Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cali Moto Tour 2009 - Day 6

Winding roads toward Yosemite
June 6, 2009 - Carmel Valley - Troy:
We're warm and dry now at Burl's folks' beautiful home in CV. I'm sitting in the sunshine in my flip flops, just uploaded a batch of photos. Since the last entry we went through Yosemite, camped another night and rode to Carmel.
Yosemite, of course, was incredible. There were huge cliffs and beautiful meadows, we saw 3 bears and numerous waterfalls. We hiked to Vernal Falls, an amazingly beautiful short (but steep) hike. The trail is called the Mist Trail and you can probably guess why. The mist felt quite good though and we dried out quickly. I’m not really sure how to describe the scenery, terrain and features of Yosemite Park. I don’t think I have the vocabulary for it, so I’ll leave that to the pictures. Suffice it to say that it’s amazing and everyone should go there at least once.
In the Valley
Apparently, a lot of people do! It was early season but there was still thousands and thousands of people (I’d Guess) in the park. Mostly in the valley. The camps are enormous and there are many of them. It’s a bit strange for me because usually, when I encounter natural wonders like these in Yosemite, I am in a relatively remote place and there generally are not many people around. Yosemite Valley, in contrast, felt a little bit like Disneyland or something. There were thousands of people, lodges, stores, trollies, busses, giant parking lots, etc. On the way to the picturesque Vernal Falls we passed a snack vending shack, and the “hiking trail” to the falls was mostly paved and/or had hand rails. You don’t exactly get that “explorer” attitude or experience.
That said, the park was still a wonderful experience and one that I’m grateful to have. I’d love to get back again and spend several days there.
In my last entry I left off with the pattering of rain and thunder strikes. Well, there was some more thunder, but all fairly distant and the rain never really materialized into much.
However, the next night was a different story! We left Yosemite late and rode into Mariposa in the dark with the bikes headlight pointing into the sky due to the heavy load of gear on the rear suspension. We were tired and out of food so we hit a Burger King for a quick dinner, then headed out to camp on some property owned by a friend of Burl’s dad.
There was a partially built house on the property, but it was al locked up. So we slept on the front deck. The skies were clear, it was warm enough and the bugs weren’t bad, so we decided to sleep under the stars—no tent. That was great until about 2:30AM when I woke up to cloudy skies and light rain. (EDIT: Wow, these journals are great! It really brings me back there and I can relive this moment. I remember how warm it was, and that at this point the rain was very light, almost pleasant. Also, the moon was so bright that you could see clearly and there were hard shadows, almost like daylight.) I woke Burl up and she suggested maybe just pulling the tent’s rain-fly over us like a blanket. That way we wouldn’t have to pitch the tent. While we sat there trying to decide what to do, the lightning lit and the thunder thundered and we decided that was a clear sign that we had better just get up and make the tent. It was a good thing we did, because soon the lightning intensified and the rain poured down and it didn’t quit.
In the morning we slept in, waiting for the rain to stop so that we could get out of the tent and pack up. Finally, at 8:50 I decided we were just going to have to deal with it and we packed up all our wet gear in the rain. As we were pulling out and heading up the long driveway, the rain stopped.
From there it was a quick 3 hour blast to Carmel Valley. I rode fast (well, sort of fast, 70-75) which kind of sucks with my dual-sport helmet because the wind catches it and jerks my head around. Also, there was quite a bit of traffic so it was kind of stressful. Finally we pulled into Carmel Valley and are very happy to be here and to have a sunny and warm (if not hot, at least warm!) forecast.

There are, naturally, about 1,000 pictures from the one-full-day in Yosemite. Here are a handful of the best or most fun/interesting. There's a bunch, but seriously! It's friggin Yosemite!


The rocks were pretty warm, felt good.
Helmet hair! And Half Dome (the mtn, not Burl's head!)
Half Dome again.
So close to 10,000'!
I love shooting wide-angle... makes people look funny
Yup, the Mist Trail
Pretty wet and cold under these falls

Friday, April 23, 2010

Can't Wait to Party!

Well well well, T minus 22 days til lift off! Troy and I are both very excited to be happily married and able to finally let ourselves go, yes as in get fat and lazy...te he. After 4.5 years of long distance phone calls, extensive religious debate and lots of fun of course...we are finally getting hitched!

We are also, very excited to see all of you in Carmel Valley. The wild flowers should be prime and I can't wait to see how my huge oak and meadow (ceremony site) look coated in green! I have spent the last 2 days planning like crazy so if I forgot anything, please forgive me, but I don't really care! We may run out of burgers, but there willl be plenty of quality beer!

For all of you youngsters who want to stay late and not have to designate a driver, this is your camp spot down the road!

Again, can't wait to see you all! Lots of love,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cali Moto Tour 2009 - Day 4

Lake Tahoe
Burl June 4: This morning we struck out into the rain! After riding over the quick pass to Lake Tahoe we stopped and snapped a few pics. Driving around the lake and through all the towns was taking forever but I told Troy to stick with it.

We finally made it to the pretty granite section at Emerald Bay (we are on the west side of the lake, by the way). Finally, it felt like the Sierras!! Oh, and we're going to name our daughter Sierra (our someday maybe future daughter that is... I am NOT pregnant).

Crazy sand at Tahoe
Anyhow, continuing south we checked out Markleville and ate lunch near Grover Hot Springs... a meadow surrounded by forested hills and a sweet snowy peak up-valley. Cute town too.

We headed up toward Kirkland, we got stopped and watched CalTrans break rocks off the cliff above the road! I chatted with the stop-sign lady and got some tips for our drive north when we're heading back home. I've been very pleased and encouraged by our encounters with strangers on this trip. Turns out, most people are very friendly and helpful if you talk to them.

Waterfall feeding Emerald Bay
Troy at Emerald Bay
Troy: Yeah, people have been very nice. I think they like the fact that we're on vacation and traveling. Where we got stopped for the work crew was a very pretty place. We had just climbed to over 8,000 feet elevation for the first time in the trip, which i was very excited about. Also, we were seeing more and more big, granite rock slopes. When we got the OK to proceed from the traffic flagger, some guy in a huge, million dollar RV dashed around us while we were getting on the bike. As if he couldn't wait ten more seconds after being there for half an hour. So we got to follow his slow, stinky motorhome for several miles of prime, twisty, mountain-pass highway before we hit a straight section long enough to get around him. Did he think we were going to hold him up or something?!

I think this was highway 88, it was whichever one Kirkwood is on, and there were some spectacular views. Lots of solid granite slopes now. Actually, i have no idea if it's all granite, I just say that because that's what Burl was saying. Anyway, it's all rock! Somehow the trees and plants find enough soil to cling to, but mostly it looks like big rock slabs. Very pretty and very much what i associate with the Sierra range. So much different from the Cascades in Oregon. I'm excited to see even more tomorrow in Yosemite.
After coming down from over 8,000 feet, when we got down to 3,500 or so (our lowest since leaving Bend) it started feeling very warm and pleasant. We came down to Pioneer, West Point, Mountain Ranch, Sheep Ranch, Murphy's, Columbia, Sonora and then down to Hwy 120.
I'm really glad we came west to the lower elevations. From West Point through Sheep Ranch was a really beautiful area with nice rural homes. I could really enjoy living there except i suspect that it gets way too hot, dry and brown for me in the summer. Looks great right now though.

Hwy 88 scene
8,340 ft. elevation!
Sheep Ranch was neat too. A very nice man pulled up next to us as we were stopped looking at our map, and told us a little bit about the town and seemed glad that we were there. He suggested that we head toward Murphy's, which turned out to be on the route that we had already planned anyway. And lest i forget to mention it, sure enough, as we sat there after the man drove away, we did indeed see some sheep ranchers. There were 3 little girls in a field with the sheep, herding them up towards the barn. One girl climbed up on top of a stubborn sheep as if it were a horse and a second girl pushed the sheep up the hill by its rump. It was quite a sight. I'm not sure why we didn't take a picture, maybe we were getting a little camera-weary already.

Construction stop
Anyhow, Murphy's was a cute little tourist town but we didn't have a lot of time to check it out. We shed some layers (it had been warm for quite a while by this point) and tried to make time toward the northwest corner of Stanislaw National Forest, where we planned to make camp.

And now here we are, journaling and listening to the rain intermittently pattering on the tent. Just now we got a flash and some thunder nearby and the rain is intensifying. It's supposed to be better weather tomorrow... it might be an interesting night.

Granite slopes

Somewhere South of West Point, i think...

Sheep Ranch
Sheep Ranch

Burl liked this window. Murphy's I think.