Sunday, 11 August 7:40 p.m.
This weekendís planning started Tuesday morning (or so I thought) with an email I received from the president of the flying club. It seems the Civil Air Patrol (who just opened shop alongside the club) was offering ďInitial Entry TrainingĒ on Saturday morning. I made the calls I needed to see what was required and planned to be there 0800 on Saturday. Everything was going along fine until Thursday morning when I received an email from Mike saying that he wasnít going to be able to make it to the Kingís Canyon GatheringÖ On SaturdayÖ Doíoh!!!! This gathering was something I had been planning on going to since I found out I was going to be in San Diego in August. Couple more phone calls later I was re-planned for the weekend.
Leaving work early Friday afternoon I was off for the Sequoia National Forest. Seven LONG HOT traffic congested hours later I finally arrived. The Interstate was little more than a parking lot for about ½ of the trip. Fortunately, most of the other traffic on the road was very cordial when they saw me coming up behind them and let me through. Only had a couple folks try to keep me from getting by them. When there are four lanes and three centerlines they donít really stand much of a chance of doing that. I just bide my time for a few seconds and soon enough the lane next to them will pass by and Iíll go with it. A couple times it seemed two drivers were conspiring together to keep me behind them but they were easily dispatched by using one of the other two lanes. During my July 4th weekend trip I had one "lady" go out of her way to yell at me as I went by. Something very similar happened this time. Some guy hollered out "HEY!" as I went by... I can, in a way, understand their frustration at being stuck in traffic with no way out and seeing someone else get "ahead" of them. I do think, however, that it would only take them a mile or two in those conditions (being exposed to all that heat) before they would fully appreciate what it is like and be a little more understanding.
Finally, after all that heat and traffic... A little more than seven hours after leaving the gas station in San Diego I arrived at the Fir Campground. Once again, Clinton did not disappoint. I donít know how he can arrange such a shin-dig every year but somehow he manages. He really does seem to enjoy doing it. This year Mother Nature and the US Forest Service threw a monkey into the wrench, though. There were no open fires allowed in the area. A charcoal fire was okay between 1630 and 1730 but at 1730 the fire department would have come up and put it out. So this yearís BS session was done while sitting around a Coleman lantern rather than the usual roaring bonfire.
Saturday morning found me itching to go do something. As much as I like going to a Ralley or a Gathering to see old friends and make new ones, I have a real hard time sitting around not doing anything. Since I brought my fly rod and some flies that my dad tied along with me I decieded to go try my luck in the river. I guess maybe I am spoiled for the Big Hole River or maybe the King River gets a bit too much pressure but I really expected the fish to be a bit bigger. When I am fishing some little feeder stream way up off the beaten path and I catch a six or eight inch trout I expect itÖ All the same I still had a great time even if I didnít catch anything big enough to bring back to camp for lunch. It would have just ruined my appitite for the Bockwurst and Bratwurst we had for dinner anyway!
One of the things I missed most while on Guam (other than not being able to attend gatherings like this on a regular basis) was the winding, twisting roads that criss-cross the States. I have a feeling I am going to be spending a bit of time on Round Top over the next four years. I did my best to make up for that again this weekend. The park has some really nice roads but it also has some pretty low speed limits. It also has some trigger happy (Radar gun) Park Rangers prowling around. Even with that I still had a great ride up to the end of the road and back. My only concern was having enough fuel to get out of the park. There was one gas station in the area that was selling gasoline for $2.70 a gallon. Even though they are still using the old-timey glass jug pumps, I didnít think it justified paying more than a dollar a gallon extra so I kept the wick turned down a bit and resisted the urge to take a few side roads I saw along the way. As it was I had plenty of gas after all. I had at least three tenths of a gallon of usable fuel when I filled up in Three Rivers this morning.
Saturday evening after dinner had some time to settle it was time to hand out the door prizes. I didnít count, but it seems there must have been at least 50 different prizes handed out during the drawing. I even managed to win a new cargo net. I guess I can finally retire my old one. It is missing a couple hooks and most of the elastic has lost its stretch capability so I think Iíll give it a proper military burial and carry on with the new one.
Sunday morning rolled around and it was time to pack up and head out. There really isnít a lot to say about the ride back to San Diego. I usually prefer to do that trip (Bakersfield to points south) during the dark. Thereís a lot less of a chance of me falling asleep at night when I can use my imagination to visualize the stuff that isnít there. During the stark light of the day even my vivid imagination cannot over power the mile after mile of mind numbing brown. I finally got a break, of sorts, when I was making the I-210 to I-10 transition and the traffic was packed solid. Finally something that required my fullest attention and more than just pointing the bike down the road. Time to participate in some more of that wonderful California lane-sharing. I don't usually see other bikes when I am doing this, but on Friday afternoon on the way up I had a big yellow Honda appear in my mirrors. It was just about the time we were getting to one of those "faster" pockets of traffic. When I am lane-sharing I typically won't go much more than 5 or 10 miles faster than the traffic around me. The idea is to be able to keep moving, however slowly. If I find myself getting upwards of 35-40 mph I'll blend back in with traffic and stay there. About the time I saw this Honda coming up on me I was just getting ready to blend back in... This guy went zipping by and even with the traffic around us doing over 50 mph he kept sharing those lanes. That's a little too much for me. More power to 'im...
The upshot of it all is I hurt like hell from my activities this weekend but I wouldn't have missed it... I can become a 2nd Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol anytime... :)
Welp... It's getting late and I still have to iron my whites for tomorrow. So I guess I close out for now. I will be posting some pictures from this weekend as soon as I get all the HTML finished...
On to next chapter