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Old 10-04-2014, 03:43 PM   #1
tallpaul63 OP
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A couple weeks in Utah and Idaho...



The plan: two weeks on the road, heading east from Santa Cruz to Utah, then North to Idaho and Montana, then rolling back home through central Oregon. I'm solo this trip, which is cool with me, riding my Vstrom, with the usual mods for comfort and protection: crash bars, bashplate, Sargent seat, and a bit of luggage. I won't geek out on the bike stuff; it works!

It's a planned trip, but I mean that in the loosest sense: I have time, and maps, but nowhere I have to be, and I won't need to think much beyond the needs of the day. Perfect!
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Old 10-04-2014, 05:01 PM   #2
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Old 10-04-2014, 07:42 PM   #3
tallpaul63 OP
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On the road

Good to be going. I left from work, because going home would be traveling in the wrong direction. Slabbing through the commuter hordes in the bay area, then through farming country, then slowly gaining elevation, watching the transition from rolling oak and grass lands to pine studded Sierra foothills.
The west side of the Sierra stands in such contrast to the steeper east side, where you seem to plummet out of the mountains into the high desert of the Owens Valley. I stopped short of Yosemite for lunch at a little roadside diner, a tired resort looking a bit neglected, but it will do for a counter meal. Met a fellow riding two up on a full dress Harley, and spoke with him for a moment. He and his gal were out touring on this glorious day, obviously doing the hotel thing (very little luggage for two). He's wearing the obligatory vest and blue jeans, plus a sheath knife on his belt with what must have been an eight inch blade. I wanted to ask him what it was for (Zee Germans perhaps?) but I let it go. I'm sensitive like that.
So, onward to Tuolumne Meadows for the night, where I found a decent camp site and a friendly neighbor- Meet Jim:

Jim made his living for many years as a commercial fisherman, chasing salmon, herring, crab, and tuna from the Canada down to Central America. He was good company, a quiet type who was still spry given his 86 years of living and working a hard life. He had the air of a man who didn't need to prove much anymore, just enjoying the passage pf pleasant days with a certain quiet patience. I liked him.
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Old 10-04-2014, 07:57 PM   #4
Roland44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallpaul63 View Post

The plan: two weeks on the road, heading east from Santa Cruz to Utah, then North to Idaho and Montana, then rolling back home through central Oregon. I'm solo this trip, which is cool with me, riding my Vstrom, with the usual mods for comfort and protection: crash bars, bashplate, Sargent seat, and a bit of luggage. I won't geek out on the bike stuff; it works!

It's a planned trip, but I mean that in the loosest sense: I have time, and maps, but nowhere I have to be, and I won't need to think much beyond the needs of the day. Perfect!
Nice bike and good plan. Let's see more pictures!
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:13 PM   #5
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Yeah - - - looks good - - - bring on the pics!
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:15 PM   #6
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Sierra to Death Valley

Todays ride is a dramatic one, from the cool mountain air in the Sierra, descending steeply down the eastern side of the range, past Mono Lake, skirting the Long Valley caldera, then south through old mining and farming towns Like Benton Hot Springs, and onward to highway 395 in Bishop.

I stopped in to have a look at Manzanar, the site of a WWII internment camp for Japanese Americans, who were relocated there to wait out the war. It's both bleak and beautiful there, hot in the summer and cold in the winter, with the snow capped mountains as a backdrop. This is one of the mess halls there:


There's a little documentary I saw called "Trout Fishing In Manzanar" about those internees. Some of them took to making excursions under the wire, not to escape, but rather to chase after trout in the creeks flowing out of the mountains to the west. I think they must have taken great pleasure in stretching their legs and chasing trout in the streams and even higher mountain lakes, if only to return to their barracks. A small gesture of liberation. The guards had to know it was going on, but must have deemed it a harmless exercise, especially later in the war. Ultimately, where were they going to go?
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tallpaul63 View Post
Todays ride is a dramatic one, from the cool mountain air in the Sierra, descending steeply down the eastern side of the range, past Mono Lake, skirting the Long Valley caldera, then south through old mining and farming towns Like Benton Hot Springs, and onward to highway 395 in Bishop.

I stopped in to have a look at Manzanar, the site of a WWII internment camp for Japanese Americans, who were relocated there to wait out the war. It's both bleak and beautiful there, hot in the summer and cold in the winter, with the snow capped mountains as a backdrop. This is one of the mess halls there:


There's a little documentary I saw called "Trout Fishing In Manzanar" about those internees. Some of them took to making excursions under the wire, not to escape, but rather to chase after trout in the creeks flowing out of the mountains to the west. I think they must have taken great pleasure in stretching their legs and chasing trout in the streams and even higher mountain lakes, if only to return to their barracks. A small gesture of liberation. The guards had to know it was going on, but must have deemed it a harmless exercise, especially later in the war. Ultimately, where were they going to go?
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:38 AM   #8
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This is great, keep it coming.
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:02 AM   #9
tallpaul63 OP
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Death Valley



Riding into Death Valley from the west, I encountered one of those eccentric travelers, walking his bike up a 2000 foot climb in the middle of the afternoon, shirt off, skin like leather. I thought initially that he might have a flat tire, and pulled over to see if he needed anything. I had a look at his gear: a bike that cost maybe $100.00, tires marginal, brakes askew, a backpack lashed to a schoolboys rack on the back. He carried his water in a plastic supermarket bottle secured to the frame of his bike with baling wire. He was one of those traveling madmen you meet occasionally, those holy fools, who knows where they are going, or why. I had with me an insulated bottle filled with ice water from my last stop in Lone Pine, and handed it to him with a grin. He may not have spoken English- I didn't try. I had a vague impression that he was European. He drank half the bottle and looked at me for a moment, and I gave him the nod- finish it. I thought about asking him about his trip, about where he was going, and where he had begun, but it just seemed better to just stand there grinning, in that blast furnace heat, and shake his hand. Later, I wished that I had taken his picture, but no matter, his trip is a mystery, known only to him, and that's as it should be.

I always enjoy riding in Death Valley, but I have a certain strategy in the warmer months: ride early or late in the day, and bank on sitting out the heat of the day in a swimming pool. At Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek Resort, you can buy a $5.00 pass for the pool, and pass the time until evening in comfort and style. Then have yourself a nice meal, pack up a couple beers and steal away to sleep in the desert. It was 108 degrees on this Fall day, and the ground seemed to radiate most of that heat until the pre-dawn hours when it must have dropped to about 90 degrees : )

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Old 10-06-2014, 11:10 AM   #10
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First light in Death Valley



The thing about Death Valley is that it is anything but featureless desert. The terrain is varied, and you can see mountains and canyons, broad plains, old mining camps, moaning sand dunes and racing rocks and other unexpected springs.
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:23 AM   #11
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:46 AM   #12
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I'll always love the Owens Valley area - because I grew up there - and I always enjoy exploring Death Valley. The very name "Death Valley" paints a picture of a bleak and horrible place, but while it is unforgiving, it is also spectacular in its own right.

Definitely following!

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Old 10-06-2014, 12:35 PM   #13
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More DV




I don't think the rules apply here. That's the whole point of being in the desert.
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:12 PM   #14
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And now the trip gets good...



Today its up with the dawn and on the road to make some miles. Slabbing is the order of business, passing through Las Vegas, past the billboards for personal injury lawyers, shooting ranges, cheap prime rib dinners, Beatles tribute bands...with me caught in the traffic, just looking to MOVE on eastward. Miles of Highway 15 with stops at the gas 'n sip to share a spot in the shade with the alcoholics, smokers and working stiffs. Onward now to Cedar City, then a fortuitous choice of route- hwy 14 east from there, with amazing views over Utah's Grand Staircase, with cool breezes and the smell of pine trees in the air. Tonight will see me in Escalante, which is a great little town. It will make a fine place to linger (on another trip) for a couple weeks, with hiking, cycling, fly fishing, and canyoneering all beckoning. Happy to be here!

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Old 10-07-2014, 10:47 AM   #15
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Escalante



I rolled into Escalante and took a small cabin at Escalante Outfitters, a nice place that has a great little cafe, some camping spots, and a good vibe. Hooked up with Rick just down the road who guides small groups on trips into some incredible slot canyons. Here's a picture of Rick and my two companions for the day, Eddie and Evelyn, from Davos, Switzerland. Canyoneering involves dropping into these amazing canyons, sometimes down climbing, sometimes rapelling, and just working your way through to enjoy a uniquely beautiful kind of place. The great thing about this area is the surprising hidden world within these canyons, which can narrow down to just a few inches, or open up into broad channels lined with aspen and cottonwoods. Great country!
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