California Love: Chasing Lightning on Route 58

California Love: Chasing Lightning on Route 58

By the time we’d pulled in to San Luis Obispo and found a hotel, the sun had packed it in for the night and a wet fog hung on Route 1. It had been a great day of riding.Goldie Ln on Route 58 - Just for George!

The following morning I woke up to the sound of steady rain tapping against the window. I got out of bed to look out the window but it was still dark. The only thing I could see were circles made by the rain falling in the lighted swimming pool below.

The rain stopped while Kenny and I packed up the bikes to get on our way. Thunder rolled over the mountains to the east. Hoping for the best, we set off on Route 58.
Riding along Route 58

The western side of 58 is a nice ride. It isn’t the most technical road but there is something I like about riding it’s curves through the golden hills. There is a sense of peacefulness about it.

Tshirts on route 58

Well,.. except for the place where the people from the Hills Have Eyes live. Kenny surmised that the shirts were trophies from hapless travelers that stopped on the road, never to be seen again. I didn’t really want to test his theory so on we motored, continuing east.

The fields were so dry. There was a large section that stretched out, burned black from the roadway far up into the mountains. It was a dramatic contrast with one side of the road being bright yellow and the other black.

burned fields on route 58

We kept skirting the edge of a nasty storm. It always seemed like it was just over the next hill. We watched as lightning danced from the clouds to our right.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to be out there in the lightning. There was no shelter, no place to wait it out. At best, we could do nothing more than turn around to get away from the storm. As I mulled these things over, the road turned away from where the storm looked the darkest.

Then as we approached the town of McKittrick, the storm was right in front of us. Lightning began reaching down from the clouds and shaking hands with the ground.

Lightning on route 58 Lightning on route 58 Lightning on route 58

My heart was thumping away in my chest as I slowed to a stop. What to do, what to do?

While we sat on the side of the road, a tumbleweed rolled in front of us. It wasn’t waiting around to make any decisions, it was just getting the hell out of there… and so would we.

Not too excited about heading towards the lightning Oh crap.

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8 Replies to “California Love: Chasing Lightning on Route 58”

  1. What would a trip be without a little adventure? 🙂

    Danger tends to grab our attention quickly and hard. Surviving burns memories into our brains we never forget. On my deathbed, I’ll recall the night I almost got blown off the Mackinac Bridge during a windy rainstorm.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Your account is deeply fascinating.

  2. I think I would have a lump in my throat if I had seen the lightening. Not a fan of it and I think it would be pretty unnerving riding your bike into a storm. The shirt thing is pretty weird, just don’t stop at any Bates-like hotels and you will be good.

  3. Hah that is great! It is nice to chase the storm then to have it chasing you when you are out on the road. That must have been one helluva lightning storm to make you two stop like that.

    1. I’ve never seen lightning like that before. The strikes were so close together. Some of them reached down to the ground and some seemed to spider across the belly of the clouds. It was scary and beautiful all at the same time.

  4. Love the “Goldie Ln” picture, thanks for remembering me, 🙂
    I just love the endless roads, when I rode through Yosemite past Groveland and on the way to Manteca the terrain was just like that, dry and everything was the same yellow color.

  5. Yikes, I would’ve been shaking in my boots, too. Like you said, there’s nowhere to hide, so what do you do? Just motor on and hope for the best I guess. That shot of yellow vs black fields separated by the road is a good one!

    1. Thank you, Kathy-
      I wish that it was possible to capture the scale of just how open the space was out there in some sections. That really added to the feeling of “nowhere to hide”.

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