Motorcycle Ride and/or Eating Reports (mostly)

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Big Bubba's Bad BBQ - Visalia

June 11, 2005.
Hwy 245

Sky is suppose to be at my house at 8:30 AM. At 8:05 my doorbell rings. It's Sky. He is anxious to hit the road. So off I go to get ready and we hit the road about 8:20. We were to pick up Tiny (who lives in Pinole) at Atwater where we were also to meet up with Top Dawg, who lives in Atwater. After a pretty uneventful ride down Hwy 99 we get to Atwater and see Tiny's 1600 already at the gas station. Tiny soon comes out of the store as we fill our gas tanks. Now we call Top Dawg since we are a half hour early.

Top Dawg leads us down Hwy 99 at something close to the speed limit.

We are to meet CaddmannQ at Klein's Truck Stop in north Fresno. We are very early so we head to the Café for biscuits and gravy. Caddman and his wife Judy arrive as we are eating. A small repast to tide us over until we get to Visalia and Big Bubba's Bad BBQ. Now Visalia is only 60 miles south of Fresno if you simply head south down Hwy 99. But our route is to take us to the east to an elevation over 5,000 feet before we turn southwest toward Visalia. Also we expect to be on the road for three hours plus.

A quick gas stop on Hwy 180 near Sanger and we are back on the road. It is still flat land and we are now only 30 miles from Hwy 245. The traffic is only moderate as we eventually start our gradual rise. Hwy 180 is the route to Kings Canyon and Sequoia Parks, but we are turning south at Hwy 245 about 10 miles short of the Park.
Now we are into the turns and pass a few slow moving RV's. Rest stop and photo op as we get above Dunlap.

Top Dawg leaves early to take pics as we head up the road. He got a couple of nice shots as we headed up Hwy 180.

We climb to 3,000 feet then to 4,000 feet and just after we pass the Elevation 5,000 feet sign we find the turn off for Hwy 245. The sign tells us that the road is twisty for the next 31 miles. The sign is correct. After a few miles we catch a straight of about 100 feet, whew - nice break. Then twisting and turning we stop at Mountain House or something like that after 12 miles and almost 25 minutes. Water break, it is pretty warm by now as it is past 1:00 PM.

The turns and twists are fairly severe for awhile, but as we get lower in elevation the turns become more sweeping and less steep. Hwy 245 is good pavement and little traffic and farily wide for the most part. It does drop in elevation almost 5,000 feet in 35 miles, though. Eventually we get to farmland and the flat Central Valley and straight farm roads. But we still have a bit to go as we still have 15 miles before Hwy 245 intersects Hwy 198 some 10 miles east of Visalia.

Ice King and his wife, who live in Tulare are to meet us between 2:30 and 3:00 at Big Bubba's Bad BBQ. But we get to the place about 3:10 as we stop along side the road to check the address. Oh shucks, the place is still up the road about a quarter of a mile on the other side of the street.

Too much food, but we eat it anyway. Good ribs. Nice bbq sauce. Great tri-tip sandwich. Excellent pulled-pork sandwich. The best onion rings around. Nice garlic fries. Nachos were only so-so. No one wants to ride the mechanical bull, too full.

Big Bubbas Bad BBQ - Visalia

It is 5:00 PM before we say our good byes to Ice King and his wife. Then It's over to Hwy 99. Gas stop just south of Fresno. CaddmannQ and Judy leave us at the Hwy 41 exit. Top Dawg leaves us at the Atwater exit. I got home right at 8:00 PM. Tiny made it home at 9:15 PM and crawled to the shower. He wrote "the 600+
miles in the saddle were talking very nasty to my back by then."

Don "Very Short Person" Inamasu
VROC #5569; TWVROC #13
Stockton, CA 95219


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Eating Report HSVROC to RITCR

August 1 to 12, 2004

{HSVROC is a motorcycle rally held at Topaz Lake, NV about 70 miles south of Reno. HSVROC stands for High Sierra Vulcan Riders and Owners Club. RITCR stands for the Rally In The Canadian Rockies and was held at the David Thompson Resort (DTR) just west of Nordegg, Alberta}

Since I am the slowest (I know Scorp) to report, the trip was hot, wet and interesting. But I should be a Goldwinger since I will report on the food along the way, instead of a Ride Report.

Second food stop from Topaz Lake was in Jordan Valley, OR at the Old Basque House. Food was okay 5 out of 10, but not Kosher Basque, in fact as we were leaving I talked a young couple from San Francisco out of eating there. I told them it was no comparison to the Wool Growers in Los Banos. He had eaten often at the Wool Growers. He wanted to introduce her to Basque food since she had never tasted it. But this was not the right restaurant for an introduction to Basque cooking.

After over nighting in Meridian, ID we met up with Grumbler who led us up Hwy 55 to an {Inn along the River, great breakfast - good link sausages and great potatoes (after all it is Idaho). Stopped for ice cream at McCall, ID a neat little resort town along a lake. Summer beaches and Winter skiing makes McCall a year around destination. That night we managed to get to Kamiah, ID. The local Pub, bowling alley and saloon had a great 1/2 pound hamburger served with cheese, bacon, ham and a fried egg. I opted for the broasted chicken, but could only finish the drumstick and thigh. The breast was eaten for breakfast.

Lolo Pass and on through Missoula. Stopped at a truck stop cafe on the road to Kalispell. I decided to try the buffalo steak. Buffalo is really lean, not as juicy as beef, but it had been a while since I had had buffalo. Then rain on the way to Kalispell. We get through the torn up streets into Kalispell and check into a motel. The lady desk clerk gave us directions to a steakhouse in downtown Kalispell. She must not have gone out often since the place was now a fairly upscale restaurant owned by former Denverites and the new owners of the Kalispell Hotel. The food was excellent. I had the duck covered in a mild curry sauce. Tiny had the seafood linguini. Reminded me a little of Wolfgang Puck's Post Rio restaurant in San Francisco, but the portions were twice the size. Topped off the meal with a little huckleberry ice cream. Great coffee also. I was getting tired of the stuff that passes for coffee along the way.

Through Glacier National Park and the Road to the Sun through Logan Pass. Up the road stopped by Canadians at the border. On to Cardston and a late breakfast. The eggs benedict was really very good. Stopped to get Canadian cash at the RBC ATM machine. Then on to Calgary to visit the Inamasu's there. Distant relatives that I had never seen in person. Mary is 96 and her youngest brother, Albert is 81. They share the same house that they have lived in for the last 58 years. Both are life long residents of Calgary. The food we had in Calgary was not at all memorable.

On the road again. Had a very nice breakfast in Carstairs. Then on to DTR. The only good food at DTR was the outdoor cooking. Had to go to Rocky Mountain House (85 miles away) for a visit to the Canadian Health Services after Six Pack Jack Ward (thanks Jack) looked at Tiny's cheek and diagnosed an infection. Tiny now has an Alberta Health card. But the food at Rocky Mountain House was excellent at the Tamarack Inn. I had the Veal Oscar and Tiny had the Chicken Cordon Bleu.

We had a great 5 days at DTR (well day 5 was waiting out the rain watching video tape movies), but that is another report. Our first meal stop outside of DTR was at Smitty's in Radium Jct. Great hot cakes and good coffee. Then on to Spokane - delivery pizza - need I say more.

Trying to get to the coast quickly. Breakfast at the Jack-In-The-Box in Pasco. Skipped lunch. Wandered through Eugene decided that it was best to head to Cottage Grove, OR instead. Went to the Chinese restaurant (I needed a bowl of rice). Food was actually passable, except they did not have bell peppers in their tomato beef chow mein.

Breakfast in Reedsport after having Tiny's risers tightened down by Guy at SCP and a quick hello to Steve as well. Very good blueberry hot cakes at the local chowder house, pizzeria, and coffee shop.

Last stop before home was in Eureka, CA. Went to O.H.'s Townhouse. An old stand by steakhouse in Eureka. I had a small dinner steak (it was a Spencer - rib eye - Del Monico). Tiny had the T-bone. Can recommend this place.

Breakfast at the Eel River Cafe in Garberville. Time to change from the leather jacket to the Summer mesh jacket, since Hwy 101 leaves the coast and moves inland a few miles. The road that now hugs the coast is Hwy 1 also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. The Eel River Cafe still makes the old fashion round waffles, not the Belgian waffle.

We hit the Bay Area traffic at 2:00 PM in Santa Rosa (65 miles from the City). But these are familiar roads and we took the backroads through the Valley of the Moon and to Napa where Tiny and I split up. He took Hwy 29 to Vallejo and home to Pinole. I continued on Hwy 12 through Fairfield, Rio Vista and then to Stockton.

Friday. I had to have my baked spare ribs and rice at the Golden Star Cafe.
Back home again.


Photos at:
Don "Very Short Person" Inamasu
VROC#5569 - '00 Vulcan 750
Stockton, CA 95219

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Eating Report Part 1 of 2

Eating Report – Stockton to Tonopah, NV to Kanab, UT to Williams, AZ to Las Vegas, NV Aug 30, 2004 to Sep 4, 2004.

This is a report about a five day trip with me on my 1999 Cardinal Red Triumph Legend with the 36 liter Givi side boxes and Don Mardle from Palmerston North, New Zealand riding my 1988 black BMW K75C.

Day 1 – Stockton to Tonopah
Starting out around 0800 on Monday, August 30th we were headed to Riverbank and Nifty’s Café for hot cakes. The usual route along Mariposa Road had a sign indicating a 30 minute delay for Road Construction, so off on Austin Road to French Camp Road to Hwy 120 into Escalon. Then Railroad Avenue into Riverbank. At Nifty’s I learn that in New Zealand hot cakes are made sweet and Don M. had never heard of eating them with eggs and/or a breakfast meat. So Don M. just had a short stack and a cup of coffee. He thinks us Americans ruin the coffee beans, too dark. Don M. has a coffee bean roasting house and retail outlet in Palmerston North. I usually have the chicken fried steak and eggs, but with a long ride ahead, I opted for a couple of scrambled eggs and toast. Nifty’s is an old style Coffee Shop right on Hwy 108 in Riverbank. Nifty’s used to have a drive-in across the parking lot, but the McD’s and other fast fooders have driven the locals out of business.

After breakfast we stayed on Hwy 108 and merged into Hwy 120 at Oakdale. We miss out on Steve Medlins House of Beef in Oakdale (also has a big Hershey factory – Oakdale is close to dairys and almonds). Anyway the House of Beef makes a great tri-tip sandwich. But it is only 25 minutes since breakfast. Hwy 108 and Hwy 120 remain together until Chinese Camp where we continue along Hwy 120 as Hwy 108 heads toward Jamestown. The weather has gotten quite hot, a bit odd since we have risen some 3,000 feet in elevation. Another 30 miles and I notice that Old Priest Grade is blocked off (do not know if that is permanent) so we took the much longer New Priest Grade Road. Old Priest Grade was a bit of a dangerous road, since it was about a mile and a half of 20 per cent grade. A few miles later we stop for gas in Groveland then off through Yosemite and Tioga Pass. In my opinion Tioga Pass although the highest of the Northern California Passes is the least scenic.

We stop where Hwy 120 meets Hwy 395 about a mile south of Lee Vining for gas and a quick lunch of a slice of pizza. The pizza was actually pretty good. This was at the gas stop and everything else place. The temperatures, which were pleasant in Yosemite have become triple digits as we take off on Hwy 120 and Hwy 395 which conjoin for about 5 miles. We then head along Hwy 120 east of Hwy 395. The road was built without any grading for elevation changes. It rises and falls along with the surrounding terrain, a bit like a mini roller coaster ride. At the Nevada border Hwy 120 becomes Nevada Hwy 6. There is an abandoned border town shortly after entering Nevada, just an empty casino, gas station and a couple of other buildings. We continue on down the road to Tonopah. It is hot.

Dinner is at the Ramada Tonopah Station where we are staying. Another new item for the Kiwi is my Chicken Fried Steak. The food at the Tonopah Station is not very good. Just passable, but it is the best place to eat in Tonopah. Don M. has fried chicken which was frozen prepared chicken. Dessert is a couple of plums that he picked from a street side tree. If someone knows of a place to eat in or around Tonopah, please let me know before the RRR. Breakfast was also at the same place where I choose to eat the oatmeal. Now you know that the food is not too good.

Day 2 – Tonopah to Kanab
We start along Hwy 6 stopping on the highway to let a herd of wild mustangs cross the road before getting to Warm Springs. Warm Springs is shown on my AAA map as a town but turns out to be an abandoned motel resort with about 50 rooms and a few other abandoned buildings. Here we turn onto the Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada Hwy 375. On this road it is easy to see how people can hallucinate. Except for slowing down and stopping for Open Range cattle and seeing a coyote or two there is nothing but sand and sagebrush. I am not sure what the cattle are grazing on. The temperatures have already climbed into the triple digits. We get to Rachel some 112 miles from Tonopah. Not seeing any gas pumps we enter the parking lot(?) of the Ali’en Café. I ask an attractive young woman just leaving the café if she knows of a gas station. It turns out she is an Italian tourist with a limited knowledge of English. Her boy friend comes out of the café and speaks better English, and thinks he saw a gas pump up the road a bit.

We go inside where we talk to the grandson (in his 40’s and also named Don) of the founder of Rachel (established 1968). The town is named for his oldest aunt and first born of the founder. Don number 3 tells us that his mother is manning the gas pump about a quarter mile up the frontage road. (I guess it is the Main street of Rachel, but it looks like a frontage road to me, since it parallels the highway.) Don M. buys an Alien and an Area 51 tee shirt as I order a half order of biscuits and gravy. Don M. has never heard of such a dish so I let him sample my food (no Kiwi comment and it was an excellent biscuit and gravy). After talking over the proposed continuation route to Kanab via Zion Park with Don #3 and the others in the café. We settle on heading south on Hwy 93 to Hwy 168 to Glendale, NV and I-15.

It is HOT. My little thermometer shows 112*. At the Nevada – Arizona border on I-15 is the town of Mesquite, NV. It has a bunch of new modern very big casino resorts. Although Mesquite is on the Arizona border it is only 40 miles from St. George, Utah. I need to stop at Mesquite to check out the food there. A not memorable lunch in St. George at Shoney’s and off we go to Zion National Park.

We get to Kanab and the Aiken’s lodge where we are staying. The owner is a bit of a grouch and absolutely refuses to consider making a reservation for the RRR. So after a shower in the smallest shower and toilet room that I have ever encountered not aboard ship we walk over to the Parry lodge where I make my reservations for the Red Rock. Dinner is at Houston’s Trails End where I have the baby back ribs since the bbq ribs are boneless. Don M. has the boneless bbq ribs. Which are pretty good really, but what is a bbq rib without the bone. I suspect that there are many really senior citizens that come through Kanab and would rather not have the “mess” of eating ribs. The food at Houston’s is really very good. But I just checked their web site and the restaurant is for sale:

Day 3 Kanab to Grand Canyon to Williams
We walk to Houston’s for breakfast. Don M. has the hotcakes with eggs and bacon, a first for him. I have the same and it is very good. We head off to take Hwy 89 instead of Hwy 89A. New Zealand has lots of mountains, but no deserts. So Don M. is more fascinated by cactus and red rocks and sand and straight roads than by trees and hills and twisties. We stop at a Bureau of Land Management Information building at Big Water, UT and it turns out that it has a very nice dinosaur exhibit. The curator complains to us that his bosses will not allow anything about the dinosaur exhibit on their road signage. Strange. From there we head to the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell. I take a break while Don M. heads off to the vista point about 2 miles away.

It is too hot to eat. We continue along but stop just before Hwy 89 meets back up with Hwy 89A. There is an overlook where you can see for miles. At the overlook there are vendors selling trinkets. Don M. buys a feathery thing a ma bob for his young grand daughter. Next is a gas stop and rest stop from the heat in Cameron at the local Navajo marketplace and café. Off to the Grand Canyon with stops at Desert View, the Tusayan Indian village, Mather Point and the Bright Angel Lodge. Drink water. It’s hot.

We race the Grand Canyon Railroad train down to Williams. Actually I think there is a forest fire starting up to the south as we catch and pass the old steam engine spewing smoke. We ride though most of Williams and head back toward I-40. The Marriot where we are staying is just off an exit to I-40. After a swim in the motel pool and a short stay in the spa, we head into Williams and Rod’s Steak House:
Website Rod's Steak House

This is a must eat place if you are anywhere near Williams. We both have the New York strip sirloin and they are great.

To be continued with days 4, 5, and 6.

Eating Report Part 2

Eating Report – Tonopah, Kanab, Las Vegas Part 2 of 2

Since there was a long delay in reports, here is a brief recap of the particulars.  The ride route was from Stockton, CA to Tonopah, NV to Kanab, UT to Williams, AZ to Barstow, CA then back to Stockton.  There were just two of us, me and Don Mardle, a friend and neighbor of Jazz from Down Under (Howard Asplin).  The route included three National Parks, Yosemite, Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Actually since this is an Eating Report there is a Prologue and an Epilogue.  But that is later.  Day four finds us eating the Marriott’s “free” breakfast.  It was okay better than the Holiday Inn that Tiny and I had at Boise.  The Holiday Inn had NO advertised cinnamon rolls – terrible.  So off we head west on I-40.  Shortly we leave I-40 and travel the old Route 66.  Our first eating stop is at Seligman, AZ and the Roadkill Café.  The food across the street is a lot better.  I had eaten there on a previous trip to the Grand Canyon and the food was excellent.  But the Roadkill Café has a great T-shirt with the Roadkill Menu on the back and the Kiwi, despite promising not to buy any more T-shirts (he had gotten 7 already) had to have one.  We both had hotcakes that were mediocre at best.  Again, eat across the street and buy your T-shirt afterwards.

We continue to ride along Route 66 with Don M in the lead.  He has never ridden on the “right” side of the road.  In fact, I had a piece of white tape cut into the shape of an arrow pasted on his tachometer pointed to the right.  But this was Day four of the trip plus one day of riding around Stockton before we left, so he was in tune to our “crazy” road rules.  Anyway, we kept looking for the prairie dog village and missed it.  Not much on Route 66 except the railroad that is constant companion.  We never did see the prairie dog village that Jack 4E told us to look for.  Guess we are not too observant.  A few towns are left but there are also a few abandoned places along the road.  As we get near Kingman, AZ and to a lower altitude it starts to get hot.  We make a gas stop and a stop at McDonalds for a senior soda.  (I now get Senior discounts without having to ask for them anymore.) 

Take off to Las Vegas on Hwy 93, what a straight, hot, boring road that was.  Finally came up to a curve in the road after about 70 miles.  There was no reason for the jog in the road.  I guess the highway engineers got tired of drawing a straight line and decided to throw in a curve or two.  As we approach Hoover Dam everyone is pulled off the highway for an inspection.  Since the highway still goes right on top of the dam, it is a Security Checkpoint.   We get to the dam and pull into the parking lot.  It costs us each $6.00 to park, the same price as an SUV or auto.  I take Don M. over to the Tour ticket booth.  I decide not to take the tour since I had taken it just a year ago.  Besides, I am wearing my riding boots, which have a high heel left boot.  It compensates for the fact that I “lost” an inch and a half from my left femur in an auto accident back in 1968.  Anyway the boots are not comfortable for walking and the street shoe storage was not big enough for boot storage.  Could not get anything to eat at the dam.  The prices for food are the same as in SBC Park, the home of the SF Giants.  I am too cheap to pay $4.50 for a skinny hot dog.  The dam duly impresses Don M., but it is hot and we still have a little bit to ride to Harrah’s, our stop for the night in Las Vegas.  We have a $45 room reserved via the Internet.  The same room the next night (the start of the Labor Day weekend) cost $139.  It is nice to be retired and travel whenever. 

Las Vegas traffic proves to be a nightmare.  Never having traveled the revised roads, I rely on the trusty AAA map.  We manage to get to I-15 that has become a long parking lot, remembering not to split lanes.  We do ride a little bit of shoulder to get to the first exit and over to Las Vegas Blvd. and the Strip.  Don M.’s predisposition was that Vegas was a sleazy neon town.  He is astounded by the Strip.  It is much grander than he could have imagined.  We check in at Harrah’s and take a shower.  It is 4:30 PM and 103* outside.  Eating in Las Vegas is much more of a choice of what to eat.  There are too many options.  Anyway we settle on one and have a wonderful meal.  But you could go to a hundred different places and get good food in Las Vegas.

The wind starts to kick up as we head out on the Strip by foot.  We stop to watch the outdoor show at Treasure Island.  It has changed to include scantily clad women and is a big disappointment from the Pirate shows of the past.  We visit the Venetian and view the indoor Gondola ride.  We walk through the Caesar’s Palace shops.  We head over to watch the water show at the Bellagio.  But after a long wait we find that it has been cancelled because of high winds.

Early Friday morning we head south on I-15.  We stop at Prim for gas, since we wanted to get out of Vegas quickly.  We stop at Baker, CA to view the world’s tallest thermometer.  It used to be a tall analog thermometer that could be seen for miles.  But it is now a tall digital thermometer.  Baker is the southern gateway to Death Valley and can get to 120* in the summer.  Breakfast at the Bun Boy Restaurant is excellent.  I have the Quickie breakfast, with bacon instead of sausage, which is a pancake sandwich.   Don M. orders an assortment of stuff, all very good.

Back on the road we ride through Barstow on old Hwy 58.  Then we head toward Mojave.  We stop at a State run Rest Stop near Edwards AFB.  We give some travelers from Kentucky a mapped route from there to Eureka, CA.  They wanted a route that avoided traffic.  So off we go with our next gas stop past Bakersfield.  It is still early so we decide to ride all the way to Stockton rather than over night some where along the way.  My headlight burns out about 5 miles from home, but by then we are in the I-5 heavy traffic corridor on a Friday night and just keep going.


We were supposed to stop for dinner at the Wool Growers Inn in Los Banos, a Basque restaurant.  But decided to drive back from Stockton with my parents and my sister on Saturday night instead.  Don M.’s flight does not leave SFO until Sunday night.  Basque restaurants, at least the old fashion ones are marvelous.  The Wool Growers is in an old building with rooms upstairs.  The bar is in the front and the open dining room is gotten to by either a narrow hallway or going through the bar.  The main dining room is just a big rectangular room with the kitchen walls at the far end.  There are long tables with red and white checkered tablecloths set up in three long rows.  Folding chairs are set along each side of the tables.  Everything is served Family Style (even to one person).  Dinner starts with a vegetable soup and Portuguese beans and a bottle of house wine.  Then comes the green salad with vinaigrette dressing and also potato salad.  The entrée is lamb stew tonight, but could be chicken and rice or pigs feet.

The main course is your only choice.  Tonight the choice is New York steak, Prime Rib, pork chops, baked chicken, roast leg of lamb or lamb chops.  The main course also has freshly fried real French fries.  Dessert is anticlimactic, a cup of institutional vanilla ice cream, the 3 ounce cups that you get in schools or hospitals.  But you are too full to eat it anyway.  Also bring your own containers for leftovers.  The restaurant only provides plastic baggies for leftovers.


I know that prologues are supposed to precede the main text, but hey, it is my story.

The Sunday before the Monday start to this Ride was spent riding the River Roads of the San Joaquin Delta.  I thought everyone had rivers where the water level was 10 feet higher than the surrounding ground.  Anyway on the tops of the levees that keep the rivers where they are supposed to be there are two lane roads.  So we traveled these roads as a prelude to the Ride.  Brunch was at Ernie’s Saloon in Isleton, CA (home of the Annual Crawdad Festival).    It included a couple of pounds of crawdads as well as eggs benedict.  Ernie’s makes a mean eggs benedict.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004


October 16 - 18, 2004

The following was written by Las, who rides a Suzuki Savage named "piglet". And has an apartment she calls "the cave". I have a couple of inserted comments.

AVENUE OF THE GIANTS-Highway 101 This is in Northern California

If you're not the Leader and you're not the Sweep then you're just one of the carefree riders running amok between them. That's where I like to ride. Consequently, I'm seldom able to provide ride info with Highway numbers, town names, distance, times or any of the technical stuff but we can always rely on The Don and his extensive expertise for that.

What I do know is that I left the cave bright eyed and bushy tailed on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. with 3,587 miles on the Pig and I arrived back at the cave Monday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. chilly, damp and tired with 4,156 miles. That's 569 miles in two days. We didn't ride on Sunday because we were busy lounging around in a hotel suite, snacking, visiting and watching cable TV while it was raining outside on Phil and Greg who were doggedly trying to make their way home through the pouring rain. This could have been a very romantic stay except that we were required to leave our beloved bikes outside in that rain.

569 miles? Wow. No wonder I was so tired when I got home. What makes a trip so fun that you can do 569 miles without even realizing it? Motorcycles.

The weather for the ride up was just right. Not too hot and not too cold. The weather for the ride home was far less agreeable but far more interesting.


The ride officially began Saturday morning when we converged on the town of Williams. We fueled our bikes and then we anticipated the fun of the ride ahead while fueling our bodies at Carl's Junior.

Then we mounted up and played follow the Leader, Deuce aka Greg, PASSED the 6' garden Gnome (much to our chagrin) to lunch in Garberville and through the Avenue of the Giants. As Greg was leading us through those gorgeous, shady, gentle curves on the Avenue of the Giants I kept seeing his left hand come up and after a bit I realized he was taking pictures as he was riding. A true multitasker that one. He and Phil both snapped some pictures on this trip that I'm sure they will share.

The Redwoods!!!!!!! Wow!!!!!! They just can't be described because they're so much more than what you can see, smell or hear. There's a feel to them. There's no way to convey the total redwood appeal with words. You have to experience standing amongst a forest of trees so tall you have to bend your head back as far as it will go before you lose your balance and fall over in order to see to the top. You have to stand in that quiet sheltered picture postcard perfect cove we found behind The Immortal Tree for yourself. That may be one of the most beautiful places I've ever stood. As much as I hate traveling on four wheels, I may have to trek back up there in the car (called "rain gear" by Greg) because I'm not sure I can wait until next spring to see that place again. It's such an incredible treat for all the senses. I wanted to just lie down on that thickly padded forest floor, look upward through the tallest boughs, listen for a bit and soak it all in but it was toward the end of the day and we had somewhere else we needed to be before dark and/or exhaustion set in.

In addition to the sight seeing and photo op stop at the Immortal Tree we also stopped at a drive through tree and indeed we drove our bikes though that redwood. Some of us went through several times just for kicks. Wheee! I didn't get a chance to see because Tom and I were delayed inside the tree by a couple of international tourists armed with a camera but I hear we got some pictures with Bigfoot. Whether it was THE Bigfoot or just a distant relative, I can't be sure but we've got pictures. Greg also pulled over smack dab in the middle of the forest where we marveled at the forest around us. It's incredible. If the trip was aimed solely at visiting the redwoods we could have spent more time exploring and maybe hiking a bit to see more. If you go, I highly recommend allotting some time for exploration/hiking while you're there.

As Paul has already reported, in his Mid-Ride Report, we arrived at the Comfort Inn in Fortuna around 5:30 p.m. and got checked into our rooms. Don and Tom had a room downstairs conveniently located next to the vending machines, pool, whirlpool and exercise room. They had a handicap room which means the doorway was nice and wide and they had a walk-in shower. And it was a pretty straight shot down the hallway to an exterior door which prompted some discussion regarding the possibility of bringing the bikes inside but somehow that didn't come about. Why does no one take me seriously when I make that suggestion? Greg said there actually is a place he has heard of that has a tiled space inside the front door specifically for motorcycle parking. I'm going there next time so I can bring Piglet in to spend the night with me. Phil, Greg and I had suites upstairs next to each other with the doors open between them so we could wander back and forth at will. The office staff was very accommodating when we asked for little things like towels to dry off our bikes and directions to the nearest store so we could purchase garbage bags and duct tape to utilize in lieu of rain gear which none of us packed. They never once shook their heads or laughed at us. Very nice people.

The Eel River Brewing Company was indeed just down and across the street as Paul and Don have both stated. The food was good but that cute little flirty waitress who hugged the guys good night was even better. And the blonde at the bar with all the exposed skin was the highlight of the evening even warranting unnecessary trips past her to the bathroom for additional viewings.

Eel River Brewing Co is the brown building, upper right.

I have no idea what Don, Greg and Phil did with their evening as Tom and I were floating downstairs in the pool and whirlpool after the soccer team finally cleared out. That's right. Apparently an entire youth soccer team (or perhaps two!) was at the hotel with us which prompts the question: How many happy squealing kids can you cram into one pool? And the much deeper question: What were we thinking going in that pool after the soccer team had been in there all afternoon? Don convinced me that the levels of chlorination were sufficient to counteract any levels of urination that may have been emitted by a bus load of leaky kids and I'm alive at this moment to ponder the validity of his claim so I guess it was ok. I've not yet heard of anyone dying from a swim in a public pool.


As we exited from our Sunday morning breakfast at the Denny's across the field in back of the Inn, we were confronted by rain. It merely sprinkled at first as if to taunt us but soon evolved into a full rainfall driving us back into the hotel. After some grumbling, discussion and head scratching it was decided that Greg was heading back to Yuba City despite the rain and Phil would ride with him. I didn't have any particular reason to be back to Sacto on Sunday and Tom was suddenly feeling very ill so he thought it was best to call in to work on Monday rather than attend and possibly infect the others. The Don didn't have to be anywhere either since he is a retired person so he stayed behind as well to enjoy an additional day of Fortuna hospitality.

Phil phoned us later in the day to let us know they made it as far as the Super 8 in Willits before they were forced to get a room, wring out their clothes, dry off and warm up while their clothes were enjoying a warm tumble in the hotel dryer. They rode in rain the whole way from Fortuna to Willits and even encountered some hail. That is one heck of a long way to ride through the rain without rain gear. I haven't decided whether that is impressive or just plain insane. Either way I'm a bit in awe of them. That's like a superhuman feat. Mere mortals couldn't have done that. There was a break in the weather during the afternoon during which a now dry, warmed up and still driven Deuce hopped back on his Bonneville America and made it home so he could go to work on Monday. Does that boy love his job or what? Phil, having no reason he should do so, was not motivated to leave the warmth and comfort of the motel room that was already paid for so he finished the day in Willits and finished his ride home in better weather on Monday.

Being held hostage at the Comfort Inn by the rain wasn't such a bad experience. While Don kicked back, put his feet up and flipped between baseball, football and whatever, Tom and I were watching Green Acres, Andy Griffith, old monster movies and Horsepower TV on the other television. I don't watch much television and I don't have cable so when I get in front of a television with cable, I can become somewhat mesmerized or perhaps catatonic and sit before it for hours with glazed eyes and a slack jaw. It's an amazing thing.

After we consumed Greg's dinner leftovers from the brew pub, we were forced to venture out in the rain and make the short trek to the little mini market/gas station/Subway Sandwich shop/carwash across the field out back in order to replenish our snackable food stuffs and grab some sandwiches for lunch. Meatball sandwich for Don. Ice cream sandwich (Hey! It's a sandwich!) for me. I don't recall Tom's lunch choice but I'm sure it was equally healthful and nutritious.

The rest of the day was consumed by reading motorcycle magazines, calling Phil, Greg, Paul and other friends, swimming, hot tubbing, a quick ride to town in search of rain gear, dinner at Denny's and visiting in general. Tom took advantage of the rain to go out and wash down his bike. I think we all enjoyed a lovely day off from our respective usual responsibilities.

Every once in while during the day of captivity we would hear our local weather information being broadcast so we would rush out to gather around the television and then yell and/or curse at the weatherperson when they said things we didn't want to hear. I don't know why we kept watching when we knew we weren't going to like what we were about to hear and it was the same thing we had already heard. According to the earliest reports we were going to be rained in until Thursday. It was almost as if we collectively thought that if we watched long enough, the television would at last give us the report we wanted to hear. Maybe we thought we could change the weather by shear will. And laugh at us if you will but our insane dedication seems to have been rewarded because on Monday morning we were given the break we kept screaming for so we could blow that town and get home to clean socks and our own beds.


Don, Tom and I geared up, got on the bikes and hit the road around 8:30 Monday morning. Because the temperatures for the entire day were forecast around 51, 52, 53, there was little reason to wait for the day to warm up since it wasn't going to happen. It wasn't raining when we fired up and got moving but some of the road was wet, there were many icy looking patches to be avoided, a little bit of fog and then RAIN. Well, let me be more technically precise here. I guess what we had to ride through were "showers" which are far less wet and therefore far more desirable than a full blown "rain" such as we avoided the day before. Nonetheless, we got wet. It doesn't matter exactly how much rain makes me wet, if I'm wet, I'm wet and that's all there is to it. My open mesh jacket was wet and because it allowed that cold air to blow through it you could probably view it more as a Joe Rocket Evaporative Cooler. Might be a great accessory item for the warmer summer months but in 51 degree rain IT SUCKS! While my torso and arms were being cooled to a temperature somewhere between 35 and 45 degrees, my wet boots and wet gloves were doing much the same for my fingers and toes. Stopping for gas has never been such a pleasurable experience because it meant the cold air flow would be stopped and I could warm up. I think I spent a good 10 minutes with my body pressed against the hot food case inside the convenience store where they display those day old hot dogs and sawdust burgers. Then there was some more jumping around and stuff to finish warming up my entire body before I climbed back inside the wet stuff and got back on the Pig. Don has a windshield and better gear because he's much smarter than I am. Tom has a windshield, fairing and leather jacket because he's also apparently much smarter than I am. Don and I rode to town on Sunday. At the local Ace Hardware I found some bright yellow fishing waders to keep my legs dry or I certainly could not have done this ride. It would have been too much if my entire body had been wet.

Because we were heading to Sacto and Don was heading to Stockton, he left us at one of the gas stops. From what he emailed to me, it sounds like he enjoyed a very nice and scenic trip on his way home once he was passed the weather.

{Don's report: I got home at 4:00 PM. After splitting off at Laytonville I stopped in Ukiah for lunch at noon. The weather was really nice (sunshine even) so rather than hit the urban traffic at Santa Rosa, I pulled off of Hwy 101 at Geyserville onto Hwy128. I took that to Calistoga. Stopped for gas and took Silverado Trail back to Hwy 128 to the Corners. Drink and restroom stop there at 2:20 PM. From the Corners I took Hwy 121 to Wooden Valley Road to Fairfield and Hwy 12 to I-5 and home. }

There was a good side to the Eskimo run we made that morning. Even in my pre-hypothermic state I could appreciate the beauty of those tree covered hills shrouded in early morning clouds. When you could shake the rain drops off enough to see clearly, there were some incredibly beautiful sites. And it all smelled so good. Further on in the ride there were also some trees that were beginning to change color and a very pretty albeit scared deer trying to clear the road ahead of us in Rumsey. We were able to appreciate her beauty only because both the deer and the riders made it through the encounter in an upright position. That's always a good thing.

Tom and I pulled into Sacramento around 4 or 4:30 p.m.


Despite the lost day, Phil's possible broken finger ("Who needs a clutch anyway." "I'm not going to let broken bones keep me home."), the rain, the absence of proper rain gear and the mind numbing cold, it was still a great way to spend the weekend and I would do it again. Even though the Highway 36 portion was called on account of rain, it was still a great ride.

Tom and I encountered a local who knows 36 and has ridden motorcycles. Tom asked him if he would consider riding 36 in this weather and the local replied that he wouldn't ride 36 even on a sunny day. When asked why, he explained that it's a very rural area and you've got a large number of farmers and locals traveling that road with their big farm trucks. When they take corners, they take corners-the whole corner! Even in a car, it's a dangerous road. We need to remember to expect locals in big trucks in our lane around every corner when we finally get there to ride.

And next time, let's maybe start from a McDonalds. I can't be sure that has anything to do with it but I've never encountered rain on a ride that originated from one of Mickey D's restaurants. {The food is better at Carl's Junior and I HAVE been in RAIN after meeting at a McDonald's; Don}

Boy Ed. Bet you're glad now that you had to miss this ride. Getting all the way home on Sunday was no easy task! Just ask Deuce and Phil about that one. You never would have caught your flight.

What's more fun than an all day motorcycle ride? A two-day or three-day motorcycle ride! When are we going back for the Gnome and Highway 36?

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