Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kingston to California by motorcycle in 9 days - so, let me tell you about my day…

Last night’s planned stay was in a hotel and though a little cheesy looking on the outside offered a very comfortable bed, free morning coffee and friendly staff. After a great night’s sleep I was packed and ready to go early having already responded to some emails from “Mustang Sally” of California who had great advice for travelling along my planned route. Garmin Dan was programmed and we headed off to Interstate 80 West…I missed the turn due to construction. No problem, Dan calmly guided me to the next best way and we were on our way to California.
Blue Star Memorial Highway - California
At 7:44 this morning I passed the “Welcome to California” sign - what I didn’t expect was the next sign that read, “Caution, watch for snow removal vehicles.” I don’t know why it came as a surprise, I was after all 7,000 feet up in the mountains … but it’s California - the land of sunshine, vineyards and oranges (funny what our perceptions are). I had dressed warmly starting out this morning, but not warmly enough and had to stop to add layers to my layers. The mountains in California wore the brownness of drought but I could see, unlike Nevada’s mountains, they were alive. It was a refreshing change.

I started, finally, to descend and thought (clearly another misconception) that I might see flat land and maybe even the ocean after a bit. What I saw in the distance instead were more mountains. To avoid Sacramento I veered off northwest on the 20 and decided to stop in Yuba City for a snack and gas. My first introduction to Californians in their native habitat - friendly smiles were returned not by matching smiles but by scowls that said, “What the h#@!” do you want! I decided to get my gas and get going without my snack; it was kinda chilly in Yuba. I stopped later for a hotdog at a little spot on the highway which shall forever in my mind be known as Montezuma. From there I rode into Nice and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to live in Nice,’ a small town on Clear Lake. The loon filled lake was surrounded by little wooden cottages that seemed to hover at the water’s edge, almost floating, hugged by pink and white and fuchsia colored rhododendrons. I would have taken more time to enjoy the palm dotted town but for the revenge of the ‘dog’. Lucky for me Nice had had one nice little gas station too.

I spent most of the day riding twisting, turning, mountain roads that I swear should be travelled only by goat. I passed ‘elk crossing’, ‘rock falling’ and ‘rock slide ahead’ signs. I was finally, according to Dan, only kilometers away from my destination, just over one more blessed mountain. I didn’t like the sound of the road when I saw it, ‘Mountain View.’ I’d viewed enough mountains for one day, but still on I went. In hindsight, I should have gone with my first instinct. It was on Mountain View Road, on a 10+ degree incline on a sharp right, 120 degree turn that I shifted down and somehow hit neutral and found out … no gear, no go forward so must go down. The Star and I took a soft, slow landing in pine needles and dirt but luckily there were instantly three strong men and one strong woman to help put her back on her wheels again. At that point I reconsidered Mountain Viewing and with road advice from one of my rescuers decided to take the less treacherous, but longer way round.
First View From The Pacific Coast Higway #1
Highway 128, which is on the map, was lined with towering California Redwoods but by 5 o’clock the afternoon sun had become a hindrance and I was freezing. I finally had my first glimpse of the famous California Coastal Highway #1 and pulled off to take a photo. It was when I started up again that Garmin Dan quietly reminded me I might be low on fuel. “%$#&” I must be riding on fumes. After the excitement of the day I hadn’t filled up at my usual 200 km mark. With no more stops for photos and a lot of finger crossing I made it to the campground where I have decided, in self pity, to once again trade my tent for the indulgence of a cabin.

Maybe I’ll just go back to Reno and start the day over, or maybe I’ll stay here forever since the nearest gas station is about 13km away. But for tonight, I’ll just sit here, eat my Pringles and ponder the irony of it all – my cabin is on ‘Falling Star’ Drive.

Falling Star - Caution


  1. Most motorcycle road trips include a day like this. They are specially created and put there to help you remember the trip on your bike. Great riding days are just that, great. But the days you will remember well in the years to come are the sort of day you just experienced. You will look back on this day fondly and visions of the road sign about the snow, getting cold, the attitude of the first Californian and even dropping your bike on the pine needles will all stay with you for a long time to come and will slowly evolve from being not so good to something that makes you smile when you remember it.

    I am assuming you didn’t hurt yourself when your bike got away from you and that is the important thing. It may have dented your pride a little, but that is ok – your four rescuers and the trees will soon forget. No doubt, you will travel the 13km with fingers crossed, fill up the bike and have a smile on your face once again to see what the PCH brings. Believe me, it brings great views!

  2. Congratulations! You made it. A tremendous accomplishment for any rider to ride all the way across the North American continent - and right on schedule.


    PS. You ate a hot dog? What?

  3. Poor you. At the best of times, hot dogs are were a brave girl eating one. You better start packing granola bars to eat so you don't bump into Montazuma again. I hope you aren't too bruised up! I can hardly wait for the next instalment to find out how drove out on fumes!

  4. Thanks All - and to top off that already perfect day yesterday, I managed to somehow lock myself out of my little cabin on Falling Star Drive (when the rest of the world was sleeping) and had to spend the night in the cold Camp bathrooms. Monday the 18 is going to be a sleep day for this Chick! Bring on the Rain, I'm staying put.