Travels with Blanche DuBois: Out West 2013

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by JayElDee, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    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,

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.
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    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.

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    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.

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    And into St George, Utah where the real trip begins
    #1
  2. NM Ducati

    NM Ducati Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    NM High desert
    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.
    #2
  3. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    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
    #3
  4. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    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

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    And some miles and miles later, Cathedral Gorge
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    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.

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    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.

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

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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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    #4
  5. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
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    734
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    Southeast Lower Carolina
    Ride on Bro. I love it. :clap
    #5
  6. NM Ducati

    NM Ducati Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    NM High desert
    Sounds like you have seen some of the good areas of are little world. Ride on have fun buddy! See you on the road.



    #6
  7. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Joined:
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    722
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    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
    #7
  8. rednax

    rednax Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
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    119
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    Gothenburg Sweden
    wow, that bike of yours is amazing , a beauty.....and with that backdrop ! :drif:rayof on my desktop
    #8
  9. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
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    The City that Care Forgot
    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
    #9
  10. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    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.
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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    #10
  11. VFR

    VFR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    783
    Location:
    Sunny (sometimes) SoCal
    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.
    #11
  12. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    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.

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

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

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

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    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.

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    The pictures will do the talking.
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    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.
    #12
  13. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    371
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Great RR, your pic's are fantastic along with the narrative! Keep on enjoying your ride. I know I will. Thanks.
    #13
  14. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Been here awhile

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    May 14, 2009
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    724
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    where elephants roam
    Great story and fantastic pics... thanks!
    #14
  15. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
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    722
    Location:
    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
    #15
  16. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    It is not well known that Little Richard, wildly enthusiastic after a vist to Yosemite penned the lyrics to his first hit, Tutti Frutti.
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    We can marvel at El Capitan with his
    Womp- boppa-Lu-op, a BOP Bam Boom!

    Who can not think of Bridalveil Falls when we hear.

    I got a girl, named Daisy,
    She almost drives me crazy
    I got a girl, named Daisy,
    She almost drives me crazy
    She knows how to love me ,
    Yes indeed
    Boy you don't know,
    What's she do to me


    Or is Half Dome perfectly incomplete without
    Tutti Frutti, aw rutti
    Tutti Frutti, aw rutti
    Awop-bop-a-loo-op a-wop bam boom!

    I think not.

    So I awaken 630 ish on this Sunday morning at the Thai owned Rodeway Inn in Sonora, California with Little Richard's exuberance-and nothing else before you get ideas, because I am riding to Yosemite today.

    I hustle down to the office/dining room, a model of efficiency and claustrophobia. No waffles, no links, not much, but there is coffee, and whole wheat toast, in a unique presentation. Each slice of pale tan whole wheat is in its own zip-lock bag.
    Incidentally, totally off topic, the inventor of the zip lock bag is in jail because Dow Chemical sued him after he brought his idea to the Chinese. A patent case that landed him in jail. Yep. Your justice department at work. I know you feel safer.

    So, each slice was individually packaged, out of the loaf, by nimble Thai fingers.
    I toast two, apply the almost sorta yellow like butter but not quite and only attaining the moniker of "spread" stuff on said toast and head back to my room.
    Then I'm on the road.
    I head south on Ca49.
    Ca 49 is a major N-S hwy that is very very nice. It is a favorite of a fellow inmate and for good reason. It twists and turns, goes up and down, and whether you look fore or aft, left or right there's a view.

    I catch up with a group of cruiser riders. What's the deal with this "formation" they ride in? What purpose does that serve except to impede flow of traffic? I can't pass because they ride according to Robert's Rules of How To Ride To Maximize Infuriation of Any Other Person Using The Road. Not this time, but I remember a ride in Arkansas -- wait is that why the call them Hogs, Sooooie! Pig! Harley!, I digress. Sometimes to pass these "Let's all point out the road kill with our left foot, tick tock tick tock" road hogs, warp speed is needed and attained. Not because they are going that fast, No, they are going 52 in a 60, but because they might be 50-100 yards long and you do not want to "merge" in their "formation." Ugh.

    Eventually they notice that I am crowding them and they all pull off at a viewing area. I slide pass, nodding in appreciation, keeping the peace.

    I go through Mariposa, and at the Yosemite entrance I am waved to a special line with no cars and easy entrance. Thanks young girl in the ranger outfit!

    I marvel at the terrain. It's beautiful. It is gorgeous like Zion, in Utah, but while Zion is red and gold, Yosemite is green and gray and sparkling white water. Hand of God stuff, you know? The park gives your neck a real exercise, up, down, right, left.

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    From left, El Capitan, Half Dome and Goldwing rider hides Bridalveil Falls; This is from "Tunnel View."
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    a closer look this time revealing Bridalveil Falls
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    El Capitan from Tunnel View
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    Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls
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    Tunnel View, above, is one of many of the famous views in the Park. Another is Glacier Point. Many of these areas are snowed in 6-7 months of the year, so nice weather brings out people in droves. These are from Glacier Point.

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    Half Dome and the Valley
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    Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall in the lower right
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    another shot of them
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    There is another area called El Capitan Meadow that is spectacular, but I found nearly impossible to shoot, it is a meadow surrounded by El Capitan and its fellows. Straight up to the sky canyon walls of 18% gray granite. Theres' something else I want to mention that was very nice about Yosemite, at least when I was there.
    Those of you who have ridden Yellowstone have experienced the traffic gridlock, the stop and go traffic. I didn't have any of that in Yosemite, lucky maybe, but although the speed limit was 35, everyone was going that fast and in truth it is not the kind of area where you'd, or I would want to go faster, or much faster. A steady stream of traffic to be sure, but not the kind of riding the clutch, crazy to pass situation. Yosemite was easily one of the nicest parks I've visited...ever. I was talking to a colleague at work when I returned and found out he had been there "4 times" and "thinks it's the most beautiful spot on Earth." That may be arguable, but it is certainly on the short list. Burr Trail, Mont St Michel, Yosemite is in that list. It is an area not to be missed if nearby.

    I ride back to the Rodeway Inn and get ready to head north in the am.
    I am going to make tracks so another early start. At 715 i head to the office for coffee and toast.

    Locked! W T F!

    Come back at 730. Still L O C K E D.

    Damn. I can skip the toast, but I am counting on the coffee. Finally at 815 the office is open, but "the coffee is brewing slowly for some reason," I am told by the young girl behind the desk, "come back in 5 minutes," UGH.
    A coffee drinker knows of what I speak, the frustration and the fear of facing a day without coffee. Yeah I could stop, but I know I may not. I want my coffee now. If you're not going to have coffee until 830 on a Monday morning, put a coffee maker in the room. I finally get it and address the caffeine monkey on my back and calm down. OK, let's get another cup, fine, get moving, this time on Ca 49 heading north not sure where I'll land this evening.

    I see a sign for the business district of Mokelumne Hill, Whaaa? Ok, I'm game.
    It is one of the many little gold rush towns along Ca 49, aka Gold Country Highway. It happens to be the county seat of Calaveras County, famous for a few things including the frog jumping contest.
    I park in front of the Hotel Leger that dates back to 1851. Very cutesy.

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    Blanche in front of the Leger, showing off her blond highlights
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    I've seen in researching this hotel that "bikers" (that means those same cruiser types) ride here on weekends for lunch and then move on. I am happy I am here on a quiet Monday morning.
    Blanche and I ride on on 49, now in the direction of Graeagle. But I get there and discover accomodations are pretty pricey there, like close to $200/night. That will not do. Alternate Plan.
    I head to Portola, a little off the path, no big deal, and the promise of the Something Something Motel, but when I get there, booked by the "railroads are shutting down because of the economy and we're housing the railroad fellas until August." he refers me to the Sleepy Pines Motel. I passed it, couldn't miss it, and it was the only game in town. Two paths diverged into a wood, and one led to the Sleepy Pines...
    #16
  17. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    The Sleepy Pines Motel in Portola, Ca on Ca 70 and the attached Blue Petunia Gift Shop could be a destination in itself.
    Americana at its finest. You've heard of Mom and Pop Motels, right? You may seek them out.
    This is a GramMa and GranPa Motel, said GramMa being Sarah Morrison, and GranPa Keith Morrison, married bet-near half a century if not more, right Maw? Maw hrummphs, doesn't crack a smile, but Keith laughs and smiles enough for them both.

    I am hot from the ride, and I survey the office seeing bolts of fabric through an open door.
    "Someone's a seamstress."
    "huh?"
    Someone's a seamstress, I see the bolts of fabric back there,"
    Oh, that's Sarah, she quilts." Peaks my interest a bit, because, well, is there anything more American than quilting? At least to the extent that rural people do it in this country? East and west, get out in the country and there will be quilt patterns on barns and in gift shops. I was in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont last year and there was an exhibit of Civil War quilts made by mostly union soldiers from bits of whatever material they could scrounge, including bits of their uniforms. the patterns were intricate and very interesting. I think that quilting in the US is the analog of European tapestries, but abstract and geometric rather than portraying a picture of some slice of life.
    Anyhow Sarah is a quilter at the Blue Petunia in the Sleepy Pines. And Keith, well Keith has a few duties, including keeping the cash registers separate for the motel and the Blue Petunia, and maintaining the property, unclogging drains and stuff like that. He manages the birdhouse managerie, but when I asked what birds are around, after listing about five speciecies, he says, Hell I just watch 'em and I don't know all their names.

    "You don't have a computer with you, right?"
    Yes, I do.
    He laughs and tells me that he's going to put me in room 23 because it has the best wifi reception--it was very good.
    He slides my mastercard through the reader, again is a bit perplexed by the two cash registers that he is to keep straight, but hands me the receipt to sign. I don't remember, $63? $68? Whatever, it was fine.

    I ride down to 23, park in front, and head out to take a few pix.

    Keith wears his overalls gangsta and they are supported by those yellow suspenders which have yardstick graphics on them, prob in homage to his most non gangsta quilting shortie, Sarah.

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    Keith warned me there was a nuthatch building a nest in the house outside my door, so "if (you) hear knocking it's him, not someone trying to break in, hahahaha." I carry a gun just for that, I think. A Ruger compact 40.
    The nuthatch giving me the stink-eye. Don't toy with me, nuthatch.

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    Blanche at the Sleepy Pines

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    Although it was on a state highway, and right across the highway from the railroad tracks, it was very peaceful and mostly quiet. My neighbors, other than the nuthatch were two sons, doing their filial duty and taking their mother for a trip to Yosemite. They were on their way home to Folsom, Ca. We compared notes about roads and life in general and that's the kind of conversation you have most often with people you meet along the way. On these solo trips, you speak so little that conversation flows freely when the opportunity presents.

    Keith, or Sarah, getting all artsy on us at the Sleepy PInes.

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    There was a shipload of birdhouses there, just all over, feeders too. Lots of birds too, but fortunately none perched over the parking areas, Blanche's makeup was not smeared.

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    I asked where to eat, Keith and Sarah thought a bit.
    Keith tells me the "Chinaman's closed tonight. The economy, Mondays are tough here, and everyday seems like Monday. He just closes on Monday night."
    Sarah: There's that Rico's and Lina's Cantina across the street.
    Which one is better and they think a while; real considered thought and, I ask Sarah which one she likes better. Both Keith and Sarah had a few extra pounds so I trust their opinion implicitly. She liked Lina's better because it was not as "heavy" as Rico's (she turns up her nose ever so slightly, but I see it), "but they're both good!"
    Are they both real Mexican? With real Mexicans?
    "Oh yes!"

    So, Lina's it is. I had to ride there, so the Balvenie 12 had to await my return. What they didn't tell me was an added attraction of Lina's, and I never met Lina, was they had biker girls serving as well as a very nicely proportioned Tattooed Woman in attendance.
    I slew the venetian blinds to curtail the invasive afternoon sun as biker girl arrives.
    "How was your ride,"
    She really cared! We discussed the route I took, and she nodded as if approving, and then told me she really needed to get out on hers, because she's "due a ride." I assure her the weather is just fine, and to do it.
    What'll you have to drink?
    I was so dehydrated from the day's ride, "Just water," and a tall icy cold glass arrived, down immediately and refilled.
    We discuss the menu, choose the burrito, chicken, discuss the chile, green. I ask if it's big enough, because I am really hungry. With a smile she assures me I will be satisfied. Done.

    While I wait, the Tattooed Woman comes by to make sure everything's ok. Yup.
    And she turns her attention to the ladies of a certain age who were on my heels.
    [​IMG]

    The burrito arrives and it does not disappoint. I clean my plate, leave a good tip.
    Now this place can be compared to the Denny's I visited earlier. Maybe because it was Lina's and maybe a family job, the attitudes were different. or maybe because it was in NorCal, and not Los Lunas, NM, they had that vibe going for them. Whatever, a different feel and for the better. Maybe it was the Tattooed Woman. Or the burrito.

    I hop on Blanche and tool it back to the Sleepy Pines. So far things are going as planned from the outset, but things will start changing tomorrow. All part of the adventure that these things always are
    #17
  18. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    The next morning I gather my things and pack Blanche for the ride up 70 to 89 to a real breakfast.
    My constant companion, the wind is there and the flags stand out straight. I estimate them at 20-25 mph. This has been constant since New Mexico, rarely, but sometimes from my back. Once when it was from my back and I was doing 75-80, my computer was telling me mid 60s in the mpg dept. Going the other way in similar wind and less speed and I was getting 33. Makes using the odometer for tank range a little problematic. I carry gas.

    I head back on 70 and toward 89 and then on to Westwood where breakfast awaits.

    Along the way I pass Lake Almanor and have my first, and best view of Mt Lassen. Man, these are post card views, you think? Cali you have the scenery dept nailed.
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    I am heading to the Old Mill Cafe in Westwood for breakfast, no, it will probably be more like brunch when I get there, if brunch is served in these parts.

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    why, other than it's there?

    Well, because of this guy...RodT, a fellow inmate
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    I posted over on the regional forum my plan on going up the state and Rod was nice enough and knowledgeable enough to route me up the eastern foothills of the Sierras, an area I had 0 knowledge of. A beautiful and fun ride. he mentioned that if in Westwood, to stop here for "good food," and it was.

    My veggie omelet with whole wheat toast, hash browns and good coffee. Just what my body needs.

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    To punctuate his rec he mentioned his son owned the place and was the chef. A delight to the eyes young lady serving completed the experience, and makes for a strong rec from me!.

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    Sated and ready for more, I hit the road and before long I am here, 89, with Mt Shasta in my sights. Easily one of the prettiest mountains I've seen.

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    So, I make it from the swamps of south Louisiana to NorCal, without mishap, without misstep, and according to plan, but as I said at the outset, there always has to be room for a plan other than best case scenario.
    After I left Shasta, I was heading north, and planned to eventually wind up at Crater Lake and then Lolo Pass.

    Nature had other plans for me. I had checked the weather and it looked like there was a front moving in, but it also looked like it would be 2 days after my bootheels had wandered far away.

    Wrong.

    It hit me with cold rain, a drop of 30 degrees, from low 70s, to high 30s, and, take this, swamp boy, more very cold, fog your visor, wind in your face..

    I make it up to Klamath Falls where the desk at the Microtel tells me it was '75 degrees and sunny yesterday. The past is only sometimes prologue to the future. Sometimes the past is only a memory. Sometimes the past doesn't count any more than testimony from the IRS.

    You can park under the portico, if you want.
    Yes, I want, and I pull Blanche next to a column to block her from the elements.
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    [​IMG]

    The elements were: wind, cold, sleet, snow, hail.
    I cover her, the wind laughs at my attempt and as I have a cup of coffee in the lounge, a guy walks up to me with my cover, telling me it has blown off and he caught it before it blew away.

    I now use bungees to hold it better in place.
    Fortified by my veggie omelet earlier in the day, dinner consists of Kaschi Lean FruitBerry shredded wheat and scotch. A culinary masterpiece.

    The next morning it is 26, windy, patchy sun, but surrounded my gravid clouds.
    The weather tells me, hey, you know where you want to go? well, it's going to be even worse there and for at least 2 days!
    This was the part of the trip where I had to consider getting back to the reality of my life, things like work and family. Ok, Plan A is out.
    Plan B was to head back across Nevada somehow, in the direction of the Bonneville Salt Flats, and do a run, impress my friends in the third grade, and make the real adults I know just shake their heads--you've seen them, the ones who think you're crazy for doing anything like this, or even just owning a motorcycle.

    Problem with that, was that I would have to go through some of this weather to hop over to Nevada from Oregon, though it looked an interesting route, and then Bonneville itself. It is spring, it may be wet, the ride may be a shoo shoo, and every every every thing I've read about it says you must wash your vehicle with plenty of fresh water after a run to avoid corrosion. I suspect fresh water, free, is in short supply in the Utah desert.

    Blanche is packed, still no clear destination in mind, I turn the keey and press the starter...

    tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
    nothing

    I checked my battery before I left, good voltage, load testing ok, but it always seemed to sound a little sluggish, though I thought maybe that was the way it normally sounded. Wrong again.

    Call AAA, oh, you'll need to be towed because the trucks that come out to jump start have too high amperage and it will burn your electrical system. Possible true, but mostly sounded like bovine feces to me. Ok, tow, what does that mean?
    BMW dealer in Medford, ok, it was only 830 am so I figured this could be sorted out by noon if I am lucky.
    Let's look at your coverage, do you have towing coverage?
    Um, I think,
    Well, unless you have "RV" coverage you don't, do you mind if I put you on hold while I look that up?

    No, that's fine.

    I'm sorry sir you do not have RV coverage so any charges are yours.
    Do you know how much that could be?
    I can give you some local towing companies' numbers and you can call them.
    AAA, for all your automotive needs.
    I tell him I have towing coverage from Progressive--and that is in question now because when I bought it I was told I would be towed to the nearest "BMW Dealer" no matter how far. "Even if it's 300 miles?" Yes.
    It appears they are far less generous now, or maybe I was given bogus info from the start.
    Anyway,
    I call Progressive, and they send out a guy to jump start me with a hand held device. I run the comments from AAA by him and he looks puzzled. Good, I looked puzzled also, Puzzlement, like misery, loves company.

    I unload Blanche. He jumps starts her, I reload, and hit the road, now a plan in mind.
    From Klamath Falls over to Hansen's BMW via Or66.

    Oregon 66 winds up and down and is a winter wonderland; Christmas trees laden with snow, cold but beautiful, and afraid to stop for a picture. I may not be able to restart, and 66 was pretty remote on that Tuesday morning. Every route I took in S oregon was beautiful, every route was wet and gray

    I make it to Hansen's and they take me right away, check the battery, yep, it's bad. Change it out and $180 later I am on my way, less than an hour.
    Very nice people there, Very helpful.

    Before I leave roads are discussed and Carl and his wife direct me. I now know where I am headed. let's do the 101 in NorCal, do some coast, then start heading back. Sounds like a plan.
    #18
  19. Idahosam

    Idahosam Set Adrift

    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,148
    Location:
    Back in the Saddle
    Beautifully written sir! I must say you have a way with words and accompanying photographs.

    I hope you nothing but the best while on your voyage of discovery. I will catch up on this RR when I return from Wallowa Valley Hells Canyon.

    Oh, welcome to our backyard, and I am envious as I have yet been to discover Brodie.
    #19
  20. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Thanks

    That's EXACTLY where I was headed! That was the main draw for this trip in the first place.
    To be sure, there's lots of nice stuff along the way, but that was the main draw.

    Thanks again

    John
    #20