The Desert Bar

I’ve heard stories about this bar and restaurant in an old mine at the end of a 5-mile rough dirt road, just on the other side of Parker from here. I’ve gotten tired of hunkering down, first for the wind storm and then for a few days of cold(ish) weather afterward. It was a little warmer today, so I decided to bust myself out of my boredom funk and go see what the Desert Bar was all about.

I put on a few layers, put the liner in my jacket, and put on my motorcycle pants. I wasn’t worried about having the armor as much as the wind protection. The temperature was still in the 50s when I left, and I’d be blasting down a 65 mph highway to get there. It was also the perfect time to put my new heated gloves to the test. The lowest of the three temperature settings kept my hands comfortable but not too hot for the ride up there. They’re also completely windproof, which in this case did more than the heating elements to keep my hands warm. Keep your scanners peeled for a full review once I get a few more miles on them.

For me, signs like this actually say “Kawasaki KLR650s only.” The beginning of this road is in good shape, but it quickly deteriorates to a bit worse shape than I see in the LTVAs. No problem, though — I just choose good lines around the worst of the obstacles and can maintain a good 20-25 mph, unless I get stuck behind someone. This became a significant issue a few times when traffic ahead of me was going slower than I can ride and keep the bike upright. When I had a good sightline to see the road was clear ahead, I took the opportunity to pass. I’ve never passed so many trucks and Jeeps on a dirt road before, and I wasn’t going all that fast myself.

To say the place is rustic would be an understatement, and that’s a good thing. You don’t want to come to a place like this and have it be like an Olive Garden. I could hear the band playing as I maneuvered through the parking lot, with spaces marked by old fire hoses.

The roofs over this place are completely covered with solar panels. This place is totally off the grid, in the electrical sense of the phrase. The lack of power lines makes it that much more of a picturesque scene, both the bar itself as well as the trip in and out.

I did a bit of wandering around before going what counts as inside. Old mine equipment, like this tractor, are now decorations, adding to the character of this place. There are various old cars in various states of (dis)repair scattered around.

Since I was on my bike, I was there to eat rather than drink, so I got myself a chili burger. Strangely enough, there’s no cheese available for anything. I don’t know what vendetta the Desert Bar has against cheese, but it definitely has one, so there you go.

It’s only open from 12 to 6, Saturday and Sunday, but while it’s open it’s a pretty hopping place. The parking lot wasn’t completely full but it was mostly full of trucks, Jeeps, and side-by-sides, though I did see a couple of bikes scattered around. Inside I saw a group of young people in motocross gear walking around, too.

Then I was forced to endure the 5-mile ride back to Highway 95. Darn! Leaving was much easier than going in since there was much less traffic. I passed a couple of trucks and cruised right along with some side-by-sides and one of the people in the motocross group I’d seen (I recognized her medium-length blonde hair sticking out the back of her helmet). I also saw side-by-sides bombing around the trails just off the main road, but I opted not to join them. There’s a lot of reservation land around here, and I don’t have the Colorado River Indian Tribe off-road permit to ride trails there legally. My Arizona permit doesn’t apply to sovereign Native land.

Once again, my KLR650 was the perfect tool for the job. I bounced down that primitive dirt road just fine, yet I could also maintain the 65 mph speed limit on Highway 95 without becoming a moving roadblock. I wouldn’t mind something more road-oriented for the paved sections, but since I’m not big on throwing my motorcycle down a rugged trail, the KLR works just fine. If I have to have only one motorcycle, it’s a perfect choice.

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