22 July 2015

Homeward Bound

Having to spend so much time waiting for my bike to be repaired squashed my plans for creating a new route home by going north on Highway 1 to the Oregon border, then heading east from there. So, I set out early on a Wednesday morning and rode through California, Nevada, and Arizona, before finally stopping for the night in St. George, UT. It was a long day--close to 600 miles--with many breaks. The first half of the day was no sweat, but the second half was literally all sweat.

There was no sense in stopping before I did. Temperatures soared above 100 degrees in eastern California, and didn't begin to drop until the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona, and then Utah. I had been unsure of where I would actually be stopping that night, thinking it might be Mesquite, NV, but as I pulled into that town and felt the sun beating down on me mercilessly, I made for a Jack In The Box where I could order a soda and search for a hotel in St. George while enjoying some AC.

I made a reservation via Hotels.com, and since it was afternoon of the night I wanted to stay, they had a last minute deal with the Best Western Coral Hills, and I got a room for a great rate! I got into town, checked in, and immediately headed for the pool and spa. The hot tub really felt good on my weary muscles, and I relaxed before walking down the street to a pub for dinner. As I walked to the pub, I was reminded of the reason I always stay in Cedar City and not St. George. A car drove by, loaded with young men, and one of them yelled out the window at me. This wasn't your typical "Hey, baby!" kind of thing. It was actually violent sounding, and made me feel uneasy. In St. Fucking George, Utah.

I looked to the hillside behind the town to see the giant "D" which represents "Dixie" and the only thing I could think was, "Oh yeah, I forgot. The South plans to rise again in Utah..." No lie.

Anyway, food and beer at the pub was good, though they put something green in the hush puppies--spinach or broccoli?--which I though was just rude. No one expects hush puppies to be healthy. ZCBC's Red Altar Ale and a really beautiful spinach salad completed the meal, and I headed back to the hotel to pass out. The next morning,walking to the office to check out, I had to stop and take a picture of their signage. I gassed up, checked tire pressure, and headed out for a day of riding through southern Utah.

...in that order.

Although I wanted a new adventure and a new route, I was not unhappy to be riding through southern Utah. The beauty of the state never fails to amaze me, and this trip was no different. I stopped at a number of different "view areas" at which I never before stopped. It gave my body a chance to take a break, and I got to see some beautiful scenery.

I always imagine there are little families of birds and animals living in the holes in the rock, and that they all come out at night when no one is around and have neighborhood gatherings. What? It could happen.
There was signage at this stop explaining that when the DOT began work on putting this highway through the canyon, a man could stand at that far end and touch each side of the canyon walls. You know, before they blew it up.

At Green River, I stopped to fill my tank. When I came out of the store, a man pulled up next to me on a KLR. I chatted with him for thirty minutes or so, while he lubed his chain and took a break. Chuck Tucker was fun to talk to, and explained that he was limping his bike along for the next 150 miles, trying to get to Salt Lake City on what were essentially shot chain and sprockets. I recommended he try Rocky Mountian ATV and MC for a new set once he got to SLC, and exchanged contact information with him. Had I not been trying to get home quickly, I think I would have enjoyed riding with him. Churck was riding from Tennessee, on and off with some friends. They would be going to Paonia, then on to Billings, MT for the BMWMOA rally. Though he is usually a Goldwing guy, he and his GS riding friend bought KLRs the summer before to ride to Alaska. We shared stories of our Alaska trips, shared hugs and good wishes, and set out in opposite directions. I got a text the next morning letting me know he made it safely to SLC, and was in good hands with his friends.

Chuck, riding the country with Pracilla the Possum and A LOT of luggage!

I left Green River and kept heading east, smiling when I got to the Colorado state welcome sign. I stopped in Fruita, at the Colorado Visitors Center--across the parking lot is the Vietnam War Memorial. I sat in the park and hit Hotels.com again to find a hotel in Grand Junction. A man walked by with his very cute little dog, and as I played with her, he asked me about my bike.

Before he walked away, he said, "It kinda looks like a dirt bike."

To which I replied, "I sometimes treat her like one!"

Colorado Visitors Center and Vietnam war memorial.

After making a reservation for a hotel--which, for the record, turned out to be neither as nice nor as inexpensive as my Best Western the night before...--I rode into Grand Junction, making my first stop the BMW dealership. Hey, you never know when they might have something you just can't live without--I'm looking at you 700GS. Actually, they didn't have a 700, so I wandered into the gear section of the store, spying the women's KLiM gear in the corner. It was like seeing the elusive white tiger! This was the first time I had set eyes on it, and you can damn well believe I was going to check it out.

As I walked--by which I mean noisily swished like a little kid in snowmobiling pants--over to the corner, a salesman I hadn't even seen said, "Did you buy your pants before the women's line came out?"

I stopped, looked at him smiling, and said, "Gee, how can you tell?"

"You look like you're wearing your big brother's pants."


I got my pants about a year before KLiM released the women's line, and I just couldn't bear to spend $500 more to have another pair of pants. But...there was no reason for me to not try on that jacket. The small fit like a glove, and the brilliant drapers/patternmakers at KLiM made the sleeves long enough. It was wonderful, and the fit of the sleeves was a winner in sharp contrast to my two Olympia jackets. In all fairness, prior to trying the KLiM jacket, the Olympia jackets had been the clear winners prior to that, and I have worn them both well for the last three and a half years. But, it may be time to move on... I did not spend the $569.00 right then and there to buy it, though I seriously though about it. Being currently unemployed probably had something to do with that decision.

BMW (and Harley and KTM) dealership in Grand Junction.

Arriving at the hotel, I thought I'd head down to the pool and hot tub again, but two things stopped me. The hotel had no hot tub--bad research job, Louise!--and a huge thunder and lightning storm. I managed to get everything into my room in time to avoid a soaking, but it rained, at times heavily, for the next two hours. I never got to the pool.

I left in the cool Colorado morning and rode east on I-70 until I turned southeast on highway 24. I rode this highway on the very first long-ish distance road/camping trip I did on Thumper, almost four years ago. The first time I rode it was within the first 200 miles on this bike. Now I've got more than 40,000 miles under me, and it's a completely different game! The scenery was beautiful--duh!--and I stopped in Hartsel for lunch. It wasn't too busy in the restaurant, and I sat at the bar to have my lunch, chatting with the bartender, Dan. I really recommend stopping here if you will be in the area for any reason. Food is good and people are nice.

There is a sweet little waterfall in the distance. This was a nice spot to stop and take in some gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery.
Southern Utah may be beautiful, but Colorado is just as amazing!

Leaving Hartsel, I really began to feel the pull of home. I was ready to be back in Colorado, and done with this trip home. As soon as I pulled in, I left the bike completely loaded, cracked open an Oskar Blues Pinner, and sat petting my cat. She doesn't even pull the "I'm so pissed at you for leaving that I'm going to ignore you" bullshit that most cats do when their people get home from being gone for an extended period of time. But, she has one white whisker. My beautiful, all black cat, has grown one white whisker while I've been away from her. I think it's a sign I shouldn't leave her anymore. So for now, here in Colorado I shall stay.


Bad Bike, No Biscuit!

My time in California was done for the summer. A couple of days spent seeing some family and I would I would be on my way back to Colorado to start the second half of my summer. Seems simple enough. Yet, as I made my way north, I had a pretty major problem with my Thumper. Who is surprised? Anyone? Go ahead, raise your hand...anyone. Right. No surprise. Bad, bad bike!

While in Santa Maria, I got a recommendation from an ADVRider inmate for Coastriders Powersports in San Luis Obispo. I called the first morning I was there, explained my situation, and they said bring it in right away. Let me just say, THESE GUYS WERE AWESOME!!! They diagnosed the problem--bad water pump--ordered the parts, and had me back on the road within 2 1/2 working days. Of course, a holiday weekend fell in there also, so I spent eight days hanging out.

It wasn't the worst thing in the world, I have to say. I got to spend a week with my parents, attend a family birthday party, see some old friends and go wine tasting, and enjoy time off and with family. My dad let me have his little cruiser to run around on, and I took advantage of it. Below are the pics of the week, both getting to Santa Maria and the days spent in the area.

The road down to Cold Spring Tavern is beautiful! It is a twisty, narrow road which gives a beautiful view of the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge. The bridge was completed and opened in 1963 and is the highest arch bridge in California--it has won awards for it's design and engineering.
Cold Spring Tavern is located at the bottom of Stagecoach Road, right off of highway 154, north of Santa Barbara. It used to be a stage coach stop, and the historic site is now a very popular place for motorcyclists to stop on the weekends.
I suddenly realized that the changing weather patterns must be signaling the apocalypse when I pulled up to my parents house and saw all the brown, crunchy, lawns. I'm pretty sure that only the End Of Days could persuade the Tiffany Park HOA to allow lawns to look that way.... My dad was excited to show off his new Yamaha Midnight Venture 1300. It's a big bike.
This bike is definitely made to be comfortable for someone much larger than me, but it seems to fit my parents perfectly.
My dad's Yamaha V-Star 650. This little cruiser was a great size for me, and once I learned where my feet went while riding, I enjoyed running around Santa Maria and the 5 Cities on it. The biggest difference while riding was the lean angle--I kept dragging the pegs. Sorry Dad.
A number of my extended family were visiting for the week and the holiday weekend, and while there, my Aunt Coleen asked my dad to take her for a ride on his big bike.
Coleen borrowed my mom's boots and and helmet, and I gave her a pair of gloves--she was all set and ready to go.
July 5 was my older brother's and uncle's birthday. The day before had been the big party, but my mom invited everyone to her house for breakfast on the 5th. I got to spend a little more time with everyone, including my nephew Kevin, before they all headed for home.
Sunday afternoon I took a spin up the coast through Guadalupe and the 5 Cities. It was a beautiful day for a photo op at the old depot in Oceano...
...and a stop to look down the cliffs in Shell Beach...
...relax for a bit on a bench overlooking the ocean and Avila Beach to the north...
...and a stop at the pier in Port San Luis.
Stepping onto the pier, I felt like I had come home. I spent so much time here in my teens and twenties, fishing off the end of the pier, sailing out of this harbor, or just visiting. I begin to smile and relax and I'm pretty sure I feel my blood pressure drop just being there.
California Bown Pelican. They are big birds, and extremely comfortable around the human types.

They now have to fence off the floating docks, otherwise they will be completely taken over by the local sea lions, and completely unusable for people wanting to ready their boats for the day.
This is the one place I don't mind the wind--it is so fresh and smells of the sea.
The dinghy in the middle is full of water, up to the water line on the outside. I don't think I'd want to go anywhere in it....
There are wonderful tide pools about 50 feet from the pier, filled with anemones, mussels, crabs, and barnacles.
It is easy to find a good rock to sit on and enjoy watching the tide pools filling and emptying. The bonus to arriving in motorcycle boots and KLiM pants is that even when I misjudged the tide and got sprayed, I was waterproof.
Tuesday afternoon, Coastriders Powersports called and told me my bike was ready. To say thanks for their speedy work, I took the shop some snacks and a 12-pack of New Belgium beer. Have I mentioned how AWESOME these guys are!?!

After getting my bike back, I made a stop at a special place for a quick pic. That night, my parents and I had dinner at Orcutt Burger--I had forgotten how good those zucchini fries are--and I got my things packed up.

As I put my top case back on the bike, I found this. It looks like some weird worm working its way out of my case, but it is, in fact, gum! GUM! On my top case!! Gross.

That night, Thumper shared the garage with my dad's bikes--Mom parked her car outside and gave up the whole space for my bike--my fat-bottomed girl kind of needs the extra room. Early the next morning, I headed out, saying goodbye to California, and finally going home.