Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 3
Mammoth to Fresno with one tank?
(Long time no see...)

Total miles: 252
Estimated travel time: 5:24 hours

[ Sunday - August 24, 2008 ]

It came fast, and it's leaving just as quick.  Our time in Mammoth is too short.  We have to make a concerted effort to prolong our stay in Mammoth next year.  Yesterday was a really good day.  I hope today will be the same.  The plan today is to pack up, check out of the motel, fuel up, go get breakfast, and bid Mammoth Lakes farewell in exchange for Fresno.  Somewhere in between all these things, we're going to stop at the Schat's Bakery again and get some more pastry for food on the road.

The day, once again, starts with us checking the bikes over to make sure everything is OK.  Once again Nu checks the oil level and so do I.  Will you look at that.  Not a drop of oil burnt.  Well, at least not enough for me to notice the difference.  Nonetheless, because I've taken the 12R off road, and I'm going to change oil anyway I might as well use up some of Nu's oil.  Remembering what my friends at the Brown BMW in Pomona said, "It's better to have oil rather than no oil at all.", in goes the 10W40 SG oil to be mixed up with the 15W50 SH oil.  Yeah!  Fun!  It's not the best but at least I don't have to worry about oil levels for the rest of the trip.

The panniers go back on and everything is loaded back up.  We check out of the motel and head over to Schat's once more.

It's not so crowded today.  Perhaps everybody is busy getting out of Dodge and heading back to LA and/or SF.  Today we grab 4 cinnamon rolls for the trip to Fresno.  Next we fuel up and head over to the Rite-Aid for additional water and beverages for today's ride.  The Good Life restaurant.  I haven't been here in at least 7 years.  Oh you should have seen the looks we received as we pulled up to the restaurant.  It's like they've never seen motorcyclist before.

Man!  I forgot how big the breakfast portions are at The Good Life.

We got in and are seated on the patio with little wait.  Nu had the gigantic French toast plate, and I had the eggs and pancakes.  When we received our dishes it was, "WOW!  I forgot how big the plates are here."  Nu managed to finish two of the four French toast.  I finished the eggs, a little hash brown, and one of the three pancakes.  We probably could have ordered one plate, fed both of us, and hand the plate over to someone else to finish.  As for the quality of the food?  It's excellent as usual.  Substance abuse?  But of course.  What would we do if Columbia, Hawaii, and other bitter product producing nations aren't able to make coffee any more?  We would probably fall asleep half way through our ride.  Or we would have to reduce our distance and resort to bar hopping only.

We pay our dues and leave Mammoth Lakes until next year.

The life saving green cooler.  It's so packed that it's going to explode any minute now...

Here we go, Hwy 120 Tioga Pass.  This is pretty cool.  Within 30+ miles of Mammoth, the terrain changes.  Simply breath taking scenery.

Delerium - A Poem for Byzantium

After 10 miles, we're at the east Yosemite National Park gate.  I'm out of cash from last night's Domino's Pizza ordeal, and the park doesn't do plastic so Nu has to do the deed.

Nu's coming back from paying the entrance fees at the gate.

As expected, Yosemite is crowded.  There is forever traffic here.  Speeds are at best 50 MPH, but those zone are hard to find.  Populated areas slow everything down to 25 MPH.   When I originally plotted to go from Mammoth to Fresno, the nav system had me going around Yosemite.  It know it is slow going through Yosemite.  However, going through Yosemite is not for the sake of speed.  It is for the sake of beauty.

Something interesting is happening to me as we ride through the park.  My fuel range estimate keeps on climbing.  Oh the reasons why I love the R12R.  What was originally estimated to be 280 miles left, after 50 miles have been covered, is slowly climbing to 295+ miles range.  From past experiences the fuel range can reach staggering numbers.  Let's see what we end up with at the end of today.  Nu is in extreme astonishment when I radio him about the climbing fuel range.  What he doesn't realize yet is that his 650gs is doing even better than my R12R.

People are everywhere.  Traffic is also dense and intense.  Do you see any picture of Nu and I in the middle of the road?  Nope.  It's not possible here.

Nu's trying to cope with hot spots on the ears.

Still fidgeting...

... not done yet.

You can kind of spot where Yosemite Valley would be in the distance.

Once again I skip a section of road because the Captain is not with us (e.g the ridge route that would take us down to Yosemite Valley).  It would be another spectacular view, but Nu and I have seen it plenty of times.  Perhaps next year.  Then again maybe I should have taken the route.  It would have prevent me from driving behind an idiot driver that just jumping out in front of me and slowed us down.  For some reason, the people around here can't seem to understand their mortality.  Oh well, karma will catch up to them one of these days and it won't be pretty.

Finally we're at the west gate.  These rangers are pretty thorough in their job.  They require me to show our entrance receipt before we are allowed to exit.  If we don't have a receipt, we have to pay again.  I understand the reasoning so out comes our receipt.  Once we pass through the gate, we pull over for a short break, and to chew on a Mammoth cinnamon roll.

At last, we're on the west end of Yosemite.

Bright beautiful day.

They sure stack up really fast.  At $20 per vehicle, Yosemite is making some good money.

While we're sitting here taking a breather, a guy on a R1150GSA drives up to the west gate, then makes a U-turn and come over in our direction.  We say "Hi" and he asks us how long it would take to get to Yosemite Valley.  I estimated it would take about 20 minutes, but the amount of traffic we're seeing today will easily push that to about 30-40 minutes.  With that he thanks us and reverse is course.  We linger for about another 10-15 minutes and then depart the west gate.

I was hoping for minimal traffic on our way out of Yosemite, but such hopes can't be accommodated.  There is one 4Runner ahead of us and the driver doesn't seem to understand the concept of a turnoff.  Such is the way here.  People are self absorbed and don't seem to mind holding everybody else back.  This is especially the case when the posted speed limits are 55 MPH and the driver can at best manage 40-45 MPH in the turns.  Eventually we had to do things the hard way (e.g. passing using the opposing traffic's lane, when legal).  Once clear, he held up all the traffic that was behind us, and we're in the wide open expanse.

For some reason, heading west on the 120 seems a lot shorted than when I rode this section in 2006.  Next thing I knew we're at the Old Priest Grade turn off.  Here too, I was hoping to have the road all to myself, but there's a mini-van ahead of us.  Eventually the driver was nice enough to let us pass.  However, it has more to do with the van not being able to accommodate the motorcycle speeds/agility than me trying to pressure them.

This is the first time I'm riding Old Priest Grade and I'm scared.  The slope is so steep that the highest gear I can go in is 3rd.  Anything higher than that and I will go flying off of a cliff.  For that reason, the speed limit is set to 25 MPH.  I can see why.  The engine is screaming from all of the engine breaking, and the breaks are applied the majority of the time.  Every time I clutch to down shift, the bike would lurch forward and gain speed.  If I had known how steep this grade is, I wouldn't have attempted it.  I guess there's a first for everything.  It's an experience.  The one thing I have to say about taking this route, it gets you down to the bottom really fast.  Once we got to the 49, we pull over for a soaking of the Coolvest.  The bike is showing 98F down here.

"Hey!  Long time no see!"  The R1150GSA that pulled up to us asking for time information to Yosemite Valley magically appeared behind us.  How did that happen?  Once again he stopped next to us.  We all acknowledge the comedic value of this scene.  We exchanged some more friendly words and he takes off for his destination.

We both smell like we've been pickled.  Apparently the lunch that we packed for yesterday's ride tossed a pickle (e.g. it fell out of the bag and went into the cooler) and cause the cooler to have residual pickle essence.  Today's accumulated ice water released the pickle essence.  Soaking our Coolvest in this icy water makes the Coolvest really nice and cool, but also makes us both smell like pickles.  Now that's an interesting aroma.  I guess I now know how I smell if I am pickled.

The 49 Hwy is hot, and it keeps on getting hotter and hotter.  The temperature fluctuates between 94-99F.  At 60 MPH, the Coolvests doesn't last any longer than 20 minutes.  Again we encounter cars that don't understand their mortality.  There is a VW bus in front of us that refuses to pull off.  Instead he puts himself in several dangerous turns by cutting corners with two wheels going off the road.  He repeats this several times until I backed off from fear of him causing all of us to crash.  I'm sure he was delighted when we pulled off the road before heading into the mouth of the Little Dragon.  It could also be the tail depending on your perspective.

WOW!  This is bad.  There use to be a lake here two years ago.  Now it's just a little stream.  We're really sucking down the water.  I wonder if this will ever be a lake again.

Into the mouth of the Little Dragon.

Once we got back on the road, I can't help but notice a sports car tailing Nu.  He's close, but not tailgating.  He tries to keep up with us but we eventually ditched him.  On the other hand, every time I go to take a corner, Nu is up my tail pipe.  I separate from him once there is a straight, but the minute a turn comes up, he on my arshe again.  He's definitely getting the hang of this leaning bit.  Right about the time when the Little Dragon is at an end, we run up behind a car.  I'm not pressuring the car but the driver knows he can't keep up with us.  It was considerate enough to pull off.  Instead of waving with my clutch hand, I waved with my throttle hand.  That also means I'm slowing down quite a bit.  Poor Nu hadn't anticipated this and nearly ran into me.  Lucky for him and for me he has ABS.  He eventually got on the 2-way and asked me what happened.  I said I waved at the driver because he was nice enough to let us pass.  I'll remember not to wave with my throttle hand in the future.  It was another fun little ride, and it too ends so quickly.  Hey, there's that sports car again.  He was just having fun trying to hang with us.  Eventually he turned off and we keep on going.

As we near Mariposa, we have already traveled 165 miles.  My bike claims that we have a range of 190 miles left.  The question becomes... do I trust my bike computer's fuel range estimate?  Yes?  No?  Yes!  I do.  The way BMW does the fuel estimates are extremely remarkable.  It's been very accurate.  I'll give it an error of about +- 5 miles.  Even so, it's hasn't failed me yet.  I have come to rely quite heavily on the fuel estimate.  Regardless, Nu is concerned that he's burning more fuel than me.  I don't think so, but he request that we stop and fuel up anyway.  Semi reluctantly, I pull into a Texaco in Mariposa.  My guess is, I'll put in at best 3 gallons.  2.3 gallons was my real number.  As for Nu, he put in a whopping 1.7 gallons.  Do the math... that means he is easily doing 97 miles to the gallon.  I'm not too bad myself.  That puts my mileage at approximately 71 miles to the gallon.  Not too shabby for a 1200cc motorcycle.  If we had skipped this fueling session, we would still make it to Fresno with fuel to spare.  Fresno is only about another 70 miles away.  Astonished with the mileage estimates my bike is capable of, Nu no longer questions the R12R's fuel guesstimate.

You're better than you think...

Checking in with the girlfriend.

Once again, we recharge the Coolvest.  The temperature is still lingering between 96F and 98.6F.  That's hot.  Of course we feel immediate relief once we put the vest on.  Now let's finish off that remaining 70 or so miles.  Easier said than done.

As we reach the outskirts of Oakhurst, a mountain driver nearly takes the car behind Nu out.  These mountain people are crazy.  If Nu was there, she might have taken him out.  We have to stay alert.  We make it to Oakhurst and transition to the 41 Hwy.  Traffic is decent in the beginning but then quickly backs up.  There's no use in fighting it so we take it easy until a passing lane appear.  Hot!  Hot!  Hot!  The temperature doesn't let up at all.  In fact, as we got out of the mountains, it gets hotter.  At one section of the 41 the bike shows 104F.  Wow!  That's the hottest I've ever been on a bike.  Before this 102 was the tops (e.g. Lake Mead).  Then again it's Fresno.  The land where 114-120F is not unusual during summer.  The bike might be air cooled, but baby is not overheating.  The temperature gauge shows it's running a bit warm but it's not going to go by way of Chernobyl.

Finally, Fresno.  The temperature goes back down into the mid 90s and the sun is starting to go down.  We remain on the the 41 freeway as long as we can stand it, which is not for long.  We take the Friant/Blackstone exit and head towards Herndon Ave.  The old homestead has changed quite a bit since we've been here last.  What makes it even more odd is the fact we're here on motorcycles.  Riding motorcycles in Fresno is an impossibility when we were younger because the parents wouldn't hear any of that.  Of course maturity can change things quite a bit.  I'm struck by the change of this city.  The north end of town is now fully developed and we don't recognize it at all.  At one point I had to look at the GPS to make sure we're going in the right direction.  How embarrassing.  Eventually we turn south on Palm.  Slowly, this place looks more and more familiar.  Still, it's an odd sensation to ride through here.  I know where I'm suppose to go but I almost don't recognize the scenery.  Eventually we reach the parent's place and stop for the day.  Wow, we made pretty good time.  It's about 5:30pm.  Nobody is home so we lingered in the front yard until pop got home and opened the door for us.

He had anticipated 3 of us, but we are only two in number.  The Captain had requested the pork ribs below, but unfortunately he couldn't make it this time to enjoy it.  That's alright Captain.  There's always next year.  What more can I say, this meal really hits the spot.  We couldn't finish it all so we're taking it home with us tomorrow.  Now we lounge around a bit while I uploaded images to the forum because I finally have wireless connectivity.  What a fitting end for a good day's ride.

Pork ribs!  Yum!

Mammoth-Yosemite - Trip planning
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 1 (Balls and thighs.)
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 2 (No Captain?  We're off roadin'! - Paradise lost.)
Mammoth-Yosemite - Day 4 (For once the I5 is not so bad.)

Written on:  September 11, 2008
Last modified:  September 15, 2008