Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2000 miles in 3 days, but I am Home!

So, sorry for the delays in the posts, but I was in home mode and putting in full days to get home.
The last 2 days were over 700 miles, and I think that I managed the longer rides well.

All in all, I had a fantastic trip.

I rode the entirety of the Route 66 corridor
I rode Highway 101 from start to end (with Highway 1 thrown in there)
I saw tumbleweed blow across the road before me
I stood on top of a mountain
I dodged free range stock on the road
I was cooked in record heat at 117 degrees and shivered in the northwest coast at 50.
I saw fireworks in San Diego and again in Disneyland.
I saw my brother Eric and his girl Lulu.
I slept in the camper 9 nights out of the 23 that I was gone.
I bought 228 gallons of fuel and rode 7375 miles.

I will leave you with my favorite shot of the trip.

Jackson Hole

I got up refreshed and shared some coffee with the neighbors.
IBMC members (ibmc.org)  I will have to consider joining since bikes and camping are in my future.
I packed up and rolled out, with the mail goal being to see Jackson Hole today.
On the way, I passed the Craters of the Moon National Monument.  It was almost spooky the landscape looked so alien.  Turns out that this is the result of lava pushing up through cracks.  It does make you think you are standing on the moon.
My ride did approach Jackson hole and I stopped at an overlook that let you see the valley below.
The ride down in to the valley was fun!  10% grade and twisty!  I rode around a bit to see the mountains from different angles.  The 'best' spot to see the Tetons is supposed to be from Schwabacher landing, with a nice view of the mountains and the Snake river providing a reflecting surface for extra magic.  Unfortunately, this is not currently available to the public.  Here is my shot from a near by scenic overlook.
And, because I like the panoramic shots
I rode in to Jackson to get a soda and get a picture of the antler arches.   The drink I got.  The antler arches were mobbed by tourists.  They were walking out into the street blocking traffic to get a good angle.  Nobody got a clear shot because there were zillions of people all around.  I skipped out and started the ride east.

I thought about those arches a bit as my shadow grew longer.
 I stopped to get a shot of the Wyoming sun setting behind me.
And looking east, the shadows of the clouds were visible in the sky for a cool effect.
But the thoughts of the antler arches were still on my mind.  The picture was on my list to do, but when I got there and there were all the other tourists scrambling for the same shot, something happened.  I guess I decided that I had had enough.  I was saturated.
Seeing the Tetons was wonderful.  The tourist mob in Jackson not so much.
It was time to go home.

So home I went.  I set my aim for a KOA in Rawlins WY.  I want to point out that I almost did not make it, thanks to the construction crew that had started a resurfacing project on 287.  I was cruising along at a fair highway speed with the road to myself.  The orange signs for construction pulled me down to the speed limit.  The sign for grooved pavement and I dropped down to 50ish.  I rode on the grooved pavement for a while and saw cones dividing the 2 lanes ahead.  I dropped down to about 45 when  boom, the pavement ended.  I dropped about 6 inches to the very loose dirt.  I was not prepared mentally for the pavement to end unannounced!
Klaxons were screaming in my brain as I got off the throttle and worked desperately to keep the front wheel under me.It felt like forever, but eventually the bike slowed down to walking speed which is all I wanted in this loose, sandy, dry soil.  I crept along, trying to get my heart out of my throat and back in to my chest.  I finally got out of the pavement-less section and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
There were 2 more sections like this over the next several miles.  On the third section, there was a sign that stated Pavement Ends.  Really?  That SURE would have been helpful on the FIRST section!

I made it to the KOA long after the office was closed.  I have used the night check-in process before, but there were only 3 or so spots open.  Also, the wind was howling, with little tree cover to offer protection.  I looked across the highway, saw a hotel and decided to go there.  Good choice, as the wind was moving fast enough that inside the hotel it could still be heard.  I am sure the tent cover on my camper would have been flapping hard enough to keep me up.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Oregon (again) and Idaho

Got up from a refreshing sleep, yes, I shaved, and rode off.  I made decent miles today. I know these are just hills compared to what I will see soon, but for an Ohio boy, still impressive!
Lots of wheat. It was hot today. I saw a dust devil dancing.  And a lot of wheat.
I passed a gas station with just under a half tank.  The next 7 exits had no service.  The 8th had a gas station.  Close for many years.  Dang it!  The next sign (with the gas light on) took me a few miles off the interstate. This was the pump.
Pull the handle out, flip the lever and the electric pump inside start running.  Watch the rotary dials turn.
Oh and yes, that is a tomater truck in the background.
I turned off the interstate at this point, east on 20.  Feels good.  
This is a look back after I had been riding a while.
It was hot. 103. I was pushing water but I wanted to jump in a pool.  I found a KOA but guess what - no pool.  I kept riding.  It cooled off as the sun went down.  I was aiming for a KOA at moon crater something, but I found a free state camp on the road side.  I set up my tent, chatted with the neighbors and went for a short hike.  Even with the glow of the set sun, the moon is bright enough to see your own shadow.
And a little later, I took this shot west.
Crickets, an owl hoot, and distant howling (coyotes?)
Nice night.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Washington

I had to really tear myself away from the mountain lake camp site.  Ooooohhh, I wanted to use some of my rain days and stay there.  But I have used most of the non travel days scheduled, and the remaining are being eaten by short travel days.

I rode to the top of a mountain today. My second time being on top of one, and I must say I like it!
It was a one lane road with turnouts here and there to allow traffic going the other way to pass.  Gravel on dirt where the gravel on asphalt had eroded away.  I preferred the gravel on dirt.  It was steep enough that the gravel on asphalt lead to undesired wheelspin.  I was not racing up by ANY means. But it was loose enough that when I saw a section of the asphalt coming up, I would increase my speed while I was still on the dirt so I could back off the throttle on the loose stuff.  I got to the top and there was a handful of gravel on top of my trailer.  Goldwings don't throw rooster tails, do they?

It was clouded in when I got there but it was clearing.  
I was amazed that I could see the wisps of the cloud moving almost vertically on the front of the mountain.  It felt like I could reach out and touch them.  It continued to clear as I sat and wrote a bit.
The trip back down was a little uneasy.  I used the transmission and brakes.  This is one time I am very glad I have the electric trailer brakes!
Now that I am away from the coast, the temps are higher.  I decided to ger a room rather than camp.  Another factor other than temp is my shaving habits.  I shave in the morning. I hate shaving later in the day, and especially at night.  But KOA campgrounds have many campers and few showers.  As such, I tend to shower at night when I am there.  This means I skip shaving in the morning when I am at a KOA.  Weird, I know, but that is how I am.
P.s. I guess I did make it in to Oregon.  I followed the Columbia River Gorge.


Washington

I made it in to Washington! WooHoo!  Here's a selfie on the beach.
And another without my mug.  I love the wind blown pines on the ridge.
I rode on, trying to keep my promise to eat miles today. As much as I like the scaled up KOA kampgrounds, their breakfast still does not suit me.  All you can eat pancakes is still just sugar to me.  I need eggs.  Oatmeal or non-sugared cereal at least.  So, I plan on hitting a diner or at worst, McD's after staying in a KOA.  Nothing appropriate presented itself.  I had some peanut butter crackers at the first fuel stop and finally found a place for a brunch around 11.  My schedule being off, I did not stop for lunch and around 5 I realized my blood sugar was low.  The first food sign I saw I pulled over. It was a state park on Lake Crescent. This is the lake.  I decided I would stay the night there. So much for my mileage goal for the day.
This is the creek just a few feet off of my site.
Here is the view I had during dinner.
I hiked a bit after dinner, saw a doe grazing in the mini field by my site, laid my head on the pillow and listened to the babbling brook.  For about 7 seconds...   Zzzzzzzzzz........

Edit from the future:  Looking back at this 2 years later, this stop was my biggest mistake of the trip.  I should have stayed another day or three.  This was one of the things I set out to do, spend time enjoying natural beauty.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oregon (was supposed to be Oregon and Washington)

A third title could be I hate my GPS. I let the GPS trick me again.  I set Seattle as the destination and planned on sticking to the 101.  This worked for a while, and the for some reason it started fealing warm.  It was in the 60's by the coast but I checked the temp.  86.  Dang it!  I was almost on I5.  An hour from the coast.  There are many sections of 101 that are off the coast, so the missing ocean did not tip me off.  But this trip is not about getting there the quickest, which is what the GPS is good at.  Time to backtrack.
Which brings up a point that has been on my mind.  I am not meeting my goals for mileage. OK, today I lost time to navigation errors, but even without that, I am averaging much lower than my 500 mile goal.  Part of the problem is that I am not on the interstate.  Most of my previous touring was on the super slab.  Hair pin turns and frequently seeing overlook stops reduce the average mph.
Fortunately, this is exactly why I DID choose this route.
I am going to have to evaluate my remaining miles and remaining days to make sure I am going to be back in time for work.  Maybe tomorrow.  Too much thinking for now!
Here is some pics I took towards sunset.  This entire peninsula was wrapped in mist.
Lonely tree on a rock.
Pretty sun set.  Would have been nice to try to hike down to the water line for a better shot, but I had been on the road a long time and needed to find a campground.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Northern California and into Oregon

Brrrr 52 when I got done packing up. I wiped down the tent top three times but it was getting wet as fast as I could wring out my towel.  Apparently it gets foggy in Northern California.
Rode up 1 and 101.  They say there are some big trees along this route.
If you want to do a drive through tree, this one is supposed to be the best.  The few others are strung up with cables and the environmentalists won't allow new ones.
More enjoyable was the Avenue of Giants.
 
 
Awe inspiring to say the least.

Had lunch in Eureka and the ride into Oregon was nice.  Construction had me stop on a bridge waiting for oncoming traffic to clear, and I got this shot of a river at sunset
Oregon is not without its share of scenic coastline
Camped in a KOA (easy and cheap)

This is the Pacific Coast I Imagined

First, I need to point out that these posts are being delayed by sketchy cell service.  But riding along with no opportunity to check email for much or all of the day has let me separate myself from the usual pressures of life and just enjoy the trip.
Riding alone again (I miss you, Marion).  I have been making it a habit to pull off at the signed Vista Points.  This one was nice enough that I took my journal and a water and hiked a bit.  I found a good place to sit by this cove and contemplated the universe. (Yes, I fell asleep)
I did get some writing done. :-)
I passed a point I have been reaching for. 100,000 miles
But Vince, you did not take the picture at exactly 100k. Why?
Roads like this had a distracting effect and I was not watching the odometer!
I found a state park right on the ocean and decided to set up camp while the sun was still shining for a change.
I read a bit, practiced my ukulele, wrote a bit and watched the sun set.  A coyote was hoping to get the neighbors tiny dog. He was quite persistent.  Shooing and flashlights kept him at bay but he never left.  The puppy spent the night inside their camper.
It was cold but using all my blankets (and a knit hat made with love) I snuggled in and slept well.

Friday, July 12, 2013

More San Fracisco

Breakfast at a crepe place on pier 39.  Shopping (seeing a theme here?) and then deciding how to do the Golden Gate.  I was leaning towards renting electric bicycles, but someone suggested riding the bus to the park and walking as much or as little of the bridge as you want.  I am glad we went this route. Riding a bike on that crowded sidewalk would have had us concentrating on getting to the other side, rather than being on the bridge.  Walking let us read all the plaques in the park describing the building and the technical details.  And walking the bridge gave us an up close impression of the structure.
The scarves were a late addition to our ensemble, because it was cold!
Most of the rest of the day was spent riding the street cars, cable cars and busses.
A late dinner at Tropisueño and then heading back to the room.  The planned line would have dropped us 3 easy blocks from the hotel.  My execution of the plan was not optimal.  We got off at the right street but 6 blocks away with some insanely steep hills to climb up and down.  Well, I guess we worked off dinner.  That's what she gets for letting me navigate! :-)
Marion flies home tomorrow morning.  I will be solo for the rest of the trip. :-(. I am going to miss her.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

San Francisco

The day kicked off with an underwhelming continental breakfast.  Your choice of toast, bagels, Danishes or waffles.  4 cereals to choose from and all sugared.  I made do with an apple and found a cafe in Fisherman's Wharf that had an egg sandwich.
We did a tour of Alcatraz. The main cell block where they have the audio tour was pretty enjoyable.  The rest of the island is falling apart.  Neglect and the time exposed to the salt environment is tearing down the rest of the buildings.
Back in Fisherman's Wharf we got 3 day muni passes to ride all the cable cars, busses and street cars.
We had a fun episode - the car we were on 'dropped the cable' crossing another line.  Not sure what that means but it must be embarrassing, because the conductors of the passing cars all laughed when they heard.
Here is a shot of the crookedest street, Lombard.
We walked down the sidewalk and enjoyed the beautiful landscaping as we were amazed at the steep grade.
We are back at the hotel wondering if we can swing leg transplants, since ours are shot.  We are contemplating renting electric bicycles tomorrow to ride the Golden Gate.  But that will depend on how we feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Up to San Francisco

We hit Highway 1 early to get to Hearst Castle early.  Good idea since by the time we left there were a zillion people mobbing the place.
Again, most of my pictures are on the good camera and I don't have the cord in the room.
Oh, just so that you know, there is some pretty good scenery on Highway 1.  Once we got north of Big Sur, the highway turned in to a twisty ride with surprising elevation changes.  We played tag with the fog, some times above it, some times below it, and some times in it.
There were times I would be riding and see a sliver of white on the distant hill and realize that this was the road stuck crazily on the side.  Here is a shot looking back that give a small idea of what I mean.
Many places were much steeper and tighter but those were the places I could not stop for a pic!
We got stuck in traffic heading in to SF.  Took a dinner break and got to the hotel later than planned, but we are here, close to Fisherman's Wharf.  Time for some much needed sleep.

Up the Coast

Eric got called in to work before we left.  Happy B-Day Eric!
We rode up the coast.  The pier at Malibu Beach
We stopped in Ventura and several other scenic vistas, but those pictures are on my other camera and the cords are buried somewhere.

The Rock was fogged in so we did not stop there.
One stretch of today's ride I got confused and let the GPS take me up 101 rather than the coastal Highway 1. Rather than turn back, we just decided to use that quicker route.  It returned us back to the coast but not before roasting us.  88 on the west side of the hill became 61 when we came back to the coast.  27 degree change inside an hour.

We set up the camper at the San Simeon state Park.  Nice enough place but no cell service so this post will have to wait til tomorrow.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More with Eric and Lulu

Eric is not slacking off on the food front.  Gourmet breakfast at Marston's and great Mexican at La Cabiñita. In between we went to La Brea tar pits to see the Saber Toothes and sloths.
Dinner was high end pizza at Settebello
But now for the sweet sorrow of departure.  I don't get to see my brother Eric nearly often enough, and I am sad to have to leave.

Pasadena

For those reading this for the motorcycle ride aspect, I apologize for the thin amount of riding being reported.  This will continue a bit as we visit with Eric and Lulu for a few days.

We went to the Huntington Gardens Sunday (yesterday). Here we are standing in the grass (bamboo)
At least we were told this was Huntington Gardens.  I think that we were actually transported to some alien planet, because the plants we saw were so bizarre they could not come from Earth!
We saw an incredible array of exotic and strange plants.  Little 3 foot tall plants with a 17 foot tall flower stem.  Crazy things that looked like they would eat you.  So many that did not match my understanding of plants.
Then the transporter took us to Japan.
I could have spent an entire day studying the bonsai trees.
For dinner we joined Eric and Lulu for their Sunday ritual of visiting her sister Shelly and hubby Amit.  This week their themed dinner included Carne Asada on the grill, rice, beans (with more than a little jalapeño kick). Shelly and Amit are great people and great entertainers!  I do not recall a more pleasurable evening.  We debated wine choices with more vigor than most people debate politics.  We laughed about humanity, about current events and old jokes.  This evening will be one of the fondest memories, I am sure!