Look in the Blog Archive in the box to the right for past ride reports going back to 2006. New material posted as rides or other motorcycle news occurs. Thanks for reading. Comments always welcome, be sure to log in below. Comments will be reviewed. Please note the disclaimer below.

About Me

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Motorcycling has been a life changing experience. I hope sharing the info and pictures on the Blog gives you some idea how impressed I am with the experience, travel and the people I have met. Made new friends especially among Riders here in Orange County. Special recognition to Johney (Wrench)-helps with all the maintenance stuff+rides, plus other great riding friends: Ken Y., Luis V. & Minita, Chuck & Patty, John R., Joe, Carolyn, Gregg, Charlie & Carol, Rick, Stan P., Ed & Susan P., Barry, plus Terry, Bob B., Brian H., Glenn, William & Daveta Jo, Bob (Concho) and others. ************* DISCLAIMER: This is my personal write-up (Blog) of motorcycling news, rides and events that I am involved with in some way and not affiliated with any group, organization or club that might be mentioned herein. There should be no confusion regarding the fact these are my personal comments and not those of any other entity.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.
Monument Valley, Utah-9/2011 photo by Johney Harper!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bought in Laughlin

Got a few items in Laughlin. Look at previous Blog entry for trip write-up.

Custom made patch

For Genevieve

Monday, April 26, 2010


Thursday at O'dark 30 or about 5:30 am I arrive at the Best Buy parking lot in Orange almost ready to ride with about 12 members of STAR Chapter 230.  What was missing- first I forgot the camera and second I had to put on the nylon rain pants I borrowed from Stan, plus my nylon yellow rain jacket over the Tourmaster Sabre jacket, as we head out on a cold and very damp morning.  More about gear later.

We line up and the group heads out on our 360+ mile journey back to Laughlin and Kingman, AZ for another Laughlin River Run 2010 and 30,000 other motorcycles and even more people.  Our first stop on I-10 in Banning is the Road House Restaurant for breakfast.  I put a red plastic poncho over the seat and tank for a rain cover and it turns out to be a wise move.   During breakfast it turns out we were hit with a rain shower and I did not have a wet sheepskin seat cover when I came out.  I decide to just have oatmeal instead of a heavy breakfast.  Starting out on these trips always throws my system off kilter and I never know what to eat.

We get back on the freeway heading east to Whitewater and the Highway 62 turn off through 29 Palms and Joshua Tree on to Vidal Junction.  From there through Parker, AZ and past Lake Havasu to Interstate 40 heading to Kingman, AZ.  Getting on I-40 we gear up with all the rain gear again as we see rain streaming down across the desert ahead of us.  We do hit rain, it is not real heavy but steady for a while.  Riding in rain on just two wheels does make for a more careful attitude toward leaning into turns but traction is there just diminished.

We arrive in Kingman and our plans include a dinner at the Golden Corral Buffet with other STAR members.The Golden Corral is a step above HomeTown Buffet and according to Johney Harper...Much better.  Instead of taking motorcycles our whole group goes by cab and on leaving we call for return rides.  Under the heading "This seemed like a good idea at the time" I ask if anyone wants to walk back to the Days Inn as I figure it's 2 miles and should be doable.  Scott, a retired police officer, volunteers to give it a go so we take off.  Scott sets a brisk pace and I am keeping up and after a mile and a half notice we are getting some rain, but it's "clicking" as it hits-what's this- hail, it's small but coming down steady.  Suddenly a white Chevy small SUV pulls up and we jump in not knowing who it is.  Turns out to be the motel manager and her daughter coming to our rescue and we drive the remainder in dry comfort.  It could have been anyone and we would have gotten in.
Since I forgot the camera, I borrowed Ken's but it had some problems so I borrowed a huge number of great photos from other members especially Susan Palaoro who took lots of on the road shots and pictures from parts of the trip that Ken and I did not make.
Picture at the Tropicana hotel
Next morning Friday our whole group including Bob Barbano and family along with Johney Harper head out to a STAR breakfast at the Tropicana Hotel with all 100 STAR members that rode in for this meeting.  Ken and I do a bit of shopping afterward and I find a hat and patch to buy and have sewn on my vest.  At 11:00 Ken, Johney and I head for a trip of our own to South Pointe Hotel in S. Las Vegas for corned beef sandwiches and a load of black and white cookies- a favorite.   From here after a gas stop we head to Hoover Dam and a look at the new bridge over the Colorado.   First we notice new roads and bridges leading to the big bridge and then the new monster arch bridge itself looms into view as we cross Hoover Dam.  It is a gigantic project for sure, but it's mostly visible while on the dam itself or hidden by the hills around the dam, so no way to stop for a picture.  Pictures below are near the dam but away from the the actual dam, plus a shot of Johney and the AZ sign.  We notice the water level is way down in Lake Mead and if it goes any lower they will need sponges to get water.  Heading back to Kingman is a long somewhat monotonous ride and the whole side trip is about 200 miles.

Back at the motel there are no dinner plans so Ken and I head for Cracker Barrel for dinner while several others order a number of pizzas and bread sticks along with various other liquid refreshments for the night.  There is a picture of Dan and Ed running back from the Basha's market across the street with several cases of something.

Saturday morning Ken and I make plans to head to Oatman, AZ on historic route 66 and then back to Laughlin for more shopping and ordering a custom patch for myself, Johney and Charlie. The rest of the group rides toward Seligman, AZ on Route 66 near the I-40 for lunch-we do not go on this ride. On the way to Oatman we pass a bad vehicle accident with at least one car smashed up and some injuries based on ambulance present. We turn off Hwy 95 to Oatman just 13 miles further on a badly maintained old Hwy 66. We arrive and the town which is only 2 blocks long is full of motorcycles. We follow some other riders to a dirt and gravel parking lot and park. We walk into town and stop in at a bar for a soda and see the walls covered with $1 bills usually inscribed with a name and date or other message. The wall paper is worth more than the building I suspect. It's about 10:30 am and we leave to avoid a rush and sure enough we pass hundreds of motorcycles heading to Oatman and limited or no out just in time.

We motor into Laughlin on the main drag and the motorcycle in front of me with 2 aboard comes to a skidding stop at a light thinking the guy in front would go through the now yellow to red light.  "BAM" and down goes the front rider off his custom painted Harley...he was pissed.  I jump off and help pick it up but return to my motorcycle and get out of the way.  Shopping is mostly me just wandering around looking for a couple hats with Ken enjoying the air conditioning of the Colorado Belle Casino.

Saturday night a number of the group heads to a mountain resort restaurant but for some reason Ken and I decide to try Denny's and I have a small salad and he has a half order of nachos.  We could have had prime rib but I think the gravel parking lot and mountain road with animals running around kept us from going (again) this year.  Pictures show the restaurant along with deer or elk running around, we were not there.

It's now Sunday morning and time to pack up and head out.  It's a long way back but now the weather is much nicer once we leave Kingman and hit Hwy 95 South past Lake Havasu where it really warms up to the 80 deg. range.

I wear my Tourmaster jacket with out the liner and with all the vents and zipper mostly open on the return tripand it is totally bearable even in the hotter temperature through Parker and Lake Havasu.  Packing up everything takes a bit of doing with all the hats and the rain pants & jacket I no longer need to wear.  Total gear included my nylon rain jacket, borrowed rain pants courtesy of Stan, my Tourmaster Sabre jacket with liner for cold temps, and my Draggin Jeans that I wore the entire trip.  The Icon Super Duty 2 boots I wear are comfortable but can cause Plantar Faciatis in my right foot for some reason.

Total miles over 1,000 for the entire trip.  I zeroed out the total trip meter so just an estimate.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Freight Train coming through-LOUD HORN

It took a while and several parts but we got the new STEBEL Nautilus Mini horn installed.  It took two different orders for parts, and 3 people total to install.  And it is loud. 

The story.  When I bought the Road Star the dealer gave me a Big Bar Engine Guard but took off the stock horn bracket and lost it.  In order to put the STEBEL on I had to order a new horn bracket($48), and then the STEBEL with wiring harness ($81) plus use a metal bar I saved from the old horn. 

It took Johney Harper to install the parts and his son to figure out the correct wiring scheme due to some weird arrangement on the 09 Road Star and the horn not working.  The job Johney did to install the parts is nothing short of inspired at the very least.  I drove down with an alternate relay as that was thought to be part of the problem.  Also present was Rick S. working on some new springs, and showing up in his Sante Fe was Stan P. for a battery change.  Johney was more than busy, I had to take a number and I was there first.  Johney's son Wes, finally figured out the problem with the wiring and relay, way to go Wes.  HERE ARE THE ACUTAL HORN PICTURES:

Bought the horn from GPE Customs on the Road Star riders Forum.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fast truck trip for cookies

Can you believe it, a blog entry and no motorcycles involved but it's for a good reason.  If you know anything about cookies you should know or need to learn about Black & White New York style Deli cookies.  Johney H. had to go to Las Vegas for a client service call and graciously took me along for the ride, knowing that we would go right by the South Pointe Casino off the 15 Freeway in South Las Vegas.  Why the SouthPointe Casino you ask?  They have a deli inside the casino and make some really great cookies and sandwiches.  So off we go heading for a barn near the Las Vegas airport to service a fly treatment machine.  Johney provides a "No-Fly Zone" insect treatment service for stables and this was his service call.

This was at a private residence with a stable of horses, goats and mini horses plus a menagery of various animals and birds...why they are there I have no idea.

After the service call we headed for the casino deli, split a Corn-Beef sandwich, bought 5 of the $2.50 ea. Black & White cookies, plus a 1/2 sandwich for Genevieve (Naturally) and off we went back to Orange County.  The cookies lasted 2 1/2 days.  We did walk by a Harley Davidson but that was it for motorcycles.
Baby Ducks and a few geese.

A couple miniature horses.Here's a whole shelf of them, I could have bought more but would have gained too much weight as a result.  Johney also bought a Nathan's Famous foot long hot dog, it lasted 15 minutes.

Ride to eat...

Eat to ride!  We did not ride for destination or miles, or new vistas or even scenery.  No, we rode to Corky's Coffee Shop in La Dera Ranch in South Mission viejo with great weather on a Wednesday for food.  Actually our route started in Brea at Coco's on Imperial taking eight riders and 7 motorcycles east on Lambert through Carbon Canyon and the famous "S" curve to the 71 Freeway south to the 91 over to the 15 Freeway south, stopping at Tom's farm for a shopping opportunity for Ken and his girlfriend.  We try to accomodate everyone's whims on these trips.  The WeekDay ride crew consisted of Rick our able ride leader, Ken Y., and Ken (Rick's friend) and his girlfriend, plus Stan, Barry, John R.-Tail Gunner, and me.

From Tom's Farm it's up and over the Ortega Highway (74) and winding up at Corky's on Antonio Parkway for what turns out to be breakfast for everyone except me, I got the Chicken Salad sandwich.
I really thought I was doing very well on Ortega and then Rick tells me he was going slow because it was such a short trip, still I thought I did OK through those curves.  We did take a new road from Antonio to Santiago Canyon through a back road covered by lots of old trees.  I had never been on this road and it was a nice diversion.  You wind up at Cook's corners and then it was up Santiago Canyon and home.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


This is a work in progress and will be updated from time to time as others send me their favorite ride(s) to add to the list or I remember one that I missed.
Criteria will include such factors as one day rides, overnight rides, local rides and inter-state rides that you would do again.

For me this includes the following:

Ride up Hwy 33 out of Ojai on to Lockwood Valley over to Frazier Park near the 5 freeway.  Hwy 33 and also Lockwood Valley Road are not simple roads and offer plenty of challenge if you get tired of Ortega Hwy.  Be sure to stay alert through the passes.  On two different rides, a rider has taken a spill on this route for one reason or another.

Santiago Canyon Road.  This is a very short tour of just over 20 miles but is very close by, and the first road I did in a group of three riders.  If you need to go for a short ride this is it.  You can stop in at Cook's Corners and meet lots of motorcycle riders.  Lost count of the number of times I have been through here.

Anza Borrego Desert ride.  There are two ways to get down to Anza Borrego desert, either from Julian via the Banner Grade -Hwy 78 or off Hwy 79 past Warner Springs to Montezuma Valley Road.  Either way it is very scenic with enough challenges going up or down that you will know you have been on a trip.  In Julian we were not impressed with the Rong-Branch Restaurant.  there may be places in Anza Borrego worth a look.  It's a big all day ride but great views and picture stops.  The ride to Julian on Hwy 79 is a good day ride on it's own and there are a number of routes you can choose to travel in and around the whole area including Mt. Palomar, and Pala or down through the town of Ramona.

Angeles Crest Highway CA 2, from La Canada to Angeles Forest Highway to 14-Antelope Valley and surrounding roads.  Highway 2 is now open all the way to Wrightwood, but I have never gone that far.  A number of roads over and around Angeles Crest including Big Tujunga, Little Tujunga and others are very challenging in spots.  I always fell behind on Chapter rides going over Little Tujunga.  On Hwy 2 There is (or was) a Restaurant called Newcombes Ranch-a favorite with sport bikers.

Trip to Colorado and the San Juan Mountains.  As a really long multi-day ride this was a trip of a lifetime that I would do again.  So much to see along the way including Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, the San Juan mountains around Durango and more.

Ride to Monterey, CA up Hwy 1 Stan mentioned this one.  Up Hwy 101 to the Coast Highway- Route 1 past Hearst Castle, all the way to Monterey.  A good technical road with plenty of turns and twists.  From Monterey we (Ken and I) went to San Jose and stopped in at the Winchester Mystery House.  We missed Alice's Restaurant up in the Redwood Country.  A definite target for the next time. Lots of alternate trips in that area and the Redwood Basin is worth a trip.

Watch for more additions.

Back to Tip Top for Breakfast

Tip Top Restaurant and German Deli is also a meat packing and sausage making plant.  They do it all there from what I understand.  If you are on the 5 freeway in Carlsbad and see the old windmill now a TGI-Fridays on Palomar Airport Road, turn off the freeway and head east to the first light at the Mobil station.  Turn right and when you see the blue awnings you are there.

We had two Newbies on this trip, both Don and Lynne had never been to Tip Top before.  It's about 65 miles down the freeway, we arrive and as usual there is a line to order.  I just get the ham and eggs, but most everyone ordered the "Big John" breakfast at just $6.98.  You can even go back for seconds on the meat, which is amazing.  I bought a pack of smoked sausage, but I'm not as in love with the taste as at first. 

We gas up and head back as traffic builds both going south and heading north with us.  Lynne and I turn off on El Toro to head up Santiago Canyon as a little diversion.  Going past Cooks Corner's there is a big crowd of motorcycles and a huge number of cars parked along the road.  No idea if it is all related.

As we head up Santiago towards Irvine Lake we get riders heading toward us with head taps indicating some sort of police presence.  Going past the lake there are several Highway Patrol and a really big party going on with lots of cars, campers and RV's all over the parking areas.  We continue getting head taps and so maintain a normal but cautious speed and still no police until we come to Jamboree and find two motors around the corner with two cars pulled over.  Interesting that the signals from oncoming riders alerts other riders but the cars have no clue.

It was great seeing Don as he hasn't been around for chapter rides lately and Lynne seems to be busy with her classes and work so we lucked out with their attendance.  John and Stan are ready to ride at a moments notice and the only reason Johney H. wasn't with us he was busy in San Diego.  If you need a plumber be sure to call me about John R. he did a super job on our water heater.

Here is the ONE picture that I got and Lynne is the one taking the picture so she is not in it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Long way around to Idyllwild. CA

The Idyllwild-Pine Cove area is located in Southern California's San Jacinto Mountains, which contain 10,804 foot high San Jacinto Peak, Southern California's second highest mountain, after Mount San Gorgonio. At an elevation of about 5,300 feet, Idyllwild lies mostly within a high mountain valley bisected by a small year-round stream, Strawberry Creek. Pine Cove occupies a ridgetop location nearly 1,000 feet higher than Idyllwild.

You can go to Idyllwild via two options.  From Banning off the 10 Fwy or from Hemet off Highway 74 (Palms to Pines Road).  We took the Palms to Pines route but went way down the 5 Freeway to Highway 76, past Pala Casino, past Mt. Palomar and past Warner Springs to turn up Route 371 to the 74 and then on 243 up to Idyllwild, CA.  Weather was cooler in the low 60's but never got below about 57 as we headed down to Banning on the way back.

View Larger Map
Everything proceeds as usual with our 8 AM meeting (greeting, catching up on news etc.) in the Best Buy parking lot.  One Birthday to celebrate and it was Carol W....HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

We line up and I'm in group 2 with Scott and Marie as lead motorcycle.  Terry led Group 1 and I could have been happy with either choice as both are very competent leaders on the road.  Total of around 20 motorcycles, with 5 count-em 5 Honda Gold-wings, these are becoming very popular among STAR members.  My Road Star along with Johney's are the only two of that model on this ride.  All goes well and we stop at the Pala Casino gas station.  I rate the pumps there as the WORST.  Most are out of order, and mine does not take a credit card, price of $3.11/gal. is not cheap by any stretch. 

We regroup and head out.  Lake Henshaw a small wet spot at the base of Mt. Palomar is some 30 miles away and we stop for a potty break.  Here is where the calamity hits.  Scott and Chuck are lead motorcycles and Lynne is to my left, we are second in line.  For some reason, as we pull into and across the rather steeply sloping parking lot, Lynne turns to the right crossing in front of me.  I slow down keeping in mind the slope and suddenly right in front of me, Lynne begins to fall over and winds up hitting the pavement and rolling away from the fallen motorcycle.  Good Grief, how did that happen?  Obviously she did not take into consideration the slope and stopped at a bad angle with no place to anchor her footing.  I park and ran over and asked if she was OK and got a big "NO".  At that moment I realized I should have asked something less irritating to her such as...Did you notice how low the water in the lake was, or what do you think of the pavement condition, anything but are you OK?

A slightly broken left rear turn signal seems to be the only damage and Bob Barbano and a couple other riders quickly tape and tie it back into place, and it works too.  A bit delayed but no damage to Lynne either other than her counting this as the 9th drop.  I suggest we post a sign somewhere indicating how many days since the last drop.  She is a trooper and on the rest of the trip including the downhill ride to Banning handles her Yamaha with the great skills she usually has.

Arriving in Idyllwild it is no cooler than on the rest of the ride and Johney and I head for the Red Kettle for lunch, no one joins us and they head elsewhere.  Overview of Town Center, difficult to see but Red Kettle Restaurant and parking spot are tagged.  Double click to expand.

The real adventure seems to be the trip downhill to Banning.  It is a tight twisting, fast ride and what is most amazing I am able to keep up with Lynne (most of the time) where normally I would fall behind a lot.  Things really got crazy as we near Orange County on the 57 Freeway.  I see ahead that Scott starts moving over due to something in the road.  Suddenly his wife starts flapping her arms as a warning and I see a truck stopping or stopped in the lane as we head for it.  I swing to the right, behind Chuck and for some unknown reason he starts climbing on the brakes and rapidly slowing down.  As I don't want to get slammed by a car or another motorcycle from behind I whip around him and join up with the other scattered motorcycles as we get back in line.  Why the truck stopped is open to speculation as reports later confirm that it was a bicycle wheel in the road.  To me, stopping on the freeway with traffic coming at high speed can be deadly, but all ended well as everyone scattered and then formed back up with nothing more that a wildly beating heart and adrenaline pumping.  My rule from now on is- do not stop on the freeway in speeding traffic.

There are 15 pictures of the ride.  No on board pictures.

The whole ride for the day is 290 miles and I am back but very tired and wondering if the new motorcycle is more tiring for some reason.  Maybe a bit rougher riding or it vibrates more than the 2006 did but I am wrung out at the end of these long rides.

Heading toward Banning on 243.