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Old 10-01-2009, 01:40 PM   #1
Jedi5150 OP
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Weekend ride to Palm Springs

Initially my September vacation was supposed to be a trip across the country to Key West with a buddy on our bikes. Because of financial reasons that trip got postponed and we decided to go a little closer to home. My wife, kids and I live in Central California. We decided to spend a week down in Orange County with my parents. Two of the days we had them watch our kids and it was the first "long" ride I've been able to take my wife on. Before this the furthest she's gone on the bike was 15 minutes down the highway to the mall or the movies.

So Sunday morning (9-13-09) we set out from Mission Viejo towards Palm Springs, our destination. The plan was to ride to Palm Springs the first day, spend the night there, and then take the aerial tram to the top of the mountain and do some hiking the next day. I've riddne the tram once before, and for anyone who has the chance to do it I highly recommend it. You go from the desert area of Palm Springs, and the tram takes you up to over 8,000 feet elevation and you can hike to close to 10,000 feet in an hour or two. The contrast between the desert and apline meadows and mountains in such close proximity is incredible. My wife had never been there before and I was excited for her to see it.

So without further ado, here's the report:

We stopped in Riverside right off Hwy 91 on University at D'elia's Grinders. They make the absolute best submarine sandwiches in the world (IMHO). Flaky bread, roast beef, mouth waters just thinking about it:

Here is our trusted steed in the parking lot. She is a 2007 R1200GS. The modifications are HB crash bars, Givi windscreen, GS Adventure luggage rack, winglets, and top case, Corbin seat, Wunderlich throttle lock. I painted the aluminum colored side panels black with bed-liner.

After breakfast it was a quick jaunt down Hwy 60 to the 10 Eastbound. In Banning we got off and started to head south. Here is Mrs. Jedi in Banning:

We headed south on SR 243 towards Idyllwild. The road up out of Banning offers incredible views. You gain about 4,000 feet elevation from the desert floor in the space of only a few miles. The switchbacks are kind of scary but cool.

Yours truly in Idyllwild:

Downtown Idyllwild:

After riding through Idyllwild we continued south and stopped for a quick look around Lake Hemett:

More soon........
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Old 10-01-2009, 02:09 PM   #2
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While riding south on SR 243 we went through a beautiful valley. Looking back towards the north east we had a great view of the mountains in the San Jacinto Range. Mt. San Jacinto being the tallest, at over 10,000 feet:

And the highway heading south:

We then turned left (East) on SR 74. Not far after the intersection of SR 74 and SR 371 we came across a rough dirt road heading off to the right (South). It had a sign announcing, "Santa Rosa Mountain 10 (miles)". Let me start by saying, my dirt skills are awful. I totaled my first R1200GS while off-roading on a road about the same as this one. But...looking up the road towards the mountain peak that I guessed was Santa Rosa Mountain, I thought to myself, "this is why you ride a GS".

The road was fun. It was my first time ever riding 2 up on a non-paved road. Over the next 3 hours/ 20 miles (10 each way), I ALMOST dumped it three times. ACTUAL dumps...0!

Much of the road looked like this going up:

It began at roughly 4,000 feet elevation and pretty much scrub brush and rock...typical high desert. As we gained elevation (an additional 4,000 feet), the brush became thicker and finally into pines:

The view was really hard to do justice to with a camera. The highest peak you can see towards the left of the picture is Mt. San Jacinto. The valley in the foreground is along SR 74, at 4,000 feet. The large valley beyond that is the I-10 corridor, and Palm Springs, at a little above sea level:

Mt. San Jacinto through the trees:

After making it back down from the peak unscathed (but with a hot engine and less oil), we made out way to Palm Springs. We had no hotel reservations but it wasn't a busy time of year either. We stopped at the biggest, nicest looking hotel we could find in Palm Springs, the Hyatt. As luck would have it they were doing some remodeling on the back of the hotel. Because of this they were offering very low prices. We got a nice room with a great view for $80 dollars for the night. The view from our balcony:

And at night:

I forgot to mention the weather. Palm Springs was a chilly 103 degrees when we got there. We went out to dinner at a great Mexican restaurant a couple blocks from the hotel and sat a the outside tables facing the street to watch folks walk by. It had cooled to the high 80's.

More coming soon......

Jedi5150 screwed with this post 10-01-2009 at 03:13 PM
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:03 PM   #3
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So the next day we called to find out the hours of the aerial tram to the top of the mountain. What we got instead was a recording saying that the tram was closed due to maintenance until the end of September.

So instead of hiking as planned, we decided to do some more riding (never a bad thing). We road back west on I-10 and north on Hwy 210. We road 210 to the foothills and then took 330 up into the San Bernadino Mountains, near Running Springs:

For the second day in a row we found ourselves over 8,000 feet above sea level (not bad for Southern California ). We took SR 18 towards Big Bear lake. Just a little bit past Running Springs we saw another road that caught our attention heading off to the right. I was called "Keller Peak Rd.", and looked interesting. This time it was a paved road. We followed it about 6 miles in where it came to a beautiful campground. We hiked around the campground (which was empty) for about an hour. The we continued along the road which offered some fantastic views.

Underneath the clouds, and 8,000 feet below (looking Southwest) lies Los Angeles and beyond that the Pacific Ocean:

Looking west at the peak of Mount Baldy:

At the end of the road (and the peak of the mountain) we happened upon the Keller Peak Lookout, a forestry service fire tower that is still staffed during daytime hours by volunteers:

The stairs to the cabin were steep. Very steep...

But the view was extraordinary. This is looking north. The strip of tan on the mountain range in the distance is SR 18, which takes you to Big Bear Lake. It is an incredibly fun (twisty and beautiful) highway for a bike:

We spoke with the nice retired couple that was volunteering at the Keller Lookout. They explained how the watchtowers worked. It was pretty fascinating. From this tower we could see at least three other lookout towers on other mountains. They told us that on a clear day from Keller Peak you could see from Catalina Island to the southwest to Mount Whitney to the north (tallest mountain in the 48 states).

After getting back on SR 18 we rode to and around Big Bear Lake:

All in all it was a great two days of riding. We explored some of the two largest mountain ranges in Southern California, stayed in a nice hotel, and ate great food. What made it even more fun was that we played the whole thing by ear. We had no planned route to get to the places we went to. And two of the most fun things we did (Keller Peak and Mt. Santa Rosa) were almost by accident, simply by asking the question, "I wonder where that road goes".

The following day we took our kids to Disneyland for the first time. That is a whole other ride report.
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Old 10-01-2009, 04:20 PM   #4
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Excellent trip. I can see why Palm Springs gets its name.
Marty F
'13 Triumph Sprint GT; '14 BMW G 650 GS
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:25 PM   #5
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Nice report. I'm often pleasantly surprised at the nice little roads that you can find in SoCal.
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the compliments guys! I'm glad you liked it. Eyes Shut, you're right about the cool little roads you can find down there. If we'd had more time there was a lot more exploring we could have done. Particularly up near Big Bear, there are a lot of places around there that looked fun to check out.
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