Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Journey's End - Roseburg to Bellevue (353 miles)

It was cold and overcast leaving Roseburg. Going down the middle of Oregon on I-5 is incredibly boring. Lots of farmland. Lots of sheep. Not a lot else. Next time, I'm taking the coast route. I was sad to be heading back, wishing I had more time to spend with friends and family. But I was also looking forward to seeing Richard, who was planning to meet up with me in Lacey.

Richard says I ride differently, with a lot more confidence. This trip left me wanting more and longer rides. Too bad I didn't come to motorcycling earlier in life, but I intend to make up for it now. There is a sense of connection to the world around you when you're on a bike. It's hard to explain to those who don't ride. It's intoxicating.

Saturday 2/7 - Windsor to Roseburg (440 miles)

The gear is dried out. I'm dried out and heading out on a beautiful morning, Highway 29 to 20 to I-5. You go up and over Mount St. Helena, which I haven't done since I was a teenager, and I now remember why I got car sick. The hairpin turns are so tight I end up in first gear on a couple of them, and regularly scrape my floorboards. Motorcycling requires you to be in the present, to focus on the task at hand. The views of the wine country below were spectacular, but I was pretty intent on the road and my ride. There was very little traffic.

When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time in this area with my dad. He was an engineer and worked with a number of developers in the late 60's and early 70's. Elder Creek and Konocti Harbor were two of the projects he was on. I developed an impressive arrowhead collection from the traipsing around we would do. The area is heavily populated now and no longer as rural as I remembered.

When I hit Highway 20, there was a 35-40 mph crosswind coming from the north as I was headed east. Crosswinds are tricky. You end up riding slightly bent into the wind to be able to stay upright, hoping like hell that the wind doesn't suddenly stop. It was a relief to finally get to I-5 and head north, although riding into a stiff headwind isn't much fun, either. It does a number on the gas mileage. I had wind all the way up past Redding, where the Siskiyous begin. I love the Siskiyous. It was clear as a bell, snow was blowing off the top of Shasta, the roads were dry, traffic was light and the riding was fine. I want to come back and spend some more time there. I knew I needed to get through the mountains on Saturday since snow was forecast for Sunday. It was good to finally get to Roseburg and get checked in to the Best Western. A short walk across the parking lot brought me to excellent Mexican food and the biggest margarita I've ever seen. Now that is a good way to end the day, IMHO.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Hard Day's Rain

380 miles of rain. God, what a ride. This was a mentally grueling day, the kind of day that you just have to power through. There were occasions where I was truly scared, when the rain and spray being kicked up by semi trucks made it impossible to see without peering around my windshield.

I had gear problems, too. Purportedly waterproof gloves, weren't. They're electric, and the elements kept my fingers warm despite being sopping wet. I was really hoping they wouldn't short out, with my hands ending up in flames. And my waterproof boots weren't. I got plastic bags at Denny's and wrapped my wool sock clad feet in them. It's an old biker trick, to stay warm. It works. Kind of.

On the other hand, there were moments of great beauty. The mist against the sandstone cliffs near Gaviota. The seamless blending of sky into sea. The velvet green of farmland stretching as far as they eye can see. There are aspects of California that I miss. Mostly, I miss my friends and family. It's been good to reconnect.

Heading Home

With the exception of spreading norovirus to my Aunt Mary, I've had a lovely visit in Santa Barbara. I wish I could stay longer, but alas, I need to get myself back to Seattle and find a job. I'm leaving in the rain this morning, although it's a balmy 55 degrees. I won't be able to ride as fast, but I'll ride safe.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday in Santa Barbara

I feel like Typhoid Mary, spreading the good cheer of 24-hour flu throughout the State of California. My cousin, Tim, called me up last night to let me know he had it and couldn't make Day 2 of his trade show as a result. And my Aunt Mary had it starting last night. I have no idea where I might have picked this up, but apparently it's the gift that keeps on giving. I feel guilty for being the carrier. I guess it wasn't the prosciutto. I sure hope none of my other family members end up with it. I'll never be invited back.

Yesterday, I went in search of cool tee shirts at Santa Barbara Harley Davidson. I think this is a Harley thing, acquiring tee shirts while on a trip. I can't envision a Kawasaki or Honda owner doing the same thing, but maybe they do. Regardless, I showed up and was the only person in the entire store. There were four or five sales guys on the floor, having their own conversation. I started looking at bikes, waiting to see how long it would take before anyone approached me. They had a really nice Street Glide that I was examining pretty closely. SBHD must be rolling in dough and customers, because not one single person spoke to me while I was there. Compare and contrast this to Golden Gate Harley Davidson, where everyone there made me feel welcome and was interested in me, my bike and my trip. Dunno if it's because I'm female, but the SBHD folks sure leave a lot to be desired.

It's raining today, which totally foils my plan for exploring Santa Barbara on my bike. Yes, I can ride in the rain and have the gear for it. But it's nowhere near as much fun as the gorgeous weather we had yesterday. I'm leaving tomorrow, rain or shine.

After reading the LA Times this morning, I am profoundly glad to no longer live in California. The State government is so broke they are issuing IOU's for State tax refunds, can't afford to reimburse their workers for their travel expenses incurred as part of doing their jobs, and may not be able to issue disability checks. The list just goes on. Washington's problems pale in comparison, despite our own looming deficit. The bad news just keeps on coming with regard to the employment situation everywhere. May all of us who are in that situation find work sometime soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday in Santa Barbara

Urrgh, what a wretched day. I woke up this morning with projectile food poisoning. Thank god I’m at Mary’s house and not on the road. I cannot imagine being this sick and being on the bike. I haven’t left the vicinity of the restroom much today. Near as I can figure, it was probably the prosciutto and cheese I had for lunch yesterday afternoon. It was a little warm, but I didn’t think a smoked meat would go bad. Boy, was that a mistake. I’m finally able to knock back some 7Up and some tapioca pudding. This is not how I planned my start in Santa Barbara. Mary’s been taking good care of me, which I really appreciate. No more warm Prosciutto for me. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a big improvement.

This impacts my schedule by a day, possibly more. The weather is looking iffy on Thursday/Friday. Mostly, it's nice to be with family on this trip.