Stormy had decided that he didn't want to deal with California traffic, and that he would head north on Highway 139 back up to Oregon when I headed south towards Lake Tahoe.
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On the morning of day four, we rode together on the last section of Highway 299 to the junction with 139, and had breakfast in the town of Adin at a little burger joint. There were several local guys out on the front patio of the place, and in typical fashion, Stormy was best friends with all of them in a few minutes. The conversation went from motorcycles to mule breeding to firearms to romantic encounters with plus-sized women. I talked with an old-timer about raising buffalo for nearly half an hour, and we all drank coffee and looked at the landscape.
I was genuinely sad to part ways with the Storm. There hadn't been a dull moment since we started, and now I would be relying only on maps instead of his crazy anecdotes. We said our goodbyes at the local gas station. We each bought some water bottles and other supplies, and when Stormy was paying for his corn nuts, the clerk said,
"Would you like a bag, sir?"*Stormy winked at me and replied,
"Well, I had one once. But I divorced her."
Today's routing came exclusively out of the Destination Highways map. I hit two roads that were absolutely stellar, and that I never would have ventured onto without the DH guide: Eagle Lake Road (201) heading into Susanville, and the spectacular Janesville Grade (28 No. 1--> Indian Creek Rd.--> Antelope Rd.--> Beckworth Genesee--> N. Valley), between Janesville and Greenville. The road out of Janesville becomes extremely remote, lacks signage and is in some disrepair. It was a particular highlight of the whole trip. I highly recommend it, but it is easy to get lost and you would not want to have a break-down out there. The plus side is that there is no traffic.
As I got closer to Greenville, the yellow dividing line appeared again and the pace became a little quicker. Still, no traffic out here, and the scenery was pretty breathtaking.
Farther down Highway 89, Destination Highways recommended this short little gem of a backroad, called Portola McLears Road:
Highway 89 is a blast all the way to Lake Tahoe, and one could easily spend a few weeks on an adventure bike out here, exploring the High Sierra. I was in a strange mood as the temperatures started dropping and the air became crisp with the clean alpine atmosphere. I rolled through Lake Tahoe right as the solar eclipse started, and dozens of cars were parked in unusual places along the side of the road with people standing around, staring up at the sun with odd contraptions held up to their heads. Things like welding masks, cardboard tubes, and blacked-out ski goggles. The eclipse cast an eerie light over the lake, and I felt like I was in a weird and *picturesque sci-fi movie.
A group of people had gathered on a huge rock to witness the eclipse as I cruised past. That would have been an awesome place to camp...
Because Stormy likes hot showers, we had been camping at designated camp sites. I prefer wilderness camping because I like an excuse to not
take a shower, and that is what I planned to do in Lake Tahoe.* However, even though the lake is surrounded by National Forest,*free wilderness camping is difficult in the Lake Tahoe region because there are expensive vacation homes all over the hillsides. * I was not having any luck finding a secluded spot to pitch my tent, and the Lake Tahoe campground wanted $24 for a tent site.
Luckily, I found a closed, gated road overlooking the lake that I was able to sneak the bike onto. I camouflaged my hi-viz BMW from the surrounding vacationers, and pitched the tent right on the road. Free, lake-front camping!