Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pushing north

Last night I was in Fairview, Utah, at a little motel where I seemed to be the only resident for the night.  I don’t know why.  The rooms are large and clean, the bathroom immaculate.  Oh well.  All I know is I had a short day because I didn’t want to be too close to Salt Lake City.

Today, Wednesday, July 29, when I woke up, I discovered there was one more resident at the little motel.  Oh well.  Maybe it’s because there’s no coffee in the room.  It’s a good thing I had a cup and some tea bags with me.  At least there was a microwave in the room.
This worn Batman cup has been with me for thousands of miles.  And it's useful, as shown today.  Earl Grey tea, the most caffeine one I have.  Good thing or I might still be in that motel in bed.
I had to suffer through coffee from a gas station.  Oh, the agony of it all.  I’ve been used to Kaladi Bros. coffee that Jaz had brought and prepared on the road.  Being that she’d be up WAY TOO early for me, she’d bring me coffee in bed in an attempt to get me up and moving early.  That did not work for her.  I enjoyed coffee every day and worked on my blogs.  That’s so you’d all have something to read.  Haha!!
I saw the signs long before I got there.  Elk jerky, buffalo jerky.  I decided that would be lunch.  This is Bill.  We had a very nice conversation before I got on the road again.  He kept giving me samples.  I finally told him to stop because I'd be full and wouldn't buy any.  But he was a charmer.  He said he thought I was about 18 years younger than I am.  Woo hoo.  Yep.  He's been around women a long time, and learned something, if he knows to say things like that.
Anyway, I’m working my way to Bozeman today.  The short way says it’s 501 miles, running a lot of Interstate 15.  I’m not doing that.  We’ll see where I end up.  Hopefully Bozeman for the next two nights to visit with friends. 
I stopped to photograph these old wagons.

I don't know that I'd ride in the one on the right.

I'd sure ride in this one.  Fly those flags proudly!!!
It turned out to be 570 miles because I should have been going to Belgrade.  I knew that.  Haha!!!  It was only 10 miles out of the way.  Yep, racking up those miles.  Beside which I turned the wrong way going to Jan’s house … TWICE.  Sure am glad I have a GPS on my phone.  It’s a Smart phone.  There’s a reason I have it.  But, in my defense, I couldn’t see the sign on the one street as it was hidden in the bushes.  I saw it on my return after turning around.
Afton, Wyoming.  No burger at Rulon Gardner's place this time.  Biker Bill and I did this route and ate burgers there a few years ago.  I love this arch. 

I leapfrogged with this group a couple of times.  There were about 15 of them or so, and they all appeared to have the same jacket.  I got out of there as some also appeared to have parking issues.
 But besides that, I spent a great day of riding.  I got on the road about 7:30 a.m., which is early for me, but I knew I had a lot of road to cover, and most of it would be back and secondary roads that makes for slower travel.  But it’s so worth it.  At the end of the day it was about 60 miles more … I can do that.  (I excluded the roundabouts at the end.)

Jan and her friend, Donna, were getting hair cuts, so I beat them to the house by about 25 minutes.  Perfect timing on my part.  I was unloaded and just sitting back, Facebooking, of course. 

We spent some time visiting, and then to bed, to bed.  Jan had to get up and go to work.  Darn!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wonderful visit, wonderful friends

I got up from my evening spent in the bungalow.  It was Monday, July 27, and I had to get on the road, heading to Montana.

At the appointed time of 8 a.m., I wandered over to the Big House, where Kirk and Eloise had coffee.  She was making blueberry muffins and had fresh cantaloupe.  It was more than I expected.  All I wanted was a bed and a visit with friends that I’d not seen in 13 years.  Okay, okay.  I know I saw Kirk a few days ago, but this was the real visit, with both of them.
Every photo I took has both Kirk and Eloise's eyes closed.  Even Mugs' eyes are closed.  Maybe everyone is still sleeping.  They are still the wonderful, lovely people I've always known and I so enjoyed my short time with them.
They are former Alaskans, traveled in a fifth-wheel for multiple years, purchased this property and built a house, and remodeled the bungalow where I slept.  It was cozy and I loved the place.  There’s also a barn and a few other outbuildings.  Why?  Cuz there’s toys, that’s why.

Mugs is so very cute ... and quite photogenic.

I love his coloring.
All too soon I knew I had to get on the road.  I’d stay and talk forever, but daylight was burning and they had things to do, too. 

They pointed me in the right direction, instructed me how to get through town, and I did it.  There were no parking lot tours today either.  Yahoo.  That’s two days in a row.

Highway 50 was my route.  Jaz and I had done this going west, twice actually, so this was a new road to me.  I was seeing it going east

By the time I reached Fallon, Nevada, I had noticed my running light was not reflecting in the cars ahead of me.  I pulled over and checked.  Sure enough.  One of them is out.  And not a Harley shop on my route today, or even tomorrow as far as I know.  Of course, that could change.

Down the road I went.  It’s a lonely one, Number 50.  There weren’t many cars.  There were no animals except a few cows.  And then, there were three of us … an 18-wheeler and a car in the heading west lane and me in the heading east lane.  That’s it.  You could see for miles.  And what did the car do?  Decide to pass, of course.  I slowed down.  You’re passing now?  Seriously?  Good grief.  What an idiot.  Nothing out there, but he had to pass when I’m there.  You just have to shake your head at the asses on the road. 

I went by a place where people had put stones to say names or other things.  Nothing obscene.  That's unusual.
And on I went on this lonely road.  It’s lonely up until nature calls.  Then there was lots of traffic going both ways.  I finally got everybody out of my line of vision front and back, and I stopped.  Mission accomplished.  Until I looked up and saw what appeared to be a camera.  What?  I think there’s some military thing back in there.  At least I figure they won’t be putting it on UTube.

On and on.  Then off to my left there was something flying.  I thought it was a bird but it was sure going fast.  It came up even to me, low and not too far above my head.  There was no noise, but it had to be a plane of some sort.  But it was so small.  It kept going, passed me and headed off into the distance, and I lost sight of it.  A drone?  Cuz I had a nature call??  Very strange.

I had stopped for lunch in Austin, Nevada, the town where Jaz and I stayed several nights ago.  While I was there I made a reservation in Ely at a hotel I’d seen when we’d come through.  I arrived, and immediately met some folks from California.  They invited me to come to dinner. 

I saw this ladybug in a yard on my walk this evening.

This dog was letting the neighborhood know I was there.
Jaz and I had seen wide streets like this in Delta, Utah.  Now I'm seeing them again in Ely  Are they for alien aircraft landings?  It seems odd to have such wide streets.
After a walk, I met up with the Californians and wandered across the street for some dinner.  Turns out I’ll travel with them tomorrow.  Why not?  We’re all going the same way for a bit.

The Californians were leaving at 7 a.m., Tuesday, July 28.  Some were going to meet for breakfast at 6:30.  Not for me.  Coffee in the room. 

I was packed and ready to go on time, ran to get gas, ate a Kind bar.  Then we were off.  It was interesting.  Each leg one of them led, so it changed with each stop.  I was lucky enough to leave them in Salina, Utah, before they got the idea I should lead on a leg of the journey.  Ha!!!  They don’t know they could end up with multiple parking lot tours and maybe even have their destination change from Green River, Utah, for the night to Key West, Florida. 

In Salina we all had lunch together and then I headed north.  It had been a fun time while it lasted, but I needed to get north.  Our paths may cross again.  I exchanged email addresses with Vicky -- Spyder Lady who is 77 and rides a Spyder since she’d had an accident after riding Harleys for years, and Trike Mike cuz, duh, he rides a trike.  So now there's Trike Mike, Two Bike Mike, Fireman Mike and Sidecar Mike.  There's another old Mike name out there, Mustard Mike, but we don't use that one anymore.
From left, Tom, Spyder Lady, Trike Mike and Marcel
Traveling through Manti, Utah, and saw this temple.  Had to take a photo.
I ended up off the road for the night in Fairview, Utah, way earlier than I’d thought but I didn’t want to get much closer to Salt Lake City before stopping.  Tomorrow’s a new day and I’ll push harder.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sunday, Sunday ... time to hit the road, Jack

Up and at ‘em, Sunday, July 26.  I’d done some packing the night before, but it’s never enough.  So, I finished up, packed up and was ready to giddy up.

Today I was leaving Jaz behind in California and heading to Nevada to visit some friends and spend the night.  The husband, Kirk, had met Jaz and me for lunch a few days ago, but this time I’d spend the night and also get to visit with his wife, Eloise. 

Jaz and I got on the road about 8:30 a.m.  It was a mild form of combat riding today, with lots of lanes, but not the traffic we’d encountered when we’d come into the city the previous Thursday.  Made this ride a cakewalk.  We crossed the San Mateo Bridge this time, up and down and then onto a causeway.  The only thing that would have made it better was for it to be steel grate. I could see other bridges in the distance to my right and left.  I didn’t know if we had crossed one of those coming into town, or another. 

She took me to a Black Bear Diner in Hayward.  I’d never been to one.  They have a fabulous breakfast and some of the best bacon ever.  They have bear paws and carved wooden bears everywhere.  It’s a great place to eat.

Lots of bear things.  Loved it.
After we took off, she got me on Interstate 580, heading in the right direction before she took an exit and headed back to the house. It felt strange to be riding by myself after we’d just spent a month traveling together.  It happens every time I separate from someone I’m riding with (yes you, too, Biker Bill). I shed a tear and just kept going, concentrating on the mission ahead … get out of the city, get out of California.  It’s too many people with all of these lanes, it’s treacherous riding, crowded, but I got out alive.  I was grateful it was a Sunday and not as crowded as usual.  It took a couple of hours to go from a five-or-six-lane highway to get down to a two-lane.  But I did it, and didn’t even have to take a parking lot tour or turn around anywhere. 

I ended up on 108 and 120, riding through Sonora Pass.  More hairpins, corners, but a different pass today.  It was pleasant as there was no traffic going my way, and not too much going the other.  I finally hit some wind at about the 8,000-foot level as I headed to the top that is 9,000 feet.  Nothing too bad, but it still makes things a bit squirrelly. 
Sure is some beautiful countryside up here in the mountains.
 In always looking for oddities, one found me at about the 8,000-foot level, two skate boarders riding their boards down the incline.  Wow.  I wouldn’t be doing that.  There’s even less between them and the road or a cage than there is for me on a motorcycle.

It’s beautiful country and I once again was riding through the Stanislaus and Toiyabe National forests.  There was no sign of the wild fire here that we’d seen going through the other pass.  The cliffs rise to one side and drop off on the other.  There were big rocks, some creeks and the huge trees smelled wonderful.

Look what I found up in the mountains, Biker Bill.  U.S. Marines mountain warfare training.
 A fawn ran out into the road in front of me.  I slowed way down as she was acting funny.  She was tiny, not even 24-inches in height.  She was prancing and dancing, pirouetting around on the pavement like a ballerina with her own version of Bambi music playing in her little deer brain.  Up and down, backward and forward, around and around.  It made me think she’d only had her little hooves on grass or rock, never on pavement before the way she was behaving.  I didn’t see the mama, but the little one finally made her way off to the side of the road.
I saw these bags in a field.  I don't know what was in them.  Potatoes?  Onions?  I didn't want to trespass to have a look see.

I passed this pretty little school.  Wellington School, 1898.  Kirk later told me it had recently been moved to this location from the other side of the highway.
 got to Yerington and called Kirk.  I found my way toward the road I needed to turn on and I saw in the distance, something bright and shiny.  It looked like a motorcycle, and I knew Kirk was coming to meet me.  I waved, knowing it was him.  He led me on the road back to their place.  On the way we saw two fawns, older than the one I’d seen earlier today.  These were trying to get away and we went very slowly as they were disturbed and quite nervous trying to get away from us.  Kirk figured he’d spooked the mom earlier when he’d come out.  The youngsters ran back and forth, but we finally got by them without them doing damage to themselves on the fence.

Kirk, Eloise and I visited for a bit and Kirk showed me to the bungalow where I’d be staying.  It’s the old farmhouse that was on the property when they bought it.  They built a new house and remodeled this one for guests, and for their motorcycles.  Last time I was here they were staying in a fifth-wheel and this building was where Kirk worked on bikes.  What a difference.  It’s magnificent, and it doesn’t hurt that I can go into the other room and see their Indians.  Eloise has a new one, a 2014, and it’s luxurious.  It’s got every bell and whistle and is beautiful to look at. 

Hers is the big, black and beautiful one.
A friend of theirs I’d met when I’d been down another time, Sam, came over to visit.  He’s also going to Sturgis but our paths most likely won’t cross while traveling as he’s going in other directions with other folks.  It was nice visiting, and maybe I’ll see him in Sturgis.

Eloise made buffalo burgers.  They’re always yummy, and dinner was perfect.  She and I, and their little Boston Terrier, Mugs, went for a walk.  What a character he is.  He tells his mama when it’s time for his walk and she gives him little treats along the way.  He sits very pretty for them.

When we returned, Kirk asked if I played Mexican Train, a domino game.  Yep.  I’ve played a couple of times.  So we played.  What fun.  I so enjoy those types of games and don’t do it often enough. 
The bungalow. 
Then it was time to say goodnight and I headed to the bungalow.  I have the whole thing to myself. 

Things to do ... and it ain't riding

On Friday, July 24, it was haircut time.  We rode to the hairdresser, and a car backed out nearly onto the road in front of me.  They stopped, I swerved.  Another incident.  Too many for my short time in the city.  I’ve had one in a month of riding until we got here.  I’ve got eyes in the back of my head, the front of my head, the side of my head.  It’s apparently working.  All’s good.

From the hair cut we took my boots to the cobbler.  The sole was separating, they were coming apart and needed a little TLC.  I also needed some provisions for when I leave on Sunday and a new charger for my phone since I left mine home on the bike that’s at the Harley shop.  When I realized it was there, the shop was closed so I couldn’t retrieve it.  I also need some new jeans.  Two pair I have here are too big and loose.  They are sloppy, I don’t like the look and don’t want them sliding down at an inopportune time.  It would be ugly.  I found no jeans that fit.  This situation is looking bad.

We also did our usual walk, but no photo support for the day.  We didn’t take cameras, and there really wasn’t anything in the neighborhoods to photograph.

On Saturday, July 25, we walked in the morning.  We needed it as we were joining friends for lunch and would most likely eat large.  This time I took my little camera, and got a shot, or two. 
We did see a guard cat.  This one was allowing no solicitors.
 We walked in a park for a while and it’s also a dog park.  There were lots of dogs, and I got a shot of this Vizsla.  She was beautiful, her name was Carli, and she loved her ball. 

Carli waiting for her mama to toss the ball.
Who knew.  Don't eat these. 

A beautiful tree in the park, an old oak.
We headed down to the Hofbrau.  There used to be one like this in Anchorage with huge chunks of meat on chains in the window, twisting and turning as they cooked.  This place had a turkey in the window.  I chose to eat pork. 

Our lunch with our old and new friends was amazing.  Everyone but me had grown up or been born in California, mostly near where we were, so they had a lot in common and a lot of people in common, with some even related. 
From left, Vangie, Mary, Jaz, Virginia, me, Lorraine.  We met Vangie, Lorraine and Vangie's husband, Mike, on the South America cruise.  Mike was taking the photo.  Virginia is Jaz's mom, and Mary is Virginia's cousin. 
We spent a couple of hours over lunch but then it was time to go pick up my boots before the cobbler closed or I’d be riding in sneakers.  I do not want that as if my bike is loaded it’s way easier to handle with boots. 

From there it was back to the search for jeans.  We went to a big shopping mall with every fancy store you could think of … but we were going to Macy’s.  We walked in but couldn’t find the women’s section.  Turns out they have a whole store of their own, much larger, of course, and across the mall.  We found it, and found jeans that I didn’t want to pay the price for.  We finally found my price bracket, $50 and under on sale.  I am not into paying over a hundred buck for jeans that I ride in and most likely will get oil on, or grease, or lots of bug guts.  The best part of things on sale here is that I opened an account and they gave me another 40 percent off.  They practically paid me to walk out with those jeans.  I’m happy, and now ready to get packed and on the road tomorrow.
In the meantime, there was a birthday party across the street.  And a bouncy house.
The bouncy house was huge and even had a slide.

If they stay up too late, we have a solution.
The final solution.  Geez.  Were there a couple of kids left in there?  Whoops.  Time to go to bed so we don't become suspects.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

California, here we come

The B&B where we had stayed had a big elk head that I had admired.  The husband had gotten it and it was a big one.  But Dee, the owner, said it was Bambi compared to one down at the art gallery.  When we got up and were heading out on Wednesday, July 22, I had to stop to take a photo of the big one. 

It was big, a 6x6.  While it might not be huge that way, the mass was impressive.  The guy got it in Nevada in 1999, and it scored a 384 that was the sixth largest at that time.  It was beautiful.
What a gorgeous elk.  He's hard to photograph, but you get the idea of how big he is.
As we were later chatting with a fellow rider after we had stopped for lunch, he told us of the old Highway 50, that is now Highway 722.  We decided to take it, skirting and avoiding more showers.  This road is even lonelier than the loneliest road.  I don’t believe we saw a single vehicle on this one.  It was great.

We got back up into the mountains again, going around the corners and twisties.  We saw a rancher, and as I looked at him, and then back, saw his dog, a white with some black, come out from behind a bush on the right.  Oh no.  I swerved.  I made a noise, “noooooo,” that I believe the dog heard, making him hesitate a moment.  Both my action and his saved him from being hit in the head with my engine guard.  It was mere inches, and I was so grateful.  I don’t want to hit anything, and especially not someone’s dog.

We were on a ride path to meet a friend, Kirk, in Silver Springs, Nevada, for lunch.  We’d been going to spend the night but decided to go on. 
Jaz and Kirk.  Kirk has a little Boston Bull that rides in the sidecar, but he got left home on this day.  Eloise didn't make it s she had some volunteer work she was doing.  Next time.
After a large meal, and a lot of catching up, we got back on the road.  We didn’t get very far.  Only to Markleeville.  Jaz wanted to take me to Angels Camp, but the road to get there is not a good one to ride in the late afternoon or evening.  I did not know that at the time, but the next day would certainly show me why we didn’t continue on that late afternoon.
The hot springs pool was nice and warm.  This is a beautiful place and doesn't seem to be well-frequented.
We got up on Thursday morning, July 23, after a pleasant evening in a very small town, that included a dip in the hot springs, a walk through a pasture and near a small creek.  It was very relaxing, and as it turned out, a great way to end a great vacation spent mostly riding on back or secondary roads
Jaz walked me through the woods.

But there were some great pine cones, some quite large.

We found a stream.  I didn't mind my feet getting wet.  The water wasn't cold.
We left Markleeville and got into some twisted, curvy road, with many hairpin turns, some gentle curves, and a lot of others that were sharp and hard.  It was a great ride that went on for miles. 

The downside to this road, Highway 89, that runs through the Toiyabe and Stanislaus National forests is that there was a lightning-caused wild fire that started about six weeks ago.  You could still smell the smoke in the air and see the heavily-burned trees.  It’s a devastated area with blackened trees, yellowed leaves on some trees, blackened rocks and ash.
Blackened trees, devastation.  That's what wild fires do.

The fire came down next to the road, and appeared to have jumped it.
Remnants of the fire.
Many of the side roads inside the parks are closed until it’s totally under control.  As of July 16 there were still people working to suppress the estimated $12.3 million fire.  It’s burned 17,790 acres, and they are hoping to have it totally contained by July 31.
But the highway was open for business, for bikes and for bikes -- both kinds of us.
There are big trees in this area, beautiful, old trees, and to some so destroyed hurts your heart.  I know it’s good so that new vegetation grows, but still, the bleak, barren land is hard to stomach. 

We had a Kamikaze squirrel attack as it came into the road at Jaz, ran off, ran out at me and stared, trying to make me flinch.  I swerved as I didn’t want to hit him.  He ran off.  Was he one of the ones they’re talking about that are infected by the plague.  Good thing he didn’t hop on the bike to try to bite me.  He lived to fight another day.
There was still some beauty to be had on this day of riding.

There's nothing quite like a yellow pond lily.

We found this cairn, and I thought she looked like an angel.
So we built one of our own so the angel would have some company in her lovely location overlooking the lake.
We made it to Angels Camp and spent some time wandering around.  We found this great little coffee shop and had a coffee to keep us awake on the next part of our journey which would be the most trying of the trip.  Angels Camp is best known for the short story written by (Samuel Clemens) AKA Mark Twain, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."  His story was based on a story he claimed to have heard. 
There are a lot of frog things in this town.

This is one very fancy frog.
The event is commemorated with a Jumping Frog Jubilee each May at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.  Because of this, sometimes Angels Camp is known as "Frogtown."
There were all kinds of plaques embedded in the concrete sidewalks, "The Frog Hop of Fame," dedicated to the frogs who have won the record that particular year.  They date back to the 1930s, at least, and you can see how the jumping has improved as in the early years they didn't jump far.  In later years, frogs have jumped more than 20 feet.  That's quite an accomplishment for the lowly frog.  Gribbet.  Ribbit.  Croak. 
There was a big difference in just these couple of years.

Only 3' 9" -- must have been a small frog.
Before we hit the mad rush we photographed a reservoir.  It's way down.  California has no
water and many are on water rations.
Then all too soon it was time to make the mad dash to the city.  Combat riding at its worst – 3, 4, 5, 6 lanes of rush hour traffic going one-way into the city.  Just as much, if not more, was going out of the city.  Some guy came into my lane and cut me off.  I swerved, glad for my good reaction time.  I believe a car came into his lane and his first reaction was to swerve.  He apologized, but it wouldn’t make a difference if I was dead, would it?

Hoodlum riding to stay alive.  I’m sure the guys that we’re passing in their anchovy-can cars are thinking they wish they’d never given women the vote.  That’s what led to us riding motorcycles.

But we made it home safely to Jaz’s place, and her mom welcomed us with hugs.  I was ready to be off the road for a few days.  I had things I needed to do.