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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Alexa, Nov 11, 2020.
Looks like yo'all are having a blast! great pictures
Peanut and String Bean, So wish I wrote so will. Ma must love your stories . As we all do. looking forward to the rest.
Around midday, Skinny Beans’ bike Ripper threw a shoe. We were racing down a dirt road that lifted and dropped smoothly like the burlap-sack hill at the fair that I love so much to ride, headfirst on my tummy, launching the jumps and twisting and twirling like a bottlenose dolphin. That’s how I like to ride that hill. Anyway, this road was just as smooth and fun, and Skinny and I were moving in syncopated synchronicity like a couple of runaway railroad train cars. Up down left right. Up down right left. It was funner than that time we bobbed for apples in a bucket of rye whiskey at Uncle Buck’s birthday party. The fun ended, though, when Skinny Beans realized Ripper had burped out all of the air from its front tire. Skinny said that most likely the smooth tire inside the knobby tire had a hole in it.
I commenced to scraping sap and ash off of a burnt tree trunk to make up some sealing pitch, but Skinny Beans said I didn’t need to do that as he had a little tube of the stuff in his pocket. So then I opened up my little folding knife and commenced to cutting a leather patch off of my britches, but again Skinny said I didn’t need to because he had a rubber patch in his pocket. I used the sealing pitch to glue the patch back onto my pants, wondering what else he had in his pocket. Then I asked him if he needed me to hold up the front of his bike, so he could remove the wheel, but he said he would just lay the bike on its side. Well, I felt about as dumb and useless as sunglasses on a dog at night.
When Skinny Beans’ bike was fixed and fit for riding, we continued on down the mountain, although slower on account of the road becoming steeper and rocky. Well, all that jiggling made my tummy complain that it needed more fuel, and right away as if by providence, we came upon a large blackberry patch. Oh, bless my lucky stars, I thought to myself, we can have blackberry pan-pie tonight, and right now we can gorge on sweet little gems until our fingertips bleed and our mouths look black and red like zombies.
After Skinny Beans got his bike to stand still and not tip over or take off down the hill, he helped me dismount and park my bike. I took care of some business in the bushes behind a tree; although, I don’t know who or what I was hiding from as we were far from anywhere, and I felt like we were the only two people left on Earth, a feeling I quite relish. From my knapsack, I dug out my camera to record the blackberry bounty and a plastic sack to collect the bounty in and then headed on over to Skinny Beans who had gone straight to the blackberry bushes.
When I looked at Skinny, and he looked at me, he didn’t yet look like a zombie, so I checked his hands, believing maybe he was collecting the berries in his palms until I arrived because he is thoughtful that way. But his hands were empty. I looked back up at his face, confused. He shook his head and looked at the bushes. I followed his gaze to the bushes, but I couldn’t see what the problem was as the bushes were full of berries. Then I saw the problem. While there were plenty of red blackberries, there weren’t any black blackberries.
After examining every bit of the bushes for ten minutes, Skinny found exactly two black blackberries, two perfect juicy ripe black blackberries. I found zero. There weren’t even any half-ripe red-black blackberries, which I would have popped into my mouth as I was that hungry. Skinny gave me the bigger of the two berries, and we savored our score as if they were the last two blackberries we would ever eat. It filled my mouth with enough flavor to last the whole day. My stomach didn’t think much of the meager meal I gave it, but my mouth is closer to my brain, so enjoying the flavor beat out my hunger. Skinny Beans said we had to skedaddle on account of there probably being a bear nearby saving those two berries for its dessert.
All my best,
Sure gotta remember this one Peanut, but I will have to be careful who I bestow this phrase upon.
Could get whacked alongside the head which might be a little worse than wiping up my spillt coffee from my chin and shirt when I first read this.
What in tarnation is going on here? Seems as soon as Skinny Beans and I roll our motorcycle tires onto California territory, some sort of signal wire gets tripped and then some sort of alarm with blinking lights goes off that alerts residents to come out and chase motorcycle riders with pitchforks and flaming torches.
Skinny Beans and I had enjoyed another great riding day and had even gotten ourselves lost. We weren’t “lost lost” as Skinny could still find us on the maps, but he didn’t know where exactly we were—I never know where we are, partly on account of not being allowed to touch the maps anymore, and partly on account of already knowing where I am wherever I am.
Well, eventually being lost got promoted to “lost for real lost” (the bad kind of lost that involved keeping a running mathematical calculation on fuel consumption). Soon after that, being lost got demoted by tired and hungry—as usually occurs around the third or fourth day of riding all day, which this was. So we began in earnest to search for a spot to make camp.
Maybe we had set our expectations too high. I know I was hoping to be next to a waterway of some sort, either a creek, brook, stream, river, pond, lake or spring in which to rinse off dust and refresh my spirit. If water was not to be found, then I suppose a view of something would have been nice, either a postcard shot of an alpine peak, or a meadow with the cast from Bambi wandering over to talk shop, or a bit of mixed forest in various stages of fall color and dormancy. Well heck, after a couple hours of looking for a suitable spot, I would have just been happy to be off of the dirt road enough to prevent dust from settling on my supper. Eventually, we were just looking for somewhere flat enough to wake up on the same end of our tent as we’d gone to sleep.
Now, Skinny Beans is quite handy with navigating. He can use—and all at the same time—his GPS thingy, his mobile computer thingy, a paper map and a compass (or stare at the sun). He can even use the stars, but only if it’s dark out. Well, he found a parcel of land pinched between two dirt roads about 300 yards apart that wasn’t a cliff like everything else in this area. We rode off the road and onto the duff-covered ground among the pine trees. Dust hung thick in the air. No critters came to say hi; although, an inner-forest chippie screamed some obscenities at us, and a mangy squirrel tried to sell us some bad nuts. Yes, this sure was a rough part of the forest.
I should have known something horrible was about to happen because there was a sign—an upside down tree (I will include a photograph if the film turns out and isn’t just black across the whole thing as usually happens when taking photographs of supernatural phenomenon and other occult occurrences such as aliens). The tree wasn’t still alive, but it had, at some point, been pulled up, turned upside down and then stabbed into the earth as if Zeus himself had hucked it there. You will see that many of the branches fell off and remain in a tangled mess of sticks at its base, and you will notice how the trunk graduates in girth to fatter as you scan upward. It was a bad omen. I should have paid heed to it.
Anyway, we moved some sticks and peeled back the duff carpet, unpacked our motorcycles and set up our camp on the steep incline. I lay myself down and tried to relax. A moment later—and a foot further down the hill—out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Skinny turn the map upside down and groan. I couldn’t believe my ears when he told me we were most likely on private land, and that since we were in California, we had to move, lest we wanted to partake in a sissy fight of some sort, hiding behind lawyers. We packed up our camp, packed up our motorcycles, replaced the duff carpet and rode our bikes 100 yards to the edge of a faint road that connected the other two roads. Then we did all that unpacking work again.
I lay there a second time, feeling raw frustrated and choking on dust. But at least I was resting. Then one of the trucks on the upper road stopped. I glanced up and through a haze of swirling floating dirt saw a man emerge just like Mr. Schwarzenegger emerges from smokey steam in “The Terminator,” or in any of his movies, for that matter. As I watched the man—a forest employee—tromp down the hill to our camp, I hoped he only wanted to say hi and talk motorcycles. I hoped wrong. He only wanted to interrogate and intimidate.
He told us to move.
I stared at him bewildered.
Skinny Beans lifted his paper map and politely showed the forest-service employee that we were on National Forest Land and not more than the sixteen-foot limit from the edge of a bonafide road. The man looked right disgruntled and disgraced, and not only did he tell us we had to leave because the road was just an old logging road, he said he was going to enter our names in the “system.” I wanted to tell him to go right ahead and that he could find my name under “P” for Peanut from the last time a man in green entered my name in the system because I was camping in a campground that had been closed (no signs) and another time for camping in a “specially designated” area (no signs) and from that time a do-gooder took down my license plate to give to the ranger because she didn’t believe my dirt bike was street legal (all occurring on California land, of course, as this would never happen in Nevada). Now, I am a courteous public-land user—I slow my bike way down around other folks so as not to make any dust, and I upshift so as not to make much noise; I wave to show camaraderie; I don’t have illegal campfires; and I have bagged up enough garbage on public land to fill a shipping container. Anyway, that’s what I wanted to tell the man in green about his system, but I can’t write what I wanted to tell him to do with his system.
Anyway, we repacked again, which turned out to be good practice because I figured out a better way to strap my sleeping bag on, and then rode about 200 yards down the faint old logging road that is on the map (I’ll include a photograph, so you can see that it is indeed a road), crossed the other road, and entered the campground.
It’s a nice campground with level ground and a vast view; although, truth be told, for the price it costs, it should include a commemorative T-shirt saying “I got robbed in California” or something.
I think the thing that really sticks in my craw is that all day we rode through miles and miles of logging operations harvesting the trees like the Lorax in Dr. Seuss. Not an inch of the earth goes undisturbed by the tractors, trucks and trees being dragged and stacked during such operations, yet the do-gooders suddenly appear out of the knots if a motorcycle parks on the same land. It just isn’t right.
Well, to cheer me up, Skinny Beans did his Yogi Bear impersonation. I will reenact this for you now:
“Hey, BooBoo,” Skinny Beans said in Yogi’s exact voice, “This looks like a good campground. Let’s go find us some pic-a-nic baskets.”
“But, Yogi,” I obligatorily whined while pinching my nose, “what about the ranger?”
“Forget the ranger, BooBoo. He’s a wiener!”
I do apologize for the indecencies of the language I am repeating. I did clean it up a whole lot, especially the words “forget” and “wiener.”
In for round 2x.
We’ve crossed over so many rivers since leaving Lake Tahoe that I have lost count of them all. Each river has been a beautiful ribbon of shiny boulders and fall colors in an otherwise brown and monotonous pine forest. The river we camped next to last night was one such enchanting river yet unique in a strange sort of way. In the exposed bedrock were many scooped out holes the exact size of a large mixing bowl as if someone had been cooking soup in the rock. Maybe in the summertime, the rock gets so hot, you can just throw a frog and some onions into one of the holes and let it simmer all the day long. I tried to picture folks sitting with their legs sprawled out around their own hole and eating soup right out of the rock. Skinny Beans said each hole was made by a little rock swirling around and around in it. I’ll have to ponder a while longer on the pots to be sure.
Later in the day, we pulled into a small village of cabins. The sign said it was some kind of place for folks from the University of Bizerkely. We parked our bikes among a row of fancy black European luxury vehicles and went into the main lodge, which wasn’t very large at all, more like a doctor’s office, but it did have a fire burning in the fireplace, and we were a tad chilled. Skinny and I stood next to the warmth while we took in the many old photographs on the mantle plus the large collection of animal heads stored on the wall above.
After a spell of standing next to the fireplace, warming my frontside, I noticed there was something strange about the fire. It didn’t make any crackling sounds. I stared at the flame until my eyes burned, but I didn’t see any of the logs settle or burn down. This I found to be quite spooky, so I looked at Skinny and gestured toward the logs with my head. Skinny Beans whispered that the logs were fake logs. “What’s a fake log?” I whispered back. Skinny shrugged and told me fake logs weren’t real. Have you ever heard of such a thing? This was as confusing to me as chickens laying eggs without a rooster. Well anyway, the wizard’s fire was warm—which told me that at least the fire was real—and I was cold, so I loitered near it for as long as I could.
A man behind a desk watched us the whole time. I figured it was probably his job to guard the magic fire logs from spies and theft, and we must have looked right suspicious, staring at them so intently as we did. Eventually, the man asked us our business. Our backsides weren’t yet warm, so we turned around and engaged in a nice conversation with him about the folks in the photographs—none of whom he seemed to know—and what technique he’d used to embalm the animal heads—which he also didn’t know. I didn’t bother to ask him about the fake fire logs.
Once we were warm, we started to move about the place. We made ourselves some complimentary hot chocolate and sat on the soft couches and leafed through some magazines and generally enjoyed being indoors after so many days of living outdoors. About the time we removed our boots and propped our feet up, the man behind the desk told us he had to close up the lodge. Skinny Beans and I both had the feeling he wanted us to move on, which I could tell was what Skinny felt just by being next to him. I’m not exactly sure why the man was so keen for us to move on since our clothes had been freshly washed before the trip, and we hadn’t burned any stinky sage bush wood. Maybe it was our socks, I wondered as I stuck my face in my boot and took a deep breath. It smelled just fine.
Skinny Beans asked the man if he’d ever heard of a place called Yosemite, and if he had, did he know the way, and if he did, would he be so kind as to share his particular favorite route. The man smiled, shook his head, and “no” was all he said. We thanked him kindly for the hospitality, wished him a good winter and headed back on the road, still lost.
It was a very good day.
My God, but you sure know how to turn a phrase. Love the prose, and love the photos. I'm In.
Crazy cooking pots, magical fire places, and a mysterious man leaving you confused about the wisdoms he may or may not have to share, are you guys sure you didn’t ride those bikes down a rabbit hole somewhere?
Must be either that, or it’s your writing talent that turns the ordinary world into Wonderland!
you are blessed with such a talent and even more blessed to be able to observe the world through different eyes!
This is fun. Do continue. Petepilot
I had a riding dream today. Not a dream about riding, but a dream while riding. Every time I have a dream while riding, I wake up somewhere else. Usually it’s just a few miles down the road. One time it was in a ditch. And another time I awoke in Mexico about to get a tattoo on my forehead that said, “Hi, I’m Peanut!”—I had told Skinny those mushrooms didn’t look edible.
I have heard some folks refer to “dream riding” as spacing out. I call it spacing in. It’s okay, because usually Penelope takes over riding for me. She’s not as good of a rider as me—hence the ditch incident—plus she drives too fast. Anyway, this time was different. This time I dreamt about riding my motorcycle in my riding dream.
So there I was, towing a mobile mansion behind my motorcycle, except it was tiny like Barbie’s Dream Camper. But it wasn’t fancy like Barbie’s camper. It was more like Trailer Trash Barbie’s camper that she lives in down by the river. Anyway, once I stepped inside, it became a cozy two-room cabin, plus garage. It had a sunken bathroom, a spare bedroom, a Coo King gas burning oven—this I liked very much—and a potbellied woodburner.
Well, this cabin got me thinking how wonderful it would be to have along more amenities with which to make life on the road a little more complicated. I especially like the idea of a portable oven. Last night, I spent a considerable amount of time engineering a double-decker-rock-box oven. I scoured the river for square rocks like I was hunting for colored eggs on Easter Sunday, but all I found were round river-polished rocks. As you might imagine, it wasn’t my best oven. First my vittles of roots and gourds rolled away. Then Skinny Beans caused an earthquake and rubble tumbled onto my vittles. Finally, came the great conflagration as the whole thing collapsed into a cloud of ash and sparks. We ate it anyway.
In the desert, building an oven poses its own challenges. Flat sandstone, when available, is perfect for oven cooking. And piñon and juniper wood burns nice and hot, but sage wood smells like dog dung. I’ve had my share of dog-dung-flavored hot dogs, dog-dung-flavored s’mores and dog-dung-scented clothes. Skinny Beans doesn’t seem to mind me smelling like a sow. In fact, just between you and me, I think he might rather fancy it.
Well anyway, I sure am enjoying waking to birds chirping in the trees instead of roosters crowing in the field. I think I’m going to have to break some necks when I return home.
Lots of love,
We love you like you may never know!
Never been said better.
I hope you have your seatbelt fastened.
Tall rickety bridges built like preschool popsicle-stick projects are a signature feature out here. They scare me. They also accelerate my digestion—on account of me being afraid of heights.
Over the highest of these matchstick scaffoldings teetering above a deep crevasse, I told myself not to look down, and I promised myself I wouldn’t. And you know what? I did look down (I’m as weak as a Labrador around a pepperoni and olive pizza). I stared right into the guts of the deep river-cut canyon. And you know what else? I regretted it tremendously for my heart popped, my stomach burst, my blood froze and breath refused to enter my lungs. I’m pretty sure I increased the sweep on my handlebars, too.
Needless to say, I had to do my business after this bridge. This makes me realize I have not yet told you much about how I go in the woods, and I know how much stock you hold in this subject, Ma. Well, first let’s look at how the animals take care of this need. Some animals like horses can just pay no mind, lift a tail and keep on walking. Other animals like cats dig a hole. There’s a lot to be learned from this cat-scat technique, and there are many folks venturing into the outdoors who have not yet learned to bury their mess. I believe this uncivilized practice to be a sign of a low intelligence quotient. Then, there are the animals who can make while flying. I envy these animals because they can do number one and number two at the same time. Plus, who doesn’t like a little target practice first thing in the morning? Next, we have the fish. Fish—well, goldfish at least—squeeze out a long sausage that trails behind them like a streamer until it snaps off. I sometimes get to enjoy it this way, too. Then we have the cows. They do it as if they have perpetual beaver fever from eating leftover fart-cart burritos found on the dashboard. Lastly, we have the canines. They do it hunched over, glancing around like they’re embarrassed or staring at you like they’re pleading for help.
This all brings us back to me, and how I relieve myself in the woods. In the woods, it is quite easy to make a comfortable commode, and I will share this technique with you now. First, I find a fallen log, ideally about knee high. If the log is too low, there isn’t anywhere for my legs other than straight out in front of me, and then I can’t get back up without making a frightful mess. If the log is too high, and I have to climb up onto it--which is difficult with my pants down--I find it hard to balance and then risk falling off one side or the other before I am done. Diameter matters, too. If the log is too skinny, it can be uncomfortable, especially on days when my gut is asleep, and I must sit there for a while, which blessedly doesn’t happen too frequently. The real danger with a log that is too thin is that it might break at any time, and you can imagine for yourself what dangers this can cause. However, I find the resulting fear can make quite a good laxative when needed. Skinny Beans (I do apologize if it is inappropriate to mention him at this time) says he finds the fear a distracting deterrent. If the log is too wide in diameter, I have a hard time positioning my business end a safe distance away and risk sliding off the backside.
So once I find the perfect height and diameter fallen log, I simply dig a hole next to it and climb aboard. You know what happens next.
Now, I have learned from experience that it is extremely important to make sure I place something under my thighs, or else I risk getting splinters, rashes and bug bites. If I do not have something soft to sit on, I simply position my pants only down far enough to expose aforementioned business parts. It is helpful to have a spotter at such times.
Well, this has been a thorough exposé, but if you have any questions, do let me know.
Anyway, that bridge horror that branded my brain with sizzling fear—and the resulting hunt for the perfect log—was yesterday. Today, Skinny Beans and I woke up next to a road just outside of Yosemite Valley. This was maybe an illegal campsite, but the vestiges of my high-voltage anxiety generated by the ramshackle bridges induced a nice force field around me and kept us undisturbed through the night. I might have heard a large critter outside the tent, but a territorial animal does not concern me as much as a man in green.
Yosemite has great big giant rocks sitting on the valley floor like houses and high-rise structures. The nutty folks who climb here have even bigger rocks. I think maybe I used to do this rock climbing thing, half a lifetime ago, when I was still wet behind the ears and before I became afraid of heights. I may have blocked it from my memory. I don’t know.
Hugs and kisses,
Thanks for the chuckle eh
I think Yosemite is among the most beautiful National Parks. Lovely photos, thanks for posting.
You kids are riding my backyard! I've kayaked and rafted those rivers you crossed about a million times...not nearly as frightening as those bridges!
Yesterday, we dropped off the Sierra Nevada Mountains and onto the edge of the Great Basin Desert. Sure feels good to be back in my land of open skies and coyote cries.
Skinny Beans and I were as tired and hungry as a uranium prospector by the time we reached Lee Vining, a small town previously known as Poverty Flat. We rented a room in one of the boarding houses that line Main Street and then walked across the street to a sit-down kitchen. Well, ten days on the trail had us more than a bit peckish, so we ordered something from every page of the thick menu book, which seemed to be upholstered with the same sticky vinyl as the seats and tablecloth.
After settling our bill with the waitress for all we’d consumed, I could not lift myself from the table, so we sat there for a couple more hours and watched the locals watch the tourists. I guess we were wearing neutral gang colors because no one watched us. Maybe this was on account of us looking (smelling?) a little different (crazy-eyed?) because we had just spent ten days riding (rolling?) around in the dirt.
Inclement weather brews over the mountain tops. Rain to be measured in whole inches, they say. The storm hangs on the peaks like Grandma Crane’s wig, swirling grey and white curls and hanging lower every hour. We’ll try our darnedest to stay ahead of it, but storms usually catch up to me, and after two days of watching it build, I’m certain it’s just giving me a head start.