blogging kp!

some of my travels with random musings & silliness mixed in

Riding April 30, 2012

Re-read this the other day… it so perfectly describes how I feel about riding my bike…

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you are used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re IN the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.”

~~ Robert M. Pirsig

Advertisements
 

Airports, People, Zombies and the Apocalypse May 21, 2011

Today I am on my way back to the Midwest for my cousin’s funeral. I never would have thought I would be saying this as he was only 20 years old. A complete shocker to me and my family. I admit I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around this and feeling somewhat anxious as I travel back East.

On the way to Concourse C

My anxiety has kept me from sleeping, so, as I sit in the various airports crossing the country, I am people watching… and there is a lot of people watching to be done! Young, old. Big, small. Immense. Slow, fast. Military. Families. Bachelorettes leaving for Las Vegas.

Everyone seems to have headphones on. White ones usually indicate an Apple product. One such set just walked by attached to someone singing to whatever they were listening to. (They probably shouldn’t give up their day job… American Idol contestant they are not.)

As I sit in front of the flat screen tv at my gate, CNN announces that the CDC has released guidelines for how to deal with a zombie epidemic/breakout. Seems I (we) should have food, water and a first aid kit. This seems remarkably over simplistic to me. Shouldn’t we have this already?

**** Newsflash! Today is supposed to be the beginning of the apocalypse. ****

CNN just reported it on the flat screen, so, it must be true…. right? Do you think I will need food, water and a first aid kit? What should be my last meal today? Yikes! Am I only gonna get to eat from an airport food court? This could be my last blog entry!

What an anticlimactic end to my life it would be…. We have an apocalypse and I am sitting in an airport… not riding my motorcycle or hanging out at my local watering hole with my friends…. nor am I camping somewhere among the red rocks of Utah.

I think the Detroit Airport (DTW) has become my favorite of all the ones I have been through. Dallas / Ft. Worth (DFW) used to hold that honor with JFK and London Heathrow as the worst.

DTW water fountain

DTW seems to be new. Shiny. Modern. Right smack in the middle of Concourse A is a water fountain. The fountain is one of those that intermittently but in a series of patterns shoots streams of water up and out of the base of the fountain. Children stand around it fascinated.

I think I will go over to the Harley Davidson boutique. Yep, a Harley store in the airport. It is actually one of two that I am aware of…. Chicago has the other. No bikes for sale, just shirts, jackets, key chains, mugs and any other chotchkies they can squeeze the bar and shield on. (5/26/11… Due to weather… I was rerouted through Minneapolis on my way home… they have a Harley store as well.)

Tunnel between concourses

My favorite feature of DTW is the long hallway between Concourse A and Concourses B/C. It is a tunnel. The walls have the appearance of brushed aluminum. There are moving sidewalks on either side of the tunnel. The best part…. the walls change color! Blue. Green. Pink. Red. The music pumped into the tunnel is surreal new age-y…. I stood there for twenty minutes just watching. Well, two hours of my four hour layover down…. two to go.

RIP Andrew. I will miss you. XO

All pics are from DTW Airport and were taken with a cell phone… if you want to see more… click here… http://wp.me/pyPkl-cf

 

Desert Christ Park, Yucca Valley, CA October 27, 2010

While out researching another ride to Pioneertown, CA, I came across the website for the Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley.

This is a hillside park adjacent to a church with 35+ statues of Biblical figures… some of which recreate events from the Bible. The statuary also shows various apostles and/or others in what appears to be discussions or taking time out to contemplate. There are even 1 or 2 statues in a lying down position… maybe resting or maybe just enjoying the sun on their alabaster skin.

Back in the 50s, this park was created by sculptor Antone Martin as a his statement of peace. From what I could tell, his cement sculptures appear to be placed facing away from the sun… with the exception of Jesus who always seems to face Yucca Valley.

Unfortunately, a 7.3 earthquake back in 1992, did some damage to a number of the sculptures… removing heads and hands. This left rebar sticking out bare almost as if someone took the sculptures’ skin off.

Martin also built a large wall with the Last Supper in bas relief. (You can go behind the wall and place your head in the window next to Jesus… it’s ok… the wall was built for this!)

More of my photos: http://wp.me/pyPkl-9I

 

Pioneertown, CA October 25, 2010

Saloon, Bank and Barbershop

Back in March 2009, one of my great friends was about to celebrate his birthday. I knew this because he sent a party invitation via Facebook asking his friends to join him at the Rim Rock Ranch in Pioneertown (Yucca Valley) for the weekend.  I did some “googling” and read up on Pioneertown and it sounded both fun and like a great ride. So, I told him I would come up on my bike.

Pioneertown is four miles from Yucca Valley which is very close to 29 Palms and north of Palm Springs. I “mapquested” the route. About 120 miles… 2-3 hours. This would be an easy ride and it was somewhere new!

I took the 15 to the 79 to the 10 to the 62 toward 29 Palms. BE CAREFUL on this road (62). The wind is gnarly! I have been on this road many times and sometimes I felt like I was riding sideways! Once on the 62 it is only about 25 miles to Pioneertown Road… turn left and about 5 miles, some Joshua Trees, boulders and rock formations later I pass one of the best honky tonks around…. Pappy and Harriet’s Palace. Another 5 miles and I arrived at the Rim Rock Ranch.

The Wagon Wheel Saloon

There were about ten of us hanging out at the ranch. It was a great place!  I won’t go into the details of the birthday party but we rocked the high desert!

Somehow, I managed to miss Pioneertown itself on that trip. When I look back, I have no idea how this happened! I just rode right on by it. So, when I heard my favorite band The Farmers were playing at Pappy’s, I had to go! Once again, I loaded my bike for camping and met the band at Pappy’s on Saturday. I brought some friends with me this time. They stayed in the Pioneertown Hotel and I pitched my tent out back.

Pioneertown Bowl

Let me tell you about Pioneertown. Pi-Town started as a living motion picture movie set in the old west style. From what I understand it was built in the 1940s sometime. The concept was the actors would live in the set while they were filming. If you have seen Judge Roy Bean, Annie Oakley or The Cisco Kid, you have seen Pioneertown. Roy Rogers, Barbara Billingsley and Gene Autry were a few of the actors you could find on set. Also, to be found is the Pioneertown Bowling Alley. Gene Autry would tape his show there and he rolled the first ball in the late 1940s. Check out the murals!

During the summer months, old west re-enactments take place on Saturday right on Mane Street. Also, behind Pi-Town, there are corrals that can be rented for your horse(s).

(The hotel is under new management and no longer allows tent camping, but the owner of the corrals does. There is a giant fire ring and it has plenty of room by the fence to set up.)

More of my photos: http://wp.me/pyPkl-a6

 

Big and Lone Pine, CA September 11, 2010

In order to celebrate my birthday with the people I love, I decided to hurry up and get home from Mammoth.

Normally, this is an eight (8) hour ride via the 395 and the 15, however, I had to stop in Independence, Big Pine and Lone Pine.

If you follow any of my blogs or know me well enough, I have a “thing” for neon signs… particularly the old motel signs. Since these towns are peppered with old signage, I had to stop and grab my camera. I wandered around a bit, took quite a few photos and had lunch.

I left around 2pm and pulled into my local watering hole for some birthday celebratin’ with my favorite friends around 9pm… yep I hauled ass. After a while, I tumbled into my own bed. Have to say there’s nothing like falling asleep in your own bed after being gone for awhile.

More of my photos: http://wp.me/pyPkl-9m

 

Red Bear… Dead Bear… September 10, 2010

SLOW DOWN!

I couldn't resist a photo of this sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that a traffic offense in a National Park is not a State offense? If you get a ticket in a National Park and do not pay it… a warrant gets issued for you and the FEDERAL MARSHALS will come pick your ass up and take you back to face a judge!!!

Save a bear (or any animal for that matter) and save yourself the embarassment of having to explain that you were picked up by the Marshalls for a speeding ticket.

Don’t ask me how I know.

 

Tioga Pass to Mammoth Lakes, CA

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