Tuesday, July 11, 2017

All of California is a vineyard now

From June 30th until July 9th I did a motorcycle journey from Alameda to Coronado and back for a total of 1,225 miles. Instead of flying, I needed to get down to Coronado for the Fourth of July and meeting up with family. One of the personal milestones was the fact that I rode through 111 degrees Fahrenheit through Encino and Lost Hills for about an hour on the way home. In theory I wouldn't think it was possible but was pleased to discover I survived and it really is a "mind over matter" situation because it felt like the First Circle of Hell.

The other fact that kept tumbling through my head during the trip was how most of the agriculture that I passed in my travels was now vineyards. No more food being grown, just grapes for wine. Who needs food? Just wine will do.

Lastly, the US Highway One between Cambria and Big Sur is going to be closed for a long long time. I did the research after hearing about the slides while I was staying in Cayucos and couldn't believe what I heard.  It was called the "Mother of all slides" in May of this year and after seeing THIS VIDEO, I could understand it. I'll miss riding up that coast but glad I did it when I did all these past years of recent.

down and back on same route for a total of 1,200+ miles

Highway 101, pleasant and feels safer than the Interstate 5 
on the way toward Arroyo Seco Campground heading west

vineyards in places that were once just barren, everywhere you go is a vineyard

hot and looks like a tinder box all through California right now

but always cool and foggy at the GG Bridge

unbelievable slides on Highway One from Cambria to Big Sur (this image from Google Earth)
in Woodland Hills, my temperature gauge read this for awhile

Saturday, June 24, 2017

gratitude to infinity and reflections after a week

This little gnome gif above summarizes how I feel after a week of being off the bike and "home". Here are some of my highlights for the record before too much time passes and I'll possibly forget.

Things I especially enjoyed on the trip:

  • sitting in cafes and discretely listening to conversations around me in order to write down "overheards" and boy-o-boy some were so interesting I could not write them down at all but see the last bullet point here for one of my favorite overheards
  • laughing when the waitresses in restaurants routinely asked me when I sat down "so what will you both be having" -- assuming my "other" must just be in the restroom
  • noting that many of the miles on this route were completely devoid of traffic, quite the contrast to the density of the Bay Area
  • thankful for evaporative cooling vest and cruise control on the motorcycle
  • very thankful for a handful of friends that put me up in their homes along the way, making the trip much more affordable
  • the stability, smoothness and functionality of my 2011 BMW R1200GSA ~ it just performed flawlessly and was a comfortable ride to boot
  • the wild animals never ran across my path with the exception of one daring prairie dog ten feet in front of me in Utah's Flaming Gorge area. Quite honestly before I left... the thought of a deer coming across my path had me concerned but the Hornet Deer Avoidance System seemed to actually work, I swear I saw a few deer running away quickly after seeing/hearing the device. I learned a new word at Arches National Park ~ Crepuscular and that's what deer are so they say
  • at Trimble Hot Springs near Durango on June 9th, a man in his late 50's and overly tan with shoulder length blonde hair appeared to look like an aging rock star was casually talking to a guest in the "hot hot" pool where I was relaxing... I floated along, trying to not look like I'm listening but finally between the parboiling water and what he said, I bolted. He said "I do spirit work for love donations and I don't have a fixed price."

Arcata on day 2 of the trip

three days before the end of my trip in Park City getting psyched up for three constant days of desert riding

the plastic flowers were there at the side of the road so why not?

Afton Wyoming in the morning ~ most of Wyoming looks about like this with occasional snow fences 
the Colorado National Monument

me and Banjo (Jenny Oh Hatfield's dear dog) in Durango on a "perfect" day

Silverton Colorado is really a lot like Switzerland

Crepuscular animals like this are good as long as I'm not encountering them on the motorcycle

me with Eleanor in Park City ~ didn't make it to the Film Festival but how fitting just for my trip

Ecker Hill Park City

I do feel the sense of protective forces when I ride especially on a trip like this

It's the little things I notice that make it so memorable ~
see my hands in reflection here as I take the photo on the Durango Silverton Railroad (between the cars)

a total of 3,927 miles ~ 3 weeks ~ in a clockwise direction

Sunday, June 18, 2017

jiggety jig ~ back home almost 4000 miles later

My final day on the road was yesterday and I arrived in Reno from Fernley around 10:30am. Nick Chamberlain saw one of my posts on social media and alerted me to the fact that he was in Reno too (on his Ural Sidecar motorcycle) so he surprised me in the Nevada Museum of Art where we met, walking up from behind and saying "nice boots". There are some interesting pieces of art in that museum although I whizzed through rather quickly. Ed Ruscha had a few fun pieces that made me smile, I also enjoyed "Moth Prayer" by Elizabeth Gomez in 2000. There were some really intriguing works of art I wanted to sit with but I was also aware I needed to beat the heat that was increasing outside.

Nick and I rode out of Reno and exited on the Mt Rose Highway (US 431) up to Lake Tahoe, it was a little more interesting than other main highways. I got a few photos of Nick leaning into it as we climbed up in elevation. We went through Truckee and then stopped at a historical marker for the Emigrant Trail. We tried to stay off US 80 as much as possible, going on the US 20 and US 49 instead and then south on a side road from Auburn to Folsom. That's when I was so hot I had to say goodbye. I got on the US 50 headed toward Sacramento by myself and sped back to Alameda at a greater rate of speed than I could have done with the sidecar. The temperature registered 105 degrees as I passed through Sacramento.

I'll do another post following this with highlights and stats from the trip, a total of 3,927 miles.

"Jiggety jig" is from the nursery rhyme over 200 years ago

Nick at the Nevada Museum of Art

Artist Elizabeth Gomez, 2000 "The Moth Prayer"

Ed Ruscha ~ a sentiment that really summarizes much of the desert life I rode through in the days before
leaning into it 

plenty of snow still on the high passes in Lake Tahoe

Emigrant Trail just to the West of Tahoe

Nick with the Aerostitch's "Mr. Happy" mascot

arriving 8:15pm back in the Bay Area last night as sun was going down on a very warm day
yesterday's overall ride route

Saturday, June 17, 2017

you know you're tired when ...

... you sleep right through a blaze of fire in the backyard.

Yes, that really happened last night here at my lovely airbnb.com stay here in Fernley, Nevada. I felt right at home the minute I walked through the door and my host Antoinette made me feel so welcome, parking my motorcycle in her garage as I unpacked into an oasis of air-conditioned bliss. By the time my head touched the pillow at 11pm, I had the exhaustion of a lifetime after riding 280 miles across Nevada in hot and arid conditions. By the way, don't call it “Nev-AH-da,” or you'll be in trouble. Apparently, the only acceptable pronunciation of the state is “Nev-ADD-a,” not “Nev-AH-da.”

When I awoke this morning, I had some confusion because I slept so soundly I missed all the action. Here's the summary from my airbnb host Antoinette about what transpired last night:

I see the light! What do I mean? As I walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water and what do I see? A huge raging fire in the lot right behind the backyard. Panicked and in my "jammies", I run outside the front, then come back in and hear 'ding, ding, ding, ding' - the persistent sound of my doorbell. The neighbors are trying to save us!

My airbnb guest Anna is sleeping soundly apparently (which I cannot believe), I don't want to wake her, she just rode in on her motorcycle after almost 300 miles across Nevada in the wind and heat.

I run outside, men from the fire department are everywhere but they say 'don't worry, it's just a brush fire'. I say (as if they care) 'But I have a guest, her windows are open and the smoke is going to kill her -- do I knock on her door?' The fireman matter-of-factly says and I quote 'no, let her sleep, I will knock if the fire gets closer'.

Anna never knew what happened until this morning, she slept through it all. Only the photo below and the scorched area in the lot behind the house is the proof of what happened!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Is that a covered wagon up ahead?

Today was a long hot and arid day of riding but overall safe and interesting. I left the town of Ely, Nevada and headed due west on the "Loneliest Highway in America", US Route 50. It really is astounding how many miles between small towns you go. One wouldn't want to get stranded without water along this route, to be sure.  Much of this highway is the actual Pony Express trail and the highway crosses over it a lot between Ely and Fallon and it is mostly well marked for historical enthusiasts. One of my favorites today was the Cold Springs Pony Express Station where you can pull over to get a refreshment in modern comfort but just down the road to the west are the actual ruins of the station. I have newfound respect and admiration for what kind of hardships these horses and men endured in their 18 months of service.

Similar to yesterday's ride, there were miles and miles of open straight line of road with very few cars, stopping as often as I could to hydrate and be thankful I wasn't on a horse. I arrived in Fernley, Nevada for the evening after stopping briefly in Fallon to visit the impressive Churchill County Museum.

The mystery of the man on the mule train was solved because of the power of social media when one of my friends posted this link explaining the man named Randy Boehmer and how he's going around the United States since 2008, spreading the word of God.

mule team and signs on the side of the wagon about Jesus
imagine my confusion when this was a speck on the horizon -- "what the heck is that?" I thought to myself

one can start to hallucinate a little with all the sameness in the dry desert

the sign for the Cold Springs Pony Express modern day store

the ribbon of road goes on seemingly into infinity

evaporation vest is a godsend on days like this

a selfie in the Churchill County Museum in Fallon ~ appreciating that I wasn't a woman in 1870

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nevada ~ open space and the Pony Express

Leaving Park City this morning and heading down in altitude to Salt Lake City to fill up on gas, I then headed due west on US Highway 80. When I got near the the town of Wendover, Utah, I saw a sign for the Bonneville Speedway which sure made sense because of the 60 miles of salt flat to my right that I rode next to leading up to Wendover. I then crossed over the state border painted on the road into Nevada known as West Wendover and took the photo of my motorcycle with the big "Wendover Will" sign. This town is also known for the Historic Wendover Airfield that has the Hangar for the Enola Gay.  That kind of history I don't want to tour first hand so I made a mental note and then pushed on into the desert to the southwest in order to get to Ely, Nevada. What I can confirm is that there is exactly 108 miles of no signs of life between Wendover and McGill Nevada -- not even a bird or small animal running across the road. Miles and miles of 80 mph two-lane sparsely traveled highway but in good condition. I probably only passed three vehicles in my trip. I did see a rest stop as I was close to McGill and it outlined the history of the Pony Express that apparently was on this same route over 150 years ago.

the salt flats are seemingly endless heading west out of Salt Lake City on US 80

"Wendover Will" and my motorcycle.
heading out of Wendover toward Ely ~ 108 miles of vista like this
the light seems brighter and not a sound around ~ very little signs of life

The Pony Express went on this route

the early daredevils in Utah at Ecker Hill ~ the history seen today

In Park City Utah near the The Pinebrook Homeowners Association there is a green hill (at least in the snow-free months) with a tennis court and an open space near the bottom of it. If you don't slow down as you drive by and look closely, you might miss the historical plaque. It is known as Ecker Hill and it has quite a history in the world of ski jumping. Click here to read more and today if you visit, you can look closely on the hill and see the remaining wood shamble that is all that is left of the stand seen in the photo below.

Ecker Hill just before official opening of US Ski Jumping Championship, February 22, 1937.
Photo by Bill Shipler. USHS Photo #9891.

the hill today (June 2017)

Sverre Engen circa 1930 on Ecker Hill
Alf Engen set a world record at Ecker Hill by jumping 247 feet on February 12, 1931.
In all, Engen set five world records at Ecker Hill.