Travelogue Chapter Twelve
Tuesday, June 11th 4:24 p.m.
I find the longer I go without making an entry in my Travelogue the harder it is to get started. I didn't really get any feedback on the one I wrote a couple chapters back in the present tense. Either it got too hard to read and just got deleted or it was okay... I don't really think I'm going to try to do that again. With the exception of those times where I am actually writing it as it happens. It is VERY difficult (for me, anyhow) do that...
Okay, I've had a couple days' worth of rest so I guess I can tell ya'll about my weekend.
It started much like the last one, on Friday night. Except this time I didn't leave the base until a little after 2200. That was two hours later than the last time. I thought I had a better plan this time. I was going to head up to Sherman Pass again and spend Saturday fishing and *maybe* work my way up further north and *possibly* show up at the Central Cal BMW Riders monthly meeting in Angel's Camp on Highway 4. Wasn't it John Steinway that wrote about "Mice and Men"??
The ride to the camp site was, for the most part, pretty uneventful. I still cannot get used to the idea that the further NORTH I go the hotter it gets. When I left San Diego it was kinda chilly. By the time I got to Inyokern it was getting HOT! Even though it was well past 0200 it was still hot enough to make me sweat when I stopped for gas. Along the way I saw about 15 Bazillion jack rabbits and very near where I saw the coyote last time I damn near ran over a bobcat. Stupid thing waited until I was nearly upon it before it decided to run across the road in front of me. Are bobcats and deer related somehow?
As I started up the hill to the pass it started to cool off again. I had to stop eventually to put my jacket on. I'm glad I did. I hadn't realized how clear the sky was that night. After I shut down the bike I was immediately enveloped in blackness until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. The darkness was still there, of course, only now I could see the stars. As I was gazing at the sky I spotted a satellite streaking across the sky. Pretty soon I saw another on a 90° course to the first one. I realized that they would cross quite close to each other so I stood there, looking back and forth between the two, watching them close on each other. My coat would have to wait. As they got closer and closer together it was obvious that they were in no danger of colliding, but it was still interesting. If I stretch my arm out as far as possible and look at the tip of my little finger against the sky, that finger tip covers more sky than the distance that separated those satellites (or so it seemed) when they crossed. I *know* they were quite a distance apart, but it looked pretty close. One thing that kinda made me go "HHhmmmmm" was how long they were both in view. They didn't fade out as quickly as moving satellites usually do... What I believe to be the reason for that will become obvious soon...
A short ride later I arrived at the campground. Last time I camped here I found that I needed to select a different place to put my tent. The place I had it the first time was in direct sunlight almost from the time the sun came up. It got quite hot in there... Looking at the pictures I took I found what I thought was a better spot. As it turned out I missed the spot by about 10 feet, but next time I'll know precisely where to put it...
After I stopped and shut down the bike I saw the sky on the horizon was lit up like there was a city in the distance. Thinking back on the last time I had looked at a map I guessed that the nearest city of any size in that general direction was Las Vegas but it was about 150 miles away. Not even Las Vegas has that much lighting. (Anybody figure it out yet?) I didn't think much more about it and went about setting up the tent When I finished setting it up, I looked at the clock on the bike and it was 0430. About then the reason for the sky being lighted up over there dawned on me, so to speak... On Guam and Hawaii the length of the day and night is pretty consistent. So much so that there is never a need to change the clocks. On Guam the sun comes up between 0530 and 0630 and sets about 12 or 13 hours later. In Hawaii the times are a little different, but the idea is still the same. When it does rise or set, it's almost as if someone flicked a light switch. It happens quite suddenly. I had grown accustomed to that. It had been years since I was able to still see outside an hour before or an hour after sunrise... I remember, while growing up, playing "Kick-the-Can" with my brothers and sisters during the summer nights. Sometimes until 2200 we'd be out there with enough light to still be able to see each other. It ain't like that on the islands...
Soon after I settled in for a nap the wind started howling. Between some jackass's snoring (did I mention I was VERY alone?) and the wind I got very little sleep over the next few hours.
After a while it was time to get up so I packed up and headed for the river. The Kern River, as I mentioned previously, is a beautiful river. It has white water and trout fishing galore all packed into a 22 mile, accessible by road, stretch of canyon. Only problem is that it seems to be the only river like this for 100's of miles around. There's a special restriction area where you can only use "Artificial, barbless flies" (notice it doesn't say "Artificial Lures"). This is my kind of place. I'm not interested in keeping any of them and there isn't any sense in tearing 'em apart with a barbed hook if I'm only going to let them go...
So I roll up to the parking lot *just* north of the bridge that marks the beginning of the special restriction area and there's about 100 cars in the lot. As this is the only roadside access to the area that likely means that I'd have to walk the steep cliff line upstream to get past all those folks. (It just occurred to me that those vehicles might just belong to folks who are floating the river. The book I read on the Kern River has a passage in it something like so: "The 22 miles of river, unfortunately, is paralleled by the highway so the road is in sight almost the entire length." I did a double-take the first time I read this, then I realized I was reading a "Rivers and Lakes" book written from the perspective of a boater, not a motorcycle rider.)
Leaving the crowded river (Damn, how I miss the Big Hole River) I headed for one of the small feeder streams. The fish in these streams don't get very big and it is very hard to fish because of the plant growth crowding the banks. Tying on a mosquito dry fly I tossed it in... Soon enough I had caught a few fish, none larger than about eight inches, and I felt the calling of the road again. Last time I was up there I saw a couple signs not far from where I was. One said "Road Ends 23 Miles" the other was a dire warning of not entering the river. The first one is easy enough, but the other had me puzzled. Not only is it about 10 miles from the last time the highway comes near the river, it is also facing so that it can only be read as you are going away from it... I thought maybe the end of the road, 23 miles away, might just be the upper part of the river so I headed that way. Last time I only went about 13 miles toward the end when I had the sudden desire to be heading back (as mentioned at the beginning of Chapter Ten) and turned around. As I got to the fork in the road I saw sign pointing toward California Hot Springs. Being quite the impulsive traveler I quickly forgot about the 23 mile dead end and turned left. That impulse didn't last too long. It was rather soon that another sign caught my attention and I was off in another direction. I don't even remember what the cause of my change of plans was, but I am quite pleased that it happened. I found myself on California Highway 190. This road is a motorcycle rider's dream. Twisted, smooth, lots of elevation changes, well maintained and it even has a surprising number of turn-out lanes to allow the slower folks to pull over... Eventually the twisted mountain road gave way to the hum-drum straight flat road of the type that populates the central valley of California.
My initial plan when leaving Sandy Eggo was to spend Saturday messing around the hills and maybe drift north and camp near Ebbot's Pass on highway 4 so I could drop in for the CCBR meeting. As the day wore on this plan became more do-able but it seemed to be changing just a bit. All of a sudden I found myself parked in front of Mike and Linda's house in Oakdale. No camping for me that night. I was taken in and fed a wonderful home cooked dinner complete with fresh smoked salmon. Thanks, Guys!!
The next morning all three of us were headed for Angle's Camp for the meeting. It's been nearly eight years since I was able to attend a CCBR meeting. There were a lot of new faces there that I have only seen in the monthly news letters and only a few familiar ones. The format of the meeting, however, hasn't changed. It begins with everyone paying up a set amount for breakfast and ordering off the menu up to that amount. There were a couple times, in the meetings I attended years ago, where it was a buffet style breakfast. This one was held in a 50's style diner. Since I had a very long day ahead of me and tend to fall asleep after eating I only had coffee. Next comes the guy selling the raffle tickets. For $5 you get 6 tickets and an extra one if you wore your "Stinking Name Tag." Since I had left my rally hat in San Diego I didn't have my name tag with me. Didn't need it anyway. I ended up winning a self-stick helmet sun visor. Now all I need is a helmet on which I can stand to keep the face shield closed long enough to use it...
Pretty soon the meeting part of the meeting was finished and we proceeded to the most frustrating part of a CCBR meeting. The excruciatingly long period of time between the meeting and the ride. During this time we stand around while folks use the can, kick tyres and tell lies. Most are doing this because they are waiting for all the people who didn't bother to make sure they had a full tank of gas before the meeting to return from the gas station. As I sat there geared up, melting in the heat, I could only think of the long ride I still had ahead of me. I could have just left from there, but I really wanted to make the club ride. Eventually everyone was ready to go and off we went. I ended up in the #2 position right behind the ride leader. Pretty soon we were out of town (Angel's Camp ain't that big) and tearing up the canyons. All within the limits of the law, of course. After several canyons and a few twists and turns we found ourselves at Cherry Lake. Since we had time to wait while the rest caught up with us I decided to break out my telescoping combo spinning/fly rod my dad gave me years ago. Unfortunately it is pretty much permanently stuck in the spinning mode. After several years of keeping it in the spinning mode in Virginia and Guam it seems to be stuck like there. For two weeks before I left Hawaii I soaked the joint with Gunk penetrating oil to no avail. No matter, though. I've used worse things for a fly rod.
After a while of fishing (and not catching) it was time for me to get going. It was already later than I had planned on turning south and I had a long hot ride ahead of me. Mike and Linda decided to accompany me back as far as Oakdale More canyon carving and eventually we were in Oakdale. After topping off the gas tank and oil reservoir (damn Harley imitation from the front of the case) and slamming down a Mountain Dew it was really getting late and it was time for me to leave.
The ride to SanDog was predictably (and thankfully) very boring. It was quite hot until I got to Grapevine. About that time it was getting dark and it started to cool off. I'm not sure why, but for some reason my body seems to have aged very poorly over the last four years. When I am riding my knees and my wrists and my back get very painful. This ride was no different. I did notice, though, that as it got cooler the pain started to subside. I don't know if it's because I was going numb or not, but I really don't care. All that mattered was that I wasn't hurting so much any more.
I made pretty good time back to San Diego. The 476 miles took me about 7 hours (including stops) and I only used 10 gallons of gasoline. Got back to the barracks a little after 2300 and the trip was over. I even still have some tread remaining of the front tyre and got the new rear tyre scrubbed in quite nicely.
I guess I'd better get going now. It's starting to get about dinner time. I think next weekend I'm going to give the bike a break and head for the sky. I haven't joined the Flying Club yet but the weather has been improving a lot and I'm itching to fly again.
On to next chapter