A Palmdale Adventure

Yesterday i drove down to Palmdale and bought a used Segway. Turned out to be quite an adventure and enjoyable except for the last part.

The adventure started last Wednesday when i came back to the City from my last futile attempt to get the old Segway repaired and stopped on the way home at Electric Bicycle Outlet at 660 Bryant and talked with Len again. This time i inquired about hill climbing power and he sent me out on a loop down Bryant and onto a tiny little vertiginous street named Rincon, where i could white-knuckle it to the bottom and then turn around for the ascent. The Hebb that i’d liked before would not budge me on that little hill, which is not a bit steeper than Noe, so he sent me out on a 500 watt bike that didn’t feel as good as the Hebb and still needed some peddling to get up the hill. And also, since i spent more time on both bikes, i felt less and less sure that an electric bike was the right vehicle for me. I mean, too much bike and not enough electric.

And since Segway of Oakland didn’t have a used first-generation Segway they’d sell me and i strongly prefer the first-generation ones to the new ones, on Thursday night i went looking on the Internet. Absolutely nothing in the Bay Area, but when i checked to the south, i discovered three first-generation models for sale, at $2300, $2500, and $2600. The middle one was in Palmdale and the ad had a good feel. So Friday i called the number, talked with Kirk, and we agreed that i’d drive down Saturday and meet him at his place at 3:00PM. Saturday morning before i could call to confirm, he called to make sure i was coming, as someone else had called him Friday night and also wanted to see it. I assured him i’d be there and set out immediately, realizing that this was not a good time to be late and reassured that i was dealing with an honorable man, which took a lot of tension out of the trip.

The ride down on I-5 was pretty much as usual. Nuthin’ new to see through there although i did stop at Lebec near the bottom of the valley and discovered that it is now possible to stuff $50 worth of gasoline into a Prius. Then i roared up over the crest of the grade, hung a left at Gorman, and headed straight east to Lancaster, passing up once again the opportunity to take tiny little Old Ridge Route Road, which heads more of less straight east southeast to Palmdale. But as much as i love my tiny little unnumbered roads, i feared i wouldn’t be able to get to Palmdale on time. Smart move, i was only thirty minutes early, and Kirk was waiting.

And so was his Segway, which was gorgeous. A model i180 from 2006 that had been meticulously maintained and had clearly not been used to break several of its rider’s bones like my ancient 2003 i67. But still a first generation model, which i greatly prefer. Kirk wheeled it out into the driveway and handed me the keys. It sprang to life perfectly, i did a fifteen second loop in front of him, and i handed him a two inch high stack of twenties that i’d had to raid five ATM’s on Friday to get. I was so pleased i even let him give me a hand getting it into the back of the Prius rather than demonstrating my virtuosity at this.

And then to celebrate decided i’d take 14 back north through Lancaster and Mojave and then west on 58 through Tehachapi to Bakersfield and then north on 99 up the valley, a route i’d not taken in many years and a thoroughly enjoyable change of scenery.

Radiolus grandifloraOh, and speaking of changes of scenery, everybody knows how fascinated i am with agaves and other desert plants like the “Century Plant” that have spectacular bloom structures even though the Century Plant is common as dirt. Well, as i passed through Lancaster i was blessed by a sighting of the extremely rare Millennium Plant (Radiolus grandiflora, and astonishingly, in full bloom. Needless to say, i took the next exit and drove back on surface roads so as to take this pic of a sight few have been privileged to see.

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