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Part 1:


Instead of yet another boring summer trek to the races at Laguna Seca, three non-VFR friends joined me for a two week gallivant around California this spring. Dave and Bart on DL650s, Tony on his ZRX1200, and me on my ’09 VTec. First step is a ferry trip to Port Angeles, Wa.


01 - leaving Victoria aboard MV Coho


02 - leaving Victoria aboard MV Coho



Washington & Oregon may have their charms, but to me they just get in the way. Thus, I-5 all the way to California. The previous two days’ cool overcast became light rain and fog at Mt Shasta, with temps barely above freezing for the next 40 miles. Who knew that vented boots let in cold air ;-P Thankfully, my Gerbing electric jacket and heated grips saved the day. That and a great breakfast at JJ’s Cafe in Old Station.

05 - looking at Mt Shasta from I-5


06 - a chilly look east on Hwy 89 at Mt Shasta


The skies cleared on the way to Susanville and on to Reno, and stayed that way till we left California more than a week later.

07 - Sierra theatre in Susanville, Cal


12 - biggest little city


On Day 4 we finally found an entertaining road, Ca 89 over 8,900’ Monitor Pass, which is more open and flowing than many mountain passes. Markleeville, about 5 miles north, is a convenient spot to wet your whistle should you feel the need, then a short riverside run past campers and fly fishers gets you to the junction. From pine forest to sage desert in 18 miles, ending at US 395.


16 - looking south from atop Monitor Pass, Hwy 89, Cal



13 - cousins atop Monitor Pass


15 - the guys take-5 on Monitor Pass


Despite being a major 4-lane highway(at times) US 395 is actually pretty entertaining. Temperatures are moderate even in summer, due to the high elevation. Take 5 at Conway Summit for the fantastic view of Mono Lake and the town of Lee Vining. From there, Tioga Pass leads into Yosemite NP once it opens for the season. Further south, the valley towns of Bridgeport and Bishop, where we overnighted, are both worth a visit.

22 - Conway Summit overlooking Mono Lake & Lee Vining on US 395


20 - courthouse in Bridgeport, Cal


21 - coffee break at Sportsman



More to come…


Edit: forgot one photo - LB

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Nice and clear pictures.

Thanks for share.

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Day-em . . . that white 8 spoke looks uber-sharp on that color scheme! Very nice looking bike. The only place that Aston Martin would look better would be next to your VFR in your garage! Nice pics!

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Lorne,

Nice write up and pics. Looks like a cool tour with a good group.

Ded

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I recognize the Bridgeport town hall. Did you guys stay @ the Bridgeport/Bodie Hotel too?

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Part 2:

Day 5 we took Ca 168 east from Big Pine over Westgard Pass and Gilbert Summit. More fun roads with plenty of scenic vistas - plenty reason to stop and smell the roses. Just watch out for loaded hay trucks at that tight one-lane spot.

25 - Gilbert Pass on Hwy 158, Cal

24 - the Odd Squad on Gilbert Pass, Hwy 168 Cal

26 - Lida Junction - got gas?

Entering from the north-east our first stop in Death Valley was Scotty’s Castle, which is neither Scotty’s nor a castle but is well worth a visit. Take the your if you have time, the rangers do great presentation. This year we just walked about the grounds and shopped for souvenirs. Leaving the visitor centre a park ranger warned us that the ravens love motorcycles. Too late as a couple of the rascals were attacking Bart’s bike. His tailback was unzipped and granola bars and trail mix were strewn about. Some of the chocolate covered bars left a tasty coating on Tony's jacket ;-)

32 - Scotty

31 - Scotty

We took a short side trip to Ubehebe Crater, a half mile across and 750 foot deep volcanic crater.

34 - Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley

Our cabins at Furnace Creek were quaint but serviceable, with ac to keep us cool. Afternoon highs in the low 90’s ℉ were almost pleasant thanks to the light breeze.

43 - date grove Furnace Creek, Death Valley

44 - date grove Furnace Creek, Death Valley

35 - stars at Furnace Creek, Death Valley

The next morning we rode up to Dante’s View, with an amazing view of valley 6,000 feet below. As the road climbed the temp dropped to barely 45 ℉ and a howling wind made it feel even less comfortable. Parking the bikes was tricky as was securing our gear. Proven when a gust caught Tony’s Arai Corsair and over the cliff it flew. He was lucky not to follow it after giving chase. Oops. But that minor mishap didn't prevent a stop at Zabriskie Point on the way back to the cabin.

The internet helped us find a bike shop in Pahrump. I joined Tony (who’d borrowed Bart’s helmet) for the 120 mile round trip where he bought a replacement HJC for <$175. This side trip beat doing laundry.

36 - Dante

37 - mind the sign Tony - Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

39 - Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

Artist's Palette shows its best in the afternoon but that didn't fit our schedule. Badwater is about as low as you can go in America, the salt plain there is nearly 300 foot below sea level. There we met two pairs of fellow tourists. Two young women were from Moscow and the other two from my home town of Victoria. Small world.

47 - Tony shows off his new hat at Artist

49 - Artist

50 - an artiste at Artist

51 - foreign tourists invade Badwater, Death Valley

More to come…

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Thanks for the comments, guys.

I recognize the Bridgeport town hall. Did you guys stay @ the Bridgeport/Bodie Hotel too?

If you mean the white Bridgeport Inn motel - not this year but we stayed there in 2011. Great place, reasonable rates (for Bridgeport), and it has a terrific restaurant. This year we stayed at a humdrum motel in Bishop.

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Part 3:

Shoshone is a tiny crossroads with fuel and a tasty breakfast at the Crowbar Cafe. Some find the dry, dusty, sagebrush-ridden terrain boring. But it is so different to where I live that I find it fascinating, even for hours in the saddle. Riding past Dumont Dunes I started imagining a V4 powered off roader. Perhaps the heat was taking its toll.

52 - Crowbar Cafe, Shoshone, Cal

Overnighting in Victorville gave us a fresh early start for CA 2 - Angeles Crest highway. But first, a great breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe in Wrightwood. I know I’m preaching to the choir but Angeles Crest is one of the best roads anywhere. Especially so with clean pavement and the brilliant wx on this day. Granted it was a Friday but there was almost no other traffic. Fabulous.

53 - Evergreen Cafe, Wrightwood, Cal

54 - photo break on Angeles Crest Highway

The short ride enabled a tour of the Nethercutt Museum and Collection, just a short walk from our motel in Sylmar. They have an amazing display of cars and mechanical musical instruments, as well as a Royal Hudson steam locomotive. And there is no charge for admission. Highly recommended.

Next morning a quick run down the 405, then Sunset Blvd got us to Ca 1, the Pacific Coast highway at Santa Monica. A quick stop for photos at Will Rogers State Beach then we were on the hunt for a coffee shop. Didn’t see anything even at Malibu so we gave up and headed for the hills. A short detour up Latigo Canyon & Mulholland Hwy before returning to the PCH. We stuck with Ca 1 past Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Oceano en route to Morro Bay. Near Lompoc we encountered a roadside fire. Luckily for us it was on the southbound side, but seeing all the trucks and personnel made it clear that they take these things very seriously in California. A WWII-era twin-engined water bomber put on an impromptu airshow with an amazingly steep dive before releasing it’s load. Being a busy weekend and with us booking on short notice a Motel 6 in Morro Bay was our only option - ugh.

56 - lifeguard hut at Will Rogers State Beach, near Santa Monica, Cal

60 - evening twilight at Morro Bay, Cal - no vampires

The ride to Monterey next morning was fantastic. Usually I’m in California for the Moto GP or WSBK and the summertime marine layer means overcast skies. Today the brilliant sunshine encouraged plenty of photo stops along the way to breakfast at Ripplewood Resort in Big Sur. Plenty time for one last photo op at Bixby Bridge.

61 - Elephant seals near Piedras Blancas, Cal

62 - Point Sierra Nevada, Cal

63 - along PCH

64 - Cape San Martin, Cal

65 - near Lucia on the PCH

66 - Ripplewood Resort at Big Sur

67 - Bixby Bridge on the  PCH

More to come…

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Part 4:

Our motel in Pacific Grove is perhaps a mile walk along the oceanside from Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Fabulous place, do take time to visit if you are ever nearby.

69 - Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cal

Great weather again the next morning as we headed north. A few miles of lane-splitting into Santa Cruz, then it seemed we were the only vehicles on the road. By Pacifica we were more than ready for breakfast.

San Francisco is my favourite big city to transit. Barely 10 miles along 19th Avenue and you’ve reached the Golden Gate bridge. Compared to getting through Seattle or Portland it is a doodle. On such a beautiful day we just had to stop at the viewpoint at the north side of Golden Gate. Plenty other folk felt the same way and we met people from Mumbai, Paris, and Vancouver, and all were in good spirits.

70 - Bart, Tony, Dave at Golden Gate Bridge

From Petaluma we cut back out to the coast near Bodega Bay, with gusty winds dogged there and for the rest of the day.

71 - Bodega Bay, Cal

72 - Bodega Bay, Cal

A switchback north of Jenner offers a beautiful view of the coast. At Gualala, the very unfriendly gas station clerk must be the soup Nazi’s sister. The gal tending at nearby Bones Rodehouse was much friendlier. Fort Bragg seemed as good a place as any to call it a day.

73 - switchback on the PCH north of Jenner, Cal

PCH from the coast till it rejoins US 101 is 22 very twisty miles. Be warned, it is a working road and it isn’t uncommon to meet loaded logging trucks on the most insanely tight corners. Btw, sunglasses and dark shields are a bad idea even mid-summer in this dark forest. The Woodrose Cafe in Garberville is a great little place. Here, Bart decided to split off, wanting more sightseeing and less saddle-time. Just up the highway is the Avenue of the Giants. A slower pace but you are in a most magical place with some of the biggest trees in the world only meters away as you ride.

74 - False Klamath Cove, Cal

At Crescent City we turned inland for the final time, leaving California for Oregon. I much prefer Ca 96 from Eureka to Yreka, but it didn’t fit this trip. Coffee at Grants Pass before a final hour up I-5 to Roseburg for the night.

Next morning, Tony headed straight up the freeway for home while Dave and I took Ore 138 east past Crater Lake NP. It was chilly leaving Roseburg, dropping to under 40 ℉ in the forest along the North Umpqua river and even colder on the climb to the 6,000’ summit - to below freezing - brrr! No frost at the roadside and the pavement stayed dry, whew.

Madras was the next stop, fuel and coffee, before continuing up US 97 to Yakima, Wash. This part of the country is rolling prairie and the gentle curves and grades made a counterpoint to some of the frantic twisties in California.

75 - windmills near Wasco, Ore with Mt Adams in the background

Our weather luck finally ran out as the forecast called for afternoon rain. So we called it quits a day early and rode over a chilly Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle, then across the border to Tsawwassen and the ferry back to Victoria. That it for this year.

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Guest Recalcitrance

Thanks for adding to the increasing activity in California while in the face of the absence of the GP in Laguna. Seems like many riders are taking time to explore CA in place of attending the race. We might have lost one event but it appears we've gained several in its place. :smile2:

Great write up and fantastic photos! Thanks for sharing. :fing02:

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Great ride report and pics. I'm so looking forward to going through many of those places this summer on my ride, especially Death Valley. The Death Valley pics are really cool and it looks very scenic with a lot of variation in altitude. I agree that being from Canada and the prairies, that riding through the desert is an enjoyable experience and quite unique. Thanks for sharing!

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Excellent pics and really enjoyed the write-up. Glad you guys had great weather and good riding here in the golden state!

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Really enjoyed that ride report. Great inspiration. Looks like we may make this part of our 3rd annual 3 week summer pilgrimage. We'll ship bikes to Calgary this time and then head into BC and down the coast across the border and then hit up some of these spots. When done we"ll make a diagonal across the the US and back up to Toronto.

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Lost a Arai helmet, WOW . Anyway, great report and awesome pic's ..

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Wow, what a great trip.. Thanks for posting it.

I hope to motivate to a lot of those destinations, hopefully next spring...

Cheers!

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Really nice trip! Would love to do this someday.

It is so far removed from the flat plains of Illinois.

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Nice report and great pics. Thank you very much.

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A couple of calendar shots in there for sure. Nice work.

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Superb report. California does have many options for both fantastic roads and scenery.

What camera were you using?

Did I miss the temps in Death Valley? I have ridden there in March for the last two years but on a KLR.

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Thanks.

I used a Nikon Df and a Nikon V1 for stills. I also shot several on-bike videos using a POV.HD camera - think GoPro.

In Death Valley temperatures ranged from low 60's to low 90's ℉ (17-34 ℃). Up at Dantes View around 8 am it was about 45 ℉ (6 ℃) and very windy. The low humidity and light breeze at Furnace Creek Ranch kept the afternoons pleasant.

Superb report. California does have many options for both fantastic roads and scenery.

What camera were you using?

Did I miss the temps in Death Valley? I have ridden there in March for the last two years but on a KLR.

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Exelent ride report! Nice pics, and seem you had a great time!

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Enjoyed hearing about your trip and enjoyed the pics. So many places to see, in CA. Whens your next trip? We are getting ready for our ride up your way, one week to go!!

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very nice report, and awesome pictures thx for sharing

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Amazing photos! All VFRs are beautiful, but those white & black VFRs are simply unreal... my heart still skips a beat every time I look at mine.

I really like the rear wheel! Which one is it? I'm fine with the stock looks, and there are many other upgrades I would buy first, but still I'm curious. It does look even better than a stock VFR.

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