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Old 09-26-2013, 05:40 PM   #91
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Location: Savannah
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While I don't know you ( or Mike) I think it's safe to say he would be proud of you, both for making the trip, and moving forward with your life.
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Old 09-26-2013, 06:11 PM   #92
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Thank you for taking your time to share your feelings and thoughts during your solo ride. You're doing a beautiful write-up, and I have been enjoying your style.
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:02 AM   #93
Candiya OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
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Thank you, everyone.

I wanted to share a quick side note. In day 5 above, I wondered if Mike had ever been to that spot on highway one with the graffiti. Last night, a friend of his sent me photos of Mike within a couple corners of there. He was standing with his friends in one, posed in front of a 25 mph sign in another, and taking a photo in the third.

This gave me the courage - and the curiosity, to be honest - to finally open Mike's computer and look at his photos. I found the photo he was taking on highway one, as well as photos from many other stops on my trip. I didn't set out to travel in his footsteps, but it appears that I did after all. One thing I can say...while looking at his motorcycle travel photos, I now have a completely different understanding of his experience traveling than before my trip.

Still processing...
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:08 AM   #94
Candiya OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
Originally Posted by GP1152 View Post
Candiya introduced herself to us last year (in a post) when we were on our trip up to Canada and back. It was then that she shared the story of her loss. Immediately my heart sank. We had just gone through Winthrop, a town which her and Mike were supposed to have been going through as well. I'm not one to take anything for granted, but her story really hit home. I can only imagine the loss.
Since that time we have stayed in touch and even met up for breakfast (she was nice enough to make time to meet us). I could tell when we met her that she is about as kind a person as you'll ever meet.
Candiya, you definitely deserved this trip. I'm really glad you finally set out to do it.

P.S. I told you so!! ;)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Gus, I owe you and Stephanie a HUGE thank you for all of the support, encouragement, and logistical advice. Yes, you were right!
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:56 AM   #95
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Location: chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
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This is very good,your doing a great job on the whole report.

Im a nor cal native and know what you mean about the backroads here,there's lots and lots of them,easy to avoid big hiways.

Ive done Ave of Giants/Ferndale/Lost Coast/Honeydew/Petrolia on pedal bike,and motorbike. Its great on either.

Some bikes around at times
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:48 AM   #96
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Location: India Wharf
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I hope you do some more adventure trips. I find them spiritual. Even when I was a little kid riding in the back seat of a 53 Pontiac on a cross country road trip with my parents. In recent years I have been all over the continent on dual sport motorcycles, so I can explore more remote terrain.

I love your motorcycle . I've never had anything quite like that. I also love your leathers and helmet. But in the future long trips you probably should wear Goretex that vents, and sip water out of a Camelbak all day. It is very easy to get dehydrated. The first sign is muscle cramps. Nothing will get rid of the cramps better than water. 5 minutes tops. You can ride many more hours sipping as you go.

I feel sad about your loss, and also your remarks about having children. But the ride is a great one. You are very sensitive to your surroundings and articulate them well. They are familiar feelings for many of us.

Looking forward to more.
Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
"There I was..." -Griffin Niner Three Hotel
"One day closer to a parade..." Jonny Gomes, spring training 2013
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:51 PM   #97
Candiya OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
Day Six: Willits, CA to McCloud, CA, 311 miles

Route: 101 north (Garberville), Alderpoint Road, 36 east, 3 north, 299 east (Redding), I5 north (Dunsmuir), 89 east, McCloud River Mercantile Hotel in McCloud

Favorite roads of the day: Alderpoint Rd. and 36

In the morning, I sat down to do some route planning with my maps, GPS and the Destination Highways app. I was like a kid in a candy store picking out my treats. “I'll take one of these and one of those.” I added one fun road after another to the route. It felt delicious. This is the gift I had given myself with the decision to cut out the southern portion of the trip.

The big question was where to end for the day. I simply did not want to stay in Redding. I considered it and looked at lodging options, but they seemed to cluster at two extremes: motels with reviews like “the cops were here three times last night” and big hotels like Red Lion. Nope, this wasn't for me.

I followed highway 3 north on the map and found Weed. Looking at lodging options there, some bed and breakfasts popped up in McCloud. When I started the trip, I had had a vague idea about staying in a B&B at the coast, but that hadn't happened. Maybe this could be my chance. I found one with excellent reviews and a mention of a soaker tub. Sold! I booked it. The only small doubt I had was the review that mentioned that no restaurants were open for dinner in walking distance. “Oh well,” I thought, picturing a B&B in the middle of a forest. I'd deal with that when I arrived.

The other question was if I could cut from 101 to 36 without returning all the way to Fortuna. There were some small lines on the map that looked like they'd go through, but were those roads paved? I tried putting them in the GPS with the “avoid unpaved” option set, curious if it would work. The GPS accepted the route without a hiccup. Cool! We'll give it a shot.

My goal route was now 101 north (Garberville), Alderpoint Road, 36 east, 3 north (Callahan), Gazelle Callahan Road (Gazelle), I5 south (Mt. Shasta), and 89 east to McCloud. Have I mentioned lately that everything takes me longer than I expect? This was an ambitious route.

Route set, I was excited to get on the road, but I needed to eat first after skipping dinner last night. Looking at the hotel breakfast buffet of processed food options, I settled on the instant oatmeal. Oatmeal's healthy, right? Unfortunately, it was so sweet, I could only choke down about half of it before giving up. The road beckoned! I'd eat a good lunch on the way.

I set off and found 101 to be unexpectedly pleasant again. The portion from Willits to Legget was new for me. It wound through the forest with minimal traffic. Soon, I was at Garberville. I stopped for gas, with yesterday's hunt for gas on highway 1 fresh in my mind. The mini mart next to the gas station was closed, and I contemplated stopping in town for lunch and a bathroom since it was 11:00, but I wasn't ready to stop yet. “There will be something else up the road.”

So...on to Alderpoint Road! Other than my short detour on the way to Crater Lake, this was my first non-highway road that didn't come with a firsthand recommendation from someone on the motorcycle forum or the Destination Highways book. I knew this was taking a chance, which is why I stopped for gas before setting off. Now this was exploration!

The road set off with fairly good pavement and gorgeous views. I stopped to take some photos before a 10 mph hairpin, then again a bit later. Sitting on the shoulder, I noticed that every vehicle that passed was 4-wheel drive, and the only motorcycle I saw was a dual sport. I wondered if this presaged anything about the road conditions ahead.

Alderpoint Rd above Garberville

And a little farther on...

The road wound along, and the pavement got worse and worse. This was truly the nastiest pavement I've ever come across. It didn't just have frost heaves, it had buckles and ridges and potholes, sometimes all atop one another. I loved it, just ate it up, motoring along slowly, wondering what was around the next bend. The road narrowed to one lane, and I continued to wonder. I passed a sign that said loose gravel. There was a stop sign, then a single lane of gravel for about 20 feet. The sign said to proceed when clear. I carefully rode across at minimal speed, with my foot hovering over the rear brake. Onward!

I continued on, around and over hills, until I came to another loose gravel sign. I looked for a stop sign, any sort of indication that this was a defined section of gravel, but there wasn't one. The pavement just...ended. I could see the two lane gravel road go up over the crown of a hill and around the bend.

I was ready for a break so I turned off my bike, took off my helmet, and broke out a health bar. It was now getting on towards 12:30 with no lunch in sight. to proceed? I checked my gas: 70 miles on the tank. I figured that this was about the halfway mark on the tank so if I was going to turn back, I should do it now. I looked at the GPS: about 26 more miles to hwy 36. Was there more pavement up ahead or 26 miles of gravel that might deteriorate into something that required the 4-wheel capability of all the pickups that had passed me earlier? I stood there in the warm summer day, munching my bar, dodging the bees that were fascinated with my bike, and pondered. “I sure wish I could ask someone...”

Gravel ahead

And pavement behind

“Wait, what's that sound?” Over the buzzing bees and hum of the power lines, I heard the rumble of a motor..then it faded away. Hmmm... I munched and listened and sure enough, the sound of the motor returned, even closer. Hell yeah.

Over the crown of the gravel hill, I saw a rental sedan with an older couple in it, followed by yet another 4-wheel drive truck. I was irrationally relieved to see that sedan, the first non-four-wheel-drive vehicle of the road. “If they can make it through, so can I!” I flagged them down with a grin.

“How much farther does the gravel go?” I asked them.

“Oh, not far, maybe a half mile,” they answered.

“And then it's paved from then on?”

“Well, there area few spots of gravel, but this is the longest,” they replied.

“And this road connects with 36?” It seemed wise to double check.

“Yes,” they confirmed.

I thanked them with a smile and gave a wave to the poor pickup truck, stuck behind the rental car. Woot! I was back in business.

Crossing that boundary from paved to unpaved was important. I couldn't believe that I was doing this, and even moreso, I couldn't believe that I was excited to do this. Who was I? Surely I was not the same person who struggled with debilitating nerves while learning to ride, the person who wanted everything planned and under control. No, the truth is that I am not that person anymore. Since Mike's accident I have not held any expectation that I would be the same person as before. But I didn't know that I had changed in this way. I didn't know that I was strong and adventurous. I didn't know that I could relish the challenge of the unknown.

Crunching across the gravel, I thought ruefully that this was probably not what my friends meant when they had told me to be careful. I was going to get a “talking to” when they found out about this. Continuing forward was a commitment to face the unknown since I probably didn't have enough gas to retrace my steps. I was on a quiet rural road of uncertain condition. No one knew where I was, though I had set my satellite communicator to place a dot on an online map each hour. I had some backup in the form of the communicator, but in the immediate short-term, I needed to rely on myself. And that was okay.

I continued on and on. There were probably 6-7 small sections of gravel. Gravel with washboard ba-bump...gravel on top of mud...uphill gravel and downhill gravel. My confidence improved with each crossing, and my hesitation before each attempt shortened and shortened until there was no hesitation.

The road opened up to a gorgeous view. By now it was 1:30, time for another break. I pulled over, walked across the road, and settled my bum on the berm with a bottle of water and another granola bar. Since the first day of my trip, I had been wanting to sit and listen to the silence, and I decided that I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I closed my eyes. All I could hear was the buzzing of bees and the shhhhh... of the tall dry grass stalks rubbing in the slight breeze. I opened my eyes and watched the grass bounce and wave before me. The individual stalks bent in ripples, as if the field was a single organism. My eye scanned the horizon, following the dry hillside to find a single tree silhouetted against the sky and the darker tree-covered hills in the distance. The air was warm and smelled like the dusty end of summer. Eventually, I knew it was time to move along. More interesting roads awaited.

Do you see the solitary tree in the distance?

Can you hear the rustle of the grass?

More of my view from the side of the road...

I continued on and soon saw the GPS read that highway 36 was within a mile. I knew then that I was going to make it and felt a triumphant rush. I purred along over the last gravel section with nary a flutter of hesitation. I've never been as excited to see a stop sign as I was when I reached 36.

Highway 36 was a surprise. I don't know why, but with its exalted reputation in the motorcycling community, I figured it would be a main thoroughfare. I pictured it as 2 lanes in each direction with steady traffic. Instead, I was at a deserted intersection. The highway stretched across with only one lane in each direction, and it was empty. I sat there for a minute...still empty. As I turned right onto the highway and accelerated on the fresh, new pavement, the thought rang in my head, “I am in heaven!” It was glorious. The difference from the past 3 hours of broken pavement could not have been more absolute. This road was amazing. Amazing!

And as an extra gift, I quickly realized that at my skill level, I could go as fast as I wanted, and I was still going the speed limit. Bonus! I passed 3 parked police cars, and I'm sure the officers were shaking their heads at me, hanging off the bike at the speed limit. (Yes, I know there's no need to hang off at the speed limit, but I was playing and practicing. After conquering Alderpoint, I deserved a little play!)

Of course, I had once again underestimated the remoteness of these roads. Looking at the map in the morning, I just assumed that there would be services, including gas, at the intersection of Alderpoint and 36. I kept a look-out for gas and stopped at the first station I came across. Pulling into the station, I looked at my trip meter, which said that I had about 70 miles on the tank. Wait a minute, wasn't it 70 miles when I stopped at the beginning of the gravel? Embarrassed, I realized that I hadn't waited for the bike to cycle through its readouts when I looked at the screen on Alderpoint. It was 70 degrees then, not 70 miles. Oops. Well, better to have extra in reserve than the opposite.

Usually, at gas stations, people were curious or encouraging. This gas station was a strange place. The men lounged against the walls and looked at me with hard eyes. I pumped the gas and got out of there as quickly as possible.

Soon, it was time to turn off onto 3. This was a fun road too, though tighter than 36. I knew that my skills weren’t doing it justice. I should have been able to go faster, but all I could do was continue on in my comfort zone.

(I can't believe I didn't get any photos on 36 or 3. Must have been having too much fun.)

It was getting on towards 3:00 when I hit Hayfork. I still hadn't eaten so I stopped at the market for a bottle of water and a package of 6 cheese-filled crackers. As I downed them as quickly as possible in the parking lot, the lady behind the register came outside to tell me that there was a lot of gravel on 3 and to be careful. More kindness from strangers.

The market in Hayfork

As I gassed up in Hayfork, I had to admit that there wasn't enough daylight left to complete the rest of my route so I changed my plan. Now I'd take 299 to Redding and I5 north. I just couldn't escape Redding, as hard as I tried! Though I had to cut my route short, I couldn't begrudge the day. What I had already experienced was amazing. Highway 299 was fun, though it became busier approaching Redding. This was the biggest city I'd been in since leaving the Seattle area, and I noticed that I was much more comfortable than I usually am riding on multi-lane roads.

Highway 299

As I approached I5, I sent a fervent prayer...”Please be kind, I5!” I was deathly afraid of riding on I5 in the Seattle area. I knew it was likely to be less congested here, but still, the thought of spending 55 miles on it wasn't pleasant. With a bunch of pent-up tension, I merged on to the find it almost deserted. The nearest vehicles were about a half mile ahead and a half mile behind me. I let out a giant sigh of relief. This was excellent freeway practice. I was on the freeway for an hour, my longest stretch ever, long enough to get over the jitters. I was surprised to find that I5 is pretty through here with Mt. Shasta catching the setting sun.

Mt. Shasta

I pulled into McCloud at a little after 7:00, tallying 10 hours and 311 miles in the saddle. It turns out that McCloud is a beautiful, tiny, historic town. It was deserted, except for two couples meandering along the street. I felt a twinge of apprehension. Would this be one of those romantic vacation spots populated entirely by couples? I crossed my fingers that my room wouldn't be too romantic.

Walking up to the front door, I noticed the envelope taped to the door with my name on it. Inside were a welcome letter and two keys to my room. You know you're in a small town when this happens! I dragged my bags upstairs and was relieved to find that my room wasn't romantic. On the contrary, it was super feminine. It felt like being in a grandmother's house, safe and cozy. Phew.

I had the “Hot & Tot” room

With the 10 hours in the saddle, the last thing I wanted was to climb back on the bike to find food, but I knew I couldn't skip another meal. After skipping dinner last night, all I had eaten today was a little oatmeal and a couple granola bars and crackers. I was famished. Rather than changing, I left the leathers on and set off on the bike in search of food. Luckily, I found the McCloud River Lodge close by.

I walked in and was immediately greeted by the high energy waitress. “It's so great to see another woman rider!” She went bouncing out the door, “I have to see your bike!” Moving a little slowly after my long day, I drifted outside with her, smiling at her enthusiasm. It turned out that she rode a Ninja 600 and rarely had a chance to hang out with other women riders. We happily gabbed away about bikes as we returned to the restaurant, and I settled into a table in the bar.

My new friend, Wendey, the waitress

What a great atmosphere that place had. You could tell that all the locals were at the bar, as they happily greeted each other by name and proceeded to catch up. Someone brought in a little puppy, and a bit later, I saw a group of guys pulling their guitars and other stringed instruments out of cases on the pool table, in preparation for a bluegrass jam session on the back steps.

I ordered a prodigious amount of food and a soda. As I waited for it to arrive, a lady stopped by my table. She was in her early 50's, with long straight hair. She approached shyly, reached out her hand and said, “Much respect.” “Excuse me?” I wasn't sure what she meant. “I ride on the back,” she explained. “But I have a lot of respect for you on your own bike.” Surprised, I thanked her with a big smile, and she gave me some warnings about the deer on the roads at night.

My salad arrived, and soon after, I had another visitor – a lady in her early 40's, joined shortly thereafter by her husband.

“I just wanted to let you know that I am very proud of you,” she announced emphatically. “You're traveling on your own bike.”

“ Thank you!” This was unexpected.

“Aren't you scared?”

I stopped and thought for a moment. “Well, sure. I was scared when I started. But I'm not scared anymore. People are really nice.”

It turned out that her husband rode so we exchanged travel stories for a bit before they continued out the door.

After my entree arrived, a man passing by my table on his way out the door shot me a quick, bright smile and a wave. “Shiny side up!”

In between these visitors, my waitress, Wendey, and I continued to talk bikes. I invited her to ride with me the next day, and she regretfully declined, saying that she was busy. As I wrapped up my dinner, the bluegrass started on the back porch, and I walked to the back door to listen. A few minutes later, I realized that it probably wasn't the best idea to leave my phone out unattended, but when I got back to the table, I found that not only was my phone still there, it now had a twin. There was a second phone on the table. Huh? Wendey returned, explaining that she had had second thoughts. Maybe it would work to ride tomorrow, and could we exchange phone numbers? Sure!

I was exhausted, and the soaker tub back in my room was calling my name. It was time to head back to the hotel. Leaving the Lodge, I felt encouraged and hopeful. It had been several days since I had had a real conversation with someone face-to-face, and I appreciated being welcomed into the community there. Returning to the room, I enjoyed a bath in the decadent tub and curled up in the very comfy bed. I felt cozy and relaxed and fell asleep quickly.

Around 3:00 am, I awoke feeling panicky and scared. It had been months since I had felt this, a deep permeating fear of eternity. Mike wasn't ever coming home. He had been a submariner with the Navy so we were used to spending time apart. I can handle him not being here today and not being here tomorrow...but nevermore? He is lost forever? I don't know why, but sometimes in the middle of the night I find this aspect of death incredibly, thoroughly frightening.

I sat up and swung my legs off the side of the bed, thinking that I would make some tea in the communal room but then remembered the loud wooden floors and didn't want to disturb the other guests. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few moments, rocking in pain. Then I grabbed my book and lay back down, reaching for distraction. Eventually, the fear subsided enough for me to slip back into the comfort of sleep.

This was a pivotal day in my trip, with tremendous highs, but the work of grieving was not over.

Candiya screwed with this post 09-27-2013 at 07:06 PM
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Old 09-27-2013, 07:19 PM   #98
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Joined: Jul 2009
Location: South of the big lake
Oddometer: 744
I have really enjoyed your trip and writing. I hope you find the peace you are seeking in the ride and you can gain the strength to carry on your life never forgetting Mike and the time you spent with him. Life can be a very complex puzzle and all of us can have a twist thrown at us. I really feel you will once again find happiness in your life and this is a wonderful healing experience.
Current Bikes: 2014 BMW GSA, 2010 Vespa 300 Super scooter ( hers), 2012 Vespa 300 Super (his)
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:09 AM   #99
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Joined: Mar 2013
Location: PNW
Oddometer: 1,615
Wow. Reading the bit about looking over his photos and you traveling the same areas gave me goosebumps. Its amazing how things work out. Im so glad you're out on road doing this. Experiencing all the friendly people out there and other female riders. Seeing the beautiful sights.

I hope you continue to have an amazing adventure and safe journey. Keep the rubber on the ground. Cheers!
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just cause we ride fast doesn't mean we're in a hurry
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:31 AM   #100
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: S.E. PA
Oddometer: 206
Finally caught up ...great pictures and writing...makes me want to try the left coast..never been there...and now that I am retired what am I waiting for.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:40 AM   #101
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Joined: Nov 2011
Location: Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat INA
Oddometer: 40
Look buddy ! we have superb girl over here

i'm sorry about your boyfriend
Let your mind pursue your dream fella..
make your hearts become the guides..
To Infinity and beyond !

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Old 09-28-2013, 07:05 AM   #102
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
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Wow, have just caught up on your wonderful report - thank you for sharing it so openly with us, and providing inspiration on many levels.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:29 PM   #103
Candiya OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
Day Seven: McCloud, CA, 72 miles

Route: Uh...dunno. I was the follower, not the leader today. Destinations: reservoir, river, lake, Mt. Shasta, McCloud River Mercantile Hotel in McCloud

Favorite destination of the day: The river below the reservoir

After wrestling with my demons the night before, I slept late this morning and had a lazy, languid start to the day. At 9:00, I texted Wendey to see if she was interested in riding and let her know that I was just heading down to breakfast. This hotel wasn't a true B&B since they didn't make breakfast themselves, but they gave a $20 credit per room to spend at two restaurants on the first floor of the building. I chose the diner on the corner and sat in a booth, charmed by the vintage details of the space. It was such a pleasure to have a real breakfast after a week of hotel breakfast buffets, and I splurged on their special of french toast with berries.

The veranda in front of the hotel and restaurant

I liked the lightbulbs

This fan rotated

While waiting for the food, I pulled out the ipad and pink, rubber keyboard to take some trip notes. I hated that keyboard; it was just about as maddening as the ipad touchscreen. It wouldn't recognize keystrokes on the edges of the keys and quickly went to sleep if you didn't type for a bit, meaning that the first keystroke after that would wake it up but not be recorded. I was constantly missing letters, getting double letters, and generally making myself crazy with the thing. And the other factor that I hadn't thought all the way through was that while the rubber made it easy to pack, it meant that I couldn't type in bed since it needed to rest on a hard surface. I bitterly regretted not bringing my real keyboard. I had wanted to write the trip report during the trip, but it just wasn't possible with these tools. Ah well, if the worst thing I forgot to bring on my first solo trip was a keyboard, I was doing A-okay.

Just as I was digging into my food, I heard the waitress say, “We don't allow Harley chicks in here!” Laughing, Wendey swung into the booth dressed in leathers. Awesome! I was so happy to see her. We ate breakfast and planned the day, taking time out to try to guess which of the tourists belonged to the Jaguar with the “Jagie2” vanity plate outside the booth window.

I went next door to book another night at the hotel. It felt like a holiday to have a play day with no route planning and no focus on making it to a goal destination for the night. Plus, I was glad to have some more time to explore the small town. And I was excited to have a companion for the road and to get to know my new friend better.

I quickly changed into my leathers and went down to the bike. It would be strange to ride without the tail bags. There was a man sitting on the veranda beside my bike. We made small talk as I hooked up the tank bag, then he said the fated words: “I guess you've seen the oil leak?” He pointed it out. Yep, oil leak. I felt a passing rush of shame that I hadn't noticed it. Mike would have. I wasn't very good at this road tripping stuff. I let it go and examined the leak further.

The oil leak

In a strange way, I was glad to face a mechanical issue. The goal of this trip was to face my fears, and one of them was exactly this situation. What would I do with a mechanical issue? I didn't want to arrive home and still have this lingering question. I didn't exactly want something to go wrong, but I wasn't crushed that it had. Now I got to dig into the real stuff.

Wendey rode up, and I pointed out the leak. She helped identify the source. I was relieved to see that it began above the join. I was afraid that oil leaking from the join would mean a blown head gasket. Not that I knew exactly what that was or even where it was. But I knew that a blown head gasket would be very bad.

We noted that the oil wasn't leaking enough to drip on the ground, and she rubbed some of it between her fingers and reported that it was clean – no grit or metal shavings. She pointed out that we had two options: 1) we could scrap the ride and try to contact a mechanic, or 2) we could wipe it clean then ride and see if and how much it continued to leak. I certainly didn't want to give up my chance to ride with a local guide. At least now, if I got stuck on the side of the road, I'd have some company to send for help. Figuring that it didn't look catastrophic, I decided to ride. I texted photos of the leak to a friend, asking if it was serious, and we rode off.

We took it mellow in the populated areas, but as soon as we got out of town, it became apparent that she was a better rider than me. The morning sun cast long shadows of the tree limbs across the road, and I found the flickering light-and-dark distracting. We passed by green fields and started to wind up into some hills. Coming around corners, I started to find little piles of rocks that the pale, rocky hillsides had shed onto the road. My speed dropped further. I was glad that I had warned her the night before that I'm slow.

We rode around the reservoir, filled with shockingly bright turquoise water. (I regret not getting photos of it.) She pulled up at an intersection in the narrow roads and waited for me. “Do you want to go down to the river? There might be a little debris on the road,” she asked. Shrugging, I said, “Sure!” I was curious what she meant by “a little debris”. I suspected that her definition might be different from mine. Didn't the rocks in the road already count as a little debris?

We started down the one-lane curvy road, and, sure enough, within a couple turns, the road became gravel with a tight downhill curve. I slowly crunched across it, grateful for the gravel experience yesterday. Coming across this section a week ago would have given me a heart attack. A little debris...ha! The road became paved again, though still narrow, and soon we pulled over at the side next to a metal pipe handrail leading down the hill.

Wendey asked if I wanted to see the river. “Sure,” I said with a few reservations. “But I'm not very good at hiking in motorcycle boots. I might not make it all the way down.” She reassured me. “You'll be fine. I used to have problems hiking in boots when I first started too.” I made it down to the riverbank upright the whole way, though I considered scooting on my butt a time or two.

It was beautiful – really stunning - and I was so glad to be there. Wendey took a couple pictures of me, and as I quickly reviewed them, I looked like a stranger in my own eyes. Who is that girl? She looked like someone I would want to know, standing relaxed on an undeveloped riverbank in motorcycle leathers and a bright smile. (This is quite a change from the last year.) I thought of how far I had come, that when I set out on this journey, I could not have suspected that I would end up here, deep in the forest, in a beautiful spot I never would have found on my own, with a new friend.

We clambered back up the hillside and checked the oil leak. Still leaking, just a bit. My friend had tried to return my call after receiving the photos, but I was riding at the time and had no service here. Wendey and I decided to return to the Lodge, where she could look for her lost sunglasses, and I would have cell service. At the Lodge, I called my friend, and he was reassuring. Still, I was concerned. He was looking at the photos on his phone, and I wasn't sure he could see the extent of the problem. Wendey and I decided to head out to the lake. It was only about 20 miles, and it would give me a chance to see more about the rate of the leak while I had back-up along for the ride.

Mt. Shasta was crystal clear beyond the lodge

We headed west on 89 and were quickly caught behind a big rig. She passed, and I wanted to join her but just couldn't see far enough ahead. My insecurities returned with a vengeance. All of the riders that I normally rode with (much more experienced than me) would have passed. I thought of all the people stopping by my table last night and felt like a sham. “Little did they know that I'm not a real rider,” I thought. I had to take a step back and remind myself that I had ridden this whole way. What is a “real rider”? I may not have been able to ride like I wished, but I must have been some sort of rider, “real” or not, to get myself to McCloud. I set aside the doubt and resigned myself to following the big rig until I either found a good long passing spot or caught up to Wendey whenever she pulled off. A few minutes later, I saw her on the side of the road, waiting for me. She joined me on 89, and soon we were turning onto the side roads towards the lake.

These were well-maintained two-lane roads that carved their way up the mountain – mostly sweepers but some hairpins thrown in for fun. We arrived at the lake and walked out to the edge to enjoy the view. Everywhere we had gone, she had greeted people by name, and it was no different here. There was a canoe on the lake, and she said hi to them as they paddled by with their dog.

Wendey and I sat on the rocks by the shore and soaked up the sunshine. She shared stories of her life, and I gradually built a vision of what it would be like to live there. She described skating on the lake in the winter, skiing alongside it in the snow, and hiking to the hilltops in the summer. She explained that I had arrived just after the close of the tourist season. The town had emptied out, and everywhere she looked, she saw locals she hadn't seen for months, with the crush of tourists in the summer. She described the “dog and pony” show that the town put on for the tourists, literally, as the townsfolk dressed up their animals and paraded them down the main street, just one of the many festivals of the summer months. Normally, I would have been turned off by these “fake” festivals created to entertain the tourists, but as she talked, I heard the story of a town full of people trying to scrape out an existence to support living where they loved. She mentioned that locals often worked in the summer and winter and were unemployed in the spring and fall. They tried to earn enough in the tourist seasons to survive the off seasons. Something about McCloud reminded me of the old TV show, Northern Exposure.

I shared with her the reason behind my trip, explaining Mike's accident. “It was the day after he returned from the last deployment of his career,” I said. My lips twisted into something that wasn't quite a smile. The unexpressed follow-on phrase was, “Can you effing believe it?” She heard my silent sentiment loud and clear and shook her head.

Eventually, she asked if I was ready for lunch. Wow, how did it get to be 2:00 already? We returned to Mt. Shasta and stopped at a Mexican restaurant, Casa Ramos. After ordering, I pulled out my phone to take some photos, and she spotted the sombreros on the wall. The owner gave us permission to use them, and we took silly photos of ourselves with the rock hard wall decorations. The food was tasty, and I ate most of it, which was good because I ended up skipping dinner again that night.

Wendy stopped to point out the mountains on the way down from the lake

Silly photos with sombreros

We didn't look nearly as dignified as the man on the wall

You could tell our different riding patterns from our tires. She used her sportbike on the dirt...

While my tires showed the evidence of a track day and the trip...

We returned to McCloud, and I bid her goodbye with a big hug and a huge thank you for sharing her neat hometown with me. I stretched my legs with a walk, stopping to snap photos and to greet the people relaxing on their front porches. It was just that kind of town.

A hotel down the street

The park at the end of the street

A church (obviously)

I loved this view of the mountain

A different view of the main street

My hotel

Back at the hotel, I did laundry again. (The hotel owner had offered for me to use her regular washing machines for free after the staff was done with the sheets and towels.) It was time to see if I could get some extra advice on the oil leak so I set up camp in the communal room, which had good internet, and posted in the mechanical and technical forum. People were kind enough to respond, and I spent several hours posting, taking extra photos of the bike, and texting in side conversations about the problem. Some of the possible explanations were truly worrisome. Coolant in the oil...and vice versa? Eek. The consensus was that it was oil coming from the water pump weep hole.

The communal room at the hotel

My proposed route for the next day was to hit the brewery in Etna for lunch then cross over to Soames Bar before heading north again on 96 and 48. Several people had told me that the road from Etna to Soames Bar was truly remote, passing through the Marble Mountain Wilderness. I didn't want to ride this route on a bike I didn't trust. I'd call a BMW dealership first thing in the morning and get their advice.


Note: I don't want to worry anybody with the oil leak. I'm posting this report after the fact, and it has been repaired.

Candiya screwed with this post 09-28-2013 at 04:00 PM
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Old 09-28-2013, 02:55 PM   #104
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So, just out of curiously, what was the culprit responsible for the oil leak?

Keep riding and writing.
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:29 PM   #105
Candiya OP
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Originally Posted by travlr_45 View Post
So, just out of curiously, what was the culprit responsible for the oil leak?

Keep riding and writing.
A seal was failing in the internal assembly of the water pump. Stay tuned for the rest of the story... :)
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