Day 17
June 21st, 2004
Redwood City, California

Monday morning was at last here, time to get back on the road.  My family had a early flight back to Alabama, so we were up and loading the car.  I was leaving directly from the airport back to Norma's to pick up the 13 and head east.

Chris and I had our couple of bags, and Debbie had her 4-5, including one bag for just shoes and make up.  Now y'all see why taking her cross country on the 1300 would be next to impossible?

We were on the road to Oakland around 7am.  I told them I was just going to drop them off at the terminal and leave.  I can't enter the secured area anyway, and besides, I wanted to get on the road as soon as possible.  "You act like you ain't been on that thing in a year at the way you're rushing us."  "I know baby, but it dang sure feels that way."

We were briefly hung up near the airport in commuter traffic but nothing serious.  I made it to the Southwest terminal and delivered the "goods."  I kissed them good bye and said, "I'll see y'all in 5-6 days, take care of your mother."  The rent a cops at the drop points were hollering for me to get going, so I had to be quick.  

With that taken care off I zipped off to Redwood City.  I called PeterM and checked on a few things.  He advised all was good back east.  I gave him a quick outline on my trip plans and he gave his approval.   I picked up a voice mail from Don, who said he was riding out with me, and to call back.  I was glad to hear that report.

I was back at Norma's a little after 9 to pick up my bike and say good bye.  Before loading the bike I did a quick survey of the 1300.   The rear tire was showing definite wear down the middle.  Damn.  This was uncharted territory.  Tires on the 1100 handled the trip out here and back easily.  The Dunlop 205s consistently delivered 13-15,000 miles.  I always returned to Alabama with several thousand left.  But the 13 is new to me, and so are the Dunlop 220s.  Perhaps the 13 is harder on tires, or maybe the 220s don't give the same return, and lastly I could be the victim of a combination. 

Using the 205s as a measuring stick, I believed the 220s would get me home.  The front looked good, I was sure about it, but I'll be keeping an eye on the rear.

I called Don and secured directions to his house.  He advised Paul Deveraux (STOC member) would be accompanying us on the ride east.

The final stages of loading were almost over when Norma walked slowly outside.  I fired the 1300 up to warm it to operating temp.  Before putting my helmet on I motioned for her to come over.  I thanked her for her kindness and told her to take care.  She made me promise this would not be my last trip out here.  She feared without Dennis, things might change, and Long Riders would no longer stop to see her and Tommy, and all of Dennis' friends would forget her.

"I'm glad I came, baby.  I needed this visit to bring peace.  I know this really happened and Dennis is gone.  I will miss him, but I don't think I'm as sad now.  I know he is in a better place.  I will always think about the miles we did together, but until I came here, I kind of thought he was just hiding, or it was a cruel joke."  After one last hug I put my earplugs in and helmet on, and slipped the dark Oakleys into place.  I gave her hand one last clutch, nodded my head, and dropped into gear and out the driveway. 

Who is to say with a certainty what the future holds for Norma, I guess we will just have to wait and see.
I left Redwood on 280 north and for the LAST time swung over to the San Mateo Bridge.  Man, it seemed liked I was on that bridge a lot.  It was cloudy and cool as I slithered through the building morning commute.  I pictured Debbie and Chris taking off from the airport, looking out the window from 3,000 feet, and spotting my figure moving up through the traffic with ease and grace.  I'd love to see Chris jump up, "Hey that Long Rider down there is MY dad!"

How did I ever conqueror this freeway that dark and scary night back in 2001?  I'll never forget the mad dash on my first trip to the Bay Area that night.  Without knowing a THING about where to go, or what was going on, I took on the 580 and 880 on a Friday night.  It was a zoo.

Now I'm a grizzled vet of Bay Area wars.

The 880 connects with 580 a few miles from the San Mateo, and I am on my way to Don's house.  I'd never been there, but the directions seemed simple enough.  His house is on a hill just a few turns from the 580.  I made it to his driveway and took a look at the long uphill to his house.   I charged up, and missed the turn to his garage area and wound up in the front. 

Don and Paul came down to greet me, and after a brief orientation we were ready to go.  It took all 3 of us to get the 1300 turned around and facing downhill.  By myself it would have been impossible.
​Paul Deavereaux, Berkley, California
The road to Don's house is narrow and tricky, and we cautiously hugged the shoulder easing our way back to the freeway ramps.  An appliance truck, trying to make a delivery to one of Don's neighbors, was stuck in the driveway.  He was out of pavement, with the rear end dragging.  Both attendants were out of the truck scratching their heads, when we slipped by.

Every escape from the Bay Area involves a freeway.  Ours was the 580.  It took us to 205 and on to Manteca, where we exited to top off the gas tanks.  The sun was shining brightly and the air was warm.  Much different than the Bay Area.

After gassing up we went to SR 120.  I hate that road, I was on it 2 previous times prior to this day, but they were westbound ventures.  Its not any better going east, gobs of traffic trying to get to the mountains make it painfully slow.

I was relieved when we finally made it to SR 49, now the real riding can begin.  This route would hook up with SR 88, and Carson Pass.  I try to sample a different Sierra Pass when given the opportunity, Carson would be my 3rd. 

SR 49 is a great ride in the Sierra Foothills.  The curves are plentiful, and the scenery good.  The highway links several old mining communities that are currently making a comeback as tourists spots.

Don set a slow pace, and that was fine with me.  I enjoyed the ride in the trees, with the Sierras in the distance.  Excellent ride.  

Passing through Jamestown, we saw a Mexican Cantina and decided it was a good place for lunch.  Inside we found a nice table on the patio and ordered up.  I was tacoed out so had a hamburger and fries.  After we ate, we lingered around as long as we could, Paul and Don are quite engaging.

Columbia is one of those western towns trying to come back.  Many of the buildings are being restored to their former glory.  Raised wood floors serve as sidewalks in town, just like the old days.  Streets are barricaded to prevent vehicles from entering.  I looked down one and saw a number of tourists walking the area, dropping in the shops, credit cards in hand.
​Columbia is an old mining town in the Sierra Foothills
When we left Columbia we had to get serious and keep the stands up for awhile.  That is hard to do when the roads and company are good.  You want things to last as long as you can.

SR 49 grew ever more twisty as we began to rise in elevation.  Don and Paul moved on ahead of me.  I'd lean for awhile, then revert back to sightseeing, then back to leaning.  Traffic thinned out considerably and the riding was fun.   I was having a good time and happy to be back on the road, I felt like I was going stale after being off the bike 6 days.
​So many roads, so little time.  SR 49
Near Jackson routes 49 and 26 briefly join.  I was turning back onto 49 when a RV waved me on ahead, even though I had the yield sign.  He saw my 2 buddies make the turn ahead of me, and he didn't want to split us up.  How come all cage drivers can't be as aware as this guy?  It was obvious this was a RV jockey that ALWAYS knew what was going on around him, just like a good Long Rider.  I tipped my hat to him in acknowledgement as I went on ahead. 

Don found a good ice cream bar in Jackson and we stopped for a well deserved break. The riding had been glorious the last couple of hours but it was sad to know Don was breaking off at this point.  We lounged on the sidewalk bench for a few minutes, doing nothing but killing time.  
​Don and I enjoying ice cream in Jackson, California
I was gloving back up when a man stopped to quiz me about the 1300.  He sounded knowledgeable but never said what kind of bike, if any, he rode.

Paul and I continued on SR 88 enroute to Carson Pass.  We got stuck behind two 18 wheelers for the longest time.  They were too close together to pass one at a time, and 88 offered no stretches long enough to take both.  It was tempting to take a chance, because of the crawling trucks on such a fabulous road for leaning, but I refrained.  Whenever I was tempted, I thought how ugly it would be to meet the grill of an RV.

Finally a passing lane came into view and we were freed without having to take a risk.  

The ride up to Carson Pass was rewarding.  Lots of curves, and beautiful scenery.  I stopped whenever it was safe to take pictures.  As I rode 88 to Carson Pass, I kept thinking about that old western TV show; Bonanza.  All baby boomers remember Bonanza, especially the clothes they never changed out of.  Ben Cartwright wore the same clothes for 20 years, old leather vest and a green shirt I believe.  I also remembered the cheesy sets.  Foam rocks and campfires with NO smoke, but at the time they looked real to me.
​The Sierra Mountains, near Carson Pass
I also liked the map that burned at the beginning of each show.  Someone help me, but I believe the Ponderosa bordered Lake Tahoe on that map?  

Carson Pass takes you over the Sierras at 8,500 feet.  It was cool coming over the crest, I had to close the collar of the Roadcrafter.  Temp gauge said it was in the low 50s.  I posed for the following picture a few miles later.

After some great riding, Paul and I arrived at the 88 and 89 crossroads.  We said our good byes and he reminded me where to go when I arrived at the next intersection.  I waved and took off on SR 89, and closed in on Lake Tahoe.  The riding today had been some of the best, and I felt sorry for those that only come and go to the Hotel on I-80, I-10 or I-40, for they may never know what its like to spend 2 days crossing the Sierras on these twisty, challenging, and beautiful back country mountain passes.

It was late afternoon and the sun was casting long shadows on the lustrous green meadows that cling to 89.  More beauty to soak in.  
A short ride brought me to South Lake Tahoe.  The signs confused me, and I had to use a bank parking lot to sort things out with the map.  

The map confirmed I needed to stay on SR 89 north to find Emerald Bay State Park, located on the banks of Lake Tahoe.  I followed it past the food shops and private campgrounds, and found the road twisting up in elevation.  

I entertained 2 youngsters in an SUV in front of me on the tight and curvy road.  They were genuinely enthralled as the watched me lean the 1300.  I could see their 2 heads peering over the rear seat like spot lights.

The highway followed the contours of the lake, it was beautiful.
Inspiration Point was a busy, scenic vista.  I came off the highway to have a look around, and to take a few pictures.  Around the area were a number of signs explaining each vantage point.  The view reminded me of Crater Lake. 
​The quintessential Long Rider 
Inspirition Point, Lake Tahoe
A tall thin man watched intently when I rode in, and after I set the stand he made a beeline to me.  He wanted to know all about the 1300, and how I liked it.  He abandoned his wife and daughter to quiz me.  He said he had a choice between a VTX 1800 and the 1300, and says he made a big mistake.  He can't get use to the cruiser riding position and feels the bike is underpowered.  He looked over at the sleek 1300 with its good ground clearance.

   " So how fast is it?" 

"About 150." He gasped. 

"But the thing is, at triple digit speeds the bike feels like its doing 50." 

He said the VTX definitely lets you know when you get near 80.  "On the surface the feet in front cruiser position looks the most comfortable, but for long riding nothing beats the feet under." 

"Oh yeah? why is that?"

  "Because the slight tuck distributes weight on the arms and not solely on the butt, like feet front does.  That position puts all the weight on your tail bone."

He seemed impressed with my knowledge and said he was going home to do something else, but didn't say what it would be.

I went north out of Inspiration Point and promptly rode by the campground.  I noticed it when I saw a trolley bus thing at the park entrance.  I came along side the driver, "hey is this the campground?"  "No its south of here about 2 miles."  I doubled back to it.  

Fatigue was wearing on me.  I'd been leaning the loaded 1300 almost all day, and I told myself again I was going on a packing diet before the next tour, just give me the strength to get past this one.  After riding it naked to Big Sur a few days ago, I could really notice the difference.  

The rangers had gone home for the evening, looks like I sleep for free tonight.  I'll be gone before they even get close to coming to work in the morning. 

I shopped the camp sites and settled for one near a few other tents, but not too close.

The day ended with 320 miles on the meter.  

For the first time since Minnesota I got out my tent and set up camp.  Food of any kind was a long ride, I wasn't really hungry anyway, but I wanted something to drink. 

When camp was set up I checked messages.  Chris and Debbie were on the way home from the airport when I called.  Chris said he was glad to see green again.  I agreed the browns of the American West wears on you after awhile.

Caught up on the news back home, I went for a shower.  Eight minutes cost me 75 cents.  I returned to the camp table and made notes, jotting the routes for tomorrow on my sleeve pocket.
I went to my tent before dark and watched a movie I recorded a couple of weeks ago. It was good, but the sad thing was it was a 2 parter, and I only had the first half.  I don't remember the name, but it was based on a Scott Turow novel and it starred Tom Selleck, if anyone knows how it ends, email me.

I put my phone and watch by my head, and went to sleep.