blogging kp!

some of my travels with random musings & silliness mixed in

Tioga Pass to Mammoth Lakes, CA September 10, 2010

Today started off at 5:00am with a Happy Birthday text from my mother. Funny thing… not only did she forget the three hour time change… she got the day wrong! (I promptly went back to bed for a little while!)

My goal this time in Yosemite (YNP) was to spend time on Tioga Pass. I have been to the Village, the Valley and Glacier Point many times…. but I haven’t really spent anytime on the pass.

Valley View Turnout

So, I packed up the bike and went into Curry Village for breakfast. A breakfast burrito at the taco shop, a nice big coffee and I was off. As I sat sipping my morning coffee, I met a couple who had rented a Street Glide from EagleRider Motorcycle Rentals. We started talking about riding and Yosemite. I explained that I had been to Yosemite many times by both car and bike. Before we had finished talking, I had given them pointers on the sites in Yosemite they should see as well as the best time of day to see them. I also gave them information regarding riding over/down to Glacier Point. I suggested that if they had the time they should go over Tioga Pass and see Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadow. If they really had the extra time they shouldn’t miss Mono Lake. They actually asked me if I wanted to join them and be their tour guide. Unfortunately, I was trying to get home for my birthday party and was unable to.

Thought: How great would it be to be a motorcycle tour guide?

I rode off through the Village and started down the valley. The road (Northside Drive) is two lanes that travel in a one way direction… out of the valley. It meanders amongst the trees, meadows, cliffs and past El Capitan. There is one last lookout before you have to head out of the park or turn right on Big Oak Road to catch Tioga Pass Road/SR120. This lookout (Valley View) is alongside the Merced River and offers a great view back into the valley… and… there is one of the last restrooms for awhile.

Tioga Pass

The ride over the pass is roughly 60 miles +/- and without stops you could conceivably be in Lee Vining in two hours. But how could you not stop???

I pulled out of Valley View Lookout and headed up Big Oak Road. This is pretty breathtaking in it’s own right… the climb is somewhat steep and the view is fantastic. I particularly enjoy the tunnel… especially now that I have my new pipes on the bike! The road meanders along through some forests and the occasional river. Also, hidden among the trees are some small lakes. I pulled over and hiked down to one. (I forget it’s name.)

Eventually, I turn onto Tioga Pass Road. Did you know? Tioga is an Iroquois and Mohawk word meaning “where it forks” and is the eastern entry point to YNP. It is the highest highway pass in California. The elevation is 9,945 feet (3,031 m).

Awesome!

Next stop… Tenaya Lake… or so I thought…

Before Tenaya Lake there are a number of turnouts that offer views of the granite domes and the Sierra Mountains. Once again I stop, grab my camera and climb up one of the granite slopes and take many photos. I sat there for awhile with a bottled water and just relaxed. I am a fan of people watching and there were tour buses full of people to watch!

Tenaya Lake is named for Chief Tenaya (Awahneechee). The story (unconfirmed) goes that when he heard the lake was being named after him… he protested that the lake already had a name: Pie-we-ack, or “Lake of the Shining Rocks.” As a compromise, the dome east of the lake is now named Pie-we-ack… to honor the lake’s original name.

Trail from a Olmstead Pt.

At 8,150 feet (2,484 m) Tenaya Lake sits amongst the granite domes between Yosemite Valley and Tuolomne Meadows. The lake was created by an offshoot of Tuolumne Glacier as it passes through Tenaya Canyon. Tenaya Creek (the principle inlet/outlet of Tenaya Lake) as well as a many other creeks and springs provide the lake with it’s waters.

After an hour of walking around and taking pictures, I decided to continue on down the road.

The next major landmark of Tioga Pass is Tuolumne Meadows… this meadow is the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada. Early spring/summer is the time of year to be here when many wildflowers bloom. (I imagine a blanket of flowers!)  The Tuolumne River winds it’s way through the meadow. You can also see the many peaks and domes that rise above the meadow. I suggest taking some time to stop and enjoy the beauty and the quiet.

Before heading down the pass, you exit YNP via the “kiosk”. I was cold so I put some gloves on and put a fleece shirt on top of the layers I already had on. No picture taking from the bike on this road!! Once out of YNP, the pass loses more than 3,000 feet (914 m) by the time the road reaches U.S. Route 395 at Lee Vining, CA.

Once I reached the bottom of the pass, I stopped at the Mono Market in Lee Vining. I needed to remove some layers and grab a quick bite to eat. For a small fairly remote town, this grocery store is loaded with some great goodies. I contemplated stopping at the famous Whoa Nellie Deli but I was pressed for time. If you have a chance… you should definately stop here for a bite. The Buffalo Meatloaf is insane! Sometimes, they have a band too!

Tenaya Lake

I left and rode on to Mammoth Lakes to spend the night. I skipped Mono Lake on this trip and opted for the June Lake Loop. Absolutely beautiful! I will have to spend more time exploring this 30 mile / 3 lake loop with ample camping and some cute hotels. In all honesty… I wish I had gone to Mono Lake and stayed on the June Lake Loop instead of going to Mammoth.

East Entrance Kiosk to YNP

NOTE: SR 120, Tioga Pass Road (east entrance into Yosemite Park) is normally closed from November to late May of each year due to a heavy snow pack. During these months, there is no access to Yosemite Nat’l Park via Tioga Pass from US 395 on the Eastern side of the Sierra.

ONE MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: Gasoline is NOT available in Yosemite Village. Fill up BEFORE going into the park OR take your chances on being able to get to Wawona, El Portal, Crane Flat or Tuolomne Meadows… and all are expensive!

LINKS:

Whoa Nellie Deli: www.whoanelliedeli.com

Yosemite National Park : www.nps.gov/yose

 

Yosemite National Park September 9, 2010

For someone who is not a fan of big cities (me), I had a pretty awesome trip to San Francisco. Hanging out and reconnecting with Cindy and her family after 15+ years as well as meeting her husband and son was great. But it was time for me to head home.

I decided to ride over to Yosemite, cross Tioga Pass and head down the 395 back to home. This time, however, I was going to spend less time in the Village and around Glacier Point. My goal was to camp in Curry Village, get up and spend my day going through Tioga Pass.

Last time I was in YNP, it was late afternoon and SUPER cold, so, my goal was to get over the pass quickly not sight see!!

Half Dome at Sunset

So, I set off around 12:00ish and headed east on the 580 and followed the signs to Manteca. I stopped and grabbed a coffee… because… coffee is the nectar of the gods (behind Captian Morgan, of course)!  I then hopped on the 120 East to Yosemite and cruised for a few hours. I must admit, I didn’t find anything particularly stand out as far as scenery or roadside stops along the way. The whole trip from San Francisco took about three and a half hours.

Yosemite. It is one of my most favorite places in the US. Funny. I have been there at least a dozen times… winter, spring, summer, fall… and I am always mesmerized by it’s beauty! I must admit that since I purchased this bike, I have been back many times in three years after a five or six year hiatus. It never gets old and to be on the bike in YNP is pretty amazing. I have been trying to get my friends to join me but … no takers. Talk about missing out!

Housekeeping Camp #156

Before I pulled into Curry Village, I stopped at Housekeeping Camp. I went into the office and was lucky to get a spot for the night. If you are not familiar with Housekeeping Camp it is an “H” shaped concrete structure with a heavy canvas roof and doors. Each half of the “H” has a double bed, a set of bunks, some shelves and electricity. All you have to do is walk in and make the beds. No tent pitching. Each half also has a picnic table, fire ring and a metal shelf outdoors for cooking, eating and storing your food. YOU MUST USE THE BEAR BOX!

Quick note: Housekeeping Camp rents bed linens and camp stoves. The cost is minimal and might be a great option instead of packing a lot of gear. HC also has a small camp store and laundry room… and of course showers!

As most of you know… I love camping. So, why Housekeeping Camp instead of Upper or Lower Pines? I have never been able to stay there and I wanted to experience the “tent cabins”. As I mentioned earlier, I have been trying to get my friends to ride to Yosemite with me as well… I want to experience the different lodging options.

Diggin the reflection on my saddlebag!

Once settled in, I went to Curry Village for dinner. They have a pizza joint (long lines), a dining room, a coffee bar, a grill and a taco stand. I ordered a burger and fries and sat down in the BAR! Woohoo! I stayed for a few hours & talked to many nice people.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES:

If you are going to Curry Village from Housekeeping Camp… walk or hop on the bus! Yosemite Valley is surrounded by one way roads. You can only drive into the Valley on one side and out of the Valley on the other side.

Your options from Curry Village back to Housekeeping Camp are: You drive the wrong way on a one way street (not recommended) or drive through the Village, part way down the Valley, make a u-turn and head back up the Valley to get back… which is a little gnarly on a motorcycle in the PITCH BLACK with the chance of critters or animals crossing your path.

 

SR37, North San Francisco September 8, 2010

So, today I decided to take off on my own and ride my bike around the outskirts of San Francisco. I would start in Dublin, head up the freeways to SR37, then down to Sausalito via Hwy 101. Afterwards, I would go up to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area lookout and take in the view… ride over to the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. From there I would head down the coast to Half Moon Bay and then go back to my friend’s house in Dublin.

Ambitious? Yes. Complete my planned route? Almost. See everything I wanted? Not quite… Can you say fog?

I started out by taking all the “80s”… 580, 680, 780, 80 to the 37. Not much to report as they are all just freeway. While on the 780, I did cross the Benicia-Martinez Bridge (paid my toll) it was cool but I am not a fan of bridges and heights, so, I just crossed and got on the 80 North. At Vallejo, I got off and hopped on the 37.

SR37 is also referred to as Sears Point Road. After crossing a bridge, (If you ask me, it was more of a “hump” shape instead of being flat.) I am on a two lane road with a cement barrier down the middle. The story is that SR37 was once nicknamed “Blood Alley” due to all the fatal accidents… many of which were “crossover” accidents. Once the barrier was put in place, the number of accidents dropped dramatically.

SR37 meanders through San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. What’s nice about this ride is that despite the traffic, I still felt a sense of solitude. The refuge includes open bay/tidal marsh, mud flats, and managed wetland habitats. This refuge is also home to a number of endangered species. Endangered due to humans; hydraulic mining and salt production; as well as changes for agricultural and industrial purposes such as diking and diversions of water.

I followed the 37 around San Pablo Bay to the 101 South. I stopped a few times to take some photos. And I just generally took my time. I was enjoying the solitude. I was enjoying the colors… yellow-green marsh against the blue sky… white sand “beaches” … it was just nice to be out riding and not be on a major freeway boxed in.

NOTE: If you are going to do this ride… check the Infineon Raceway website for their schedule. If it is raceday, I am guessing the traffic would be a nightmare.

I got on the 101 South and proceeded to Sausalito.

More Photos: http://photographingkp.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/sr-37-san-pablo-national-wildlife-refuge/

 

Big Bear Lake, CA August 14, 2010

After a bit of kvetching on my part about wanting to ride somewhere outside of my county, I came up with a plan to do an overnighter to Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead.   I talked to a few friends to find out if they would be interested and they said yes.  We rented two cabins and I planned our trip. I chose the route we would take as I wanted to take SR38 from Yucaipa to Big Bear… it appeared to be a longer and more scenic route.

The day before leaving, I walked out of my office and my bike wouldn’t start. I called my shop and we guessed it to be a short or a dead battery. I then called a friend for a tow. We dropped the bike at the shop and I waited til morning for an answer. It seemed to take forever… but I suppose that is what happens when you are anxious for news (and for a new battery to charge). I told my riding partners to go without me and that I would catch them… provided it was just a battery issue.

While this was happening, my riding partners were having issues of their own! One of them had a cracked case and was puking oil. Another friend needed a new tire desperately! So, two of the group rode up to Temecula for a tire change. Once I got the word my bike was done, I got on it, met another friend and took off to Temecula. It was about 2:00pm before we finally… really… got on the road.

From Temecula we took the back roads through Winchester to Beaumont and eventually to Yucaipa. We stopped for a quick coffee at a Starbucks before heading up the 38 to Big Bear Lake. SR38 was pretty awesome in that it was curvy, not too busy with traffic, lots of trees and the weather was hot and sunny. Along the way, I noticed there were many hot rod cars on the road… it was very difficult to concentrate on riding when I wanted to rubber neck! We pulled into town and there were even MORE hot rods. Turns out Big Bear has an annual run the second week of August.  I was in heaven! Well, we kept riding through town looking for our hotel and missed it. We had to double back and really search for the turn off.

No wonder we missed the cabins! They were on a side street off the main drag of Big Bear. The cabins were cute.  A little threadbare but cute.

Window @ Chad's Place

Window @ Chad's Place

After we checked in, we went looking for a place for dinner. We decided on the Italian place around the corner.

We will not be going there again.  My pasta was mushy… two bites and I gave up… I sent it back. Then I had to argue that I shouldn’t be charged for something I had two bites of. The highlight of the dinner was the stuffed artichoke. And we all felt kinda queasy the next morning. Not a pleasant experience.

From there we headed down the road to the famous “Chad’s Place”. Biker friendly. Rock n Roll. Multiple bars. Pool tables. Appetizers. (Wish we had eaten here.) The band was really good. We had to giggle though, everytime the band stopped the jukebox came on and it was hip hop, rap and top 40 dance.

We got back to our cabins around 1:30am and fell asleep to the sound of the bars emptying out.

 

Pappy and Harriets, Pioneertown, CA October 26, 2009

So this past weekend, my favorite band ~ The Farmers ~ were playing in Pioneertown, CA.

I called some friends of mine and we rode out ther for the gig. The band played at Pappy & Harriet’s … which … quite frankly is one of the coolest bars I have had the pleasure of hanging out in!

Pappy’s is indoor/outdoor, bike, horse, car and whatever else brung ya friendly. The staff are super fun and the drinks strong. I highly suggest a visit if you are out there.

THE FOOD IS INSANE!

There is a hotel 500 yards from the bar… it is reportedly haunted… my friend got a picture! She stayed in room 3… or you can stay a few miles down the road at Rimrock Ranch … see my previous posts.

You can park your RV for the night.

You can even rent a corral for your horses for the duration of the your stay.  A late nite or early morning ride would be awesome!

 

 

 

Some Links:

Pappy & Harriets:  http://www.pappyandharriets.com/index2.html

Pioneertown Inn:  http://www.pitowninn.com/

Rimrock Ranch:  http://www.rimrockranchcabins.com/

 

Sunrise Highway & Lake Cuyamaca, CA October 18, 2009

Yesterday, I had a great time at Viejas.

Today, I decided to take the longer more scenic way home. We had rented a room in El Cajon. My friend had to leave to go to work, so, I was on my own today.

I got on my bike and rode out to Pine Valley. From there I headed up over the Sunrise Highway to Mt. Laguna. It was a beautiful clear day and just a little chilly. I had my iPod going… listening to whatever came up in the shuffle and just took my time riding up the road.

The elevation was high enough that there were signs on the side of the road with various warnings about snow. Houses were sprinkled along the road and there seemed to be quite a few campgrounds. The little town of Mt. Laguna looked quaint but as I didn’t stop, I don’t have much to report.

The trees were changing color… yellows and reds and oranges. I noticed a turnout with a viewing deck coming up. I pulled into the lot, parked the bike and grabbed my camera. Nice view!! There was a couple on their bikes that I passed whole walking to the viewpoint. They had leathers on… pretty easy to spot and she rode a very red Street Glide. We exchanged the various necessities…. Where are you from? What year is your bike? Are you alone? They left and I had the viewpoint to myself. I took some photos and rode onto Lake Cuyamaca. 

I parked the bike in the Lake Cuyamaca parking lot behind the restaurant and went walking on the dock… sat there for awhile and watched the boats. The lake was very peaceful. There was a family nearby fishing… they caught a fish and the little boy lost his mind he was so excited.

After an hour of hanging out and relaxing, I headed home.

 

Viejas Casino BBQ October 17, 2009

Woke up this morning and what a great day! Beautiful… sunny, warm and beggin for a ride!

But first things first… Ohio State vs Purdue…. 9:00am game… so, I moved to my couch and prepared for college football madness… madness is an understatement… I love my team but REALLY???? losing to Purdue??? Hey Pryor your team wears WHITE!!! Stop throwin to the other guys.  Anyhoo… back to my ride.

Viejas Sign

Viejas Sign

Today out at Viejas Casino is their 5th annual “BBQ off”… think chili cook off only bbq.

Not only that but GREAT bands… Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women, the Texas Tornadoes and Los Lobos… for free… yep… I said for free. And if that weren’t enough great music but The Farmers back over in El Cajon!!!

So, I called a friend and we went in on a hotel room cuz drivin home liqoured up is not such a good idea… especially if on two wheels.

My friend had to work all day, so we planned to meet up at the casino.

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women

 

 

I took off and arrived at the casino ten minutes before Dave Alvin started. Dave Alvin has been around forever… most notably in the band the Blasters with his brother Phil. He’s also participated in one of Country Dick Montana’s best ideas (I think) … the Pleasure Barons with CDick and Mojo Nixon. Let’s not forget his time with X and The Knitters! I haven’t seen him with the Guilty Women but they are AWESOME!!!

I went into the casino after the show and stood in line for the casino membership cards. As I was in line my friend showed up. We signed up for our cards and then went back over to the stage to watch the Texas Tornadoes. They were pretty darn good! I had forgotten some of the songs they sang.

We decided to grab something to eat before Los Lobos, so we went back into the casino. The buffet line was insanely long. We walked around the food court but nothing really jumped out at us. We ended up in the cafe. The food wasn’t bad and our server was hilarious.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Finally. Los Lobos time. We were about five people back from the front of the stage right in front of the sax player. These guys sure know how to keep rockin! They were soooo good! My heart was beating to the bass drum.

We had a great laugh throughout the show. One of the band member’s kids was over in the corner off to the side of the stage. He was having so much fun in his own little world just dancing away and making comical faces.

We took off a bit early to avoid traffic and went to see The Farmers. As usual they freakin rocked! (And yes I still shamelessly love them… check my blog post about them on 6/18/09.) The bar was small, it was packed full of people and Captain Jack Sparrow was there!

Great day and night despite my team’s loss…. tomorrow… Sunrise Highway and Lake Cuyamaca.

 

Some Links:

Viejas BBQ:  http://viejasbbq.com/

Dave Alvin:  http://www.davealvin.net/