August 30th: fair/scattered thunderstorms. We ride down south from the Grand Canyon and take I-40 to Seligman, Arizona. The longest remnant of Route 66 begins in this area. There's a number of separate rainstorms around, plus occasional flashes of lightning ahead of us. Luckily the road goes between two thunderheads, and we arrive at the city of Kingman in the evening.
August 31st: we continue west on Route 66. The threat of thunderstorms is gone, now taken over by fierce heat. Within a few miles it dries my T-shirt I soaked in tap water, and we pant up and down the bad mountain road till we abruptly find ourselves in the town of Oatman. The town is kept in the old Western style with burros roaming freely, and as we sit at a restaurant a gunfight show starts outside. After stopping at souvenir stores we leave the town for Las Vegas, about 100 miles northwest. My mesh motorcycle jacket means nothing in the hot wind.
September 1st: fair. We wait for sunset and enter the Death Valley. In the valley that drops below sea level, the temperature stays above our bodies' even at night. The road within our headlights' range and reflective signs are all we can see. The black surface of the road merges into darkness and it feels like I'm flying through an endless night. There's a flash of lightning in a distance, but the sky above us is full of stars. The valley ride is almost over when the moon appears in the east, and a sweet scent like maple syrup comes wafting in the cool air. A rabbit fails to cross the road and hops away in a zigzag course.
September 2nd: sunny. We ride north watching the white Sierra Nevada and bend west to the Yosemite N. P. It feels almost chilly by the clear lakes, and there's a lot of other motorcyclists on this road that winds along cliffs and domes of rock. Leaving the park we pass a section where roadside trees are all stripped to their trunks, most likely done by a wildfire.
September 3rd: fair weather continues. We take a northwesterly course, headed to Napa valley, the heart of California's Wine Country. Meadows we ride across are bright and golden, and the headwind here is unexpectedly strong.
* Original entry in Japanese has appeared on September 15th, 2007 in Weekly New York Seikatsu and its online edition
We're currently in a town called Kingman, Arizona, by the historic Route 66. It's really, really hot in this state.
We stayed one night in Las Vegas after riding along the burning Route 66, crossed the Death Valley in the night after, had a nice break today coming through the cool Yosemite National Park, and are now in a town called Oakdale, California. Tomorrow we'll finally reach the Pacific.
We came into Napa Valley, not to the ocean's edge, because it felt too soon to finish crossing the country and also because the wines were inviting us. Tonight we're staying in Sonoma, and tomorrow we'll see the ocean for sure.
We didn't have the time or money for visiting wineries, but we did have some wine at a restaurant in a town near Sonoma called Glen Ellen.