Day 427-428 – Blythe, CA > Ocotillo, CA
I know that the Imperial Valley is where a lot of our produce comes from and I was expecting the whole area to be lush and green. From riding through it and then looking at a satellite view you can see there are two primary areas of farming – near the Colorado River (Blythe area) and then south of the Sultan Sea (Brawley-El Centro area). In between Blythe and Brawley was a whole lot of desert and the 45×6 mile Algodones Dunes (pic) which gave me the brief feeling of being in the Sahara.
The dunes are famous place for dune buggy and other motor sport racing, desert warfare training and filming. Because I was riding through the area at the hottest time of the year no one was there. The store I was hoping to get refreshments at was closed so I enjoyed the shade of their outdoor eating area and ended up talking to two marines that were out for a weekend joyride.
There were a surprising number of cars and trucks racing down 78 while I was on it. I kept expecting a collision on one of the blind hills or corners, but thankfully everyone worked out and no one got hurt.
After Brawley it was desert again through Plaster City to Ocotillo. Plaster City is not a city at all, but the location of a sheetrock manufacturing facility that operates the last industrial narrow gauged railroad in the country to bring gypsum rock in from a quarry located 20 miles away.
In the distance I was happy to see a huge collection of wind turbines. I got up close and personal with them while staying in Ocotillo, the last town before the final climb over the Cuyamaca Mountains. The Ocotillo wind farm was installed in 2012 and generates up to 265 MW. I like the aesthetic of the white wind turbines against the desert landscape. They make a quiet whooshing sound if you are within a few hundred feet and there are no other noises from traffic or the wind. At night all 112 turbines blink red in sync to warn passing aircraft not to crash into them. They were installed as part of the California initiative to get 33% of energy from renewables by 2020.
There is a bar, a restaurant/market and a bar restaurant in town in addition to one motel/RV park. Frank (pic) owns the Red Feather Off Road Market and Cafe along with his wife and is a great place to get a bite to eat and stock up on snacks and basic motorcycle needs.
My plan is to take off tomorrow, but I may end up staying another night to give my legs a rest. I am not looking forward to the 3,000 foot climb along busy I-8.