Tuesday, October 26, 2010

San Francisco

Arrived Thurs afternoon. Met Stephanie, Nacho's bubbly girlfriend. Nacho arrived home from work. Exchanged stories over pasta supper.
Friday we had a gentle start to the day, then set off on various errands to BMW, REI, Walmart to look at tents, buy spark plugs and oil filter. That night we collected Stephanie from the Hotel creche where she works part time when not a school, bought me a camera from Best Buy, then set off to a local Italian restaurant called Gypsys for Pasta which was delicious.
Saturday we all headed into San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. Nacho told us that it is rarely clear enough to see as it is usually shrouded in mist. But just for us although it was grey we had a good view and took lots of photos. Then we headed off to the piers and it lashed down. So much so that we each bought one of those plastic ponchos and spent the afternoon walking around looking like very colourful condoms! Not to be deterred by the rain we watched an British Acrobatics troup performing some pretty delicate manoeuvres, then went for clam chowder served in a hollowed out sourdough bun-very tasty indeed.
We were going to go for a ride in a cable car, but decided a photo would suffice. Then finally we headed off to Lombard Street and the wiggly road. We jumped out of the truck, joined a gaggle of Japanese tourists in the middle of the road, and took photos. Soaked to our underwear we headed home where Stephanie cooked nopales, a delicious Mexican dish whilst the boys took off to see a friend of Nacho's to use his TIG welder to repair the side stand. It now has a quirky bend in it which I am told will make it more stable and strong.
On Sunday, the rain persisted and so we took off to an IMAX theatre to watch Forces of Nature. It is an amazing theatre with a surround screen and sound. After a quick bit to eat we headed off to the Winchester Mysterious House where we spent a few hours on tours. which had some amazing stained glass windows. That evening Stephanie cooked Tortillas de papa for Nacho, his parents and little Brother Mario and us. Nacho's mum brought Pumpkin and Apple Pies which we heartily enjoyed.
Monday saw us wave Nacho and Stephanie off to work and school, and we spent a few hours doing admin...writing the Blog, checking emails, searching for tyres and fixing my Autocom headphones, with the help of Nacho Sr who popped over with a connector and his soldering iron. Stephanie popped home for lunch, dressed into her butterfly outfit before departing for the creche and we continued with our admin.

That evening Nacho took us back to Best Buy to change the camera case which came with the camera as it was too small. He persuaded the manager to give us discount on an external hard drive were were going to purchase as a gesture of goodwill, and so we got $20 dollars discount on an already marked sale item. Fab!! Then he drove us around to find a sheet of aluminium, some pop rivets and a hinge so David could make us a wind shield for our Primus stove because the one which comes with it had fallen apart.
That night Stephanie excelled herself and produced a wonderful last supper of Sopes aided and abetted by Nacho. After which I finished the Blog. David finished his creation and we both fell into bed around 00.30 exhausted.
Got up Tuesday morning to be greeted by a flood in the kitchen, which took a while to clear up but no lasting damage was caused. Packed up and headed off.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yosemite National Park 18th &19th October 2010

we spent the morning on the porch of the Esmeralda Market sheltering from the rain and admiring the snow on the White mountains. At 1100 things looked brighter so packing up a wet tent we headed north to reach the 6, and at Benton joined the 120 towards Yosemite; a great road that climbs up into the national forest and has a great series of dips that last for 5 miles making the ride like a roller-coaster. At the junction with the 395 we turned north having our first views of the Sierra Nevada's. Turning back onto the 120 we started to climb up to the Tioga Pass at 9945 ft. with snow on the surrounding mountains but luckily for us the snow had melted from the road by the time we got there. Past Tuolumne Meadows and Olmsted Point with it's erratic rocks, down into the valley where we saw a couple of Coyotes, before entering the Yosemite Valley with it's towering granite cliffs, colourful trees, flood marker, and not so wild life. All the main camp sites were full but we were directed towards Camp 4 where the climbers hang out and found a pitch with a free bear locker (once we had emptied all the old beer and wine bottles) under the towering cliffs.
The next day we were packing up standing around the bike when Dom jumped out from behind a car. He had been sleeping at the other end of the site. We met him at Nakusp at the HU meeting and been talking on email since. He had been chasing us for weeks and we had been to the same places and had much the same pictures on out blogs, so it was really nice to see him. Hi Dom. After swapping stories we headed off towards Mariposa Grove near the south entrance to the park to see the giant sequoias but first stopped at Tunnel View to look hard at El Capitan. This hunk of granite is 3000 ft tall and climber take up to 5 days to climb it. You can't go home every night, you just hang off the rock having to pull up enough stuff to keep you alive for 5 days. We did see some people climbing it but they were so small they were really difficult to find. There can be up to 200 people hanging off this rock at any one time. I was told that 5 people had free climbed it in a day. Not bad going.
There were road works all the way down the Wawona road and it took us about 1.5 hours to do the 30 miles to the grove and when we arrived the car park was full and they weren't allowing any more cars up to the site. Luckily the nice man at the gate allowed our 2 motorbikes up and we were soon strolling amongst the giants. Looks like Jill is having a really bad hair day, and here she is again looking up the Grizzly Giant. They even cut a hole in one but this was the small one, the bigger one had fallen over a few years back, funny why that should happen. I then dragged Dom and Jill (now I have 2 people complaining at my route marches) up to see the Faithful Couple and the Clothespin tree which had a natural hole in caused by numerous fires over the ages. We didn't find the Sequoias as awe inspiring as the Redwoods. I think it was because the Sequoias were spaced out standing very much on there own. There wasn't the sense of quiet that enveloped you as in the Redwoods. Nice trees though. Mutiny followed and I wasn't allowed to go and visit the museum so we all headed back to the bikes, said our farewells and we followed Dom to Oakhurst, where he headed off towards Monterey to go whale watching and we took the 49 north west towards San Francisco, stopping for the night at Bagby Recreation Area camp site, where we decided to stay for 2 night as it was such a little gem by the Merced River with wild turkey and sun to dry out all our kit.

Death Valley National Park

As we were packing up I met Geoff who was head of maintenance at the hotel. He offered to take me on the roof to see a different view of Vegas, and being after a shot that Dom hasn't had on his blog, I followed on. Setting off into the heat of the day we travelled along the 160 to Pahrump where provisions were brought. Travelling on to Death Valley Junction we came across the Amargosa Opera House having just crossed over the state line to California. We joined the 190 and drove the 28 mile decent to Furnace Creek, past the Furnace Creek Inn, where rooms start at $350 a night and is closes for the summer months to our camp site a more modest $18 a night under the trees. We arrived at 1700 and the temperature was only 97F!
Up at 0600 the next morning just as it was starting to get light, with the temperature still 80F, we prepared to go exploring. We met Nacho Sr and Nacho Jr who were riding BMW's and had arrived after dark the night before. They told us about Mexico and we spent a good hour looking over the map. Nacho Jr offered to put us up in San Francisco when we get there which hopefully we will be able to take up. We headed south stopping to look at the Golden Canyon before travelling on to the Devils golf course for a quick round, followed by the lowest point in North America at Badwater. Can you see the sea level sign on the cliffs? Having run out of salt to cook by Jillie does her bit. It was starting to get hot, in fact 110F hot but the water, which was there was Bad. which is why I suppose it is called Badwater. Retreating back north we did the artist drive loop, past some very nice pastel rocks for lunch back at camp. After a sweaty siesta (the heat was very draining) we headed north towards Beatty with the intention of doing a bit of off road along the Titus canyon, a 27 miles dirt track that snakes through the mountains on the east side of the valley. Although we were unloaded, I hadn't adjusted our suspension, so it was set very hard for carrying all our luggage. The road was very washboarded and after about a mile it was obvious that the next 2 hours were not going to be very unpleasant so we turned back and headed for Beatty instead, where you can stay and go to a real cowboy saloon with modern day horses outside. We saw a real live cowboy strutting a gun and spurs. Having filled up with petrol we headed back to the ghost town of Rhyolite where there was a house made of bottles, a boarded up Casino, and the remains of a bank. (The recession hit hard here but at least drinking came in useful to build your house). On the right as we were leaving we went to view the works of Albert Szukalski who died in 2000, and others. something to do with wanting to mine in the cold, The last supper, a comfy seat and you can't take the bicycle with you. We then headed back to camp and as we dropped into Death Valley the temperature rose by 20F.
Started out early the next day to try and avoid the worst of the heat. Headed north stopping to view the remains of the Harmony Borax works and the 20 mule wagon teams that were used to haul the Borax 165 miles out of the valley to the nearest Railway. Next stop was the Ubehebe Crater a big hole in the ground cased by a volcanic bang in the not so distance past. Scotty's castle was the next stop. Scotty was a very interesting, larger than life character, who spent his life in these parts and was buried there. An oasis in the desert which we left with a good feeling. We travelled north up the 95 before turning west on the 266 as clouds were building. Just before the Lida pass we stopped to put on waterproofs as we could see that we were in for a soaking. Little did we realise that within 5 miles it would be thunder and lightening all around us with hail that hurt my arms as it turned the road white and the surrounding dessert into a lake. Luckily it was only short lived (longer I think for Jill who's life was flashing in front of her) and we reached a place called Dyer on the 264 that had an RV park. Clouds were looking black up ahead so we decided to stop while we were still alive to tell the story. Went to eat a Boonies Bar just across the road, where we watched American football (How can a 1 hour game take 3.5 hours on the TV?) before retiring to the sound of heavy rain on our tent for the night and the first part of the morning.