Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holy (insert the universal adjective here)

America's Still Out There
 June 5, 2012
After CresSTOC in Crestline, CA and after riding the Angeles Crest highway.

Spending the evening and night in Carmel, CA.  was interesting
(I shared a room with my very conservative friend Don Feyma...)
Actually we avoided politics!

Don had invited my to ride with him to Carson City, NV but I had the illusion that I would return the way I had came.  Up the coast to Oregon and Washington then east back to Montana.  Up and moving soon enough to see Allan and Adam's wet tire tracks in the upper parking lot of the hotel.  Well, no catching them.  (We had no plan to ride together) Either that or I was ditched... hee, hee.

Well, the weather didn't cooperate at all. The fog and rain intensified so alternate routing was in order. I veered inland to see if I could get out from under the Cloud cover.  Riding along the Sacramento River levee has a distinct Louisiana feel... I even stopped for Crawdads!

As you can see the rain has caught me again... I should not have stopped but I do like the Crawdads.

Not much traffic along the levee I make pretty good time even outrunning the rain.  Looks like more precip piled up against the mountains.  As I gain elevation the weather progressively gets worse.  No on the fly camera shots here even with the waterproof camera.  I did a Go Pro video though (insert later here).  That wastes some time and the weather really closes in.

Still holding on to hope that I can make it to the top of the pass I am still comfortable with the vest and handgrips both on high, it finally gets so bad I can no longer see... then the snow is sticking to the road but it's slushy.  Not much farther it gets slick.  I find a turnout.  Strangely enough used as a chainup area. I stop.  Let of the rear brake and the bike begins to slide backwards... well this sucks, it's much slicker than I imagined.  How I managed to get backed up against the tiny asphalt curb without dropping the bike is beyond understanding.

Now the America's Still Out There  part of this story.

As I manage to get the sidestand down and swing a leg over to get off I realize there is a vehicle right beside me.  It is snowing really hard now.  I can barely see that is a CHP cruiser.  A Dodge Durango.  Officer rolls down the window... asks, "Are you gonna be alright?"  I say, "Sure, got my new tent, mountaineering gear, I'm from Montana, no problem, I'll be in the trees right there (pointing) and gone in the morning after the road clears."

"Yeah, No" he says.  "There is a Wagon train reenactment up at the top of the pass less than a mile from here... grab your gear and I'll take you up there."

It take me a bit to grab the tent bag and top box.  I leave the High Viz windbreaker to cover the instrument panel.  I should have used the bike cover but it's in the tent bag and already in the Cop Car.  I pile in and Officer N takes me up to the top of the pass.

We talk to the Wagonmaster from the Wagon Train and there are stranded too.  It's fine if I join them he says.  Well great.  Now I look for a place to pitch the tent.  There is an old closed down Ski resort and the parking lot.  I pick a spot near a picnic table next to the building out of the wind... cozy huh?
Unload the stuff onto the picnic table under the tent bag a wait a bit.  There is a rumor that the owner of the now defunct lodge has been contacted and we may be able to use the building.  Heck, we were going to to the cookout in the snow al la Donner Party... can you say liver and onions? I realize with the new bigger tent I have left my sleeping bag and pad in the side bag pannier down in the motorcycle about 1 mile down the hill.  I prepare to hike down to get them but Mike will have nothing to do with that.  He unhooks his outfit and gives me a ride down there.  He has been jumping other trucks all day he says.  These people do not have winter batteries.  About half the trucks don't start the next morning.

Evidently the owner of the Ski Lodge contacts his insurance and his attorney (this is California after all) and after a couple of hours, we are in the building.  By this time I have already met a number of the horse people.  What a great group.

We all settle in inside.  I pick a spot near the north wall so that I can see the storm. They have called for the gas to be turned on... I wander outside and look at the gas meter... the valve it's unlocked.  There is a kitchen and a huge overhead garage style heater.  It takes a bit to purge the gas lines and find the breaker but soon we have power and heat.  There are about 50-60 people in the building now.  Many have chase RV's and will spend the night in the parking lot.

The cooks get busy and soon, hamburgers, potato salad... even watermelon. Some stern orders from the Wagonmaster regarding the horse poop and we move on to the Period Dress Contest.  I am selected as the Judge as I am the only outsider.  The choice is obvious.

Later in the evening I get to know some of the folks.  George here (below) walks with what appears to be a broken hip... it is painful to watch him.  It turns out he struck up a conversation with me because he is a motorcycle rider too.  I figured he had been hurt in some horrible horse and Wagon accident.  The story is much different.  It is the most common tale in motorcycling.  A pickup truck didn't see him.  Turned left in front of him and he didn't have time to miss it.  Broke his pelvis and back in 3 places and the right knee was dislocated beyond understanding. The resulting nerve damage left his right leg numb from the knee down.  He claims that part is a blessing.  When he walks I... I grimace.  Now the reason I mention all this is he is the most outgoing nice fellow.

This is George... the most cheerful guy I ever met in my life... his paralyzed lower right leg and his pelvis is held together with screw, rods and all kinds of hardware. How he is so cheerful is beyond me.  Seriously... THE MOST Cheerful person I ever met. He is the treasurer for the Wagon Train and has done the ride for 34 years.  Now get this.  He is with the Corrections department and does the releases for the inmates... he says, it's easy 'cause they are getting out.  The best job in Corrections he says.   America's Still Out There.

Click here for the rest of the pictures from this trip