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West Coast Mecca: Laguna Seca!

Discussion in 'The Dalles' started by Mel, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. Ok, ok...Quixote has been pestering me to get this written...so here goes (plan on being here awhile...)

    It all started back in early spring, while I was drafting up my summer calendar. I happened to be in a conversation with the hubby to one of my cousin's who lives up in northern Washington. For the past 14 years, he and a few of his friends have had the time honored tradition of gathering in Monterey, California to attend the races at the Laguna Seca track... be it World Superbike, or MotoGP. I was inquiring about their plans for any live races now that GP had pulled out for the shiny new venue in Texas, to which they were keeping with tradition and reverting back to SBK this year. He gave me the general dates, and as I looked at the already filling calendar, low-and-behold... I swear there was an actual glow shining up at me... that weekend was still open, as were the days surrounding it!! I'm in!

    For the first couple months, things were fairly quiet... it dawned on me that not only would I be making a trip that I'd been hoping to make for several years, but I was going to get to do it on my bike - as well as squeeze in some camping, and the maiden voyage of doing an overnight-type trip that didn't translate to a day of travel on each end with staying at a friend's or family's house for the days in between. I was going to be taking an honest-to-god moto trip. Lookie there! Of course, then some of the realities set in. I own a supersport... just where do you put a tent on one of these things anyway?? Lol.

    Now, anyone that's known me long enough, knows I've always turned my nose up at the thought of putting any sort of luggage on my steed... it's my one vanity thing. Saddlebags, to me, make bikes look like they've got balloons on them, and the more svelte the bike, the goofier it looks lol... the mere thought, well...that just simply hadn't happened prior to this trip - let alone a sleeping bag, tent, bags, and whatever else most people cram into those wind-walls they stack up back there behind them.

    Luckily, the tent issue was covered... My uncle had made plans to go as well (along with Russ's (the lead) friend Dan - who has been on several treks with Russ) - and his tent was big enough for both of us and our stuff. Russ informed me early on that all the cooking supplies and such would be taken care of as well. That left me with just my own personal stuff and a sleeping bag to stuff somewhere. My original plan was to borrow a slightly larger tank bag than my micro one I use, backpack, and toss the seat on the back which has a tail bag attached to it. As the date got closer and closer (like within the last week...) ZDoc and Ellenom convinced me to at least pick up some of their luggage and have it on hand just in case I needed it. Well...that proved to be pretty useful - thank you both for convincing me and letting me borrow the pieces!! I wound up using every single square microinch of space available by the time I got my clothes, sleeping bag (light fleece roll), towel, snacks, toiletries, tools, and whatnot all packed in there. I had read over several articles on tips for packing - what order things should be in, as well as Wiley's write-up on his and Rick-Rick's trip to Cali the previous year. I'm pretty organized, but some of the tips proved pretty useful when trying to figure out so many days in advance. One reminder... even weight distribution.... I almost lost sight of that while prepping what compartments things should go in based on when and how often they'd be needed. I think I wound up using everything I took, other than the chain lube...which I should have, but simply got lazy and didn't.

    So, here it is... July 5th - the SS-Daytona, cleaned, lubed, aired, fixed, packed and ready to.... float. lol
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    Russ and his Super Tenere would be the first to disembark, sometime around 0700-0800 from Port Angeles, Washington. He'd be headed down Hwy 101 for the most part and then meeting up with my Uncle Karl in Tillamook where he was spending the holiday weekend (that had to be a packing nightmare!! two trips back to back without home in between!!). Karl was on his Road Star, and this would be not only his first group ride, but first overnighter, as well as first time taking his bike anywhere other than the commute to work and out to the coast. He's been riding for a few years, but mostly just commuting. (Oh, Russ... experienced most of his life...has owned several bikes, all styles, etc...but has mostly done solo riding).

    In the mean time, Dan would be headed out on his 80's Saber from Lake Oswego, coming down I-5 to meet up with me at the Hwy 34 interchange - where we would head west and meet up with the other two wherever we could find a campsite around Waldport (on July 5th mind you... with no reservations...).

    As I was filling my initial tank of gas, I heard someone bellering my name, and turned to see someone up in the A&W lot waving me down. He was finishing up his lunch when I came in, stood and greeted me as I noticed he had on an Angry Bastard shirt...must be an alright guy, especially for an old fart. Let the adventure begin!!

    I was surprised to hear that a native Oregonian who's rode most of his life hadn't been on Hwy 34 yet, but I was more than happy to get to be the one to introduce it to him. We headed out, and just took the more direct route there (bypassing our usual Dekker Rd and such). We stopped off at River Side for a rest, he was pretty impressed with the road and very happy to have been on it after the drudge of coming down I-5. Traffic actually wasn't all that bad either, especially for a holiday weekend!

    Now, again...anyone that remotely knows me, knows that I usually need to have things planned out ahead of time, for the most part. I'm much better about it than I used to be, but there's certain things that will peck at me... like not having reservations on one of the biggest camping holiday weekends of the year in an area that is a main destination for said activities. Russ had called me a couple days prior with a request to call around for some options for campgrounds. This translated into "find a place for when we arrive". Have I mentioned it was a holiday weekend?? A few times, oh... yeah, that's right. Anyway, I called a couple places in the vicinity - of course they were booked up solid. This left the first-come-first-serve state and federal sites... not exactly what I had in mind for having a "plan", and wandering up and down the coastline without much sense of where different grounds were at that might be off of Hwy 101, just wasn't super appealing to me.

    I had 2 grounds noted as possibilities, with the second being clear down by Florence and not much hope there, as it would be getting closer to quadtopia. Dan and I pulled into Tillicum Beach, just south of Waldport around 1530...and just in time. There was a woman out scoping the last 2 remaining sites - neither of which worked for their needs, and another motorcycle pulled in right behind us. The camp host was a little dramatic, but she was a cute lil 'ole gal. She got off the phone with the first woman, handed us a slip for the only site that would fit 3 tents and told us to GO!! GO!! GO!! (Dan and I both chuckled after getting to the site...as she had the power to turn others away and had already told us we had the spot...so why the urgency...chalk it up to the adventure!)

    Our site was oddly shaped and a little cramped, especially since we were apparently sharing with an entire gopher family, but the folks to the side of us didn't mind if we encroached a little. We had the restrooms across the way from us, the beach at our back and the beach access just on the other side. Sky was clear, there was just a slight breeze and it was somewhere in the low 80's.... absolute perfection for the Oregon Coast!!

    Karl and Russ joined us about an hour and a half later, as Russ had got caught up in Pacific City - taking 45 minutes to putt through there. He had told me several times that we would be eating well on this trip and wasn't kidding. After getting the tents and such unloaded, he and Karl set off to the store, coming back with steak, fresh crab, corn and taters for dinner (and repurposed for breakfast in the morning lol). While we were eating dinner, the next site over on the other side of the path had a large family get-together and had a bagpipe player in their midst.... so we had some entertainment for the evening as well. After dinner, I shed my flip-flops and took a stroll down to the beach chatting with my uncle. While I've been at the coast many times, and have been around for many sunsets while there, this was the first time that I've had a chance to actually take notice of it. To just relax and take it in. I knew the next few days were going to be long ones, so I relished every bit of it I could.

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    That's it for now... considering this was the shortest day...I wrote way more than I intended to!
     
  2. (These first few days of the trip will be posted quickly, as I'm copying from what I've completed already over the past couple nights)

    I realize I left out the overall map plan for the trip... pretty simple - Hwy 101 and Hwy 1. I was a little worried that it would all be like Hwy 101 is up here in Oregon...filled with traffic and mostly long straight stretches, especially after hearing so many stories the past couple years about all the amazing roads to the south...none of which mentioned either one of these.

    Somewhere between Day 1 and Day 2 (read, in the middle of the night) I wound up suffering through several bouts of severe leg cramps. You know, that kind where the calf cramps, and when you go to stretch it out the front side decides to join in the fun, to which the arch of your foot can't be left out either... yeah, good times. While shopping for snacks (along with being "strongly" advised to get some sort of fluid with electrolytes other than just water from Ellenom...thanks Mom) - I came across some Gatorade chews. My system can't handle all the sugar and/or alternative sweeteners that are in the bottled versions, but the chews proved to work great for the same purposes. They're condensed, so I only used 3 out of each 6 piece pack at a time and took them twice a day. From then on, I didn't have any issues. Very good alternative product if you have dietary issues and/or for space/weight concerns for packing light.

    Anywhoo....

    Day 2 started around 0600 for me. The morning was a bit chilly and the usual coastal damp, but I couldn't stay on the ground any longer. I had got an air mattress, but at the last minute I noticed the intake port was much larger than any of the adapters I had for my compressor and I couldn't take the chance of hoping someone else had something that worked (excess space if I couldn't use it)...so it stayed at home. Uncle Karl had brought one of those thin roll up foam pads in addition to his fancy-schmantcy self inflating one, so I used that for the night. It helped, but by 6am, I was feeling my age and then some.

    The boys were all still sound asleep, so I got up and took a walk around the campground, there were a few other early birds up, but not many. Our site was still quiet when I got back, so I ditched my flip-flops again and headed down to the beach. There was a slight, low hanging fog over the bank that filtered the light beautifully. As usual though, beauty can be deceiving lol. I had walked somewhere around a mile to a mile and a half down the beach before deciding I should probably head back - after all, I didn't know what Russ' usual schedule was and how early we'd be leaving. As I started back, I couldn't help but be thoroughly amazed at how beautiful things were along the shoreline - how the colors blended together, the quiet calm, and overall peacefulness of it. I also noticed however, that same fog that was filtering the light so perfectly, was also hiding the embankment and half of the beach. The sky was barely overcast, but the beach line looking back toward camp was completely engulfed...making it nearly impossible to know just where I was at in relation to the access path I needed haha. As I was walking along though, there was an older gentleman that drifted out of the haze that caught my eye at the right time. Just to the side of him was a pole with some bright pink streamers on it...which was the same as the one just down from the path. Whew!! I didn't feel like I'd been walking all that long on the way back, so had I not seen him, I would have likely walked another mile past our site!

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    Following my little stroll on the beach, I returned to a STILL quiet camp. Ok...maybe I didn't have to worry about an early departure lol. Karl was the first to peek out, followed by Dan rustling around. Since the two of them were up, I gave out a moderately chipper "time to roll out Russ!" He and Karl had stayed up into the night sipping rum and chatting while using up the firewood. (This would be the case most nights, while Dan was an early-to-bed type, and I was usually seeking shelter from the chill inside the tent and well buried in however many layers I could manage to get together for warmth yet still breath and move a little.)

    Breakfast, cleanup and packing went without a hitch, but we didn't get out of there till nearly 1000. Day 2's travels would consist of going south on Hwy 101 into California with a goal of making it to at least Crescent City with a stop-off at the big liquor store around there. Our resting spot for the night landed at Mill Creek Campground, Dell Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. It was a neat little spot nestled within an old growth forest. I think we got there somewhere around 1600, so a somewhat short riding day with right around 240 miles.

    Side note: One thing that we discovered along the way - was the difference in costs and discounts available between the various campgrounds. Tillicum was a Federal park - which we were able to use Dan's Golden pass at which cut the cost of the site by 50%....so $12 for the night - all bikes included. Mill Creek was decently priced, but being a State park, didn't honor the Golden pass, they did however give a senior discount. All bikes were included in the one site here as well. Night 3 (covered later) was at another Cali State park...which offered no discounts and charged us for every bike as a full vehicle - running right around $70 for the night just for the site (not including showers and wood).

    Anyway back to where I was - there was literally a single lane track winding through the Mill Creek campground. The cleared "road" (dirt/gravel) itself was a normal width, but was laden with potholes all over. Down the middle (in most areas) was this narrow strip of old asphalt just wide enough for the bikes to ease their way down. The bathrooms had flushing toilets and were clean for the most part, the showers.... I decided to pass on those for the night. (Another product plug... Waterless shampoo. I had picked up a couple different kinds of the Pantene versions of this before leaving. The "Root Booster" was the first I tried before leaving home - it stayed here...it wound up frizzing out the rest of my hair and making it difficult to brush. Meant specifically for just the roots. The other I tried was the basic level - it went with me on the trip and I was very satisfied with the results from it. No itching at the end of the day, and no greasy/mucky feeling. During one portion of the trip, I had to use this for two days before getting my next actual shower (this portion of the trip in fact), and it held up both days. Baby wipes for the rest btw...LIFE SAVERS!)

    We met a few people in passing as we were going here and there around the grounds, one woman and her husband had traveled from the Willamette Valley as well. One of the most notable things for me, was the bear-safe containers provided throughout the campground. Yogi would starve here...but that was the point. We had a stern warning from the Ranger as we came in, to not keep any food whatsoever out on the tables or inside the tents. Any and all were to go inside the heavy-duty steel cabinets provided at each site. All recycle and trash bins were made of the same construction and designed to keep the bears out.

    Rest Stop along the way - The Mill Casino, north of Coos Bay
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    Mill Creek Campground
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    So far, things were going pretty smoothly with riding. Russ stayed out front with Karl behind him, myself and then Dan pulling up the rear for the past two days. There were little adjustments here and there to make - as happens whenever anyone rides with someone new. We were stopping for rests right around the 1.5 hour mark most times and/or for gas. I had the shortest range at 140/150 miles but typically we were putting in right around 120ish. The stops were longer than I'm accustom to, but were welcomed considering how long the trip was. I was pretty surprised at how comfortable I remained on my bike - as it was a bit of a worry for me with getting cramped up. My trips home to the Columbia Gorge run right around 3 hours, which includes 1 gas stop along the way and I'm usually a bit sore by the time I get there and home - so the thought of 4+ full days straight in the seat to get to our destination was a little daunting.

    Where I lead a few rides a year, when I'm one in the middle or sweep, I tend to take note of things that work well and not so well within the groups. I had noticed a few things here and there that translated to reminders for me for my upcoming Girls Weekend...things to remain aware of for those that are behind the lead. One thing that I don't think I've seen happen in other group rides that was rather helpful, was related to passing.... For those that have completed a pass and have others behind them (whether using a passing lane or legal pass using the oncoming lane): A) When you move back into the right lane, maintain your speed rather than slowing down - this seems obvious, but doesn't always happen and can cause a bottleneck for those behind you trying to get in. B) Continue over to the fog line - this allows space to the left side of you within the lane should the riders behind you need to tuck in if there isn't quite enough space left between you and the car behind you. This is not saying to make unsafe passes, but when you have a group that's trying to stay together, it just allows a little more cushion for coming into the lane if the passing lane is running out or to let the car behind you by that's trying to pass as well. Much easier to show than to write it out.
     

  3. Ok...Day 3...

    From here on, my musings *should* get shorter. Usually famous all-but-last-words from me, but this is the point that the days started somewhat running together and by tomorrow (Day 4) I had stopped jotting notes to remind myself of tidbits. I did however take more pics on this one :clap:

    This morning getting up was a little easier. I had stayed out in the lot to watch over the bikes while the guys were shopping for groceries the previous evening, and Karl had come out a little earlier. There was a RiteAid just across the street, so I took advantage of the few spare minutes to run in and pick up one of those cheap air mattresses for a pool. Turned out to be a great purchase. Packed small and not only got me off the ground (especially since the rest of our nights were on hard surfaces with gravel bits), but also acted as insulation on the cold nights ahead.

    After breakfast and packing up, we were ready to head out...a little more on time today (around 9:30 or so)....so Russ was in a little better morning mood. Karl, Russ and I got to the top of the winding path and noticed Dan wasn't right behind me. We waited for a few minutes and then Russ headed back to see what was going on. Turned out Dan had taken the wrong direction at the Y junction and got caught in an infinity loop around the park :facepalm: . Perhaps it was a good thing though, as his packs needed adjusting/rebalancing by the time they got up to the road where we were waiting. Little by little they got the pieces moved and straps adjusted to make both Dan and Russ happy enough to call it good. I wasn't in any sort of hurry, but it did put us back into the 10am+ departure timeframe, so Russ was a little more driven on the unspoken schedule.

    Heading further south on Hwy 101, most of the scenery pretty much resembled Oregon so far, although there were a few outcroppings that I would have loved to have got pictures at. As would be the case for pretty much every morning and evening on the trip, our day started out in the fog and mist. It was pretty chilly this morning, and I was as prepared as Boy Scout... wearing a long sleeve performance shirt, short sleeve Tshirt, a Freeze Out shirt, polar fleece zip and my riding jacket. Yes... I felt like the little boy in the Christmas Story movie. I also had a couple layers on my legs under my riding pants (mesh...had to layer), and the liners in my gloves. The one thing I did miss was my balaklava - which was in the bag, but I had kept forgetting to put it on...the entire trip lol. The mist was just the right consistency to be a pain in the ass for my visor. I have an anti-fog spray I use, as well as had used some Rain-X wipes for the outside knowing it would be damp. As is usual with mist, it was just enough to accumulate, but not enough to roll off with an occasional head turn...so I reverted to wiping it every 5 seconds at times with my glove and hoping that it didn't smear to make it worse and/or scratch my visor. The guys didn't seem to mind at all, but I didn't realize till later that it was also because they all had those "goofy" windscreens protecting them. :roll:

    There was quite a bit of road construction going on through this bit. Seems like ever time we'd start moving at a normal pace again - we'd be slowed up by another set of "Ahead" signs and traffic would start backing up. Looked like the repairs were much needed though, it just would have been better if it wasn't all misty outside. Cold and wet aren't my things, especially if it's leading to not being able to see very well.

    Anyway, as morning transpired into afternoon, the mist burned off and the sun started coming out and warming things. By now, we were getting into the Redwoods area and plucking our way through the Avenue of the Giants. We stopped at the first pull out and picked up a park map for a reminder where the visitor's center was and scope out a spot to stop for lunch.

    Obligatory bike shot with big trees:
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    Massive fallen tree:
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    more trees:
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    Section of hand drawn taxlot map in the vicinity
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    Sassymobile! This was carved out from a single tree, and had been used to tour guests through the park to raise awareness of the need to preserve it. Inside were benches along the walls and some cabinets/counter space for what looked like maybe food prep.
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    My iPod's timing was perfect as we pulled back onto the road, as it started into a nice Metallica cover set from Apocalyptica. I can't think of a better soundtrack to play in such a beautiful setting. The sun got higher as we worked our way through the park, as well as the level of humidity. Tourist traffic wasn't too bad, and I chuckled a little when I finally noticed a speed limit sign of 45mph... we had been casually rolling through at around 30 which seemed to be the going rate. I wondered why on earth anyone would want to go 45 or higher through there with so much to just simply enjoy?? (Ok, if you were a daily commuter...maybe. But, only maybe). My bike, however didn't like the rising temps and humidity combined with the 2nd and 3rd gear puttering. While it wasn't anywhere near overheating, it was starting to kick off quite a bit of heat on me, and as we exited the canopy of trees, that became a bit of an issue. By now it was approaching mid to late afternoon, and as I was slowly learning...California can be a moody *itch when it comes to weather. I had stripped off a layer of clothing at the visitor's center, but it didn't prove to be quite enough for the next canyon we entered. Oh my word it was hot! Now, I grew up in the heat... the middle and eastern ends of the Gorge are known to get hot, but it's a dry heat. It's still hot, mind you and without a breeze, it can be unbearable.... but this... THIS was hot! Ambient temps were registered at 108F according to Russ's thermometer, combined with the humidity and the heat rolling off my bike.... holy hell... literally! I honestly felt like we were riding through a blast furnace. Instinct (or survival tactics) said to go a little faster...more air flow will help... but it didn't. Nothing helped. My eye was on the engine temp bars just as much as the road and praying that it didn't overheat. The air was so hot it was burning the inside of my nose with every breath.

    Either just before the end of the park, or right after we got back onto 101, there was a souvenir place on the side of the road with a ton of wind chimes and wood carvings... Sasquatch inspired, of course!! Clothing was stripped down to a minimum, water was sucked down and poured on (luckily the little gift shop had more among all their pop selections) and we all enjoyed some ice cream treats while we were at it. I *really* didn't want to pull back out onto the road at that point with the thought of getting back into the heat. Frankly, I didn't know if I'd be able to even get my sweaty gear back on with being all sticky from the hanging humidity. But... well... can't stay forever.

    It was still hot for some way, but not for too long. The road had started to gain some curves now, and we turned off onto Hwy 1 headed back out to the coastline. What a difference it makes in temps!! By evening, the fog was rolling back in. After getting onto Hwy 1 around Leggett, we discovered that Cali's park budget might not be doing so well, as the rest stops had mostly locked bathrooms. (PSA: Guys...please remember that just because you got to hang it out on the side of the road at the last stop, doesn't mean that there aren't others squirming around with a full bladder behind you lol). I'm not against utilizing a tree, but when in full gear, it's just not that feasible. These rest stops were few and far between, so we pulled off at a beachside restaurant just past it. It looked like a bit of a dive from the outside and had a clearly stated sign dissuading people from coming in to use the restroom, but I went in anyway and dug out my dusty "Girl Card". I was in luck, there was a woman at the hostess station - I barely even got out my pitiful plea for the bathroom and she waved me in with an understanding smile and told me it was fine. The view from the tables was amazing, and the food smelled divine as well. Definitely one of those hidden gems.

    Ok, priorities back in proper order and on the road!

    From the vague plans that had been discussed prior to leaving, I had been under the impression that we might be pulling into San Francisco this night for our one opportunity to sleep inside, on furniture...soft things. However, every sign we went by that included the miles left to SF, it never seemed to get closer, it was like a weird vortex causing the day to seem infinitely long. One sign we went by, I could have sworn said we were right around 100 miles away.... but nope. It was a bit of a letdown when we started talking about the options for campgrounds for yet another night (yes...only 3 days in). I was tired and worn out from the heat, and had really been looking forward to a shower after not having one since leaving home. Russ was uncertain of which campground we'd be staying at next, and the two we'd pulled into late in the day were either full or didn't have tent sites. He was getting frustrated and I discovered he's the type that kinda stops communicating when that happens :? . With the map not showing any more for many miles, and no towns in that vicinity for groceries, Dan suggested that we backtrack to a campground we'd passed up about 10 miles back. Russ begrudgingly went along with it when he realized we didn't have many options left. It was getting late in the day, and we would still need to shop and set up camp.

    We pulled into the Van Damme State Park just south of Mendocino around 1830, where we were introduced to camp-rate-rape. I get that programs are starving for money, and places need to make it to stay open, but wow...just wow. This is the place I mentioned earlier that charged us so much to stay. One motorcycle was allowed with the site (no discounts available in any fashion), the other 3 were charged as additional "vehicles" same as 3 more cars would be - no grace for not having a camper (and all sites were charged the same whether tent or camper as well). Russ was pretty vocal about his displeasure with it, but...well... there simply weren't other options at that point. I wanted to just get past the gatehouse, get out of the seat and hit a shower.

    The site we were given was way up at the top, and had very few flat areas for tents (while the next two up had lots of options and not directly on a hill). I wondered if perhaps the ranger was less accommodating to match Russ's attitude. We were however, right across from the showers and restrooms. Camp set and dinner in prep, I took my $8 in quarters I'd got at the gatehouse and headed for the shower (which I'd already inspected and approved of lol). There was a $3 minimum I think to get it started, and similar to a car wash, you were able to just plug more quarters in but a max of 15 at a time...so I plunked in the max and set the rest close by. I debated staying in there all night lol. The arrow guides on the handle were a little vague, so when 3 or 4 minutes had passed and the water was still only lukewarm, I figured maybe that was the best it was going to get and stepped in, still trying to adjust the handle at times hoping that it would help. After a couple more minutes, it did finally start warming up some more - whew! More quarters plugged into it...I'm not leaving. During the process of this, I kept feeling a little pain on one of my fingers every time I adjusted the lever - kind of like getting a paper cut or coming in contact with a piece of metal shaving. It took me a little bit to figure out what was going on, but after rechecking the surface for something sharp I realized I was being ever so slightly electrocuted when touching it. Good grief...really?? This was one of the things that the Corps (USACE) had been fixing when we first started going over to Iraq - they'd been grounding the power in the bathhouses to the plumbing and people were getting zapped. Those were much worse cases, but still.... sheesh!!

    That out of the way, I came out to dinner being ready and a nice (yet chilly) evening of visiting by the fire with the guys. Russ and Karl had their usual rum and Coke mugs going and enjoyed them long into the night. I turned in about the time the chairs started falling over.... on their own, of course lol.

    Day 3: 230ish miles

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    Ok...time to take a break... I'll be back with Day 4 later.
     
  4. yard sale

    yard sale snowshoe kitten... prrr...

    Epic rides are epic.

    Even the trips I've done where things haven't been all sugar & rainbows have been some of the best times I've had. Ever.

    Keep making with the posts kthx
     
  5. Thanks for the report! I'm enjoying it. :)

    Sent from my HTC6500LVW using Ohub Campfire mobile app
     
  6. Day 4 (Really? Is that it so far??)

    Up-n-at-'em. This was a morning of packing and repacking. Dan's load just wouldn't sit quite right, and I was tasked with breaking camp for our tent...which translated into re-rolling it 4 times till I got it to the right size. I think I managed to get some more sleep during the night though, as Karl had given me the extra fleece liner from his sleeping bag to use....the guys all said they barely needed their bags during the night... flippin bears, I tell ya!! I was more than happy to take on whatever layers they gave up - as the first two nights I'd been wrapped in my bag with 3 layers of clothes on, gloves, hat and my riding jacket over me. They thought I was crazy...possibly, but I wasn't bound to lay there and shiver all night either.

    The pic from the last set doesn't really show it, but the Tenere and Daytona are backed down a somewhat steep hill. I had Russ back the Daytona down, as it was on loose dirt and my leg span just isn't enough with that combination to keep things securely steady. I mention that, because I also told him that he'd be pulling my bike out to a more level spot in the morning...partially for the same reason, as well as that all spring/summer I'd been having issues with getting off of hills without killing it several times. I drive (and prefer) a manual transmission in my car, so the clutch/gas combo isn't exactly foreign to me. I'd had an inkling for some time though that my clutch cable might not be set right...but hadn't got around to looking at it before leaving (yes... :facepalm: ). So... that morning, I asked Russ and Dan if they'd take a look at it and see if they thought there was something off. Russ started it up and felt for the friction zone... sure enough, it was pretty much all the way out. (My bike had been torn down all winter for repairs and maintenance... when spring came, I put on what was necessary before taking it up to Schmidt for him to work some magic on it. The clutch cable though had just been set into place for transportation, and I completely forgot that it had been loosened up for removal and reinstall to the perch. Derp). So... it's something that I could have taken care of, but since we were going to be on the road, I felt it best to have someone do it that could get it right the first time around and not have to stop every so often and adjust it some more. 10 minutes later, it was done and I was able, for the first time this year, to take off successfully on a hill without much strain. YAY!!! This was important - not only because of having to get off the hill in the campground...but today we'd be entering San Francisco - and that's no place for a lame clutch cable!!

    Russ had arranged for us to stay over at his step-sister's place in Mill Valley - just north of SF, so only about 160 miles were scheduled for the day. It may have been our shortest day as a group, but the roads were also the twistiest we'd been on since Dan and I left Hwy 34. Wow! There were several that boggled the mind from a design standpoint. 10mph switchback corners that had at least a 10-20 foot climb incorporated in them. 2nd gear, caution and gunning it all at the same time to keep it upright, get it around the corner as well as not lugging out. I've never seen roads like that...crazy!! I can't imagine a pickup trying to pull those, let alone a motorhome or camper. Luckily there wasn't much traffic coming down the hill, I'd have likely pissed myself a few times as it was narrow, and nice to have the extra space if needed. I didn't even want to think about attempting going DOWN those.

    Even though it was a short mileage day, the technical requirements of the road kept the speeds down, so it still felt like a fairly long day. Added to that a missed turn, that added on another 45 minutes or so... but the road we went back for was phenomenal!!! Looking at the map, I think where we'd gone awry was up around Point Reyes - following the general course of the road takes you away from Hwy 1. Russ realized shortly later though that the landscape and such didn't seem right and had us turn around. This section of Hwy 1 was pretty much like a kart track and was fun even just looking at it. Unfortunately though, that 45 minute detour wasn't accounted for in the time since our last break and by the time we hit this section of road, we'd been in the seat for nearly 2 hours. My back, shoulders, back of the knee and hips all had pretty good cramps and pinch spots going in them, and with the level of corning needed, it was causing me to tighten up quite a bit - especially when the motorhomes would come around the corners (with no centerline and no shoulder). It was beautiful, but I just couldn't enjoy it. For the first time on this bike, I was nearly in tears from the pain. No bueno when you're supposed to be paying attention to other things. I saw a sign for a state park coming up and pointed it out to Karl, who'd swapped places with Dan for the day and was behind me. It seemed like it took forever to get there, even though it was only about 4 or 5 miles. As we approached Stinson Beach State Park, I looked for places to pull off that could be seen by the other two if they were to come back looking for us, but there wasn't anywhere to park until just before the gate...which was a good 500 feet or so off the highway, around a corner and sheltered by a bunch of trees. After checking how I was, Karl headed back out to the highway to watch for them...turns out they were parked just 2 blocks down the road at a little shopping/restaurant area. Dan stayed there and had a cup of coffee, while Russ came back and met up with Karl and I at the park. It took a bit to get circulation back where it should be, and Karl had to do some walking around as well... even though his bike is more comfy for long touring distances, at 6'-2" there's only so much comfort to be had when sitting still.

    Funny 'lil moment... About the time we were getting ready to climb back on, this incredibly loud and internally penetrating air horn type sound blasted. We all looked at each other with a WTF was that look on our faces. It reminded me of the alarm sound made on the tv show Lost - when the cloud thing would come out. My guess from the actual sonic feel of it, was that the assembly for it was located somewhere at that park....it was close by wherever it was! We were told later that it's the tsunami alarm - which goes off every day at 1700hrs.

    From there, it was just another half hour or so till we arrived at our destination for the night. Russ's GPS decided to have a sense of humor and took us in via some back route that included some stereotypical SF hills, as well as a narrow single tire bridge in an alleyway. :facepalm:

    Our evening there was very nice. His step-sister and their family welcomed us into their comfortable home and took very good care of us. There was a cheese & cracker plate out when we arrived, wine, rum, pop, and hand made bbq burgers for dinner. Hot showers were taken and Dan took advantage of the hot tub. I was able to do some laundry as well. Even with the luggage space I had, I was only able to bring a couple pairs of pants and shirts, and enough underwear for about half the trip. Knowing we would have this stop, and counting on finding a laundry mat in Monterey, I figured it would get me by ok. It was so nice to just sit back and relax in a big comfy chair and visit with those around us...without fighting bugs or the night chill. Russ and his sister headed out for a bit to the 2 AM Club which was a couple blocks away and got some much overdue visit time in. For those as old or older than me... the 2 AM Club is also the bar that's featured on the album cover of "Sports" by Huey Lewis and the News...pretty cool 'eh? She said they used to hang out together some there in the 80's as well.

    I didn't get very many pictures in for this day, but here's a couple of a little nook along the beach:
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    and one of a hitchhiker I picked up.
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  7. Day 5... Finally... 140 miles to go till we reach Monterey!!

    "I'm up...I'm up".... and a mosey downstairs for some coffee and breakfast. I really honestly did debate hiding in a corner somewhere and just staying at the house until the guys made their return trip lol. The comfy rest did some good though, and all the kinks were worked out, so I suppose it made sense to keep going. After all...there were races to be watched!

    During the conversations in the evening, I learned that Dan was also the owner of a sailboat, as well as Russ's brother in law. Turns his nephew was currently working on as a volunteer on a crew working to build a large schooner down in the port. The ship was all designed being fabricated using old world methods from raw logs. Of course, we had to go check this out, and since it was a fairly short trip to Monterey...we had plenty of time to do so. So...we departed the creature comforts and set off for the bridge and the port area. What an amazing project and site! Warning: Heavy pic traffic ahead... but I know this will be porn to several of you out there as well lol.

    Pulling into the parking lot, there was a huge, framed tent building and I started to get the impression that this thing was more than just a sailboat. We walked around the side of the building and were greeted by some of the workers out on a lunch break (I guess we had a bit of a late start this day lol). Some were in casual suits (I'm guessing either visitors like us, or investors checking on the project), some were in tattered work clothes, and half you could tell just by looking at them that they'd been seamen all their lives - weathered, scruffy, shanty-song ready.

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    Upon entering the building, I received a gift I hadn't expected... the same smell as my grampa's old shop. He was a hobby carpenter in his spare time (good enough to build beautiful cabinets, but too busy with other things to do it full time) - his shop always smelled of fresh cut lumber with a hint of solvents, stains and gasoline. He could have spent all day in this place...it was amazing the work they were doing.

    Logs drying to be milled
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    Rough cuts
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    Some serious power tools. The chop saw here is the only one of it's kind on the West Coast - and the only one able to handle the sizes they're working with. It actually drops down into the floor (don't ask me any more details though, I was oogling at the time and didn't hear all the juicy details)
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    A few clamps
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    To create these:
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    And like a puzzle...each piece is cut/created to fit precisely together. Many are installed, and then chiseled in place
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    Note the numbers and notations... each of those numbered squares at the top match to a numbered set of bowed ribs which are cut as they're put into place
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    The only metal on the entire ship
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    All of this to create... the reveal of a beautiful masterpiece:
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    It is a 3 year project and if I remember correctly, the second one they've done. From the building it's in, when complete, they will roll it out and down about 3 blocks to a launch point into the bay. All of this is done by volunteers, and not only will they build it, but they will be the ones to man the ship on it's maiden voyage as well. Just simply an incredible experience.

    Ok, ok.... enough drooling. Back to the pavement.

    From the port, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and had our second occurrence of getting separated due in part to changing lanes and passing cars in a city environment (I'll touch on this a bit more later), which cost us about a 45 minutes by the time we got things squared away. Again... there wasn't any rush this day, but at least for me - being separated in the city wasn't exactly a picnic....especially this time. Dan thought he knew which route Russ was taking from there, but after losing sight of him on the bridge, and then not seeing him till after the turnoff we took (up above us somewhere)...we quickly realized the communication hadn't been clear. Dan called him from where we pulled into on the other side and got a general idea of where we'd catch up with him at. Small problem Karl and I didn't know, was that Dan didn't know a direct route out from where we were. It was probably good that I didn't know it...as it would have just added to my growing anxieties for the morning anyway. I'm accustom to traffic, although as most do - I feel very vulnerable when on the bike. This traffic however, was far more aggressive than I've ever experienced. On top of it... we wound up in the residential area down there with the incredibly steep hills. I recognized some of it from when we had originally made the trip down to pick up my bike a couple years ago. Wall to wall buildings, no grass in site, and hills in every direction....STEEP-ass hills. There were several that I opted to roll through rather than come to a complete stop and just figured it got it's name from somewhere - so it "must" be ok there, right?? lol. (I was very careful about looking for oncoming traffic as well...and just simply got lucky). There was one area though... oh my! We'd turned onto a street that wasn't so bad, but about 4 blocks up was a sheer asphalt wall that you could read the "STOP" at the top of it (every corner had these, but they were usually horizontal, not flippin vertical!). We were headed for it and the entire 4 blocks I was begging all the Powers That Be to not make me go up that. Not only was it steep as hell, you could see from the buildings on the other side, that it was a T intersection...which meant that we'd have to turn one way or the other. I was worried that between stopping and trying to get going again, plus slow turning on that steep of a hill...that my reach would run out and I'd drop the bike (and with that hill, it would have slid all the way to the bottom as though on a sheet of ice!). Well...of course we went up it! I did make it up at the top, but I rolled through quietly hollering at Dan "go go go go go go, don't f'ing stop!!!" and hoping that since those Powers That Be seem to have fun with shit like this... that there weren't any cars coming up the hill...because of course it wasn't a 3 way stop.

    So, as it turns out - Dan had been lost initially, but then realized that the trolley lines also went to the same area we needed, so he started following those. We wound around for a bit and while I was totally lost as well as nearly freaked out with the sensory overload - I did manage to process the fact that I'd made it through ok and had worked out a few of my demons with my nerves. SF was the one place out of this trip that I was most apprehensive to go because of skills that I'm still working on honing, as well as some residual effects from past experiences. I was proud of myself for pushing through, but damn straight - I was very happy to be back on the highway once we got there...even if there was sand drifting all over it...I'll take it!!

    Something else I noticed in this vicinity and was maintained for the rest of the trip till we came back through here, was the amount of signs Cali uses. I'm not usually overwhelmed by information on the road, especially when I'm able to just follow along instead of leading....but holy hell.... there's signs upon signs everywhere. They're on posts to the right and left sides of the road, painted in the lanes, hanging overhead...I swear there were signs letting you know that a sign was coming up! I'm glad I was following instead of leading, because there's no way I'd have been able to take it all in and know where we needed to be going without getting run over.

    The rest of the day down to Monterey was fairly quiet and uneventful...which was good. I needed it!! lol.

    As we got closer to the track, traffic was slowing and increasing. We were there early enough in the week to avoid the major incoming rush, but we'd hit town right around 1700, so we were mixed in with the standard 9-5'ers getting off work. Coming into the park, the road twists a few times and then takes this monsterous 16% climb up a hill with the Mazda Raceway entrance sign at the top. One more left hander, and we were at the entrance gate for the park and camping. We took the first right from there and headed up to Can-Am Circle which is seated near the top of a knoll and immediately overlooks Turn 5 of the track. We can also see Turns 2 and 4, as well as the straight away coming into 5 and the hill leading up to the corkscrew (with a short walk lol). Those that had been there previously had some complaints... they didn't think it was a very good site - I didn't really care - we were there and to me the view was beautiful. We had the track views to one side, an amazing valley view on the other, and we were near a clean bathroom with the showers less than a 1/4 mile walk away.
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    One of the additions to our party had already been there earlier to set up his tent. After getting unloaded and set up, we headed into town for some non-flame-cooked food at La Tortuga. Great mex food, but huge portions! This was a chimichanga my uncle ordered.... we should have put something next to it for scale, but it was as big as an average man's upper arm!
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    Our initial grouping
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  8. Day 6.... This is Thursday for those that have become lost in the mix :crazy:

    Woke up to fog, or the marine layer as they call it down there. Waited for the boys to rustle about. Sunscreen... if you're using the aerosol kind...be sure to rub it in, especially if there's a breeze.

    This day was spent wandering a bout the park. The vendors were still setting up their displays, but more than willing to chat. The Aprilia folks were very knowelegeable and friendly - taking the time to talk a couple in our group though their ADV line....which started out as a simple question about the price on the hard bags (Dan almost bought a new bike lol)
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    I, on the other hand was distracted by the shiny pretty things...
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    Of course we had to be fair and check them all out. Not all of the race labels were represented out there though (would have been nice to see a Triumph canopy since they had a designated race...but oh well). I snapped some eye candy shots for some of those back home...
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    Yamaha was offering demo rides of the newest in their lineup.. the FZ07, so Dan and I decided we'd take them up on it first thing Friday morning.
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    I also might have wandered into the paddock as well... The rest of the weekend, entrance would be by pass only - so why not?? We had several racers there from the Northwest, mostly on the Latus Motors team... Meyers, Pinkstaff, DiSalvo, etc.
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    Throughout the day, we had a few more added to our party. A couple in the trailer across the way that had camped near folks the past couple years and got to know each other; Bob, the lobster roll vendor (that was just attending this year); and a couple that came in on a Harley with a trailer. Funny thing about that last one... We were told during the planning of this, that there would be a trailer there at Laguna Seca for us to utilize while we were there. Russ kinda forgot to tell anyone that it wasn't happening. The couple that came in on the Harley was also the ones that usually brought the trailer - only this time it was significantly smaller lmao. They were a really cool couple though. While it would have been really nice to have something to shelter in when the wind kicked up a chill at night, we did just fine without it. By the time everyone got there and set up their tents, I'm not sure there would have been room for a trailer anyway lol.

    Just a random camp pic
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    Day 7 was much the same...wandering about the park and checking things out. We had one more bike show up on this day, as well as absconding some Suzuki flags from a trash bin behind one of the vendor trailers lol
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    Dan and I had headed down to the Yamaha section around 0900 for our demo rides. There were some technical difficulties with their computers, and they were waiting on their lead riders to get there, but we were finally out on the road with the lil FZ07's by around 1030 or so
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    It wasn't a bad bike...but I can't say that I was all that impressed with it either. Granted, my 675 has a few mods on it, but there simply wasn't the response, pickup or power I was expecting from a 700 series bike. it was very ON or OFF as well...which I'm used to with the torque of mine, but there was just no great way to feather the gogo. The throttle grip had a ton of play in it, and while I tried to give it some credit for being a 2-cylinder - there was a ton of vibration through the bars and the foot pegs as well. I did however appreciate that the more upright position compared to the Daytona was a tad bit more comfortable when descending down the 16% grade access road to the park. It would be something fun to zip around town on, but I won't be trading mine in for it.

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  9. They were running qualifying rounds all day Friday as well.... I somehow forgot to mention that lol. I mostly watched from up on our perch above Turn 5. The commentary and results were a little hard to hear up there, as there was quite an echo, but I could catch some of it the times I took a jaunt down to the other areas of the track, so all was good.

    Day 8 - Saturday
    Woo hoo!!! Race day!!
    Aside from catching the action from our campsite, Karl and I mosied made the trek around the back side of the track and over to the Corkscrew. They'd been finishing up a heat for one of the various races, and setting up for the Fan Parade Lap. I admit, I was a little astonished that they allowed riders out on the track with shorts and T-shirts on. I guess I expected at least full length coverage on limbs to be able to enter the track under any conditions. Anywhoo.... As we came around the top side and started scoping out a place to watch the first of the Superbike races, I noticed a golf cart parked off the path with medics patching up a guy's knee. It took me a second to piece it together but he was also wearing a helmet (still)...and as I scanned the rest of the area, it made much more sense. It was one of the parade lap riders, and had missed the line in the corkscrew...oops. He'd cut straight down through the dirt and from what the other observers said, he'd put the binders on the breaks just at the end of it before hitting the track again. Slid the bike out from under him and all the way across the track. There was a cleanup crew out there working on the dirt, as well as officials checking out the fluid streak that was left behind, and some other maintenance workers holding up the guy's Gixxer while the support truck made it's way around the track to pick it up. When it pulled up, surprise-surprise... his wasn't the first bike to be loaded. I guess it's one form of souvenir.

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    They spent quite a bit of time cleaning that one up, but it still wasn't quite enough...as nearly a quarter of the racers wound up looking back at that spot every time they went through.

    The Corkscrew is kind of fascinating when watching the races - especially in the first few laps when the bikes are all bunched up still and they do sort of a ballet together leaning left, right and then left again. In person though, wow. You get that, along with the added scale of what an 18% grade looks and feels like. We were almost looking down on top of them at some points... a little surreal.
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    After a couple rounds, it was time to move along... my rear was numb and it was getting pretty warm, so we finished the loop back down.
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    Bikes weren't the only pretties to look at though...
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    That evening, we headed down to Cannery Row in Monterey for their bike night shindig where the close off the entire length of the street to all traffic other than bikes. Plenty to look at and lots of people watching. Dinner was over an hour wait at The Fish Hopper, right out on the water. Outside was pretty casual looking, including a sandwich bar and outdoor sauté station. Inside was a little more swank and carried the price tag to go with it (a tad on the spendy side). Food was good though (I had the salmon), and they comp'ed our appetizers for our wait.
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    And, after returning to camp, we were hilariously entertained by a Jedi battle on the hillside above us. (These folks had quite the party going every night. This night these light sabers appeared about half way down the hill. They'd just been messing around until we egged them on to fight to the death lol)
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  10. Day 9...
    Just more racing today....ho hum... lol. On top of getting to watch some of the world's best racers zip around the track all day long (and of course listening to the bikes themselves rip it up), I happened to see (via FB) that a good friend of mine was headed to the track - he also happens to be the previous owner of the Daytona...and it was his baby when he had it. So, I sent him a message with our site number and let him know they had a parking spot for the day if they wanted. I'd contacted him on the way down as well, as he lives right there in SF and not all that far from where we were, but he'd been in Boston at the time, so I didn't think I'd get to see him. He, on the other hand, had no idea that I had been on my way to Monterey...so a complete surprise that I was there. He and his friend showed up on a couple of Ducati's around 1300 or so I think. The three of us split from our camping group to visit, check out the races, walk the vendor booths and see what mischief we could possibly get into. Such a pleasure to get to visit with him without some sort of "gotta go" schedule hanging over one of our heads, if not both.

    Brag-shot for the guys back home... "Where you at??"
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    Even though it was mostly kids hopping on at the time, he talked me into getting on Geico's lean bike (not like 2-Fast's lean machine though...it's stationary - boo!!)
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    This is how comfy he is on bikes... (or he's simply just a big goofy kid...)
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    Turn 5 beauty
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    We spent some time on the inside of Turn 5 as well, which was a pretty amazing spot to be (decent length of straight prior, hill after)...but apparently I was too busy watching to take many more pictures.

    After we got back up to the campsite, he performed the obligatory molestation of his previous obsession... I came home with a list of things I need to take care of, of course.

    The rest of the day was spent watching the final races and then just hanging out down at one of the beer gardens (SHADE!!) while the throngs of people waded out of the park and into heavy traffic. We would have been some of those, if I would have been more cooperative. Frankly, I was happier with Plan B anyway - waiting and leaving on Monday morning. Even if I would have cooperated, we still would have been stuck in massive traffic. So...what was I being difficult about this time?? Lane Splitting. Russ and Dan had done a little of it on the last day coming down. I was a little sheepish and not wanting anyone to try and persuade me, so I mentioned to my uncle that I was sorry if it caused any problems, but I simply wasn't going to partake in the practice. I have several reasons - mostly safety, but a big one that I hadn't realized till I was faced with it - was that I didn't know any of the actual rules of how it worked, other than no more than 10mph over the moving speed of traffic. Anyway - Russ had pitched a small fit that day because he wound up having to pull over, wait and loose the time that he'd made. Nothing horrible, but enough that I picked up on it. My uncle talked to him and communicated that he wasn't all that comfortable with it either and I think offered to stay behind with me if it came up again. Things settled down and everyone moved on. When the trip home was discussed though, the need for it was brought up. If we wanted to be home sooner, we'd have to leave Sunday afternoon after the races finished up (which wasn't until around 1600)...but with all the traffic, in order to make it anywhere at all, we'd have to utilize California's insanity clause. Sunday had been hot, and others hadn't felt like packing up and fighting traffic either, so it was decided to stay. Damn that was one hella cold night too!!

    Our last night at Laguna Seca
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    Monday morning rolled around and we went through the usual routine. Showers, breakfast, pack and move out. The route home was just as simple as coming down: Hwy 101 to Crescent City where we'd cut over on Hwy 199, to I-5 in Grants Pass. From there, Russ would turn off to head for Crater Lake while the rest of us would slab it home. The huge difference is that we'd be doing this over 2 days, instead of 5. My trip a couple years ago down and back to get my bike was over the course of 2 very long days...but that was in the comfort of a Jeep and with 2 drivers if needed. In order to make this kind of time, we had to make it to at least Eureka, at a minimum that day...386 miles away.

    To be honest, I really can't remember too much of the road time this day. Dan and I got separated from Karl and Russ a little before the Golden Gate Bridge (seems to be a good place to get lost). We pulled in at the rest stop/visitor's center on the other side thinking that they'd have likely stopped there, but they were nowhere to be found. We used the potty, took some pictures, called Russ for their location, adjusted Dan's packs again and then headed back out.
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    It had been pretty chilly when we left, warmed up a tad between Monterey and San Francisco, chilly again there in the bay and then... oh then... that inferno of a canyon. Somewhere after that, we stopped for gas and more of a rest than we knew we needed. I didn't feel too bad while we were on the road - just hot and tired. I didn't realize that either dehydration or heat exhaustion...or both... had set in on me until Karl and Dan were trying to ask me some questions and I couldn't quite put words together to answer them. I had been on my way into the bathroom at the time, I managed to get a "just a minute" out and went in. While in there, I took the opportunity to wet some paper towels down to wipe my neck and face, and nearly broke down while I was in there. Not being able to piece words together or even the thoughts to go with them scared the hell out of me. It scared me that I'd been riding that way. It scared me even more that I should have signaled that I need a water break long before that to keep myself out of the danger zone. We're all responsible for our own actions and it's on my own shoulders for not pulling off, but Russ was very intent on getting at least to Eureka in time to set up for camp and we were a long way from there still. I didn't want to put us further behind, and wanted even less to see the passive aggressive reaction to a stop that he didn't need. I think part of me kept thinking that we'd be stopping soon...surely the next town...the next half hour...something. Anyway - lesson learned. It took us nearly an hour before they felt it was ok for me to climb on and head back out. I don't know what town we were in, but thank you to the nice ladies at the convenience store that let us stand in there and cool off for a bit while getting some water in us.

    Camp that night wound up another 36 miles north at the Elk County RV Resort & Campground.... so 422 miles for the day. It was cooler there, which was welcomed after the heat we'd been through and there was cloud cover that night which kept it from getting too cold. The grounds were ok - flat, soft, full of trees. However, the restrooms were a bit run down, showers...I skipped those, and the water coming out of the faucet at the site was a heavy yellow... we opted to not use it.

    Sassy...you were thought of that night... as the fire ring was made up of an old truck rim (very small though). Our firewood was stacked nearly 2' high at one point (including the height of the ring). This was also the site where my Cramp Buster nearly turned my bike into a literal rocket. I'm sure our neighbors worried at first that we were a bunch of hoodlums and would be a "problem" for the night... after hearing the fully run out blast of my engine.

    Day 11...the final push!
    Cold and foggy again this morning...nothing new to report there. We were all getting accustom to adding and subtracting layers every couple hours lol. Most of the day was fairly quiet. Another long day ahead, but filled with some pretty outstanding scenery too.

    Sometime after we turned off on Hwy 199 (could have been after we got to I-5), we hit a block though. It was hot...somewhere in the upper 90's. It was humid as well, and traffic had slowed considerably coming into a larger town. The further we went, the slower it crawled. Russ's body language was getting antsy...as well as Dan's and after sitting in the baking sun crawling in 1st gear for about 10 minutes, Dan pulled out to start making his way through the cars... Russ followed suit behind him. Unbeknownst to them (as we found out later), there were 3 dualsports that had been coming up the line and were right behind them after they pulled out. I'd been watching my engine temp for most of that stretch and was getting worried, as we were slowing even further, but not enough to stop and kill the engine for a bit...and no shade in sight. Watching the 5 bikes pull away, I saw how the lane sharing concept worked, it was different than I'd imagined. Not all, but most cars moved to each side as the bikes came up behind them. The sections where both cars moved to each side, it created pretty much a full lane in the middle. All the times I'd read about it, I was under the impression that you just made your way through in the space that is there normally. Sitting in the blazing heat, sweating, heat rolling off my bike like an oven and worrying a little about having another episode...I relented and started entertaining the idea of trying this method. As we came around another bend and crested the small hill, my mind was made up for me.... for as far as we could see, there was a solid ribbon of freeway stretching for miles ahead - all packed with vehicles that weren't moving. There was no way we were going to survive in full gear sitting out in that heat for the 2 hours it would have taken to get through that if we kept in our place.

    It wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Most cars moved, those that didn't - usually the car on the other side did. Only on one occasion did I see a woman glancing at her mirror and consciously moving over closer to the line to keep us from passing. It was approximately 8-10 miles of traffic backed up. While it wasn't all that bad, I was very happy when we got past the bottle neck and were able to have our lanes to ourselves again.

    Russ peeled off at Grants Pass, and we went a little further before stopping for some lunch and much needed AC in Cayonville. Dan and Karl both talked to me at length about the lane splitting thing saying that they understood and very much respected me holding my ground on it, but were very proud of me for making the decision necessary, as well as doing really well with it. I didn't know it at the time we did it, but it's a good thing I did allow it... as Karl's bike is air cooled. EEK!! He could have gone on without me to make sure it didn't overheat, but he didn't and I appreciate it just as much.

    One more gas stop after lunch, in Cottage Grove. Ice cream sounded good this time, it was still hot, but we (well... I) were almost home. There was a woman there with a small toddler, she was looking for gas money. The store clerks had come out a couple times to ask her to leave, but she had no where to go, and it was so hot out in the sun. Dan gave her a bottle of water for the boy, and asked if he'd like to sit on is bike for a minute. It was a small bit of grace and a few split seconds that both of them were smiling and thinking of something other than the situation they were in. The boy was apprehensive at first and uncertain about not being in his mother's arms, but soon enough he was grinning and giggling. I realized I had a banana left in my tank bag and gave it to her. She had been very polite the entire time and hadn't been bothering us. We said our goodbyes amongst our group from there and headed out for my last stretch.

    Exit 216... boy was that a countdown!! I'm usually the furthest away for most of my trips, so the last one home... I felt a little guilty when I pulled off I-5, but I also felt a lot of relief that I was almost done. I got some more gas there at the little station at the exit and then headed in the back way for home. I didn't expect the local smells to be welcoming...but they were noticed as somewhere familiar (that being the lime manufacturer along the side of the road). This followed by the familiar but not location based scent of cows and wheat fields.

    As I got close to town, I made a left turn and took a stroll down Sassy's road...giving a Triple Salute... he missed it, but I didn't care too much. As I made one of the last turns, onto 2nd Street - a Subaru pulled out from the light and to my chagrin, it had "Welcome Home" painted across the back window... too funny.

    307 miles for the day.

    11 days, over 1600 miles, and some irreplaceable memories.

    As other wordy people have said, If you're still here and have read all this...you might want to go see a professional, but regardless... thanks for sticking around and sharing my little adventure with me.

    I'll throw in one more post either tomorrow or within a few days that covers some of the items used for the trip, as well as that little bit I keep forgetting to go back to about passing cars and changing lanes in the city. Right now though...I need to let my fingers and your eyes rest and I need to get to bed. I have an intern I'm "raising" at work, so I have to keep up with the little squirt.

    Night all.
     
  11. Good stuff, Mel. Thanks for putting in the effort, in taking nice pics and writing up the whole adventure.

    :thumbup:
     
  12. Brings back memories of racing my Porsche there a couple of times. Not the best track for my big HP car but still quite fun as I was learning to race. If you are interested in an on course video, a friend was racing behind me in HIS Porsche and shot a couple of laps of my first time out at Laguna....Turn up the sound, the V8 928s have a great roar, even corked up to suit the noise regs in force there.

    Link here, I think..

    https://plus.google.com/photos/search/#Videos?pid=5521992452255932898&oid=112899774170781374478