Days 45-50: August 12th-August 18th: 410 miles: Las Vegas, Nevada to SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA- mile 3,662- FINISH LINE

19 08 2011

The final leg from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the beaches of Santa Monica was the most trying portion of our trek. Our short break in Vegas provided a false sense of security; we went into the final stretch feeling complacent that the journey was practically done. Little did we know, the Mojave Desert of Nevada and California was much more treacherous than we ever imagined. After escaping Vegas traffic, we faced full-on headwinds that prevented us from riding over 8 mph most of the time- getting in 58 miles that day was exhausting and frustrating. The winds let up the following day, allowing us to ride 84 miles as we left Nevada and entered California via historic route 66. Over the following days, this road had a few 50 mile sections without any resources; we were forced to stock up on supplies to prepare for the worst. The most crucial mistake of our trip occurred during that 84 miler when we didn’t pack enough water and quickly ran out. With the temperature over 105 and the air oppressively dry, hydration was a key factor. It was odd drinking 32 ounces of Gatorade or water within a minute and then having extreme thirst again just minutes later. We just couldn’t stop drinking. Luckily an awesome couple pulled over and helped us stock-up on water.

The next day, the temperature raised up to 115 degrees- cold water turned into hot bath water within minutes and it burned while going down. With our skin sizzling, we road 49 miles until we found a motel. Never before had I felt so vulnerable to the elements; it felt like I was holding on by a thread over the last few miles. We decided to ride as directly west as possible instead of pressing on southwest to San Diego in order to get out of the desert as quickly as possible. We slept at the motel for the remainder of the afternoon and woke up at 1:30am to resume the night riding strategy. Although we road 94 miles in this session, it was tedious since we had to hop over three barbed wire fences to cross the freeway and access where Route 66 resumed. Unfortunately this part of 66 was riddled with a multitude of potholes. We rode about 10 miles at which point our hands began to hurt from the constant rattling. As the sun rose, we switched to the California 40 West Interstate for the remainder of the day. While camping in the desert, we luckily never encountered the sidewinders or rattlesnakes that the gun-strapped cashier at a rest stop in ghost-town Amboy warned us about.

We struggled to find a route to the Santa Monica Pier over the last 100 miles so we decided to put our trust in the GPS. The GPS thought it would be funny to play a practical joke on us since it was the end of the trip so she took us on an 84 miler up to 8,000 feet in elevation through the San Gabriel Mountains on the California 2 Highway. We camped on the side of the road overlooking what we believe to have been the skyline of Hollywood. The following morning, we rode 41 miles through Sunset Boulevard, the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and then finished at the Santa Monica Pier at mile 3,662. It was a thrilling anticipation we experienced in the miles leading up the Pacific- the realization that we “made it” once we did so provided a feeling that can not be articulated. It seems like life’s most precious moments are not meant to be described since they are meant to be deeply felt and experienced firsthand. I am beyond grateful that I got to experience that culminating, intimate moment with the mist of the Pacific in our faces as it appeared in front of us after 49 days on the road dreaming of it. After dipping our tires, we body-surfed and then rode two miles south down to Venice where we stayed the next day, rented surfboards, and surfed for the day. We rode 70 miles yesterday south via the Pacific Coast Highway to where we are now- San Clemente. We passed through the LAX airport area where we did not see Miley Cyrus hop off a plane with a dream and a cardigan. We later went through Laguna Beach where we fortunately didn’t meet any of the characters from the soulless television show Laguna Beach. Today, thanks to David, John, Jackie, and Biff, we got in some legendary hours of surfing at Old Man’s break- we caught some epic waist-high longboard waves that just kept unpeeling. It’s a nice break to be watching waves unravel instead of roads. Stay tuned for a final trip wrap-up update as our journey heads south down to San Diego near the Mexican border as we search for waves!


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11 responses

20 08 2011
Noel

Congratulations!!!!!
I have met your Mother, Jackie, I work with her at her new job.I am a scheduler. She shared your endeavor’s with us in the “break room” one day. She’s a proud Mom. Nice to see your blog.I will have to take a loook through your journey. Congrats again!!! this is awesome

21 08 2011
Andrea

Wow! Amazing! CONGRATULATIONS! 🙂 You did it!!!

21 08 2011
kevin rooney

James and Joe,

I tip my hat and Guiness for your accomplishment. Most men just dream but you got off your ass and did something!

22 08 2011
Mom

Joe, so proud of you~ you done good. Love, Yomama

22 08 2011
Jacqueline

Hi Noel!
Joe is actually my brother! Thanks for following his blog! It has been a great summer following both him and James across the country!

22 08 2011
The Rogers Family

Joe and James,
First, congratulations on your accomplishment! We cannot begin to imagine what you must have felt upon seeing the Pacific. Thank you for sharing your journey with our family.

22 08 2011
Kyle Rinfret and Jessica Sabanks

Congratulations! Glad you made it safely!

24 08 2011
Dale Sargent

I love your observation, “It seems like life’s most precious moments are not meant to be described since they are meant to be deeply felt and experienced firsthand.”

Well said, and congratulations.

24 08 2011
Patty

Joe and James,
Congratulations! An amazing journey and a book already in the making.
Happy to see that you made it through some of our Country’s wildest scapes. Enjoy the surf . . . Mexico . . .
See you soon,
Patty

30 08 2011
DEECH (aka David Horn)

Recently hosted the weary travelers for 4 nights here in San Clemente. I’ve heard stories of teenagers who devoured everything in sight but lordy, lordy could these men eat. I arranged surfing tours with neighbors who surf the area and they could not have been kinder to our guests. We even celebrated James’s 26th birthday the last morning with a celebratory piece of breakfast quiche and a votive candle before they rode off for their final leg to San Diego and a week of beachtime before returning East. Well done guys and the door is always open.

2 09 2011
Daniel Ferguson

Congrats guys so glad you made it!! See you for your welcome back party! – Dan

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