For Whom the (Wedding) Bells Toll

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MapMaster, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    June 1, 2013:
    On the 30th anniversary of the start of my first cross-country motorcycle ride I was in the midst* of another, most excellent, two-wheeled cross country journey, witnessing the Santa Monica beach nuptial celebrations of Allison, my girlfriend's niece.

    For all of you inmates that need pictures to go with, or instead of, the words:

    Generally there are only two reasons for me to wash the bike. Winter maintenance and weddings:
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    He vowed to kill spiders, she vowed to try to learn to follow soccer:
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    Nuptial nail treatment - a cousin of the bride
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    I couldn't talk Allison into sitting side-saddle, but she did indulge my request for a pose next to the bike.
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    Scott joins in:
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    So you've already seen my trusty steed, beast of burden, object of abuse and affection. Specifically this is my 1996 Honda VFR that has been carrying my sorry butt hither and yon since that sunny day in April when I picked it up from the dealer with 3 miles on the odometer.
    The wedding was the reason for the timing of this trip, but several other goals were an integral part of these travels:
    2 - Scratch the itch to get back west again. It had been 4 years since the last time I played west of the continental divide.
    3 - Speaking of the continental divide, one of my career riding goals is to traverse every paved crossing of that ridge which controls whether rain drops will either further dilute the Deep Horizon oil spill, or have chance to become part of a good Napa Valley Cabernet. So conquering many more divides was on the to do list.
    4 - Checking off the last two roads from the AMA's top 15 m/c roads in the U.S.
    5 - Advance my campaign to see o o o o o on the odometer again for the third time.**
    I think that's enough multitasking for this trip, I'll devote other posts to varying aspects of these themes.

    In the beginning:
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    * I'm starting this ride report in the middle of the trip and it will jump around haphazardly from there as I address different aspects of the trip. My routes certainly aren't linear, so why should my stories be.
    ** Just to clarify, the VFR has a 6 digit mile measurer, so the first time was when I picked the bike up.
    #1
  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Warning, word only post.
    Absent any pictures I know many of you will refuse to believe that any of this happened (bye bye y'all, :wave don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out :lol3).
    I promise, the next post will have more images.

    As mentioned, the inaugural coastal state spanning trip was thirty years ago, back when I was a paid squid, boringly boring holes in the ocean for Uncle Sam. :devildog I managed to secure a 30 day leave for the trek from Bremerton, WA to Hershey, PA. This was also the first wedding trip and I was on the alter for it as best man. Given time constraints it was mostly slab, especially the eastbound leg, but had I known then what I know now, the route would have been far different.

    The second matrimonial based trip, three or four years later, was also cross-country, but this time on a north-south axis, Orlando to Detroit. That marriage didn't last and neither do many memories of the ride itself, so it must have been time constricted by leave considerations since I was still married to the service. At least It included Deal's Gap coming and going and probably a lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I've had so many of those runs, I can't recall anything specific to that trip.

    #3 was in 2001 and was the first of the Pittsburgh to California runs. Sacramento in June was murderously hot and my cousin had the good sense to decree that the attire should be shorts and Hawaiian shirts. :clap

    #4 was California banns round two for my brother's wedding in 2007. This was the first one where the girl friend factor was a major consideration. If CLare had been able to attend, we would have flown out, but her travel plans for another niece's graduation ended up precluding her attendance, so I took the bike instead (I'm real good at making lemonade).
    The best line about this trip was from my brother to coworkers when they were discussing the upcoming event.
    "My brother's coming, he's either bringing his bike or his girlfriend." :rofl
    Work limited this run to 17 days, but I still managed play days in the Ozarks, New Mexico and Arizona going out, and visits to Death Valley, Arches NP, and some play time in Colorado on the flip side.

    #5 was a short jaunt to Connecticut in 2009 for Heather's hitching, another niece of the girl friend.

    The latest edition was another girl friend dependent decision. She was certainly going to this one, but commitments on the home front meant it would be just for a long weekend. I had already been planning a six week western spring fling and when we got the date we discussed the options. I was fine with flying out with her if she wanted the travel companionship, but turning this into another wedding m/c run was certainly front and center as the desirable option and she had little reservation in approving this arrangement. Having set precedent with the first niece helped. If/when the third niece decides to be committed to an institution, there's not doubt I will be riding to it. If it's somewhere across water, I'll ride to the airport at least.

    A uniform feature of all of these rides is that the knot-tying weather was sunny, bringing joy to all the mothers, and chagrin to the fathers who paid for a marquee.* Sunny, but not necessarily great, the Detroit and Sacramento vows were beastly hot. And no one should be allowed to schedule a summer wedding in an un-air-conditioned church!
    Given that 100% track record, I'm willing to accept invites from anyone who'd like to secure a fix for dry weather at their event. I'll even provide a money-back guarantee (less trip expenditures) :deal


    * obscure allusion to the play "Father of the Bride". Come to think of it, I rode the motorcycle to most of those rehearsals and performances as well.
    #2
  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Western Riding
    I love riding out west!
    I love riding in the eastern mountains from Georgia to Nova Scotia as well.
    Hell, I just love to ride. But the combination of not being able to get there often, the spectacular scenery that has no parallel in the east, the feeling of adventure I get when on a long ride, and the thorough mental health cleansing that comes from droning across the Great Plains makes me tingle in anticipation long in advance of any trip that's going to take me across the Mississippi.

    Other reasons for my love of the wild wild west:
    Deserts delight me.
    Geysers are great.
    I get verklempt viewing volcanic vistas.
    Fabulous fauna: Elk, bison, lizards, pronghorns, prairie dogs, ground skwirls, grizzlies, Steller's jays, eagle owls, ravens, coyotes, mule deer (well, I can do without those) and wolves are examples of wondrous western wildlife I've enjoyed encounters with.
    Cacti, lupine, fire weed, redwoods, sequoias, bristle cone pines and countless other trees that I can't identify by name, but appreciate nonetheless are just some of my favorite flora that only come on a tire-changing ride.
    And the roads ain't too bad either :D

    Some examples of the above from this ride:

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    #3
  4. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

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    #4
  5. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    [​IMG]

    To the uninitiated, it's a 'crotch rocket'.
    To the knowledgeable, it's a sport-touring motorcycle with emphasis on the sport side of that equation.
    To the blessed, it is the finest vehicle ever created.

    "Is it comfortable?" is one of the more frequently asked questions and my stock reply has been, "My Lazy-boy is more comfortable, but it doesn't go anywhere." This trip I came up with the following, "It's like down-hill skiing, if you're looking for 'comfort', you're doing it wrong."

    I've never named my motorcycle. It's not that I'm so unromantic that I'm against such practice, but it wasn't a priority and no anecdote worthy event ever occurred that resulted in bequeathing a noteworthy sobriquet.
    Another factor is that it's never clearly revealed its gender.
    When I'm polishing it's sexy curves or dancing in the corners, its feminine attributes come to the fore. When I've stripped it on the side of the road to address 'issues', whipped it mercilessly traversing long stretches of rutted gravel/dirt roads, and forced it to carry me in my bug smeared riding gear all over the country with smelly laundry and dirty camping gear ... well lets just say that I'm a bit sexist. My parents raised me to never treat a woman that way.
    Ol' Red is about as close I get to a regular moniker for it.


    Speaking of the gear:
    On the bike:
    The black Givi saddle bags carry clothes on the right and riding gear on the left (rain jacket, electric vest, clear face shield, etc. The 40 liter dry bag strapped to the seat keeps the tent, rain fly, ground tarp, sleeping bag, Thermorest pad, towel and excess clothing/gear dry. The tank bag gets the toiletry kit, camera, water bottle, snacks, netbook, cell phone, pens/marker, tire pressure gauge, knife, hand cleaner, and most importantly, the maps. I was anointed with my user name long before GPS systems were ubiquitous and I still travel without any electronic navigation aids. Pat, my name giver, says that GPS stands for Greg Pointing System. He goes where I point.
    The keen-eyed among you may have noticed the black tube above the exhaust. Is it
    A - a JATO tube for really awesome wheelies
    B - a spring-loaded rusty lugnut launcher for tailgating control
    C - PVC pipe to carry my tent poles.

    In fully deployed mode:
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    On me (not pictured)
    ATTGAT stands for All The Gear, All the Time and I am a firm beliver. Old pharts like me espouse that philosophy on a regular basis, but oft times, the young that we address it to are still convinced of their immortality. I don't take offense when my advice is not taken, I recall my youthful ignorance quite fondly and don't begrudge those coming after me their state of grace. Still, get good gear and wear it! :wink:
    So I ride covered head to toe. My helmet, gloves and boots cover the extremities. An Aerostich 2-piece Road-crafter covers the rest in gray with hi-viz yellow swathes on the shoulders, knees, and elbows. Many kids (and more than a few adults) think I'm a fireman.
    There are 12 pockets on the suit and when I ordered it I tried to get three more!

    1 The left pants pocket gets a continually replenished supply of paper towels from gas station restrooms. I use these for face-shield bug cleanings at most stops.
    2 The right pants pocket gets the support plate and cord that I deploy under the side stand when parking on soft ground. A vital piece of kit if you plan on visiting White Sands National Monument.
    3 The stash pocket on the right thigh gets the silk scarf or insulated bandana, and the slip-on gaiters for keeping the boots dry on rain rides.
    4/5 The open jacket pockets - left side gets the do-rag (another bandana) when the helmet's off, right side gets trash - (wet, bug saturated paper towels usually)
    6/7 The flapped jacket pockets in front - left gets spare bandana when I don't need it around my neck (usually water soaked for use on hot days) - right gets the Givi case key, bike key when I'm parked, and a 35mm film canister that I carry earplugs in.
    8 The left breast pocket gets the house key and any quarters with new designs that I haven't seen before.
    9/10 The inner right breast pocket gets the wallet. The outer right breast pocket gets the cell phone or camera when off the bike, park pamphlets, souvenir patches, or other miscellany that I'm stashing on the fly that will usually go into the tank bag later.
    11 The right wrist pocket gets change and cash for tolls and toll tickets (not often now since I got an ez-pass)
    And the 12th one, not counted by many, is the back vent pouch.
    As needed it can hold a 6-pack, two bags of chips, or when the riding is hot, ICE! When solid H2O is loaded, the paper towels get removed from the pants pocket and ice gets packed into them as well. Out west this is very effective when the humidity is low. Not quite as cooling otherwise and the back protector cuts some of its effectiveness as well. But with the a/c turned on in this manner on a ride long long ago, I road comfortably through Fry Canyon in Utah in July. Fry Canyon in Utah in July is not misnamed.

    A buddy of mine complained of having way too many pockets on his 'stich, but when I 'splained what I used all of mine for he didn't think the number was quite as excessive as before.
    #5
  6. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Two years ago, the American Motorcyle Association published the following list of Amercia's 15 Best Motorcycle Roads as selected by their members.
    From bottom to top:
    15. Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, Wash., to Enterprise, Ore.
    14. Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland.
    13. California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita.
    12. U.S. Route 33, Harrisonburg, Va., to Seneca Rocks, W.Va.
    11. Natchez Trace, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.
    10. Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2.
    9. U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana.
    8. California Route 36.
    7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee.
    6. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana.
    5. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway.
    4. U.S. Route 550, from Ouray to Durango, Colo.
    3. U.S. Route 129 -- The Tail of the Dragon -- on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.
    2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.
    1. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming.

    On the first perusal, I counted 11 that I had already travelled, including the top 8.
    The ones I'd never rolled a tire over were:
    OR 3 / WA 129
    OH 170
    CA 58
    US 12
    Such lists are always a bit subjective, but I didn't have any strong objections to the placing of any of the ones I was familiar with in the mix (though US 250 thru WV is a far better ride than 33).
    OH 170 surprised me though, mainly because I had never heard of it. Looking at the map I located it in the northeast, just south of Youngstown. This I couldn't believe. The topography in the region just can't support a great m/c road, and anything going to Youngstown should be avoided on general principal. But it was certainly close enough, so I wasted an afternoon checking it out. That road doesn't even make it into my best 15 roads in Ohio list. My conclusions are:
    Some of the bars along the route must give free beer to riders.
    There must be a heavy concentration of AMA members that know about said bars.

    So two of the remaining three were on my target list for this trip. Only two because I suffer from CRS* and sometime after the 170 fiasco, I forgot about WA 129, but the memory of good roads in southeast WA lingered on.

    (* Can't Remember ...Stuff)

    Sunday after the wedding, I went over to my brother's place in Riverside, CA with a stop at Hollywood Honda to pick up a pair of BMW Allround 2 rain gloves.
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    Monday morning, 6 a.m. saw me heading north on I-5 to clear the basin. A pleasant breakfast stop fueled me for a morning of play on the Angeles Crest highway.
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    I needed it:
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    I actually stopped for the scenery a couple of times:
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    This time I saw Newcomb's Ranch and stopped to check it out. The other times I'd ridden the Crest, I came from the west and never noticed this iconic motorcycle watering hole.
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    I thought it was too early in the day for any lounge lizards to be about (those crazy kalifonians):
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    Mt. Wilson:
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    Big Tujunga Rd and Angeles Forest Rd filled the morning and early afternoon with lots of tilted horizons.
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    From there is was time to stop stopping to smell the flowers and head west and north a bit with the aim of riding CA 58 from west to east tomorrow.
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    A statue of two 20's era motorcycles in action caught my eye in Santa Paula and more sculpture in the little parklet made for an entertaining stop. The m/c statue was in commemoration of two motorcycle policemen who rode ahead of a flood from a burst dam giving warning to valley dwellers:
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    And north from there led to an even more entertaining go: Oh hi, Oh my!
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    (my new desktop image)

    The fun continued with a run towards Frazier Park where a stop at a deli/general store yielded a great turkey club sandwich and good advice about the road and camping opportunities on Mt Pinos.

    All of this set me up for a great morning ride to Cuyama. From there things were much more agrarian the rest of the morning,
    though in Nipomo I found a funky facade covering a great chili verde burrito within:
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    From there it was north to Santa Margarita and a promising start to CA 58:
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    About 20 of the 79 miles to McKittrick were great, the 10 or so at either end. In between, while solar farms were a bit of a novelty to me, the road was basically flat, straight, and hot. Yesterday's afternoon ride had two roads that rated higher on my scale, and the morning rum from Mt. Pinos to the farmland was the better part of the day.


    A week later U.S. 12 thru Idaho was in my sights.
    Okay, here's the picture that is constantly posted on the Great Road Signs thread:
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    It's a great sign alright, too bad the road is so blah. The canyon is certainly beautiful, but after 30 miles of heavily wooded steeply sloped sides channeling a river/stream with lots of feeder creeks tumbling down rocky slots, I was ready for views of something in the distance. And the road went on for another 70 miles. It winds, but the sweepers are so gradual that a pace close to or above triple digits would be needed to really get your groove on. I don't ride like that for fear of deer and damage to my wallet from LEOs.
    This was the only picture I took between Orofino and the summit:
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    This guy greeted me at the summit:
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    So my judgement at the time was that I had found at least 10 roads better than the 2 new-to-me best 15. One of them was definitely OR 3 / WA 129. I was yodeling in my helmet on that one. All the more so because I managed to catch it clean of all traffic for the entire stretch from the Joseph Canyon overlook:
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    ...to the high ground north of the Rattlesnake crossing of the Grande Ronde river.

    A sign of things to come:
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    And the last shall be first (or at least a lot higher than 15th place)
    More road porn:
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    So I did check off the rest of the AMA list on this trip.
    As noted, such ratings are highly subjective, but it did serve to give me a couple of aim points that led to lots of interesting discoveries along the way, and in that regard, it certainly was a first rate excuse.
    #6
  7. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    My quest for paved continental divide crossings is just another one of many self-imposed riding goals, like completing the Best 15 list, whose main purpose is to lead me to new places to ride. Fun for the scenery or the road, or ideally, both. Natural and geographical waypoints feature prominently in this selection process, but there's a lot of whimsy involved too.
    A fairly exhaustive list:
    The Four Corners Monument
    The four corners of the contiguous U.S. in a year (And I don't care about Madawaska's claim for the northeast. It is neither the furthest east nor furthest north part of the state, so I went to West Quoddy Head and Estcourt Station to fill those requirements)
    All five border crossings between Alaska and Canada
    All seven paved Pacific/Arctic ocean continental divide crossings in Canada
    All 50 states (and I even rode to Hawaii to do it :evil, clue in post #2)
    (A side note, when told that I had ridden to Alaska on the bike, one lady asked if I had to go through Canada to get there :fpalm)
    The furthest north point in the contiguous U.S. - Lake of the Woods, MN
    The geographic center of North America - Rugby ND
    The center of the northwest quadrisphere (my own term for lat. 45 / long -90) it's in a Wisconsin cornfield.
    Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump (a First Nations interpretive center in Alberta that as soon I saw the name, I knew I had to visit)
    In progress:
    All WV state line crossings, (VA is done, KY in progress - excluding the panhandles, I can do without some of those)
    All Maine/Canada border crossings
    All roads crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway (NC is done, VA not quite)
    And the aforementioned U.S. continental divide crossings.

    So on this trip, mathematical impossibilities aside, 32 new divides were added. Not all were photo worthy, and some weren't worth more than the checkoff, but most were pretty nice and some were outstanding!

    New Mexico:
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    Montana:
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    Wyoming:
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    The Battle Pass sign was MIA:
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    Colorado:
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    Colorado and New Mexico are done now. Weather and the trip's end left a few remaining in Wyoming and Montana. Oh darn! I'm just going to have to suck it up and make another trip out west to finish the job. After that, I think every mountain pass in Colorado above, say 10,000 feet might be the next campaign. If the next bike is more rough road capable, the paved roads limitation will go away.
    #7
  8. acejones

    acejones Long timer

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    Real nice report. Regarding that AMA list of top roads; if you ever get the urge to ride the Natchez Trace, go find a bar instead.
    #8
  9. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Thanks Ace,
    As far as the Trace, I enjoy it as a low stress way of making my way west on a southern routing. It's very pretty in the spring when the red bud is blooming. But I understand where you're coming from.
    #9
  10. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    These days 100,000 miles on a motorcycle, while significant, is not particularly unusual.
    It is still a noteworthy personal achievement for any bike. And so it was when I rolled that number on a ride in New Hampshire back in 04 I think (CRS again).
    Pat, who was in his usual tail-gunner position, and I stopped on a wide shoulder of the scenic country road and I proceeded to take pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northeast corner, the southwest corner, not to mention the aerial photography.*

    Departing from the scene, Pat took the lead and as I pulled out, I realized that in all the picture taking, I forgot one of the odometer! I immediately stopped again before the next mile could click, beeping the horn at Pat as I did so. He didn't hear the anemic tooter (since augmented by a Stebil Nautilus that's great for making brain dead cagers spill their coffee when they drift into my lane :evil) and continued blithely on his way. I corrected my oversight and was putting the gloves back on when I heard the sound of gear-driven cams approaching (Pat rides a y2k VFR). His related thoughts were, "He didn't just drop his bike after riding 100,000 miles did he?!?!
    I didn't have any particular long range plan in effect after that. I just kept riding, splitting time between the VFR and an SV650N for a few years. I got rid of the SV when I picked up a KLR650 to have more rough road capability. The KLR saw limited use. The first multi-day trip with it revealed my right wrist's pain producing powers when subjected to sustained thumping from that single cylinder engine. Red just observed the changing stablemates and continued amassing miles, at a slightly slower rate while the SV was in residence, and very little in 06 when I had my knee scoped and finally bought a house. When I caught 150,000 peeking up at me, I stopped for that picture, though it wasn't a planned objective of the day's ride. I posted that pic and got a lot of positive feedback, so I guess that was when I decided I'd keep going with it to at least 200k.
    As a consequence, the annual maintenance program has been more involved lately. Brake caliper seals a few years ago, new exhaust and a shock rebuild two years ago, new rotors all around last winter, were all preventative measures to go along with the annual valve checks and fluid replacements.

    When the exhaust and shock were replaced, I checked the swing arm bearings. Here's what it looked like in the garage and basement gameroom:
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    All of this did not keep the on-road issues at bay during this trip.

    Issue number 1 was not the bike's fault. A tank of bad gas in New Mexico resulted in much stuttering and stumbling for a while. Some fuel treatment and carb drainings eventually cleared that issue.

    Problem #2 occurred after my run on CA 58, a radiator leak forced a three hour stop in Bakersfield on a high 90s afternoon, where thankfully a can of stop leak cured the issue. Better living through chemistry indeed! I think the leak was where a rock dinged the finning many, many years ago. Age and use finally caused it lose integrity. Aside from the stop leak and a couple bottles of water, all it cost me was a little time and a lot of sweat. It also prepared me to fully enjoy the blessed coolness of the shadows and rushing water of the Kern River Canyon to go along with another demonstration of the exemplary skills of the Caltrans engineers in the form of CA 178. :clap

    The shift lever has been loose for years, even with the pinch bolt cranked as hard as I dare torque it, it's had a bit of slop and in Sequoia National Park some of the splines decided they'd had enough and it slipped down a notch, limiting the downward throw due to hitting the side-stand mounting bolt, just enough to prevent me from getting into first gear. Attempts at clamping it a little further out on the shaft didn't hold, it would slide back to the center groove for the pinch bolt and then slip again. I eventually cured it with a few flat washers from an Ace hardware store. The washers between the lever and engine case kept the lever from sliding back to the center position.

    The last and enduring problem was ultimately determined to be a torn #1 carburetor diaphragm that plagued me from Montana on. It effectively acted as a rev limiter, keeping me to 5500 rpm above 5500 feet. It pulled well enough below those limits for me to continue, but it certainly limited any hard charging on the divide climbs. The scenery did serve to make the rides quite enjoyable anyway and short shifting on the downhill runs was not onerous at all. :evil

    * "Alice's Restaraunt" ain't just a good place 'you can get anything you want, excepting Alice', in Skowhegan, ME. Apologies to Arlo Guthrie. :D
    #10
  11. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    After Bakersfield and capering through the Kern Canyon, the shores of Lake Isabella came into view that evening and the Paradise Cove campground easily enticed me to end the days journey.
    All of the campground sites were set up for RVs & such. At $20 or 22 for the night, I didn't object too strongly, but I did voice disappointment at the lack of cheaper, tent only sites.
    The hostess initially said to set up and she would be around later to collect, but when she did come around walking one of her dogs, she explained that it was their day off and technically, they weren't responsible for fee collection. Someone may come around in the morning to collect from later arriving campers such as myself, but probably not until 8 or 9 o'clock - wink wink.

    I sort of camped because while I staked out the tent, I didn't pitch it. The winds made me abandon that attempt before I even started. (note the straps at the back of the bike).

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    I needed the flattened tent to hold the sleeping pad in place because I didn't want that turning into a raft the moment I got up for anything.
    The howling mandated ear plugs through the night til 3 am when things finally calmed down.

    Scenic if not serene:
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    The morning view was just as nice.
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    A final shot, leaving before any officials came round.
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    I crossed over Walker pass and had breakfast at Bernadino's in Inyokern. First time for chips and salsa with morning coffee before eggs.
    It was already hot when I finished my chorizo/egg and rice repast, so it was definitely time to get high, heading for hopefully cooler climes.
    And climb I did. 9 Mile/Sherman Pass rd soared from the valley floor like a home sick angel, with an awesome view of the ascending asphalt. Too hot for a photo stop though.

    Reaching Kennedy Meadows, it was only slightly cooler, but enough for me to pause to check out this place. Turned out to be closed, but I liked the funky signage. It's just that I wonder how anybody can be grumpy with a fishin' pole in their hand.
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    From there it was on to the 9200' summit of Sherman Pass which was still warm and the descent was definitely a hot one, the rear break went away completely. A 10 minute break to let it cool was sufficient, though I used it gingerly on the rest of the drop down this:
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    From there it was on to trees, really really high trees...
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    and a run to Springville to replenish fluids. Seems like anything else could be had there as well, but I was not in need.
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    Made it into Sequoia National Park proper in time to get one of the last sites at the campground.
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    On the way back from the general store/shower, I saw several people gathering in a parking lot. The object of their attention was a bear family.
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    I didn't see momma, but I saw the black sibling further up the slope, just didn't get a very good picture of it. The little brown fellow kept hanging around the log and didn't move off very far when a ranger came along to shoo it away from the campsites. Behavior that does not bode well for it's continued residence in the area.

    The next morning I hiked to Tokapah Falls and was worried that I was going to get into trouble with the national park service for feeding wildlife, the mosquitoes were hungry.
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    And then King's Canyon and more trees
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    as well as a 55mph speed limit outside of the park boundary and very entertaining dance floor:
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    The sights weren't too bad either:
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    Alas, all good things must come to an end :cry
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    It was another very warm day and I was in need of laundry services, so in the evening I headed for Fresno.
    By the time I was done with laundry the next morning and hitting the road, it was already well into the 80's. Getting back to the mountains of Yosemite garnered some relief, but the forecast was 90 at 5,000 feet.
    I did check out the Sugarpine RR. One of their Shay locomotives was pulling out as I pulled in:
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    The railroad has spent more time hauling passengers than wood at this point.

    Yosemite never disappoints:
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    and the critters are not shy:
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    The valley was really hot, so I didn't linger there, but I did extend congratulations to another newly wed couple honeymooning on an orange Ural. The bride was driving.
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    On the way down the east side of Tioga Pass, I stopped to help an Australian couple change a busted tire. He had been gawking at the scenery too much and didn't see the fallen rock. After seeing them on their way, I finished the day's ride in Lee Vining and saw them again at the restaurant. The thank you beer went down very well. :1drink
    #11
  12. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    After collecting some Montana divide crossings, I spent a night in Livingston, MT which I found to be a charming little town. From there I aimed east and south, heading for the Beartooth Highway.
    Part of the welcoming committee:
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    I was surprised at how awesome the Beartooth was riding from from north to south. I'd driven it once and ridden it twice before, always coming from the south. Each time my head was on a swivel as I took in the beauty of it and several stops were made to gaze undistracted at splendid vistas. So I was certainly expecting to enjoy it again, but given that the road repeatedly loops back on itself, I wasn't anticipating that the experience would seem like an entirely new and wonder filled landscape. Pictures (at least the ones I take) never do it justice, but here are the better of my feeble fotographic frames from the files:

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    From the southern end of the Beartooth, I swung east again on the Chief Joseph Highway for two reasons:
    One was that I had never gone that way before, previous travels through the area had all been coming from Yellowstone and going north.
    The second was that while I would have enjoyed Yellowstone again, the weather in that direction was decidedly unfriendly looking. I used up a year's worth of luck skirting the edge of a storm earlier in the day on the way to Red Lodge and I had no desire to tempt any tempests again.
    If nothing else, my photography can serve as an example of what not to do.
    Specifically, if you ever see any cloud formations like this:

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    or this:

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    Do not stop to take pictures of it! Get the hell out of Dodge before you become a storm chasee!
    After the photo stop for these pictures, I headed east-southeast and seemed to be well clear of it, but the route zagged north briefly before heading directly south and on that southbound leg, the same or a similar cloud formation was less than a mile to the west and blurred by what looked like an uprising of dust on the outer edges. I'm not talking about a funnel cloud, though it wouldn't surprise me if there had been one hidden within. Between the dust and what I think was rain around the same periphery, it was a fuzzy view. While getting by this ominous upheaval, I was hit with the worst wind I have ever had to contend with. I would have stopped except that I would have been engulfed and there was no place to take shelter.

    So eastbound and down.
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    More marmot:
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    More roadpron:
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    The eastern end, Dead Indian Pass:
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    #12
  13. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    A couple of days after hitting the 10,947 ft summit of the Beartooth Pass, I stopped outside of Granby, CO to replenish the bike's tank and myself. Sipping my afternoon Monster (even when I don't have lunch, I tend to get a little drowsy in the afternoon) I had some good chats with other riders. A couple out of Michigan were on the homeward leg of a 9 day western trip and a few riders out of Denver were debating whether the return would be via Rocky Mtn National Park or not. I haven't paid attention to the details, but I was aware of recent changes in Colorado law, relaxing or legalizing marijuana. One of the Denver riders alluded to this with a questioning comment about whether or not I was taking advantage of the opportunity for the other kind of high. :trp
    On a personal level, it holds no attraction to me, but I've got no objections to the practice other than, like alcohol, don't use it when you're driving or riding. My response was that my continued employment in the job that allowed me the freedom of making a six week trip like this, precluded taking any herbal trips.
    From there I was heading to Mt. Evans, so when I left I told them that it was time to go get naturally high.

    And at 14,130 ft, Mt Evans is as high as it gets in the states as far as paved roads go. It was a very good ride, with a few surprises. The road was in very bad shape around Summit lake. I learned that this was due to it being on top of permafrost. I think its the only such spot in the states outside of Alaska.

    No elk or bighorn sheep, but the mountain goats were about and quite photogenic:
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    Trophy Shot
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    Next! [​IMG]

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    I think this beats Pike's Peak by 10 feet.
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    Saw this gang hanging around the restrooms at Summit Lake on the descent. I didn't know mountain goats were potty trained.
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    Made it down before dark and more importantly, before the gift shop closed. I won't get souvenir patches until after I've made it to the destination. Echo Lake at dusk:
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    #13
  14. Achtung

    Achtung Wicked Pisssah Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,107
    Location:
    Red Sox Nation
    Great ride report, thanks for posting!


    :clap
    #14
  15. ///Monster

    ///Monster Does it have wheels?

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    57
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    great ride report. I was just in Idaho Springs on my honeymoon 8/20/2013. Unfortunately we were in a cage and just passing through on our way to Estes Park. We didn't have time to drive Mt. Evans. Next time...
    #15
  16. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Glad you enjoyed it. It's still a work in progress and when I get back home next week I hope to progress it a bit more.
    #16
  17. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    "How far is that?" or "How long is that going to take you?" Are the most common trip related questions I get from non-riders. From riders it's often, about my intended route.
    "I'll tell you after I get there." Is my normal reply. It's not from a desire to be flippant, funny, or sarcastic.
    It's a defensive mechanism because I usually don't know.


    The following examples may illustrate why there's no simple answers.

    Travelling Days
    Standard Operating Practice: When weather and nearby destinations are not a factor, I'm looking for secondary roads that avoid population centers.
    Transitting Kentucky on the outbound leg of the journey, I left the campground at Boonsboro State Park and headed for breakfast at the Big Boy's in Richmond, KY.
    Over morning coffee and eggs, anticipating a hot afternoon, I laid out a route that included some afternoon slab because in the heat, even brief stops going through little towns become very tiring.
    Here's what I planned based on my AAA map study with a general goal of making it into Missouri or Arkansas at the end of the day:

    http://goo.gl/CJGfrM

    I ride with the map visible, but a list of route numbers written with a marker (usually on the back of a diner paper placemat) tucked into a corner of the tank bag's map window is what I rely on for in-motion navigation.
    The MotoFizz tank bag is great for this. It's zippered map case is oversized, so two panels of any map can be laid out flat with margin to spare. No crumpled corners or extra folds needed. The map compartment is also thick enough to hold all the maps I'm carrying for a trip.
    Such daily plots are always subject to changes on the fly and as the afternoon wore on, I found myself tolerating the warmth pretty well so I stayed on the backroads. Nasty weather was hitting Oklahoma and Arkansas that day, so I adjusted the evening endpoint a bit north. Here's a close approximation of what I actually rode that day:

    http://goo.gl/j91x9

    The finish included a free ferry crossing of the Ohio which was slightly delayed.

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    A single barge holds around 1500 tons of coal. No need to try to cut across that tow's bow.


    Play Days
    On most of my cross country trips I've had enough time to mentally budget a day or two to visit a national park, explore a region, or ride some particularly twisty roads in an area. Making some general progress towards whichever coast that is the current target is usually accomplished, but that's not an absolute requirement.
    So while Shakytown was still on my forward horizon, I spent a day doing continental divide crossings in New Mexico.
    An intended loop turned into an out and back segment because both the AAA map and Google don't know that NM 595 ends at a locked gate clearly posted with no trespassing signs. A rutted wagon trail continued on, but there was no way I was going that way even if the gate hadn't existed. I may be the MapMaster, but I won't try to force the concept of a road as expressed by a thin line on a piece of paper on to the reality of a New Mexican ranch.

    Here's the rough plot (Google doesn't allow u-turns in the middle of the road, I haven't found the motorcycle override command yet):
    http://goo.gl/prgl22

    Trying to explain that to a non-rider in less than a minute during a roadside stop is impossible.

    A Google map check after I got to Santa Monica revealed that the direct cage route amounted to just under 2500 miles. I doubled that getting there.

    Mileage Days
    There are occasional exceptions. I reached my cousin's place in Colorado Springs Monday evening intending to go on to Pike's Peak from there.
    The evening Clare call cancelled that campaign and caused a Kansas crossing course to coalesce. Her mother had fallen and broken her hip as they were travelling from Pittsburgh to Connecticut.
    (Mom is doing fantastically well now)
    Rolling out at 8:00 am the next morning I didn't need to do much more than keep the front wheel pointing east. 900 miles later I stopped at a Super 8 in Evansville, Il at 3 am.
    I wasn't planning on doing any side road explorations, but wanting to get gas before I-70 became part of the KS Turnpike, I took the last exit before the toll road began and found a very pleasant stretch of route 40 through gently rolling farmland countryside that smelled wonderfully clean and was refreshingly cool, the results of an afternoon shower that had conveniently passed through not long before I arrived on the scene.
    Up at 11:00 later that morning, I had breakfast next door pounded out the last 600 miles to home with another 3 am finish.
    So here's what a mileage eating plot looks like:
    Warning, if the thought of long boring stretches of interstate sicken you, do not click.
    http://goo.gl/GNktWb
    #17
  18. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    From a post I made offering advice to another inmate planning a trip out west:
    "I hate Kansas!
    Not Kansans, Kansanites, or Kansonians (whatever:dunno ), and not the government of it, but the physical state itself.
    This is not an attitude born of a childhood aversion to flying monkeys inoculated by exposure to multi-hued versions of the Wizard of OZ. Call me irrational if you must, but I hate anything that tries to kill me.:yikes
    I have ridden across Kansas 4 times and every time it's tried to blow me off the road. :muutt Usually with a case of heat stroke to go with it. The last crossing I did was in early May, so instead of frying me, it attempted to drown me.:eek1
    The next time I have to get from Missouri to Colorado, I'm detouring through Manitoba."

    So now that you have some idea of the depth of feeling I have for the Sunflower State, it should be no surprise that my visions of the outbound route included Arkansas and Oklahoma.
    As it was, wet weather to the south had me opting for Missouri. It wasn't a bad day. Not a great one for twisties, but instead of hairpins it was terrapin turns. I must of passed 40 critters with their home on their backs on the roads.
    Not all of them were going to be making it to the other side, but as busy as some of the roads were, I was surprised by how little carnage there was. What struck me as really odd was that during the morning, the first 15or so I encountered were all southbound. After that it took on a more even directional distribution.

    I encountered one very short gravel road detour caused by something else that didn't make it across the road.
    Epic Fail:
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    This car carrier had blown three wheels on the main road and pulled off onto a side road. All well and good so far, his mistake was in trying to back into the gas station on the other side. He high-spotted big time.

    The riding around the Harry S Truman reservoir was nice, but you can imagine the euphoria that overcame me as I rode westward across Missouri, hoping for a break in the storms that were lashing Arkansas and Oklahoma, and coming to the sad conclusion that there wasn't going to be any break in the storms lashing Arkansas and Oklahoma.
    The rational engineer in me overrode my sense of self-preservation and I entered that most dreaded member of the union late in the day.

    It did treat me to a nice sunset:
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    The next morning, things started out fairly benign. A bit chilly, but breakfast in Marina was good and I enjoyed their take on the themed sidewalk sculpture trend:
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    But having failed at blowing me off of the road or into oncoming traffic in all previous attempted homicides, it got sneaky-devious this time and tried to kill me with outright boredom.
    It is possible to fall asleep riding a motorcycle and I almost found myself in a trance deeper than Dorothy's tornado induced Oz dreamland.
    While the weather had been nice, I still in a less than charitable frame of mind regarding that region immediately south of Nebraska when I reached Clayton, NM for the night.

    My total plan for the return leg was, 'go north a bit and turn left'.
    As detailed in the previous post, the abrupt change in Clare's mother's ambulatory capabilities led to an equally abrupt intended direction change.
    For a time-to-hit-the-slab-and-boogie-home ride, it was really rather nice.
    Most astounding was that there were no attempts at a Kansas ending of my existence.
    I don't know if it's given up and decided to make nice, or if the sudden change of plans caught it off guard and it wasn't expecting me.
    I was grateful for the change of pace, but all the same, I don't think I'll test it again if I can avoid it.
    #18
  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I've used this trip report to illustrate some of the many facets involved in my motorcycle travels for the benefit of non-riding friends and family. I've covered all of the topics in the mental outline I prepared at the start of this electronic journey, but there are still many days unaccounted for and lots of pictures to post. So I'll back track now to the actual start and hit the highlights.

    What turned out to be the second longest trip of my riding career (so far) started out very modestly.
    Going from Pittsburgh to Clarksburg, WV, even by back roads, did not require more than a tank of gas.
    The first two nights on the road were spent at the small, VFR based, COTU Rally which stands for Center Of The Universe.
    This annual late spring gathering of friends, most of whom have or had a VFR at some point, has been going on since 2000. It was originally based out of Marietta, OH, but the universe is a pretty big place, so we've shifted the location around a bit in recent years without getting off-center by much.

    I spent Saturday riding about 300 miles in the company of a couple good friends without getting a smidge closer to Santa Monica and had a blast.

    Once I started bearing west on Sunday, the more normal trip mode commenced and I've related the Kentucky/Missouri/Kansas segment pretty thoroughly.

    Upon reaching New Mexico I learned of a large rally at Red River from a group of riders heading there. To be sociable, especially since they gave me a couple of beers, I said that I might have to check it out, but the inner misanthropic MapMaster immediately determined that the next day's ride was going to turn south at Eagle's Nest. The guys did tell me of a good place for breakfast in Cimarron and the breakfast burrito, with the green chili sauce, was indeed tasty.

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    And I liked their decorations:
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    It was a beautiful day that included lots of wildlife sightings, none close enough to cause excessive angst. Pronghorn, mule deer, an oriole, more pronghorn and several hawks had my attention.

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    After a visit to the Bradbury museum in Los Alamos (Norris, not Ray)

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    I backtracked a bit and spent the night at a casino hotel in Espanola. The next day was spent doing continental divide crossings, but I had to traverse Grande Valle first and it was a pretty sight:

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    I camped at Red Rock state park just outside of Gallop, NM. Best deal of the trip, $10 in a very pretty setting and it included the shower.

    From there I headed to Canyon de Chelly where I picked up a National Parks pass and got double duty out it in one day by heading for a late afternoon/evening ride through the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest national park.
    A great day for scenery:

    Not all roads out west are particularly entertaining:
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    But they can lead to spectacular destinations:
    Canyon de Chelly (de shay)
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    The first lizard of the trip (I like lizards):
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    Painted Desert:

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    I love badlands topography as well:

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    All the little bumps are chunks of petrified wood:
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    #19
  20. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,477
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    After the evening run through the old stone woods, I landed in Holbrook, AZ for the night, perfectly positioned for a run to Casa Grande to visit my aunt Mary Helen and cousin Becca the next day, with the intent of arriving before noon when the solar thermostat gets set to charbroil (as Becca put it, there are two seasons there, 'summer and hell, and summer just ended'). The environmental reality did mean that I couldn't loop south on the Coronado Hwy which was disappointing, I've enjoyed that Top 10 road on a couple of my past trips. I consoled myself with the Salt River Canyon:

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    The next day I met Karen, a yinzer friend from way back, for breakfast in Phoenix and then headed north quickly to high country around Flagstaff before noon.
    It was a successful effort and the temperatures were actually on the cool side. I had to break out the sweater and electric vest for a while.

    Today I hit a trifecta of National Park units...

    Sunset Crater:
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    Wupatki:
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    I like snakes too, so I stopped to make sure this one got across the road without picking up any tire tread tattoos.
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    And the Grand Canyon. But I didn't reach there until after dark.
    Some pictures of the Vermillion Cliffs and the Navaho Bridge across the Colorado river on the way to the north rim:

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    The campgrounds were full, so at the suggestion of the lodge receptionist who was also a park ranger, I went back out of the park and camped off the side of an access road in the national forest land.
    Cheese and wine was my starlit dinner.

    So the next morning I went back into the park:
    More proof that I'm not a good photographer. The only reason I'm including these is that you can't go there and not show some images of it.
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    I saw a Kaibab squirrel and thought it was a skunk at first.
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    Leaving the Grand Canyon, I stopped at Jacob's Lake for a burger and the search I had been conducting for a wedding present finally bore fruit:
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    The beating from the afternoon wind took a toll, so I stopped at Pipe Springs National Monument about an hour before they closed. I managed to get the last tour of the day, but no decent photos.
    This was pure chance that turned into a nice bit of road magic. I'm a history buff and found it very interesting to learn that Pipe Springs was a 'tithing ranch' of the Mormons in the late 1800's. Not having much in the way of actual currency, the local adherents would tithe livestock. An appointee of the church ran the ranch that was established with the donated cattle and butter and cheese produced was sent to feed the work crew constructing a temple in Hurricane.

    Hurricane (pronounced hur-i-can) was living up to it's name, so I took refuge in a McDonald's for dinner, and then headed towards Vegas.

    Not what it appears to be:
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    I had just gotten back on the road (I-15 in this case) when I encountered a major traffic backup. An Arizona state trooper was slowing traffic down in advance of the stoppage. I paused to get the particulars and with his blessing, pulled over in front of him to wait it out. It wasn't going to be all that long, road crews were finishing up for the day and traffic would be back to two lanes in about 20 minutes. So I passed the time having a nice chat with the trooper.

    The lights of Vegas were indeed impressive as I motored through there well after sunset (I can't make 'at night', or 'in the dark' fit this description).
    I grabbed a cheap room at Whisky Pete's in Primm, NV and made it to my brother's place in Riverside, CA the next afternoon (Wednesday) getting there by way of Onyx Summit south of Big Bear. I stopped for a picture of the elevation sign had another good police chat with a CHP trooper parked in the summit pull-out area.


    Washed the bike the next morning and finished the ride to Santa Monica before the afternoon rush could build up any steam. I've visited my brother several times over the years, but have never attempted any lane splitting.
    Always being in vacation mode when I've been there, I just plan my forays for off-peak travel times and have not needed to master that particular experience.
    #20