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, November 30, 2010

WeekDay ride to Rainbow Oaks and Ramona

It's been a while, finally here is another ride report worth mentioning.  Just two of us, John (Cuyo) on his Royal Star Venture and Me on the Road Star, on a spur of the moment ride to the Rainbow Oaks Cafe on Old 395 in Rainbow Valley off the 15 Freeway.  Zoom in on the map to get a better idea of the whole route.  Breakfast was good enough to take a couple pictures of and I did.

View Larger Map  Point "A" is our meeting point on Green River and the 91 Freeway at 10 AM, from there we head south on the 15 directly to the Cafe for breakfast.  John, always very particular about his menu choices, made it through the ordering process with minimal damage to the server and ordered the "BIG" steak breakfast ($13.95), I got the french toast, bacon and eggs ($7.95).  I was impressed with the experience and would recommend the Rainbow Oaks Cafe for at least breakfast.  It is pricier than another favorite- Tip Top in Carlsbad for instance. There was a dinner steak on the menu for $26 and I have to assume it is pretty good sized-the steak not the menu.  By the way the pace maintained by John while heading south on the 15 Fwy, was very steady and pleasant and it set the tone for the entire trip.

 John can't wait for the steak to be served. 

 From there, we continue up 395 to intersect with Highway 79 where we stop for breakfast for the motorcycle and some gas, heading toward Warner Springs and the Town of Ramona.  What I noticed on the road to Warner Springs is that the curves have gotten much straighter and a lot wider, the hills more level and generally much easier to handle. probably due to being a much better rider than a year or two or three ago.  Route 79 was one of my first big rides on the original 650 V-Star and the difference is like night and day, as back then I was terrible when I first started out.

We hit some real wind going past Warner but not enough to change our ride.  As we pass the turn off to Highway 76 toward Palomar, I take the lead and head up to the Santa Ysabel Casino just off the road To Santa Ysabel junction.  John had never been there and we had to try our luck which was a waste of time, but a refreshing stop on the way to Ramona.  They do have a $4.95 Prime Rib dinner, if you are interested, weekends only I believe.

 From the patio of the Casino overlooking Lake Henshaw
From there it's on to Ramona and the wind dies down considerably.  Again this road also has been straightened and leveled, and it feels good to be in control and keep up with John and even in a couple places I could have passed him, but no need as his pace continues to be steady and consistent with road conditions.  In Ramona we turn right onto the continuation of Hwy 78 but it is virtually unmarked and luckily we know it's the correct road.  We continue on toward Escondido past Wild Animal park to reconnect with the 15 Freeway and back home. 

This segment of the ride from the Casino all the way to Corona is non-stop except for lights, no refueling, and I make it 157 miles before the low fuel light comes on as I turn onto the 91 Freeway.  Pulling off on Main Street in Corona turns out to be a bad choice but I do find gas, so it's head for home. 

Got my very first police escort with red and blue lights to the nearest parking lot to explain why I pulled into the opposing traffic turn lane to get to the left turn lane at the railroad crossing.  He was very pleasant and after checking my license, off I went...dodged a bullet on that one.

Total trip is about 235 miles door to door.  Back home near 5:00 PM.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

DEATH VALLY III 2010 - An Epic Production

11-06-2010- it's Death Valley III, my third and biggest trip to Death Valley so far. Our 2010 Death Valley trip was ably produced and directed by Johney Harper, with planning help from me on our Sunday ride route plus input and help from just about everyone on the trip. Our group of 8 consisted of Johney-Ride Captain, His brother Micah, his friend Kenny both from Louisiana, Johney's cousin Cody from Texas, plus Brian, Doug and Chuck our spectacular tail gunner, all on Goldwings, and me on my Road Star. Johney was on his Road Star but his family group all had rented Harleys. Kenny and Doug have never been to Death Valley, Brian has not been through here in years, while the rest of us are doing it for the third time.
It's 7:05 AM and a gorgeous sunrise just as I was about to drop it into gear to head for our gas station meeting.

                                             About ready to leave
Everything was different this year compared to the two previous trips. No more senior riders group leaving a day early, just me on the ride with the regular Saturday morning departure bunch. The ride route on Sunday was totally different, the return trip through Las Vegas had never been done before, and the side trip to see the new Pat Tillman Bridge was a spectacular new addition to the return trip as well.  Plus we stop for Black & White cookies at South Pointe.
DAY ONE- Saturday, bright an early we leave Brea at about 8AM and head to Molly Browns in Victorville for breakfast. From there a quick trip to Kraemer Junction (395 and Hwy 58), then Trona for gas and on to Stove Pipe Wells in Death Valley, where gas is $3.39 a gallon. The road from Trona leads to Panamint Valley road and Highway 190 which leads into the Death Valley Park.  You have to climb a small mountain range before Stove Pipe and while going up and around a curve or two, at one point I had the throttle cranked around as far as it would go while in 5th gear and we were just doing about 65-70 mph, that got my attention in a hurry.  Did not shift down one but reached a more level spot and could back off the throttle finally.  From there we head to Badwater (282 ft. below sea level), and Artist Drive, since we will not have time on Sunday to see them. At Badwater a large group of motorcyclists ride in and we learn they are all from Germany on rented motorcycles touring around the west on a big vacation.

 Here we are at Stove Pipe Wells in Death Valley, heading on to Bad Water and the colorful Artist Drive.
The entire group at Bad Water and on to Artist drive...

Arriving in Beatty, checking into the Death Valley Inn is quick and easy, but we get some rain while at dinner and at night but no more rain the rest of the trip. Here we meet up with a larger group of riders that have been meeting here on this Death Valley ride for more than 20 years. 
Testing bathrooms through out the park, this one's OK.


 It's cold 43-44 deg. here in Beatty at over 3,000 ft elevation.
 Our favorite and only breakfast place in Beatty.
They're in the phone book as well.
DAY TWO- Our Big Sunday ride.  Sunday is the one day to see as much as possible in the Park but this year we add a trip to Goldfield, an old mining town north of Beatty by 65 miles, returning past Scotty's Castle on the north end of the park.  Not much to see in Goldfield really but we did find an interesting junk yard.  There are a number of  abandoned older buildings in town including a hotel and big City Hall, but we gas up at the only gas station in town and it seems everyone in town is sitting in the store and cafe eating breakfast.  We get back on the road toward Scotty's Castle and then head toward Furnace Creek.  Our missing rider today is Doug who decided to stay overnight in Beatty and do more sightseeing in the Valley.  He did the route we normally would take, going to Dante's View then the rest of the park.  We ran into him and Joe eating lunch at Furnace Creek, our last sighting of both Joe on the Vision and Doug on the red Goldwing.

 Strange sights in Goldfield.  There are old buildings but it's windy and cold so we just stop for gas and head back to the Scotty Castle turnoff into Death Valley. Very unusual junk yard and vehicles.

 Some serious local characters inside eating breakfast.  Reality is only a concept around here.

 Lots of strange buildings and junk around the whole town.
While at Scotty's Castle, I went to take a couple pictures of a small stream, heard a strange noise and look up to see a rider down on the driveway leading out of the parking area on to the road.  I run over and a lady dropped her Suzuki C50 as she turned onto the road but misjudged the angle and went down. We got the bike upright and note that damage to rider and motorcycle was not severe, but she did break a turn signal plus scrapped her leg a tiny bit and we had to unjam the foot rest. 

 What kind of tree is this, any idea?

 This is the stream where I had just taken the picture and looked up to see a rider and motorcycle down on the ground, ran over and helped lifting it back upright, she got up on her own.
 Leaving the castle we head to Ubehebe Crater and find that the road has been totally redone and is no longer bumpy and cracked like last year.  The C50 lady rider showed up behind us indicating damage was indeed minor.  Wind was up a notch in the north end of the park but not significant.

Johney checking out another National Park roadside restroom, it's not a job more like a calling.

We leave the Crater and head to Furnace Creek for a nice $11.95 hamburger, includes fries or potato salad for lunch, and head to Dante's View for a spectacular sight of the valley floor from about 5,300 ft. up.   Johney was concerned my heart might stop when I saw the food prices there including the $4.23 a gallon gas (bought 3.5 gal). Chuck totally missed Dante's View last year so he finally gets to see it.  By the way, Chuck was our tailguner for most if not all the trip and did an admirable job to say the least.  I don't know if it was because of his service in Viet Nam or what, but he is the kind of guy you want around if you ever needed help, and a great room mate too. 
 You can barely see the road to BadWater down there. Not very sunny and a bit cold.

 Last 1/4 miles is rather steep and definitely twisty with a 15% grade.
Leaving Dante's we turn toward Pahrump and Las Vegas as our destination for Sunday overnight and then head home early next morning Monday.  We stay at the Luxor Hotel and Casino and the amazing part is that our room in Beatty, with basic accommodations and at the nicer Luxor cost exactly the same $54 incl tax.  We arrive in Las Vegas and it is night time dark out and traffic is crazy as usual on the Vegas strip.  After unpacking we finally decide on going to the buffet for dinner and it turns out to be a winner, even if it did cost $20.  The Prime Rib was very good as was most everything else.  Oh yes, and as part of the Wrinkle Rider credo I actually did ride for fiber, all the way to Walgreens in Las Vegas about 3 miles from the Luxor on my own.

When I woke up Monday morning I immediately noticed everything was still working, I could walk and function normally even after all the miles so far.   Hurray for Me!  Now all I have to do is survive the trip home.
The trip home was a real adventure instead of just a ride back on the freeway.  Now that it's an hour difference due to Daylight Saving, we are up and ordering breakfast at the McDonalds in the Casino at 7AM getting ready for the return home.  But first we head to Hoover dam and the new Pat Tillman Bridge spanning the Colorado way above the dam and Lake Mead.  We ride across the bridge and back, then turn in to the visitor parking area and walk up the stairs and across the bridge.  The view overlooking the now smaller looking dam and lake is really spectacular.  From there we ride down across the dam and stop for a few more pictures.  You can no longer continue on into Arizona on the dam but must use the bridge.

Climb to the bridge, a lot of stairs or take the ramp.
 You climb a couple flights of stairs or use a long ram up to the walkway from the parking lot on one side for tourist viewing.  There is no stopping allowed on the bridge roadway.  I think if you do stop they just bulldoze your vehicle over the side.

 Looking at Hoover Dam from a totally new point of view.

         Looking west  down the bridge road from the walkway.

 If you look real close there is a metal sculpture of a wall driller showing how the original walls were blasted away to build the dam using men on ropes to drill the blast holes in the rock wall face.  We rode down there to the other side and stopped for a few more pictures.

 These are taken from alongside the dam in the old visitor areas.

 This is a massive project, including all the new roads and smaller bridges leading up to the main bridge from both sides

 There is no water to spill over the edge, it's getting rather dry out there.
Due to time limits, Johney and his family crew split off to get back to Orange County while Chuck, Brian and I head to South Pointe Casino for a Black and White cookie and a New York style Deli sandwich.    Bummer, we get there and there are only 3 cookies left which I buy and split among us.  Should we check into the hotel and wait until they make some more...?  We decide just to sample the Black & White delight and head out into the windy desert. 

We can tell it's windy out on the 15 so I am wearing my Mesh-Tex jacket with liner and my rain/wind jacket and it seems adequate.  Going over the pass before getting to Baker it gets colder into the high 50+ to low 60 degree range but tolerable.  Arriving in Baker I'm getting a bit wrung out and hopefully it is warming up a bit so I do not add an extra layer (my fleece jacket) for warmth.  This was a big mistake as the cold temperature and wind really kicked it up a notch from this point on.  If I had added that, the next 90 miles to Victorville would not have been so torturous.  Finally we get to Victorville and my helmet is still attached to my head but I'm cold.  Adding the zip up fleece jacket under everything else and pulling the attached hood up around my helmet makes a huge difference in warmth and wind buffeting on the helmet as well.  From here to home it is so much better, I can't believe I did not stop somewhere along the way and add the jacket earlier.
Monday about 4:30 PM we arrive home safe but very tired after 1,055 miles for the three days.  No mechanical problems, no major safety issues, no food issues...all went extremely well.  A lot of credit goes to Johney for his excellent leadership in managing the routes with his GPS and leading us with a minimal number of U-turns but going the wrong way in Boulder AGAIN, to get to the Dam.  There were reports of speeds in the neighborhood of 110 up to an impossible 130 mph out on those park roads but there are no records of it actually happening.  I did see 93 mph a couple times on my speedometer trying to catch up a few times but that was it. 
Here is a slide show of all my photos...
One other note, if you are ever on a ride like this, it really is very nice to have one or three Goldwings along.  Those motorcycles and their riders are very accomplished sources of information, gear and directions.