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Thread: All roads begin at the Chevron station

  1. #1
    Senior Member Hesaid's Avatar
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    All roads begin at the Chevron station

    Ok, I'm going to start out with a bit of a confession. You may have seen these posts somewhere else. Shesaid and I got into motorcycling a bit over a year ago, and got into motorcycle forums at about the same time. Pashnit was one of the first for us, as so many here are from nearby areas, and share some of our stomping grounds. Reading about local roads was always a draw. Since that time we've been elsewhere on the net, other forums, trips from around the world, bike specific forums, blogs, and whatnot, but never really meant to dismiss Pashnit.

    That said, I thought we'd start this thread to play catch-up in the Pashnit world, and then maintain this thread to share our adventures with those who might travel the same less traveled roads. At first, this means we'll copy and paste some reports of our past rides, but soon we'll be updating in nearly real time.

    Hope you all enjoy, and please feel free to comment. Maybe we've already crossed paths with some of you, and maybe we will in the future. This next summer should have us camping on the bikes and expanding our stomping grounds, so perhaps we'll see you out there.

    After we stop at our local Chevron station that is.

    MV

  2. #2
    Junior Member Shesaid's Avatar
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    Maggie
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    I guess it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Hesaid/Shesaid make a great set of handles for a couple-- a couple who might tend to bicker a tad or, at least, have differing recollections of events.

    So I think I should not need to point out to anyone that user "Hesaid" is the other half of this dynamic duo-- and, I'm sure you'll come to agree-- the one with the less accurate memory.

    He tells me, "Hun, we need to get more involved with Pashnit. Go read my intro post and help me out."

    So I did. His intro post made very little actual sense to me. So I guess I'll try to help him out:

    We are reasonably new at this motorcycle thing, having purchased matching DR650s in October of 2012. Naturally, upon becoming a bonafide motorcycle owner, I immediately fell down and broke my wrist in a comedy of errors in which my shiny new DR was more witness than perpetrator.

    This minor (but expensive) set back is the primary reason that we did not actually beging accumulating riding miles until April of 2013, and the secondary reason behind my now being the owner of TWO bikes (the Easter Bunny brought me a TW200 last spring.)

    We live about half a mile from a Chevron station-- and Hesaid is fond of Chevron as a quality fuel.

    Thus... all rides start from the Chevron station.

    Also, I apologize if any of the ride reports that we're about to post make out-of-context references, as I expend a fair amount of effort writing them up, and then divvying them out to various online sources-- I'm bound to miss a few edits now and again.

    So, in short (btw: I am unable to tell the SHORT version of ANY story, it has been a curse since I mastered speech: ) Here's looking forward to getting to know the Pashnit community and hoping that you enjoy our stories.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Shesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    (From back in spring from 2013)]We never go anywhere good...

    Hesaid insists that it is my job to post our adventures. I have been insisting that I will do so when we start having "adventures."



    As new riders, our first year has consisted of day trips to areas that are accessible within a day's ride from home. As dual sporters, we agree that the goal is to make use of the on road/off road capabilities of our bikes, not merely trailer them to trailheads. Which has, so far, resulted in many long hours in the saddle with not so many miles on the odometers at the end of the day. Which might make for mildly interesting tales to tell friends and family, but falls far short of the expectations of the sort of readers we're likely to encounter in any motorcycle-centric forums.



    Our First "Real" Ride (May 21, 2013)

    Monday morning I woke up feeling half stoned. And not the sort that has led to profit for Taco Bell with ingenius concepts like "4th Meal" and Mountain Dew slushies... more like several people stood around and threw rocks at me.

    I should have taken some Ibuprofen before I went to bed on Sunday.

    The thing with a TW200 (I refer to mine as "the Wombat") is that they don't go fast. And by not fast, I mean slow. It likes to cruise at 45 mph. If that's all it did, it'd be happy.

    But we live in a wide open, flat, rural landscape with long, straight, country roads. Roads that stay straight and reasonably traffic free for miles at a stretch. Roads where most people open it up and regularly hit 70 between stop signs.

    Between the Wombat's red line at 55mph and my beginning-rider-feels-like-light-speed-at- 20, leaving the womb-like comfort of the neighborhood or private roads (and I did put 40 miles on the odo a few weekends ago on some forest roads, of which I have no pictures) took an act of bravery I wasn't sure I posessed.

    At some point, I have to cross the road, right?

    So the BF and I saddled up the ponies and made a basic plan.



    First, the Wombat was going to need gas. The TW is reported to get about 80 mpg. Great mileage but still doesn't get you far when you only have a 1.8 gallon tank. With 97 miles on the odometer, the Wombat had yet to see a gas station in real life. (The Wombat's been living in the BF's parents' barn. We've put most of the miles on it on their private road.)

    $7.15 later, we'd topped up the tank in both the TW and the BF's DR650 and did some serious damage to a 32 oz Pepsi before heading through our downtown district on our way out of town.

    We planned our course to avoid sensored traffic lights that don't know we're there, and as much traffic as possible. Naturally, that landed us on a senseless traffic light sensor in the midst of going-home traffic right next to a popular church. Unfortunately, none of that church traffic was going to help us out by needing to make a left turn at the signal where we were stuck. So after 3 full cycles of the signal, I got to legally run my first stop light.

    Much to the dismay of the nearby traffic.

    So, on that note, Yes. California vehicle code 21800 does specify that when a traffic signal sensor fails to sense traffic, it is permissable to procede through the light after determining it's safe to do so. California vehicle code also says that all traffic lights are supposed to be equipped with sensors that will sense traffic such as motorcycles and bicycles-- but in the meantime, at least someone in Sacramento has the good sense to realize it's not a good idea to leave motorcyclists and bicyclists stuck at stubborn traffic lights for weeks on end.

    Our route took us through some lazy neighorhood roads and almost-deserted-on-a-weekend streets that didn't mind our comfortable 35 mile an hour gait. And then, there I was, at the stop sign of a tiny cross street, staring at the Big Road.

    This was the one that had to be done. This was the one that was going to test just how fast the Wombat and I can go.

    After a couple of deep breaths, and several checks for traffic, I turned onto the road and got up to speed as fast as I could. Holding the throttle open and maintaining 50 mph took some effort, but the Wombat and I were good.

    I didn't worry about traffic, I kept my head up and my eyes on the horizon and we just went for it. Passed Cutler Park, around the big curve, and over the river till we made the turn on to El Rio.

    At this point, we're out of the town we live in (Visalia) and pretty much in the town I grew up in (Ivanhoe) albeit, out in the boonies. I've travelled El Rio many a time by car and bicycle and never been impressed with the quality of the road.

    On the motorcycle? Damn glad I spent a weekend on those forest roads learning to stand on the pegs and just throttle over whatever gaping holes might suddenly appear beneath me.

    So once I was relatively certain that what should be a lazy, shady country road that peacefully winds along the river bed, wasn't going to kill me, I settled into it and and relaxed a little... ok. I wasn't relaxed, I was on the watch for psychotic, feral dogs that might run after me from any number of directions.

    But we made it to the next intersection unscathed and proceded out to Charter Oak. That's the Wombat parked in front of the plaque that explains that this was the spot where our county was formed. Yes, there's a giant oak tree too, just not in the picture, hence "Charter Oak." By this time I was feeling pretty good.



    All was going well and I was feeling like I might not suck at riding a motorcycle afterall. It's even kinda fun!

    Our continued route took us further into the countryside, riding along stretches of country roads lined with citrus orchards with the wind in our... well, not hair. We wear our helmets-- and not just because there's a law that says we have to. But I have great Olympia Airglide gear and the wind just vents right through it. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors doing pretty much anything really.

    We tried to remember to snap lots of pics of the bikes out and about since we don't have many photos yet.

    We stopped by this pond and took some pics. The cow that was there was camera shy and moved away. It's already pretty hot and dry down in our valley, so there aren't many wild flowers to stop next to. I found some little yellow ones growing on a bush that looked very angry-- lots of spikey,pointy things growing on it.



    A few laps around the country roads and we stopped for a bit beside a cornfield in the shade of some oak trees.

    Got a great shot of Dr. Feelgood (The BF claims his bike's full name is Dr. James "Jigsaw" Feelgood) taking a break in front of the cornfield.



    It was a nice spot to rest for a bit and discuss further plans and the impending need for lunch.

    We have friends in Exeter, so I sent off a text message and we headed in that direction. Which meant another road where 50 mph wasn't going win me many friend with the rest of the traffic.

    Nevertheless, and despite the BF's irritation at my lagging behind him on the open road, I managed to keep the throttle open and not be in too many peoples' way as we made our way to downtown Exeter. Where following the BF proved to be an exercise in staying calm and zenlike.

    He never cancels his turn signals so I never knew for sure which way we were turning. I finally put the bike in a parking space. Exeter is a tiny little town, there is absolutely no just cause for circling it 20 times on the bikes.



    We had lunch at VIP pizza without hearing back from our friend.

    It was only after we were done with lunch that it occurred to either of us to have actually used the helmet locks on the bikes. Which would save us some table space in restaurants, but our jackets are still a bulky burden when off the bikes.

    Oh well, we'll adjust.

    Not much going on in Exeter, CA on a Sunday afternoon. So we set a homeward course and got back on our bikes.

    Pulled into the driveway with 60.1 miles on the trip odometer. Not too bad for my first time on the open road.



    But I wish I'd known how sore I was going to be in the morning. It's gonna be awhile before I'm ready to ride around the world.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    This is pretty boring...

    ...To you I'm sure. But it was a pretty big deal to us.

    It was our first trip outside of our neighborhood. We spent the better part of the day wandering our local rural roads, eventually making our way to a nearby town, where we ate lunch. Now, if you ask Google, they'll tell you that we should have taken about 18 minutes, and traveled about 9.3 miles. But Google doesn't have a "by motorcycle" option for their maps. Nor for that matter do they make it very easy to make maps of our trip. They keep wanting to put all of our stops in a logical order, and seem to have a very hard time grasping the concept that we would drive around in a loop more than once. But hey, if you're the type of place that invents a car that drives for you, I doubt we'd ever be able to explain our ways to you. So, if you can bear with me through a series of small maps, I'll try to recount our ride.

    First, to the gas station. Well, not really. First we ride around our neighborhood for 20min or so getting in the groove, bikes warm, gear straight. Then, to the gas station. By way of our old neighborhood, to look at our old house that we rented for years. It's for sale again, for a third of what the previous owner wanted us to buy it for. I'm tempted. Talked to an old neighbor, looped by the old park, and headed for our favorite gas station.

    (not pictured: the warmup laps around our neighborhood)

    After topping off the Wombat, Dr Feelgood, and ourselves for a whopping $7.15 (the Cherry Pepsi was about the most expensive part), we headed off to our first difficulty.


    Now, you can't really see it on the Google map, but "B" has us stopped at a left turn arrow, that has no intention of turning green for us. And despite the flood of cars from the nearby churches letting out on a late Sunday morn, no one else wanted to turn left. So we waited through 3 cycles of the light, and then did what we're pretty sure California law tells us to, destroyed all of our high capacity magazines, made sure we had only lead-free rounds in our possession while hunting, made sure no teenagers under our supervision were frequenting tanning salons, and then ran the red turn arrow. After doing so, we were able to get out of town without any further troubles.




    This was our first long stretch, without much in the way of stops. The spot we made it to is actually the site where our county was founded years ago. Under an oak tree. The exact tree isn't quite known, but there's a grove nearby and a historical marker.

    There's even a replacement historical marker, since someone stole the original.

    From here, Google has a tough time with us, as they don't seem to be able to understand why we'd go right past "C", make a loop of close to 20 miles, just to come right back. Little did they know that there was a small pond with a cow in it. And who wouldn't want to make a giant loop to see that(again)?


    Of course, by the time we had done so, the cow had wandered off. So we took some cowless pictures.




    So after our stop at the pond, we proceeded to Exeter, stopping along the way at "B" to rest in the shade.



    Once we reached Exeter, I led us on some aimless wandering as we tried to figure out where we wanted to eat.

    Shesaid decided that since there are only half a dozen places open on a Sunday afternoon, and they're all within easy walking distance, we'd just park and wander. So we did. We wandered into VIP pizza, and had pizza (no beer), and talked about our adventure, and our plans for our return trip.

    Here's an overview of our trip, with plenty of confusing letters and dots that were required to get Google to map out our actual path, rather than their logical one:


    MV

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    We didn't have a lot of options for our return trip. We could go the Google suggested route, which is pretty much a straight shot of ~10 miles, but that didn't sound very interesting. But then, to the south there wasn't really anything different, so we decided pretty much to trace much of our drive out for our way back. Not so much loop around, but a more direct indirect way home.

    Once we got out of Exeter that is.


    There were some issues with one way roads/alleys, and incomplete intersections surrounded by railroad tracks, but we made it back to the main road in short order. From there we just took the roads with the closest things we have to curves around here that went mostly in the direction we wanted to go. Our only side trip on the return leg was a stop at "E", the DMV, to practice riding their test circle.

    The circle isn't impossible, but I'm not a huge fan either. Much easier on the Wombat than on Dr. Feelgood. The Dr. doesn't like to go as slow as the Wombat, and of course weighs significantly more.

    I'm sure Shesaid will chime in here and fill in some areas I missed, and I know she already told her story on her blog: Shesaid's blog. So while I know it's not a bucket list type trip, we were pretty happy with it, and look forward to more. Altogether we did ~60 miles. Now we just have to wait for another weekend.

    MV

  6. #6
    Junior Member Shesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    The Next 80 Miles-- June, 2013:

    Another 80 miles on the speedometer and under my belt.

    Never mind the 100 degree temps, there's no water in our local river, so we won't be canoeing-- that means another trip on the bikes. Besides, we need the riding experience.

    We made our way out of town along a similar route as last time, stopping by the Chevron, topping up gas tanks, and downing a soda before meandering our way out of city limits. This time we opted to avoid any left-hand turn signals that don't know we're there.

    This map shows our approximate route there. Google maps is not the friendliest to us when trying to map out our routes, so it's only approximate. And you can't really see the details of which roads are which so if it's really important to you, you'll have to look things up for yourself...

    The route there: home to Sister's Mountain House via Hwy 245


    We left town via Lover's Lane to Houston Ave, back around Cutler Park, over the river, and east on El Rio Road, around the corner, over the tracks, along Venice Hill and a quick meet up at the Charter Oak again. This may well become our standard for getting out of Dodge, so don't expect me to outline it in every ride report.

    I agreed with the BF about heading up Millwood/Rte 245 through Elderwood, but made sure he understood we would be making a photo stop at the random rose garden first:


    They help with polination for all the orange orchards, but these roses seem so random in the middle of nowhere.

    It made for a great photo of the bikes. And look! I even managed to strap a small collapsable cooler on the back of the Wombat! Cool water on a hot day made big difference.

    We wound our way up Hwy 245 (mostly it's just a two lane, windy road through the country,) past what used to be a really nice little country store in Elderwood... oh how we both miss that store.

    There was a fire about a million years ago-- 10?15?-- and although the building got repaired, the store never re-opened. If I had the money....

    We did stop to observe a moment of reflective silence for the little piece our our youth now gone, and agreed there was just something better about a good, cold Mug Rootbeer from that store.



    I've always loved driving through the tiny, rural "town" of Elderwood. I don't know who owns and maintains this little resting spot at the big bend in the road, but it was nice to have a chance to sit and rest, have a cool drink of water and discuss our where-do-we-go-from-here plans.



    While we rested at the picnic table, we waved at several other riders coming and going on the road. It was a hot day, but this is a popular road for motorcycles; all those twisties! And, of course, Sister's Mountain House at the top of the hwy for a refreshing beverage.

    We decided that, hot or not, we were having a good ride. So we would go ahead and continue up to Mountain House and have lunch.

    So I futz'd with my gear and we got back on the road: I swear, I am going to be great at being one of those Starbucks type riders. Standing around, adjusting belts and straps and zippers and velcro. I love my Olympia Airglide gear, but the precision timing required for helmet, sunglasses, then gloves, then velcro on the sleeves of the jacket... it takes me 15 minutes to get put back together. Matt has a modular helmet and zippered jacket sleeves-- he just puts down his face shield, on with the gloves and he's done.

    So he waited patiently for me until I was back in my gear and in gear, and then I headed out onto the road.

    We got really lucky with about no traffic on the roads at all. I am oh so not having fun "carving up the twisties" just yet, and this road gets twisty! First lean in one direction, then lean the other way. I ended up in 2nd gear on the TW-- and let me tell you! 2nd gear on a Yamaha TW200 is dangerously close to "any-slower-and-you'll-fall-over" slow! I felt bad for the BF; I knew he was behind me on the Suzuki DR650, trying not to run over me and not having much fun. But he was super patient and didn't gripe.



    We get a lot of people telling us how proud/amazed/impressed they are that I'm willing to get back on a bike at all after the stupid drop/trip/fall/broken wrist incident. And the BF hears from a LOT of other guys about how jealous they are that his lady is willing to ride with him-- and on her own bike-- so I think he's extra willing to go slow with my little Tipsy Wombat (that's what we call the T-dub) and let me find my own pace on the roads.

    By the time we arrived at Mountain House for lunch, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for making it through the twisties without having a panic attack. I know I'll eventually get far more comfortable with the leaning-into-the-corners thing, but for now I'm still getting used to just maintaining the speed of traffic. Which is hard enough on a bike that's lucky to get to 55 mph!

    We enjoyed some Pepsi and sandwiches and decided we needed to get back on our way. We chose our route homeward, the BF waited patiently while I futz'd with my straps and velcro, and then helped me get the bike pointed down the hill... the Wombat is almost a perfect fit for me, if the suspension would just compress another 1/2- 1 inch when I sit on it, I'd have better leverage for pushing it around when the ground underneath my feet is less than level.
    Then we were off, headed down Dry Creek Road. Which apparently doubles as hwy 216.



    I did better on the twisty Dry Creek Road headed down hill around the curves, even though we encountered more oncoming traffic on this road.

    When we got home, the BF told me he was really impressed with me as I was getting pretty low in some of the corners. Not dragging my pegs low, but pretty low. Which kinda freaked me out to hear. I didn't feel like I was leaning into the curves, I felt like I was downshifting to damn near "stop" and inching around corners! Good thing I didin't drag my pegs on any of them, I'd have probably freaked out and just fallen right over!

    But seriously, it's good to know I'm doing it right, if slow. I can't wait till it stops being blood-curdling terrifying and starts being grin-tastic fun.

    At the bottom of Dry Creek, we pulled over by the river for another cold water. I was pretty heartbroken when the cooler fell off the rear of the Wombat and all that icy cold water from the melted ice made a shortlived mud puddle by the rear wheel. I was hoping to dump it over my head before we headed home.

    And if we're going to be making a habit of getting off the bikes for even a few moments, I'll be looking for some sort of soft, towel-like seat cover: the seat warms up fast in the sun!



    I tried to get a couple of shots of the bikes that would show the river and the Sierra Nevada in the background, but our valley air is too thick to show the mountains and the high, over grown river bank didn't really do much for showing the water.

    Oh well. Still not a bad shot of the bikes.

    I have to admit, at this point we still had about 25 miles till home. I was tired. It was hot. The Wombat isn't the smoothest ride and I am starting to understand why everyone gets a custom seat.

    My throttle wrist was starting to feel like my broken wrist does all the time now and my shoulder was sore. Basically: I wasn't having fun any more. I just wanted to go home.

    We turned into our neighborhood with 79.5 miles on my trip odo. I just couldn't let it go at that, I led the BF on a couple of lazy loops through the 'hood until I was satisfied that we had done a full 80 miles.



    For our next ride, we're thinking of an overnighter to Springville. But our summer weekends are filling up fast, so it might be awhile before we can get to it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    It's interesting to go back and read some of our earlier posts. How timid we were. And even how our writing style(s) have changed. Trust me when I say, we've only gotten better. This time we covered more ground. Most of it on known "motorcycle roads". If this link works, you should be able to see a map:

    http://goo.gl/maps/UbjS6

    The beginning went pretty much like last time, a few laps around the neighborhood, and then to the gas station (I'm beginning to see where even my own title comes from) . From there we opted to avoid the never-changing left turn arrow that we only narrowly escaped from last time. We then proceeded out of town much like we did last time, stopping at "C" as Shesaid wanted pics in front of the roses:



    Then we headed to the beginnings of the "motorcycle roads", in this case, CA 245, from Elderwood to just shy of Badger. We stopped again at the beginning of this stretch, mainly to see if the seemingly random picnic table in the shade was still where we thought it was. Man do we love that picnic table.





    It was. We also took a moment to drink a bottle of water each, as the day was expected to get into the triple digits. We came prepared, with a small cooler along for the ride on the back of the Wombat. While we relaxed, we waved to all the other motorcyclists who motored by. In short order, we too set out to climb highway 245 to the junction with CA 216, and the Mountain House restaurant that resides there ("D" on the map). We had lunch, attempted to talk to some folks who had bicycled further that day than we had ridden, and over much higher elevation as well. All loaded down with their gear from their weekend camping, but they didn't seem real friendly. Didn't even wave when we passed by them on the way down.

    After lunch we headed down CA 216, stopping at the bottom next to the river for more water, "E" on the map.



    From there, we pretty much just headed home. We took the curviest roads available, which meant largely repeating both some of our morning route as well as some from our first ride, but our choices are few, so we make do with what we have. By now we were both feeling a little tired and hot, as the temps had made it to 100f, as had been predicted. We had a good time, got to practice our skills on some lonely roads, and remembered to take at least a few pictures. I suppose at some point we'll try to make the pictures more interesting than just our bikes resting roadside, but these will do for now. Including the one that makes it "official":



    MV

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    Just as a note, as I mentioned above, it's interesting to see what has changed in just a year. With the racks on the bikes now, snacks and drinks are so much easier to take along. We still love the little picnic table, but now getting there is merely the beginning of our ride, where we used to stop and talk all about how we were doing, if we could/should go on, are we tired/hot/thirsty. Corners that used to be frightening have passed through fun, to now being routine. Our "normal" routes are established, and being out of sight of one another is no longer a huge concern. At least, not like it was that one time...

    MV

  9. #9
    Junior Member Shesaid's Avatar
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    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    9 Hour Ride on 3 Hours Sleep-- June 12, 2013

    About a week ago, we came home to discover that our little diabetic, blind Aussie had decided to spend his afternoon chewing off the hair on his paw.

    We have no idea why, maybe he was just bored: we checked for fox tails and other stickers, for bee stings and other insect bites, but found nothing to suggest he had any reason to start eating his foot other than he needed something to do.

    Nothing sadder than a blind dog in a cone.


    Parker has never been the world's smartest Australian Shepherd, he's been getting by on his looks. So who knows what he was thinking?

    He kept chewing on his foot, no matter what we did. I tried wrapping it in vet wrap, but he ate that. I worried about it getting infected-- diabetes and all-- but I also worried that he'd get sick from licking off anything I put on it.

    We finally put the cone on him on Saturday evening. This did not go over well with Parker.

    He uses his face a lot to get around the house and tell where he is. With the cone on, he couldn't get his face anywhere near anything, so he had no idea where he was. Plus, he tends to get anxious (and eat his foot, for instance,) so he was not about to sit down and attempt to sleep with that cone on. 

    We planned on getting an "early" start on our Sunday ride, and we'd had a long Saturday, so we went to bed early....

    Well; we went to bed, Hesaid went to sleep. I, on the other hand, tossed and turned and tried to ignore my pathetic, lost, blind dog as he restlessly wandered the house making a racket like the ghost of Marley...

    SCRRRRRAAAAAPE went the edge of the cone against the wall as he bumbled down the hallway. CRASH! went the edge of the cone as he walked into the couch. CRASH! went the cone as he walked into the dishwasher. CRASH went the cone as he walked into the trash can. SCRRRRRAAAAAPE went the cone as he bumbled along the living room. SCRRAAAAPE went the cone as he came bumbling back through the hallway...

    It was 3:58 a.m. when I finally got up and took the cone off of him. It was 7:15 a.m. the next time I saw the clock, when Hesaid was hovering over me, reminding me that we wanted to get an early start.

    Our approximate route, from home to Dunlap and back.


    Via our standard Out-of-Dodge route, we headed east around 9 a.m. with intentions to do our first will-need-gas-before-we-get-home trip.

    We got chased by our first dog, a German Shepherd that meant business. He was standing vigil at a property we've passed several times on previous trips, but this was the first time we've ever seen him. I was pretty glad Hesaid was in the lead, gave me a chance to see the dog before he saw me.

    I grew up riding bicycles on these roads and I've had to out pedal many a dog in my day. So the good news is, no one panicked. We both saw the dog, waited till he was almost to us and then revved it up and watched the poor pup dejectedly plod back to his lair.

    We were having a "hey, let's check out this road" sort of day and ended up taking a little detour that led us away from Hwy 245 and right by the slathering jaws of another dog.

    Actually, the chocolate lab looked more like she wanted someone to play with-- but we didn't slow down to find out. She was chasing, we were gone!

    It sure is nice to be able to make a clean get away without having to pedal at warp speed!

    Eventually, we got back on track and came into Elderwood via Ave 384.

    We stopped for a brief moment under the oak tree at the random picnic table again. Had some water and discussed our next leg of the route. Then we were back on the bikes and headed up Hwy 245 toward Badger, on the lookout for the Dunlap/Miramonte turn off.


    It was nice riding through Badger-- a small (tiny) mountain community at a high enough elevation that it's mostly pine trees and out of the heat of the Valley. Mmmmmm... that was nice.

    And those twisties were a little less harrowing this time. I'm still in no danger of "carving" them up and I still felt bad for Hesaid having to hang back behind me, but I was feeling more relaxed with them this time and even having a little fun.

    We found our turn-off and made it through the tiny community of Miramonte where I spied a sign that pleaded with traffic to slow down... I checked my speedometer and figured they surely didn't mean me with my tire screeching 19 miles per hour, so I remained calm and carried on.

    A Turnout with a View


    About that time, we both decided it'd been awhile since breakfast.

    Our plan was to take the windy roads out to Hwy 180 and then brave the busy road out of Kings Canyon Nat'l Park (Hwy 180) for the few miles to the gas station in Squaw Valley... or maybe it's in Dunlap? I'm not sure what the official address is.

    Getting onto Hwy 180 was, by far, the scariest thing I've done on a motorcycle thus far. It is a very busy road, and we joined it at the bottom of the twistiest portion out of the Nat'l Park, just as traffic is starting to speed up to make up for all the time they've lost on the twisties higher up. Not unusual at all for cars to be sailing down the hill at 70 mph. And here I am on my little go-go gadget Wombat 200 with the throttle open, pushing 55 mph and trying to stay out of the way!

    It was only about a mile to the gas station, but I still pulled over twice to let faster traffic pass.

    Once the bellies of the bikes were topped up, we headed further down the hill another mile or two to top up our own tanks. This was the lunch we'd been looking forward to: Bear Mountain Pizza.



    If you're ever on Hwy 180 headed to, or from, Kings Canyon National Park, you can't miss it and you should stop and have a bite to eat. The pizza is pretty good, the sandwiches are great.

    We opted to split a pastrami sandwich and an order of "bear paws--" their take on garlic cheese bread sticks. Hesaid had a Pepsi, I drank a small vat of iced tea.

    We got laughed at by some Harley types. I call them "Harley types" because I sure as heck didn't see any other bike out in the parking lot when we rode in, so I can't be sure what sort of bikes they might actually have in their garages back home but they made it pretty clear that they were also riders; I'd locked my helmet to my bike, Hesaid opted to bring his in with him. So we walk in, choose a table, and start de-gearing: helmet on the extra chair, sunglasses and gloves on the table, unzip/un-velcro and jackets off and over the backs of the chairs, then I bent down and unzipped the side zippers of my amazing Olympia Airglide riding pants (I also have the matching jacket... hint hint, Olympia, in exchange for the shameless plug, you can send the SWAG to my office at 113 N Church St....)

    But I digress... so there we are, looking like some sort of Beemer-riding world travelers and there's this table of wind-worn, jeans-wearing types near by. I noticed a couple of the ladies at the table watching us and then their heads were together and then the whole table glanced our way and then erupts in laughter: I very much interpreted it as a little people watching going on-- with us as the people-- and imagined the commentary to be something along the lines of, "OH MY GOD, BECKY! Would you look at her GEAR!"

    I definitely detected an air that they may have felt we were overdressed for the ride.... good for them. I love my gear, and I love my skin. Scars are only cool if you live to talk about them. Did I mention I like my gear? (cough cough, Olympia?)

    In the end, the folks at the table were very nice. They chatted a bit with us and asked us how the riding was. We told them it was pretty nice out there, better than last weekend. And they wished us a happy, safe ride on their way out.

    After lunch, we zipped and velcro'd everything back on and agreed that some sort of seat covers should be moved to the top of our to-do lists for the bikes. Those seats get HOT sitting out in the sun, even for a few minutes.



    As we rolled out of the parking lot, a couple of Harleys rode in... my first thought was "So did those guys go home and get their bikes?" but I'm pretty sure it was an entirely different group of folks.

    So we rolled out onto Hwy 180 for another half a mile or so till the turn off for "Geo. Smith Road."

    The road is actually "George Smith Road" on the maps, but it's labeled "Geo Smith" and I prefer that. I makes me think it's named for a guy who makes things out of the earth. Like a metal smith... a "geosmith."

    Well anyway...

    The weather still felt darn near pleasant as we rode through the winding, rural roads that make up the Squaw Valley/Dunlap area. Up, over, and around hills we went. Enjoying the ride and on the lookout for Sand Hill Road.
    Geo Smith road took us up some steep hills, and then around some creepy turns. The Wombat and I held it together and pulled over whenever traffic came along. We found Sand Hill Road and headed out of the hills and back to the low, flat, hot Valley floor.

    Gah. That's where the 100 degree weather was. We'd already traveled more miles than either of our other rides, and home was sounding pretty good at this point...

    But we couldn't just head straight home, first, we had to go back to the toilets!

    Since that meant going back the way we came, we decided to cut across Boyd Canyon Road and get back on Hwy 245 and travel back through Elderwood again. For one thing, it meant keeping to the higher elevations for a little longer, and another rest and water break at the random picnic table.

    Boyd Canyon road is scary in a car. It's one of those classic, one lane, steep-as-hell, mountain-up-one-side, sheer-cliff-on-the-other, twisty-isn't-the-word-for-it mountain roads you see in cartoons. Yeah, it's got a serious view, but one thing they keep telling you about riding a motorcycle is that you should look where you're going because you'll go where you're looking-- so who can enjoy the view?!


    Not to mention how steep the climb was. Find a low enough gear to keep climbing in and keep on the throttle, you don't want to have to downshift on that grade, you don't want to stall! Getting going again on a hill that steep requires feats of coordination best not tested in an area where you may actually encounter traffic.

    "I think I can... I think I can... I think I can..."

    Seriously: If you're local to our area, find Ave 416 on the map. Head east. When you start seeing the big, yellow caution signs that say "Boyd Drive not recommended for trucks and buses" keep going. When you hit the bottom of the hill, downshift. Let me know if you disagree with my assessment. (Locals who drive the route regularly not eligible to play.)


    But there are a few turn outs and we did stop for some pics that just don't adequately show the view.

    Hesaid climbed up for a better view. He wanted me to climb up there too. My riding boots are not hiking boots. So here's a view of Hesaid looking at the view instead of a view of the view from where he is.



    Eventually, the scary part of the road gives way to more scenic vistas that aren't 1300 feet straight down. We turned back out onto Hwy 245, took another short rest at the picnic table, rode through Elderwood again and began our search for the sight we rode past in the morning.

    We really need to get better at stopping for this sort of thing when we see it the first time, but Hesaid is still acclimating to a hobby that involves stopping for photos and I'm still acclimating to a hobby where Hesaid lets me stop to take photos--as long as he never gets a GoPro, this moto thing might be good middle ground for us.

    We found the right road, but turned the wrong way. As soon as we did, I knew it was the wrong way, but Hesaid continued up the road anyway. In the long run, this means his final odometer reading is a little higher than mine.
    We turned around and found what we were looking for and headed home along our standard Charter Oak/El Rio Road route. The German Shepherd must have gone back inside, he didn't come to greet us again.

    When we reached the stop sign that I've come to determine as the entrance to our neighborhood, my trip odometer said if we just did 4 more miles, I'd be able to report that our 3rd trip was as long as both our 1st and 2nd put together... I opted to let it slide.

    As we waited for our garage door to open, while sitting in our driveway, the BF asked if we had to make the extra miles for a perfect 140... I just shook my head. I think we came close enough:


    Final mileage tally according to the Wombat: 136

    And what about those toilets? Well, we've had a lot of fun coming up with captions for the sight and reasons they'd be out there.

    They were just sitting out there, in front of all those beautiful citrus trees and roses in bloom. We'll let you make up your own story:


    We think it's a Build Your Own Rest stop Kit.

    PS: Parker is doing fine.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Shesaid's Avatar
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    Oct 2012
    Name
    Maggie
    Location
    Visalia CA
    Bike(s)
    Yamaha TW200
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    48

    Re: All roads begin at the Chevron station

    Lost and Alone-- or-- Now We Have GPS 6/22/13

    So Hesaid tells me that we're going to make our first official attempt at making actual, real-world contact with a member of one of our forums-- an "inmate" from ADVrider.

    Naturally, I am terrified.

    But I guess we joined all these forums for a reason-- and it wasn't just to live vicariously through others-- so it was bound to happen eventually.



    So Hesaid worked out a plan to meet up with Potentialscat and his wife at their Big Meadows campsite on the promise that Mrs. Potentialscat is also still in the beginner stages of riding so they ride slow when out together.

    This promise of "slow" was only vaguely reassuring, as Hesaid has forced me to read many of the Central Valley Dual Sporters posts and made me watch some of the videos there. These guys' idea of "slow" may not exactly be on the same level as mine.

    Nevertheless, it seemed like an opportunity to ride the bikes to a place and meet some other people who at least know what the hell a "dual sport" bike even is. So I started asking all the usual questions: What route will we take? What time do we have to get up?



    Hesaid sat down with the maps-- Hesaid LOVES maps-- and decided that we would ride up Hwy 245 (are you seeing a pattern to our riding yet?) and into Sequoia National Forest via the Whitaker Forest road... which I'd only been up maybe twice before, both times in the Xterra and once in the snow... and which Hesaid always refers to as "the road that goes by Eshom campground."

    He figured that this route offered us the most bang for the riding buck, as we would get to actually use the dual purpose portion of the bikes by getting in some pavement and some unpavement.



    As for what time we would have to get up in the morning? Well... that's part of the strange metamorphosis that Hesaid has undergone since buying a motorcycle. You see, Hesaid is normally what many people would refer to as just plain "uptight." Bordering on "control freak" at times. He's quite the Type A personality.

    OH! He doesn't THINK he is! So don't tell him I said so. But he likes to plan things, he likes to plot out routes on maps and pack for every possible scenario, he likes to make a detailed plan and stick to it.

    So, the Hesaid that I am used to would have looked over his PMs from Pscat and seen that they were planning on being in camp till noon, he would have then pulled out the calculator and looked over the records of our last several rides, done the math and determined that in order to meet up by noon we would have to leave the house by 8:43 a.m.

    He would then have set about driving me completely insane with his plotting and planning and giving me directions on how to dress, pack, eat dinner the night before a ride, check my oil and tire pressure, put gas in the Wombat, and zip up my boots so that we would be pulling onto the road at exactly 8:43 a.m. in order to arrive at Big Meadows campground by 11:53 a.m. at a moving average of....



    That's the Hesaid that I have known (and mostly loved) for years. So I was expecting something along those lines when he tells me he's confirmed a meet up.

    Instead he's all shrugs and "we'll get there when we get there."

    ??????

    Who is this man?

    Who cares! I like him!

    But I'm thinking we need to allow 3 hours to get ourselves up there... I mean, I still take those twisties up Hwy 245 at about 20 miles an hour. And he wants to go up a dirt road too? This is gonna take forever!

    So Saturday morning dawned bright and early and this was our first ride with not just a specific destination, but an intended arrival time as well.

    Everything was going fine.

    We made it up Hwy 245, into Badger, turned off and headed toward Whitaker Forest road. I was feeling pretty good about my riding and enjoying the morning. Hesaid was in front of me, which meant that I often lost sight of him since he rides faster than I do. But no worries. All in good time. We're both going to the same place. Ride your own ride, and all that.



    And then I got a bug in my eye. Who knows how the little flying beast got into my helmet, but it did. Not just into the helmet, in my eye. Ouch. So I carefully slowed down, pulled to the side of the road, shut everything down, took off my helmet and proceded to remove the thing from my eye.

    Meanwhile, Hesaid has disappeared around the next bend in the road. I am concerned not about this. When he rides ahead of me, he's very good about keeping an eye out behind him and making sure I don't get left too far behind. So, naturally, I expected to see him sitting on the side of the road shortly past the bend once I was underway again.

    But when I rounded that bend, he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was he waiting around the next bend, nor the bend beyond that.

    I wasn't going to spend too much time overthinking it or feeling all abandoned and get all weepy and mopey. I knew where we were headed and I was pretty sure I knew the way to get there. Eventually I was bound to happen upon him.

    Then I came to the fork in the road with the sign for Eshom campground to the right and Whitaker Forest road to the left...

    ummmmm. Ok. Maybe I'm not "pretty sure" of how to get where I'm headed afterall? It seems strange that Hesaid hasn't taken up guard at this spot just to make sure I don't head off the wrong way....

    No. I didn't have a map. No, I didn't have a GPS. In fact, we had been debating the purchase of our next GPS for a few months. We have two older model Garmin Rhinos which served us well for many years, but they've both suffered some issues and neither are working. We want the upgraded Rhinos but we keep thinking of more fun ways to spend the money. So we keep making excuses to put off their purchase a little longer.

    I had taken a gander at the map before leaving the house, I remember there being only one road that goes all the way through, up to the Generals' Highway. The problem was-- which way do I go?

    So there I sat for a moment, racking my brain, trying to remember: Do I actually go through Eshom campground on this road? Is Eshom a spur off the road? Or is Whitaker Forest research facility the spur off of the road?



    I briefly convinced myself that we'd always driven through the campground when taking this road, so I turned toward the campground. I made it just a short way down the road when I told myself, "DUH! The campground is just the campground! It's WHITAKER FOREST ROAD for a reason!" and turned myself around.

    I headed up Whitaker Forest road, around the bend, through the cows, and started up the hill. I don't like the areas where the paved road gives way to unpaved road but isn't quite an actual unpaved road yet. And the strobe effect from sunlight shining through the trees made it hard to see the road surface in time to prepare for it.

    I have so little riding experience at all, let alone dirt riding experience. And Hesaid is still nowhere in sight... this isn't like him. He usually tries to stay together.



    I wonder where he is, but I'm committed to this path now. True to my nature on these stupid forest service roads, I put it in 2nd and aim the bike up the hill. Just keep going. Don't stall. Don't down shift. Don't fall over.

    I convince myself that Hesaid probably waited till he found a level spot to wait for me to catch up... I keep going.

    I ride over ruts and roots and rocks and through spots of poofy silty dust that freak me out a little. But I'm stable and steady and I start really kinda enjoying myself. I'm up in the forest and riding past Giant Sequoias here and there. It smells nice and there's not another soul around.

    I'm starting to worry a little about Hesaid. Did he take the other road? Am I wrong about the picture of the map that I have in my head? What if I'm not on the road that goes through? What if this is one of those roads that just stops dead at the park boundary? What if I get almost there and then run into a locked gate, or the trail just disappears? I mean, it's just so weird that Hesaid hasn't waited for me.

    What if I'm on the wrong road and Hesaid is frantically looking for me? I bet he wishes we had those GPS units now, then he could radio me or pole my position on the map.

    Mind you, all these thoughts wandering through my head, but I never let off the throttle-- "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

    I felt bad for Hesaid. I was pretty sure he was worried about me. But I'd made so much progress up this road, I decided to just ride it out. If it ended abruptly, I'd turn around when I had to. If it went all the way to the road, I'd see him up there.
    I finally cross a cattle guard, pass a sign that says I'm entering Kings Canyon National Park, and still no Hesaid.



    The road levels out and I start to think I'm through the worst of the scary road surface, but instead, I find myself grappling with my first real gravel road. My "just keep swimming" mantra gets a little manic. I try to relax and employ that whole lean back/go faster thing... "faster" in this case meant raising the needle into the double digits.

    Oh yay! And washboardy too!

    This sucks. I'm glad no one is here to watch me make terrified girly faces. I wanna go home. I wanna get off the bike and walk it. I want to get off the bike and let someone else ride it out of here. This sucks.

    But I just keep swimming. Not literally, mind you. I was riding. Not swimming. But I kept doing it. All along the creepy gravel road up on the ledge on the side of a freakin cliff, around another bend, still no sign of Hesaid, around another bend... I kept thinking I was close to the road. I could see the giant expanse of blue sky where the trees and mountains stopped to make way for a road, but every turn in the stupid road just lead to more graveled washboard road.

    And then finally! I came up over the last hill and found myself in the turn out directly across from the Quail Flat parking lot.

    But still no Hesaid.



    Now I got a little giddy. I wanted to jump and shout and hug random strangers and brag about how awesome I was that I just did that stupid road all by myself! But there was no one to hug. I hung out in the parking lot for awhile, trying to think like Hesaid and figure out where he was and how to connect back up with him. Preferably without having to go down that stupid road I just made it up.

    I decided to travel down the road to the Big Meadows parking area. What if there are two roads that go through? What if Hesaid is waiting for me there? But when I got to Big Meadows, there was still no sign of him.

    It occurred to me that I might be lost. But how could I be lost? I was right where we were going.

    I'm really starting to worry about Hesaid now. I finally decide I have to go back the way I came and hopefully meet back up with him.

    As I pull out of the Big Meadows parking lot, there he comes up the road! I stop. He stops. He jumps off his bike and runs up and hugs me and says, "As soon as we get home, we're ordering those GPS units!"

    We compared notes on our rides, trying to figure out just how Hesaid got behind me on the trial. Turns out, he turned around and went back to find me at the same time I had headed toward the campground.

    Needless to say, we missed Potentialscat and Company at their campsite. So we headed to Hume Lake for lunch and gas, where we ran into them on an ice cream break. Didn't get time to ride together, but it was nice to meet them.



    [update 9-20-13: yes, we have GPS now!]

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