Grant Pass to Crater Lake

Back to where it all started!!

June 5th, 2015 – Day 7

Judo chop – Huaiyah!! 

Elk Prairie Campground was the first place on the trip we stayed with decent shower facilities and the time to take advantage.  Smell ya later!  It was nice to freshen up after 6 days of baby wipe bathing.

While we waited for Radio to finish packing up, I did a little campsite Yoga, then Michael and I discussed the finer points of Escrima and Kali.

Packed up and ready to go, we made our plans to stop for fuel and then head towards Crater Lake up through Grant Pass.  Michael’s parents lived in a town near where we were passing by so we also made plans to have lunch with them on the way east.

An unscheduled break in the action!

While stopping for fuel, the FZ1 and I discussed the folly of charging batteries while the bike was not running.  That’s why God invented jumper cables!  (OK, it wasn’t God but whoever it was, at this moment, was definitely my savior)

I’m just glad my bike and I had this conversation at a gas station and not in the middle of nowhere Montana later in the trip.  Once I got it rolling again I repacked up the bike and headed out to catch up with the rest of gang.

199 up to Grant Pass was a nice drive.  It wasn’t as fun as some of the coastal drives, a theme that continued for the rest of the trip once we left California, but there is something about cruising through Redwood groves that’s otherworldly.  Maybe that’s why George Lucas designated this area as the forest of Endor, home to the Ewoks, in Return of the Jedi.

I have driven a motorcycle through the forest of  Endor!… booyah, bitches!!!!

Welcome to Oregon?

It wasn’t long after we left California and entered into Oregon that we discovered some Oregonians aren’t as “biker friendly”.  Radio and I pulled up to the front of the line at several lights as we are accustomed to doing, a generally accepted behavior in California.  However, at the 3rd light which we did this, a gentleman in a Ford Bronco took exception and tried to jump the light and get around us.  I honestly wasn’t sure what was going on at first but, as much fun as his son in the passenger seat was having “racing the bikes”, it became apparent the driver had another agenda when he pulled up at the next light.  While videoing us with his cell phone and driving,  he proceeded to inform us that “you’re no longer in California” and “that’s illegal in Oregon”.  Ironically, we had already passed several police officers since crossing the border.  Honestly though, he was the only person on the trip that seemed annoyed by the behavior.  Being so close to the border of Oregon and California, I guess he felt compelled to remind us which state we were in and so I thanked him kindly as he drove off.

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The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful as we made our way to meet the Thompson family.  Mom, Dad and Uncle Thompson had plenty of embarrassing stories to share regarding Michael and his brother at lunch.  You can learn a lot about a person from spending a day with family.  Good peeps.

 After lunch, I wanted to cruise through the town home to the Oregon Shakespeare festival, so Radio and I took a small detour on our way up to Crater Lake.  Ashland is a cool little town nestled in the foothills of Oregon.  I was happy to at least get a chance to give it a look-see but hopefully at some point I’ll get a chance to return and catch a show.

A quick drive by tour of Ashland and we were off to the campgrounds at Crater Lake.  I was really looking forward to the next days photo-op at the top of the mountain.  With an island called “Wizards Island“, how could it not be a magical place?  This was the only reason I was willing to take a detour from the coast.  It’s a beautiful drive up the mountain and we arrived in plenty of time to pick-up some firewood and get settled into camp.

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This spot had electric… YAY!!  Time to go to work.

Unfortunately the slower than anticipated transfer rate made for a later than expected work night.

Day 7 Route 

Up Next… 

The Magnificent Crater Lake, an impromptu musical interlude and we return to the Oregon Coast.

Day 8 Route

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Elk Prairie, Fern Canyon and a super secret beach!

Back to where it all started!!

June 4th, 2015 – Day 6

Raise Good People…

After 6 straight days of packing and riding, it was nice to wake up and know we could leave the tents and explore the area.  We started the day rather lazily… but after an uneventful breakfast with the chipmunks, we decided to go for a hike through the campground.

On our way out we met a local couple, Erik and Lisa, and their little one, Emery.  They were kind enough to give us a quick interview and some suggestions on what to do for the day in this part of the Redwoods, namely visit Elk Prairie and take the road out to Fern Canyon.

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Her bucket list item… visit Italy and see if she can locate relatives that still live there.  His bucket list item… Do good work and raise good people.

Radio’s Redwood Comedy Hour…

After a brilliant conversation, we continued on our short hike.  The campground had a nice amphitheater set-up in the middle of the woods.  So after rescuing a white snail (not a slug because slugs do not have shells), Radio honored us with a short comedy routine.

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Do or do not… there is no Tri-pod

We snagged a couple of logs for our fire later and then walked back to our campsite to saddle up for the trip to Fern Canyon.  This was the point at which I realized I had left my tripod somewhere along the hike.  So, back into the woods we went… after we backtracked and searched for it for 30 minutes or so, I was convinced it was gone forever.  Disappointed and frustrated with myself, we left a few messages with the different lost and found outposts and  geared up.

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Then, just as we were exiting the campground, a white ranger vehicle zoomed out in front of me, cutting me off.  As the ranger stepped out of her vehicle to approach, a black SUV pulled up next to me on the shoulder.  The driver of the black SUV rolled down his window and an elderly gentleman looked up at me… “Is this your tripod?”

It was!  Crises averted thanks to the amazing folks at Elk Prairie Campground.  Probably the most dramatic return of a lost and found item the county has ever witnessed.  Spectacular fun.

  Shortly thereafter I was extremely grateful for the return of my tripod.  When we turned down Davison road, there was a herd of elk grazing in the meadow.  They were a bit far away so the tripod was essential in allowing me to get some steady shots with the zoom fully extended.

After we got our fill of filming the elegant Elk family, we drove the rest of the way down Davison road towards Fern Canyon.  That’s when we encountered our second surprise of the day.  The pavement ended about 8 miles from the actual parking lot to the canyon and it was a loose gravel road up and over a cliff to get the rest of the way.   There wasn’t enough room for both myself and Radio to climb into the back seat of the Prius with the gear, so after a  quick scout of the road ahead, I agreed to ride the FZ1 in and the Prius would follow.

We had to do a couple of stream crossings to get there  but it was worth it.  Fern Canyon is a beautiful place with plenty of things to climb and paths to hike.

I may have said something inappropriate when chasing Radio in the woods…  Humorous… but inappropriate.

After our quick introduction to Fern Canyon, we checked out the beach and Radio checked out the young lady at the Ranger station.  Sorry, closed set.

Lunch, Pie and a Super Secret Beach!

Safely back on paved roads we headed into Orick for lunch at the Palm Cafe and Hotel.  Why did we choose the Palm Cafe?  They have homemade pie!

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While we were eating our waitress suggested we take the first road south of the restaurant all the way to the coast.  There we would find the super secret beach.  “How are the Roads?” – “Roads are paved all the way there.” Never one to pass up suggestions from a local, we finished our pie and struck out on another adventure.

She was mostly right.  After a missed turn and a visit with some aggressive puppies on the top of a hill, we discovered the beat up dirt road that led through a horse pasture to the super secret beach.  The Prius had to take it pretty slow because of the depth of the potholes.

Nobody swings a big stick around quite like Michael. (copy)  But we all tried.

The rest of the guys headed back to the campsite but I chose to hang out a little longer and take a few photos.

Horsies!!!

This was actually a cool place to visit.  There was plenty of wildlife along the road and at the beach: Quail, Fox, Eagles, Osprey, Rabbits, Falcons and Barn Owls to name a few.  You really did feel like you were away from it all.  There was a sense of peace here.

On the way back I spotted a beautiful Elk bull across the road from the campground.

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Once back at the campground, we settled in for the night.  Ate a good meal over the campfire and recapped the last couple of days.  There wasn’t enough time to see everything at all the spots we were visiting but we were getting a great glimpse of all these wonderful places.  A preview for the next time.

Day 6 Route

Up Next…

Grant Pass, A slight delay in battery power, lunch with the Thompson family and much more on the way to the majestic Crater Lake.

Day 7 Route

Coastal winds, an Avenue of Giants and a little Separation Anxiety

Back to where it all started!!

June 3rd, 2015 – Day 5

Earth, wind and fired…

The sun was shining when I got up the next morning but the wind hadn’t died down a bit.  Bodega bay is a beautiful place to camp but I wouldn’t call it beach weather on this day.

Once packed up, we stopped for a quick fill-up and hit the road.  The roads along the coast heading north from Bodega Bay are fantastic on a motorcycle.  While the misty, windy conditions were an annoyance, the coastal winds were also an advantage to the enjoyment of the ride.  Yes, it created chilly conditions along the coast but it also provided rare opportunities for catching glimpses of birds of prey.  I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to birds of prey and seeing Hawks, Eagles, Vultures and Condors just hanging in the wind along the cliffs, sometimes as close as 15 feet from the road at eye level, was a special treat for me.

There was a significant difference between the coastal temperature and as little as 1000 feet inland.  The occasional dip away from the coast provided a welcomed break from the heavy winds and light rain.

Lunch Time!!

A couple of hours into the drive, we stopped at  Westport Union Landing for a lunch break.  Having surged ahead of the Michael and Yivaan we were afforded an opportunity to take a little nap and warm up lizard style on the side of the road.

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After harnessing the power of the sundogs, Radio transformed himself into Assassin Creed .

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This would be a great place to picnic when it’s not so windy.  Our view from the picnic tables.

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Successfully nourished with grapes, crackers, cheese and turkey sandwiches, we continued to cruised on up the coast.  Given our propensity for getting separated and the knowledge that I wanted to get some very specific footage of us riding through the Redwoods, we made a plan to meet at the southern most exit to the Avenue of the Giants.  Whoever arrived there first would wait for others… and off we went.

On our way to the Avenue of the Giants, I noticed a sign for the Chandelier Tree.  A very famous tree in Legget, Ca that is over 2,400 years old and you can drive a truck through.  Radio and I took the detour to the Chandelier Tree and attempted to send Michael a text to let the others know we would be stopping. (spoiler alert…remember how crappy my cell service was, T-Mobile fail!)

While it’s definitely a tourist trap, it’s worth stopping in for a spell.

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Once we finished driving through and climbing on trees, Radio and I headed up to our planned meeting spot.

We stopped at this awesome little gas station and general store on the way out.  Cash only!  A lightening storm took out their credit card machine and they just haven’t replaced it yet.  Fully analog pumping system built in the 60’s,  haven’t seen one of these in years!

Puppies!!!

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Separation Anxiety

Loaded with fuel and puppy love, we headed to our rendezvous.  Unfortunately when we arrived, there was no Prius in sight.  This was the one moment in the trip were I was generally upset.  I had some specific shots I was really hoping to get along this section of the road.   Texts on my phone indicated that Michael and Yivaan had arrived before us (while were at the drive through tree where my cell service was non-existent) and decided to head up the road a little farther.

After an hour and a half of trying to find out where Michael and Yivaan had gone, we finally discovered they had stopped in a local place up the road a little further for a quick bite and then continued on ahead of us. Trying not to let my emotions get the best of me, I rigged up my bike so I could at least get some shots of Radio cruising the Avenue of the Giants, and tried not to let my frustration ruin the beauty of the road.

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The road isn’t as spectacular as I had imagined but it still had it’s moments worthy of exploring.Follow Cam-1

After cruising through the Giants, we hopped back on the freeway and headed for Elk Prairie Campground in Redwood National Park.  We were running a couple of hours behind Michael and Yivaan so we made arrangements for them to pick up a few things and hoped to make it to the campsite before sundown.

Mission almost accomplished… we made it safe and sound but once again we were setting up camp in the dark.  Looking on the bright side: A) – if we were setting up in the dark it meant we had a full and exciting day of riding and B) – I had arranged for us to stay in the Redwoods for 2 nights. So tomorrow, we could relax and explore the area.

Day 5 Route

Up next…

Elk Prairie, the dicey road to Fern Canyon, a super secret beach and so much more!

Day 6

Simply the Best!

Back to where it all started!

June 2nd, 2015 – Day 4

Gigabytes in places…

This morning was a morning of discoveries.  On one note, we discovered the raccoons had returned in the night and torn open the trail mix.  Sad face…

Damn you and your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

But,  on a more positive note, several things that had seemingly been misplaced throughout the first couple days, began to emerge from places. My cable for the converter I thought I had left behind and a couple of 64 gigabyte cards for the cameras were among them. Yay!

We snagged a quick breakfast, packed up our gear and headed up to Alice’s Restaurant.

The coastline was cool and overcast but Alice’s Restaurant is a fantastic spot nestled among Redwoods at a popular crossroads roads south of San Francisco.  Both Skyline Blvd and highway 84 are fantastic rides in.  The section of 84 west of Skyline Blvd is especially fun.

Because of it’s location, about 30 minutes from the coast, and it’s elevation above the fog line, it’s almost always sunny and warmer at Alice’s. Even on a Tuesday afternoon there were a fair amount of people, including this group out for an afternoon cruise.

On the weekends, this place is hoppin’.

We found a spot to sit, eat and upload footage and were shortly joined by Radio’s friend Ella.  The company was great and the food was really good.

We asked her if she had anything on her bucket-list and her eyes lit up.  “Skydiving!”  She was in the process of trying to make plans to do her first jump that summer.

Update:  Mission Accomplished!!

Ella went on her first jump a couple of months later.

Ella Skydiving

She had also never ridden a motorcycle, so Radio was more than happy to oblige her when she asked if she could sit on his.  Her reaction when she first started the bike was priceless.

And I quote… “Ooh, I like this.”

Loaded up, we said our goodbyes and headed up the coast to San Francisco.  San Francisco is a cool town.  In a lot of ways it’s a lot like Los Angeles.  Between the food, the nightlife and the roads on the outskirts of town, you can have a lot of fun here…  but in the city, the traffic sucks!

Once we met back up with Michael and Yivan near the Golden Gate Bridge, we headed downtown to  La Taqueria.  Another FZ1OA member, Desmo, had recommended we don’t pass through San Francisco without getting the “Best burrito in America.”  Michael’s not a fan of Mexican food and leaving his camera gear in the car downtown made him uneasy so he and Yivan split off to do a little grocery shopping and start heading north. Traffic at rush hour was so bad Radio and I almost skipped it.

Boy am I glad we didn’t!  It really was the very best burrito I have ever had in my life.

 After I finished the first one, I went back and purchased one for the road.

We also made two other discoveries – 1)  It is possible to repack Radios tent neatly into the provided packaging as we noted from a girl who walked in with the same tent… and 2) my data on my phone had been mysteriously turned off which is why my Navigation wasn’t working.  Fixing it made me happy.

So Long SoCal!  

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge!

Ok, there are some fantastic roads in southern California; Angeles Crest, Bouquet Canyon, Ortega HWY, the Big Bear loop, Mullholland Dr, Decker Canyon, just to name a few… but San Francisco followed up the best burrito I’d ever had in my life with the best motorcycle road I’ve ever ridden in my life.  There is a section of PCH just north of the Golden Gate Bridge that is amazeballs!  (I know that’s not a real word but I don’t care) It’s smooth, it’s tight, it’s rhythmic; it’s as dangerous as it is beautiful and I love it(copy).  Even loaded down with camping gear I couldn’t help but twist the throttle and lean, baby, lean!

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Best Motorcycle Road on the West Coast!

Best Loop ever

I prefer this loop counterclockwise because of the way the road bends and climbs but regardless it’s an incredible section of road.  Better than Rossi’s driveway? Yep!

Just as we approached Stinson Beach we pulled up behind a curiously familiar Prius with someone hanging out the window with a camera… Then we blew past them and continued carving up the coastline.  Yivan decided right then and there he was going to have to come back to this section of the road with  car that’s a little more “fun”.

We arrived in Bodega Bay shortly after sunset.  The wind was howling at the campsite but we were able to find an open site  with enough tree coverage to put up the tents.  Tents pitched, I went in search of wood (Copy).

I found some!

It can be a little tricky carrying firewood on a motorcycle.

Steak and marshmallows by the campsite… *sigh… another great day.

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Once the fire died down a little bit we had a visit from this little guy.

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He wasn’t shy, which made us a little nervous, but he was much nicer than the raccoons.

Day 4 Route

Up Next…

Coastal winds, an avenue of giants and a bit of separation anxiety.

Day 5

Big Sur and The Great Battle of China Rock!

Back to where it all started!

Monday – June 1st, 2015 – Day 3

I arose shortly after the sun, decided to do some more Campsite Yoga…

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Took a few pictures before the others woke and conversed with this little guy….

He didn’t say much and was a little jittery, but he was a good listener.

It really was a fantastic little campsite.  I had originally wanted to get up and attend the sunrise prayer session at the New Camaldoli Hermitage, but our later-than-planned evening resulted in a later-than-planned start. (starting to see a pattern developing)

As the others began to rise, we were greeted by a new friend…

PUPPY!!!!

Lucy was camping a few campsites up the river from us with her owners.  We had met them briefly the night before but since she had wandered into our camp I figured I’d take her back and say howdy to our neighbors.

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It turns out they were on an opposite (of sorts) road trip themselves.  He was on leave from the Navy and they were traveling south from Redwoods National Park with a final destination of the Grand Canyon.  When we asked him to talk about about his bucket list he motion to this…

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They invited us to join them on a hike to the park’s namesake, one of two Limekilns, but we were already running a later than planned so we politely declined and started packing up for the road.

While packing, another of our neighbors whom we had spoken with briefly the night before stopped by. Ironically, he was a former independent TV documentary producer and camped in the site next to us.  He had gone through some troubling times in his personal life and was on the upswing of what he called a rebirth, taking a couple years off from the production world and working on oil rigs off the coast.

To quote, “simplicity has become a most valuable thing.”

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I filtered water for the road ahead while  Radio rescued a tomato peel from the raging river(possibly a slight exaggeration) and rode a wild propane tank.

Parkour!!!

Packed up and ready to go, we headed north on PCH along the spectacular Big Sur coastline.

Bridges and tunnels are cool… just sayin’

While it had been overcast and a bit gloomy on the way in the previous day, we were greeted with beautiful blue skies and gorgeous views this day.  This truly is my favorite scenic route along the coast.
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We would have liked less traffic, but we could not have asked for better weather.  I didn’t mind the traffic that much though because this is a road for cruising, with the occasional canyon carving, and I knew we’d get to seriously crank the throttle in the next couple days.

This guy almost got schmucked by both myself and Radio, coming around a corner in full lean.  It’s a much tighter corner than it looks in the image.

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We meandered along the coast, passing when we could (not necessarily when we should) and enjoying the view and beautiful weather for a solid 2 hours before finally leaving Big Sur and entering into the quaint town of Carmel by the Sea.  Carmel by the Sea is a small town just south of Monterey Bay, full of uniquely crafted homes.  Some of the homes feel like they’ve been plucked from the English country side or straight out of a Tolkien book.  Several of the houses even have trees growing through them.

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Figuring the Prius was still a ways behind us, Radio and I took a short detour through Carmel by the Sea and up the backside of 17 Mile Drive before heading into the campsite…

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..and as usual, they beat us there.  (another pattern seems to be forming)

With the shorter drive done for the day by 2pm, we set up camp, piled into the Prius and set our sights on lunch and a cruise through Monterey’s famous 17 Mile Drive; home to The Lone Cypress, Seal Point, Bird Rock, Pescadero Point, China Rock, The Ghost Tree, Point Joe and world renown golf courses Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill.

The need for food took priority so we stopped for some Chinese.  Unfortunately, the kitchen hadn’t open yet for dinner but the hostess at The Great Wall was kind enough to seat us early and bring us some appetizers while we waited the 15 minutes or so for the kitchen to get ready.  This was where I learned that Michael can eat!  The dude puts down food like a half starved lion at an antelope convention.  Let’s just say there would be no wasted food on this trip.  Which was good because I couldn’t fit the fridge on my bike.

Faces stuffed, we rolled ourselves back to the car and cruised on over to 17 mile drive. First stop, China Rock, named in honor of the Chinese immigrant fishermen who settled nearby in small fishing villages.  We climbed, jumped, scurried, Radio was almost swept up by the current, and generally enjoyed the view.

Suddenly, a fierce battle erupted along the rocky shores! 

Radio, harnessing the power of the sun attacks with ferocious intent almost sending me to my doom!

Fortunately, I was able bargain for my life with promises of adventure and free food.

Crises averted and sunset still a couple hours away, we proceeded along 17 Mile Drive, stopping to check out The Lone Cypress and Pebble Beach before planning to head back to China Rock for sunset photo ops.

We really wanted to climb the Lone Cypress but we figured it was a little early in the trip to get arrested.

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I think I was the only one really interested in seeing Pebble Beach Links but it’s such a beautiful golf course with so much rich history that I dragged the others along.  One of my bucket list items is to be able to pay for a golfing weekend to bring myself and my brothers out to play this magnificent course.

Hey Spielberg!   I got a couple of scripts I think you might be interested in!  Get ‘er done.

Sunset approaching, we cruised on back down to China Rock and setup the cameras.

 That’s when I noticed this –

Oops… Maybe it’s not too early to get arrested.

But it was worth it.  China Rock is a great spot to shoot the sunset.

Especially if you are brave enough (or stupid enough) to risk it all!  (possibly another slight exaggeration)

Things started getting weird when the full moon appeared.  (By things I mean Radio)  The Hunted:  Road Trip Edition

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Image enhanced for dramatic effect.  Radio’s isn’t actually black and white… he’s just black.

After we calmed Radio down,  we packed up the gear and made our way back to the campsite.  If you like to camp, I highly recommend visiting Monterrey Bay and camping at Veteran’s Memorial Park.  It’s centrally located and close enough you can walk into to town, but you feel like your camped away from it all.  The only word of caution is to be aware of the raccoons in the northwestern section of the park.  They are quite bold and when they fight they sound like alien sabretooth cats with a bad meth habit.

Seriously, my wife and I camped here on our 6th anniversary and we’re no strangers to deep woods camping.  It can be a little unsettling.  I think they might be genetically mutated beasts from another realm. (possibly yet another slight exaggeration)

To our dismay, fires were banned in the park due to the current drought so after a show of force against the genetically mutated beasts from another realm, we settled in a little earlier than the previous night.   Or, at least we tried to.  Some trail mix was left out next to an unnamed compatriots tent and it wasn’t long before the raccoons returned.  With shoe in hand I was forced to re-establish myself as the dominant species, driving the unholy beasts deep into the woods one final time before finally falling asleep.  Apparently shoes are the great equalizer for Hawaiian roosters and Monterrey raccoons…  Those of you that have camped on Kauai know exactly what I mean.

(No raccoons were fatally harmed in the making of this blog)

Tune in for next weeks episode to determine if my shoe-wielding display of power was enough to save us from the conniving, genetically mutated beasts from another realm…

Day 3 Route

Up Next…

Alice’s, Hot Chicks, Hot Cars, San Francisco and the best burrito I’ve ever had!

Day 4

 

 

Uncle Jesse, Randy and “The Rock”

Back to where it all started!

 

Sunday May 31st, 2015 – Day 2

I was awoken bright and early by natures alarm clock.  AKA Noisy crows in a tree above my tent.  But that’s ok, I was looking forward to the day ahead.   Late night, early morning 300 miles on a Motorcycle, what could go wrong?  🙂   My traveling companions were a bit better at sleeping in than I was so I grabbed a camera, talked to myself, went for a short walk around the park and took a few photos.

To my surprise I discovered Lake Casitas recreational area had a disc golf course very near to our campsite.  I met two gentleman who were avid players on my walk.  They were quite the characters, long grey hair pulled back into a ponytail and weathered faces you would expect to find on an old ranch hand from the 1800’s.  Think Kris Kristofferson in “Blade” but with a leather satchel full of Discs and picker instead of shotgun and sword.  Ironically I chatted with them just before I came up on hole 4 and “Uncle Jesse”.

Lake Casitas was probably one of the largest campsites I’ve ever camped at.

About an hour later, the rest of the gang began to emerge from their tents.

Time for campsite Yoga!

Amurica!

Randy has arrived!

Randy is part of a group of riders that I’ve met through the ownership of an FZ1 on the FZ1OA forum.  Great group of people that on more than a few occasions have open their homes or come to the aid of riders on long road trips.

Randy had a few suggestions for some local roads that would enhance our riding experience.

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Before we could set off, however, I had to show Radio how a seasoned camper efficiently packs up his tent.  As you can tell by the photo he was both impressed and grateful.

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Once everything was packed up, we made a sad attempt to play some disc golf with plastic plates…

…climbed some of the local landscape…

“Parkour!”

…and took a couple photos for posterity.

If you look closely in the background you’ll notice the lake levels are pretty low.

Time to hit the road!  

We had 2 choices for a morning fuel stop which Radio desperately needed; backtrack a few miles to fill up or head out toward our next destination and hope Radio had enough fuel to make it to the next gas station.   We chose to hope for the best, after all, Randy said it was mostly downhill.

20 miles later…  Let’s just say we were glad Randy was right. Not sure we would’ve made it if it was uphill.

Our original plan was to take HWY 150 to PCH and head north through Santa Barbara to pick-up scenic route 154 but Randy suggested an alternate that would avoid the Santa Barbara traffic and be a more enjoyable local route.  In my experience, when a local rider suggests a route, you take it.  So we did… and he was right.  The twisty jaunt along 192 may have added a few minutes to the ride but it was worth it.

We followed 192 to Scenic Route 154 up through Los Padres National Forest and Lake Cachuma.   Lake Cachuma is another one of the many SoCal lakes that has been heavily effected by the drought.

Lake Cachuma Drought

If you happen to take this route, I suggest you give yourself a little extra time to swing through Solvang.  It’s a neat little German town in California.  We didn’t leave ourselves enough time but I’ve been there on a previous trip and it’s worth a look.

Yes, this is California…

Solvang

We got off to a slightly later start than planned, so Randy ducked out when we arrived in Santa Maria.  I was glad we were able to get one last ride in together before I left the west coast.   Before he left, he was kind enough to guide us to a Target so I could pick-up a power converter.  I had packed one, but I couldn’t find the power cord that morning and feared I’d left it behind.  Charging batteries on the road would be troublesome without it.

After a quick snack, we hit the road again on our way to Morro Bay, home to the famous Morro Rock.  By the time we got to Morro Bay we were pretty hungry so we decided to stop for lunch before heading to the rock.   After we discovered our first choice for lunch had moved and was under construction, we found a nice little pizza shop just outside of town.

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The food and the people at Surfside Pizza were delightful.  Stop by if you happen to be in the neighborhood, you won’t be disappointed.

Off to “The Rock!”

Morro Rock is another one of those must stop sights along the California coast.  You can take as little or as much time to enjoy the geological wonder and the area is considered a great weekend destination.  We spent about an hour here climbing and posing while people looked on in either amazement… or confusion.  I’m still not sure which.

With our “photo shoot” behind us we once again took to the coastline.  Unfortunately, I also discovered that my leather motorcycle jacket’s zipper no longer worked.

Cruising up the beautiful coastline to the southern section of Big Sur.

Big Sur is my favorite scenic section of the California Coastline.  I was really looking forward to tomorrow’s cruise along the coast.

Radio and I rolled into Big Sur and Limekiln State Park before dark and set-up camp while Michael and Yivan headed up to the New Camaldoli Hermitage to shoot the sunset.

Limekiln State Park was probably one of my favorite camping spots along the trip.  I would definitely recommend it.

The people running the camp were nice, we had some great conversations with a few of the other campers and there was some great little hikes in the area.  It would make for an enjoyable weekend getaway if you enjoy nature.

Not far up the road, the New Camaldoli Hermitage is a special kind of retreat tranquility; a silent retreat among monks, up along the coastal cliffs of Big Sur California.  It’s a beautiful place to contemplate and worship.

Even without it’s classic sunsets due to the cloud cover on this day, it’s a beautiful place to visit.

Argh… Fire!!

I got the fire going, tested it for warmth and we settled in for the night with our first of several campfire recaps.

What we didn’t realize was that our recaps would take 3 hours…  We don’t need no stinkin’ sleep!!

Another fantastic day along the California coast.   Special thanks to Randy for helping us give it that local touch.

Day 2 Route 

Up Next…

Big Sur, China Rock, the Lone Cypress, Carmel by the Sea and some ferocious Racoons.

 Day 3

To Point Dume and Beyond!

May 30th, 2015 – Day 1 – continued…

While we were enjoying the views at the head of “The Snake”, Bob and Michael were graciously setting up the climbing line at Point Dume.

I was really looking forward to climbing the point.  My climbing experience is limited to a few indoor climbs and they had been inviting me to join them for this climb for a couple of years.  The timing just never worked out.  Time to test the skills and see if I had truly gotten over my fear of heights.

We arrived (joined by the camera crew Michael and Yivan) and proceeded to prep for the climb.

Terence was brave enough to go first.  This was his first climb as well.

Michael claimed another rope and started his ascent shortly after.  Michael has been climbing for years.  Not that it was a competition, but…

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To his defense, it was Terence’s first time and Michael’s pretty darn good at climbing (he built a small climbing wall in his house).

My turn! 🙂

Jason helps me psych up for the climb.

Michael, my life is in your hands.

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Woohoo!!  I made it up and back down.  High fives all around!

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I don’t think the girl standing next to us was as impressed as I was.  I think she might actually be laughing at us… (*Shrug)  It was a ton of fun though!  Thanks Bob for setting it up.

Sarah and Byung have arrived, now the party can really get rollin’!

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I’m hungry, anybody else hungry?  Off to the famous Neptune’s Net. Another one of Malibu’s motorcycle hangouts made famous by the movies.  (Fast and Furious)

But before that… let’s check in with Radio.

“I’m just finishing packing. I’ve got to run a few errands and I’ll meet you guys at the Net.”

Okee Dokee!  I have to be honest… at this point I was beginning to wonder if my travel companion was going to bail on me.

Keep the faith brother!

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Neptune’s Net is a pretty cool place to hang on the weekends.  It’s right off PCH, there are always a ton of motorcycles and sweet rides to gawk at, and the beach is right across the street where you can kite surf or just enjoy the view.  It’s a place you go for the atmosphere but not necessarily the food.  However, they do have good bread bowl clam chowder.  YUM!

  Of course, we always bring the atmosphere with us.

“The Wave”

“Harmonica Bob”HarmonicaBob-1

 Radio arrived (yipee!) just in time for the Karaoke portion of our entertainment.

Paper, Rock, Scissors

I am a Paper, Rock, Scissors Master – like my father before me – I can not be defeated!!!

Jason and Bob explain “Copy and Paste”

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“Copy and Paste” is a game invented by our group AKA “The Soggy Bottom Gang” and it works like this.  If someone says something inuendo-ish, you say “copy”.  Anytime you say “paste”, that person must repeat what they said.  This “copy” is valid for 24 hours or until that person says something else someone decides is more worthy of a “copy.”  It’s quite entertaining. Especially in the rare event you get several different people “copied” and you string them together in the (in)appropriate order.

In this case, Bob had copied Jason when Jason said (in reference Paper, Rock, Scissors) “If my left hand beats my right hand, then my right hand beats my…”

After lots of laughs and several concerned looks from a few tables around us, it was time to wrap up the party and continue up the road.  From here on out it would be myself and Radio heading up the coast on our bikes with the camera crew (Michael and Yivan) following in their Prius.  For the rest of the gang it was time to say good bye – for now.

A guy couldn’t ask for a better send-off, from better friends!

and a puppy!!!

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We said our goodbyes, hopped on our bikes and rode off into the sunset.

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Of course, we were really hoping we would reach our next destination before the sunset.  That was looking promising until we tried to stop to pick up a few snacks and other essentials for the road in Oxnard, CA.

It seemed like a simple task.  Find a store, get what we needed and get out.  Well, caravan road trips tend to complicate things a bit.  We found a Sams Club simple enough but when we arrived at 6:10pm they had closed at 6pm.  No biggie, the cart boy was kind enough to give us directions to Walmart.  Mind you, at this point, my GPS on my phone was no longer working because T-mobile service was not as advertised in this area. As we were leaving, the guys in the Prius decided to stop for gas figuring they would catch up with us at Walmart.  We, however, did not know they had stopped for gas.  Good thing I have a bachelors in communication.  When we got on the freeway we noticed they weren’t behind us, so we pulled off where we thought the Walmart was according to cart boys directions… we were wrong.  But we’re in luck, there’s a Super Target off this ramp so once the Prius joins us we’ll just go there. We pulled off to the side of the ramp and waited… no Prius.

After calling, conversing and discovering they stopped for gas we decide we will just meet them at the Walmart.  So, we ride up to the next exit.  Still no Walmart and still no GPS.

After about 20 minutes of driving around, we finally find Walmart, park the bikes and I walk into the store and call Michael.  The conversation goes like this.

Me:  “I’m at Walmart.  We’re you at.”  (perfect English)

Michael:  “In Walmart.”

Me: “Where in Walmart?”

Michael: “In the produce section.”

Me: “I’m in the produce section.”  Looking around “I don’t see you? Wave your hands”

Still nothing…

Michael: “I don’t think we are at the same store.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Michael: “I think you are at the other Walmart.”

Me: “What do you mean, the other Walmart?”

Michael: “There are two Walmarts according to my GPS.  They are less than a mile from each other.”

Me:  “You’ve got to be kidding me… um, ok… I tell you what.  Finish up your shopping and we’ll meet at the Whole Foods.  There’s only one of those near here, right?”

Michael:  “My GPS only shows one.”

Me: “Alright, we’ll see you there in a few.”

Needless to say, shopping took a little longer than we expected and when we arrive at Lake Casitas it looked like this…

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Radio pitched his first tent in the dark… “copy”

Honestly, though, a fantastic day to the beginning of an epic road trip.

Day 1 Route

Special thanks to Bob, Jess, Jason, Terence, Josh, Sarah, Byung, Michael, Yvonne and Radio.

Up Next…

 A photo shoot at Morro Rock, a great little pizza shop and a beautiful campsite in Big Sur.

Day 2