Bear Valley Trail, Bodega Bay, California Bay Laurel, Fort Bragg, Hide and Seek, Inverness CA, Jenner CA, KLR650, Mendocino County, Michelin Anakee III, Mountain View Road, Navarro CA, Osteria Stellina, Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes Station CA, Rock the Shack, Russian Gulch Creek, Shearwater migration, Tomales Bay
Canada 2015. Days 24 & 25 (Aug 22 & 23, 2015). On this trip we visited two friends, Craig in Calgary and Jane in Point Reyes Station. We were surprised to find coincidences between them that we did not expect. Jane is Australian and Craig is Canadian so they are both subjects of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. They both live in beautiful houses in the countryside away from the nearest big city. And more surprisingly, they both have a book about cabins (written by the same authors) on the living room table. I had taken a picture of the cover of Craig’s book because I wanted to buy it. I was so surprised when I picked up virtually the same book from Jane’s coffee table!
On day 24 we rode from Fort Bragg to Jane’s house near Point Reyes Station. For breakfast we went to a Starbucks so we could use the WIFI. We ordered two cappuccinos and sat there for more than one hour. Many people came and went while we were there but one person caught our attention. A guy who was riding a very good-looking KLR (the pre 2008 model) with a cool bright yellow paint job. He was coming from his hometown, Santa Cruz, and going to a friend’s wedding in Arcata. Unfortunately, we forgot his name so for now we are calling him Jeff. If you ever read this Jeff, please let us know your real name so we can change it here. We talked about the general awesomeness of the KLR and about how hard are the Michelin Anakee IIIs (the new tires he has on his KLR and I have on my F800GS). We left Fort Bragg at about 11 am following CA-1 south. It was cloudy and relatively cold. At the Navarro River estuary we missed the turn to stay on CA-1 and took CA-128 instead. I realized of the mistake when all of the sudden we were ridding in a redwood forest and the clouds were gone. We kept going to visit the vineyards around Navarro in Mendocino County. At Boonville, CA, we took Mountain View Road to go back to the coast. This is yet another rugged mountain road that goes up and down like a roller coaster in the forest. There are lots of beautiful Pacific madrone trees (Arbutus menziesii) along this road. The red exfoliating bark of the madrone reminded us of the “Arrayán” or Chilean myrtle (Luma apiculata) of the Valdivian temperate rain forest of Patagonia. By the time we reached the coast we were back under clouds and the temperature went down significantly. We followed CA-1 south crossing several little towns. A few miles before Jenner, CA-1 goes down into the Russian Gulch Creek in a series of long twists. We crossed the Russian River at Jenner, and then stop near Portuguese Beach close to Bodega Bay to photograph the numerous guano-covered stacks. From Bodega Bay, CA-1 goes inland and then comes back to the shore at the narrow Tomales Bay. Point Reyes Station sits at the southern end of the bay but not near the water. We arrived at Jane’s house at around 4 pm. That night we went out for oysters at a restaurant called Saltwater in Inverness. The oysters were good but we were overcharged.
The following morning we went for a hike with Jane and her Londoner friend Rowena. From the Bear Valley Visitor Center we took the Bear Valley Trail to a large meadow—a distance of 1.6 miles according to Google maps. It was a lovely walk through a Douglas Fir forest. Many large California Bay Laurel trees that grow along the trail give out a scent that can be smelled while hiking. In the way back to the visitor center we found a “Motos al Sinfin” card carefully placed on top of a flip-flop by the trail. One can only wonder who could have lost such a precious item (the card, not the flip-flop). We suspect yet another subject of Queen Elizabeth II. In the afternoon we drove to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The road into the Point Reyes National Seashore is a bit bumpy but offers great vistas. We arrived to the lighthouse right before closing. As we were going down the 308 steps to reach the lighthouse, we briefly saw a whale spouting water into the air. There was a shearwater migration happening at the time. We saw thousands of birds flying south around the point. There was a never ending stream of birds that kept moving along the point for as long as we were there. I had never seen something like that; it was awesome! That night we went for dinner at Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station. We had a mussel appetizer and then Adrián had pasta with clams and Jane and I shared a white fish dish. We had a bottle of Prosecco two help digest the food.
BMW F800GS, Breitenbush Road, Bridge of the Gods, Columbia River, Detroit OR, Hood River OR, Iron Creek Campground, KLR650, La Wis Wis, Limberlost Campground, Lost Creek OR, Mount Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, Oregon Skyline Road, Randle, Sisters OR, Timberline Lodge, Trapper Creek Wilderness, WA
Canada 2015. Days 19 & 20 (Aug 17 & 18, 2015). Adrián and I talked almost constantly while we are riding. It is usually about the landscape or the pains of riding a motorcycle for so many hours a day. In this trip the phrase that we have uttered the most—without any doubt—has been “Que camino divino!” (What a beautiful road!) Day after day we have encountered amazing roads. Roads that are fun and safe to ride; roads that go through very beautiful places. We planned the trip trying to avoid freeways and large cities as much as possible. That helps a lot. But both Canada and the US have an abundance of roads that one could ride for years without getting bored. We have heard and said the phrase “Qué Camino Divino!” so many times now, that we have lately switched to the sarcastic “Otro camino feo” (Another ugly road). Unfortunately we cannot take pictures of these wonderful roads as we are riding. The photos that we do share here don’t really capture the beauty of those roads. When Lucas, Lucía, Adrián and I came to the Cascades a few years ago, we took route 25 around Mt. Saint Helen. I remember thinking at the time that 25 would be a great road to do on a motorcycle one day. Today was that day. The road was as beautiful as I remembered it but there are many patches that are rough and bumpy. This is a road to ride carefully. We left La Wis Wis after breakfast and rode to Randle where we stop for gas. On Randle we took route 25 south. A few miles from Randle we visited the lovely Iron Creek Campground, where we had stayed with my kids before. Adrián and I rode by our site, 12 A, which looked as good as it did back then. We turned off route 25 into NF-99 to visit the north face of Mt. Saint Helens. On May 18, 1980, a lateral eruption destroyed the north side of the volcano and also the woods and their inhabitants (including people) for miles around. The vast explosion was followed by major mudslides that run down the valleys around the mountain. I remember the amazing pictures of the explosion in National Geographic. I could not read English back then but I did not need too. The pictures did the talking and the devastation was incredible. After all these years vegetation has come back to the area but the signs of the eruption are still obvious. On Spirit Lake at the foot of Saint Helens, hundreds of logs from the killed trees are still floating today.
From NF-99 we could clearly see Mount Rainier and what to us look like a long line of white clouds in the horizon. We did not know it at the time but we were looking at a major plume of smoke from fires in Western Washington State. After visiting Saint Helens, we continued south on 25 and then took Routes 51 and 30 towards Carson. At around the Trapper Creek Wilderness area, we begun to smell and see smoke. By the time we got to the Columbia River (the one we had crossed in two ferries back in British Columbia) we could see smoke on the mountains in every direction. We crossed the majestic Columbia on the Bridge of the Gods (named after a major landslide that temporarily dammed the Columbia circa 1450). We briefly stop at the Cascade Locks to see the salmon fishing scene—which was not as impressive as the last time we were here—and then rode directly to the Hood River Inn in Hood River, OR. We had a lovely dinner on the outside patio of the hotel overlooking the Columbia. Adrian had spaghetti with salmon and I had gnocchi of lobster. We both enjoyed very nice IPAs brewed locally.
On day 18, we had a major breakfast courtesy of Best Western. We sat at the outside patio of the hotel. There was still a lot of smoke in the air. Adrián ordered scrambled eggs with chorizo, onions, and potatoes. I had a bagel with smoked salmon and potatoes. It took us a while to get the bikes ready after breakfast. We got gas at the service station next to the hotel and then rode to a nearby Yamaha dealer to buy chain lube. Most gas stations in the US do not carry anything for motorcycles. We took Route 35 south towards Mount Hood and could not believe the amount of smoke in the air. We could see the impressive peak of the volcano but behind a thick veil of smoke. The valley south of Hood River is quite pretty; full of apple and pear orchards. We got to Mt. Hood in no time and went up to the Timberline Lodge where two years ago we had taken a picture of us with the bikes and Mt. Hood in the background. From the parking area one can see for miles all the mountains in the area. There was smoke in every direction. It seemed as if the entire state of Oregon was burning. From Mt. Hood we rode to Detroit, OR, following roads that we had ridden before, National Forest Roads 42 (Oregon Skyline Road) and 46 (Breitenbush Road). In Detroit we stop for gas and ice cream. It was quite hot and there was a lot of smoke in the air there too. We then continued south on Route 22 and the US-20 to the town of Sisters, OR. Our final destination was the lovely Limberlost Campground where Adrián and I had spent the night twice before. My kids and I call the place the campground of the huckleberry girl because the first time we stayed there we met a lovely girl who was going around the campground picking huckleberries. From Sisters we took route 212 towards Mackenzie Bridge. This is a great road for motorcycles. A few miles from the town the road goes though a large field of lava from where one can enjoy great views of the Three Sisters volcanoes (North, Middle, and South Sister) to the south and Mt. Washington to the north. Beyond the lava fields the road begins to go down twisting for several miles under the canopy of gorgeous trees. Limberlost is hidden in the woods by the pretty Lost Creek about a mile before the interception of 212 and 216. The campground does not have water so we had to filter water from the creek to cook. After dinner we walked around admiring the beautiful trees. Only a few huckleberries were left this late in the summer.
Alamo NV, Baker CA, Bellagio Las Vegas, BMW F800GS, Caliente NV, Cathedral Gorge NV, Currie NV, Ely NV, KLR650, Las Vegas NV, Oak Spring Summit, Pahranagate Lake, Pioche NV, Route 93 Nevada, Thermo-Bob, Wells Chinatown Motel, Wells NV
Canada 2015. Days 1 & 2 (July 30 & 31, 2015). Adrián and I begun another major motorcycle trip. Our fifth trip together. The planning of course started long time ago. Choosing a destination, routes to follow, people and places to visit, lodging, camping, gear, etc. takes quite a bit of work. I love doing all that! This trip to Canada was born out of a fortuitous encounter with a fellow motorcyclist at a hostal in Argentina. That day on February 26, 2014, Adrian and I rode from Purmamarca to Cafayate through La Cornisa and the Quebrada de las Conchas. By the time we reached Cafayate it was impossible to find a place to stay because the city was in the middle of a major celebration. We continued riding south and eventually found a room at Hostal Río de Arena. We noticed a KLR 650 parked next to one of the cottages and I went to take a look. Through the open window of the cottage I saw a guy who I presumed was the owner of the bike. He came out from his room and we begun to chat. Craig “el Canadiense” was traveling solo on the KLR through Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Over dinner (homemade empanadas and wine), Craig told us that he was from Calgary, Alberta. Adrian and I immediately begun to think about a trip to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. We even mentioned to Craig the possibility of coming to see him in Calgary. He seemed very receptive to the idea back then so in our minds we begun to plan a visit to Craig el Canadiense. We had no idea however that in a little over a year we would be ridding north from my home in Claremont to Canada.
Crossing the Mojave Desert from the Los Angeles basin to Las Vegas was hard. It was cloudy and relatively cool when we left Claremont at 10 am. But by the time we reached Baker, CA, the huge thermometer in the middle of town (apparently the World’s tallest thermometer at 134 feet / 41 meters) indicated 108°F (more than 42°C). Thankfully it was partially cloudy so the sun was not shinning on us directly. It was very, very hot though; and we were both melting under the heavy protective motorcycle gear. After Baker, we stop at the California/Nevada border to get some Gatorade at a gas station. The bikes were riding well until we arrived at Las Vegas and hit the slow traffic on the strip. At that point the KLR begun to overheat and to accelerate by itself when idling. We were a bit surprised and worried by the overheating issue because two days earlier we had installed a Thermo-Bob, a cooling system mod for the KLR650 that helps the engine run at a more steady temperature. We had installed a Thermo-Bob before on my KLR in Argentina so we were quite confident on the installation. Luckily the self-acceleration problem was gone a few hours later when we tested the bike on the parking structure of the hotel.
In Vegas we stayed at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. We unpacked the bikes at the check-in parking lot with the help of Mariano, a very nice young Mexican man who was very curious about our trip. That night we tried our luck at the Bellagio and had a very late dinner at Broadway Burger Bar & Grill inside NY-NY. The burgers were excellent. The fries could be better.
The following day we drove from Las Vegas to Wells, NV, following US-Route 93. This is a beautiful road that offers a great alternative to Interstate 15. The road runs mainly through valleys flanked in both sides by mountain ranges. A few miles before reaching the town of Alamo NV, we stop at Pahranagate Lake to look for hydra (the little freshwater critters that I study); we did not find any. Between Alamo and Caliente, NV, US-93 reaches two summits: Pahroc (4,945 ft) and Oak Springs (6,237). Near Oak Springs we saw a sign for a trilobite trail but we did not have time to stop. The area is much greener than I expected with many junipers and pines growing at high elevations. The descent from Oak Spring Summit into the charming town of Caliente is quite beautiful and a lot of fun on a motorcycle.
North of Caliente we visited the spectacular eroded rock formations of Cathedral Gorge State Park (near Panaca, NV) and the pretty little town of Pioche, NV, where we got gas. At Ely, NV, we took a long break to rest and hydrate. We still had 130 miles to Wells and I was really tired. Approximately 40 miles north of Ely, I took a little nap on top of a metal table at a rest area. The remainder of the ride to Wells was lovely. The sun was coming down on the mountains to the west and producing long shadows. The air temperature was perfect. After approximately 8 hours of riding we finally reached our destination, the Wells Chinatown Motel. For dinner we had great Chinese food cooked by the motel’s host. The local beer was also excellent.
Day 1 (February 8, 2014). Today my brother Adrián and I begun our fourth major motorcycle trip. In early January of 2012 we took a six-day trip through the beautiful rolling hills of Uruguay. We visited Colonia, Piriapolis (where we camped at a gas station for lack of better lodging), Cuy and several cities of the interior. Later that month we followed the Andes from the Argentinian border with Bolivia to southern Patagonia covering almost the entirety of famous Ruta 40. That trip ended abruptly for me with a silly fall on a gravel road that resulted in a broken tibia, a broken fibula, major surgery, two titanium plates, many screws, and way too many bedridden months. Adrián did complete the trip coming back to our town in one piece. In July and August of 2013 my brother and I covered 4,800 miles in the Western USA. We rode north from Claremont to Mt. Hood, Oregon, and then east to Yellowstone National Park. We came back home though parts of Wyoming (Grand Tetons, Snake River), Utah (Green River, Uintas, Capitol Reef, Escalante, Bryce, Zion), and Death Valley. Now we are going to drive West from our town (General Las Heras) all the way to Valparaiso, Chile, on the Pacific Ocean. We will then move north toward the Atacama Desert—the driest desert on the planet. We will then cross back to Argentina though the Paso de Jama reaching altitudes of more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet).
Today we left Las Heras early in the morning with a beautiful sunshine but the air was very humid and storm clouds covered the horizon in every direction. By the time we were reaching the town of Suipacha a major thunderstorm was upon us. Traffic on route 5 was heavy and Adrian and I lost contact though our helmet intercoms. Adrian was riding ahead of me and I was not sure were he was. It begun to rain so I decided to stop at a gas station to put a cover over my North Face bag. Adrian joined me a few minutes later and by then thunder and lightening were intense. We sat under a gallery to wait for the heavy downpour to pass. An hour later we were back on the road.
We reached the city of San Luis by sunset after covering more than 800 kilometers (500 miles). We were able to elude several storms that we encountered throughout the day so we stayed dry. The wind, however, was a constant presence. As we were reaching the city of Laboulaye, Córdoba, we rode though a wind storm that from the distance looked like a curtain of rain because of the dust that the wind was blowing. In San Luis we are staying at Hosteria Don Lura in a modest but clean room with a relatively good WiFi. For dinner we had what our waiter described as a typical dish from the region: “chivito con estofado” (young goat with stuffing). We have a nice albeit warm bottle of wine, Don Valentín, to accompany the goat meat. Why do restaurants store their wine near the kitchen? We did not ride our bikes to dinner but took a taxi instead.
Day 22 (August 14, 2013). There are only 60 miles from the Calf Creek Campground at Staircase-Escalante National Monument to Bryce National Park. It was a beautiful morning so the ride was very pleasant. We got to Bryce early enough that we had no problem getting a site at the North Campground. After setting up the tent we went for a walk at the rim of the canyon. Adrián and I visited Bryce together exactly 20 years ago when he helped me moved all my stuff in a U-haul truck from New York to Irvine where I was starting my postdoc at UCI. This time we both felt the same sense of awe that we felt back then when we first looked at the amazing shapes of the eroded towers of Bryce Canyon. I think that pictures fail to portrait the beauty of Bryce. The place looks great in photographs but it is even better “in person”. That afternoon we drove all the way to Rainbow Point. It was actually relatively cold when the road started gaining in altitude. In the way back to camp we saw a few pronghorns, an antelope-like creature endemic to parts of North America. We took a lot of pictures that we hope you enjoy. For dinner we had Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.
Days 1 & 2 (July 24 and 25, 2013). We just checked in at the Holiday Inn Express in Carson City, Nevada. It is relatively early in the day (3 pm) but we did not want to continue because the sky was pitch black and we could see lightning at a distance. We did not want to ride our motorcycles under an electrical storm. Unlike cars, which create a sort of Faraday cage, motorcycles do not provide any level of protection against lightning (the rubber of tires is not enough!) Adrián is sleeping while I write this; we are both tired. We have been on the road for two days now. We left Claremont at around 8 am yesterday. Lucas and Lucía kissed us goodbye and took the first pictures of the trip. We crossed the Mohave Desert early in the morning so the air was not very hot. Our first stop was at a gas station at Kramer Junction, 82 miles from home. I usually stop there when I take US-395. After we got gas, we parked the bikes under a nice palo verde (cina cina) tree to rest. The palo verde had several green pods so Adrián and I got to eat the semi-sweet seeds—like we used to do when we were kids in Argentina. We reached the Southern Sierras at around 11 am. At a rest stop at Pearsonville, Adrián noticed a bit of oil on his right boot. We thought it was coming from the oil filter cover of the KLR, so we tightened the two bolts (no more oil after that). For lunch we stopped at the famous Erick Schat’s Bakery in Bishop. We sat outside and enjoyed a nice break (and an expensive sandwich that we shared). When I came back with the sandwich, Adrián was conversing with an older man sitting next to him. The friendly man thought we were Italians so he was practicing his Italian on Adrián, who responded in slow Argentinian. The man is going to Italy in the Fall and was excited to find Italians in Bishop. That night we camp at the French Camp Campground at Tom’s Place near Crowley Lake. This lovely, huge campground is set along Rock Creek among aspens, junipers, and pines at an elevation of 7,500 ft. The views from the campground are beautiful. After pitching our tent and unpacking the bikes, Adrián and I went fishing on the creek. With my new 3-weight fly fishing rod and an Elk-hair caddis, I caught the most beautiful brown. The trout hit the fly fast and hard. It took me a while to get the fly from deep inside the trout’s mouth but the fish was released unharmed (I do need to get hemostats though). There were very few fishable spots on that section of the creek so we went back to camp to prepare dinner. If you have been following our motorcycle adventures you have probably guessed what we made. Yes, Ramen noodles! (the gourmet type, from Marukai). After a short after-dinner walk around the campground we had a nice cup of mint tea and popcorn. Before going to sleep we had to put everything away into the bear-proof box in our campsite. The following morning we had coffee, repacked everything onto the bikes, and rode in the direction of Mammoth Lakes. The ride through the loop of lakes was gorgeous. The campgrounds were all full and there were tons of boats fishing on the lakes. After completing the loop and visiting the ski area we rode onto June Lake. We took a break by Gull Lake next to a place where I collected hydra not long ago. The forecast for the Mammoth Lakes area indicated thunderstorms but the morning was still clear and the temperature was perfect for our heavy motorcycle gear. We took the road through Silver Lake to visit remarkable natural limestone formations at Mono Lake’s South Tufa. To get to the shore of the lake we had to ride on gravel for a few hundred meters. Neither of us had ridden on gravel since my accident in Patagonia. We both agreed that we hate the feeling. As we were ridding north from Mono the sky was getting darker and we could see rain at a distance on the mountains. We stopped for lunch at a campground—deli sandwiches and bananas we bought in Bridgeport—when it began to rain (very lightly). We continued north but were stopped for over 20 minutes because of road work by Topaz Lake. It was stormy and hot while we were waiting for the lady with the stop sign to let us through. A long line formed behind us. Meanwhile, as we were reaching boiling temperatures inside our jackets, people at the lake were water skiing. We stopped at a gas station to wait for the rain to pass and to make hotel reservations. We reached Carson City—a legendary town featured on many cowboy stories we read as kids in Argentina—under a patch of sun but with menacing dark skies all around us. For dinner we went to Bully’s, a sports bar near the hotel, and broke our diet!
Since my arrival to Argentina all I have done (besides eating and sleeping) is to work on the bike with the help of my brother Adrián. I want to give this motorcycle the same farkles that I chose for my Californian bike (the positive side of Kawasaki’s decision to keep the KLR 650 virtually unchanged for so many years). Between yesterday and today we installed SW Motech Crashbars, a Madstad 20″ Adventure shield, a Sargent seat, and a PackRat Touring rack for the Pelican 1550 cases. We also installed a 48″ Powerlet Heavy Duty SAE Battery lead that runs under the tank all the way to the front of the bike. This cable feeds a cigarette socket placed under the left fairing. My old Garmin Nuvi 780 (cannot afford a Zumo) sitting on a RAM mount will be connected to the cigarette socket.
The PackRat rack deserves special mention. In order to fit the rack in my luggage, Mark Laven (the very accommodating maker of the PackRat) built my rack in three pieces (right side, left side, and the connecting rear tube). Thus, unlike the PackRat racks sold in the US, mine had to be welded. To make the welding easier and the rack stronger, Mark installed slugs in the rear section. We installed the rack on the motorcycle, tack welded the rear section in place, removed the rack, and fully welded it on the bench. We then cleaned the grease off the tubes with some nasty product courtesy of Alejandro “el turco” Aon (friend and welder of “Metalúrgica El Beduino”), rinsed the whole rack with water, and gave it several coats of heat resistant flat black spray paint. Thanks to the excellent work of Mark and el turco, you cannot tell this rack from the original. The Pelicans are now installed and they look great.
Oct 15, 2011. Fun day at Eagle Mike’s in San Diego. Rode down with Bill Heath (neighbor, friend, and a great source of motorcycle wisdom), Chaz Yim (Kawa engineer) and his friend Dan. Installed the new doohickey (balancer adjustment lever) and torsion spring with 1,737 miles on the odometer. Also replaced the stock 15-tooth front sprocket with a Sunstar 16-tooth sprocket and EM prevailing torque nut.