Friday, May 30, 2014
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
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!