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Old 08-07-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
Nixels OP
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Larryboy's vacatiion rules: Or, how a Heffalump took me for a ride

Yes you FF's, I'm writing an honest-to-doG Ride Report. Imagine that - on a motorcycle forum, I'm writing about motorcycling rather than the drivel I post down in the gestalt lounge called Inmates in the basement.

Who knew?

Well the title's kinda important to the story, so let's start there. Larryboy (Rob - don't ask, just watch the video he posted in his summer thread) invited me and Benjava to ride with him to WMRS at the end of July. I was signed up anyway, so this was cool - I'd get to go with a seasoned DS rider - and some guy that's a total coffee fanatic that deep fries his own beans.

And so it came to pass that I was going to tag along with these two and learn a few things from a master at a couple of things I'm interested in: Riding on dirt - and learning how to take a vacation. I can't boil down all the stuff I learned about off-road riding in a few short sentences, but I can tell you about Larryboy's vacation rules. This is a guy who claims to have grown up retired - having lived much of his early childhood with his retired grandparents he learned the fine art of fishing, sitting around bullshitting, taking it easy and not getting worked up about things. Here's a few of the rules:

1) Once on vacation - no schedule or plan is sacrosanct. You want to change your mind - don't want to do something you said you did 15 minutes ago - fine, don't do it.

2) Anything that happens is ok, it's a vacation. Keep your expectations low, you won't trip over them.

3) No bullshit. Makes relaxation easier. If you encounter bullshit, remove yourself from the situation - but don't rush, you're on vacation.

4) Eat well. This doesn't mean going to expensive restaurants, just eat what you want and don't cheat yourself. We had rib-eye steak, deep-fried cornish game hens, bacon and eggs, and other goodies that Mrs. Larryboy packed.

5) Never hurry - it harsh's the vacation vibe. You can't be late for anything - you're on vacation!

6) Ride your own ride - and never get into a situation that makes you uncomfortable. If you have to stop fifteen minutes after you started - do. Take a nap, buy a hat, eat a powerbar - whatever, just do what makes you happy and comfortable.

7) Don't go on vacation with people that annoy, piss off, bore or bug you.

8) Fish, swim, relax, sunbathe without concern for time. Do it till you're done.

9) Get as silly as you can (well, if you do it all the time, just keep it up ).

10) Stop when you see something that interests you. Even if you just stopped one mile ago.

11) Take more pictures than you'll ever look at. Take multiples of the subject.

12) Remember the rule of threes in photography: 1/3 foreground, 1/3 subject and 1/3 background - or sky.

13) Forget everything back at home, work, the bank, etc.

I know there were more rules, but I was on vacation and I just don't remember. Besides, it's a lot to take in - even if I were on a crash course. But I wasn't, I was relaxing and these lessons weren't spoken so much as experienced.

Have you ever tried to learn something that has nothing to do with the brain - by using your head to learn it? Right, it can't be done. Experience is the only way.

Here's how the lesson started:

Rob works the night shift in Sacramento, and I live in Sonoma County - about 95 miles away. Rob gets off work around 6:30 and wanted to try and leave between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. That would mean I should leave around 6:00 Wednesday morning if I were to meet that suggested departure time from Rob's house. Benjava lives in Vallejo, and for a short time I toyed with the idea of packing up Tuesday night and crashing at Ben's but that didn't get close to happening.

I had a list of things to do before I left and as per usual, a couple things cropped up at the last minute. At noon on Tuesday I knew I wouldn't be completing my list, so I decided that the vacation had begun and I wasn't going to get stressed about anything, I was just going to take it all in stride.




I finally got to sleep around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and got up at 5:30. I wasn't too tired and kept getting ready. The bike was packed before I went to sleep, so I just had internet stuff to take care of and get out of there. I kept thinking of little shit to pack or do and I was damned if I wasn't going to have at least one cup of coffee.
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Nixels screwed with this post 08-08-2008 at 02:32 PM
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:32 PM   #2
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Now, I "should" have been on the road by 6:30 at the latest. I went for coffee around then, had a ham/egg/muffin sandwich at the Cambodian-owned donut shop and realized I'd left my cold-weather gloves at the BankRanch where I live. So I retraced my path a mile and a half and got the gloves and called Rob. He answered and I told him I hadn't left and was supposed to be there right about now (7:30 a.m.) and Rob said it didn't matter - we were on vacation.

I headed east on Adobe Rd. and the wind blew through my helmet as I looked at the low clouds and enjoyed a fresh morning's ride. I gassed up on Arnold Dr., south of the town of Sonoma and ran into a truck driver I have coffee with. Sam asked what was I doing just in Sonoma at a quarter to eight when I was supposed to be in Sacramento fifteen minutes earlier? I told him I was on vacation, so I wasn't late. So there

I rode across Hwy 12 over towards Napa and looked again at the winefields (ok, you call them vineyards, go ahead) and the sun would peek through the clouds and it was like I was experiencing a Chamber of Commerce sponsored moment. This place I lived in - it could be pretty damned breathtaking when I stopped being inured to its charms.

I got on I80 and experienced only moderate traffic. I wasn't hell-bent, but I did clip along at a good pace and passed a handful of baggers on long trips. It was downright pleasant. I stopped for water before Dixon and watched the CDF guys run after their truck as it pulled out. Here it was a weekday morning and I wasn't participating in the race of rats.

I got to Larryboy's place in Elk Grove (CA, not IL ) around 9:15 a.m. He and Ben were patient as I emptied my bladder and then we geared up and were gone. The trip was rolling.



As Ben prepared himself for riding, Rob rolled the Buell out onto the street and geared up himself.



We went from the suburbs to country in no time at all - I think it was less than three miles and we were traversing the country grid of rural California. We passed a couple of extensive farm implement graveyards/collections. I hadn't learned my lesson yet - I didn't get Rob to stop so I could shoot some pix. I'm a slow learner - maybe I'm still too much in a hurry to learn normally?

Then it happened. Our first delay - our first instance of momentum interruptus. How would we deal with it? Would this cause the kind of social friction that would reduce the joy of our rolling friction?



Rob & Ben's attitude was relaxed and easygoing. Rob said he could have taken us on dirt roads to avoid this delay, but didn't seem to think too much of it overall. After about 10 minutes were were allowed to pass down the one lane road for about 3 miles. The loose gravel they'd just laid down on fresh tar wasn't like a dirt-road, but it did lower the feeling of a solid grip in spite of the fact that I had TKC's. I guess we're on our way - having endured a delay that could have ruined the moment.

Not with this relaxed crew.
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Old 08-07-2008, 11:47 PM   #3
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The Beverly Hillbillies go a Dual-Sportin' Mr. Ragsdale. :goober



You see the darnedest things on a trip. As we rode up the Sonora Pass, we stopped for a scenic overlook. Something called The Dardenell's . It was about 3:00 in the afternoon and the ride had been good, even though it was pretty hot. We pulled into the lot and two 1200GS's were getting ready to pull out. They asked if we'd been out for a few weeks. We chatted for a moment and they were off to Reno on their shiny new unladen bikes. Everybody's riding their own ride.

Rob suggested we walk down to the overlook and come back and take a nap. He'd been working all night, and I was flagging from my 3 hours of sleep.



Larryboy insisted that we walk backward the last bit before reaching this railing and then turn around. That was some surprise! It drove Rob to drink - and he'd seen it many times before.



Supposedly there's no lake access, but if you can drag a boat down there, you can leave it. Don't be surprised if it's crushed in the snow during the winter.

We took our nap, got up and continued on this road that had a turn or two in it:



Ben thought this was a good place to pull off and get "into" the mountain.



The ride through the pass was a great one - lots of swoopy twisties and these guys were gentlemen - never complaining that I was slower than Ben's avatar.
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Nixels screwed with this post 08-08-2008 at 02:35 PM
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:00 AM   #4
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Off to a good start, Nicky!!


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Old 08-08-2008, 09:21 AM   #5
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More 'Fant, please!
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:23 AM   #6
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No tape on the glasses.... yet...

Looks like fun so far.
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Old 08-08-2008, 02:42 PM   #7
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Looks like fun.
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:01 PM   #8
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Chris. Nope, no tape on the glasses this trip.

We pulled into the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining late in the afternoon after a great ride and had fish tacos. Some guy that knew more about asphalt and painting roads than I know about books started quizzing us on our bikes.

Maybe it was the fact that we were so well endowed with well-packed bikes, maybe it was the tires or possibly the fact that we had an eclectic range of bikes that signaled to this guy that we were approachable. He never used our bike's names just called them by their color. Betwee Ben's green Japanese brick shithouse-tough KLR, Rob's flat-black American Stallion Ulysses and the maroon color of my Italian pachyderm - this guy had a rainbow to pick from. He seemed interested in our tire choices and asked pros and cons. He was riding a new KTM and I thought at first he was doing research for his own bike:

"I noticed you rode the red one, can I ask a few questions?" Mr. Roadgrader said.

"Sure, I got an answer to your questions, some of them will be wrong, some lies and at least a couple I'll tell the truth. You decide."

"Uh, ok. What do you think of those knobs on your tires - and what kind is that?"

I made appropriate noises, he asked more questions of my compatriots and then we got a lecture on road surfacing techniques and how we had to be careful with the new crack sealant because it stays a little soft and can make your tires slip and feel like they're rolling across ice.

He was lit - as in, we saw him down two beers in under 10 minutes, and he'd been at it a while. He left just before us on an off-road KTM - no lights, etc, and he went over the hill, not on the road - no gear whatsoever. His parting words were an admonition for us to drive safely.

Off we went south and east past the south end of Mono Lake, and after an hour or so we came upon Benton Hot Springs late in the afternoon. As you cna see, we had our own hot-tub for the evening. Each campsite has its own.






Benjava explains the fine points of roasting coffee as Larryboy looks on in stunned horror - asking himself if he'll be able to remember the exact measurements Ben has just described to him.



Ben is an accomplished shopper - never paying full price for anything. He is a master at shopping and finding the best item on sale. He could just buy anything on sale, but he doesn't he waits - or asks - when that item will be available for less. Sometimes this means waiting till the business closes its doors, or when a product or line has been discontinued.

This tent is, by Ben's estimation, perfect. He got it when REI quit carrying it.



And finally, the interior hanging elements.



We talked for a while, then got in the hot springs and soaked for about 3 hours. That felt really good. Ahhh, we're on vacation, Nicky!



That night, with the stars overhead and the conversation providing a lot of opportunity for laughter we managed to stay awake till around midnight. Then we slept.

I think we're on vacation.
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Nixels screwed with this post 08-08-2008 at 05:10 PM
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:18 PM   #9
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"Ben is an accomplished shopper - never paying full price for anything. He is a master at shopping and finding the best item on sale. He could just buy anything on sale, but he doesn't he waits - or asks - when that item will be available for less. Sometimes this means waiting till the business closes its doors, or when a product or line has been discontinued."

Yup, got my KLR (what else) the same way
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Old 08-08-2008, 03:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjava

Yup, got my KLR (what else) the same way
I didn't want to say it, but you have.

Ya cheap c...

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Old 08-08-2008, 03:42 PM   #11
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Sounds like a great ride so far! Gotta learn how to hit that vacation pace from day 1 myself. Small hijack- Larryboy, what tires are you running on your Uly, front looks like a nice gravel road tread. Like 'em? Hijack off.
Vacation must be over because the posts are coming at a pretty good clip. GBW
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Old 08-08-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockchucker
Small hijack- Larryboy, what tires are you running on your Uly, front looks like a nice gravel road tread. Like 'em? Hijack off.

Dunlop 616, 17's in a 120/70F and 180/55R. Good tires all around, very good in gravel.
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Old 08-08-2008, 05:52 PM   #13
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Notice how the image above is blurred? This is not an attempt by me to make an artful desert sunset photograph. It's the harbinger of image disaster. My camera will die shortly in this narrative. So, enjoy the pix I do post - I'll be raiding Larryboy's image cache soon to further illustrate this little tale.

It was a great hot tub experience. The campsite is surrounded by sound and light dampening qualities giving the sense of privacy, and the campground only had a couple other guests so we felt like it was all to our own. We got to telling stories, and getting to know each other. Ben and Rob have spent some time together, so I was the new guy.

And that was the only reason that I told three stories to their one. That's the only reason.

Really.

What I liked about our group was that we don't fit in the mainstream - maybe not even the mainstream of the motorcycling world. Ben's a blacksmith, autoworker, screenprinter, Harley mechanic that rides a KLR.

Rob - well, he's just a whackjob crazy motorcycle-ridin' bugfucker. Ex forest firefighter, wrench, arty photographer and family man, Rob's got a wicked and quick sense of humor and a stinging tongue should you find that narrow bandwidth of disdain that he reserves for those people that would rather look like they're something than show up and be it. Could be a R.U.B. or a D.S.P. (Dual Sport Poser) or any number of other wanna-be's, he's got a humorous quip to deflate their egos. I've been known to be a little acerbic on occasion - and Ben wrenched at a Harley shop for 4.5 years - so he had a number of funny insights into the world's annoyance factors.

It was a nice night and we didn't rush the morning. We dicked around camp - had a great breakfast of bacon and eggs, coffee and another couple hour hot springs soak.

Somewhere in the morning, I went off to the office to find water. Yes, there was water pouring out of the hose by the tub, but it might be a high-mineral content source and that would make it funky, if not downright bad to drink. I had a nice talk with the owner and we had permission to look at the boneyard across the road. Because of my interest in old iron and the PP&IM*, it was a little bit like a busman's holiday.

I'm a city kid, interested in the history of technology. First it was books, and lately it's old iron. I'm riding with two wrenchs, one of whom has an extensive knowledge of how iron's been formed for half a millennium. Ben talks about how cast iron is unique in forming a skin that keeps it from rusting through. He talked about the small community of blacksmiths - a lot like the book arts community. Really small

Hey, look at this - it'd cost a few hundred bux if this were being sold to a blacksmith!



And let's just roll out some iron through this little guy here.



Things could heat up while forging this friendship.



Here's a nice - really old CAT - I hope it doesn't scratch me.



Almost looks like a train engine.



A nice portable PTO made from an old drive train.



I'm gonna stop here and make another post so it won't take forever to load.



*I don't have a summary thread that shows all the threads about the museum - in fact there's a couple that have been started since that fundraising thread, but it does show many of the ones about the museum.
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Old 08-08-2008, 06:08 PM   #14
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We spent at least half an hour walking around this bone yard "gallery." The owners want to make it an outdoor museum and get some funding to operate it. I got yelled at for standing on the track of the Fordson.



Good thing they didn't see me posing for this cheesecake shot just minutes before.



That cool old crawler didn't have any identifying marks on it. We couldn't figure out what it was, but it was cool.





We pondered this piece for a while. Not unlike reading Latin inscriptions off a monument in some outpost from the Roman empire. Having a few bits of the language of machines at my disposal, I could tell that this was an oddball piece. It had two plow blades up, and two down. It looked like it could flip the whole carriage in order to operate the other blades in the earth.



Rob figured out that it was probably for plowing a steep hill - by flipping the rail, the furrow would be pushed uphill on the return trip, keeping the dirt in the right order as the field was turned. Pretty cool.





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Old 08-08-2008, 06:08 PM   #15
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so, like

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