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Old 04-08-2012, 09:09 AM   #1
Ratman OP
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Joined: Feb 2005
Location: Baja is good
Oddometer: 1,211
A Man and his Mountain....Nate Harrison

I tried to enlarge Nate's picture...he deserves better.....
Nate Harrison at his cabin on Palomar Mountain in the late 1890s
From Nate Harrison Grade

We are having some great weather in SD these days. 70s where I live, 85 inland, and back to 65 at Palomar Mtn....all under sunshine and no wind. A guy has to ride under those conditions. Besides I synchronized my Carbs on Friday. I had to see how that would pan out.

I wasn't able to get up early enough to catch the San Diego Antique Bike guys, so I figured out a ride of my own to do. When you have lived in the San Diego area for 60 years there's not much new, so I decided that a ride up Palomar Mtn to sniff bikes at Mother's Kitchen would do just fine.

I wanted to get Tiger Woods on up the leader board so I watched that for a while. Hummm,.... that wasn't going to happen so about 11am I decided to saddle up. I hadn't eaten anything so in a couple hours I'd have to take that into consideration.

To that end, I loaded a plastic shopping bag with a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of rice, likewise with lentils, a few pieces of chicken breast, and a flavor packet, then I stuff it all in the V of my V4 engine. That would be ready to eat later on.
I call it Sabre food....
From Nate Harrison Grade

So about 11:30am I'm on the road. Hwy 76 to Palomar Mtn was congested with weekend traffic having to neck down to just one lane as construction to the road is being pushed to completion. Lane splitting was exercised to get me up front. Can you imagine that Ca is the only state that allows that? soon I was at I-15 and headed toward the mtns. There was no fighting the traffic...just get in line and think of something else and smell the roses.

I passed The casinos, and got to thinking of Nate Harrison Grade. In the 50 and 60 the Grade was named Nigger Nate's Grade. ....from the net...quote:"Nigger Nate" was a friendly person, yet very little is known of his early life. All of his life story was never told, even to his best friends, and, try as hard as they would, no one could ever get him to tell the name of his master, for Nate was once a slave. When he passed on in 1920 his true story was buried with him: quote.
The name was changed to a more PC version in the seventies. Not that the Palomar Observatory isn't important, but I think Nate deserved to have his name as top billing on the 'Hill'

I may be wrong, but I think Nate's grade was the only way to the top of Mt Palomar until they built today's road in order to build the observatory. I've known about Nate's road from my high school days, but I've never been on it. Well today I had time and no agenda. I figured to go take a look at what kind of road it was....and think about Nate a bit.

There was 2 or three miles at the bottom of 2 lane pavement. Pretty soon I was warned of the end of pavement, but there wasn't any 'Not a Thru Street' sign. The dirt road was a good graded road. I continued on.... Soon a sign said 7 miles of dirt. That's not bad at all if it stays like this. I could run 2nd gear at 25mph. Great!

Well, that didn't last more than a mile, but it was still a rideable road. I ended up doing most of the rest at 15mph in 1st. As I gained altitude the views of Pauma Valley and Rincon Valley, when I got higher, was delightful. I stopped many times for pictures even though they hardly do the real thing justice.

Views from on high...
From Nate Harrison Grade

and higher.....
From Nate Harrison Grade

With more mtn ahead....
From Nate Harrison Grade

There were washboard sections that nearly rattled out my bag of lunch from my engine's V. I stopped and stuffed it back in as best I could. I went on. I hadn't kept any track of mileage so I wondered how much further. I didn't like running my engine so slow. Honda's early V4s aren't good at oiling the camshafts at under 3 grand. Somewhere along that route I though I smelled gas, and just a few seconds later my engine lost a lot of power.

I stopped to see if gas was running on the wasn't. My engines fan had been running constantly so I knew it was running very warm. Not overly warm....after all I climb the Baker grade in July pulling a 500lb trailer with that bike, but it was good and warm.

I suspected a Vapor lock as my engine food in the plastic bag was blocking the air passage under the carbs. I decided to have lunch and let things cool down. After that, the carbs wouldn't be blocked, and all would be well, if it was vapor lock.

I got the bike off the road....
From Nate Harrison Grade

So I set about pulling lunch out of the engine, and getting it into my large Al cup. It had been cooking for nearly an hour and a half. The food was done perfectly, 'Luck Beats Good'. I sat under a tree and ate grandly as I surveyed all that was in front of me. Grandeur was what it was.....

From Nate Harrison Grade

Under the Tree.....
From Nate Harrison Grade

After 30 to 40 minute I was ready to see how the bike would run. started and never missed another beat. I liked that. The heat of the valley floor gave way to a cool breeze. I liked that too. Another 20 minutes and I was on top and back on pavement. I had escaped from the 'Jaws of Death' on Nate's Road, very cool. Five miles of twisties later,and I was at Mother's Kitchen.

On the way to Mother's....
From Nate Harrison Grade

At the top, sorry to see the pavement begin...
From Nate Harrison Grade

I had plugged in my water heater for coffee when I finished lunch so I had hot water for coffee. I enjoyed that in the parking lot while I watched riders come and go. Lots of crotch rockets of course, and some cruisers as well. Three very nice M109 Suzukis, a couple Triumphs, 2 V4s, couple Harleys, and some other bikes. It was a nice day for Mt Palomar.

Bike's at the top....
From Nate Harrison Grade

From Nate Harrison Grade

and the nice M109s...
From Nate Harrison Grade

From Nate Harrison Grade

And....another Triumph
From Nate Harrison Grade

Modern Honda V4...ST1100....
From Nate Harrison Grade

Nice Sporty
From Nate Harrison Grade

A sweet Buell...
From Nate Harrison Grade

I left the parking lot at 2pm, and rode down the East Grade Rd past Lake Henshaw. I took 76 back to Oceanside without incident. There were a few patches of wild flowers. I caught a drive by picture of a few Ca Poppies.

Lake Henshaw from East Grade Rd....
From Nate Harrison Grade

And... some color in the Henshaw Valley....
From Nate Harrison Grade

And the poppies I was bragging about....
From Nate Harrison Grade

It was a great day of seat time. That never gets old.

From Odds and ends
Ratman.......Pete .... My Solo Continental Divide Ride
....and of course, Luck beats good...

Ratman screwed with this post 04-12-2012 at 03:43 PM
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