Day 10
June 14th, 2004
Medford, Oregon

Each morning we managed to sleep a little later. We were supposed to ready to go by 8am, but didn’t quite make it.  I was still loading my bike at that time.  Don wheeled around ready to go and waited patiently for us.
I went back to the room to pick up something, and left the Moto Fizz bag near my bike. When I returned it was missing.  I looked around in a near panic, before spotting it near the stairwell.  I was relieved when I saw Don smiling, I knew then it was just a prank.

For the first time in many mornings the sun was bright and felt warm.  I was happy to have escaped the rainy Pacific Northwest.  The next time I encountered wet stuff was in Alabama, on my last day.  A remarkable string.
We left the Motel 6, and went to a nearby Chevron to top off, and prepared for the ride south to the Hotel California.  As is his custom at every stop, Don broke out his watered down Windex to use on his Arai shield.
I-5 was in good shape when we jumped on it.  Our plan is a quick slab ride, then leave the dullness of I-5 for the excitement of SR 3 at Yreka.  Don was at the point as we flew down out of the mountain passes into sunny California.  I-5 offered long, sweeping curves as it dropped out of the mountains.  A fantastic ride.

The ride was a quick one at 90 mph to Yreka, because Don "shook the leaves," for us from the point position. 

We came down off the interstate and VJ led us to a McDonald’s for morning coffee and apple pies.  VJ is amazed at my lack of coffee drinking. I told him I never liked hot drinks.  Being able to rise, pack and ride without stopping is a good thing, but I seldom take full advantage of it because I spend the extra time sleeping in.
In the parking lot, I dialed the rear suspension of the 13 in for a firmer ride on what I hear is one of Hotel’s best roads for leaning.

Sr 3 starts off simply enough. It quietly transported us through valleys and irrigated farmland. The landscape is good, and as I watched migrant workers picking in the fields, I wondered if their backs ever hurt after stooping all day.  I also took this time of quiet riding to come to grips with the fact I was soon going to be at Dennis’ house, and he was not going to be there.  I knew I had to prepare myself somewhat.  So far this trip, I’ve only thought about the other things Dennis I did.  I knew it was natural to block out the unpleasantness of not seeing him cook burgers at the pool party.  But it was time to spend some time with those thoughts.

Before I could go there, (thoughts) I had to finish off SR 3.  After a slow start, the road takes form and soon we are leaning and carving.  California routes 3 and 96 are what I call "sister roads."  They are in the same area and both run north-south.  Both are challenging, but in different ways.  SR 3 is more intense with tighter switchbacks, and thicker forest land, and both follow a river path through the hills.

We spaced out and I stayed with VJ and Don closely the first 10 miles or so. The shock adjustment made a big difference, and the 13 felt much better leaning then it did a few days ago.  The road surface varies from good to so so.
 One of the rolling downhill curves of SR 3
The first uphill was rather short, with nice twists and good views.  I was riding briskly, and as a result, failed to notice much about the landscape.  The hill crested, followed by a long, intense, down hill ride.  I was spooked by the road and backed off, letting the others go.  The S curves lined up and I was trying to keep up with how quickly they were on me, but couldn’t.  The loaded 13, seemed to have a delayed response to my body.  I was out of rhythm with the road.  The curves came at me so quickly I found myself all over the surface trying to get the 13 lined up for the next.  I did the only thing I could do; I dropped a gear and went to 2nd.  The gear changed helped, and the 13 behaved much better.  I'd love to tackle this road just me and the bike.
​  A sample of the great riding on SR 3
We stopped for pictures near the water, on a narrow but straight section of road.  We were deep in the Trinity Hills and the road was ours.  We loitered around the area for 20 minutes, only 2 cars came by.
​SR 3 trio.  I had barely made it back when the timer snapped this pic.
After the break, we continued on to Weaverville.  SR 3 was a little less challenging the last 10 miles, but still good.  I was able to catch my breath.  SR 3; one of the most challenging roads you will ever lean.  The Hotel has a LOT of great highways, I hope to run them all.  I feel good I've sampled as many as I have, to have accepted the gauntlet of more roads then many that LIVE there.

In Weaverville we pulled in for a Burger King lunch.  Once again I tried to pass off my Canadian coins by mistake.  The young lady cashiering picked up the 2 dollar coin and and went, "Huh?"

When lunch was over it was time to take on SR 299.  Another awesome road.  The surface was better than SR 3's and the leaning was good.  The curves were U and not the S type of SR 3, as the highway took us down out of the hills to the valley.  I was leaning left and right in quick succession.  The twists were longer and not as intense as SR 3.  The fun ended about 10 miles from I-5 when traffic slowed up.  Fun while it lasted.

Don led us down the ramps of I-5 and we settled in for the last run to the Bay Area. Temps were soaring. 

Weather in California takes getting use to.  Cold and windy on the coast, searing temps in the Central Valley, snow in the mountains.  You can taste all of that in a single day.  I-5 in the valley is hot.  My gauge quickly jumped to the mid 90s and from there crept up to 101.

It was hot, and I could feel the heat off the highway and the 13.  It was what I would expect on a liter bike in 100 degree temps.  Both versions of the ST are warmer than most bikes, but nothing I can't handle.

Don "the FreeSTlye" Cortez settled us in at 90.  I was glad to follow.  We passed cars by the 100s.  I saw ONE CHP unit the entire ride.  He was writing a ticket on the north bound side when we passed. 

All of us were beginning to feel like parched peanuts, so Don led us off the interstate into Williams, where we found a quaint food store deli set up.  We found the ice cream bar and munched down outside.  Even with the temp near 100 it was only hot in the sun.  With no humidity, shade offered marked relief.  In south Alabama the only way you flee hot and humid is AC.

When the ice cream was gone we topped off the gas tanks, and said our good byes to Don, who would be splitting off for home when we entered the Bay Area.

Back in the oven we went, and veered off on 505.  Traffic was building but still manageable.  From the 505 VJ and I went I-80, and over the Bay Bridge.  It was good to have someone to follow that knew where he was going.  

In San Francisco, we fought our way to the 101.  Lane changes were the scariest because you really didn't have room, traffic was too thick.  I'd signal, then check if the joker behind me was just going to let me over because he liked me.  Most of the time he did.  Usually it was the only thing you could do.  And if you had a bad feeling on it, (like he wasn't going to let you over) you just missed your exit.

A few miles later we jumped on 280 southbound, and I knew what to do.  I was in the last few miles, and soon I would be at the terminus of my trip, my old and trusted friend's house.  Only he would not be there.

VJ and I took the Edgewood exit and coasted the long downhill to Dennis neighborhood.  I was sad when I turned into his neighborhood, for an instant I thought VJ could be Dennis ahead.  This was the way we came 2002, and I recalled how Dennis continued flicking his bike after he made the turns, like a fighter pilot acknowledging troops on the ground, only he was announcing to his neighbors he was back from a 4,000 mile tour.

At last the STs idled into the Ryan's driveway.  The house looked the same, everything did, only this time he wouldn't be leading me inside.   I set the stand after a 383 mile day, and 5,467 for the trip so far.  

I was walking to the front door when the garage came up, and Norma stepped out to meet me.  She came to me, grabbed my hand, and held me close, whispering things in my ear.  She told me she did not know what was going to happen when I arrived.  The sounds of the Honda's pulling in the driveway made her freeze what she was doing inside.  In the past she would hear the bikes, and run outside to greet Dennis on his return home.  I would always hold back, and wait for Dennis to come get me.  

She had to go inside for a minute to regain some composure.  

Today, it was only me. I consoled her, and apologized if my presence upset her, because it only served to remind her Dennis wasn't with me, in the past he always was.  "Baby, I feel the same, I had to come to make sure he wasn't here, and now that I see he is not, I feel better."

She spent some quiet time with VJ, then we went inside.  The Ryan house is like the Salvation Army for STOC BBS members.  Dennis always had a bed whenever one was passing through.  Seattle Phil, Jerrol, Uncle Phil, and a few others I can't recall, have all spent time here.

Dennis' son, Tommy, came home, all grown up.  He was 12 years old the first time I was here.  I recall the night he rode pillion with his dad to come get me, when I first arrived in Redwood City.  I bought him a candy bar at the gas mart.

I put my stuff in the guest room like always, and caught up with things with Norma at the kitchen table.  It was a long conversation, and Tommy joined in also.  I called home and advised Debbie I was safely at the Ryan's, preparing for a 6 day layover.

Norma asked why I didn't leave her more voice mails, and I said, "What for? You couldn't understand them."  "Well that's true.  But you say the same about me."  "yeah but that was before spending 4 days with VJ, now you sound like you're from Kansas City." 

By night time I was feeling better.  The initial shock was wearing off, and a few sounds of laughter could even be heard.

I caught up on journal notes, and called more friends back home.  I even watched some TV, and answered email.

The long ride to California was in the books, and what a great ride it was.  Meeting Reg out in Winnipeg (which now seems like ages ago) was great, riding with VJ was fun, and seeing Don was a big highlight.  The scenes of the last few days played over and over as I went over my equipment and planned the next several days.

My wife and son are flying in a few days, and will be with me Thursday night-Monday morning.  When they arrive I will transfer to a local motel.  Norma invited us to stay, but it was just too much, I'm not going to take advantage of her kindness in such a way

With thoughts of sleeping late the next morning, I said good night and went to bed.