Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seattle to Tahoe and Back - Part One

This is in ten parts, get comfy. If you've been following, you'll notice I've changed the posting dates to make the posts flow chronologically, to reduce needless scrolling...

Been gone for a week, ended up taking a camping trip from Seattle to Lake Tahoe and back on the motorcycles. Why? Superficially, to ride mountainbikes on the famous "Flume" and "Tahoe Rim" trails, but the trip itself was an end in itself. Here's the story.....

Left Seattle in the rain, early morning. Reached the meeting point in plenty of time, we scarfed a McDonalds breakfast and lots of coffee while discussing the details.

The riders, Sim... Honda ST 1100, John ... Honda Valkyrie, James...BMW K100, and me (Bob)...Modded Honda Valkyrie.

None of the guys had ridden in a group before, we were all rusty bikers as life had gotten in the way of riding. Our original plan had us heading for the coast to enjoy the curves asap, but we decided to blast down the freeway to see if we could outrun the rain.

We stopped at a rest stop, as the morning coffee was taking it's toll. As we accelerated back up to speed, a group of bikers matched us. I was surprised to see two valkyries in the pack, as they're relatively rare bikes. Flames and PW, members of our local club, waved at us as we parted ways, their group taking the turnoff toward Mt. St. Helens. Hope you had a good ride, guys.

It worked. No rain. We turned off I-5 south onto Highway 126 at Eugene, Or. Beautiful road, smooth curves and sweepers, no traffic. This tumbled us out onto the coast at a little town called Florence.

Sim, above, and John, below, enjoying the cruise to Florence.

We tilted though the small towns, heading south on 101, watching the sun.

We ended up stopping at Humbug Mountain state park, paused to see the beautiful sea stacks, set up the tents just as dusk crept in, then returned to the small town to get some fish and chips for supper. Slept soundly, felt great for having spent a long day in the saddle.

Amazing pink light sunset...

Awoke to a foggy morning. Yes, we all had our own gear...We didn't know each other's itineraries or scheduling conflicts, this way any one of us could break off at any time.

Packed, continued down the 101 south, enjoying the minimum traffic in the early morning. Sweeping though the fog....

The fog burned off quickly, leaving us to watch the large swells come crashing in.

Crossed the Rogue river, lots of fishing boats just getting started...

Group shot... Left to right... Sim, James, my Valkyrie, John, and Me. You can tell we're not having any fun at all.

Typical coastline road...

Stopped for food and fuel at a little town, realized my right fork seal had quit it's job, allowing oil to leak down the leg. A few swipes with card stock was unsucessful in stopping the leak, I 'll need a new seal when I get home.

Welcome to California.

We wanted to see the redwoods, we did a loop into the forest, but pics don't do these giants justice. The burned out trunk, for example, allowed me to stretch both arms out inside and not touch the sides. Majestic. The minivan and airstream hopefully give you some scale.

Continued down the coast,

to the small town of Fortuna. Here we turned left, heading east on highway 36, on the advice of the crowd over at This is a road build seemingly expressely for motorcycles. Ups, downs, tight turns, long sweepers, We all thouroughly enjoyed this road.

OK, that's all for part One. I have over 180 pics, there'll be lots more. As always, click the pic for the fullsize.
Seattle to Tahoe and Back - Part Two

Part Two... Highway 36. From Fortuna on the coast to Red Bluff where 36 crosses I-5, the road is a playground. I found myself wondering who followed a drunken goat when they built this road. The centerline appears and disappears at random, 4th gear sweepers change up into 1st gear hairpins, you climb up the side of a valley only to drop back down into the same valley and cross the same river. Took us a full afternoon to ride this little stretch, we stopped often and laughed/wondered/hooted/regrouped.

James loving the ride...

1st gear uphill tight righthander...yeehaw!

John and his Valkyrie playing wingman...

Look at those curves....

Stopped for some construction... I can see the smiles even through the helmets...

Group shot halfway through. This was a cliffside, tight, twisty section, rivalling the backside of Mt. St. Helens here in Wa. for bike heaven status.

Twists and turns EVERYWHERE.

Nearing I-5, the shadows started getting long. We wanted to get to the campsite before dark, as setting up in the dark's a pain, as well as the increased deer danger at dusk. The road turned into a mellow rollercoaster, curving and dipping though the golden hills. Perfect pavement, excellent signage for those few 20mph turns, otherwise it was flowing incredibly well. Got some air of a few rises, loving the feeling of being at one with the bike, eating up the distance smoothly and efficiently.

Two shots of this one was marked slow, but the initial off-camber top was completely covered with gravel... a bit unnerving after an otherwise pristine 20 miles or so. Everyone made it through, though.

Over the shoulder shot, light was cooperating.

John, following my lines.

No comment.

This shot was taken the next morning as we awoke. We did get set up before dark, however. The old guy running the campground recommended a good Mexican place, but it ended up being relocated/closed. We went to a nearby Appleby's, met a guy who let us know that Reno's "Street Vibrations" was this weekend. Riding back to the campsite, a chopper tagged us with his spotlight, lighting up the entire area. They actually followed us into the campsite, spotlight blazing and rotorwashing the trees. Odd, guess the cops get bored in Red Bluff. Went to sleep with the promise of, " More 36 ". in our heads.

End of part two. Hey, I do have a life too!
Seattle to Tahoe and Back - Part Three

Part Three... Still in Red Bluff, California. We fueled at McDonalds again, and headed out for more of the wonderful Highway 36. We'd decided not to take the spur up to Mount Lassen as originally planned, we'd put it into our return plans rather that go 80 miles out of our way.

It was cold and clear, Highway 36 east of I-5 is a different animal near Lassen National park land. LONG, straight stretches, not much to do or see for miles. I was toasty in my heated Gerbing jacket, but the guys without heat were suffering.

Golden grass, rough hewn rocks strewn about. Almost like there was a volcano around.

One of my longest stretch submissions.

My favourite shot of the whole trip. I was bored, playing with the camera, taking multiple pics all around. ( Digital is a great medium.) Going through the pics later, this crisp reflection appeared. I like.

Turns out James had family obligations and had to cut the trip short. We were stopped here for a one lane bridge anyway, we decided to take the last " Group of four " shots.

James, good riding with you. Hope the rest of your trip was OK. P.S. He's the guy in the White helmet.

Pushing on with just three riders, we came to this sign, letting us know we weren't far....Keep it in mind....

The next 30 miles were warm, dry, good pavement, sweepers following a river down through a beautiful vally. Cruising speed, just really enjoying the day. Below, interesting solution of rail and highway crossing.

Small power plant, interesting placement for the capacitors and grid.

Short tunnels. I like revving the lightly muffled valk in these, the reverbations echoing up and down the road. I could see Sim laughing and nodding in his helmet as we rode through.

A short train came through the valley the same time we did. I like this shot, the colors of stained rock, the train overhead.

Swooping through the turns.

Got a shot of the engine coming through at a pretty little rest stop.

Looking upriver at the same little stop.

So, seems the stop and the road is a popular biker destination. Two riders were already there, two more pulled in as we relaxed. I struck up a conversation with one of the guys, this is his backyard. We chatted a bit, then I wandered off, taking pics. John kept talking to the guy....

Stay tuned for part four...