An adventurous Harley tour on the west coast of the USA
Thunderbike Harley Davidson

Greatest Test Rides 6 – We drive the old Route 66 – Palm Springs – San Diego and up the coast to Los Angeles

Today we want to drive the old Route 66 , that's clear, first we're about to check out of the hotel . There is a gas station next to our hotel, where we get the Harleys ready for the tour .

Our day's stage goes to Palm Springs , we are particularly looking forward to this place, it will be a tour of around 450 kilometers.

Needles Hermann in Dave's Ford T-Buckle

Needles Hermann in Dave's Ford T-Buckle
Needles Hermann in Dave's Ford T-Buckle

Our problem is more of the time, we stop at every beautiful point and there is really a lot to see.

And now Hermann has also discovered Dave, that's where it all starts, he drove up to the gas station in his Ford T-hump and is also a Harley driver .

Dave even knows a few words of German; he used to be in the army and was briefly stationed in Germany.

A Ford T-Hump from 1923 with a six-digit chassis number, that's very little when you compare it to today's ones.

He's a really cool guy and took me on a little ride around the block. I didn't want to drive the hot pot myself, even though he offered to. That's fun, I think Dave has a good life, there's still a Harley-Davidson , everything works for him.

Dave gives us the tip that we should definitely go to the old train station, where there is still an original section of Route 66 and a museum.

Dave goes for a ride with me in the Ford T-Buckle. (Unfortunately the wind disturbs the video a bit)

We drive to the old train station in Needles and see what there is to discover here.

The old cannon at Needles train station

Cannon at Needles train station
The old cannon at Needles train station

There is a Route 66 Museum and the historic train station here, unfortunately neither is open now. An old cannon is set up on the forecourt and a bench with the Route 66 emblem is also a nice motif for a Route 66 souvenir photo.

If you're in Needles , you're welcome to stop by here, it's not the big highlight, but everything is laid out very nicely.

The city itself is generally a very cool place, in some corners you feel like you've been transported back to the old days. The tourist information center is right opposite the train station, where you can get a lot of information for free.

Hermann Volker at the train station in Needles
Photo spot at Needles train station

We met Rich before the info, he lives here in Needles and gave us all the information we needed. The best tip is to drive to Oatman City , an ancient gold mining town in the mountains. behind it is the old Cool Springs Station, which has been used as a motif in so many films. We are excited to see what awaits us.

We take the 10 on the Oatman Highway to Oatman City, that's the most beautiful route there, there's another one that's just straight ahead, we have a really nice view of the whole valley at the top of the mountain.

This is the prairie from the western films, the cacti out of the earth on the left and right, we experience a really great feeling. We drive on, it's only 20 kilometers from Needles and we're just amazed again.

Oatman City is an old gold mining western town

Oatman City Hotel
Oatman City Hotel and Western Salloon

We have already arrived in the western town , where the donkeys just run around freely in the city. We look for a parking space directly in front of the Salloon, tie up our trestles and now we have to see where we ended up here. Suddenly there is a shooting right next to us, three cowboys are stressed and are facing each other on the thoroughfare with their Colts.

The Oatman City Salloon with thousands of dollars on the wall

Hermann and Volker's Dollar at the Oatman City Salloon
Hermann and Volker's Dollar at the Oatman City Salloon

It's all just a show and is meant to entertain the visitors. We like it here and we're going to Katy's in the salloon. The store is called Oatman City Hotel, and you can also stay overnight here. In the saloon, thousands of dollar bills hang on the ceiling and wall. Visitors can give the lady at the bar a bill and she staples it to the wall. In the store there is now a dollar bill hanging directly opposite the counter from Hermann and me as a souvenir.

Sitgraves Pass Murals And Memorial
Needles Palm Springs San Diego 41
Sitgraves Pass Murals And Memorial

We continue on, enthusiastic about the city, and shortly after Oatman City there is another special place where we are welcome to stop.

We drive through Sitgraves Pass and stop at the Murals And Memorial , from there you have not only the memorial but also a great overview of the canyon and the border between Arizona and California .

Cool Springs Station has everything but gas

Cool Springs Station
Cool Springs Station on Route 66

We haven't gotten far on the historic part of Route 66 and we're stopping again, in front of us is the Cool Springs Station .

The former gas station is open until 5 p.m. and is now a souvenir shop. Cool Springs epitomizes cult, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better stop for a photo session. We continue toward Kingman to head south on Highway 40.

Cool Springs Station on Route 66
Cool Springs Station on Route 66

And now comes a very important note, from Highway 40 you will eventually come to Highway 95. When you come to a gas station where you turn right onto the 62, don't drive past the gas station, but fill up your machine.

We both had a half-full tank, which is not enough for 230 km to the next gas station. At least Hermann had that experience; I still had half a liter more in it.

A storm is coming

We continue on the 62 and are thrilled by nature again, in front of us we go straight ahead on the highway . In the far distance we see mountains and above the mountains a mega black cloud. That doesn't bode well and we're heading straight for it, we hope we can avoid driving into a storm, we're on a completely open route.

Just in front of the big cloud our road turns left, maybe we should have a bit of luck? Not really, the Harley-Davidson 's BoomBox II has a special function, it can show you how much range you have and what radius the next gas station is within, there's just no gas station in our radius anymore, we're 20 kilometers short.

from the Vidal Chevron gas station to the next gas station. We drove onto Highway 10 near Desert Center and the reserve light came on in both cars. to Love's Travel Stop and it's exactly at this entrance to the four-lane highway that we're stuck in the middle of the storm that we've been able to avoid the entire time.

We are experiencing a critical moment

We slowed down, we have to reduce the speed so as not to use so much fuel, but that is not without danger. In no time the sun has disappeared, it is getting dark and the big trucks are slamming past us so much that we both think our time has come.

If we stop now, we're done, is one of my thoughts. The navigation system shows me everything, Hermann doesn't have the BoomBox II installed, he had to switch to the 2012 model without navigation system in Barstow. I shout to him what the situation is and that he should hold on.

Hermann can't quite make it to the gas station - the tank is empty!

And at some point the time has come, we see the gas station in front of us, we just don't drive straight up to it, we have to make a small curve and I roll in front of the gas pump with the last of my strength, only Hermann was suddenly gone, it was for him Bow too much.

The tank is empty, Hermann pushes the last few meters. By the time I finally got the camera out, he had already made it to the pillar without my help. 30 meters earlier nothing worked anymore, we were mentally exhausted from this tough tour.

Fill the tank again and go to the rest stop; we had to recharge our batteries with coffee. Now we were both really angry that something like this could still happen to us old farts. These last 230 kilometers could have been more relaxed if we had filled up with gas.

This mega rainstorm alone has nothing to do with the small rain shower that we are used to at home.

Arrive at the Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs

We arrive in Palm Springs, Hermann conquers the whirlpool after the shock

Palm Springs San Diego 0159
Palm Springs Hotel Saguaro Hotel

Let's move on now, after all we are already in the suburbs of Palm Springs . Fortunately, the rain is over and the scent of palm trees that Palm Springs is known for is slowly wafting into our nostrils.

Mallorca Bike Week 2022

We are now looking for our hotel, we are staying at the Saguaro Hotel , a colorful but beautiful 4-star hotel. As soon as we moved into our rooms, Hermann went on a journey of discovery. I was exhausted and Hermann found a whirlpool outside, which the crazy guy went into late in the evening to recharge his batteries.

That worked well, the next morning we can shine again because we're feeling really good, the hotel has nice facilities and the air is great.

We have some healthy breakfast and after a few jokes we continue on, we cruise around the city a bit, but want to go straight on to San Diego . There are around 280 kilometers ahead of us, which we should be able to cover in five hours given our dawdling.

Salton Sea is the largest American lake

We enjoy our dream tour at the Salton Sea
We enjoy our dream tour at the Salton Sea California

We want to take a particularly beautiful route over the mountains, going to Salton City, where the Salton Sea is the largest American lake at 1000 square meters.

We are in the Colorado desert and you can tell that in the climate. We spend some time at the lake and continue on to Borrego Springs.

This place seems to have been dug out of the ground just for golfers, you will find two large facilities here, one of which is the Roadrunner Club , which is a complete residential area that we drive past.

We stop at Carlee's Place and have lunch here in a great styled diner, which looks rather inconspicuous from the outside.

It continues, at the end of the small town it goes 90 degrees to the left, somehow strange, but from here it goes straight into the mountains, up until now it was straight ahead and after turning off come the curves.

Swartz Canyon County Park

Swartz Canyon County Park
Swartz Canyon County Park

We come to the area of ​​Swartz Canyon County Park, we climb up the curves, a really great route for riding a Harley .

We made exactly the right decision, we could have taken the short route to maybe have a little more time in San Diego, but we would rather ride beautiful motorcycle routes. And Swartz Canyon County Park is one of them, there are photo spots at the top from which you have a magnificent view.

The metropolis of San Diego appears before us

In front of us is the San Diego skyline
In front of us is the San Diego skyline

We leave this mountain passage behind us and the surroundings change from their desert color to a lush green; we are just diving into another world again, it seems like that.

San Diego is in front of us, a sprawling metropolis of millions with 8 lane highways. We have already been warned that we have to be particularly careful here because many people here cannot drive a car.

This is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists in San Diego, but luckily we didn't have to experience that.

Strangely enough, we only saw very few motorcyclists, one with his Yamaha Suki was more of a danger to the others as he sped between the cars at full speed.

View from our room at the San Diego Bahia Resort Hotel
View from our room at the San Diego Bahia Resort Hotel

We reach our hotel in the afternoon, the Bahia Resort Hotel  in San Diego , we have a great room with a view of Mission Bay outside our window. We still plan to watch the sunset on the Pacific Ocean, which is a good decision.

The beach looks as if there has just been a heavy storm here, we take a few 360° shots here again and are spoken to by someone again, this has happened to us often in the USA, we quickly get into conversation.

We first eat at the Sandbar Sports Grill, which is a restaurant near the beach that is known for its residents. We're glad that this day wasn't quite as spectacular as the last, but it was still a very special experience.

The next morning we have breakfast in the beautiful hotel, the location is really great and the view we have from the window early in the morning is unbeatable.

We drive a little along the coast, stopping in the La Jolla area to enjoy the ocean views from the rocks.

San Diego is definitely a place where you can spend a few more days, there is a lot to see here, whether it is the aircraft carrier USS Midway or a whale watching boat tour.

We drive along the coast to Los Angeles

San Diego - On the coast of La Jolla
San Diego – On the coast of La Jolla

Today we have to continue to Los Angeles , which is a good 200 kilometers on Highway 5 directly along the coast. We enjoy the tour to the fullest, we have the ocean , the sea air blows around our faces, the sun is shining and we are cruising the highway on the Harley-Davidson E-Glide .

We are feeling particularly good right now.

We drive into Los Angeles, these wide highways and the traffic are just awesome. You get the feeling that most Americans live in their cars, otherwise it doesn't explain why the streets are full everywhere.

We drive straight to Eagle Rider in Los Angeles return the Harleys The handover goes smoothly, they apologize for the breakdown we had in Barstow and that we had to wait a few hours.

On the other hand, we were happy that the service worked and that we had a replacement machine brought to us on site. Something like that can happen, the main thing is that you find a solution so that you can continue driving.

A shuttle is organized for us to the Holiday Inn Express Los Angeles, the cost goes to Eagle Rider , which is part of their service.

Mexican restaurant El Torito in Los Angeles
Mexican restaurant El Torito in Los Angeles

Finally we go to a Mexican restaurant, El Torito, which was really good, they flambéed the meat for us at the table, I've never had Mexican food so good. Add a few tequila and that's how we end our west coast tour.

Our conclusion: Pure enthusiasm, we could do the same tour again and would add more days, especially in San Diego, the glittering city of Las Vegas is great, but that wasn't our thing in connection with a Harley tour, we would have had one night there If that's enough, then it's better to spend more time at the Grand Canyon.

For us the tour isn't really over, we fly directly to Orlando because we also want to see the east coast, but that's a story in itself!

Live to ride ride to life 


Best Western Needles

The Saguaro Palm Springs Hotel

San Diego Bahia Resort Hotel

This is the entire road map of the West Coast tour

Harley-Davidson Aachen Open House 2024

Further parts of the USA motorcycle travel report

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