Seattle to... Seattle??? and EVERYWHERE in between

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by vrtcllychllngd, Jun 16, 2018.

  1. vrtcllychllngd

    vrtcllychllngd n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    Brief backstory: I’ve worked a job that I hated for at least 9 years now but I have no debt and some money saved and I finally said “fuck it” and decided to ride my BMW F650 GS around the country. There are a few planned stops: the 49ers BMW rally in Northern California, the Grand Canyon (because I’ve never been there), a friend in New Orleans, my old stomping grounds in West Virginia, Nova Scotia (again just because I’ve never been there), family in Indiana and finally the International BMW rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Beyond that, who knows? That’s the fun, right? I’m just going to skim over most of the trip with more details for the stops and stories I find most interesting.

    Though this is mostly a solo trip, I started out with a buddy who had never done a long distance, or really even an overnight, motorcycle trip. We left the Seattle area on May 18th and took a ferry across the sound onto the Olympic Peninsula. It spattered rain on us the first day (shocking, I know) but we were aiming for the Olympic Hot Springs anyway. It requires a bit of a hike to get to them and about 10 miles out from the trailhead, we were stopped by the Rangers and told the road was washed out ahead. We settled for the Sol Duc Hot Springs, which are slightly more developed and resort-like but still relaxing after a wet ride.
    We rode past a beautiful Crescent Lake, though the road was undergoing some renovations that made the twisties uncomfortably gravel scattered. Any other time of the year it would have been an extremely fun ride.
    CrecentLake.jpg
    We visited the Hoh Rain Forest and camped at Kaloloch Beach. The tide pools filled with colorful seastars and anemones are absolutely worth the drive to the peninsula if you live anywhere near the Seattle area. I eventually dropped my buddy at his home in Aberdeen, WA, where I’m sure he seethed with jealousy as I continued on and he returned to work.
    Coast.jpg
    From there I went on alone down the 101 along the coast of Oregon and northern California. It’s an amazing ride with almost constant epic views of the ocean and the beaches below. I didn’t have the time I would have liked to dawdle and wander the beaches as I was heading to the 49ers BMW rally in Mariposa, CA.

    Around Eureka, CA the 101 turns inland towards the Redwood National Forest. These gigantic trees are something I’ve wanted to see since I was a child. I rode the Avenue of Giants, a quiet, winding two-lane road with towering trees just inches from the pavement edges. It’s wise to have a low speed limit as I was so busy looking up and around, I was constantly surprised to find myself in the middle of the road or into a curve with an “oh shit better lean…”
    Redwoods.jpg
    Towards the end of the avenue, there is a private drive-thru tree. It’s $5 to get in and ride through and as I parked my bike in the tree-tunnel and hopped off to snap a photo, my phone alerted me that my battery was too low to use the camera. I had thought it was plugged in but apparently not. I blame the gremlins. I let it charge while I wandered their little gift shop but it was getting dark and I needed to find a campsite. My phone was still too dead and I was about to give up and hit the road when a lady stopped to ask about my bike and my trip. I took a chance and asked her if she’d be willing to take a photo on her phone and text it to me. Yay for kind strangers!
    DriveThruTree.jpg
    #1
  2. vrtcllychllngd

    vrtcllychllngd n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    I stopped for the night in San Francisco. Correction, in South San Francisco. Did anyone else know that was a whole different city?
    GoldenGate.jpg
    The rally in Mariposa was great. A buddy and I rode through Yosemite and hiked Yosemite Falls and stopped at Glacier Point.
    YosemiteFalls.jpg
    From the rally I tagged along with my buddy up around Lake Tahoe and into Reno and some other hot springs. These were less developed and “clothing optional” so no pics, sorry At the rally, my buddy had realized his front tire was getting pretty worn down. At a gas stop on the way back to Reno, which happened to be on Memorial Day, he realized it was rapidly deteriorating and threads were starting to show. We attempted to try to find anywhere that might have a tire he could use but with no luck. I can’t believe he made it home. Lucky bastard doesn’t even have a gremlin bell.
    20180528_204955.jpg
    After Reno I turned back south and visited the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest outside of Big Pine, CA. These are some of the oldest trees in the world, growing best at over 10,000 ft elevation. The curving, twisting road up out of the desert basin and into the mountains was tons of fun and again, epic views.
    BristconePine.jpg
    #2
  3. vrtcllychllngd

    vrtcllychllngd n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    I turned east through Death Valley. I knew it would be hot… but I had no idea it would be so windy. A wicked cross-wind was attacking me almost the entire way, forcing me to lean so far to the right, I thought my tire would end up looking like the matching set to my buddy’s. At least twice, I encountered portions of road where the crosswind was picking up sand and whipping it hard across the pavement. In addition to leaning into the wind, I was squinting my eyes down to slits because even with a full face helmet, it felt like my eyes were being sand blasted.
    DeathValley.jpg
    I don’t know what the temperature was at it’s hottest but at one point I saw a thermometer (in the shade) showing 109. I will say, one of the cool things about Death Valley was seeing jets doing training runs low through the canyons.
    Plane.jpg
    Next stop was the Mojave National Preserve. I did my typical morning routine of waking up and googling something to see or somewhere to go and I stumbled upon the Mitchell Caverns within the Mojave. The website said they did tours Fri, Sat, Sun but that you had to call to schedule on Monday. (This was on a Friday). I figured I’d take a shot and call anyway. The guide answering the phone informed me they had just had a cancellation and if I could make it there by 10 then I was in. I was 1 hr 37 min away according to google and it was 8:20. I rushed my gas/breakfast stop and booked it towards the caverns, trusting the turn by turn navigation in my helmet. The speed limits through the preserve are 55 but damn that’s difficult when the roads are flat, straight and deserted (and you’re in a hurry). Eventually my GPS directed me down a side road which quickly deteriorated into a bumpy, potholed mess and then, just after seeing a dirt bike ride past in the opposite direction, it went to full sand. I mistakenly thought it was hard packed but with my rear wheel sloshing all over the place, I barely managed to keep it upright long enough to find a packed enough spot to stop. Now I am sure that there are riders out there who are capable of riding my 650GS through sand without too much tumbling. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Even if I’d had the proper tires (which I don’t) riding off into the desert on a sand road of unknown length, while solo, with no cell service, just seemed like a bad choice. I headed back to the main road and when I eventually had service again, checked the map and found another route from the south (I had been coming from the north) and called the Mitchell Caverns to let them know I definitely wasn’t going to make the 10am tour. The second Ranger who answered encouraged me to stop by anyway. When I did, they took sympathy on me and gave me solo tour. One of the guides was new and said she could use the practice. Huge shout out to the awesome folks at Mitchell Caverns!
    Mojave_LI.jpg
    Not the rode that forced the turn around, but still cool looking.
    MitchellCaverns.jpg
    #3
  4. vrtcllychllngd

    vrtcllychllngd n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Everett, WA
    My intent was to head from the Mojave to the Grand Canyon but I got word from a friend that he was doing a weekend run to the Great Basin National Park. It was only a couple hundred miles out of the way so why not? The park has a fun little after dark presentation where they break out the telescopes and let everyone view some planets and galaxies. We also checked out Lehman Caves and an archeological dig site. At the site, we were approached by a guy who asked “Hey, wanna hold a horny toad?” Not going to lie, that caught me off guard but he did legitimately have a horny toad.
    HornyToad.jpg
    This was also the point in the trip that I made the mistake of leaving my phone and wallet sitting on the bag on the back of my bike and riding off. I did find it… slightly worse for wear…
    Wallet.jpg
    Then I turned back south towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon with a stop at Zion National Park to hike the Hidden Canyon trail.
    Zion.jpg
    The next day I hiked a portion of Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon. I was wearing Chaco sandals which are supposedly good for outdoor activities but man is that a lie. My poor feet…
    GrandCanyonFeet.jpg
    Ok, this is getting to be a VERY long post. There is more, I’m currently in Louisiana, but we’re going to leave it at this for now. If anyone finds this interesting, I can post more.

    I do want to say, one of the coolest things about this trip has been the random men and women who come and chat with me about my bike. Many are fellow riders and several have encouraged me to look them up on ADVrider or the BMW Anonymous book. My favorite are the older women who enthusiastically congratulate me or tell me that I’m an inspiration. These women are especially endearing when their husband is clearly more intimidated than they are
    #4
  5. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    111
    Location:
    Mill Creek WA - Land of perpetual wet
    In. :lurk
    #5
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  6. Mikeyfromgr

    Mikeyfromgr Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2016
    Oddometer:
    302
    Following both this thread and rider ;)
    #6
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  7. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
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    11,968
    Location:
    north of seattle
    Ossum!
    #7
  8. fredster

    fredster Clueless Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    Spartanopolis, MI (East Lansing)
    Hey great story! Keep posting please!
    #8
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  9. celltech

    celltech Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2014
    Oddometer:
    250
    In for the ride! Thanks for posting
    #9
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  10. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    485
    Location:
    Pnw
    I'll bite.....looks like fun times ahead.
    #10
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