A Big Bike, A Small Dog, and a Long Dusty Road

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes.  Here in Arizona, it usually involves the search for a secluded waterway where one can attain a reprieve from the baking sun and wash off the dust from the trail.

When most folks think of the deserts in Arizona they imagine a parched landscape full of cacti and broken dreams.  They’re right, but there is also a thriving ecology closely packed around a surprising number of lakes and rivers.   And when you live at 7,000 feet above sea level in Arizona, it snows the night before you leave for a trip to the desert.

What else can you do, but layer up, press on, and keep a vigilant eye on the forecast?  As so many of us today are corralled into set schedules and pre-planned vacations, sometimes simply pushing on is all you can do.  Despite the snowflakes falling outside, my wife and I packed our Super Ténéré for a weekend’s adventure to take the back [read: two-lane, twisty-windy, dirt road, and generally awesome] way to Alamo Lake, AZ.  There’s a saying in Flagstaff that “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” And this once again proved true as we jumped on a break in the snowstorm and pointed our bike South toward warmer weather, sun, and miles of twisty-windy two lane goodness.

Our route would take us on two lane roads from Jerome, through Prescott, and toward Bagdad (AZ!), and on toward the middle of nowhere, which as it happens, is near Nothing, AZ.  We were so busy enjoying this wonderful ribbon of tarmac, we missed our turn, and were ‘lost’, round 1.  After consulting the GPS, we found an alternate route; a 33 mile dirt road that was supposed to be a well maintained, smooth cruise.  Not so much. We were lost again, round 2.

Pretty soon, the washouts, sand, and several additional wrong turns had us re-thinking ourselves.  “Keep going. There’s a darn lake at the end of this.  How far have we gone?  Only Three miles! This is going to be a long afternoon…”

Perseverance won the day however, and before too long, we were cooking along in 5th gear on a wide, well-graded dirt highway.  Sometimes, all you need to fix the roads is to cross a county line.

As the miles ticked by, we started to get into the groove again.  Things were looking up, and we had plenty of daylight, plenty of fuel, and we hadn’t lost our mascot, Tortellini the turtle.  (Editor’s note:  Tortellini is known to fly out from his perch on the authors Ténéré from time to time.  This most commonly happens on rough roads or at high speeds. –Chad)  Before we knew it, we were looking for a campsite and changing into our swimsuits.  We had made it to Alamo Lake.

After a quick dip in the lake, some warm food, and making a campfire, we were watching another world-class Arizona sunset and reflecting on the day.

It seems like the farther I can get away from civilization, and the closer I can get to undeveloped wilderness, the more content I am.  The trivialities of life fade into the background as I soak in my surroundings.  I’m dusty, I’m hot, I’m exhausted and I’m away from everything that makes home so comfortable, yet I feel more content and more joyful than I do almost anywhere else.  After all, I’ve got my wife, my dog, and my motorcycle – what more could I ask for?

Desert Rendezvous 2017

You know you’re in the right place when you find the weathered, hand-carved sign hanging from an ocotillo in the middle of Anza-Borrego State Park.  The sign moves around from time to time, but it always marks the place where each year something happens that is unique to the adventure travel community.  It’s a gathering where old friends can reconnect, and new friends are made.  It’s a place where you can learn the skills you need to be safe in the backcountry, or get inspired about how to build your vehicle.  It’s a place where you and your family can eat world-class food cooked from a Dutch-oven under a canopy of stars.  And it’s the place where everyone comes to help leave the place better than they found it, by picking up thousands of pounds of trash from your public lands.  This is the SoCal Desert Rendezvous – hosted by American Adventurist.


As the sun sets on Friday, folks mosey into camp.  They come in all manner of vehicles, from EarthRoamers to Jeeps to Adventure bikes, driven by folks as unique as the vehicles themselves.  Around a number of campfires, people share good food and conversation – everyone is happy to be outside.

Saturday arrives with a sunrise that has the folks lucky enough to be awake scrambling for their cameras.  For a few minutes the world is painted in bright and brilliant colors, and it’s the perfect way to kick off an exceptional day spent outside.  A couple of hours later, everyone musters for the trash cleanup.

From the air, it looks like dozens of ants wandering around at random across the landscape – yet this is actually an organized process.  Dozens of people cover the ground seeking out trash which is piled up for later collection.  By the time we’re done, we’ve removed a mountain of trash from the landscape for the BLM, but the day is far from over.

Back in camp a couple of members teach a class on wilderness first aid.  They’re both combat-seasoned Navy Corpsmen, and they put on a great class.  Tourniquets, H-bandages, and Sam-Splints are passed out and students learn how to use them.  The instructors talk about mindset and other topics that will help the students become better prepared for what they could run into in the field.  While the adults learn, kids get to play in the dirt and jumps are constructed for RC cars.

With the class concluded, people head back to their camps to start cooking – it’s time for the Dutch-oven competition and pot-luck.  As evening rolls around, tables are lined up and every square inch of surface is covered with dishes for every appetite.  The food is outstanding, and everyone feasts.

The day is capped off with a raffle, and everyone gathers at the main camp to cheer on the folks that win prizes that range from recovery gear to Dutch-ovens.  American Adventurist is fortunate to have the support of a number of great companies that have pitched in to support our community year after year.


Desert Rendezvous is one of three events that American Adventurist puts on each year.  Each event is held in a unique environment and steeped in the region’s local flavor.  Yet all of our community events have the same core values of friends, family, an active outdoor lifestyle, and giving back to the local community.  To learn more about our events, please visit our EVENTS PAGE.

Thank you to Richard SooHoo, David Butters, and Justin Pitcairn (@pitcairnoverland) for contributing photos, and to Dave Bennett for helping with this story.  Thank you to David Butters and Kyle Treptow for stepping up to teach our first aid class.  American Adventurist would like to thank the following companies for their continued support of our events:

Support these companies:
4X4 sPOD
Agenda Trading Company
Amaesing Decals
AT Overland
Baja Designs
Canyon Coolers
Danger Ranger Bear
Energy Suspension
Factor 55
Falken Tire
Front Runner
Goose Gear
Ironworks Tactical
JRs Knives
LT Wright Knives
Mojoe Outfitters
Off the Grid Surplus
Overland Xplorers
Princeton Tec
Prometheus Design Werx
Rancho Suspension
Tembo Tusk
Wilco OffRoad