Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"California Triple Crown"

2018 is the inaugural year for the Southern California Motorcycle Association's "California Triple Crown."  To earn the Triple Crown Award, a rider must complete the "California Adventure Series" consisting of the "California Missions Tour", the "California Parks Adventure" and the "California Best 15 Roads Challenge."  These rides must be completed within 2018.  I will be documenting my rides on this blog throughout the year.

A "Passport" book is given to the rider for each of the three rides to document the journey.  The Missions Tour requires the rider to visit all 21 California missions, taking two photo's with the rider and their motorcycle at each mission.  The Parks Adventure requires the rider to visit 24 of 25 National Parks in California,  taking a photo of the rider and their motorcycle at a recognizable landmark within the park, and receiving a passport stamp at each park.  The "15 Roads Challenge" requires the rider to ride on 15 specific and challenging roads in California.  Five in the south, five in central and five in the north.  The rider must obtain a gas receipt at the start and finish of each road, as well as taking a photo at a landmark on the roadway.




I haphazardly completed the Missions and Park rides last year.  This year, I am spending more time studying maps to get the most out of each ride.  I am going to take advantage of the lack of rain and snow, attempting to complete the rides by summer.  I have already completed one National Park and one of the 15 Best Roads.  A couple weeks ago, I rode the "Tehachapi Loop" and stopped by Cesar Chavez National Monument.  Last year, my wife rode with me to these two locations.  She is no longer riding due to the passing of our older son in October.  I am hoping she will eventually be ready to get back on the Wing with me.

The "Tehachapi Loop" is known by all train buffs.  It is a nearly 3/4 mile spiral.  The last time we rode this route, we stopped and saw a train completing the loop.  Although I am not overly fascinated by trains, it was cool to watch the train travel the loop.  There are several youtube videos of the loop.  On this trip, after I completed the loop and visited the Chavez Monument, I had a late breakfast at the "Keene Café."  The country fried steak with homemade gravy was as good as when I had it last year!






Tomorrow, February 22, I will be getting an early start with the intent to visit four missions, one National Park, and two of the "15 Best."  I hope to be up to the bay area by about 1600 hours.   Friday, I will visit four missions and seven National Parks.  On Saturday, I will be riding home, visiting eight missions and one National Park.  A month ago, I had plans of riding to Provo, UT, to visit our younger son who is attending BYU to obtain his Graduate Degree in Mathematics.   However, with snow and temperatures in the single digits, I decided to do a missions and parks ride.  I will wait until Provo gets double digit temperatures before I ride there.  Well, these are my plans for this ride.  We will see if the weather and traffic cooperate.    

I was on the road today at 0515 hours, about 15 minutes later than I had planned.  It was a cold morning at about 40 degrees.  I have really good riding gear, so I wasn't too worried.  As I headed north on the 5 freeway and rode over the Grapevine, the temperature dropped to 28 degrees.  Fortunately I had my cold weather riding gear on.


After fueling up in Coalinga and getting a gas receipt, writing the beginning mileage on it, I headed West on the 198, one of the required "15 Best Roads."   It was an awesome ride and beautiful scenery.  Traffic was near non-existent.  That was a blessing, as I was concerned about stopping on the shoulder to take the required photos.  I took photos at the "Parkfield Grade," "Officer John McVeigh Memorial Highway," and "198"  signs.  Only one photo was required, but I was really enjoying the ride, so I took three.



      
After completing the 198, I headed north and went to Pinnacles National Park.  Again, another nice ride with minimal traffic.  I arrived at the park and took my photo before I walked inside the visitor center for the passport stamp.  After the stamp, I sat outside and enjoyed my lunch I brought from home.  The leftover pizza was still cold and tasty!


After lunch, I headed northwest to  Mission San Juan Bautista.  When I arrived, there were several buses and kids running everywhere.  I took my two photos and got back on the road.



I headed southwest to Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Carmel.  I encountered HEAVY winds as I rode west.  I felt like my helmet was going to be ripped off and I had difficulty keeping the Wing in the lane.  The Wing is a heavy  bike, just over 900 pounds, so I know it is a strong wind when I am getting bounced around. 





Headed back north along the coast to Mission Santa Cruz.  I hit the same strong winds again.  At one point I was on a raised curve and the gusts hit me so hard, I was pushed into the shoulder area.  "E Ticket" ride!  I arrived at Mission Santa Cruz and there was no wind!   I could see some rain clouds starting to move in, so I took my photos and hit the road, getting a light sprinkle as I left.  



I stopped for fuel and a receipt in Scott's Valley at the Chevron.  An older gentleman walked over from one of the pumps, inquiring about the Wing and my ride.  This is not uncommon when out touring on the Wing.  Everyone wants to talk about the ride.  He mentioned he was in Hawaii when the false alarm sounded for the incoming missile from North Korea.  It was an interesting conversation and he said there was a lot more panic than what made the national media (surprise).

My next leg of the journey was riding Highway 35 from Patchen's Pass on the 17, to Alice's Restaurant at the 92.  This is a beautiful ride.  It is full of tight twists and great scenery.  However, after leaving the 17, the road is extremely narrow for a few miles and I was concerned I would encounter a cage (car) on one of the sharp curves.  The temperature dropped to the mid-30's.  It began to snow while on this road.  The Wing slid a couple of times from the snow/ice on the road.  Not a good feeling.  There were a few recommended spots to take the required photo, but I did not want to stop in the light snow.  I just wanted to push through and get off the mountain.  The snow finally stopped and I finished this section of the ride at Alice's Restaurant.  I would have gone inside to eat, but I wanted to get down to lower elevation.


I made it to my final mission of the day shortly after 5:00pm, Mission San Francisco de Asis.  Due to the weather on Highway 35, I lost a lot of time.



I arrived at the Travelodge a few minutes from the mission.  The guy at the desk told me to park  next to the lobby.  I appreciated that, as when I am traveling on the Wing, I am always worried the Wing will be vandalized or stolen when parked in the lot.   It is somewhat safer to park near the lobby.  I was on the road about 12 hours today, riding over 480 miles.  Other than the snow, it was good riding weather.  It can be quite challenging setting up the tripod for a photo in the busy cities, often parking in a red zone, keeping my fingers crossed that "The Man" doesn't come along and give me a ticket.  Tomorrow, I will be visiting several National Parks in the bay area and a few missions.  Tomorrow's challenge is that most of the parks do not open until 10am.  My intent is to ride down to the San Francisco Maritime Park before traffic.  I will take my pictures and then get a cup of coffee until the visitor center opens.  When I was here last year, I did the same thing, but walked to Fisherman's Wharf and got a cup of clam chowder.  Depending on the weather, I may do that again.  

February 23, Friday.  I had no problem getting up early, as I could hear the tweakers running around the motel until 4am.  They were like a bunch of cockroaches.  I headed down to the San Francisco Maritime National Park for pictures before traffic kicked in.  While looking at the park photo, I could see the blue curb, as I was in the handicap parking.  Would have been good evidence against me had "The Man" given me a ticket for parking in the handicap zone.  However, at 7am, I knew they would be eating breakfast somewhere (How do I know that.  LOL.).  As the Maritime Visitor Center does  not open until 9:30 am, I decided to ride over to nearby Fort Mason for a picture of a sign in the Golden Gate Recreation Area, another National Park on the list.  I may ride by the Presidio Visitor Center for the passport stamp, as I have never been there.  Currently having coffee and oatmeal at Starbucks until the Maritime Visitor Center opens.  It is only a short one block walk.



At 9:30 am, the SF Maritime Visitor Center opened.  I walked in and got my passport stamped as well as a stamp for the Golden Gate Recreation Area.  I had toured this visitor center last year, so I just got the stamps and hit the rode towards the Presidio.   I stopped off at the Presidio Visitor Center and got their stamp.  I then rode past the National Cemetery on the way to Fort Point.  Fort Point is an amazing fort and well worth walking around if in the area.  I spent a lot of time in there last year and walked around a bit this year after stamping my book.  After taking my photograph in front of the Fort Point sign, I looked toward the bay and had an excellent view of Alcatraz.  I thought about our son, as his company would send him up to the bay area a few times a year.  Unlike me, he was an excellent photographer and we found a lot of photos of his bay area trips on his laptop.  Based on his photos, I could tell he enjoyed his tour of Alcatraz.





I rode over the Golden Gate Bridge on my way to the Muir Woods National Monument.  I was a little sad riding over the bridge thinking of my son and felt his presence with me.  While riding to Muir Woods, I saw digital signs indicating parking reservations were required on weekends.  Good thing I was visiting on a Friday.  As I arrived, I saw the parking areas were coned off and signs indicating reservations were required everyday.   Parking attendants were posted at all parking entry locations.  The attendant would not allow me to park without a reservation, but he did allow me to take a photo in front of the Muir Woods sign.  I asked again if I could run inside and stamp my passport, telling him I would be inside for only a few minutes.  He wouldn't budge.  He said I could ride to the top of the canyon where cell service was available and obtain reservations on-line.  I did just that and rode to the top.  Unfortunately, the earliest reservation I could get was 2:30 pm.  That wouldn't work, as I had several parks and missions to ride to and I didn't have time to wait.   I will stop by on my return trip from the north parks  next month, with a reservation.


I next rode to Point Reyes National Seashore, about an hour's ride north.  This was a different route than last year, with spectacular views of the ocean and mountains.  There was minimal traffic and it made for a really nice ride.  I arrived at the Bear Valley Visitor Center and I was surprised that on a Friday, the parking lot was nearly empty.  That made it real easy to take a photo.


I rode to Mission San Rafael Arcangel.  This is another one of those missions that present challenges to parking the motorcycle and taking a photo due to heavy traffic in a city environment and a red curb with no parking signs in front of the mission.



The next mission stop was San Francisco Solano in Sonoma.  It was a nice ride and opposite of the way I rode last year.  When I arrived, the town was busy with cars and pedestrians walking around, again challenging to take the photos, but I did what I could.



I then rode east to Napa and south to Martinez, to the John Muir National Historic Site Visitor Center.  As I rode through the vineyards, I kept thinking about my friends that enjoy their wine.  It was a beautiful ride with temperatures in the low 50's.


I next rode to Richmond to the visitor center at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historic Park.  When I was here in December, I spent some time touring the visitor center and found it quite interesting.  They show a very informative movie about the history of the "Rosie's" and the day I was there, they had an actual "Rosie" at the center to talk about her experience.  This is another visitor center, that if in the area, well worth the stop and I recommend watching the movie.    


I rode south on the 580 to head towards Fremont, to visit Mission San Jose.  Passing the 880, while in the Oakland area, traffic came to a near standstill.  I decided to split the 1/2 lane for a while as it is no fun sitting on your bike on the freeway.  The traffic began to move slowly, as I continued to split the lanes.  It was quite challenging in many spots as there were many semi trucks in the number two lane taking up too much space.  I kept seeing signs that read, "Trucks use far right lane."  What the heck, why are they in the number two lane?  After several miles of lane splitting, I was between a car in the number one lane and a semi truck in the number two lane.  As I was parallel to the front passenger, I glanced over at the driver of the car and noticed she was on her cell phone, her car drifting towards me.  I accelerated and prepared for impact.  I could not go to the right due to the truck.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it past the car, not knowing how we avoided a collision.  I took a short break from lane splitting as the traffic was moving about 5 mph.  After a short break, time to start splitting again.  There was a lady in a BMW in front of me, near the left side of the lane.  As I began to move towards the space between the two lanes, she moved over also.  Every time I began  to move forward, she moved towards the center to block me.  Another motorcycle hater on the freeway.  I decided it wasn't worth the risk and just settle in to the slow traffic, which really set me behind schedule for my remaining two missions of the day.

I arrived in Fremont at Mission San Jose with about a half hour of sunlight remaining.  I remembered this mission from last year and again, the challenges of taking a photo on a busy weekday with heavy traffic.


   
I had one mission remaining on my route for the day.  Mission Santa Clara is located on the campus of UC Santa Clara.  It was only 16 miles away and I would give it a shot to make it before dark.  I made it to within two miles when the sun set.  I had a motel room booked in Gilroy, about 30 minutes south.  I decided I would go back to Mission Santa Cruz first thing in the morning before heading south.  It would add time to my trip, but I did not want to skip this mission as I was so close.

By the time I arrived in Gilroy, refueled for the next day, checked into the motel and unpacked the Wing, it was about 7:30 pm.  I was very hungry, as I had a light lunch and I normally eat dinner no later than 5:00 pm.  95% of my meals are plant based, however there was a Burger King next to the motel and I was too tired and hungry to walk to a sit down restaurant for a healthy meal.  I had some type of a two patti burger with bacon and cheese, french fries, two tacos, and a coke.  Not healthy, but it sure tasted good.

I went to bed with the intent to get an early start.  I woke up shortly after midnight with an upset stomach, barely making it to the restroom.  It had been a long time since I had an upset stomach like that.  Guess I will stick to my plant based eating habits.  As I went back to bed, I was concerned about how I would feel riding the next morning.

Saturday, February 24, I woke up around 5:00 am and although a little tired, thankfully my stomach felt ok.  I loaded the Wing and headed north towards Santa Clara on the 101 in the dark.  I arrived at a Starbucks across the street from the campus at about 5:50 am.  It was still dark and I went inside for oatmeal, coffee, and a good cup of water.  I remembered that I didn't drink enough water the day before and that could of added to getting sick in the middle of the night.

As I began eating my oatmeal, I had to laugh at the three guys in their 70's that were complaining about everything.  I call these guys, "The Three Wise Men."  I have seen them before, as have you.  Nearly every coffeshop across the country has a version of "The Three Wise Men" that know everything and have a solution to all the world's problems.  As I am an early riser, even in retirement, I had joked last year when I would retire I would become one of the "Wise Men" at my local donut shop.  I am proud to say that one year into retirement, I have yet to go to my local donut shop early in the morning.

After breakfast, I rode across the street to the campus.  The guard shack was unoccupied this early in the morning.  I was able to position the Wing for a photo without being rushed due to crowds.  I think this is a beautiful mission.

         

Back on the road, I headed south toward Mission Soledad.  As I approached the mission in the middle of farmland, I knew it would be an easy photo, as there was no traffic.  When I arrived, I was surprised that the gate was closed and they didn't open until 10:00 am.  I had forgot about that.  I took a photo at the sign and rather than wait a couple hours, I would stop by when returning from my north trip next month.


I continued south on the 101 to King City and cut off southwest to Fort Hunter Liggett and Mission Anontio de Padua.  It was a nice ride through Hunter Liggett.  I was surprised at how brown and dry the vegetation was.  I was looking for wild pigs, as it is a good area for pig hunting during wet years. I didn't see any pigs, but I saw a minimum of 30 deer laying in the brown grass.  I almost missed them as they were the same color as the grass.  

I arrived at the mission and was approached by a docent as I parked in front of the mission for a photo.  She asked if I could park elsewhere as they were expecting a bus to arrive shortly.  I explained what I was doing and that I would move before the bus arrived.   After a picture in front of the mission and one with the statue of Father Serra, I moved the Wing to the parking area and like clockwork, the bus arrived.  According to the docent, this was the second California mission founded by Father Serra.



Back to the 101 and south to Mission San Miguel Arcangel.  My friend Bob, KB6CIO, who I met with my participation with "Summits on the Air" recently moved up to the area.  He invited me to stop by, but after falling behind schedule and being sick the night before, I had to take a raincheck.  Very gracious of he and Janet to invite me to stop by.    



Back south on the 101 to San Luis Obispo and Mission San Luis Obispo.  In my opinion, this mission is the most difficult to photograph with a picture of the rider and motorcycle in the picture.  Red curbs, narrow roads, and lots of pedestrian/vehicle traffic.  Last year, I rode up here early in the morning while it was still dark and took my photos at sunrise, parking in the red zone on the narrow road before traffic.  After the mission, I stopped at McDonald's for a healthy lunch of oatmeal (no brown sugar or cream added), a house salad with no dressing, and a cup of the best on the go coffee.  I had also been drinking water at every stop, staying hydrated.




I next headed to Lompoc to visit Mission La Purisma.  I cut off the 101 in Santa Maria and took Hwy 1 to Vandenberg Air Fore Base.  This was the first time I was on this section of Hwy 1 and it was a really nice ride.  




I continued to ride east through Solvang to Mission Santa Ines.  My parents and grandparents on my mother's side, loved going to Solvang as they are Norwegian.  Teresa and I enjoy going to Solvang for the pastries in the many bakeries in town.  I really want to stop by our favorite bakery and get a lemon danish!



I rode Hwy 154 to Santa Barbara.  I enjoy this Hwy and have rode it several times.  Arriving at Mission Santa Barbara, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to ride up to the front of the mission to take my pictures.  This area is normally closed, but as Mass was starting soon, parishioners were allowed to park in the front.



Back south on the 101 towards Ventura to visit the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center.  As I approached Ventura, I decided to exit on Main Street and attempt photographs at Mission San Buenaventura.  This is another challenging mission for photos.  As I parked my Wing across the street from the mission and began to set up my camera, I was immediately approached by a couple of  panhandlers trying to be my new best friend.  I don't mind helping people out, but don't try to play me as these clowns were attempting to do.  When they realized their attempts were futile, off they went.  



I made it to the Channel Islands Visitor Center just before they closed.  The ranger was outside lowering the flag when I arrived.  Just enough time to get inside and stamp my passport.


That was my last stop for this trip.  By the time I got home, over the three day trip, I rode over 1200 miles, visited 16 missions, 9 National Parks, and rode two of the "California 15 Best Roads."  To top it off, I even got sick one night and nearly hit by a cage outside of Oakland.  It was a fun trip and looking forwarding to the north and southern parks/missions ride.  I was real happy with the route I chose.  It took me four trips last year to visit the same amount of parks and missions.  With the expense of these trips, it was economical and fun to do this in three days.

Thursday, March 8, 2018.  Yesterday, my wife got home from work and noticed my riding gear laid out in the spare bedroom and asked what the occasion was for a midweek ride.  I replied, "Occasion?  Tomorrow is Riding Thursday.  I never need a reason to ride on a Thursday."  I actually ride quite often during the week when she is at work, she doesn't know it.  I then explained to her that I would be riding to Palm Desert and take Highway 74 over the mountains, passing Lake Hemet and Idyllwild, before dropping into Hemet and back home.  She just shook her head, giving me that crazy look, as she doesn't understand the fun of long distance riding.

I woke up fairly early, had some coffee and cereal, and got ready to go.  I was on the road before 5:30am.  Traffic was moderate riding eastbound, but thankfully no slowdowns except a minor delay at the 210/10 interchange.   I noticed westbound traffic along the 210 was already stop and go.

I arrived in Palm Desert before 7:30am and proceeded towards Hwy 111 via Bob Hope Drive.  The gas station I had scouted on "Gasbuddy.com" was a Chevron at the corner of the 111 and the 74.  There, I would need to top off the tank and get my starting receipt.  I didn't want to start the ride up the mountain until after 8:00am, so I lucked out and found a McDonald's next to the Chevron.  I had a great cup of coffee and oatmeal, and waited around until 8:00am, when I hit the road.

I have been on Highway 74 several times in my life, as I grew up in Sun City and we would go fishing, hiking, and camping at Lake Hemet and the surrounding area.  I really enjoyed the road, as well as the views as I rose up out of the desert.  I liked looking at the vegetation as it changed with higher altitude.  The weather was excellent for riding, upper 50's to low 60's.

The three locations in the book recommended for a picture was the Lake Hemet sign, the San Bernardino National Forest sign, the Pines to Palms Highway sign, and of course, a Highway 74 sign. I took photo's in front of the Lake Hemet sign, San Bernardino National Forest sign, and a Highway 74 sign.  I never saw the Pines to Palms Highway sign.  I was unable to get a good picture of the Highway 74 signs with a flower pictured below the sign, as there was no safe parking at these signs.

As I arrived at Lake Hemet, it brought back a lot of good memories from my youth.  I remember my dad taking us up here several times, as it was less than a two hour drive from our house and it had the appearance of a Sierra lake.  I did learn on this trip that the dam was completed in 1895, standing at 122'.  It held the world record for sixteen years for being the largest solid masonry dam.

It was an awesome ride and I stopped in Hemet to refuel and get my ending receipt.  Hemet was another town I frequented often in my youth.  I noticed a lot of homeless people, which was not present when I was young.  I stopped at Chaparral Motorsports in San Bernardino and picked up a new pair of riding gloves.  I arrived home at 12:30pm after an awesome 280 plus mile ride!






Yesterday, March 17 was St. Patrick's Day and time for the annual "St Patrick's Day Ride" sponsored by the Shamrock Road Riders.  I have been on two of their previous rides and they always put together an awesome event, so I knew this would be a great ride.   The ride started at the "Voyager Restaurant" at the Mojave Airport.  This is the airport you see from the 14 as you are headed north towards Bishop that looks like an airplane graveyard. 


After signing in, I took a look at the ride sheet and saw we would be riding across Death Valley to Beatty, Nevada, north on the 95 and west on the 266 arriving in Bishop.  I wanted to take a short detour to Manzanar National Historic Site, north of Lone Pine, to get my National Park passport book stamped.  Although I knew I would be riding past it on Sunday, as I am an early riser, I did not want to wait around Sunday morning for the Visitor Center to open at 9:00 am, so I decided to go on Saturday.  I skipped the breakfast at the airport and hit the road.

The temperature in Mojave was in the upper 40's when I started.  I wore my "Aerostitch R-3 Light" as the weather called for possible showers and snow flurries.  The R-3 is a one piece riding suit that is waterproof.  I have worn it in heavy rain for many hours and remained dry.  As I was ringing towards Manzanar, I enjoyed looking at the mountains with the fresh snow.

I arrived at Manzanar and the parking lot was nearly empty.  As there was no one around, I rode the Wing onto the sidewalk and took a picture next to the visitor center sign.  I then parked in the parking lot and went inside for the stamp.  I did not tour the visitor center this trip, as I have stopped here several times, touring the center, including last October when I was here with my son.  I was somewhat overcome with emotion as I remembered the good time we had and this was the last stop on our trip.  I remembered just a couple hours later, we arrived at my house and we parted ways, not knowing that would be the last time together.  It is an amazing visitor center and I recommend stopping when in the area.


I got back on the Wing and headed south to the 136, towards Death Valley.  The 136 took me by the town of Keeler, an old mining town.  The town population is now estimated to be 50-60 residents.  I rode through the town when I was in the area last year.

I turned east on the 190 and enjoyed the nice ride to Death Valley.  Lots of twists and turns and great views.  I stopped at the Death Valley sign for my picture.  After the picture, I rode to the ranger station at Stovepipe Wells, to stamp my passport.  Last year, we went to the visitor center at Furnace Creek.  After the stamp, I continued the ride through the park to Beatty, Nevada.   My wife and I stayed in Beatty last year when on a motorcycle ride.  I refueled and had lunch in Beatty.  As I rode a few miles north of town, the temperature dropped quickly and it looked like rain showers ahead of me.  I pulled over and put on my Hi-Viz waterproof jacket and my waterproof glove covers, although my gloves are waterproof.  The storm looked bad and I wanted to be ready and visible.  As I was putting on the jacket it began to snow.  Not enough snow to stay on the road, but snow just the same.  After a couple miles, the snow stopped.  I turned west on the 266.  It was a nice ride going through the mountains with the fresh snow on the side of the road and surrounding mountains.

I arrived in Bishop and after refueling, checked into my motel.  After prepping the Wing for the ride home on Sunday, I showered and walked to the Bishop Brewery where I had an excellent handmade veggie burger, sweet potato fries, and a cold tap blonde ale.  Fantastic dinner.  I then walked to the Bishop Bowling Alley, where I met up with about 20 of the riders as they had what looked like a good prime rid dinner.  I try not to eat meat anymore, but looking at that prime rib, made me glad I ate before I got there.  It was an outstanding ride and an enjoyable with some fun and interesting riders.  My ride to Bishop was over 400 miles.  I checked my mileage when I arrived at home and my total mileage was 687 miles.  Awesome ride!

             
March 19, 2018.  With heavy rainstorms arriving Tuesday evening in Southern California and my wife visiting our son in Provo, I decided to take a ride while we have good weather.  My plan was to ride Highway 33 from Maricopa to Ojai, then south on the 101 to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, east to the San Fernando Mission, before riding home.  This ride would have one requirement from each of the three Adventure Series; Missions, National Parks, 15 Best Roads.

As I rode west on Hwy 166, I was amazed at the oil fields and open farm land.  I have been on this road a couple times and the views never get old.  I stopped at the Shell gas station in Maricopa to fuel and get the required gas receipt prior to riding Highway 33 between Maricopa and the 150 in Ojai.  It is the lone gas station in town as far as I know.  I left Maricopa around 9:00 am.

I turned southbound on to Hwy 33 and noticed more farmland.  I came upon an olive ranch on the west side of the road.  I didn't expect olives in this area.  A photo was required at one of four locations:  Sondog Ranch sign, Pistachio Co, Wheeler Springs, or the Los Padres National Forest sign.   I also attempt to get a photo of the highway sign, 33 in this case, but that can be tricky due to the safety of parking along the side the road.

After a few miles, I came across the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company.  I turned into the parking lot and was surprised to see they had a restaurant and store.  They also had covered motorcycle parking, which tells me this is a popular weekend destination ride location.  I decided not to go inside, as I didn't want to load up on a bunch of pistachios, which I really enjoy.  When my wife begins riding with me again, I will ride up here with her for breakfast.

I next came across a Highway 33 sign at a "T" intersection, which allowed for safe parking to take the picture.  I had no traffic and probably could have parked in the middle of the road to take the picture.  I continued south and stopped at the Los Padres National Forest sign.  While taking the picture, I finally saw a car drive by.

The scenery switched from flat farm land to forested mountains.  It also went from a relatively straight road to a road with many twists and turns.  Fun!!!!  I came across two spots where construction was taking  place and the road narrowed to a single lane controlled by a signal.  I assume this was due to the recent "Thomas Fire" that damaged many homes and property.  I could see where the fire burned the surrounding mountains.

I had mapped on my GPS the Wheeler Springs area.  I expected to see a sign and an old resort I saw on the internet, but I think it was all burned in the fire.  I did come across the Wheeler Springs Campground, but I didn't stop for a picture due to construction in the area.  I arrived in the town of Ojai at about 10:45 and refueled to get my ending receipt.  Highway 33 was an awesome ride!  I never saw the sign for the Sondog Ranch.  I checked it on google maps when I got home and it was near where I started my ride on 33.




I took the 150 towards the 101 and Ventura.  This was the first time I had traffic today, but it was moving.  My next destination was the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Calabasas.  I arrived just before noon after a nice ride.  I had packed a lunch, so I ate on the oak covered picnic bench before I had my passport stamped.  It is a really nice visitor center and my wife and I spent a lot of time here last year. 


After stamping my passport, I was back on the Wing and headed towards San Fernando to visit the San Fernando Mission.  I like this mission and we spent a lot of time here last year.  Bob Hope is interred at the back of the mission.  I had my mission picture taken last year at his grave site.  After my photos, I rode home. 



My ride today was about eight hours, covering 287 miles.  Awesome roads, minimal traffic, and great riding weather!  I am glad I went today, as Ojai is expected to get nearly five inches of rain this week.  Hopefully there will be damage to the roads due to the storm.

Thursday, March 29.  I had initially planned on riding an overnight loop this week to the visitor centers at Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite, as well as riding Highway 245.  In checking the park conditions at Kings Canyon, although chains were not required to the visitor center, the recording said chains were required by state law inside the vehicle.  I wasn't sure how that would work with a motorcycle, so I decided to wait until April for that trip.  I instead rode to Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve.

I was on the road by 5:30am, with temperatures in the low 50's, light traffic, and a beautiful full moon behind me.  I wish I had been riding in another direction so that I could get a better look at the moon.  It was a nice ride to Joshua Tree, with no wind through Cabazon or on Highway 62.  The wind at times can get really bad in these areas, and on prior rides, have been pushed by the wind into the next  lane or onto the shoulder on Highway 62.    

The visitor center at Joshua Tree opens at 8am.  I made really good time, so I stopped for coffee at McDonalds, as it was only 7:30am.  Yesterday, I had emailed and called my friends, Jean and Claudette who I met through SCMA motorcycle rides.  They live just outside the park entrance and had told me when I was in the area, they would come down to the visitor center and take my picture for me.  They didn't answer the phone, so I didn't expect to see them.

When I arrived at the visitor center at 8:05am, Jean and Claudette were there.  Jean said he had checked his email this morning and saw my message.  I had provided a link to my SPOT device that tracks my route, so he knew exactly where I was.  Like me, he said when they saw "No Caller ID" on the phone, they did not answer, as they assumed it was a solicitor.  After the photo and stamping my passport, I followed them to their house to see their new motorhome they purchased a few weeks ago. I have toured the National Park several times, so I didn't feel the need to ride through again.


 I spent about 45 minutes with Jean and Claudette touring their new motorhome and talking about upcoming rides and motorhome trips.  They  are some really nice folks and I told them next time I come up, I would ride up with Teresa, as they enjoy her company as well.

I headed east to Twentynine Palms and stopped at the Chemehuevi Burial Grounds.  This is an Indian burial grounds from the early 1900's.  I always keep my eyes open for old cemeteries as they provide a lot of history of the area, as well as potential locations for the annual SCMA Cemetery Ride.



After refueling, I headed north on Amboy Road to the town of Amboy and east on Route 66.  I really enjoy this desolate stretch of desert road.  In my youth, my dad would take me fishing once a month to Lake Mojave and the Colorado River in Bullhead City.  This is the route we would take and from the time I was about 12, he would pull over after Twentynine Palms and let me drive until we reached the 40.  As I arrived in Amboy, I took a good look at the now closed Roy's Café.  We would often stop at Roy's Café for lunch when driving to the river.  As I headed east on Route 66, I slowed and looked over at the forgotten cemetery.  (The photos below are from a previous trip through the area last year).



I continued my ride to the Mojave National Preserve.  When I arrived at Kelso Depot, I was surprised at how many vehicles were in the parking lot.  Then I remembered this is the busy time of the year, before it gets too hot.  After taking photos and stamping my passport, I enjoyed my lunch on a picnic bench outside of the depot.   After lunch, I headed north through the near deserted park road towards Baker.  I  was enjoying the road and I think I was going close to 80mph in a 40mph zone.  I saw a vehicle coming southbound and I realized it was a Parks Police vehicle when it activated its rotating lights and siren.  It was clear the lights were intended for me to slow down, which I did, and I was appreciative he did not turn around and give me a well deserved ticket.



I arrived at the 15 fwy and headed south to the 210 west.  As I transitioned to the 210, the freeway traffic completely stopped in all lanes.  I split the lane between the carpool and number 1 lane for about three miles as the traffic was at a stand still.  Traffic began to move again, but I was never able to figure out what caused the long line of stopped traffic.  As I passed the 57, traffic again stopped.  I split the lane until semi-trucks began moving into the carpool lane and it was getting dangerous to split the lane.  After a delay, the traffic began to move again.  I had one more major slow down near Pasadena.  Another day of typical heavy traffic in Southern California.  By the time I arrived home, I had been on the road nearly ten hours, riding 476 miles.  It sure was a nice ride.   



Last week, I decided to make a Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Park loop, including Highway 245, one of the California Best Roads.   My intent was to ride to the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park, then Highway 245 to Kings Canyon National Park and stay the night in Fresno.  I would then ride up to Yosemite on Friday morning and spend a large part of the day, before riding down to Bakersfield.  That was my plan anyway.

I left my house around 8:30 am on Thursday morning, April 19.  I took my time and set a leisurely pace to the southern entrance to Sequoia National Park.  Last year, I went to the Lodgepole Visitor  Center, so I thought I would go to the Foothills Visitor Center this trip.  I arrived just after noon and traffic was extremely light in the park.  I took a few pictures and entered the visitor center to stamp my passport.  I heard the ranger saying it was snowing at Lodgepole (Looks I wouldn't have been able to get there even if I had planned on it.).   After my stamp, I enjoyed a nice lunch I had packed on the picnic benches near he Visitor Center.  It was very peaceful.




Back on the road, I exited the park and stopped in Exeter at the Texaco gas station to get a fuel receipt for the start of Highway 245.  They were out of unleaded fuel, so I had to get a couple gets of Super Unleaded (92 Octane).  The Wing is recommended to use 87.  I rode a short distance and turned north on Highway 245.

The recommended photos for Highway 245 were the City of Woodlake, Pinehurst, and Sequoia signs. My first stop was just below Woodlake where I stopped and took a picture at the city sign and found the geocache located just a few feet behind the sign.


  


As I approached the town of Woodlake, there was a detour that took me around town, as Main Street was closed due to construction.  Leaving Woodlake, I rode through some nice farmland as the elevation began to rise and I moved into rolling hills.  I saw some cattle ranches and the vegetation changed to pine trees.  It was a beautiful ride with zero traffic.  The road began to twist through the mountains, offering more views.  The road turned sharply to the right, and as I leaned into the blind turn, I saw a few one inch rocks and gravel in the road.  I couldn't avoid the rocks and I ran over at least one of them as well as the gravel.  The front end of the Wing felt like it came off the ground and wobbled sharply to the left and then I almost fell to the right, having to use my right leg as a brace to avoid going down on the right.  I then over corrected to the left and ended up in the opposite lane.  Fortunately, there was no traffic on this road or I could have had a major collision.  A few minutes later it began to rain. 

It was lightly raining, but I wasn't concerned as it was not cold enough for ice on the roads.  I came across the Sequoia sign and stopped for a picture.  I took a picture on both sides of the side as one was entering and the other side was leaving.



       
Back on the Wing and riding north, the rain turned to a light snow.  As I was looking for the Pinehurst sign, the snow began to come down heavier.  I noticed snow on my gas tank, the housing area for the GPS, and the windshield was covered in snow.  Fortunately, the snow was melting as it hit the road.  I saw the Pinehurst sign, but did not want to stop due to the heavy snow.  I finally made it to Highway 180.  I was six miles away from Kings Canyon National Park.  However, the snow was really coming down and I was having concerns I would get stranded if I did not get off the mountain immediately.

As I was riding down the mountain, I was relieved that after a few miles the snow stopped and turned to a light rain.  I stopped at the Valero in Squaw Valley for ending fuel receipt, before heading down to the Motel 6 in Fresno.    

When I am riding by myself on the road, I look for a basic place to sleep.  Hopefully quiet, safe environment for me and the Wing, a comfortable bed, hot water to take a shower, and easy access to get back on the road.  My experience with Motel 6 is hit and miss.  It is bare bones and a good price.  However, this experience was not positive.  As I parked in front of my room and began to unload, I noticed a guy two rooms away that was standing in his doorway, talking to himself.  It appeared he had smoked too much meth.  I also noticed a couple undesirable looking characters on the walkway of the second floor.  I was glad I was able to get the parking stall just outside my room.  After I showered, I walked around town a bit and located a couple geocaches.  I then had dinner at In-N-Out, nearly across from my motel.

When I returned from dinner, I noticed some guys drinking on the second floor, that appeared to be a group of construction guys that had worked all day  I laid in bed and I dozed on and off as I kept waking up to the person in the room above me walking around in the room until 3:20 am.  I also woke up one time around 1:00 am when I heard people on the upper floor shouting at each, as though they were about to fight, and threatening each other to call the police.  I decided to  get and hit the road to Yosemite, as I couldn't go back to sleep.  I felt no guilt about starting the Wing early in the morning near the rooms, as these people kept me up most of the night.  Hopefully I woke some of them up.

I arrived in Oakhurst while it was still dark and stopped at the McDonalds for oatmeal and coffee.  While eating breakfast, I wrote on postcard I had purchased at the Sequoia Visitor Center and would send it to my son in Utah.  As I was getting ready to leave, an older gentleman in his 70's walked in and inquired about the Wing.  He mentioned that he was a life long rider and had a Goldwing since 1985.  Two years ago, he said he crashed his Goldwing and it brought tears to his eyes when it was towed away from his residence.  We talked about riding, bikes, places we had visited on the Wings.  I could have easily stayed there another hour talking to him, but I had to continue my journey to Yosemite, as the sun was starting to come up.

I entered Yosemite National Park around 7:00 am.  The entrance kiosks were still closed, so I rode right into the park.  It was an awesome ride, as I had the road to myself.  I stopped at a few spots to enjoy the views and take a few pictures.  My photos of El Capitan did not come out well as there was direct sunlight into the camera.

I rode towards the Visitor Center and stopped to take a photo with Yosemite Falls in the background. This parking lot is normally full.  I think there were two cars in the lot when I arrived.


I rode towards the Visitor Center, stopping to look at eight deer within a few feet of me off the roadway.  I was so enjoying the peacefulness of watching the deer, I forgot to take a picture.  I finally had to move when a car approached.  After parking, I walked to the Yosemite Café (or is it Deli) and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee sitting by the inside fire.  It was myself and a young couple in the lounge area.  Very quiet, which is unusual for Yosemite.  After coffee, I walked over to the Visitor Center to take my picture.  I stopped at the Wilderness Center for a picture on the way to the Visitor Center.



The Visitor Center finally opened.  I went inside and stamped my passport.  I bought a postcard to send to my son in Provo.  I sat on the benches outside the Visitor Center and wrote on the postcard.  There were still minimal people around.  I would have stayed the entire day had I not needed to ride to Kings Canyon.  I walked the postcard over to the Yosemite Post Office and dropped it in the box so that it could have a Yosemite postmark on it.

Back on the Wing, I rode through the park towards the exit.  There was minimal traffic going my direction, but much more now coming into the park.  Back in Oakhurst before 11:00 am, I ate an early lunch at Taco Bell, then hit the road again.  I stopped at a Honda Motorcycle Dealership just north of Fresno where I bought an air filter and admired the two 2018 Goldwing's they had in the showroom.  

It was a nice ride up to Kings Canyon National Park with minimal traffic on the road.  I entered the park and stopped to take a picture as I didn't know what the conditions would be inside the park.


After taking the photo, I rode to the Visitor Center.  I noticed snow on the side of the road and the cutoff to Lodgepole was closed due to snow on the road.  I arrived at the Visitor Center and was able to easily get my photograph in front of the Visitor Center sign.  My family has a running joke about the "DABB", so I couldn't pass up an opportunity to "DABB" during a photo.  I think that will be next year's theme at the park photos.  I entered the center and stamped my passport.  I bought another postcard to mail to my son.  While speaking with the ranger, he said it snowed about three inches yesterday.  I now know for certain that I could not have made it to the park yesterday.



I walked next door to the market and bought a cup of coffee.  I enjoyed the hot coffee sitting at a table outside the market and writing on the postcard.  After I finished the coffee, I dropped the postcard off at the Kings Canyon Post Office to get it stamped with a park postmark.

Back on the Wing, I had a nice ride to Bakersfield via Hwy 63 from Hwy 180.  I rolled through rolling hills, ranches, and a lot of farm land.  I spent the night in Bakersfield before a short two hour ride home Saturday morning.  Outstanding Ride!!!!!







TO BE CONTINUED AS I VISIT MORE PARKS, ROADS, AND MISSIONS....