Saturday, November 10, 2012

I needed to visit the four Tour of Honor sites in Northern California and wanted to meet and ride with some guys out of Sacramento locally known as the Old Farts. Soooo, consulting the local crystal ball for weather, I decided the week of October 15 would be better than the week of the 22nd. That and some of the Old Farts would be out of town the week of 8 October sort of narrowed it down a bit.

Since I was on a rather tight schedule, I didn't take a bunch of photos but here goes...

I headed up US-101 for the Northbound run and had planned to come back down either by US-395 or PCH. However, I ended up returning via I-5 and cutting my trip short by a day.

I enjoy interesting cafes and other places. This cafe had a poker parlor attached to it. Atascadero, California, along Highway 1

The first location I stopped at was in Santa Clara - the Santa Clara Veterans Memorial. A quick photo and then find a place to sleep.

Before bed, I filled the tank. Using Gas Buddy on the cell phone, I found this place with relatively inexpensive fuel.

The next day was a blast up to Weed, CA and the Living Sculpture Memorial Garden by way of Santa Rosa.

The Pacific Air Museum was the next stop.

This was great! I'm a sucker for old aircraft and found a bunch of really cool stuff, including three of my all time favorites:

The BD is on my short list of fantasy airplanes to own. Totally impractical, very touchy to fly and a complete blast.

The F-4 holds a special place in my heart. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the back seat of one after picking up the downed pilot of one from a beach in Vietnam.

Of course I always am drawn to the UH-1D/H models. I flew those in Vietnam for a couple of tours as well as when I got back. What a work horse. With continued upgrades they are still flying. Unfortunately the Army has seen fit to replace them with the Blackhawk.

Interstate 5 (I-5) up in NorCal is not the flat land boring I-5 we know and love here in SoCal. The scenery was great and riding up through the canyons was very nice.

On the road North out of Weed (CA-97) headed to the next stop.

The photo on the ToH site showing this memorial does not do it justice. Part of my brain was saying "Let's get this over and get back to lower elevations and rest". Wednesday promised to be a fun day and this second 500 mile day was getting tiring. Once I got there, however, I was totally blown away. I was unprepared for the impact his site had on me.

I parked at the Hot LZ and walked toward my destination.

Finally the unassuming entrance to my goal for this stop

Getting closer, it hit me what this really was

Sort of changed my whole outlook on the day. I spent a lot longer there in contemplation and remembrance. I left six behind on one day in 1971 - four pilots and two crew chiefs. Their bodies were never recovered even though we believe at least some of them started off as POWs. That was one of the not-so-good days from my tours.

Leaving the Memorial, I took this shot of the north face of Mt. Shasta. Nice peaceful vision to keep with me on my way back down.

A stop in Weed, CA. I mean, how could you not stop here?

Spent the night at Travis AFB and on Wednesday met up with the Old Farts for breakfast and a ride. I knew I had fallen in with a bunch of Yankees when I asked for Grits at the waffle place and was told they didn't have that on the menu.

Getting ready to head out...

I'm not real sure where all they took me

I know we went this way

At one point we came from there

And were headed this way...

Moving right along

Until we came to here.

This is the memorial to the five riders killed on their way to Hope Valley. Here is a blog like about this memorial --> Linky

We left there and headed toward Apple Hill for lunch.

No photos of lunch as I was too busy eating and enjoying resting my butt. Those old guys ride pretty damn good - and relatively quick as well. It sure helps to know the roads. Many thanks to Papa Ken and the boys for showing me some beautiful roads, welcoming me to the group, and some really fine apple cider.  It was pretty cool being the youngest in the group for a change  ;D

Here's a link to the map of the lunch ride. Pretty close to a 200 mile round trip. After lunch, the group broke up and I headed in to Sacramento to bag the last of the four sites I came up here for.  Papa Ken later gave me the following directions:

We did take the backroads to the outskirts of Auburn to tie in with 49.
Took that down across the American River up to Cool. At that point 193
to Georgetown and Wentworth springs rd. to Ice House Rd. down to 50 turned
east on 50 to silverfork rd. at Kyburz and went south to Mormon Immigrant and
the five crosses memorial, then onward to High Hill Ranch via Snows Rd. to Camino.

Back in downtown Sacramento - right across from the State Capitol building is the California Peace Officers' Memorial

I debated on staying another night at Travis, heading toward CA-1 and stopping by San Francisco, or finding my way over to US-395, but instead turned south on I-5 and slabbed it home, arriving somewhere around 1am.

1717 miles in three days or 28 hours of road time

The bike ran flawlessly, but I do need to either reconfigure my ass or the seat if I'm going to do many more of these multi-day 500 mile plus days.

I really love the Norge.  I could spend pages detailing why this is the perfect bike for me, but I'll just leave it at this - the ergonomics of this bike are perfect for me.  I love the sound, feel and responsiveness of this bike.  No, she's not the fastest in the group.  No, she's not the smoothest, nor the most plush.  But she handles very well, is comfortable on long rides (despite my minor complaint about the seat or my butt), loves twisty roads, eats up sweepers, gets pretty darn good mileage, and comes with ABS (that you can turn off when playing on dirt roads), an electric windshield, heated grips, and side bags as standard.  By the way, did I mention that I love this bike?


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lessons Learned

This was a very insightful trip for me as I really hadn't done any real multi-day rides in many years, and back then I was much younger and a bit more adventurous.  Not being on a real schedule allowed me the flexibility to take the maintenance induced layover in stride and not stress about it.  So, in no particular order, here are some of my observations:

  • I pack too much stuff™.  There were several items I never got around to using and should never have packed in the first place.  I sent home one box from San Antonio but should sent back more stuff.  The bike is not a car, I really have to pack less.
  • Rain gear is nice to have, but if you don't plan on really riding in the rain (as in pulling over and waiting for the downpour to pass) don't bother carrying extra rain specific gear, other than boots (maybe).
  • I really like my Motoport stretch Kevlar pants.  They worked well in the rain and the desert.  Really easy to get in and out of and the armor is great.
  • I'm still very happy with my Tourmaster Snonora 3/4 Air Jacket.  Having two liners gave me all the options I needed for this trip.
  • The Sena SMH10 bluetooth head set continues to work just as advertised.  Really, what more can you ask of a product?
  • Exoficio underwear from REI are great.  Lightweight, wash and dry overnight, and comfortable.  I probably could have done the trip with only one pair, but two made it easy.
  • I really enjoy getting out on a nice long multi-day journey.

  • This bike was more comfortable than I expected.  300 mile days were pretty easy on the stock seat once I got to use the whole seat (see above), and when I added the AirHawk, the one 600 mile day wasn’t bad at all.

  • Know what the instruments are telling you and use the GPS as a backup to physical map (or Google Map) planning.  Running out of gas at night in the middle of nowhere without cell reception could really suck.

  • I hate Vance and Hines pipes.  These suckers are loud and annoying on a long trip.  Around town they are not nearly as annoying as I’m not on the bike that long, but hour after hour of that racket was not to my liking.  YMMV.  Fortunately I’ve found someone with stock pipes that would like the Vance and Hines, so we’re going to swap pipes in the near future – win/win.

  • I really like the Garmin Zumo 660.  It beats the heck out of the TomTom Rider 2 I had been using.  The ability to build a custom route and import it is a wonderful feature.  The ability to listen to pre-recorded music was nice on the long Interstate stretches.  The unit is not without faults, however, as about one out of three times, it would not recognize the micro SD card that contained my music.  I don’t know what the issue is, but I’ll be checking with Garmin and the various support boards.

  • The portable XM radio I purchased specifically to use on the bike (XMp3i) will not work the way I need it to work.  First, and this is not explained in the manuals (I did read these) or anywhere on the website, you cannot use the mp3 function unless you activate the radio; adding it to you existing subscription or starting a subscription of you don’t already have one.

    I wanted to mount the radio using a RAM style mount and plug it into some sort of 12-volt power outlet so as not to have to rely on the internal battery (they claim 4 hours XM Live or 16.5 for playback from the micro SD card - YMMV).  The only way to accomplish that is to use the Power Connect Vehicle Kit as it contains a mount that is powered off a standard 12-v outlet.  The problem is that as soon as you insert the portable radio it demands you have the external antenna attached even though the radio has a built in antenna.  While this might work on the Shadow or my C-10 Kawasaki Concours both of which have metal gas tanks, it will not work on my Norge or any bike that has a plastic tank or tank covering as the external antenna is magnetic mounting. Trying the USB connector doesn't work either.  It assumes you have it connected to a computer and wish to transfer files.  It will charge, but will not play while hooked to the USB cable. Sirius/XM does not make a power adapter that you can plug directly into the radio from a 12-volt power supply.  If you want to carry along the home charging unit, you can recharge the radio every evening when it can be plugged into the wall or you can use the USB method mentioned previously.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I'm just about ready to do some more exploring, but first a bit of work around the house, some bike cleaning and maintenance, and then maybe another few days out exploring and having fun.  Who know, maybe my wife will join me next time.


Day 10 – April 28th – Home finally

After a quiet night at the local Days Inn and a very good omelet at a 1950s style diner I headed to another memorial for veterans of the Armed Forces.  This one is in Yuma.

Then there was this nice hotel…

Ah, the stories these places could tell.  I’d love to be able to explore the interior of some of these places with a camera and record perhaps the final chapter in their existence.

Just on the California side of the California/Arizona border is the town of Felicity, California.
Driving along I-8 you might see this sight on the north side of the highway.  It’s well worth your time to stop in and see this.

This happens to be section 12 of 25 sections of the original stairs from the Eiffel Tower.  Not only that, but Felicity is the official Center of the World.  Honest, check it out here  or here.
And here I am, standing at the Center of the World.

The rest of the construction around Felicity is nothing short of amazing and fascinating.
These 100’ long sections of granite are inscribed with the history of man.

It really is something you should see if you’re anywhere near the area.

Leaving Felicity and heading toward Ocotillo and Jacumba the landscape lets you know you are in a desert.

Ocotillo holds a special place in the hearts of off-road motorcyclists.  It is the home of the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreational Area – 85,000 acres of sand dunes and other areas to play on.  Very cool place.

Leaving Ocotillo I found some really big rocks on the way to Jacumba.

This was a nice curvy section of I-8 that rose from less than 500’ elevation to over 3500’ before dropping into town.

Jacumba is right along the Mexican/American border and is the home to another roadside attraction, the Desert View Tower.  Since it was not right along the road, I passed on making the climb and continued along old US-80.

Along the way you get another good look at the border fence and get to see a lot of Border Patrol folks out trying to do their job.

Highway 80 takes you to CA-94 – one seriously cool road.

I need to get back to this one on the Norge as the Shadow did not do this road justice.  I saw a bunch of H-D riders who were also enjoying the ride, also at a very sedate speed.  This road will seriously smite you if you are not careful.

There are bunches of interesting looking side roads in the Potrero/Barrett Junction/Otay Lakes area that also deserve exploration
I hung a left on Otay Lakes road as I was headed for San Ysidro – the Southwest Corner of the US and a well-known location for those long distance riders who have done the Four Corners Tour.  From there it was the quickest way possible to home.

Totals for this trip –

 That was done in 47 hours and 57 minutes in the saddle with an additional 18 hours and 47 minutes stopped for things like lunches, breaks, gas stops, etc., where I didn’t turn off the GPS.