Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 1
Balls and thighs.

Total miles: 318
Estimated travel time: 5 hours

[ Friday - August 22, 2008 ]

It's 8:30AM and I'm finally on my way.  Unfortunately, the Captain won't be joining us as he still recovering from a recent cold.  I'll miss having him on the trip, but the show must go on.  As I'm leaving my place to get to the ATM to grab some cash, I can't help but think I've forgotten to pack something.  I have to follow a written check list next time so I don't have this sinking feeling.  $100 in the wallet and I'm off to Nu's place.  It's a regular work day so traffic is dense on the west bound 210.  I'm fortunate enough to be heading east so traffic is relatively light.  According to Russ, he saw me heading east on the 210, but I didn't see him.  I must have been preoccupied trying to get to Nu's place and didn't check the opposing freeway traffic very often.  As I pull up to Nu's warehouse, his bike is parked outside ready to leave this crazy city.

Unlike previous trips, both Nu and I managed to get some decent rest before the trip.  However, it doesn't hurt to have some coffee to kick things off.  A tribute to the Captain because he's not here.  We pull into a Starbucks in Glendora to fill our tank and to wake ourselves up.  Funny thing, as we park our bikes, a older guy in an SUV pulled up and strikes a conversation.  He's definitely admiring the bikes and made several comments to the effect that BMWs are the more reliable bikes and that we would have no problems going on a long tour.  Hm... if the Captain was here, he'd be having a yelling match with the guy screaming something to the effect that the final drive is flawed.  Since he's not here, this little conversation must be causing his ears to burn.

It's amazing the amount of respect I get when I walk around in the Rally 2 Pro suit.  One of the guys behind the Starbucks counter said, "Here you go sir." when he handed me the blueberry muffin.  I don't normally get that level of verbal service when I'm in my plain clothes.

We finish our muffin and coffee and head out.  The 210 Fwy is light.  There are cars but it's minimal.  Regardless of the fast flowing traffic, there are plenty of idiots on the road.  For some odd reason, people can't seem to be able to grasp the concept of using the fast lane to pass.  The keep passing on the left side.  Whatever.  Cars that pass us on the 210 get dusted on the 15 Fwy as we make the big climb towards Hisperia.  As expected, Hisperia, Victorville, and Adelanto are all slow moving areas along the 395.  We have monster trucks trying to race us, and we have trucks towing camper trailers trying to do 70 MPH.  Man they must be burning fuel like there is no tomorrow.  The two of us are just hanging back and watching these people make a spectacle of themselves.

When we reach the Kramer junction (e.g. 395 and 58 Hwy), we've already been in the saddle over 1 1/2 hour.  So it's time for a break.  The usual place we go to around here is the Astro Burger.  They make some really good food.  We have to stop for a break and also for me to dial down my pre-load.

A gyro, friend zucchini, and two shakes.  I wasn't planning on having lunch yet, but it looks like we're going to have lunch anyway.  The original idea was to stop here for some shakes.

Yes!  I'm reminded why I like stopping at the Astro Burger.  The food here is not only big portioned, it's also excellent!  Of course this also explains why this new species of bird is knocking on our door step.  Sorry dude.  Not today.

New fowl species... the begging bird.

Diggin' into the gyro and fried zucchini.

While we're sitting here munching on food, and when I'm reseting my pre-load, we can't help but notice a number of 1150GS and 12GS passing us by.  Those GSes are all over the freakin' place.

Can you see it?  Balls and thighs.  That's what Nu sees when he looks at my bike.

Not done yet, but ... Hey!  There's a 12GS.

It still hasn't hit me that I'm on vacation yet.  We've been to this part of the world so often that it feels like we're here for another off road session in my Subaru Forester. Nothing to get excited about.  Once I'm done with reseting the pre-load, it's time to keep moving.  If it wasn't for the fact that Nu and I are both connected via 2-way radio, I would have been riding a good part of the trip with a loose rope that could have caused me harm.  As we pull back out on the 395, I get a call from Nu, "You have a loose rope dangling on your rear."  I must have forgotten to tighten up one of the cooler ropes.  I immediately pulled over and fixed the problem.  Yup, there it is.  I tied it off, and we're back on the road.

Once we drive pass our normal turn off to head towards Fremont peak, we're in new territory and the vacation feeling slowly sinks in.

Impatient driver passing over a double yellow only to be held up by another car, a car doing a head on pass on a two lane Hwy trying to pull over at the last minute, and a big rig almost crossing the double yellow threatening to take us both out.  Such are the things we have to deal with this day.  Fortunately it's worse to read it then to have lived through it.  They were all nowhere near close calls.  If anything it's just an annoyance.

Wind?  Yeah there are some, but it's nothing worth mentioning.  The heat, on the other hand, is definitely worth mentioning.  Through out the entire section of the 395 from Ridgecrest all the way to Bishop, it's hot.  The temps fluctuates between 90F to 100F.  Sure enough, when we get to our first gas stop, we soak the Coolvest and feel immediate relief.  However, due to the high desert's hot bleached bone dry conditions, the vest could only last around 25-30 minutes.  Still, it is better to have it on even for a short time rather than not having in on at all.

For the most part, people didn't bother us much on the 395.  Most of them are more curious than threatening.  We have the occasional crazy bus driver, but that's only expected.  There are a lot of bikers on the road.  Most of them are either the monster tourers (e.g. Goldwings), or they're Harleys.  An occasional squid is thrown in here and there for good measure.  Suffice to say, we're oddballs.

This is the first trip where I'm making really good travel time.  We're averaging between 90-100+ miles before we stop.  As a result, there are a lot of comments over the intercom such as "Oh my butt is on fire..." or "...It's a conflagration".  At one point right before Bishop, Nu was hanging off the bike as if he's about to make a high speed turn, but in reality he's still going straight.  Pretty silly if you as me.  However, it does serve a purpose, it eliminated saddle soreness (e.g. fire butt syndrome) one bun at a time.  Standing up for a short time helps too but it slows you down too much.

"Hey!" is what he said.  "Hey what?"  "Hay on the side of the road."  What in the world are they doing with all this hay on the side of the road?  Maybe they're trying to build a cattle farm in the Hwy center median.  Actually, that would be a really bad idea to smell the royal cowness all a long you travel.  It would be a good traffic deterrent.  However, it's still a bad idea.  No really, it looks like some kind of a spill might have happened on the 395 between Big Pine and Bishop.  They're probably performing some type of Hwy cleanup.

Lone Pine, Big Pine, and Bishop.  At long last, the second rest for the trip.  From her it's only another 30-40 miles to Mammoth Lakes.  What's amazing is it's only 3:30PM.  This means we'll be in Mammoth around 4:00-4:30PM.  Plenty of time of find a food place to eat.  But first, I have to stop at the Meadow Farms Country Smokehouse (e.g. beef jerky place).  Another name for it is Mahogany Smoked Meats for those that are interested in getting some gourmet beef jerky from the net.  If you've never had Cowboy jerky before, you've got to try some.  It's one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, old age has caught up to me so I can no longer stomach the Jabanero jerky.  Back when I was still fresh and vibrant, I use to down that stuff.  Man is it good.  It's so hot, you can almost start a camp fire with that jerky (e.g. fire breath).

What more can you ask for?  A Sobe Pina Colada and beef jerky.

My turn to stand and chew...

... and chew ... and chew ...

We fuel up for the last time before heading up to Mammoth Lakes.  The last thing to do is to make that climb on the 395 up towards Crowley lake.  This is going to be interesting.  I've done this climb in a car and it has a hard time.  let's see how these bike handle it.  I'm sure it will be a snap.

Car after car pass us as we do a steady 70MPH.  They're all in a hurry to get somewhere.  No matter, we'll just take our time and beat the pants off of them on the climb.  Sure enough, the climb up to Mammoth Lakes starts.  It's easily a 5 degrees grade.  The bike strains a tad, but if I were to twist the throttle a little more, I know it will zip up the mountain at 90-100MPH.  Nu's hangin' in there pretty good too.  It doesn't seem like he's having any problems at all even on the 650GS.  We were once in the slow lane, in the valley below, but now we're in the fast lane.  Cars that passed us up are now pulling over to let us pass.  Keeping a steady 70MPH, we're passing trucks, car, campers, and RVs like they're sitting still.  It's as if we have our own road to Mammoth.  Nice!

It's been too long since I've been to Mammoth.  The last time I went was for a mountain bike trip and that is easily 6 or 7 years ago.  I'm once more reminded how beautiful it is up here.  As we take the long sweeping curve pass Tom's Place and head towards Crowley Lake, we are presented with a meadow of green to our left side.  Mammoth is unusually green this year.  Not only that, there are flowers everywhere.  It's simply gorgeous.  This is the first time I've ever been to Mammoth on a motorcycle of I feel a bit out of place.  However, since I'm out in the open with the rest of mother nature, the scenery is even more spectacular.

As we pass the Mammoth air field, I'm reminded again how windy it is on this stretch of the 395.  This must be an area where the wind is channeled.  Oh baby!  I'm feeling the vibration on the handle bars now.  The good thing is, it's only about a 8-10 miles stretch that I have to deal with this.  Eventually we pull off of the 395 to get onto the 203.  Yup, we're in Mammoth.  The air is clean, the sky is blue, the water is soft, and there are yuppies everywhere.  You got it baby!  Mammoth has gone the way of San Francisco.  They even have a trolley, on rubbers, running around town.  I guess I'm use to the old Mammoth Lakes where everything was simple.  Oh well, those are the bye gone days.  Still, we're here and we're checked in to the Motel 6 at about 5:30PM.  Now it's a matter of off loading the bikes, go get something to eat, and then hitting the sack to get ready for tomorrow.  BTW, being lactose intolerant and having drank that Astro Burger milk shake really helped for the system to get acclimated to 7000'.  I never thought milk shakes could be so wondrous.

Mammoth-Yosemite - Trip planning
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 2 (No Captain?  We're off roadin'! - Paradise lost.)
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 3 (Mammoth to Fresno with one tank?)
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 4 (For once the I5 is not so bad.)

Written on: August 30, 2008
Last modified: September 8, 2008