Angels" is creditied with starting the outlaw biker film movement.  Now, Mecca is known for growing date palms, grapes and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.  It is also the start of a fun little run known as Box Canyon.
Box Canyon is a pleasant indulgence that is well surfaced.  It winds its way around some formations that makes for a pleasant curvy start.  It’s nothing to go bonkers about, but it does keep one off the I-10.  In this case, an overturned big rig caused miles of backup that we were completely oblivious to.
To get to Box Canyon, Veer south of I-10 at Hwy 86 in Indio.  Yes, it can be a bit gusty, but nothing too bad.  Follow 86 south until you reach 66th Ave. (Hwy 195 - It’s a big light).  At that corner is a Starbucks Coffee if you require some fresh brewed caffeinated goodness.  Follow 66th Avenue until it dead ends.  Make a left and then an immediate right.  At the roundabout take the first exit (south) and then make a left back on to 66th Ave.  Whew! All that effort to cross some Railroad tracks.  66th Avenue becomes Box Canyon Road and eventually crosses I-10 and becomes Cottonwood Springs Road.  Cottonwood Springs Road happens to be the only southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. 

The main roads within Joshua Tree National Park make a ‘Y’ shape with one southern entrance and two northern entrances.  One in 29 Palms and the other in the town of Joshua Tree, CA.  There are several branches within the park including some 4x4 trails.  The off-road trails go a long way to satisfying some dual-sport GS urges.  Joshua Tree NP also features many excellent hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities.

Joshua Tree National Park became a National Park in 1994.  From 1936, it was a National Monument.  There is a fee to enter the park that currently stands at $15 per vehicle.  In most cases, two motorcycles are covered in one fee.  As you enter from the south, please stop into the Visitors Center and pay the admission fee.  If you think you’re too smart and blow past this, they do ask to see your receipt as you exit the northern points, to verify you paid.

There are many, clearly marked exhibits for one to stop at, along the way.  Ask a park ranger, at the Visitors Center, which ones are notable and worth exploring.  In this case, Ranger Keith Flood pointed out some ‘don’t miss’ spots that weren’t even on the radar before talking to him. Keith is also a rider (V-Star 1300) and was extra helpful to us.
Ranger Keith Flood
It’s worth noting that there is no mobile service in the park.  If you have a problem, you’ll need to rely on others for help.  The DeLorme InReach is an excellent way to summon help if there is an emergency.
There are scattered restrooms in JTNP, and a couple of them are flushing toilets at campsites, but that’s it.  Nothing else.  Even if it’s cool weather, bring water.  It’s very dry.  Many people die each year from dehydration.

The posted speed limit within JTNP is on the slower side.  Fortunately, during the off season and on light days, there are few, if any, cars on the roads and one can go a little bit faster.  Beware though, the scenery is quite beautiful. If you miss a corner, you may wind up in ocotillo, yucca or cholla as a reward.  Cholla is the worst! 
At the Visitors Center, the road name changes to Pinto Basin.  It will lead northwest until it hits Park  Blvd.  In addition to heading northwest, you will be climbing in elevation.  Wind gusts are also present.  Typically no big deal, but be mindful of high wind warnings.
Traveling northwest on Pinto Basin Road is mostly the desert one expects to find in this region.  Along the way will be the 'Cholla Garden' and several other turnouts for pictures and information about the vegetation.  Fortunately the road twists and turns in wide sweepers to make riding fun and enjoyable.
Lovely Cholla

Eventually, Pinto Basin Road will end at Park Blvd.  If you’re wise, you’re probably looking at your fuel level or mileage by now.  To get fuel, you’ll need to head to 29 Palms.  It's not a bad idea as there is also an excellent Thai Vietnamese café called “Red Lotus.”  Just head right (North) on Park Blvd and enjoy the awesome scenery until you leave JTNP.  Don’t worry, your receipt grants you in and out privileges.  Head north to Hwy 62 and make a left.  Look to the left side for a “Circle K” and Chevron gas stations.  Just a little further on the left will be Red Lotus.

Once fed and relieved, head back down the way you came and back into JTNP.  You’ll experience an interesting phenomenon.  The scenery looks quite different going the opposite direction. 
Also as you rise in elevation, you see the flora change.  It goes from ocotillo and Cholla to Joshua Trees and Yucca.  There is something very impressive about the Joshua Trees.  The Joshua Tree was named that by early Mormon settlers who felt the tree seemed to be raising it's arms in prayer to Heaven as the biblical prophet, Joshua.  They do stake out a beauty all their own!  As one returns down Park Blvd to the point of the ‘T’ Intersection from before, continue on through Park Blvd.
Skull Rock

Though there were some interesting rock formations before, it will start to get denser from here.  There will be many stops such as Skull Rock.  Initially, it appeared as a large whale jumping skyward with its tongue sticking out, but once parked, the features of the skull from a different perspective becomes evident.  There are great picture opportunities on both sides of the road.  It's also a great place to drink some water.
Continuing, one will see some formations called “Hall of Horrors.”  There’s also happens to be a restroom here.  After witnessing a parade of rock climbers going to and from the rocks, it became evident how these formations were named.  There’s a massive boulder that  was split nearly perfectly in half that makes for fun pictures, too.
Press on until you reach Keys View Road.  Make a left.  The sign was a bit faded, but look for it a few minutes past the Hall of Horrors. 
One branch off this road leads to the ruins of the Lost Horse Mine.  This is a moderate 4 mile hike, roundtrip.  The site has several foundations and a well-preserved stamp mill.  The stamp mill itself is now gated due to recent vandalism.  It’s still well-worth the journey. 
Keys View Overlook
Continuing south on Keys View Road will take you to a very nice overlook that peers upon Palm Springs and on a clear day, the Salton Sea. Once the photos and selfies are all taken, head back north on Keys View Road and back onto Park Blvd.
If you wish to see Big Horn Sheep, the best bet is Barker Dam.  A sign indicating Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill is clearly visible, and both hiking trails originate from the same place.  The trails range between 1 and 1.3 miles.  Campsites are also available here and throughout Joshua Tree NP.   Check the website for reservations and fees.
If hiking some of the trails appeals to you, consider camping or finding a hotel on Hwy 62 in 29 Palms or the town of Joshua Tree, so you can spend more time there.
Continuing northwest on Park Blvd will lead to the Western North Entrance of the park.  As you show your receipt or annual pass, to leave, the road will lead you onto 29 Palms Highway (CA 62).  Head west or left.
If it’s time for a recharge, there is a Starbucks Coffee and several fast food options.  A supermarket is also here in this area.  Once the caffeine is properly coursing through your veins again, there is one more fun little road one should experience. 

Pioneertown, CA
Pioneertown originated as a movie set in the 1940’s.  The old western structures were once real sets that doubled as homes for the actors and crew during filming. 
To get to Pioneer town and a fun little loop, continue west on Hwy 62.  There will be a major light indicating Hwy 247 (Old Woman Springs Road).  Make a right and follow it north for a couple of miles.
Look for a weathered sign indicating Pioneertown and Pipes Canyon Road.  Make a left onto Pipes Canyon Road.  A few minutes into the loop, you may imagine a banjo playing an ominous tune and begin to wonder if you’ll ever make it out alive.  Push aside those thoughts and continue until the road dead-ends.  Make a left and follow the sign to Pioneer Town.  If you have the time, do stop and explore this well-preserved movie set.  It’s fun and a little ominous, but worth the experience.  When finished, continue back to Hwy 62 and make a right. 
Chenoa and Jim Foreman at Willie Boy's Saloon
By this time, hunger will probably set in.  If you wisely avoided the fast food but still want a fun experience for dinner, do stop at Willie Boy’s Saloon.  It’s a fun western themed saloon with good food, fun decor and servers in costume.  In the evening, the mechanical bull is operating ensuring lots of fun times.  One could easily stay another night in the area, Palm Springs or simply make the long slog back to civilization.

This journey could be made in one day, but it would be a very long day.  It’s better if you plan to stay the night in the area to fully enjoy the many interesting offerings along this ride. 
Many thanks to Irv Seaver BMW Motorcycles in Orange, CA for sponsoring these ride destinations.  Do stop in to see their huge new and pre-owned selection of BMW motorcycles, apparel, and parts.
South Entrance Visitors Center

Willie Boy's Saloon on Hwy 62

Gina Cardenas playing legos with the rocks.

Gina near the Hall of Horrors.

Always Making Friends

Near Skull Rock

Amazing sunset on the way home.