Friday, August 30, 2013
Motorcycle Mania on Route 66
By Becky Shamen
Motorcycles. This mode of transportation, and a life style to go with it, is very popular in Second Life. Motorcycles come in countless styles and prices. Styles include classics, antiques, steam
powered, contemporary, and even futuristic designs. You can even have them custom made to your specs. The cost is anywhere from free to thousands of Lindens. You probably already have at least one, in your inventory. When you have a motorcycle, your next concerns will be where to ride and what to wear as you do. It's no fun crashing into things or into the water. It wouldn't look right to go for a ride, wearing a ball gown either.
In previous articles, I have provided the SLURL for many of the sims reported on. I have also explained how I find locations to explore, by using the destination guide and world map. Finding these places is part of the fun of exploring them. For this report, we have produced a composite illustration of all the sims in the Route 66 collective. We shall leave finding and getting to them to readers, to maximize their enjoyment.
Getting Your Kicks on Route 66
As I said, you can go to these sims individually, but to take the full tour, start at the bottom and work your way to the top, South to North. The 12 main sims run in a straight line, with 2 additional, residential sims, on the East and West. We shall travel them in this order; Motor World, Death Valley, Route 66, Sunset Crater, Cadillac Ranch, Twin Arrows, Flagstaff, Two Guns, Mojave Desert, MLCC, Diablo Canyon, and Santa Monica. They are all strict about motorcycles only, but, being a western theme, riding a horse is tolerated and appreciated. Every time residents saw me on my horse, they wanted to show me theirs and compare notes. Route 66 does not run in a straight line and there are many side roads and there are no rules about staying on the road. You'll get a lot of good practice, using the world map and mini-map, in finding your way around. Let us begin now, with the first sim.
Before starting my road trip, I began here on foot. As I waited for the textures to rez, I opened my radar (mini-map), to locate where avatars were gathered, so I could introduce myself and ask questions about local rules and customs. If you don't know any "bikers," approaching and having a conversation with them might seem a bit too scary to attempt. Let me reassure you, having met many of them, in real-life and SL, those hard outer appearances are just a mask, hiding a lovable soul within.
In the parking lot of the local hang-out, I saw a member of the Hell's Angels Nomads named Blacky Braham, sitting on his chopper, with his AFK girlfriend/property standing within arms reach. I greeted him and said I was a reporter from SL Newser, doing a story about the area. In my short time as a reporter, I have already discovered that telling folks you are a reporter makes them friendly and helpful. Blacky said he would be happy to answer any questions he could. My plan was, since horses are slower and easier to control, to tour on horseback, enabling me to see more without the hassle of trying to keep my ride on course. When I asked him if horses were allowed, he jumped off his bike and rezzed his beautiful black stallion, which was from AKK Ranch, as is my white one, named Blue. We agreed that AKK horses were the best, so felt like instant old friends.
I rode off to the top of a nearby hill, to get a panoramic view of the sim. From my vantage point, I watched as the handful of bikes circulated and attempted to break the record on the "Scary Jump of Fire and Death", located across the road from the hang-out. There was a scoreboard, on the side of the jump, with the top score being the smallest number. I can only speculate that the scores must represent how long they had to stay in the hospital.
I also spotted a shop that sells MLCC motorcycles. Most of the sims I visited had bars, but they were always empty, probably due to the fact that I don't explore between 6-10 PM SLT. Those hours are reserved for hanging out with my friends, at my favorite clubs. From my hilltop perch, I spotted the bridge and headed for the next sim.
The main road here runs straight to the next sim, along the West side of the sim. I found myself at the crossing to the third sim and had to turn around to tour it. If one takes the first right after entering from Motor World, it becomes a maze of mountain roads, with sharp turns and great views. One road is a dead end, where you can dismount and chill in privacy. I pictured Moses, riding his chopper here to jot down the ten commandments. I saw little else here to report on, so retraced my steps and headed for the next sim after passing through a long West to East tunnel on the North side of Death Valley.
There are two large clubs that I saw. "The Sons of Anarchy" was empty, but "Tobacco Road" seems to have folks in it all day long, with as many coming as going. I stayed for a while, chatting with the locals, dancing and playing trivia, before continuing my exploration. There is a motorcycle shop, called CC Custom Choppers. Their bikes cost in the $2800 range and are beautiful. Out front, they have a rezzer which gives a drivable demo of the bike you want to test drive. Nearby, I spotted a warehouse shop called "Nemesis Firearms." I looked inside and could easily see how well the shop name fit the hardware inside. There were other motorcycle clubs and shops. When I saw a small shop, at the north end of the sim, with a sign saying Beer-Ammo-Bait, I thought I had died and gone to redneck heaven. I came back to my senses and rode off to the next sim.
I only spotted two buildings on this sim. It's easy to see why. A huge, active volcano takes up most of the sim. There is a spiral road to the top, but drive slow to avoid spots where cooled lava partially blocks the way. Arriving at the caldera, I found myself wondering if I could walk on the bubbling lava. After all, had I not been to the moon, in shorts and Tshirt and the bottom of the ocean, without scuba tanks and jumped off the Eiffel tower, without a parachute? I decided, the best way to answer this question would be.....to let you try it first and report back to me. I had forgotten to pack my asbestos flip-flops, so quickly made my way to the next sim.
This sim gets it's name from the real Ranch in Texas. Years ago, when I came here, I saw a collection of Cadillacs, nose in the dirt, tails in the air. But on this visit I cris-crossed the whole sim without finding them. Perhaps, in compliance with the no cars rule, they had been replaced with a row of old motorcycles, painted gold and half buried in the dirt. There were some bars and lots of small homes. The roads were gravel, instead of black top. They did a good job of creating the feel of life in rural West Texas. It made me thirsty for a cold beer. That's pretty good, considering, I don't drink beer.
It's not hard finding the crossing to this sim. Two giant arrows, sticking out of the ground, are visible, even with your draw distance set at minimum. Par for the course, the first building you see is a bar, followed by a gas station and a cafe. Better fill your tank, because this is one place you don't want to run out of gas. This would be a great location to film a cowboys and Indians movie. Howling winds fill your ears and the only movement, other than you trying to get elsewhere, is the tumblin' tumble weeds.
On the Northeast corner, there is a biker hang-out, called the "Voodoo Lounge." In real life, I've driven from Texas to California, twice and, both times, promised myself I'd fly next time. This is like the old question of what is the sound of one hand clapping. In this case, what does a whole lot of nothing look like. Almost to Flagstaff, I saw a pair of mountain lions. If they could speak, they were probably saying, "We knew you wouldn't stay for dinner."
Sandwiched between Twin Arrows and Two Guns, Flagstaff is like a virtual oasis. The grass is greener, there are lots of interesting shops and you can rent a house, as opposed to buying land. Downtown, check out BUR Classic Motorcycles, for affordable bikes with test drive demos. Next door is V-Twins, with great clothing and even prefab houses. On the East side of town is Highway 420. Along this road, you'll find Neximus Racing and Drag Strip and Jumbo's Rockin' Biker Bar.
Going North on 420, you'll pass an outdoor stage, called C.H.M.C. Rock Yard, with a motel across the street. On the next block, to our left, a building announces a soon to open Burlesque show hall and across the street, on Hwy. 420, it comes as no surprise to find the "Moms4MJ" head shop. The door to Moms was locked and a large sign in the window provided a long lists of days and times that they may or may not be open, depending on if they felt like working. Dang hippies!
Make sure your canteen is full, because we are headed back into desert in our next sim.
The name itself suggests that the only difference between it and Twin Arrows is that this is it's polar opposite. Always looking for the silver lining, I can tell you one good thing about this place. You'll be glad that you didn't bring your kids with you, because, by now, they'd be driving you nuts with, "Are we there yet, are we there yet....." Oi, on to the next sim.
At long last, we have reached Southern California. Is there a ray of hope, or was it just a small cloud, momentarily blocking the relentless sun, that brings a smile to our parched lips? On the North end, we see two large shops, suggesting we are headed back into civilization, relatively speaking. The next sim looks more promising, in the way of entertainment.
I can't decide if MLCC is the name of a corporation or the roman numeral for 1150, but the southern half of this sim is it's world headquarters. It's the place to go, if you want to buy land in the Route 66 sims and the ground floor is a museum of motor vehicles, including even four wheeled ones. North of it, you can be sitting on the dock of the bay, looking at all the pretty sailboats. Looking out in the bay, you discover why these sailboats are all securely moored. The bay is home to the biggest wave I've seen in SL, headed for Loon Beach. Pack your swim suit, if surfing and sailing is your idea of the perfect vacation. At the South end of the beach, you'll find the entrance to Loon Tunnel, which runs under ground for the length of the beach and exits on the next sim.
The western third of this sim is sandy beach. The eastern portion is a lush green area, with a beautiful private estate or two. A large house is built on stilts, above a marshy, protective moat. I couldn't help but feel, this might be the retirement home of a notorious Bonnie and Clyde couple. On the north end of the marsh, two alligators stand guard and will snap at you, if you get too close. The gators were facing a two story, three bay garage. Two of the bays were empty, suggesting the couple had gone down to the Route 66 sim for some dancing and gambling. My 6th sense told me to turn my radio down and tip-toe to the next and final sim on the tour.
Santa Monica 66
As I crossed the bridge, from Diablo, I remembered that, while making a map for this tour, this sim looked as if it was some kind of race track. It turns out, I was right, but what kind of race track is anybody's guess. The entire track is on towers, above the ground. Before attempting it, I had a look about the sim. The track is boxed in by mountains. On one peak, to the northeast, I zoomed in on a cool sculpture of an angel, seated with it's head on it's knees. I couldn't tell if it was meant to be sleeping or feeling shame, but the pose did not suggest it to be strong or protective. On a northeast peak, I spotted a large gargoyle statue, posed for an attack.
Walking about the grounds, I found five run down buildings. A sign on the largest building proclaimed it to be "Maggie May's Salloon." A quick look, over the top of the swinging doors, revealed that the establishment might still be used for gatherings of roving biker gangs or the souls of the departed, that had neglected the announcement of "Last Call." Either way, I was not brave enough to set foot inside. On the West side of the grounds, I spotted a couple of houses. Peeking in the first one, it was unfurnished, but there was a dirty old mattress, dragged close to the fireplace with a roaring fire going in it. Somebody was here and must have left when they heard hoof beats coming. Seeing a dog, leached to a stake near by, added to the mystery.
I rode over to the other house and looked in the front window. There was somebody sitting, motionless, in a rocking chair, wearing a long dress. I didn't see a tag overhead, so panned my camera around to get a front view. Imagine my shock, when I discovered it was a skeleton! What started out as an innocent road trip, was turning into a Nancy Drew mystery.
I decided to ride over to the ramp to the race track, to give my horse a little exercise run. The first ramp that I approached had One Way-DO NOT ENTER signs on it. Being the only one on the sim (according to my radar), it shouldn't have mattered, but the girl scout within insisted I take the other ramp. At the start, I hit Ctrl+1 to run and M to switch to mouselook, I took off and ran the whole course, without a single pause. I even got around the remains of a wrecked car and motorcycle, without any problems. At ground level, I detached my horse and stood in the center of the sim for a good 10 minutes, enjoying my double victory. I had completed the race course and my tour of route 66.
I have to compliment the creators of these sims. Having been through the South West, in real life, I know this simulation of it is well done. I've always lived in big cities and the locations and life styles, depicted in Route 66 are not my cup of tea.
However, I am a seeker of new things and knowledge, so loved the adventure and writing about it. There are many other SL locations for going riding on motorcycles and horses. I hope I have stimulated your imagination to go out and have a new adventure. In time, you will discover why Willy Nelson was so happy to get "On the Road Again."
Becky "Sha" Shamen