SAN FRANCISCO TO YOSEMITE
As much as we wanted to leave S.F., Roz was terrified at the thought of taking the Bay Bridge, so I suggested that we head south instead and if she was up to it, we could take the Hwy 92 San Mateo Bridge - and if she wasn't, we could drive all the way to San Jose and skip the Bay crossing altogether. Luckily, by the time we got to 92, she was willing to give it a go. It was good at first because a stalled truck had slowed traffic to a crawl, but once we were past, the speed picked up. (ROZ: So did the wind!)
The comms were very effective now because I could encourage Roz as we made our way along the windy, truck-filled bridge. She (and I) were very relieved when the bridge finally descended onto the causeway and the height issue was resolved. Not long after, we got to land and Roz cheered over the comms. We had made it out of San Francisco relatively unscathed.
Our next destination was Yosemite National Park. After two weeks in the grungy Mission district, we needed some serious nature and Yosemite didn't disappoint. We found a lovely campsite at Crane Flat and basked in the greenery around us. Over the next few days, we went on little missions to see what we could see. Roz was happy to leave her bike in camp and double on my bike so we made good time riding along winding roads that revealed jaw-dropping vistas around each corner. For me, it was nice to ride without having to worry about Roz. It also allowed me to pick the speed up a little, though you don't need much to make it challenging. I had heard about the endless lines of RVs blocking the roads of Yosemite, but being there off-season was great as the roads were mostly deserted. Saweet!
Arriving in Yosemite.
At Tunnel View, Roz demonstrates that the Yosemite Valley is only this big. (El Capitan is behind her to the left).
In Wawona, we visited the Mariposa grove filled with majestic Sequoias. Living in B.C., we thought we had seen big trees, but these were monsters. Yes, that's Roz at the bottom.
Being polite Canadians, we do whatever signs tell us to do - or be.
Faster than a standing tree, it's Super Dork!
Back in Yosemite Valley, the views never disappoint.
Another day, we rode up to Glacier Point. This is the only way to keep the other tourists away from you.
I tried to push Roz off, but she managed to climb back up. Next time.
While camping at Crane Flat, we met two other motorcyclists - both on old BMW airheads. Charlie from DC (http://www.wanderlustride.com/
) was on his way down to Tierra del Fuego like us and Neil, from Louisiana, had just ridden from the Arctic and was slowly making his way home. We all enjoyed each others company and had a lot of laughs.
Neil (aka Home Slice)
We were all intending to leave Yosemite the same day when we woke up to this.
The sun umbrella wasn't working, but the coffee was good.
The snow and mist made for nice atmosphere.
As luck would have it, snow had shut down the Tioga Pass - our route out of there. None of us wanted to backtrack west, so instead, we all headed down to the Valley where it was warmer to wait out the snow. The next day around noon, they opened the pass. Charlie, being a seasoned biker, left while we were still packing up, but a couple of hours later, we left too. Neil decided to to go hiking that day and would leave the next day.
At Olmsted Point, we were chilled, but the road was clear.
The trees are a little shorter up here in the nose-bleed section.
There were reports of snow and ice patches on the Tioga Pass, but frankly, I didn't believe it. I don't know why, but I just figured it would melt by the time we got there. I was wrong. Roz and I came around a corner near the Tuolumne Meadows (around 9,000 ft elevation) to discover a narrow line of ice down the yellow line. I warned Roz to slow down, and then I hit an icy section that crossed the whole road. I tried to go limp and make zero inputs, but my back end still did a little wiggle on the ice that made my heart stop. Just as quickly, the ice ended and the bike stabilized. I watched my mirrors as Roz slowly crossed the ice with no problem. We discussed the options over the comms and decided that we'd go slow and if it got impassable, we'd turn around.
For the most part, the icy patches were just in our lane as the sun had melted and dried the on-coming lane. So I'd have Roz pull over while I checked out the road. When I got ahead of an ice section, I'd use the comms to clear her into the other lane. I was so glad we had the comms. But sometimes, the ice would be across the whole road so I suggested we ride the snowy shoulders. I went first and the traction was good. I told her to use my tracks, but that was a mistake as it was slippery by the time Roz hit it. I watched my mirror as Roz's back end came out, but like a pro, she dabbed the ground with her foot and righted herself. I was so proud of her and told her so. She said she didn't even remember putting her foot down.
There was one long section where we couldn't even use the shoulder of the road so I led us into a field next to the road. The snow was only a couple of inches deep so it wasn't too bad. I was so glad that the previous summer, me and some buddies had taken Roz out on her new DR200 for some off-road riding on some terrible logging skidder trails. I think that experience helped prepare her for this mild off-road riding. Eventually, we got past these icy sections and the road began to descend from 10,000 feet to warmer elevations. We left the park with a sigh of relief and chilled bones.
Just outside the park, the terrain was outstanding as we continued to descend.
As the sun began to set, we finally got to hwy 395 and were treated to a magical view of Mono Lake.
Pretty as it was, Roz and I only wanted one thing now - to go South. These Canadians had had enough of the cold - it was time for heat. A couple of hours later, we got into Mammoth Lakes and found a hotel with a hot tub and a great restaurant nearby. It was the most epic day of our trip so far and I was very proud of Roz. She had handled her bike like a pro and kept pushing forward. "What else was I going to do?" she asked. That's my girl.
END PART 3