Wild Bill, Scary Larry, Jim Senior and Jimbo. These are just some of the people we have had the pleasure of meeting during our stay at Agua Dolce, California. We had never planned on being here of course, the town being around 60 miles outside of LA and around 100 miles from our intended destination in Death Valley. Vegas is the destination of course, but when someone offers you a stay at a private airfield, it is hard to pass up.
As with most of our encounters we ended up here randomly, purely by chance and by taking the time to start conversations with everyone we can. We were on our way to Santa Barbara when we met Jimbo and Jim Senior. We had stopped for a break at a lookout which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. A smile and a simple “Ow ya doin?” soon lead to being invited in to their very American RV for a cup of coffee.
We spent about half an hour with them, Jimbo was taking his father (Jim Senior) for a trip around the coast on the RV they had bought a few days ago. Jim Senior is a true American living the dream. He started his company some 65 years ago from his house in South Dakota, re-fixing aircraft bearings in his living room and selling them to whomever would buy. Now, White Aero is a major aircraft parts seller operating out of Agua Dolce, buying and selling parts in the UK, Australia, Europe, Asia and around the world.
They were more than happy to offer us a place to stay, and about a week later (after spending some time in Santa Barbara and LA) we showed up in this quaint rural town on the edge of the Californian desert.
When we arrived, Jimbo came to meet us at a local Pizza shop. We followed him to our lodging for that night which consisted of a well stocked caravan inside an aircraft hangar, one of two that Jim Senior owns. Exhausted from the days ride as well as from our time in Santa Barbara (for parent friendly details of this check out Thomas’ blog post) we were happy to relax, get started on watching “The Pacific” and get to bed.
The primary objective of our stay here was bike maintenance, and we were in the perfect place. A huge hangar, plenty of tools, good lighting, a fridge stocked with about 60 beers and a bunch of helpful mechanics happy to help us with any troubles we had.
The bike maintenance list was long. And believe it or not, we accomplished everything we set out to do. We checked all our fluid levels, removed and cleaned our air filter, adjusted our balancer lever, inspected and adjusted our chain, drained the carburetor float as well as inspected and installed a new spark plug.
Thomas needed to install a new rear brake pad, as the one that was changed in Hayward had (believe it or not) completely fallen off. I spent some time working on finding a way to secure my bike panniers (beer coolers) so that they can lock. I bought some wire, made some loops and locked it around my coolers.
That’s not to say that all this was easy. There was swearing, lost tools, misplaced bolts, greasy hands and a few occurrences of “Fuck this”. Miraculously after all this fiddling and removing and replacing of various critical parts our bikes started. Well, mine didn’t but with the help of Wild Bill we got it working again.
While we spend most nights getting our maintenance done and watching The Pacific, days were spent with Jim Senior. We went around to his office and got a tour of his company, and the things they do. Those who know me well will know that I am quite fucking fond of planes, so this was totally awesome.
His whole family are pilots, some of whom race Tiger Moths, others just love the occasional flight around the desert, sometimes to Mexico and Las Vegas. The offer was there of course to fly us to Vegas, but we politely declined due to time constraints and the fact that we would be missing all of Death Valley. My birthday was the 23rd as well, so we simply HAD to be in Vegas for that.
After visiting Jim Senior’s home a few miles from the airport, he decided to give us a truck for our troubles. It was formerly Jimbo’s who had since bought a newer version of the same truck. Our bikes were obviously un-useable at this time due to the maintenance work we were doing so we quickly had the keys.
This bad boy was huge, and was terrifying to drive. After a while I got used to driving something the size of a fucking bus and had fun being able to change lanes without fear of being destroyed. Get out of my way, I’m in a truck!
There were lots of famous people at this airport. Well, no-one that would be recognized by sight, but needless to say they have a shitload of money and they know how to spend it (well, to me at least). There was the creator of Monster Energy Drinks, as well as the creator of 3D printing who had hangars there. We tried to meet up with these dudes, but alas, being people with responsibilities we never managed to meet them.
Instead, on our last night there we hung out with a bunch of dudes who had some “interesting” political views. There was a pilot from American Airlines, a dude who owner a bungee jumping business among others. We drank some more beers, chilled and discussed. The guy who flew for American Airlines owned a Chinese training plane from WW2. He was happy to let me sit in that bad boy which was awesome.
But all things come to an end and we found ourselves soon on our way to Death Valley and Vegas… (stay tuned for this post)