Another cold day on the California coast. I’m sure glad I have a big coat. The coast is beautiful but I’m tired of the cold. When I leave San Francisco I’ll be going inland in search of warmer weather.
The trip into San Francisco was interesting with all the hills and traffic. It was clear for a while so I decided to go to the Presidio and get a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. While I was there a group of Germans from the Gelsenkirchen area saw my shirt and came over. Thinking I was German they started talking German faster than I could understand. After I told them I was not German we had a good conversation about our trips.
If there is one word that describes the California coast in June that word would be COLD!
About five minutes after I started the fog came in and stayed all day. The ride was beautiful but the fog kept me from getting really great pictures.
I stopped at the Hurst Castle but the tours were full till the afternoon so I didn’t stay.
The next stop was an Elephant Seal beach. All of the seals on the beach were young as all the mature animals had already left for the breeding areas.
During another stop there were so many tame squirrels it was just funny. I also saw the biggest seagull ever.
Another good riding day that got cooler as I got closer to the coast. The day was all desert so not much to say.
After leaving Las Vegas I rode into the Southern California desert. For the first 100 miles it was strange but beautiful area.
As you get farther into the trip you pass a couple of military bases. The first is Fort Irwin which is the Army’s desert war fair center. The next is Edwards Air Force Base where all the new aircraft tests are done, and where Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier.
A very interesting place was Tehachapi a small town in the mountains with great scenery. Their sign says it’s a town with four seasons. A really nice looking small town.
Another town along the route was Hinkley, if you remember your movies this is where Erin Brockovich saved the town from PG&E.
If you are an airline and you have extra airplanes for some reason what do you do with them? You fly them to Mohave, California and park them. It was strange to see hundreds of planes just sitting.
Today was mostly a simple riding day. I left Flagstaff about 8:00 when the temperature was about 50f (10c) after a low of about 42f. A very cool start to a day.
Just west of Flagstaff you can get off of I-40 and go on the historic Route 66. This takes you through several of the old small towns that died with the building of the interstate highway. One town that did survive is Williams, AZ. This town has made the transition into a tourist destination. Everything is about Route 66 and they do a great job of catering to the travelers.
I crossed paths with the riders from Switzerland again and rode with the about 50 miles. It’s much harder to ride in a group than to ride alone.
This trip has been all about surprises, and I got a nice one. I have never driven to Las Vegas so I didn’t know Hoover Dam was on the highway from Kingman to Las Vegas.
I stopped at the dam where I walked across the new bridge to take pictures then drove across the dam.
The trip into Las Vegas was uneventful but hot. It was 99f (38c) when I arrived. “But it’s a dry heat.” I’m showing my age, after arriving I walked around the hotel (MGM Grand) and was overwhelmed by the whole thing. I got something to eat and went to bed without even putting a nickel in a slot machine.
Today could best be described as canyon day. It started off with Cedar Canyon in Utah. This is a small narrow canyon that had beautiful steep walls and twisting roads. More fun than a barrel of monkeys on a motorcycle.
After that I rode through the Dixie National Forrest. This Forrest is covered with lava flows. Some of these flows are made up of razor-sharp rocks, others look like what you think it should. Information in the park said these flows are less than 1,000 years old.
Next was Glenn Canyon, you ride through parts of the canyon until it turns into Lake Powell. Just a few miles more and you are at the dam and a bridge you can walk across to take pictures. There is also a great visitor center at the dam.
The scenery today was just spectacular! There is no way my little camera could take a picture that can convey the feeling you have when you see it. I was so glad I was on a motorcycle so I could see and smell the area.
My big surprise for the day was the final park today. I was expecting to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow so imagine my surprise as I was riding toward Flagstaff and here was a sign saying ‘Welcome to the Grand Canyon’ and a park ranger asking me for $25.
I spent the afternoon at the canyon and rode along the south rim stopping at every overlook.
As I’m not rich enough to rent a helicopter, or cruel enough to make a donkey carry my fat ass to the bottom so I’ll be going on to Las Vegas tomorrow.
Today was a fun day for my bad language skills. At one rest stop I conversed with a Mexican work crew overlooking a lake. We talked about motorcycles and riding and about their part of Mexico. It has been fun to speak Spanish to people since I have been in the west.
The other fun part of the language thing was a group of Swiss riders doing the Route 66 ride. I think they were having fun with my bad German, but were kind enough not to tell me how bad it is. There were a lot of German tourists at the Grand Canyon. I had a ball taking pictures for them and talking to them.
Here are a few pictures of my special day.
Not much to report today just going through Utah. I drove through the worst headwinds I have seen so far. At one time I was going to pass a truck but the winds were so strong my motorcycle would not go faster. I would guess they were 50 mph at least.
As I was leaving this morning I was thinking it was going to be another rainy day because of the clouds and fog. As I was going up Teton pass I suddenly broke through the clouds ( see picture below ) into a perfect day.
I stopped at a Harley dealer in Idaho Falls to pick up a chip then turned south to Utah. Beautiful scenery the whole trip.
Being excited about seeing two great parks I started out early, leaving at 8:00.
From Jackson Hole you must ride through Grand Teton National Park. I had taken most of the east road on Friday so I decided to take the west road. The road leaves the ranger station and changes into a gravel road filled with potholes. This only lasts a mile or so.
This park is all about the view of the mountains and the lake which is in the center of the park. The views are just breathtaking as you can see in the pictures below.
You never have to look for wildlife as the photographers are there early and all you have to do is look for them. If you see a group of about 20 you know there is something to see. At one spot there was 50 people taking a picture of one owl, granted it was the biggest owl I have ever seen. I didn’t stop for a picture because I was scared the noise of the motorcycle would scare it off.
Going into the south entrance to Yellowstone I found out the road to Old Faithful had a washed out bridge so to see it I would have to ride over 100 miles, bit it is a must see so off I went.
I rode the first hour without seeing anything but great views of rivers and forests.
There has been a fire in the park within the last few years so there is still a lot of burnt trees but you can see the new trees growing in their place. The park service must decide whether to put out the fires or let them burn. The tourists do not want to see a burnt forest but the fires are a natural part of the life of the forest and causes new growth. While you are waiting for Old Faithful they give talks about this and other subjects.
While riding around a curve I came upon a huge bison (buffalo) jus grazing on the side of the road. Like most Americans I had seen them in a zoo before but never one this large, easily the size of a small car. The bison are everywhere in the park and they know they own the park. They walk where they want, when they want.
I didn’t see any bear or deer while I was there but the bison made up for it.
The landscape within the park is fantastic. The Yellowstone River has formed every kind of sight. Rapids, lakes, waterfalls, and canyons are all within the park. The pictures simply do not do justice to the view.
Most of Yellowstone is the giant caldera of an active volcano. The last lava flow was 70,000 years ago, but the ground is very active.
The day was a long one. I rode over 300 miles in eleven hours and was able to see most of the famous sites in the park. Both parks have a speed limit of 45 mph but most of the time it’s 25-35.
This park is not easy to get to and takes a lot of time to see. If you don’t see it once in your life you will really be missing something. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to see it again.