Friday, April 27, 2012

Southern California

It seems camping in California can only mean one thing: Snow.

Yeah, it was fun when it was northern California in March, but this is southern California in April.  I sat there listening to radio stations from Santa Barbra while it snowed.  All day, it alternated with snowing, raining, and clearing up enough to make me feel optimistic about the day.  Then the cycle would start over.  

I stayed two nights.  I planned on more, but the second night led to the second day, more blizzard conditions.  Feet cold to the touch for 24 hours straight.  No fun.  What is the point of staying here if it’s not fun?  Plus I was out of food.   My plan was to ride a motorcycle to the nearest store on Saturday, but Saturday morning there was a lot of snow.  Enough that the sign said “chains required.”  Of course I don’t have any.  And there is a limit to how much snow I will ride a motorcycle in.  That amount is “any.”  That’s what vanna white is for.  To get the motorcycles to the next clear patch.  Call me a fair weather rider if you want.  

My escape from the snow led me to the town of Seal Beach where I’ve spent s a couple of weeks puttering around, trying every restaurant and coffee shop in town.  I also had a chance to see some more old friends.  People from the pre-retirement days.  It was great seeing them and great to be reminded once again that friendships will endure.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SF to SoCal

I had way too little time in the Bay Area.  It was great to visit my (favorite) sister Pat, but there were several other people I meant to get together with, if only there had been more time.  Sometimes I wonder how I can be pressed for time when time is my greatest asset.  Pat suggested I schedule too much.  Being retired can be like being the kid in the candy store: I finally have time to do all the things I’ve always wanted, on a vacation with no ending.  Too bad I forgot to prioritize all those things I wanted to do.  Any way, in May I will be heading north again, so if you were cheated out of a visit this time through, look for me then.
Sitting on this heavy pole, standing to check the image, sitting back down again... I took several pictures before I got the framing right.  Then I stood up, picked up the camera, and walked over to the bike.  Suddenly this pole I'd been sitting on started rolling away.  I thought it might go off the edge but it stopped after about 15 feet.  Spooky
Two-wheeled therapy.

Leaving the bay, I headed south and east.  I paid for a campsite one night, a county park, $15 big ones for something I usually find for free.  But there was a shower with hot water and almost no one else in the park, so I took the bait.  My mistake.  The crowd showed up at 10:30 PM, half an hour after “quiet hours.”  A late arrival didn’t deter them from cranking up the music and having a party.  It was after mid-night when I fell asleep with earplugs in.  They were still having a great time.  Free campsites are almost always better.  At least you get your moneys’ worth.
The road was like this for 10 miles. 

My next stop was just that: a free campsite.  This time I was in the Sequoia National Forest.  Despite the warm sunny weather, they still consider it winter there, so traffic was light.  And the roads were amazing.  I spent several days making the run from Springville to Pierpoint Springs and back, with my campsite somewhere near the middle.  
One last view as I departed after four days of riding back and forth on this road.  It didn't get old, I left because the forecast called for rain.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oregon to San Francisco

Camping is better than not camping.  Even the worst days camping can be, in many ways, better than a day spent on a couch watching reruns of some reality TV show.  Shows that make you wonder if reality can exist without cameras being present.  It can.
A few minutes before I stopped to take this picture, I came around a blind-corner to find a garbage truck going the other way, apparently late for something.  Very narrow roads!

So I found myself eager to camp, despite the facts.  Facts like (a) it’s March, not June, and (2) I’m in northern California, in the mountains.  The optimist might point out that the campground is empty, no noisy neighbors to listen to till the wee hours.  A feeling of solitude so thick it’s like a blanket of snow.

The Pessimist might point out that the campground is deserted for a reason and the it has snowed enough that the tent collapsed (not pictured). Being there alone, I either had to be both optimistic and pessimistic or pick one.  My tent was half full.

Two nights at each of three different campsites.  Levels of remote-ness ranged from next to lightly used road to completely out of sight in a several miles into a national forest.  

I had planned on spending a couple days riding the Ducati on one of the most spectacular roads in this part of the country.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.  Saturday morning I woke to find the world turned white; several inches of snow had accumulated overnight.  No motorcycle riding that day.  But worse, the pavement was 3 miles away, so it didn’t look like there would be any van-driving either.  Snowed in, off the map, no cell service… does it get any better?  
This picture is from Saturday morning.  No snow at all Friday when I turned in...

Early afternoon that same day, light snow turned to light rain.  By 4 PM, the snow was melted away almost completely.  I could drive out.  But I didn’t.  Maybe the weather would improve and I could still ride a motorcycle, I thought to myself.  I stayed put, and Sunday morning woke up to find the world turned white.  Snowed in, off the map, no cell service….

This picture is from Sunday morning.  I swear, the snow was almost completely gone when I went to sleep Saturday night...

I know, it doesn't look like a lot of snow.  But the roads were dirt or gravel, and steep, and lots of drop offs. If I tried to get out and ended up in a ditch, it would be very expensive to get out.  If I ended up off a steep drop, it would be catastrophic.  Waiting for better conditions was the prudent option.  Sunday afternoon, the snow turned to rain again, and the snow slowly disappeared again.  This time I made a run for it.  

I’m in the Bay Area, just for a couple days.  As always, balancing “not long enough” with “too long.”