August 3rd 2008
August 2nd 2008
Tioga Pass was beautiful, and I did get to a nice campground in spite of leaving Bodie late. But. So many people. Yosemite is just so overrun with cars and people, I didn’t enjoy it. I found a decent spot in the White Wolf campground, which has the added luxury of a small store and lodge/restaurant. I had breakfast there on my way home in the morning and it was a nice end to a nice vacation. Not too many pictures here, as I just didn’t feel the urge.
I did see a bear and her cubs, crossing the road right in front of me near Crane Flat. That was worth Yosemite’s crowds.
August 1st 2008
Bodie is the famous mining town turned ghost town just east of Highway 395 about 12 miles south of Bridgeport. I left Honeymoon Flat early, hoping to see Bodie and still make good time into Yosemite so I could get a good campsite there. I wasn’t prepared for Bodie’s size–I expected a few dilapidated buildings, but there were more than a few. I didn’t end up leaving until almost noon.
The road to Bodie, Highway 270, is 6 miles of pavement and 3 miles of rough dirt, but I was not the only motorcycle to go the distance. It was worth the visit and I wished I’d had more time.
July 31st 2008
This was the most beautiful campground I stayed in. The drive there was awful; the payoff was great.
Actually, only part of the drive was bad. I took Highway 89/36 south out of Lassen Park, then cut south again when 89 goes its own way. This was beautiful country, marred only by smoke from a new fire on Highway 70 near Belden or Twain. In fact, 70 westbound was closed to traffic, but I headed east toward Reno riding through Quincy and Portola before hitting Highway 395 near the Nevada border.
That’s where it got yucky–Highway 395 into Reno is wide and fast; out of Reno (and through Carson City all the way to Minden) it’s not much more than any slow billboard-laden drag in any big city. Constant stoplights, crowds of cars inching along, huge, gaudy casinos lining the blocks. I was trying to get all the way to Bridgeport and it was already late (5 or so) when I passed through Reno, so I knew I was eating up sunlight sitting at those interminable stoplights.
I couldn’t have been happier crossing back into California where the highway becomes a scenic by-way south of Topaz Lake, hugging the river and winding through the eastern foothills of the Sierra. I seriously thought of turning off into one of the many National Forest campgrounds between Walker and the Sonora Junction, but I pressed on.
Originally, I meant to stay at a campground called Green Creek, about 10 miles south of Bridgeport, but when I finally got to the turnoff, it turned out to be down 8.5 miles of graded dirt road, and I decided the bike and I had had enough for the day! I knew there was another campground called Honeymoon Flat on the Twin Lakes road out of Bridgeport, so back I went (stopping briefly for a bottle of wine for the evening). I got to Honeymoon Flat about 7:30 and the sun was nearly behind the mountains. By sheer luck, I found a campsite that wasn’t reserved until Saturday night right next to the creek!
The pictures don’t do the site justice. I stretched my hammock just feet from the water and had the wildest dreams as it murmured nearby all night. Twice I got up to answer nature in the middle of the night and it must have been a new moon, since the only light was starlight–billions of them. A slice of the Milky Way cut east-west across the sky and there were so many stars, I could only make out the most obvious constellations. I just stood a while, engulfed.
July 29th 2008
Departed Grizzly Creek 9:30 am
Arrived Lassen National Monument, 3:00 pm
From Fog to Smoke! Highway 36 out of Grizzly Creek was nice, meandering over Van Dusen River (lately: Van Dusen Trickle) and climbing into the Eel Creek watershed toward Mad River. The windy road was not too heavily traveled and just curvy enough for a fine motorcycle ride. As I climbed, though, smoke pervaded the landscape from the Trinity Alps fires, some of which are still burning.
I turned north on Highway 3 to connect with Highway 299 toward Redding and drove right into the smoke. I can tell this is otherwise gorgeous country, laconic pastures along Salt Creek for example, but above it all, a deep haze. The mountains and trees recede as if in fog, but the smell of burned wood is everywhere. Coming into Hayforth, the Trinity County Fairgrounds is a staging area for firefighters–it was huge! Passing through town: thank you’s everywhere (to the firefighters), from handwritten posters to school and church marquees.
Redding was 95 degrees in the shade. Hot and a little smoky itself. I sat in a Starbucks for a sandwich, coffee and cell service/internet. Got gas and headed out Highway 44 for Lassen Park.
And Lassen is nice. Clear skies tonight; cool and breezy. I’m staying here a couple days to see the sights. A can of Dinty Moore stew, some sliced Provolone, a couple cups of Fetzer Zin. It’s another good night!
July 28th 2008
Departed Durant Hotel, Berkeley 8:30 am
Arrived Grizzly Creek Redwoods, Humboldt County 6:00pm
I had an amazingly wonderful ride up the coast of California today. I hit the coast at Point Reyes Station, the end of Sir Francis Drake Drive from Marin. I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, but I was anxious to put some miles on before I stopped, so I just took Highway 1 North and didn’t look back.
Point Reyes is special. After my wife and I were married (at the old church in the Presidio in San Francisco), we honeymooned at a BnB just outside of Inverness on the Point Reyes spit. We had our own isolated room, breakfasts were to die for, a private beach on Tomales Bay…. We were never able to go back–the BnB closed down because it hadn’t received the proper permits to open in the first place. I had half a mind to drive out the spit to see if it had reopened under a new name, but in the end, I just kept going.
I stopped for breakfast at a small café in Tomales called (easily enough) Tomales Deli and Café. Teeming with locals, it proved to be a great choice. I had the “Basic Breakfast,” eggs, meat and potatoes served however I wanted them, with coffee. The place was small and busy, but the food was great and they had wireless internet! This was important because, since my cell service is T-Mobile (motto: “no service where you need it”), I had to email my wife that all was well.
I didn’t stop again until Fort Bragg at 2pm, although nearly every turn beckoned me to stop and take a picture. My wife and I had stayed in Bodega Bay on one anniversary, but we hadn’t driven north of Jenner during that stay. The California coast is truly spectacular–the road from Jenner was a sight in itself, deterred from falling into the ocean by concrete pilings and reinforcing bands of steel. Wherever the mountains jutted out to the ocean and the road hugged the cliffs, it was foggy. Elsewhere, particularly inland or at various flat expanses, it was sunny. My bike’s temperature gauge seemed always to read 59° fog or sun, though. For reference, I prefer the sunny 59° to the other.
Fort Bragg was completely fogged in, which is perhaps good since what I could see seemed like any other ugly city (especially after that ride through picturesque coastal hamlets). I stopped at a Starbucks for a bagel and cell and internet service, then a Longs Drugs for a bottle of wine and cash off the debit card. I drove in fog (not in a fog; the wine was for the evening) until Highway 1 ended at Highway 101.
My butt’s sore–excluding the stops, I was in the saddle for about 7+ hours. The images that stick in my head: Arch rock, rust brown and black in the white-blue surf; Brown pastures with abandoned vehicles and cows sloping away from the road toward houses on cliffs and a further white of ocean fog; Green–roadsides, mountains, valleys of feeder streams and rivers, fennel, fern and reed.
I made Grizzly Creek and, hungry, I heated some water in my little backpack kit. I spilled the entire contents of the kettle twice, but finally got some into the bag of freeze-dried Jamaican Style Chicken and Rice. Ten minutes and a glass of wine later, I’m stylin’!