Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 SoCal Ride - Cruisers n' Curves

For 2008 the group ride became the Central and Southern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Southern California desert and then out to the coast at Santa Barbara. Finished up by heading North again all the way up the coast to Santa Cruz before turning inland back to Sacramento.

Day 1 We rode to Lake Tahoe (The entire loop), then out through Luther pass to Markleeville then over Monitor Pass to 395 and into Nevada to Topaz Lake for the night. Topaz Lake Casino and Lodge - Great Food and Winnings!

Day 2 we headed south on 395 through Bridgeport and Lee Vining to Hwy 120 (Tioga Pass). This is the East entrance to Yosemite National Park and we started our trek over the pass and it was inspiring to say the least. The weather was perfect, the roads somewhat clear of cages and motorhomes. Sites were everywhere and anywhere you looked in all directions. We ended up coming down into Yosemite Valley and had a late lunch at the Awhanee Hotel Dining Room, Great food! and we headed off again down the road with our sites set on Kings Canyon National Park. This is where we would stay the night in our "rustic cabins"... and yes they were Rustic!

Day 3 We Split up with our friends from Oregon this morning and they headed to Las Vegas and we were on a site seeing venture into Kings Canyon.

We followed Hwy 193 all the way to the very end and it was well worth the 37 mile trip out and back again. The canyon is awesome and more than words can explain. It has to be experienced... on a bike. We paused to stop for some food and photos along the way, saw a baby brown bear coming right down to the roadside. Didnt stay long as we knew there had to be a mother bear around too.

Once back onto the highway heading south we headed into Sequoia National Park and rode through all the big tress... and I mean BIG TREES... they are everywhere!... So many more than even the Avenue of the Giants. These are huge groves of giant sequoias and they are truly magnificent. The road down the the mountain is switchbacks one after another and they are almost perfect enough that you can setup and ride them all the same way. We found a little hamburger joint along the way and had burgers and fries that were like no other! Excellent food. We made our way down the mountain and into the little bedroom town of Porterville for the night. This was a necessary stop as it was approaching 110+ degrees and we needed a pool to sit in and relax... we found one.

Day 4 Springville via Hwy 190, this is another great backroad... out to Kernville and then Lake Isabella, rode around the lake to east and then back south down to Bodfish and Caliente along the winding Bodfish-Caliente Rd. Great road by the way. We ended up coming out on Hwy 58 near Keene and then going towards Tehachapi. We thought we were going to stay in Mojave but there's no town there to speak of so we went into Lancaster... yea well we cant always stay in paradise!

Day 5 We found a really nice road out of Lancaster called Godde Hill Rd leaving from the south valley and ending at Elizabeth Lake Rd. Then we followed that until we came to Lake Hughes Rd. This would take us through some really nice twistys and through some scenic canyons and outlook areas finally ending up at Castaic Lake near Hwy 5. We took a short jaunt south on Hwy 5 until we came to the Hwy 126 turnoff and headed west towards the coast. The climate change was dramatic from when we left early this morning at Lancaster around 8am and 75 degrees already to about 11 am and now it was down to about 60 degrees. But not for long, once we reached Santa Paula we headed north on Hwy 150 towards Ojai. This is an awesome road and drops you right into downtown Ojai. There we stopped for lunch at a sweet little patio restaurant and I had a Reuben sandwich that was incredible. I think it was the Golden Moon Restaurant. It had a huge tree covering the patio, very nice place. It was getting warm again too.

Back on the road we headed west again for a short ride to the coastline at Santa Barbara (or so I thought). We ended up getting onto Hwy 33 heading northward into another mountain range and although it was very, VERY nice roads and spectacular views, I think we were all ready to find a cooler place to just stop and relax for abit. This little route change ended up being about 150 miles and brought us out to the coast near Santa Maria about 65 miles further north than where we wanted to come out. Hwy 33 took us to Cuyama and New Cuyama and about 30 miles of road paving work. And Oh was it nasty... and it was easily 110 degrees out there in the vast open area. We sat at a couple of road blocks for about 1/2 hour each waiting on the "follow me" car and then we had to ride on a gravel roadbed for about 10 to 15 miles at a couple different points. This wasn't fun at all and made us all the more ready to just park and drink heavily!!!.

When we finally got to some good roadway again it was very nice... long curving smooth roadway that let you just ride the throttle on as far as you wanted to pull it. and we did. We finally got into Santa Maria and found rooms at the historic Santa Maria Hotel. This place was real nice and we were treated very well. We had dinner in the restaurant that night and the service was not good, but it wasn't the staff's fault, I would blame this on mismanagement mostly. Too many tour bus people and not enough pre-preparation for all the people to feed at one time. Too bad. The bartenders in both bars were great! Nothing wrong here!

Day 6 This was going to be a day of back tracking and then running back north like a scalded cat to get back on track again. We headed south with our next stop being Solvang. We stopped in Los Alamos for breakfast and it was a cozy little place and just plain good ole home cookin food. It was ran by a guy with the name of Quackenbush, which is a name that goes way back in my own families history. He came out and talked with us all for a bit, we ate our food, and hit the road again. Solvang next!

Our day in Solvang included the girls shopping for this and that in way too many places to look through unless you have about a week to spend there. We also wanted to check out the motorcycle museum at the end of town. It was closed of course. There was a number listed to call on the door, so we called and they came down and happily opened the place up for us to tour at our leisure. What great people. We got to see like 100 + bikes and they are all in just unbelievable condition. What great history with some great bikes. That will fill another blog entry someday.

Back on the bikes we got onto Hwy 101 North and went slabbin for about 100 miles to San Luis Obispo with a stop in Pismo Beach for lunch. We turned off towards Hwy 1 and Morro Bay and made a short stop there to walk out onto the Pier and look out at "The Rock". The pelicans were dive bombing the waters around the Pier too, what a trip!... must have been a huge school of fish swimming around there. We loaded up one more time and headed north into Cambria where we decided this would be a good place to stop and make ready for the next day. Cambria is a great little town off the beaten path just south of San Simeon. This place has everything, great food , places to stay and the people are just awesome. We met a goldsmith there and looked in his shop for a ring for me to replaced my lost wedding band. He had some beautiful stuff and he had a ring that knocked my socks off. He had to re size it for me and since we were on the road he did it and delivered it to our table at the local restaurant we were having some dinner at. We awarded him with a few beers. Thank you so much!

Cambria also knows how to have a good time!... Mozzi's Bar was just reopening after having been closed for 2 years and these folks were letting it all out this night. We were fortunate enough to be there to enjoy all the fun with them.

Day 7 Cambria was a great town for visits and finding some great new friends, we went to breakfast at the local pancake house and ran into our goldsmith buddy, he wanted to make sure I had no regrets from my purchase the night before and also to check out our rides. We had a good bite to eat and hit the road again heading for Hearst Castle at San Simeon. This was a pretty short ride from Cambria and we had some time to burn so we made a couple stops along the coastline there to take in the beauty of Simeon Bay. We met another rider there that was on his way back east someplace on a Honda rice rocket that he had just bought out here. Didnt look too comfortable but to each their own!

We road up to the castle entrance and loaded up on the tour buses to take our tour. What an awesome place and awesome times to have lived in California during the Hearst years. This is really a "dont miss tour" if you're riding or traveling in the area. They have many tours all day long and you can pretty much just walk up and get on one without prior reservations. Weekends tend to be more crowded.

From San Simeon we headed north again on the Coast Highway 1 and into the Big Sur area which had just experienced the devasting fires about 3 weeks before our trip started. It was very sad to see the devastation and destruction that had occurred to a once very beautiful region of our planet. All the mountainsides were burned clean of all landscape and greenery for as far to the east as you could see, every mountain range behind another. It was just scorched earth that was left behind everywhere you looked. We saw lots of signs thanking the firemen and the crews that had come to help out. We saw a few crews still standing by some areas and gave a honk to them as we passed by. Thank You GUYS AND GALS FOR YOUR WORK!

Someplace along Rocky Point we rode into a rest stop and had some coffee and a sandwich. It was right on the shoreline and you could walk out onto the point and look out over the cliff edges to the churning Pacific Ocean below. What a great place on this beautiful coast to be and the weather was simply perfect this day.

After lunch we rode on down into Monterey and blew right on through town on the higway and around the bay towards Marina and Seaside. From there we headed into the traffic ridden oblivion of the outskirts of Santa Cruz or "Aptos" as we locals call it... We stopped at some friends for some downtime and some catching up on our weeks ride and all the things new and old that we had seen. Had a few cold ones and some WHORES-D'OVERS... and then we hit the road again to end up in Boulder Creek for the night. Had a great meal at the local grub-steak place in town and some vintners delights and then it was time for the sack. The next day would be traversing the south bay area freeways and into the central valleys heading for home.... sweet... home.

Day 8 Went to breakfast with John and Vicky and it was such a great morning in the mountains I didnt ever want to leave again. Tink and I set out from Glen Canyon Road to Highway 17 and headed down the mountain. This would be her first time on this highway on her own on a bike in her whole life. But she did a great job, held it just fine through the curves and kept up with me as well as anyone could. This road is one of my favorites, I grew up on this highway on bikes and in cars going to SC to surf. It was actually one of the highways my driving instructor took me up when I first learned to drive. I could probably drive it blindfolded without too much damage (to a car)...

We made it into Los Gatos and rode right on thru to 880 and then cut across to Niles Canyon Blvd in Fremont where it would take us to Hwy 84 towards Sunol. We made our way through Livermore and then up and over Vasco Road through Brentwood and Oakley to the Antioch Bridge. We headed north on Highway 160 or "River Road" and rode all along the California Delta Canals through some more great little towns. I would've stopped at each and every one, but this is our backyard and we see it all the time. Plus we were ready to just get home.

We made it home after many.... miles, I think it was about 1700 or so over the past 8 days discovering more of the beautiful state in which we live.

Epilogue; I have lived in California all of my life with the exception of about 10 years and there is so much to see here and so many roads to travel. There are also so many people, most of them very nice and welcoming when you're a traveller upon the road and have a story to tell. I have found and hope to find more time... time to tell these stories to many more people along my route in life.

I have so much more to see.

This is a version of the trip we made. The trip always starts as 'planned', but will always change along the way.