West 2007

Day 06

September 17


We are up and about early this morning and as we walk out to the garage, Don asks me if there's anything I need for my bike.

"Well, I did lose a bolt out of the fender somewhere in Kansas" I tell him.

"Let me check my ST stuff and see what I've got."

Sure enough, he comes up with the correct fastener that I need - which is pretty amazing considering all of the different types of fasteners on a ST1100. As I am installing the fastener, I check my tire pressures. As I rotate the front wheel, I notice it is slightly bent - a result of that bump in the road in Kansas. But it seems to be holding the air okay, so I figure it'll get me back to Tennessee. Not many other options at this point but to ride on and take my chances. You can dwell on stuff like that or just move on. Since I've got a lot more riding to do, I just I file the information away in my mental 'review file'. When we roll the bikes outside, the coldness of the desert morning is quite a wake-up. It's about 43 degrees F and I'm glad I have my Gerbing heated gear on. The sun is just starting to peak above the horizon with the makings of another beautiful day.

  Today will be another relatively short day for me, so once again I enjoy not being in a hurry. Right now I am completely content just to follow Don's taillights through some beautiful desert landscapes. We have the road to ourselves and the peaceful quiet is refreshing.  
  After a long serious of uphill twisties, we pause at the top to take it all in. I can only imagine what the first settlers must have thought when they came upon this scene. The high desert has a beauty all it's own that sometimes pictures just do not do justice.  

We wander on highway 89 and once again we go through Monitor Pass. This time I recognize the stone marker, since I know about where it is. When I came down while I was running the passes, I followed the western shoreline of Lake Tahoe. This morning Don takes us up the eastern shoreline, which is much less settled. We stop at a visitor's center and Don tells me the story -

"It seems in the 1920's that a man created a partnership to buy up the land on this side of the lake. He and his partners were going to develop it like the other side. But through some dishonest dealings, he cheated his partners out of their share and then built one mansion for himself. So this side of the lake did not see the heavy development of the other side. Then in the process of time, the state acquired the land and the mansion."

I can't help but laugh at the fact that one man's greed who thought to do harm to others ending up preserving a treasure for many generations.

  I follow Don as we wind around the lake shore and up and over a high ridge into Truckee. It's nice to ride with someone that is familiar with the area and knows the good back roads off the beaten path. Before long, we pull up to the breakfast spot that he had told me about yesterday.  

The service is great and the food even better. The restaurant is sort of vacant this early, so the servers just come around and talk to us. One of them tells us the story of her 'first stolen car'. Seems that she and her boyfriend 'borrowed' a friend's car and he turned it in as stolen. As she tells it, It took her a while to get out of that one!

We finish breakfast and I tell Don -

"I reckon I'll stop at the first gas I see, so take care my friend, And remember, the Holler Hotel is always open."

I give him a big hug and then he heads for the slab and Reno, and I head for my old friend, highway 89. It will take me all the way to Lassen Volcanic Park, a place that I want to see while I'm out here. Just as I get out of Truckee, I run into a major construction zone. The flagman motions for me to stop.

He asks me "How is the riding today?"

"Well, it sure beats working I reckon."

He just smiles and nods his head and waves me on through at the first opportunity.

I guess it just must be revenue day because the California Highway Patrol seem to be everywhere. So once again I am thankful that I have a radar detector on board. I just ease back on the throttle and try to be a model, ticketless citizen. I'm a bit more thirsty than usual, so I stop at a little country market along side the road. It reminds of the one that I worked in growing up in a small town.


When I go inside, there's just one feller running the place. Then I see the cutest little puppy running around.

"What's his name?" I ask the proprietor.

"Oh, it's Yodo Master" he tells me with a wink.

I reach down and rub his nubby head and he doesn't seem to mind. In fact, I could swear that he tells me he will give me at least thirty minutes to stop. He's a sweet thing and it makes me a bit homesick for my babies back in the Holler.


I finish up my coke and cashews, then I'm on the road again. As I continue to wander up highway 89, I arrive at the south entrance of the park. Once again I am glad that I purchased a park pass back in Yellowstone on my Rockies Tour, because I get to use it again. If you are going to go to many of the national parks within a year, I've found that an annual pass pays for itself rather quickly.


The park road is nice and winding, though the speed limit is typical park speed with rangers about. About halfway up to the top, I come to a another construction zone where a big road grader is doing his job. I strike up a conversation with the flag man -

"How's it going today?" I ask him.

"Well, okay for work" he tells me.

"Yeah, I understand. Boy, I sure wouldn't want to tangle with that grader. He's got right of weight."

The flagman just laughs and waves me through at the first break.

The park has some interesting terrain and the vistas are rewarding at every turn.


But the scent of sulfur is strong and I can't quite get used to it as there are thermal gases coming up from several areas. I wonder if the sulfur is what makes this lake such an unusual green color.

  I reach the summit, and see that the road begins to wind it's way back down. Once again the mountains just seem to go on for as far as the eye can see.  
  As I wander back down from the heights I consider heading up to the Russell Daylong Saddle Company in Shasta Lake just north of Redding where I will be spending the night. I've had one of their saddles for a long time and have been very pleased with it. I'd love to see the factory and talk them since I'm so close. But the 42 degree morning has given way to some pretty warm temperatures and I am getting pretty spent from the heat. As I turn on highway 44 out of the park, I do some quick mental calculations on the distance I have left to go and the time it will take. I realize it would be a hard push to get there and I would probably arrive right about quitting time. So I shelf the plans for another day and push on straight to the Motel 6. It's a welcome sight to this weary traveler's eyes and I park SweetTreat and put her to bed.  

I notice that there's a Denny's restaurant in walking distance. I'm supposed to meet Rich and V.J. somewhere on the way to the Avenue of the Giants tomorrow, so I figure I have the evening to myself. I leave Rich and V.J. a voicemail that I've landed in Redding, then I wander down and order a bite to eat. The restaurant seems a bit shopworn, but the food is pretty decent and I make short work of it. I am thankful that it is nearby because it sure beats suiting back up and riding somewhere. I make my way back to my room, and as I settle down, the room phone rings.

"Hey Phil, this is Rich. I just want to you know that I have ESP and someone is messing with your ST."

I think to myself -

"What's up with this?" so I wander over to my door to check on it.

My old friend V.J. is standing there with Rich in the background fiddling with the cover over the SweetTreat. To my complete surprise, the two of them busted it to get up to here to spend the night so we could ride out together. Since the 'plans' were to meet on the way tomorrow, they've pulled a pretty good one on me and we all have a good laugh. They park their bikes beside mine and I tell V.J. -

"You know, your ST is the exact same color as mine and I am missing a part or two. So you'd better sleep light, my friend."

I ask them if they have eaten, and they haven't. I tell them about Denny's but they decide they're safer with pizza. So they ring up a local pizza place and place their order. While we wait, we sit down on the sidewalk and reminisce about the good times we've had together. As we talk about the ride tomorrow, I know it will be another excellent one with two of my favorite riding friends. Soon the pizza arrives and I help myself to some of it so they won't feel bad about eating in front of me. With the pizza polished off, we all head back our separate rooms to get a good's night sleep. Tomorrow will be an interesting day indeed - in many ways that we least expect.