Posted by: darkredgoldwing | August 11, 2011

Time to Head North

When I told everybody I was doing this trip, they all said “come by and us”. It may be overnight couch surfing or a short visit for an hour or two. When I left Pleasanton, I tried to take as many light traveled roads as possible. In an urban area as this, almost impossible.  The best I could do was travel up Vasco Road and head for the town of Antioch. Vasco Road has the reputation of being a fast and dangerous road and many have met their end on it. It’s a narrow two lane in most spots with some improvement in the past. It’s one of those commute corridors that is the “shortcut” for a lot of people. It does have its open and scenic area that makes it a pretty ride. Since I was on the road in the late weekday morning, travel was not bad.

Jim, Margie, and Roy

In Antioch, I stopped by to visit more high school alumni, Margie and Roy.  It was good to visit for a while and catch up on things.   They have been retired for a while and are enjoying their grand kids like the rest of us do.

After a leisurely lunch, it was time to get back out on the road.   The best way for me to head toward Sacramento is over the delta and  ride along the Sacramento River.   There is no break for us motorcyclists going over a toll bridge at commute time.  It used to be free for motorcycles but now we pay the freight of $5.00 to cross even at commute hour.   The one great thing about crossing the Antioch bridge is the height.  It’s only 135 feet high at mid span but sure feels higher as you cross it.  Most of the time when I’m using this bridge there is lots of wind at the top.  Pretty typical for the Carquinez Straight.

As you go down on the North end you approach Sherman Island, Brannan Island, and probably a few more that will remain nameless.   If you get a chance, take a ride to the Ryer Island ferry.  It’s free and takes you on a short hop across the river.  You can reach it by going up River Road about 2 miles north of Rio Vista.  There are many roads in the delta worth exploring and even getting lost on.   Hopefully you have a good map or GPS to help you out if needed.  Highway 160 winds along the Sacramento river and takes you all the way to Sacramento.  Once you get to the Freeport area, the highway veers away from the river.    One of the neat aspects of traveling Highway 160 is going through some historic towns.    Isleton is a small town that contains a variety of old two story buildings in various stages of repair or disrepair.  There is a Crawdad Festival every summer that seems to crowd every person in the state there for the weekend.  If anything, you have to go for the food.   Crawdads made every way conceivable and of course, the art and craft goodies.   Further North is Ryde.  There is a hotel there that you can’t miss because of the desert pink paint.  I have not been there personally but hear the weekend brunch is to die for.    Further North is the town of Locke.   This was a huge settlement of Chinese workers in the early days of California.  Plenty of narrow streets and buildings that have stood for many years.    On Main Street there is a bar and restaurant called “Al the Wops”.  A very eclectic and wonderful place to eat or just wet your whistle.   Be sure to ask them how all the money was placed on the ceiling.

When I was still working, I would take this highway between Sacramento and Fairfield as much as possible when time permitted.   It sure beats the boring ride of Interstate 5.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 29, 2011

Circling the East Bay area,

The morning was clear and sunny at Marlow’s. It was nice and quiet and sure hated to get on the road and face the urban traffic. This trip has been sort of a reunion with friends and high school classmates. I once again thanked Marlow and his wife for their hospitality and joined that herd of “cages” heading for the East Bay. There was one quick stop at a Starbuck’s to visit with Martin. He is another retired high school alumni who graduated a year ahead of me. I never knew him in high school but figured it would be good to meet and chat for a bit. When it was time to go, I decided to try and take a picture of both of us together.

Martin and Jim at Starbuck's in Vallejo, CA

After a few tried, I got something that was OK but certainly not worthy of an award, that’s for sure.    Heading south on Interstate 80 my destination for the moment was Alameda.   For the last 35 years at lease, my family and I have visited the Acapulco Mexican restaurant at Lincoln Ave. & Willow St. in Alameda.  It is a family run restaurant that gives you plenty for the money.  For me, the only drawback is getting a wine Margarita instead of the real deal with tequila.  But they are good and at least don’t cost $11 like in other restaurants.    Usually a half order dinner is plenty for me. But if you are REALLY HUNGRY, go for the full dinner.    For me this was lunch since I was expected to appear for dinner in Pleasanton later in the evening.   To say the lease I was FULL and should never eat again.  At least for another 24 hours or so.   I headed to the south end of Alameda to what is know as Bay Farm island.  From what I understand, it was fill construction to gain more area for Alameda and possibly the Oakland Airport.   According to stories I’ve heard, there may be a bulldozer ot two permanently entombed in all the mud that formed Bay Farm.    I rode out to the San Leandro Marina to see if anything had changed and was somewhat surprised.   For years we would have dinner at the Blue Dolphin out on the water.  I even attended a few retirement dinners there and thought it was the greatest.   My biggest memory of the Blue Dolphin was the huge liquor decanter collection in glass cases at the entry.  All I could think was a collection worth a lot of money and ALL that booze.

Since I had lived in Hayward for many years, I had to check out some familiar places.   One of the local restaurants that just about everybody went to was Casper’s Hot Dogs on “C” St.   This was the place for the best hot dog in the bay area.   Since the Mexican food was quite apparent, I was not going to eat more at this moment.   Of course I had to see where we lived and what was happening at Tennyson and Mt. Eden high schools.   I attended both and graduated from Tennyson.  It killed me to have to move so close to my senior year but no choice.  Someone ratted me out to the Dean of Boys and the game was over.  Sure don’t know what I did to deserve that.

It was already getting close to 5pm.   I headed further South and went through Niles Canyon on Hwy 84 to Pleasanton.  It’s one of those neat roads that is fun to ride but care must be taken since it can also be hazardous.  Niles Canyon has a history of speeding, crossing the double yellow line, and accidents.  It’s very crowded at times since it is a commute path from the Livermore Valley to the bay area proper.   Right about 6pm I arrive and Theda and Fenton’s house in Pleasanton.   Theda was my insurance agent for at least 30 years.   She always called you at least one a year to see how you were doing and if there was any changes to be mad in coverage, etc.  Fenton is her husband who could probably be a chef somewhere.  I probably disappointed him since I was still full from having lunch.  I assured them I was good for the night but dinner looked very good.   Fenton is also a motorcycle enthusiast who gets a chance to ride to Sturgis once in a while.   Among his hobbies are old cars.  His garage contains an old Ford pickup of 30s vintage and a 1966 Ford Galaxie.  Both belonged to his dad and they still look great are are driven from time to time.     For breakfast, Fenton had quite a spread of eggs, bacon, sausage, coffee, fruit, toast and so much other good stuff.    So much for eating light on this trip.  From their home on a hillside you get a gorgeous view of Pleasanton and  Dublin.  It’s one I wouldn’t give up for almost anything.  It’s a great location and close to a lot.  Several times a year there is a car show and swap meets to draw in the collector car crowd.  It was unfortunate to not have enough time to stay longer and visit.  One of these days, I have to plan a better trip so I can be more casual and not on the run every day.

Jim and Theda


Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 17, 2011

Some Smaller Circles

    I stayed with my daughter and her family for a few days. Took a little time to do a quick service on the Wing and continue with this trip. I headed North to visit my cousin Ann and her husband Tom. On the way there, I stopped at the Honey Run Covered Bridge that is on the old road to Paradise. The “Skyway” was built later on to serve as the primary road. The bridge is under the care of an association to preserve the bridge and they have a fundraiser to support the upkeep. Below is one one hundreds that I have taken of this bridge in the last 25 years or so. Ann and I are almost like brother and sister. I am younger than Ann and at times was the pesky “little brother”. Ann and Tom have an ecclectic farm outside of Willows in an area called Ord Bend. Everything from rice, almonds, and alfalfa are grown as well as raising hogs keeps them busy 24/7 almost. At this point it had been about three years since I had seen them. It was good to catch up and enjoy some real space and quiet. That evening we went to dinner at the Farwood restaurant in Orland. This is a great place to dine and it has a great ambiance with charm of the late 1800s or early 1900s. The prime rib was superb. When we returned home, I discovered that the Wing got an unexpected bath since the sprinklers were watering the nearby landscape. Not much harm other than my sleeping bag had gotten soaked. Everything was all dry the next morning and contimued the next leg of thin mini circle.

Honey Run Covered Bridge south of Chico, CA

Next stop was to Clear Lake to visit some high school friends. Dave and Corliss live in Lower Lake and is another beautiful area to ride through.   It was a short but great visit and will have to do it again.  On the road once again, I headed south and took Highway 29  Me and Corliss

through some windy and scenic roads.  Next stop was Napa to see a former coworker, Marlow.  We both worked for PG&E in the same capacity.  He in Napa and me in Sacramento.   This was an overnight stay and then continue south.    Marlow is of Norwegian descent so I always get   email jokes about Minnesota or Norwegians.  One of the best things he owns is a restored Model T.  The trouble with it is when you need to find parts, they tend to get pricey.

Jim and Marlow

Marlow is retired and his wife Eldborg teaches music at a local school.  She’ll be retiring sometime soon.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | October 16, 2010

Valley Springs and Beyond

I spent the night in my private quarters, a 32 foot fifth wheel.   I couldn’t ask for better accommodations, since it was roomy and had a king size bed.    The next morning I awoke to the sounds of goats.  Tom had quite a herd of them and was out giving them their morning breakfast of sorts.  Later in the morning we threw our legs over the bikes and rode through the area to a little town called Mokelumne Hill.  It’s a brief spot along Highway 49 that is worth stopping at.  One of Tom’s favorite places there is Frank’s Cafe but you have to look carefully to find it.  Frank’s is located in a small commercial strip mall at the intersection of  Hwy 49 and Hwy 26.   Chicken Fried steak, eggs, potatoes, toast, amd coffee fueled us up for a few hours of riding.    There are a lot of lakes in the area such as Comanche,  New Hogan, and Pardee.   Water levels were pretty good especially at Pardee Reservoir.   I found it to be well equipped with conveniences for the boaters and fishermen.   Since it supplies drinking water for the area, nobody can water ski or  pour anything into the lake.  Floating restrooms are available to those in need out in the water.   Tom is the consulate sportsman who loves to fish, hunt, and whatever else.  I got to see some of his favorite places and learn about some of his hobbies.   We’ve known each other since 1968 working for the same company in several different locations.










About mid afternoon I figured it was time to continue the trip a bit.   It wans’t that far but the destination was Sacramento to stay with my daughter and son in law there.   Memorial weekend was approaching and was a good time to take a breather and not be out on the road during the holiday.   Every year during the holiday there is the Jazz Jubilee that draws people from all over the country.   Maybe all over the world.    I was really thinking this would be the time to spend the money for the complete weekend and try to visit all the venues.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 5, 2010

Bishop to Valley Springs

The plans for this day was to head North on Highway 6, west on 120 to Highway 395 , then to Bridgeport.   The front tire on the bike was looking terrible since it got badly cupped while riding along Trinity Lake several days earlier.   I decided to not push a good thing and go diredtly up Highway 395 to Bridgeport.   The rea;lly great scenery again was looking at the Sierras to the west.    Mono Lake was looking particularly nice this morning and stopped to take a few pics.   Some of the areas to pull off the road were not to my liking but I did anyway.  

When I left Bishop, I never had anything to eat for breakfast.    I was soon remembering the feeling of not eating or drinking enough to prevent effexts of the altitude.   When I arrived in Bridgeport, I stopped at the Bridgeport Inn to have breakfast.   The coffee and food could not come fast enough to get rid of the effects of the altitude.   It was a great time since I was the only customer to get 100% great service from the waitress.    I highly recommend the Inn since the meal was excellent.   I did take my time to eat and get m head screwed on straight again.  

For many years I had always wanted to drive over Sonora Pass to see what it was like.   We camped a lot at Pinecrest Lake and would drive up to the Dardanelles but never any further.  This time, entry was from the east and had no idea what to expect.    It was sort of surprising to find a small military “base”  along Highway 108 that is a training area for high altitude and mountainous terrain.    At least from my observation, it is a pretty area although a cold and snowy one at times.    This highway is always closed for the winter from east of Strawberry to the east side of Sonora Pass.  There was late snow this year and the gates were  opened just a few days before I traveled this road.    Highway 108 has some good climbs and tight turns and found it to be challenging to ride.  The best thing was looking back at the beauty of where I had just been.   I always look for a photos op where I can and managed to stop at the Sonora Pass Summit at stretch the legs a bit.   

I’ve been coming to this area since 1967 and have enjoyed every minute just to see the terrain or just have leisurely moments at one of the lakes.  If you haven’t been here, come and look for yourself and get a campsite too.    Further to the west, I stopped at Pinecreat Lake to get more photos.   I’m sure I have hundreds sitting at home of this lake.  It was kind of sad to see the contractors putting in a fence near the day use area.  To me it looked like the view was going to be blocked some with the new fence.

Later on, I got into Sonora and happened to spot a Honda dealer and pulled in to see if they had a tire for the front of the bike.  Turns out they had an Elite 3 and got it put on quickly.  turns out the service manager was brother of a person I worked with in Sacramento.  Yes, small world.   Going into downtown Sonora didn’t seem to be any different.  There was lots of traffic in all directions and all the little shops selling their wares to the tourists.

Riding along Highway 49 is pretty good but sometimes you have to expect traffic delays with RV’s and big trucks.  This can be a great time to enjoy the scenery or a not so great time behind a vehicle spewing awful diesel exhaust depending on what is dealt your way.    The earlier rainfall made the New Melones Reservoir look much better than in previous years.  One year in particular, you could look down from the bridge and see a small puddle below.     There was another opportunity to take photos from an overlook.   I do this a lot just to “prove I was there”.    Or, in come cases the bike was there to prove it for me.

I finally got into Valley Springs and decided to stop for something to drink before continuing to Tom’s house there.   As I walked into the Burger King, a young fellow asked if I’d worked for a certain company.  I replied affirmatively and asked how he knew.  His answer was most of us always carried a Leatherman on the belt.   Turns out, he was Tom’s son and was waiting for his wife to meet him there.  He called Tom to tell him I was there.  I also mentioned that I didn’t quite fit the descriptioin since I never had a Leatherman with me at work.  I carried it just in case I needed it for the trip.

Later, Tom and I took his pickup and found dinner in Lodi and returned to his home for some games on the Wii.   On screen, I could “drive” as wildly as I wanted to evade the police that were chasing me.  Tom promised he would show me some good places to ride in the area and maybe a great place for breakfast.    Sounds good to me!

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | June 29, 2010

Twenty-nine Palms to Bishop

If you noticed the dates, it is a year later.  So much has happened since I returned home from this trip.  We managed to get our home sold in Washington and move south to California.   I hope you’ll stay with me for a while since I have a lot to catch up on.   

It’s hard to believe I have been on the road a whole ten days.    Like everything else, time seems to pass very quickly when you’re busy or having fun.  It was nice to visit my cousin once again and difficult to leave and continue.   Most everything this day was uneventful even the weather was a bit nicer.   Since Death Valley was warmer than normal, I decided to go directly north on Highway 395 instead.  The only big thing that stuck out along the way was the enormous solar collection panels in the vicinity of Edwards AFB.   Travel on Hwy 395 is good just not a whole lot out there.   One of my goals was to see Manzanar interment camp where the Japanese were housed during World War Two.    Like most of the camps, they were in some of the most inhospitable areas.  Manzanar is either hot or cold and always windy but has a great view of the easter Sierra mountain range.    There are few remaining structures of the original camp such as one tar paper shack and two guard towers.   The rest is open area along with the visitor center and museum.   If you have the opportunity to visit Manzanar, by all means do so.  There are many displays of memorabilia and videos of life there during the war.   Under an agreement with the land owner, all structures were to be dismantled and returned to its original state.   Much of the old lumber was reused in the town of Lone Pine for some buildings that are still standing there.


The end of the day I was staying in the town of Bishop.  It’s a pretty nice town and on of the largest in that area.  After doing some wandering around I went to Jack’s for dinner.  According to the motel clerk, it was the best place to go.   I walked in and was seated pretty fast and served an ice tea while waiting for the server to take my order.  They were busy but not overloaded.  After what seemed to be an eternity,  I saw a waitress in the distance, she looked at me and kept on going.  A few minutes went by and I totally got fed up.  I walked to the cashier counter and paid for the ice tea.  Another asked why I was leaving and I told them no one waited on me.   If the passing waitress had said she would be back to me, that would have been fine.   I am a patient person most of the time and would have been happy for her to acknowledge me.  I would have stayed there to have dinner.  After walking out,  I went to the nearest place for a lesser meal.   Perhaps that’s what I deserved for leaving Jack’s.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 2, 2009

Short visit

Well before I started this trip, I knew the Goldwing would need a periodic service while on the road.   I determined that the best time would be during the two days I’m in Twentynine Palms.   Before I left Washington I called the dealer over in Yucca Valley,  Hutchins Motorsports, a Honda and Harley dealer there.   I made an appointment for 9am Tuesday morning letting tem know I would be “on the road” and want to have the 8,000 mile service done at their shop.

So, here I am on Tuesday morning.   I leave Twentynine Palms and head about 30 miles over to Yucca Valley to the dealer.  The gentleman at the service counter verified that I had an appointment, goes outside and rolls the wing into the service department.   He comes back to the desk rustles through some paperwork and the proceeds to tell me that they are short one technician for the day and that they will have the bike ready the following afternoon.    I kept my cool and told them it was not going to be acceptable because I am on the road and the next morning I was going to be on my way to Bishop.   Most dealers will work within reason to get a rider back on the road who is traveling.  I was surprised that he didn’t mention the inability to do the work prior to taking the bike inside.   It would have also been great if I had gotten a phone call to let me know before wasting the time and mileage to go there.  They had my cell phone number to reach me.

Another issue I had was getting a replacement for the front tire.  The tire had to be ordered and would no be received for about 2 to 3 days.  I guess if one is stranded out in the desert, you really are!   No problem, I’ll just wait until another time. Nothing urgent to be done.

At least I had a good visit with my cousin, Maryanne.  She’s the matriarch of the family.  All of the aunts and uncles are long gone so I depend upon her for information about the earleir days of the family since sh’e the oldest cousin I have.      She has been a great help in gathering photos and information for family research.  I’ve been dabbling in genealogy for the last thirty years and most recently got a lot of help via the internet and . 

We at least took the time to talk about what’s going on and with the family over a few glasses of wine.  The good thing was being able to leave the next day with a clear head.    I have to get back in the area early next year when the flowers are in bloom at Joshua Tree and maybe even at Death Valley.   I had already made the decision to cut Death Valle from the itinerary bnecause the temps were unseasonably high.   I just had no desire to visit, on motorcycle anyway. Stovepipe Wells in 100+ degree heat.   

"Riley"  says  "Hi"

"Riley" says "Hi"




I had to put in one photo, may as well be Riley.

Hope your day is great!    Ride or drive safe.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 2, 2009

A couple of days in the desert


At 3am I was awakened to what I thought was pounding at the door.    I’m thinking WTF???    Then as I gain my bearings, I realize the noise is coming from the room directly above mine.    With their headboard trying to break through to the room next door, it was obvious that they were getting a bit amourous.   Then the …oh……….oh…..oh..oh.oh..oh from the vociferous female getting close to that magic finish line.   She never screamed in delight but her mate seemed to be Superman or he was taking Viagra for sport.   I almost felt like calling them to suggest a change of technique to get her there.    Then it was quiet.

Six o’clock finally appeared and I got up and started my task of getting ready and packed up.    Shortly after the couple upstairs were at it again.  I was almost tempted to call their room and let the call be the proverbial “bucket of cold water”, but I didn’t.    I’m assuming they were doing what they could before his deployment.

This was Monday morning and everything was bustling.   All the troops entering the gate and repoorting in for the day’s work.   It’s nice to be retired or on vacation and not worry about work.      The morning was too beautiful to have to leave so soon.  A leisurely ride down Silver Strand Blvd. seemed the right thing to do.  It was quiet except for the few coffee shops along the way for the commuters.    It was time to head east into the sun and the desert.  I felt it was easier to run on the highways than surface streets and not get into so much commute traffic and such.   The ride was easy from Coronado to El Cajon except for the sun to contend with.  Once I was getting into Alpine, the traffic was much lighter and could take a bit more time to take in the surroundings.   Later, I headed up Highway 79 where there are many homes out in the middle of nowhere.  Quite a variety of homes, cabind and farms along the way.  There was even a few twisties to perk you up and hope there were many more to come.   

Lake Cuyamaca from north side

Lake Cuyamaca from north side

  I stopped along the way at Lake Cuyamaca to take some photos.  Not very many good places to pull off the road except for the dirt and gravel turnouts.   There was only a few taken as my thoughts were the lake wasn’t that picturesque.   I’m sure to be flamed over this statement.  It was a very nice and quiet place to be and figure it’s not meant for boating.     After a few more sweeps and twists I came to the little town of Julian.  It looks like one of those destination places for tourists, the little shops and antique stores to catch your interest.   I went into one little restaurant and had coffee and a muffin for me and then next door to feed the Wing at the gas station.    Between Julian and Banner is a pretty nice bunch of twisties to go through.   This was another of those great times with no one else on the road and take the curves with gusto and mabe scrape the pegs a little bit.  Beyond Banner you head int0 the Anza-Borrego Desert and some straight road along Highway 78.    The air was getting strange and humid feeling as I got closer to Salton Sea.   The temp was getting to be about 95 dergees and feeling warmer.  I could see a huge dark cloud forming over the sea itself.     By the time I got to Salton City, I stopped to get some cold water and stretch a little bit.  

In Salton City, looking east over Salton Sea

In Salton City, looking east over Salton Sea

 The sky was getting darker and sure hoping that I wasn’t going to get caught in rain, or much worse a thunder and lightning show. The sky sure had the look like things were about to get real ugly.   I decided to keep heading to my destination and see what happens.  This time the temp seemed to be cooling down which was welcome as the past few days had approached 100 degrees. I kept on heading north and then over to Mecca. Just a little desert town with the usual samll stores and fast food. getting out into Box Canyon, the terrain took on a whole new look. The rock formations were somewhat different than I was used to seeing in the area.


Box Canyon,  Mecca, CA

Box Canyon, Mecca, CA


Further ahead was Joshua Tree National Park. The locals still call it the “monument” even after it was made a national park a few years ago. Being on a motorcycle was great beacause I only paid five dollars for admission. I was short by several months for the Senior Pass that would have gotten me in for free. The park ranger in at the south entrance was very helpful to my inquiries. I had been in the park a year ago and had to return to one spot in particular for a photo op at Skull Rock. One place you shouldn’t miss is the “Cholla Garden” that is about 20 miles north of the south entrance. The Cholla is probably the most treacherous cactus around. The needles will almost jup out at you. There are only a few animals able to move  unscathed in the Cholla.It’s very beautiful and blooms about March or April.


Cholla Cactus,  Joshua Tree N.P.

Cholla Cactus, Joshua Tree N.P.


The next spot to be at was Skull Rock that is popular with everyone. It’s about 3 miles or so on the Loop Rd. west of where the two roads intersect from the south entrance. IT’s amazing that the rock would take on such a human form.  Got the photos take that I wanted and even took a few for some other visitors in the park.    Upon leaving the park, I had to show my receipt since it was not affixed to my windshield.   I only had a few raindrops traveling through the park so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. 




Skull Rock,   Joshua Tree N.P.

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree N.P.

My cousin, Maryanne’s house is about 2 miles at the most from the north entrance to the “momument”  in 29 Palms.  Most everything is very easy to find there even by accident.   Maryanne has a Mini Pinscher called Riley. Most of the time he can be your friend and others, your worst nightmare.  I walked in through the entry gate and he starts nipping at my ankles.   That is his way of greeting you even if it is a bit odd.  I did learn that if I sit at the table on the patio, he would come and jump up into youtr lap.  The nipping is his way of saying, “come sit a spell and be welcome”.  from that moment on, we were OK.

It 2pm, I was rather surprised the temp was in the mid 80’s which made it a nice afternoon.    This was my respit for two days to visit and kick back before heading north.     Come back, I’ll have more later.   Ride and Drive safe.

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | July 1, 2009

Day 7 – San Diego is getting closer

I shouldn’t hurt this bad on a Sunday morning.   The frogs were up very early and woke me up.  You’d think they’d be just a bit kinder on this morning.    The temp was in the low 50’s, cool but comfortable enough.  Take my word for it, the dirt definitely gets hard after sleeping on it all night.  Now I know how the early settlers must have felt, or at least the likes of Louis and Clark.   I packed up the gear and once again loaded down the Wing.  Amazing how most anything disassembles faster than the other way around.  If I could only pitch the tent that fast it would be cool.  There might have been one or two out on the lake trying to catch breakfast … or whatever.   It was very quiet and I almost hated to start up the bike even as quiet as it is.  The Wing got refueled before anything else.  I cannot see myself trying to push an 800 pound motorcycle that has run out of gas.  If I were a Marine, maybe it could pass for doing P.T.      

I am not a real fan of Denny’s but since it was the most convenient, I stopped there anyway.  I was surprised that one could customize a grand Slam breakfast so that made the morning great from the start.      First stop of the day was just down the road a piece at Mission San Luis Rey.  Just like at Carmel, I was on the early side and couldn’t go inside the grounds until much later.  It was Sunday so I was especially careful not to go where services were being held nearby.

Mission San Luis Rey

Mission San Luis Rey

Statues at Mission San Luis Rey

Statues at Mission San Luis Rey

 The Mission is very nice and reminded me somewhat of Mission San Jose in Fremont.   But then again I could be wrong since it’s been at least 20 years since I was there.  Snapped a few photos and got back on the road.  This is the only time where I wound up backtracking and headed north to San Juan Capistrano. 

Visitors at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Visitors at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Koi fish at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Koi fish at Mission San Juan Capistrano

The mission was very easy to find but the parking was another matter.  Finally got a space in front of a Starbucks that was just perfect.  I took advantage of a senior discount and paid eight dollars to enter the grounds at Mission San Juan Capistrano.  It’s surrounded by high adobe walls and the grounds looked much larger than from the outside.    I started taking a few photos and just happened to catch a couple at the fountain talking .  Their reflections were in the water and just had to do it.  They were oblivious to what I was doing but later talked to them and took the same photo with their camera.  I didn’t happen to tell them that they might have their 15 minutes of fame on this blog.   There was a lot to see and the place was busy with those going to church services as well as visiting the grounds there.  Several photographers were enjoying the opportunities soft light and taking close ups of everything with high dollar equipment.  I’m sure they were pro’s or at the very least some serious hobbyists.  The California missions are very unique and glad they are preserved for future generations.   When I got back to the Wing, I noticed a Pug sitting on a bench in front of Starbucks.  He reminded me of the little guy in “Men In Black” that was a disguised alien. 
Pug at Starbuck's

Pug at Starbuck's

Maybe if I picked him up and shook him to give up any information, would I get the inside scoop on the area?   He could have been waiting for casting in MIB 3.     

I finally headed south and stayed on I5 all the way to San Diego.  It was still cool but a few sun breaks  were appearing.  Looked like it was going to be a nice day later on.  I can’t imagine the area ever having a bad day.  I was going to stay at the naval base on Coronado so headed there to check in at billeting.    At the gate stood a civilian female guard to check my ID.   She must have be having a bad day as she growled at me about a reflective vest.  Most any military base requires reflective vests during hours of darkness and told her that.    She said they are required 24/7.  So I pull out of the way, dig through my stuff and put on the vest.  She was happy (?) and I went on my way.  It’s nice to be prepared but hate it when the rules change at other locations.  
Wish I was staying at the hotel del Coronado

Wish I was staying at the hotel del Coronado

This was going to be a kickback day and just look around the area.  I took in an art show in a nearby park, rode all the way to the south end of Coronado and everywhere else that suited me.  The only incident that I didn’t care for was a woman in a Lincoln who just had to stop within inches of the rear of the wing.   I tried to let her know that she didn’t have to be so close.   Same thing happened at two more stop lights and I was ready to get off the bike and have a conversation with her.  Fortunately, she turned on another street and was no longer a concern.  I would have liked to tell he she should experience being on the bike and someone approaching fast behind and hoping that they stop.

San Diego is a great place to spend several days or even more.  I have been to most of the tourist spots and museums in the past but I will come back again to spend more time.  
San Diego skyline from Coronado

San Diego skyline from Coronado

Posted by: darkredgoldwing | June 27, 2009

Day 6 – Ending up at Camp Pendleton,CA

After a good night’s rest, woke up to the three alarms on the writswatch.  Sort of a built-in snooze as they are set about 5 minutes apart.  Obtained a small share of the continental breakfast.  Certainly nothing to write home about.   Headed back through Decker Canyon from Thousand Oaks to Mailbu.  This was a different route than origioinally planned.  I had looked at some great riding area on and was going to take Mullholland in a semi-circle and end up near Malibu.  I’m not a real glutton for all the twisties but certainly appreciate some nice sweeps now and then.  Thetelevision and film media seems to portray the Malibu area as the best place possible. However, I felt some of it was not as well kept up as I had thought.  The ecclectic style of homes were ajoy so see. Even some on the hills above were one of a kind with their unusual shapes and rooflines.  Every once in a while I’d get a peek at the beach and hope the fog would clear to let the sun come through.  If I had the luxury of spending much more time, there would be better opportunities for photos.   

One of my upcoming stops was the pier at Santa Monica.  Leaving Highway 1, I was directed toward the large parking area near the north entrance to the pier.  I was hoping to be up at the pier level but didn’t pay attention when I was looking at the Google Earth maps.  There is always someone, somewhere that wants to take your money.   since I was just passing through I asked the gentleman at the paring lot if I could go in for a few minutes to take a few pics.  He really didn’t want to do it, but we agreed that if I stayed in sight I had about 30 minutes to do what I wanted to.  I thanked him and went to the opposite end  near the north entrance.   It really wasn’t worth it to pay ten dollars for a few minutes of photography.   I looked around briefly and then got into a conversation with a man who parked next to me.  He had been into motorcycles and touring with Goldwings also.  He also mentioned that this particular weekend was the 100th anniversary of the pier and today there would be a sea of humanity converging upon this site.   I can’t recall seeing any signs indicating the celebration.  Maybe I was just blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other at this moment. 

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Beach at Santa Monica Pier

Beach at Santa Monica Pier













Venice Beach


My time was up and decided to be on my way.  It’s a short hop to Venice Beach that was next on the list.  I rode around all the little side streets and alleys to find a parking spot.  About the only place to park resaonably would be blocks away.  With the gear I had on the bike, I wasn’t inclined to leave it all on the street.    There were private fee parking areas and the the main parking lots along the beach.  I had the same conversation with the lady at the pay station.  I was told to stay near the bike or it would be considered abandoned or illegally parked and towed away.   It was rather early and the vendors were setting up to take in whatever green they could from the visitors today.  There were certainly no scantily clad women roller skating yet either.  Big bummer.  And it was about 10am or so at the time.  I guess very few are out early and the cool weather wasn’t going to help either. 

Today, I was going to meet some high school classmates for lunch at 1pm.  Time flies like crazy and we haven’t been together since graduation forty-three years ago   (omg!).  There were a few more spots to see along the way such as Manhattan and Redondo Beaches.    I consulted the navigation again for the trip to Highland where we were to meet.  I add a bit more time to allow for traffic and that fact I had not been in this area for about 20 years or so.  Getting down near LAX, I decided it was time to head inland.   Boy was in for a treat.    I am not afraid of heavy metropolitan traffic, but was amazed at the amount of cars and trucks heading in every direction.   You have to keep your eyes open and not depend solely on navigation.  the age of the software and road construction, realignments, etc. will get you every time.  During this next few minutes, I missed some turns to get on the freeeway.  What’s frustrating is wanting to turn around and go back but every light has the “No U-Turn” sign to make you go sightseeing some more.  It seems that I was on one freeway and then moving on to another one to get across to the east.  The navigation would have one location only to find signs that mentioned another.  Needless to say, I did miss a few more turns.  No worries, just have to be more observant.   Once I got through the maze, I was OK and getting to the destination in Highland.

When I got to Highland, it was a little after noon.   I gassed up the Wing and decided to ride around for a bit.  I pulled into a Chevy dealer lot and took a look at the new Camaro.  I guess it had not been there too long because they are usually gone pretty quick.  I don’t need to tell you that a salesman was approaching and foaming at the mouth to sell me a car.   He was cool though and still spent some time talking about the Camaro and the Traverse which was more practical for me.  The place was near empty on a Saturday and there should have been lots there to scoop up the deals.  I did go inside the showroom and take a look at the Corvette.  On the sticker was the mileage rating that seemed unbelievable.   It was actually rated better than our Pontiac Torrent by two or three highway miles.   Gee, should we get the Corvette instead????    (slap) I need to get back to reality.  Besides, I’m not really in the mnarket for a sixty thousand dollar Corvette.

At Coco’s finally, I caught up with Joe and Earlene.  Two classmates that live about and hour apart from each other.  This was the first time I had met up with them since graduation from high school.  We had about a three hour lunch that included conversation  about everything.  Several days earlier, Joe and his wife, Berta had been in an auto accident was was emerging from the injuries of that incident.  The last time I emailed Joe, Berta was doing much better after suffering an internal injury that was life threatening.  Apparently their airbags had not deployed as designed so I’m sure there’s going to be an extensive investigation by the manufacturer on that one.  Before we left, I wanted to take some pictures.  Earlene was adamant about not being photographed so she took the photo of Joe and I which appears here and on our alimni site. 

Me and Joe

Me and Joe

I hope there will be another time where we can sit and talk again and have more time.  Sometimes I think I should have allowed another week for this trip.   The afternoon was disappearing and we were in need of getting back to other things.  I laft Highland and jumped on the freeway to head south towards Camp Pendleton.   Traffic was moving along real well and not very crowded.  The sun still felt good but was starting to cool down.   Up ahead there’s a sign,  “Pay Toll Ahead”.    It had never occured to me that I would be paying toll on the highway in the area but had no choice now.  There were two toll area and paid a total of $4.50 to get from point “A” to point “B”.   I wasn’t terribly happy but at least it was reasonable and I did have the cash.  So far, I have been using plastic most of the way and using cash only when necessary.  I was getting near Highway 1 again so stopped to get my bearings.  A quick look at the map and I was good to go.  Just a few more turns and I would be at the south entrance to Camp Pendleton.  At the moment, it was about 7:30pm and the sun starting the downward spiral.  At the gate to Camp Pendelton, showed them my I.D. and off I went into the expanse of the base.  Having never been there before, I’m going crazy looking for any sign indicating the doirection of LAke O’Neill.  Being the usual male, I didn’t ask for directions at the gate.   I knew that I would travel for a lengthy distance, turn west and head toward the lake.  Finally finding the sign, I did just that.   I still had to take several turns and then follow along the south side of the lake.   When I made reservations, I was informed to drive in, set up, and the campground manager would catch up with me later.  I thought I was going to have to search for my campsite, but it instead,  greeted me with huge numbers and  letters on the fire ring.   How great is that?  

Lake O'Neill campsite,  Camp Pendleton

Lake O'Neill campsite, Camp Pendleton

 Got the Wing parked and unloaded all the stuff.   Before I left, I bought a new tent and set it up in the living room.  Remember the directions?  Get part “A” and insert into sleeve “B” , etc.     I was very minimal with extras, essentially NO extras.  I had my tent and sleeping bag in a military duffel bag but no air mattress.    I found out that night just how HARD the dirt gets.    Just for the curiosity, I got out the laptop to see if I could get someone’s network on base.   No signal found, not going to happen.  What will I do?    The campground manager came by briefly to check on me and look at my I.D. to be sure of who I was.    Later, I took a trip to the restroom that was nearby and happened upon the bulletin board for the area.   Two flyers were there to warn me about the Pacific Coast and Red Diamond rattlesnakes.   Woo hoo!    And they put us tent campers right up against the bushes and the lake.   I didn’t have in misfortune of meeting a snake face to face, but kept a watchful eye out.    It was finally getting dark and not much going on.  My lighting consisted of a small flashlight witrh 2 “AA” cells.  No good for a whole lot.   Early bedtime and try to be as comfortable as possible.  Tomorrow should be a great day for some sightseeing in several places.   Stay tuned.

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