Subject: WanderRockies 15 - San Francisco, California
Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2000 17:55:36 -0700
Travel is a window for some, a mirror for others.
In the best of compromises, it is a reflective view port through which
one captures memories by introspection. For me through most of this trip,
like many trips before, seeing the world from the unbounded prow of a motorcycle
cutting its swath through an ocean of air, and feeling the wake of that
invisible passage, has turned my thoughts to the to the flow of circumstances
that place us each where we are.
No one mentally capable of riding a motorcycle could possibly ride this particular route without thinking beyond the immediate. Warm sun at your back on a cool high mountain morning. A two lane path of paved pleasure tenaciously grasping the rise and twist of the terrain racing before you. Granite cliffs soaring on the left to ragged ridges still covered with snow in early August, and the contrasting flat face of Mono Lake on the right smiling bluer than the sky in its twinkling waves. You may not see god on US395, but you will see some of god's favorite places. (P.S. Don't miss the sign for High Sierra Shrimp Company just north of Lee Vining. Mountain shrimp ... now there's another thought provoker.)
After a leisurely morning and a well deserved rest from the heat, I urged us both to stay mentally focused. The trip is not over yet, and it is too easy to fall to the trap of "things to do when home ...". The good traveler does not end the trip until it is over. There are still the Sierra, the foothills, the valley, and the coast - this little thing called California that others would crave to see. It is still a day trip I enjoy.
We decided Tioga Pass, through Yosemite, would be
too much of others, of crowds, craving, so we chose again the road less
traveled and went the extra 20 miles to Sonora Pass. Weather wise, with
Wanderluck it turned out to be the right decision. The entire Range of
Light was draped with dark clouds which ended at Hanna Mountain, just south
of Devils Gate Summit. Despite the rambling, rumbling thunderstorms, the
sky remained clear above us as we negotiated the 27% climb up the east
face (a big reason why few RVs go this way).
By noon in Pinecrest, at the altitude where the temperature was still pleasant, we were challenging California to give us its best. We took on Utah, we beat Nevada, c'mon Cal, throw it at us. Through little towns with big image names, Mi-Wuk Village (Indian tribe), and Twain Harte (authors Mark and Bret), by the time we reached Confidence I was confident it would be an easy day - barely even sweating weather in Sonora at 103. :)
Last night Rebecca asked why one would be so tired
at the end of a day's ride when the day itself didn't involve much movement
and seemingly no exercise. Response? Oh, yes, there is plenty of exercise.
I call it isometric attention. Once under way, the bike may do all the
work, but the rider is on constant alert and moving 100% of the time. Don't
think so? Even on a straight, flat road try closing your eyes and see how
high you can count before attention deficit panic kicks in. Your body's
survival reactions won't stay quiet long. And moving? Those who have a
throttle lock know that no fixed position matches any road. There are small
but frequent adjustments necessary to keep 'steady'. We won't even talk
about interspersing scanning for danger while absorbing scenery. Even on
a relaxing ride you never rest.
So stare intently at something for several hours while holding yours hands out in front of you. Tired? As fun as it is, riding is work. And I love my work.
At last the familiar twinge of fog cooled air creeps into the tactile pattern blasting past us at insane freeway speeds, faster in some cases just to keep up than we rode in unlimited roads of the open desert. And then over the last coastal rise there is the white layer of natural air conditioning, reminding us this is a perfect place to live. And since it is the end of the continent, not a bad place to end a trip, either.
Mammoth Lakes US395 CA108 CA120 US205 I580 San Francisco
Rebecca rode 3,363 miles total, an admirable achievement for two weeks.
My extra week while wandering Wyoming worked me up to 5,161 miles.
Sam Lepore, San Francisco
... from Rebecca:
Sam's been after me to supply some of my observations to be included.
It's kind of like cooking for Julia Child but here goes...
First of all, I can't thank Sam enough for the wonderful vacation. He took on a lot in planning the routes, places to stop, places to eat, etc. And all I can say is that he is the most wonderful tour guide. Throughout the trip he never seemed to mind that I had to stop frequently to unbend my bad knees, or that I hate heat. And he knows all the best motorcycle roads.
The canyons, rivers, creeks, mountains, meadows, flowers, rocks, trees, smells, mountain passes, dips (whoop-dee-doos), the quiet, etc., were breathtaking in the extreme. Being outside the whole time on a motorcycle showed me just how stifling sealed buildings can be. Chief Seattle said something about the longer man (and woman) is away from nature, the harder their heart grows. No one could finish a trip like this with a hard heart. America is such a beautiful country.
The Colorado BMW Riders and the town of Paonia surely do put on a fun rally. The best restaurant award goes to The Casa in Paonia and their friendly staff. Being from San Francisco and therefore slightly spoiled when it comes to restaurants, this one is still worth a side trip if you find yourself anywhere near Paonia in the future.
We saw a few women riders and that's an increasingly good sign. (BMW AG listen up! - not every rider is 6 feet tall.) I must confess that I especially enjoyed the looks on the faces of several young girls when they realized I was riding my own bike.
But my favorite part of the trip was riding my bike behind Sam up and down the swooping mountain passes. That was a riding course all its own. He was probably throttling it down to a speed that suited me, but following him along those roads I felt the freedom to just enjoy the roller coaster ride without worrying too much about the sharpness of the curve, the condition of the road, etc. And enjoy it I surely did! I even got to ride beside a rainbow. Leaving Mammoth Lakes after a thunderstorm, and on a 4 lane road, a car passed me and was kicking up water from the still-wet road surface, and a rainbow appeared in its wake - a full-fledged rainbow about ten feet long. Riding along encompassed by a rainbow was a magical feeling indeed.
Riding a motorcycle is the pot of gold.