Friday, May 30, 2014

Destination: Crater Lake (Redding to Mount Mazama)

With one more big destination left on our journey, we set out, determined to get a picture of Mount Shasta and Shasta Lake on the way. 

As we crossed Shasta Lake, I saw the boat giving a tour, and the signs for Shasta Caverns. I added this area to the growing list of places to come back to.

Shasta Lake was beautiful. We pulled off on a service road for pictures.

Hopping on the back of Nathan's bike, I took pictures in motion again!

And then we began to chase Mount Shasta. 

It got closer

And closer

And closer, until we turned off of I5 (thank goodness) in a town called weed. 

It was time for pizza!

The signs were convincing and the pizza did not disappoint. 

Even Spanky liked it!

Back on the road, we were headed to Crater Lake, with a short rest slated for Kalmath Falls.

But then, there was a Grass Lake. 

Don't believe me?

Cleaning visors, snapping pictures, and moving on, we headed North.

We got to Kalamath Falls, and discovered it was named for a 10 foot waterfall that had been damned. I learned that they get 300 days of sun a year. I love northwest high deserts. They get snow too!

We saw a goose parade where some seagulls were trying to join in.

We took a picture of the lower lake, and headed on.

The real gem was upper Kalamath Lake. We drove next to it for miles! We didn't stop for pictures, though. It was time to go to Crater Lake!

We saw Annie Falls when we were nearly there, and pictures couldn't capture this mysterious canyon that stretched for miles.

And on we went!

The bikes arrived.

Oh, and so did we. :-)

We checked into our cabin for the night. Cute, cozy, perfect.

Then we headed out to explore on two wheels!

Half the road was closed. We went as far as we could one direction, then snapped pictures all the way back.

Snow, as far as the eye could see in one direction.

And pristine, crystal clear beauty in the other.

I loved the perfect reflections the lake provided. And the allure of wizard island.

Motorcycle boots for snow play... Fun!

Off to the historic lodge for dinner!

We tried Elk, and it was amazing!

Spanky made friends with the employees.

And I took more pictures.

It was 8:00, but felt much later. Time for some relaxing and dozing off. 

I'm not ready for the adventure to end, but my hope is that a long string of continued motorcycle adventures will keep us honeymooning for a lifetime. And hey, we still have to get home, right? The ride doesn't end here... 

A Freezing Boy (Redding to Crater Lake)

We came to the realization that our honeymoon is nearly over. Only two days left. Sad face! To which Kris said, "We can just have our honeymoon forever, we'll just keep riding our motorcycles!".

We left California today. I feel thankful for all of the experiences we had in this great state. Everyone we came across were very nice and helpful. Family were warm, kind, and loving. The natural beauty that still exists in vast quantities is astounding. From the desert to the coast and everything in between, wow, just wow!

We left our hotel in Redding in the late morning. La Quinta has been my favorite inexpensive hotel chain thus far. It was sunny and warm, the wind had calmed down a bit from the night before where we had been blown all around the freeway.

Our route for today took us up I-5 through Shasta Lake and then northeast on US 97 to Crater Lake. We stopped off at several points to take pictures of Shasta Lake and Mt. Shasta. One of the stops was along a dirt road. I explored while Kris stayed behind. I found a nice view and picked her up on my bike. She was much less reluctant this time. We had fun with the picture taking and bumpy ride. We got some beautiful shots of shasta and the bridge over the lake.

We stopped for lunch in a town called Weed. Strange name. We had pizza, got silly pictures with Spanky, filled up the bikes, and continued on our way.

US 97 is long, straight, and climbs up a couple thousand feet. The views changed from high desert to mountain valley and back to high desert. There were so many bugs in this section we stopped many times to clean our helmets.

We stopped in Klamath Falls for a rest and some more pictures. Kris thought there were going to be actual water falls but all we found were many ducks, seagulls, a lake and the related poop in mass quantities.

We pressed on north and turned west on hwy 62 toward Crater Lake. This was my favorite part of the riding day. The road was dead straight for 30 or 40 miles but by now we were so far out in the wilderness there wasn't another car or human to be seen anywhere. A lonely road. A road that frees your soul from the confinement of the big city. A road with beautiful scenery in all directions. A road where you meet every bit of peace, beauty, and serenity you could find anywhere in this vast planet. A road that cures all of the stop and go, hustle and bustle of LA and San Diego.

Then there was a little town at the end of the only turn on this lonely road. It appeared to be abandoned. There were a total of three non-functioning gas pumps with signs that talked about Obama and how the owner can no longer sell gas because of our government. It said nothing about the lack of people to buy the now unavailable gas. I think this town was called Klamath.

A few miles later we reached the entrance to Crater Lake. We stopped for pictures and to again clean the think layer of bug guts off of our helmet visors. The air was getting colder and colder. Kris needed heat. I needed more layers.

We pressed on, stopping occasionally for Kris to take pictures of a very deep canyon. Tourists were now joining us for pictures and generally being tourists. You know, stopping in the middle of the road, parking such that nobody can get by them, and generally being unaware of anything but the next shiney to look at.

We reached the park entrance and the forest service employee mentioned she owned the same Ninja 250 as Kris. She told us she had just been on a ride the day before, on her day off. We chatted briefly about our trip with her but we were holding up the line so we continued on. I would have enjoyed talking to her some more.

Our room was in Mazama Village, which is a combination of campground, cabins, store, gas station, restuarant, and gift shop. I had not been to the south side of Crater Lake before so this was all as new to me as it was to Kris. We stopped by the store, got checked into our cabin, and unloaded our stuff.

The cabin was cute. Two beds, heat, bathroom with running water and a shower, everything you would find in a hotel room.

Kris wanted to ride the rim of Crater Lake and take pictures. It was another 7 miles to the actual rim of the volcano. I made the mistake of leaving my warm gear behind. By the time we reached the rim there were 8 and 9 foot tall snow banks on the side of the road and it had to be in the 40s. Brrrr!!! I was cold!!!

I think we stopped at every viewpoint for pictures. I wanted to enjoy it but being a human popsicle is no fun. Kris finally had enough pictures and we headed to the main lodge for dinner.

We decided to do a full formal dinner. Elk chops were on the menu and since this was an adventure we decided to try them. Elk is very tender. It has a slightly more gamey flavor than beef but is less tough to chew. It had a weird blackberry sauce on it which didn't work well with the natural flavor of the meat. I scraped most of it off. Pepper would have been better.

With full bellies, we (I) made the reluctant walk to my bike to the even more reluctant 7 mile ride back to Mazuma Village. By this time the sun was setting and the tempurature had dropped a few more degrees. I just wanted to curl up in a warm bed and go to sleep.

I rode back tucked under my windshield to prevent the biting cold wind from freezing me to death. Once we got back to the cabin I sat in front of the heater until Kris could no longer stand the sauna that was our room. I mean, that's odd for Kris. She's always cold.

A tired boy, I went to sleep early and missed out on the suggestion to view the stars. They'll be there tomorrow, I hope!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Joining the Club (Sonora to Redding)

We meant to wake up in time to have breakfast with Rosie but this trip has a way of making us both sleep longer than we normally do. Rosie had made us bacon, set out some fruit, and eggs. We ate, showered, packed the bikes, and left. I'm looking forward to seeing Rosie again and visiting this beautiful part of California again.

Our route for the day took us through many small towns up highway 49 and then on to Redding. Highway 49 was amazing. I keep saying that but it's true! There have been so many amazing roads with amazing views, amazing turns, amazing little towns, amazing everything! The gold rush highway didn't dissapoint.

If you ever decide to drive through this area, just a word of caution, make sure to obey the posted speed limits. Prior to today's ride, we saw maybe 4 police cars. That was in 2500 or so miles of California highways. We saw 9 or 10 highway patrol and 2 or 3 county sheriff cars in about 100 miles. I lead because, yeah, you know.

We stopped off for lunch in Auburn at a place called Taco Tree. There was a supermoto XR600 or something, I'm not a Honda expert, in the parking lot so we took that as a sign that this place was for us. The food was inexpensive but very tasty! Kris was entertained by the signs that warned people there was a light pole behind their car as they backed out from their parking spot.

We headed north toward Yuba City, avoiding major highways. They tend to be straight lines with not many interesting things to look at. The back roads are always more interesting on a motorcycle adventure. We saw endless fields where some kind of crop requiring standing water was growing. It looked like green grass in lake sized pools of standing water. Because there was a strong wind, the convection off of these pools made for a nice, cool breeze which felt as wonderful as it was to look at.

100 or so miles down the road we reached Yuba City. We stopped for a stretch, a snack, and a bathroom break. I overheard the gas station clerk chatting with one of the locals about his family he left behind in India and how he is going to visit them soon. I thought about home for a bit. I miss seeing the girls. Funny, I don't miss our dog though.

Since it was almost 5pm and we still had another 5 hours of riding to complete the ride through Lassen State Park, we decided to save that for another trip and push on to Redding via highways and I-5. It was still another 2 hours ride to Redding.

I remembered why freeway riding isn't fun. The wind blows your helmet all around and your neck gets sore. It's dead straight so there's nothing to do but hold the throttle open and try to find the most comfortable position, over and over. This leads to a very fidgety Nathan! I finally decided sitting way back on the seat with my cramp buster right in the middle of my grip (I tried sliding it in all different arrangements), left hand loosely on the left grip (I also tried many combinations of left hand placement), and head slightly tucked under the windscreen. This gave me the best possible comfort with the least possible wind buffetting and arm fatigue.

At some point during the day Kris got stung by a bee on the neck. She said it stung really badly and when the wind blew on it, it made the sting hurt even worse. She said she also sneezed while riding without an issue. She has been afraid of how that might affect her riding. She didn't stop for either event. I think she's pretty badass today.

We arrived in Redding at 7:30pm. The hotels we originally spotted were devoid of any place to eat within walking distance so we headed back south a few exits, found a hotel with food next to it, checked in, unpacked, had dinner, and stumbled back to our room. We were asleep in minutes. It was a commuting day for sure, 305 miles!

A day of going... Sonora to Redding on the back roads

We set out with our ideal ride winding 9 hours through eastern California, avoiding I5, ending up east of Shasta. I had read about a wonderful ride through Lassen State Park, and wouldn't it be worth it to try to catch it on the way to Shasta? Well, we'll put it in the GPS and see how it goes.

How it goes is... riding through wonderful twisty roads, stopping for random pictures. How it goes is riding through sleepy towns where men stand on the porch and watch the cars drive by. 

How it goes is... driving through citrus trees, inhaling deeply, and smelling the citrus in the air. How it goes is getting stuck behind a ginormous truck hauling a ginormous boat. 

How it goes is... Sneezing on my motorcycle for the first time ever, and not dying! And then getting stung by a bed while riding!

How it goes is... With sleeping until 8, breakfast, second breakfast, blogging, and breaks.... It starts to look like riding through a national park in the dark, unable to enjoy the beauty, but wary of deer and bears wanting to get all up close and personal with the motorcycles. 

At 5pm, we changed our plan, avoided I5 until the last possible moment, but skipped the extra park. It's only about 450 miles from Portland... A perfect trip for a long weekend!  We'll definitely come back.

On our way, we took some beautiful photos...

Here was a lovely bridge we saw...

The hills were beautiful...

While I took photos 

Nathan looked for ways to play in the dirt.

This river was too gorgeous not to stop for.

We disturbed these birds while walking on their bridge...

And took a risk leaving our bikes here to explore!

They survived.

I loved that Nathan turned around for this sign:

We drove through El Dorado, but saw no gold. 

We had taco's here:

Wish we had one of these in Washington!

But the most epic part of our day goes like this...

Did we stop for Bigfoot? No, we did not. Did we stop for a house carved from a single log? No, we did not. Did we even stop for Laguna Seca raveway? Say it with me. No, we did not. 

But when we saw these massive Amazonian women with giant stone breasts, we stopped.

We do not discriminate based on gender. We photographed the man too.

There was no explanation for these statues in the middle of nowhere. I think it was better that way.