For West is where we all plan to go some day

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Jedi5150, May 20, 2019.

  1. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    The Big Loop: 2020 (Day 1)

    Monterey, CA to the Grand Canyon, Tusayan, AZ (717 Miles)



    I just returned last night from a three day ride, and want to tell the story while the details are still fresh in my mind. But fair warning to those who may skip through the text to the photos, you will be missing the majority of this ride report if you do that. I'm going to take a little detour from my normal style, which is telling the story with photos. For this report I'm going to be focusing more on the storytelling, almost like a journal, and the photos will be few and far between.

    I'll begin with the reason behind the ride; The last few weeks at work have been rough. And I don't mean the job itself, which I enjoy. More the lack of sleep, while I adjusted back to a graveyard shift schedule. That, combined with some work stress, had made me badly in need of a break. The two previous weekends, I tried to "relax" by just being a couch potato, playing computer games or watching Netflix. But I found I really wasn't any more rested by my next work week. I wasn't as sleepy, but I was still thinking way too much about the job, and pretending to be a vegetable on the weekend wasn't making me any less stressed. I finally decided that a new tactic was in order. If I was going to get work out of my mind, I needed to go the opposite direction. Instead of rest, I needed to wear myself out. Anyone who knows me can tell you, "happy go lucky" is my baseline. I'm normally a very chipper person. But the last few weeks I've been in a slump. A physical rest wasn't what I needed, I needed a mental vacation. I headed East.

    As a vacation connoisseur :D, I find them to excel at different things. For pure relaxation, nothing beats a cruise. If fun is the goal, a trip with my family, or a group ride with buddies checks all the right boxes. But when it comes to clearing the head, nothing in the world is as effective as a solo, long-distance motorcycle ride. There is something about being alone with your thoughts, or even without them, as the miles pass away under your tires, that is rejuvenating for the soul. I've quoted him before, but Ben Davenport's motto, "You don't travel to see different things. You travel to see things differently", has never held more true for me than it did on this ride.


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    It was a chilly ride as I left the Monterey Bay, south on the 101 to Paso Robles. It was overcast almost the entire way, but started to clear up as I turned east on the 46. When I crested the hill and dropped down into the Central Valley, it was the first time in 2 hours of riding that I was no longer cold. I made a quick stop for a sandwich at Arbys in Lost Hills, and then continued south for a short hop on the I-5. Around Bakersfield I turned east on the 58, and continued east on the 40, after a quick stop for gas in Barstow. The long trek east on the 58 and 40 was not as awful as I remembered it from previous rides. Traffic was light, and the scenery seemed just a little better than normal, probably due to it not being baking hot or windy, as usual. Again, apologies to anyone who lives in the Barstow/ Needles area, but they aren't for me. But as I said, this was the least "bad" I'd ever seen it look. Don't get me wrong, it was still hot, but not like a furnace.

    As I rode across the Mojave Desert, I couldn't help but remember the story of Olive Oatman, a young Mormon girl who was kidnapped by the Yavapai, and later traded to the Mojave Indians. During her time with the Mojave, she received a face tattoo, as sign of admittance to the tribe, which made her the first white woman in the country to have a tattoo. After being recovered by soldiers at Fort Yuma, she went on to go to university in San Francisco, and became so famous they named a town in Arizona after her. I saw the signs for Oatman, and wished I had time to stop through there, but there was no way, with as many miles as I was already doing that day.

    The highway climbed as I neared Flagstaff, and finally pulled off the superslab for good, in Williams, AZ. It was my last fuel fill-up, and I was pretty beat. I'd ridden 662 miles, and my GPS told me I still had another 54 miles to go to make my destination for the night, Tusayan, which was right outside the gate to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I was ready for the day to be over.

    Turning north on the 64, out of Williams, I found myself behind a line of cars and trucks, which I quickly passed in the first few miles. The road gently curved through some stubby pines, and then crested a hill. As I looked out over the wide-open expanse before me, my jaw dropped, and I thought to myself, "Now this is why I do it."

    The highway stretched away before me, straight as an arrow, to the horizon. At the end of it was a solitary hill, plopped in the middle of a golden, sweeping plain of high desert sagebrush. The sun was low to my left in the sky, and the shadows were long. There was not a car or sign of civilization as far as the eye could see. To paraphrase the great John Muir, "I was 50 miles away on a motorcycle, alone, and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since." All of my aches and stiffness, both physical and mental, washed away in an instant. I felt like it was my very own highway. And what do you do with your personal road?... Well, if you're me, you open up the throttle and grin as your speedometer climbs north of 120.

    I made pretty good time over the next fifty miles, and felt refreshed when I pulled into the Grand Canyon Airport. I hadn't meant to stop there, but I was lured in by the family of elk that were checking out the fleet of Eurocopter EC130's.


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    My 2016 R1200GS, "Freyja" parked in front of the helicopters.



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    My campsite for the night was just a couple miles north of Tusayan, on a dirt road named "328". I'd researched dispersed camping near the Grand Canyon, and found it is totally legal in the forest, as long as you're more than a quarter mile from the highway. I was just inside the Kaibab National Forest, and about a mile from the highway, so it was perfect. I quickly made camp, and boiled some water for my dinner, a Mountain House freeze-dried meal that was only three years past it's expiration date. The beef stroganoff wasn't awful.

    I didn't get much sleep that night. I was trying out a new sleep system, which was a Helinox cot I'd recently bought, topped with a thin foam mattress (the green roll seen in the photos of my bike). The cot was comfortable, and I'd used the sleeping pad before, but it was nowhere near warm enough for me that night. I had a 30 degree down quilt, and I sleep very cold. I tossed and turned all night, and was glad when the sun finally came up, although it was still only 42 degrees out. It was a pretty area, and I wouldn't mind camping there again, with warmer weather or gear. I'll end the first day report with a couple shots of my camp.



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    ***Note: Apologies for the photos. All the shots this trip were on my cell phone (Google Pixel 3A). I didn't bring a real camera on the ride, as that wasn't the goal of the trip.***


    Continued on Day 2...
  2. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    The Big Loop: 2020 (Day 2)

    The Grand Canyon, Tusayan, AZ to Tonopah, NV (668 Miles)



    Prior to leaving on the ride, I'd checked to see if the Grand Canyon would be open during the Covid-19 pandemic. As luck would have it, it was going to open just for the Memorial Day weekend, starting the same Friday morning I would be arriving from my camp. The hours were limited, from 6AM to 10AM. You could stay all day until sunset in the park, but you had to be through the entrance gate by 10AM. Additionally, the only gate that was open was the South Rim gate, at Tusayan, on Hwy 64.

    I packed up camp without any breakfast, since it was too cold, and I had a long day ahead of me. The National Park employee at the gate was nice, but it was still a $30 fee for motorcycles, and I knew I'd only be there for about 1/2 an hour. I've been there before, but still, I wasn't going to ride all the way to the Grand Canyon without seeing it. I should point out that the places I went to on this trip like the Grand Canyon and Zion, were not destinations, but waypoints. The ride was about the journey, pure and simple.

    There were a surprising amount of visitors at the park, considering it was mostly closed, and there was little notice it would be opening. About half of the guests were wearing face masks for the coronavirus, and the other half were not. I pulled down my keffiyeh long enough for a selfie (I'm not a fan of the fishbowl appearance of my phone's camera...oh well, it's not a beauty contest. :lol3).


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    And a shot of the Grand Canyon without me ruining it...



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    What had worried me, and was the first of many things to "go wrong" on Day 2, was the status of the road closures on Hwy 64. My next waypoint after the Grand Canyon, was Zion National Park. There are two gates into the Grand Canyon on Hwy 64, one on the west, where I'd entered at Tusayan, and the other on the east end of 64, as you approach the junction of Highway 89, near Cameron. The 89 is where I needed to get to, so I asked a Park employee if I was able to ride out that way. I knew that the southwest entrance was the only way into the park, but I was praying that the southeast gate was at least open to vehicles exiting the park. No such luck. So that meant an added 80 miles, as I backtracked through Flagstaff, to add onto what was sure to already be a very long day of riding. My goal for the night was Mammoth Lakes, CA.

    With no choice in the matter (the idea of trying to go around the cones and gate on my motorcycle to save 80 miles only briefly crossing my mind), I headed back south on the 64 and then took the 180 into Flagstaff. On the plus side, it was a clear, sunny day, and the weather was warming up enough that the ride to Flagstaff was merely brisk, not uncomfortably cold. I bombed along Hwy 180, through meadows and alpine forests. I stopped long enough to take a photo of a large meadow I liked, to mimic a shot from my previous trip to the Grand Canyon.



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    I debated stopping in Flagstaff for breakfast or a hot chocolate, but didn't, and I quickly put the city in my rear-view mirrors, heading north on the 89. My GPS told me that the recommended way to get to the East entrance to Zion NP was by staying on the 89, and going past Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and the town of Page, AZ. Back in 2013, Dan and I rode from Flagstaff to Zion on our way home from Overland Expo, and I remember really liking the "Alternate 89", so I decided to take that instead. All the Native American jewelry stands on the side of the highway were closed due to Covid-19, but I pulled off at one, to eat an unhealthy breakfast of a can of Vienna sausages and a can of V8 juice. The breakfast stop was at Marble Canyon, with a bridge crossing the gaping ravine of the Colorado River. If you ever want to see the stereotypical landscape of the US Southwest, it doesn't get much better than this...



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    After my quick rest stop, I continued on through the very Wiley Coyote-ish desert, before finally climbing into the pine covered hills near the town of Jacob Lake. Alternate 89, where it climbs to, and descends from, Jacob Lake, is a very curvy, steep road. I was shocked by the number of large transport semi trucks using it as a shipping route. It made for a very slow way to cover 120 miles. When I pulled in to the gast station in Jacob Lake, there was a slight breeze, and the attendant told me it seemed like a very windy day to be riding a motorcycle. I looked at him sort of oddly, but agreed politely. I'd come up into the hills from the east, and it had been a calm day since I started riding early that morning. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I smiled and continued north. In hindsight, I should have payed far more heed to his warning.



    As I continued north on Alternate 89, I dropped down into the high desert south of Zion. That's when the wind started picking up. It only got stronger and stronger for the next 350 miles. When I hit Hwy 9, I turned west and rode into the east entrance of Zion NP, stopping long enough for a photo of the sign.


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    Thankfully, since I was only using it as a waypoint, there was no entrance fee for the Park. The park was basically closed, with few services, no shuttles, and the main road in closed. I think that's why they decided not to charge the fees, but either way, I was grateful. It was pretty crowded, and slow-going with all the sightseers. I didn't mind, since it gave me plenty of time to sightsee as well. Riding through Zion there is no shortage of spectacular scenery, starting with the mile-long tunnel through Mount Carmel. The tunnel is pitch black inside, except for your headlights, and a few openings carved into the cliff-face every quarter mile or so. As I rode into the blackness it was easy to imagine myself riding into the ancient dwarven city of Khazad-Dum, in the Mountain of Moria.

    It was an enjoyable ride, but I was already feeling quite tired when I emerged from Zion NP, out onto the I-15 corridor, in Utah. The ride from Hurricane, UT, to Mesquite, NV, was pure hell. The temperature hovered between 95 and 97 degrees, and there was an insane crosswind the entire time. For what felt like forever, I had to lean my bike hard over in order to ride in a straight line. I saw a trailer in front of me nearly blow off the road, causing the driver to recover quickly from the fishtailing. Just when I thought it would never end, I got off the highway in Glendale, at the Moapa River Indian Reservation, where I turned northwest, on Hwy 68. It was still very windy on the 68, but at least it was mostly head-on, so I didn't get tossed around quite so much. That took me to Interstate 93, the Great Basin Highway, where I turned north, until the junction of 318.



    More of Day 2, next...
  3. Trip Hammer

    Trip Hammer It's not the years, it's the mileage Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1,243
    Location:
    Seattle
    This report is very much welcomed right now, jedi. I had planned on returning to southern Utah and Arizona for a two week ride this year from the PNW before the pandemic. I'll gladly enjoy the tales vicariously and envy you here instead. Thanks for bringing us along.
    Jedi5150 likes this.
  4. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    The Big Loop: 2020 (Day 2, Continued)

    The Grand Canyon, Tusayan, AZ to Tonopah, NV (668 Miles)



    5 Miles before the 318 junction, I passed a gas station. I didn't stop, because I only had 100 miles so far on the trip meter. As anyone who has done long-distance riding knows, part of the thrill is being efficient with your fuel stops, and calculating range to empty. I know that my low-fuel light on the GS comes on at anywhere between 140 and 160 miles on my tank, and that I have roughly 40 miles remaining once the light comes on. The variation is due to factors like road conditions, wind, and of course the most important, how heavy I am on the throttle. Knowing that, I try to fill up as close to 180 miles on the trip meter as possible. That gives me good efficiency for stops, but still leaves a little wiggle room for errors. Of course out West, the trick is finding civilization that coincides with your trip meter.

    When I arrived at the 318 junction, I stopped in the middle of a grove of trees for a power nap at the "BMW Hotel" (bike on the center stand, legs wedged between the windscreen and mirrors). The temperature had turned bearable, and for the first time I could remember, the wind had died to a calm breeze. I could have stayed there forever, if the need to push on hadn't been tugging at the back of my mind.



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    When I woke up, it was to head west again, on Hwy 375. Those of you who have travelled through this part of Nevada will recognize Hwy 375 by it's more famous name, the "Extra Terrestrial Highway". It earned the name as it has had more UFO sightings than anywhere else on the planet, and it happens to be the closest highway to the not-so-secret "Area 51". I somehow missed all the signs, and had no idea that the next 100 miles (OK, technically 98, but who's counting) of isolation was famous. It also happens to be the most direct route between Yosemite, in California, and Bryce and Zion, in Utah, for folks doing a tour of the National Parks. Of course with Yosemite and the Tioga Pass being closed, I experienced none of that sort of traffic.

    As soon as I turned onto the 375, I came across this sign, which I posted a photo of earlier...

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    I'm no genius when it comes to math, but even a whiz kid like me can add 100 (already on my trip meter) and 150, and come up with 250, which is well outside my tank range on the best of days. I made a U-turn while muttering angrily to myself before I'd gone 20 yards past the sign. With no other option, I turned back down the 93 for a 10-mile round trip detour to tank up at the station I'd passed. At the gas station, my constant companion, the wind, had kicked back up again. For a wearer of hard contact lenses like myself, a day of dust and wind can play havoc on the eyes. I got a chunk of sand in my right eye, and took a second to pop out my contact while standing at the fuel pumps, to wash it out. Not a good plan. A wind gust blew my contact right off my finger, never to be seen again. I searched all over the ground for it, and a kind gas station attendant girl even helped me look for it, but we both quickly realized it was a lost cause. Fortunately, I carry my old retired pair of contacts in my survival kit, for just such an emergency. It was an older prescription, but way better than going on with only being able to see out of one eye.

    I recently read a forum member who described "adventure" as when things go wrong. Day 2 of this trip had plenty of adventure. As I mentioned, I had to backtrack 80 miles leaving the Grand Canyon, then I rode through the blowing winds of hell (also known as I-15, the 68, and I-93), then I got to the 375 and had to backtrack 10 miles for gas, then I lost a contact, and the adventures were far from over...



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    I finally started heading west again on 375 at around 5PM, still intent on my plan to make it to Mammoth Lakes for the night. Since we now know what the E.T. Highway means to most people, I'll give you my impression of it; If you ever want to roleplay Mad Max, and pretend you're the last person on Earth as you bomb down the desert highway on your choice of souped up vehicle, you'd have a hard time beating Hwy 375. In 100 miles, I did not see, overtake, or get overtaken by, a single vehicle travelling in my direction. I passed a total of 6 cars going in the opposite direction. I know that I-50 through Nevada has the nickname, "The loneliest road in America", but I've got to say, that name clearly belongs to the 375.

    Over the years of riding across Nevada, I've gotten pretty good at guessing what 10 miles of open road looks like. For this next shot I guessed it was closer to 20, but it ended up being 16 miles. At that distance the road was little more than a spec disappearing into the mountains at the end of the bowl. Not a sign of human life the entire way. Here's what 16 miles looks like...



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    The 375 is all open range. I've ridden on my share of open range highways before, but never had much of an issue with livestock or wildlife. That all changed on this trip. From a long distance off, I saw a dark speck in the road that I thought might be an approaching car. As I got closer I saw it was a very attractive pronghorn (mistakenly called "antelope" in the US). Thankfully, it bounded off the highway just as I got close. The next valley I came to, I saw a sign that gave me pause. Far in the distance, but approaching rapidly, was a wall of dust. I'd never been in a real life dust storm, like you see in all the movies. It stretched across the entire width of the valley, and as impressive as it was to see, I did not have pleasant thoughts about riding through it. Small tumble weeds were already blowing past me, but I decided to stop and take a photo. I wanted to be sure that if they unearthed my skeletal remains from a sand dune, hundreds of years from now, they would find the photo and know what caused my demise. :lol3



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    As it turns out, massive god-like mummies don't live in sand storms. But what does live in them are cows. Herds of cows standing in the middle of the highway. It was an eerie feeling, riding into the dark, orange-tinted world of the dust storm, only to see large bovine creatures in front of me and on all sides. A mother was looking particularly displeased with me as I approached her and a calf, but I managed to get around the two safely. As I opened the throttle, I noticed it sent several of them running off into the brush. That gave me the great idea that as I'd come across a few on the highway, I could rev the engine to clear them out of the way. Not a good idea. It made them run all right, but not all ran away from me, some ran right towards me. Either cows are very dumb, or I was witnessing a "fight" response rather than the "flight" response I'd been hoping for. All I know was that for many, many miles, cows were a constant threat (and presence) on the highway, because the dust storm, crosswinds, and now plummeting temperature was not enough.

    The cold had returned in earnest, with dark clouds overheard and the occasional drops on my helmet visor. When I had stretches where I could see there were no cows for a while, I would really open up the throttle. I was trying to outrun the storm, and still had a long ways to go before I could stop. The wind was so bad that at one point it blew me into the oncoming lane. Thankfully, there are no such thing as other vehicles on Hwy 375, so that wasn't so much what worried me, it was more the small lake on either side of the highway, which was like a causeway at that particular moment. I could pick up my bike and push on if the wind dumped me into some sagebrush, but a lake would be problematic.

    The wind had been bad for hundreds of miles, and I felt as if I'd been in a boxing ring the entire time, sore all over, with a neck so stiff I could hardly turn it. My neck was raw from the collar of my jacket slapping into it for hours on end. It was getting dark and I started losing hope that I'd make it to Mammoth Lakes, which was still over 130 miles away. Watching every 10 miles pass away I kept telling myself I would make it, but when I saw signs for the town of Tonopah, I knew I was done. I pulled into a gas station in Tonopah, almost on empty, and filled the tank with fingers so cold they barely functioned. I found a Best Western hotel in town and decided that I'd had enough adventure for one day. I ordered take-out from a restaurant right across the street. I hate to give it a negative review, because the gal working there was so polite and friendly, but the pulled pork sandwich was plain, the BBQ sauce was gross, and the mac and cheese tasted like warm cardboard. The pickle spear was by far the best part of the meal. That said, with a full stomach, a shower, and no wind, I was a happy camper. I slept good that night.



    Next...Day 3.
  5. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    Thanks Trip! Glad to know it's helping, and that you're enjoying it. It was great for the soul. Some more fun photos in my next section of it.:-)
    Trip Hammer likes this.
  6. BigDogRaven

    BigDogRaven Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
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    225
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    NorCal
    brilliant
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  7. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    The Big Loop: 2020 (Day 3, Finale)

    Tonopah, NV to Monterey, CA (489 Miles)



    My plan of tiring myself out so much that I could sleep well at night and clear my head had worked like a charm. Words really can't describe how mentally relaxing it is to watch hundreds of miles of tarmac go by underneath your feet every few hours. It gives you all the time in the world to think about things, hum songs to yourself, or simply stop thinking all together and zone out. The stresses of the world slip away when the biggest thought on your mind are things like, "will I outrun that storm", or calculating your remaining miles of fuel, while reading the distances to towns ahead of you.

    I'll forever be thankful for the town of Tonopah being where it was. When I left there in the morning I was in good spirits. I had a good day of riding ahead of me, it was a crystal clear, blue sky, and no wind to speak of. It was still brisk, in the high 40's, but I was finally well layered up for it, and I just knew it was going to be a great day.

    Morning light as I headed west along Hwy 95, leaving Tonopah, NV.



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    It was a scenic ride as I made my way past Walker Lake, and then turned west on Alternate 95, to the town of Yerington, where I got gas. By the time I got there it had warmed up to 60 degrees, and I was having a great time. Highways 339 and 208, between Yerington and I-395 were gorgeous. High desert hill country mixed with fertile, green farmland, small towns, and well-paved roads. It was a stretch of highway I'd never been on, but would very gladly return to. Once I hit the 395, I was back in familiar country as I turned south, and almost immediately crossed the California state line at Topaz Lake.


    Not a fantastic photo, but a quick shot to show some of Topaz Lake, coming south into California...



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    It was just a short jaunt down 395 until I turned west again, on Hwy 89. I will never, in all my years, get tired of the views going over the Sierra Nevada range on Hwy 89 (and Hwy 4), crossing Monitor Pass and Ebbetts Pass. This next shot is of the switchbacks climbing up the eastern side of Monitor Pass.



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    Up at 8,300 feet, the crest of Monitor Pass. I stopped for a lunch snack and photo break. It was in the mid 50's, with not even a slight breeze, and the day could simply not have been going better. I was in heaven.



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    Alpine County, Hwy 89.



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    Traffic became heavier as I got onto the westbound 4, up in the high country. Lots of anglers lined the rivers and lakes along the road, bicycle riders, and plenty of motorcyclists out doing the same thing as me. Everyone was friendly, lots of waving, and no impatient drivers. It was just an all-around good day. I stopped at the summit of Ebbett's Pass, to take a couple shots of Kinney Reservoir. As I was crouching down along the edge of the water to take this next shot, a Border Collie came running up and literally climbed into my arms and lap. His/ her owner was a good distance away, and probably hadn't even realized his child was wandering. I certainly didn't mind. The pup gave great face kisses, which, being a former K9 handler, I am all about.



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    And Freyja posing in front of the reservoir...



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    Dropping down the other side of the pass, I pulled off for a scenic photo or two.



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    The weather warmed up as I descended the western slope of the Sierra, and down into the foothills, getting hotter as I rode through Arnold, Murphys, and Angel's Camp. I stopped in Farmington for gas and to remove some layers. From there I made the final leg, crossing to the 5 just south of Stockton, and taking it down to the 33 at Santa Nella. It was such a gorgeous day that I couldn't even bring myself to hate the Central Valley. And the ride past the San Luis Reservoir, over Pacheco Pass, and down into Hollister was beautiful, as always. I hit the cool marine layer when I hit the 101.

    I arrived home with 1866 miles on the trip meter. Not too shabby for an impromptu weekend ride. I start my work week tonight refreshed. So if anyone else is having the blues, I can highly recommend taking your bike out for a "quick spin". :deal
    N-Id-Jim, TFC, staticPort and 2 others like this.
  8. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

    Joined:
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    east tn
    Thank you, Sir!
    Well ridden; and well written. Nothing beats a "quick spin"!
    Jedi5150 likes this.
  9. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

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    Thanks for the kind words, BDR and Static! I appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed reading about the ride.
  10. TFC

    TFC Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Laguna Niguel, CA
    Jedi - did you happen to try stuffing your riding gear under your cot for some insulation? Curious how big a difference it would have/may actually have made. Thank you for the trip report!
    Jedi5150 likes this.
  11. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
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    Central California
    I did not, and that's an outstanding recommendation. The "R value" of my pad was clearly not high enough, and cold air under the cot is what made me miserable. I'm convinced you're right that if I'd put my jacket and pants under the cot that would have mitigated the issue quite a bit. I'm honestly embarrassed I didn't think of it, being the SAR guy I am. Great suggestion. My normal sleeping pad I use is a Neoair X-Therm, which is like lying on an oven. Seriously, insanely good insulation, for a tiny packed size. For some reason I opted to try the rolled closed-cell foam mat on this trip, due to combining it with the cot, but next time I will for sure be bringing the X-Therm instead. My feet also get very cold, which keeps me awake. And normally I bring some down booties, but I left those at home as well. Lessons learned.
  12. Jedi5150

    Jedi5150 Road Warrior

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    844
    Location:
    Central California
    Vixen



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    Since I started on this forum 13 years ago, my avatar has been of my adventuring buddy, Vixen. I'm hoping that the moderators will allow this post as a small tribute to her, even though it's not motorcycle related. She was a Belgian Malinois that joined our family 14 years ago, as a 14-week-old pup. We did agility with her, and even though she was never an official working dog, I did dual-certify her in both Patrol and narcotics detection, just as a hobby for her and I. She went on all my non-motorcycle adventures with me, and was my backpacking partner. I never backpacked solo, she joined me on every trip. We've had 3 other dogs while Vixen was with us, but she was our first pup, and she was the Alpha over all the tough, male police dogs we've had. By far the smartest dog I've ever seen in my life, and I've trained with tons of them. We joked that she was the missing link between domesticated dogs and coyotes. She was not a "people person", but she loved her family, and her prey and food drives were through the roof.

    She died yesterday on her 14th birthday, and I'm heartbroken. I wanted to share some photos of my girl:

    As a 14-week old pup, "Vixen VonFalconer"
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    Hiking on Ft. Ord in 2008
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    Vixen was 1/2 mountain goat. We couldn't keep her from climbing on everything she saw. This was how she got drinks out of the fountain. 2009
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    Castle Peak, Tahoe NF, 2010
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    Her "morning face", 1000 Island Lake, High Sierra, 2012
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    Ansel Adams Wilderness, 2012
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    Christmas 2012
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    Chicken Springs Lake, 2013
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    Minaret Lake, 2014
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    I will never forget you, Vixen.
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