Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 161: Mount Whitney, California

I said that I'd be in Death Valley today, .. and that had certainly been my intention. It once again came down to a question of choice. I'd been reliably informed by local experts that Mount Whitney was the highest point in Continental America, 14,400 feet, I'd heard that is was beautiful, ... I heard that if I'd ever seen a Western Movie, then I'd recognise it instantly.

I'd always assumed that the backdrops to such movies were unreal, ..... that they'd been produced by man, ..... that they were always just a little too perfect. Well, welcome to 'Movie Flats', the area where Bonanza, The Lone Ranger, Gunga Din and many other famous TV programmes and movies were made, .. welcome to the picture perfect backdrop. It is almost as if an eight year old child had been given a selection of paints and brushes and asked to produce what he or she believed to be the most perfect examples of trees, mountains, lakes and tracks. Lassen had been stunning, Yosemite had been overpowering, .... but this mountain that I admittedly had never before heard of, ... simply overshadowed everything else. Mount Whitney, ... mark it on your map.

In Death Valley I'll visit the lowest point in Continental America, for the sake of the Tiger, I hope that it's easier on the bike than the highest point. I think that the road climbs to around 9,000 feet and for me, that is where my climb ended. My body is still suffering from yesterdays fall,.. at my age it takes longer to recover, ... I stayed on the paved roads today. The Tiger was overheating, it had lost power, .... it was beginning to smell like a scorched microwave meal. I let the bike cool and analysed the situation. Eventually I came to the only possible conclusion as to why this otherwise 100% reliable motorcycle was now failing me, ..... it had to be something that I myself had done to it. Sure enough, I found the problem, ..... my fault totally.

In Boonville I'd fitted a length of drainage pipe across the front of the engine bars just below the oil cooler. It fitted perfectly and contained the tools that I would only need for serious repairs. Unfortunately, the piping was deflecting the air 'away' from the oil cooler and not 'into' it, ..... thus causing the overheating. The burning smell was indeed burning, .... plastic drainage pipe has a melting point far lower than that of a Triumph engine. I solved the problem and rearranged my packing accordingly. I've now returned to the spot where I camped last night, the setting sun is just as amazing, the temperature just as warm, .. but tomorrow will definitely be Death Valley.

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