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

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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

 

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

 

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/

 

On the road to the Grand Canyon! September 4, 2009

We packed up our lunch leftovers and headed off on the 89. The 89 winds it’s way through

Along the 89

Kanab. The movie The Outlaw Josey Wells was filmed here… part of the set still exists in town. In Kanab we get on the 11 toward Fredonia, Arizona. In Fredonia,  we pick up ALT 89 to Jacob Lake. The drive to Jacob Lake is about 55 miles on a two lane road through the middle of nowhere that also happens to be beautiful!

pulled off for photos

Along the way we stop to take pictures as well as a mini hike. We are, however, in a hurry. The clouds are getting grayer and darker. We can see the rain in the distance. I have my raingear with me but do not relish riding in the rain. I hope we can get to our cabin before we get wet!

Jacob Lake is the gateway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. At Jacob Lake there is an Inn that has been around since 1923… founded by the Bowman family. The inn has a gas station, a small grocery store, restaurant, bakery and gift shop.  We stopped for a little while… gassed up, grabbed some pastries and beer for the cabin. The gift shop is full of great items. The Native American collection of jewelry, weavings, pottery and artwork is pretty amazing. The proprietors are very knowlegeable about their wares and have established relationships with many of the artists… some of the artists are internationally known. The Kaibab Plateau Visitor center is also located in Jacob Lake.

please don't rain, please don't rain...

"mini-hike"

The elevation gain to Jacob Lake (elev 7900 ft) is enough that Sue and I have to stop and put on more warm layers… it’s getting colder… and darker!! The drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim is roughly 45 miles on SR67. I made sure to put my rain gear on the top of my saddlebag in case I need to pull over and put it on. I am glad I did!! We ended up driving through a few showers and a deluge or two.

We left Jacob Lake and started toward the Grand Canyon. The road is two lanes and travels through the Kaibab National Forest. Ponderosa pines and Aspen trees line the road for quite sometime and then open up to a large alpine meadow. Along the way, we notice many large lifted pick up trucks parked on the side of the road. Upon further inspection, I notice people in camouflage walking around. Apparently, it is hunting season. While we were stopped taking in the view, some hunters were parked across the road from us. We chatted across the road with them. I think they liked seeing four women travelling by themselves.

We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park entrance kiosk. After a short wait, we pay and collect the “newspaper” (The Guide) the ranger hands us. The sun is really starting to go down now and it’s getting colder. The road winds it way into the park. We travel through Aspen tree lined ravines and descend gradually through the park, finally ending at the Grand Canyon Lodge.