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Old 06-04-2013, 10:12 AM   #1
JayElDee OP
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Travels with Blanche DuBois: Out West 2013

Everyone has a bucket list.
And for riders that bucket list are places that are calling you, places you want to experience on two wheels.
For years the trusty mode of transportation has been my Stella! red and sexy, but she was perceived to become a little long in the tooth, her age reaching 6 digits, and I was concerned that something could go wrong to leave me stranded. Stranded is not something I want to be. And something did go horribly wrong. Her ABS died and she awaits a transplant (Thanks SweatMark!)

Enter Stella!'s sister, Blanche DuBois, a hottie who always depended on the kindness of strangers. Blanche for the first 5k miles of my ownership was dependent on the kindness of a gas can, and too much angst...but with her third fuel strip now performing well and with her services now up to date, I felt it was time for Blanche to travel. To travel far.
They said Californy is the place you wanna be so I loaded up the bike and rode to Yosemite...and far beyond

The bigger the trip, the more alternatives are needed. There is more to happen that can change vectors, and road conditions, and other stuff. Flexibility is the key. The farther the ride, the more flexibility is required. A day or overnight ride is one thing; hop on and go. Transcontinental is another.

I wanted to go to Area 51, Rachel, Nevada; I wanted Yosemite; originally I wanted the Corbin factory to have Blanche's seat heated, but the wife acceptance factor of that $400 item was nil; she wants me to have a cold one, so Hollister, Ca was nixed.
I realized that traveling from New Orleans, by that time in mid Cali, things could change, so as they say, two paths diverged into a wood, both were less traveled. One went to Crater Lake, still snowed in when planning, then to the Palouse, then Lolo pass, cleared, but still snow, then The Missouri Breaks, then wind my way down south through the Great Plains. Gulf coast to Left coast then follow the Missouri back. A plan.

The other path through the woods was to take a right at N Cali and head to the Bonneville Salt Flats where I would see what the top end of Blanche could be, loaded as she was. Then head to somewhere...Wyoming? Nebraska? Somewhere with wide open spaces and vistas and 360 degree horizons. Landscape out the wazou. Quiet and puffy clouds.

Neither of those two paths happened. Not Plan A, not Plan B, I think it wound up being Plan D2, and that made all the difference. Well, I don't know if it made any difference at all, all options would have been just fine, but D2 was pretty damn cool.

I don't camp. I used to on these, but it's a lot of work finding a place and setting up and tearing down. It is far easier to let Super 8 or Microtel do that. And there's a lot to be said for modern conveniences. I think they'll catch on.

Needed to make miles that first day. I left the day after Mother's Day. Hint: always be in town for Mother's day. And also on Mother's Day my two oldest granddaughters were making their First Communion. I could not miss that and meet my Maker when that day comes with the lame excuse of needing to start a motorcycle "journey."
So, I do the Communion,



but, by that afternoon, Blanche was packed and ready to roll for a 430 am start. Getting out of Louisiana and across much of Texas was necessary that first day, if for nothing more than shaking out the detritus that these trips shake out.
Crossing Louisiana in the south there are two choices: I 10 and US 190. They parallel each other and are only a few miles apart. 190 is the preferred route for me because it is NOT I 10-our nominee for the most miserable road in America--and 190 is smoother, just as fast and far fewer cars and trucks. there are speed traps along the way...Livonia and Reeves, but even with that it is better. This is a Chevron in Likvonia, pretty much just after dawn. This guy was definitely lost and looking for his owner, and knew that was not me. He kept hanging by the station. I got the non verbal communication from him that a Wiemaraner could have been just too much dog for someone and they left him on this stretch of 190. I hasten to add that dogs don't regularly speak to me and also, that knowing and having had experience with the breed, they can be a handful, and we are at the very top of the food chain, still it seemed more than a bit cruel.



I am out of La by 10 am, and heading for Texas 36 which heads into Abilene where I spend my first night.
In Post, Tx. Post seems to be on the itinerary on every escape from Louisiana (and Texas) I choose, but when in Post, I know Cajun is far away, Duck Dynasty is only a TV show, and I know I am in Texas, big hats, big hair, big everything.



I took some backroads, but generally US 60 across New Mexico, spending the second night in Los Lunas, a smudge on I 25 south of ABQ.
Raining and a long day on Blanche confined me to the local eateries, of which there were few. I try to eat local, and I like Mexican-and New Mexican, so New Mexico is a delight for me...usually. Not this night. There was a Taco Tico or something like that across the street that seemed to have a menu heavy on the cheeseburger side of the Rio Grande, and then there was a Wendy's and a Denny's. I chose the Denny's because I wanted to sit down on something other than a saddle longer than a Wendy's would allow. You may have made a different choice. You may not like Mexican, or New Mexican, but I was ready for more of a (fresh) frozen from New Jersey Chicken Parmigiano at $7.95 and our fresh garden herb salad with the dressing of your choice, and water, water, water.
I hope it's not snobbery that makes me think some of these things, maybe I've just seen one too many indie film, but there is something just not cheery about places like Denny's, despite the cheery affectations. This has come with age, to me I think. Maybe because I am (far) older than the people who work there, or whatever, but I really hope The cheery servers, Tim and Lauren and Melissa and all of them, are all college students and this is a chance to pay tuition with no loan and maybe some ( select your intoxicant of choice ) money on the side. They are now the age of my youngest, and they hustle, but there is just something that seems desperate? Probably not the right word. And that does sound snobby. But I always tip a bunch at these places.

I want them to move beyond the fast food server arena. I think too much about this stuff, or maybe the Effexor hasn't kicked in, but I know the other side of it is that Melissa is a single mom, is not in college and needs this work for 3 or 2 or 1 hot and a cot. I know Money does not Buy Happiness, but neither does minimum wage. No politics please. It's just the human condition, always has been, always will be. But these rides often open up images to you that may go less than noticed. riding solo, there's time for reflection, and not all morbid :) . But, I tip at these places pretty good. I want that on my ledger.

I stop in at Sandia BMW in ABQ, kudos to this fine dealership and the nice people there, to have the service reminder reset and finally am on some pretty decent roads. I get out of ABQ on 550 to NM 197 to BIA 9, a nicely winding road heading mostly west and catching 491 North. 491 is the one that goes through the blowing hard dust/sand storms. Ugh. Since mid Texas and for the remainder of the trip I am plagued by winds, usually 20 mph sustained, often 30 sustained and some with gusts 50 and over. These winds made their presence known to the rest of the country when they met up with the the spring front and danced in Moore, Oklahoma, but for now they were mine. Never from the rear, usually headwinds, or 3/4 from the front and sometimes from the side when they'd feel like they were pushing the laden bike to the side a couple of feet. The sand/dust was so thick that I could not see Shiprock from the road.
But I did the next morning. Whenever in the NW corner of New Mexico, I always make a trip to Shiprock. It's definitely a special place.



And on into Arizona along BIA 13 to BIA 12 to Lukachukei to 191. that road, despite what my maps showed is paved all the way. Great road, with some pretty steep switchbacks along the way.


And into St George, Utah where the real trip begins
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:25 AM   #2
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Aaa you found the Lukachukie's good for you. Only a few peps know its paved & passable. Have fun out west, if you ride back through the 4-Corners let me know I might be able to point you to some fun roads.
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Old 06-04-2013, 01:42 PM   #3
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Hey NM Ducati,
Did 4 corners a couple of times and yes, heading into Ut, or Co, or Monument Valley or Moki from there is VERY cool.

Yes the BIA13 and 12 were really nice. I wound up doing it both ways. There is a view of Shiprock west to east that is amazing. But I couldn't stop for a pic :(

So, I guess I let the secret out that it's paved the whole way. Sorry.

Jphn

PS Gas up in Ganado and you won't be sorry
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Old 06-06-2013, 01:15 PM   #4
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When I departed St. George I had to decide which way to Rachel. I had been in good contact with the helpful folks over on ADVrider for route guidance.

I really didn't want to go through or around Las Vegas, but, as stated earlier Area 51 was something I wanted to see, as much as anyone can "see" a top secret military facility. This was the route that was of most concern on the trip.
There are two choices from St George: ride down toward LV and take a right at NV 168 over to 93. The advantage here was more population and since I had been having "issues" with a malfunctioning gas gauge that was a draw. The other route, but far fewer population by heading up Ut 18 to Ut 56 which becomes Nv 319. 319 become "The Extraterrestrial Highway " when it meets 93. The latter route seemed more scenic and I allowed for carrying 1.25 gallons on gas on the bike. It would also allow a visit to Cathedral Gorge State Park and the somewhat picturesque town of Caliente. Throwing gas gauge caution to the winds, I chose the latter.

Along 18 in Utah is a site that deserves mention, though I had visited before. That is the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, an interesting and sad read if you have the time. Of particular interest to me was that the massacred party was from Harrison and Jasper Arkansas, an area I frequently visit on short trips to ride arguably the best motorcycle roads in America.

Oh, I have a picture of the middle of nowhere--an interesting title for a photo thread, btw. Probably would need a paved and unpaved section for that.
My entry-paved: The state line, Utah Nevada on Utah 56/ Nevada 319



And some miles and miles later, Cathedral Gorge






And on into Caliente where I met up with some Sporttouring guys heading to one of their rallies in Torrey. After a nice chat comparing notes and exchanging road info , we went on our opposite ways.



Time to check off a bucket list item, Area 51 and Rachel.
Let me say something about Nevada. It is a beautiful state. On maps it looks like a hole between the Rockies and California. It looks like flat boring desert, unbearably hot, dull and soporific. It has prostitution and Las Vegas and the biggest little town in America. Slot machines in motel rooms and more heat, More dry, more get out of Dodge than any other western state.

WRONG.
Nevada is beautiful. Nevada, the parts I traveled has a spirituality similar to that of New Mexico, but it seems with far fewer people. I think that stereotype above is what is sold to the country by...someone, and there aren't enough Nevadan voices to counteract that. Ignorance is sometimes bliss, but in this case it is simply ignorance.

Yes, it is dry, but at least in this late spring, it was greener than New Mexico and Arizona. Yes it has long straight roads, with horizons that extend to the moon, but there are real mountains that cross these arrow roads and provide for switchbacks and sweepers and elevation cahnges. It was in the low 70s. I loved crossing Nevada.
After gassing in Ash Springs--there's a seemingly new Shell station there, 8 miles from the Extraterrestrial Highway. It is 190 miles from Caliente to Tonopah, I head west along the northern border of Area 51. No aliens, no probing and no aircraft at all along the way. Very few cars.











The ET highway winds along the northern border of Dreamland passing through Rachel, Nv, the home of the Little Ale'Inn.





It is noted for various reasons, but, I suppose mostly for it's proximity to Groome Lake, for Art Bell's old middle of the night radio show that addressed things that go bump in the night, and for, well, just being "there." I stop in for a cup of joe.
While there a group of 4 old Harley types come in and seem to know the women there.


the conversation was mostly, "where have you been?" and then apologies from the Harley guys for not being around more. Probably because they had busy enough dentist and accountant practices.






The Harley guys were asking each other about parking by the "display," and then one said that he would never park there again because "everytime (he) does, (he) gets a flat."
Great, I suppose I am "by the display," but fortunate to say that not on this trip nor on any trip did I ever have a flat. Lucky I suppose, still I felt the pang of tempting fate. I leave. and back on the road and past a notorious landmark,
The Mailbox



The Mailbox lives strong in Area 51 lore. No one knows who it belongs to. No one knows who opens it. No one knows anything about it, except it's there and although it tells me to Evolve, Damnit (sic) and offers a link "for all my porn needs," (ALL of them???) there are no other clues to give any idea just wtf is going on.
and on and on, back west bound. miles to go and gas holding well, gauge continues to function.

I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Now I've driven the back roads
So I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites, and wine
Then you show me a sign
I'll be willin' to be movin'


Of the 4 T s above I had only done 2, but Tonopah lay ahead and in my sights.
Tonopah Tonight
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:41 PM   #5
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Ride on Bro. I love it.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
And into St George, Utah where the real trip begins
Nice, can't wait! Subscribed
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Old 06-08-2013, 04:16 AM   #7
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Sounds like you have seen some of the good areas of are little world. Ride on have fun buddy! See you on the road.



Quote:
Originally Posted by JayElDee View Post
Hey NM Ducati,
Did 4 corners a couple of times and yes, heading into Ut, or Co, or Monument Valley or Moki from there is VERY cool.

Yes the BIA13 and 12 were really nice. I wound up doing it both ways. There is a view of Shiprock west to east that is amazing. But I couldn't stop for a pic :(

So, I guess I let the secret out that it's paved the whole way. Sorry.

Jphn

PS Gas up in Ganado and you won't be sorry
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Old 06-08-2013, 04:33 AM   #8
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great ride report

It's looking to be quite a trip and the RR is coming along very nicely. Thanks for taking the time....Stay safe....


Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:00 AM   #9
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wow, that bike of yours is amazing , a beauty.....and with that backdrop ! on my desktop
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:53 AM   #10
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Wow, Rednax, and others, Thanks!

Much more coming, but have some dicking around to do this am, Lowes etc
BTW, that is ACE Hardware spray can "school bus yellow gloss." Almost identical to Ohlins yellow, certainly close enough
John
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Old 06-10-2013, 04:20 PM   #11
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Tonopah is not a destination, it is a stayover. To be certain there is that entertainment for which Nevada is famous, outside of town, down the road a piece, but Tonopah is a gateway town to Cali. There's some pretty country around there though.






And the restored and haunted Mizpah Hotel downtown. The Mizpah dates back to 1908 during the heyday of Nevada's silver rush and has been restored twice, most recently in 2011.
from Wiki:
The hotel is said to house a ghost deemed "the Lady in Red" by hotel guests who have experienced her presence. Legend says that the Lady in Red is the ghost of a prostitute who was beaten and murdered on the sixth floor of the hotel by a jealous ex-boyfriend. The Lady in Red haunting of the Mizpah was featured in season 5, episode 2 of Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel

This is the floor and the room of said haunting goings on.





The next morning I continue to head out West.
It dawns cold and clear.

The breakfast at the Hi Desert is the standard "good" fare at these chains. There is MUCH worse. Don't remember if they had the waffle machine, 2:30" and you have a waffle sometimes in the shape of Texas when in Texas. I started eating those waffles with my hands, because what's really the difference between waffles and toast. I don't get them sloppy wet with syrup, and usually just shove one down with cream cheese or butter, something space occupying to fool my innards. No plastic knife and fork needed. Save the Earth, one plastic utensil at a time --ok we're talking astronomical time. They had sausage links, that in the early am fulfill the void left by yesterday's grease and grizzle. And they had those yellow disks that look like they might be scrambled eggs made by Capitol Records. I scratched one and played it backwards I distinctly heard "Paul is Dead." They are ELOs, Egg Like Objects. The people in those motel breakfasts walk like zombies, avoid eye contact, have bed head, wear flip flops and all exhibit the same blank stare that says if I just stare long enough what I see may change. Alas, it doesn't and resignation sets in. They consider the ELOs. They survey the sausage links, they pour the weak coffee, scratch, take too many plastic utensils for God Knows What and move on with their lives, the Hi Desert inn already a fading memory.

I load up Blanche, refuel, and damn! in no time I am out of town.

As California nears it gets even prettier, I really liked the scenery in Nevada as I said earlier, but it deserves to be mentioned again. If I had to describe more I think it would appeal to those who like big sky and big landscape, and the almost meditative experience of long steady distance. There are sweepers and semi twisties along the way, but mostly lots of alone time. I know it helped that the weather was cool and beautiful as HOT could wreck that impression, and the cacti were blooming. I kept telling myself I am going to stop and get a shot of the blooms, but never did. Don't wait for the "right" one. Stop and do it or there'll never be another chance.





And I knew I arrived in California when there was no Welcome to California sign but Butterflies and Rainbows had adopted the highway. Good for them. Back home it would read Mosquitos and Water Spouts
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Old 06-11-2013, 09:32 PM   #12
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I rode the opposite way you did from Tonapah through NV, UT, AZ & NM last year. Ate at that same restaurant on Area 51 too. Most definitely some strange characters there. You hit some good roads too--that Indian 13 is a great ride & not very well known. There are a couple of others on the rez that are really good roads also.

Enjoy the ride & I'll hang with you.
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Old 06-12-2013, 08:38 PM   #13
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Thanks, Larry.
To be clear though I am home and have been for a couple of weeks. All this was done in the middle of May.

So, I get to the land where Butterflies and Rainbows have enough public dole money to Adopt-a-Highway, and she does not disappoint.

You Cali guys may be a bit immune to it, but coming from the deep south, man, y'all are far away, ya know? But the long trip, miles to get there are worth it. your home is really pretty, often spectacular, especially on the backroads, the silent spaces, riding with the breeze.
I spent most of my time in the northern part of the state, the part that Bill O-Reilly refers to as inhabited by "loons."
loon
/lo͞on/
Noun
1. A silly or foolish person.
2. A large diving waterbird (genus Gavia, family Gaviidae) with a straight pointed bill and short legs set far back under the body.


As I did not see too many large diving waterbirds, I must assume he means a silly of foolish person.

No, Bill, not so...or to put it another way, maybe being a native New Orleanian I could not recognize a loon if I were standing next to one; or it takes one to know one.

Put it another way. I liked the people up there. Quick with a smile, ready to engage in conversation. Example, I was refueling at a Chevron station in Fortuna. there's a guy probably mid 50s painting the Chevron white. I come out of the station after a pit stop and he is REALLY admiring my Blanche, especially interested in the telelever suspension. We talk shop. No, we talk motorcycles. I didn't engage in any painting a Chevron conversation. And then we start talking about life and leisure and going around only once and how just seeing me made him want to get on the road with a Bimmer again--he prev had a Honda 750, that he "loved 20 years ago but had to sell because marriage and life intervened, or intruded," but wanted to get back. It was a really nice conversation. He was quite the NorCal diplomat.
Thing is I ran into people like that all over, and it was pretty cool.

When I entered the state I came in on Ca 120 to Lee Vining.
Whoa, what a fine ride!
That road has it all, sweepers, twisties, elevation changes, good surface, and dips. Never expereinced dips like these. The countryside undulated like in waves and the road followed suit. That resulted in ups and downs prob about 3-4-5 feet zenith to nadir and they were evenly spaced like about 25-30 feet apart. It went on like this for a few hundred yards at least, in gorgeous countryside.
the effect was like you were flying through space. I hit them too fast and felt like at every top I was catching air, both wheels.
It was a little unnerving, but it was one of those feelings you get sometimes while riding that make you laugh out loud, ya know?

I had to slow down, partly for control, but I have to admit, partly to slow down the experience and make it last longer. It was great! You can see a few of the dips below, but they went on and on. Amazing.





those are a couple of Ducatis coming up the road that definitely knew this road better than me, motorcycle heaven.



This is heading into the Mono Lake area. Off to the right, and hard to believe, was a dump.





The road arrives at the town of Lee Vining where Mono Lake is located


From wiki
The town was named after Leroy Vining, who founded the town in 1852 as a mining camp. His life came to an untimely end when he accidentally shot himself at the nearby town of Aurora, Nevada

It is disputed what his last words were, some saying he was arguing with his dying breath that the gun was not loaded, while others claim it was "hey! watch this!"





Beyond Mono Lake I head up 395 asking myself do I want to go to Bodie, California, the Mother of all Ghost Towns.

"In 1859, prospectors chasing rumors of mineral wealth found gold east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Their discovery gave rise to Bodie, one of the West's wildest gold mining boomtowns. By 1880 the phrase "Badman from Bodie" described the town's rambunctious inhabitants, earning the community a reputation for violence that rivaled Tombstone, Deadwood and Dodge City.

Today Bodie is a ghost town, preserved in a "state of arrested decay" by the California Department of Parks and Recreation as Bodie State Historic Park. "

I get to the turn. In researching for the trip I knew there was rough road for about 3 miles at the end of a dozen or so miles of asphalt. Then the town starts.
I have to admit I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to off road, but everytime I go on one of these trips I always find myself on dirt, or rocks or boulders, or some combo of same. I remind myself to "just do it" and "damn, you are this close," and "why the hell did I get the new Pirelli Scorpion Trails if not to do this," and I take the right.

Hard packed mud and embedded boulders rattle Blanche, eventually rattling almost loose my zumo. She groans, and plugs on, slippery dust on very smooth boulders, second gear to avoid slipping and the Pirellis hold very nicely.

I park and am a little ashamed to have worried, to be such a wimp, seeing a gaggle of Ducatis and a couple of Harleys.

I head to the site. Bodie is prett amazing and it is well preserved. sometimes creepy, but only a bit on this cool sunny Saturday afternoon. It's a big site, lots of people, but big enough, enough stuff there that solitude can be easily achieved. It is very cool, really fine.



The pictures will do the talking.
































I think Bodie is at 7000 feet, and the sun and altitude are starting to weigh on my old bones, so i walk back over to Blanche, climb on her and head back the rumbly slippery rocky dirt road that is Ca 270.
I need to add that 270, other than the dirt is a great road, fast sweepers and a lot of fun.
I get back to 395 and head north to Ca 108 and over Sonora Pass. Wow. What a ride. I enter from the east and there's a yellow sign and as it catches my eye I am past it and asking myself did I just see what i thought I saw?
Did I see that there are 26% grades ahead. I try to not think about that, remembering Mt Nebo in Arkansas with its 18% grade and remembering that I told myself then that I never want to see a grade that great again.

oh, well,

On I go and quite fortunately I had no one in front of me. I get to the 26% grade--I think there were two--and they turned out to be easier than expected as they were kind of broad and I remember them in 2nd gear. To be sure there were 5mph steep hairpins, but not 26%.
108, what a fine road. Patchy snow along the way, 50 degrees, absolutely perfect. You Cali people have an embarrassment of riches, and from reading your reports, I can tell you appreciate them. They are fine.
No real places to stop for pictures, sorry, I hit my first traffic going downhill and I find a couple of lengths of road to pass descending descending descending toward Sonora, my stop for the next couple of days.
It's the Rodeway Inn tonight. Decent enough place with a bathroom reminiscent of a clean gas station, but NO coffee pot in the room. OMG

I am a coffee drinker and maybe there is a medication for it, but I distrust anyone who is not a coffee drinker. To not have a coffee pot in the room, WTF!

The Thai owner of the place who assures me that he is the one I will see now and in the morning, hahahahaha, tells me that breakfast opens at 645 and it does and I can get my coffee.
I tend to Blanche's loose GPS, and check her over, none the worse for wear and from New Orleans to Sonora, Ca., not a drop of oil used.

Yosemite tomorrow, but now I entertain my riding companion, the Balvenie 12, and then the Italian restaurant the owner of the Rodeway recommended.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:04 PM   #14
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Great RR, your pic's are fantastic along with the narrative! Keep on enjoying your ride. I know I will. Thanks.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:35 PM   #15
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Great story and fantastic pics... thanks!
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