Day Four, Monday, October 22, 2007

Ridgecrest to Monterey

With Death Valley out of the question due to time, I set my sights on seeing Hearst Castle and headed East. Out of the way of most of the wind, it became a relatively non-eventful trip through some beautiful country.



I arrived at Hearst Castle well after lunch and caught their last tour. The details and history are well documented, so I’ll leave you a few pictures from my cell phone to whet your appetite. In short, it’s worth a day trip down to experience the place.











It was getting late when the tour concluded and I had dinner reservations with a friend of mine in Monterey.

A fast ride up Hwy 1 got me there only a half hour late. It was good to catch up with Russ although by the time we finished dinner and got home Lisa and the kids had all gone to bed. After a generous pour of the single-malt, and another hour’s conversation, we called it a night.

Author’s Note: Even though I’m VERY late with this post, I’m posting it with the rest of the trip for continuity.

Day Four Ridgecrest to Montery Map

Day Three: Sunday, October 21, 2007

San Diego to Ridgecrest

I left San Diego around 8 AM Sunday morning and headed North on I-15. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny morning. The road was perfect and virtually traffic free. I put the cruise control on 85, flipped out the highway pegs, kicked back, and watched the world go by. It was a fine morning for enjoying the scenery and reflecting on just how blessed I am.

Somewhere along the line I passed a guy on a Road King and he joined up and ran in formation for an hour or so until I needed to make a fuel stop. I’d look back ever so often and imagine that it was Pete, David, Mark, Greg, Jeff, or Peter back there. Now would be the time to start planning a spring ride guys.

I rocked along in total bliss, took the 215 toward San Bernardino, and got my first little taste of what I was in store for the rest of the day. In Riverside, about where the 60 crosses 215, a gust of wind blew me out of my lane. My adrenaline immediately shot of the scale. After driving through what I thought was a brief wind tunnel, I pulled over to snap this pic. You can see the dust storm coming…


With a small mountain range blocking the wind and thinking the worst was over, I continued north on 215. The worst was yet to come.

A few miles later, pulled over on the side of the road again, I snapped this just before my bike blew up off the kickstand.


I spent the next 50 minutes bracing the bike to keep the wind from blowing it over. Later, I found that the winds were gusting at over 75 mph. Not really what I would call an ideal riding environment.

I figured out how to get off the interstate in the first 10 minutes. It just took me another 40 or 45 to get the courage up to try. I waited until a slow moving big rig came by and as it blocked the wind from me, I hopped on, fired up the bike and raced to catch up, running along side the truck on the shoulder. It was about a mile to the exit and I passed some 15 to 20 other motorcyclists all standing on the side of the road holding their bikes up.

With no small amount of relief, I got the bike off the interstate and parked in the lee side of a Starbucks. Moments later the wind started blowing roof panels off the building.


Safe and Smokin

The next five hours were spent meeting other motorcyclists (about 20 of us ended up stuck there), listening to reports of the fire that broke out a few miles away, drinking coffee, and waiting for the wind to die down. At least three tractor trailers had blown over, one of which we watched catch on fire. There were reports of a second truck that caught on fire, but it wasn’t confirmed.

Late in the afternoon, a local biker offered to lead us through a back way around the pass. Since the wind had died down a bit and the fire was reportedly under control, four of us took him up on it. It was far to late to continue on to Death Valley, so I headed North and spent the night in Ridgecrest.

I went to bed quite relieved that I’d survived the wind and didn’t have to sleep on the ground outside of Starbucks.

Author’s Note: Even though I’m VERY late with this post, I’m posting it with the rest of the trip for continuity.


Day Two: Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday morning in Isla Vista — slept in, got an oil change, a haircut and headed down the coast to the biker friendly Neptune‘s Net near Malibu which features among the fried “anything from the sea” menu, several notices that the only reason they don’t have more motorcycle parking is because the local laws limit them to 30 spaces. You just have to love this place. (Hat tip to Julie White for the recommendation.)

Yes, that’s my bike in the background…



My advice after driving Hwy 1 is to turn in to Interstate 5 after you pass Malibu — I just didn’t find much but traffic through the Huntington Beach area.

A Malibu shot…


Having gotten off to a late start and with all the traffic, I didn’t get to San Diego State until after 10PM. Daniel, my best friend’s middle son (and Josh’s younger brother) was up for a late night dinner at Max’s in the Gaslight District. Too much macaroni and cheese will do that to a freshman: “You’re buying steak? Well of course I’m in!”

After enjoying the best steak on the trip and a great chance to catch up, I hit the sack rather early to get a head start on my trip to Death Valley.

Saturday’s Route (Approximate — my best guess on where I finally got tired of the traffic and turned in to I5).


Day One: Friday, October 19, 2007

Yeah, I’m a little late on these, but life comes at you fast and I’ve been busy!

Cold winds, an overcast sky, and drizzling rain greeted me as I left SF at 6:45 AM Friday morning. Having the right gear always pays off! As previously mentioned, around Santa Cruz I realized that I was dangerously un-caffeinated and stopped for Peet’s coffee.*

Shortly after Monterey, the sun burst through and it was time to remove a few layers.

A few of shots from the Big Sur area

PCH Ocean shot just below Carmel



Just before I took off the rain gear


Hwy 1 — This is the basic view for miles


But it was getting toward the end of the day and I grew weary of so may stops, so I did what any former Boy Scout would do; break out the mini tri-pod and rig it to the handle bars to get some road shots so I didn’t have to stop!

Here I’m coming out of a nice, easy curve just as Hwy 1 turns inland (This is just for you David.)


After a fine dinner at The Palace Grill in Santa Barbara (hat tip to Jeff Meehan for the referral) with my friend Josh and his roommate Sean, we picked up some microbrews, took a quick tour of campus (complete with a walking tour of DP on a Friday night), and then spent a few hours catch up over beer and cigars.

Today’s Route:

Day One Route


* Official Disclaimer: in the week since my return we were notified that we just won a portion of the Peet’s online business so I’m nowhere near an unbiased source.





“A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

And apparently mine start at about 50 MPH crosswinds. Hwy 15 is not a safe place for bikes or big rigs. All the big rigs are pulled over and I saw one turned over. After literaly holding the bike up for over an hour to keep It from blowing over, I drafted a lone, slow moving rig to make it to an exit. I parked on the lee side of a Starbucks and watched two panels blow off the roof. Two hours later there are reportedly two trucks down and on fire. I can see the resulting brush fire from here.

So, with the winds forecasts for well into tomorrow, my Death Valley run may just have to wait for another day.