Day 11 – 8/14/10

I’ve been here at Steve and Kaydee’s house for a couple of days spending time with them and of course, getting to know Alida.

This morning, it was time to go drive the Lamborghini in Irvine, Ca.  We got there around 10:00 and signed in.  After that, there was a brief meeting where they gave us some information regarding the various cars and some basic driving instructions related to speed, braking, and how to properly negotiate corners.

Next, we went for a 2 lap ride around the race course in a Hummer H2 to get familiar with the track.  Surprisingly, the interior of the Hummer wasn’t all that big even though the truck itself is huge.

The race course is setup on an old US Marine air strip with the turns marked with small cones.  The total length of course is about a mile long with some turns and a few chicanes thrown in to keep things interesting.  I found it somewhat difficult to navigate through the cones at high speed and went off-course once or twice but at least I didn’t run over any of them.

IMG_2137 The first car I drove was a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560.  This car has a 5.2L V10 engine making 560hp at 8,000 rpm, all-wheel drive, and was an absolute blast to drive.  It has great power, brakes, and goes around turns better than I ever imagined would be possible.  There were a number of times that my instructor told me to keep on the gas and that “She’ll hold …”.  Of course, he was correct and the car would have gone faster if I had more confidence and experience driving it. For the most part, it was an easy car to drive fast.  The only difficulty I had was the paddle shifters.  They take some getting used to but other than that, it was an incredibly easy car to drive fast in.

IMG_2148 The second car I drove was the Aston Martin V8 Vantage.  This car is a front-engine, rear wheel drive car with a 4.7L V8 making 420hp at 7,000 rpm.  It was clear that this car was a totally different car and wasn’t as fast as the Lamborghini.  Nevertheless, it was still a great car.  The sound from the V8 was outstanding making this car a pleasure to drive as well.

I have videos of the rides in both cars so that I can re-live the experience over and over again.  Driving these cars for a few laps around the track certainly was expensive, but when you consider that the Lamborghini is a $250,000 car and the Aston Martin is a $140,000 car, it’s the only way I’ll ever be able to afford driving one of these world-class supercars.  Even better is the fact that I got to drive these spectacular cars on a racetrack and was encouraged by the instructor to go as fast as possible around the race course which is after all, what these cars were made to do.  Driving them on the street would have been a completely different experience where you would miss out on the true thrill of driving these cars.

It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.   Thanks Mom and Melody!

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Day 8 – 8/11/10

SDC10693 I left Lake Tahoe around 8:00 am and rode about 25 miles around the lake before heading towards Yosemite.  It was cool, around 50 degrees so I had my cold weather riding gear on.  Lake Tahoe is a big lake and from what I was told, it’s approximately 78 miles if you want to go around the whole lake. 

I stopped at a gas station to get a cup of coffee and as I was walking out, a guy on a BMW tipped his bike over at the gas pump.  The bike didn’t go all the way over because it actually leaned against the pump.  He had a friend riding with him who helped pick the bike back up.

As I went down out of the mountains, I came to Carson City NV and turned on to RT 395 South.  Not too far outside of Carson City, there was a truck painting lines that I had to ride behind for a couple of miles before getting to a section of road where I could pass.  This road brought me through a number of small towns, through some flat land and then trough some mountains.  There were very few cars on this road so it was a nice pleasant ride.  

SDC10732 I got to Yosemite around 11:00 and waited in line for about 15 minutes to pay the entrance fee.  The Park Ranger collecting money said that there was frost on the grass early this morning and that it’s not uncommon to have frost this time of year in the high country. 

The mountains here are bare granite with little vegetation growing on them.  The plant life that is present tends to be concentrated at the bottom of the mountains along the flat areas.  This contrast of green vegetation against the bare rock really makes the mountains stand out and look all the more impressive.

The bare granite cliffs appear to be a rock-climbers dream and there were plenty of people climbing or getting ready to climb various peaks.  In addition to the people parked alongside the road, there were a lot of campgrounds that appeared to be full of tourists.  Traffic was light to moderate and really wasn’t much of a problem.   

SDC10777 The road through the park was peaceful and scenic making for a very enjoyable ride.   This scale of these mountains is hard to appreciate unless you’re actually standing there looking up at the mountains and I found myself staring at the landscape in awe of the grandeur of the mountains.  Yosemite is certainly at the top of the list of most beautiful places in the US and I highly recommend it as a destination if you’re ever in California. 

I rode around the park until around 3:00 pm and then decided that it was time to head South to my daughter Kaydee’s house.  The road out of Yosemite was not such a pleasant ride due to road construction, one lane roads, sections of dirt road, and slow moving motor homes.  It took well over an hour to go 25 miles through the winding roads to the exit of the park. 

Once out of Yosemite, I headed towards Fresno and then South towards Los Angeles on I5.  By the time I got to Bakersfield, it was getting dark and the highway became more congested.  Driving into Los Angeles at night with 6 lanes of traffic in each direction became challenging.  While I didn’t run into any slow traffic, it was hard to ride with all of the lights, the reflectors dividing lanes of traffic and the 70-80mph speeds. 

It got to Kaydee and Steve’s house around 11:00 and was glad to be off of of the freeways.  I’ll be spending a few days with them before heading back East again. 

Miles Today: 518
Total Miles: 4,778
States: CA, NV

Day 7 – 8/10/10

I left the motel around 8:30 this morning after donning my cold weather gear.  It was 53 degrees, foggy and damp so the heated handgrips and heated jacket liner made the morning ride much more comfortable.

SDC10643 Within a few minutes of leaving, I was in California and riding through the Redwood forest.  There were varying degrees of fog going from thin fog to quite thick fog where visibility was limited to about 50 feet.  Water droplets formed on the windshield and the face shield on my helmet.  In an add sort of way, I think the fog enhanced the ride because it seemed fitting for the Redwood forest.  Of course it was cold, damp, and not the best weather for riding, but I still enjoyed it. 

After  leaving the Redwoods, 101 goes back towards the ocean.  I rode down the coast  for a little while before turning East on Rt 299 towards Redding.  After a short while, I realized that I had already been on this road before.  In 2008, I also rode this same road through the Shasta Trinity National Forest.  I decided to keep going because my recollection was that the scenery is breathtaking and the road is fun to ride on.  Moving eastward away from the coast, the weather changes dramatically.  It was now warm and sunny so when I stopped for gas, I stripped off all of the extra clothing and headed back down the road. 

SDC10663299 follows a river through a valley between tall mountain peaks.  For the most part, the road is in good condition and there isn’t a lot of traffic to deal with.  On top of that, it has great corners that are perfect for motorcycle riding.  There was a section of the road, probably about 2 miles long, that has a great series of 25 mph corners going downhill that are perfect for scraping the highway pegs.  I’m guessing that I scraped the pegs at least 10 times as I negotiated the corners.  It takes all of your concentration too keep this up as the corners go from left to right and back to the left again.

When I got to Redding, I decided I’d head towards Lake Tahoe.  I hopped onto I5 for about 30 miles and then took Rt. 99 through Chico and continued to Yuba City where I turned East on Rt. 20.  This route brought me through an agricultural area where there were dozens or orchards beside the road.  I’m not sure what kind of trees they were but I saw walnuts and peaches. 

SDC10673 As I started back up the mountains, it got cool again so I put my jacket back on and proceeded through the Tahoe National Forest.  The road surface was completely new and was a joy to ride on.  There were very few cars on this stretch of road so it was quite a pleasant ride.  At some point, I ended up on I80 for about 30 miles to get to Lake Tahoe.  I80 is in terrible condition – some of the worst Interstate I driven on.  While the scenery is spectacular along I80, I didn’t really get a chance to take pictures because the road was so mad, I had to ride with both hands on the handlebars the whole time.  After exiting I80, it was about 12 miles to the lake. 

SDC10677 As you near Lake Tahoe, it’s obvious that this is a resort town.  The houses look like they’re fairly expensive and there are lots of motels and other tourist type places.  The motel I’m staying at tonight is a nice little place across the street from the lake.  It’s fashioned after a small cabin and has a somewhat Adirondack feel to it.  I’ll probably ride around the lake tomorrow morning before starting South towards Yosemite. 

 

Miles Today: 498
Total Miles: 4,260
States: OR, CA

Day 6 – 8/9/10

I’m sitting here tonight chewing on a slab of beef jerky and looking at the ocean as I write this update.  I have a whole pound of it to eat so I’ll probably skip dinner tonight.

It was cold when I left this morning around 8:00, only about 50 degrees, so I put on my chaps and heated jacket before heading South on Highway 101.  Before long, I ran into fog, wet roads, and then light drizzle. 

Logging is obviously a big industry in the Northwest.  There were a lot of areas where all of the trees had been harvested, areas where new trees have been planted, and areas where trees were planted years ago and are being grown out to be harvested years from now.  At first, I thought it was a sad sight to see the forest cut down like this.  However, if you think of trees as just another cash crop such as corn or wheat, it’s easier to accept the fact that such large areas of forest have been cut down. 

SDC10586 The first couple of hours, I really didn’t see the Pacific Ocean but rather a variety of small bays.  You could tell that it was low tide because for the most part, all I saw was miles of mud along the shoreline.  Many of the towns in this area appear to be small fishing towns.  From the signs on the shops, it looks like the harvest crabs, oysters, and salmon from these waters – at least that’s what they’re selling so I assume that’s what they’re catching.

Eventually, the road brought me the the ocean.  By this time, i was starting to see some dry road, the fog was lifting, and the sky was clearing.  It was still pretty cool out but at least it wasn’t quite as wet.   SDC10619

The coast line is varied and quite beautiful.  As you travel along the ocean, the elevation goes from near sea level to tall cliffs going down to sandy beaches.  The lower lying areas close to the shore are marked with Tsunami warnings showing evacuation routes to higher ground.  Every 20 miles or so you come to another small town.  Most of the houses can be best described as beach houses. 

Around 12:30 I decided to stop for lunch at a place called Dory Place, a small seafood shop.  While I was waiting for my food, I went to the men’s room and found that there was another whole shop in the back.  This place was called Mr.. Bill’s Village Smokehouse.  Mr.. Bills had a variety of smoked fish and jerky.  After eating lunch, I went and bought a pound of beef jerky.  It was reasonably priced at $19.50  a pound so I got half a pound of regular jerky and another half a pound of teriyaki jerky.  This stuff is whole slabs of meat measuring 8-10 inches long by 2-3 inches wide and close to a half inch thick.  It’s probably the best beef jerky I’ve ever had. 

SDC10636 After lunch, the sun finally started coming out and it was up to 56 degrees according to the sign in front of the bank.  By this time, the roads were completely dry making the ride a bit more enjoyable.  I should have taken more pictures, but I had some opportunities to ride without motor homes, trailers, and other slow traffic in front of me.  So, rather than sightseeing and taking pictures, I enjoyed riding the twisty roads instead.  After all, I rode to the west coast to enjoy the riding so I seized the opportunity and had some fun riding for an hour or so.  By the end of the day, the temperature had risen to the mid 60’s and made for a nice afternoon. 

I stopped for the night in a town called Brookings Oregon.  Tomorrow, I’ll probably continue down 101 into California and then head inland towards the mountains.  

Miles Today: 437
Total Miles: 3,762
States: WA, OR  

Day 5 – 8/8/10

As I was getting ready to leave Missoula this morning around 9:00 am, I felt some large raindrops start falling.  The sky was cloudy but it sure didn’t looks like storm clouds so I went next door to fill up with gas.  By the time I was done getting gas, the rain had stopped.

I headed West on I90 towards the Pacific coast.  About an hour down the road, as I was riding through some mountains, the sky started looking very grey. The road was wet but it wasn’t raining so I stopped and put my chaps on in just in case it did  start to rain.   It was still a bit cool as I left the mountains and returned to flat farmland with more huge wheat fields.

There was a section of the highway where the names of the various crops were written on signs attached to the fence line.  I saw alfalfa, field corn, potatoes and Timothy.  By this time it was getting nice and warm so I stopped and took off some clothes.

SDC10566 About 100 miles East of Spokane, I rode into the Snoqualmie National Forest.  As I entered the forest, it cooled down quite a bit so I stopped and put some clothes back on and continued toward Spokane.  There was an awful lot of traffic along this stretch of I90 and it was moving along at 75-80 mph so it was difficult to take many pictures.

About 30 miles from Spokane, I left I90 and took another road to I5 and into Tacoma.   Tacoma traffic was a lot like driving on the freeways in California.  There were an awful lot of cars on the road for a Sunday afternoon and numerous slowdowns.  I can’t imagine how bad it must be to drive around Tacoma during rush hour traffic.  There are permanent road signs warning of slow-moving traffic so it must be a daily struggle to commute around Tacoma.

After making it through Tacoma, I got on to Route 18 for the remainder of the day and ended up in Aberdeen Washington for the night.  The last hour of riding was quite chilly.  The temperature was around 60 and the air was damp making it feel even colder.

Transporting a GoldWing I saw an interesting way of transporting a Gold Wing this afternoon.  It looked it was a platform attached to the trailer hitch of a motor home that accommodates a big touring bike. It looked very solid and didn’t see it move around as we hit bumps in the road.  I’ve see lots of bikes on trailers this week headed for Sturgis but this one was unique.

I was glad to stop for the night tonight as this was the first day that I actually felt tired.   Tomorrow I’m going to head south down the Highway 101 along the Pacific coast.

Miles Today: 582
Total Miles: 3,325
States: MT, WA