Day 9                                                                          
June 13th, 2007
Smith Valley, Nevada
After a great nights sleep I was up and moving around by 7am.  Before starting the packing process, I made a few phone calls back east.  I left my nephew a text message, and had a brief conversation Debbie.

I spent a few moments in Don Feyma's control room.  Here, from his study, he tracks the STOC membership list and upcoming events.  He has devoted a lot time to STOC over the years, and his study is adorned with pictures of past events and rides.

Don retired and left Minnesota a few years ago.  He grew tired of the cold and other bad weather.  He told me one year they went 17 consecutive days of no sun, with cold temps.  But here in Western Nevada, sunshine is not a problem.  On a average year they have over 340 days of sunshine.
​Don Feyma and his 1998 ST 1100
Don had the routes planned for our ride in Yosemite.  "I have some roads in mind I'll think you'll enjoy."  
My last trip to the Park came in 2001, my first trip to the Hotel on a ST 1100.  I was such a neophyte back then. This tour, in many ways has been a throwback to that year.  I look back on that ride and realize I did pretty good for a guy that didn't know anything, or maybe I was just lucky, still counts though.

Don rolled up the garage door and I backed the 1300 out into a brilliant sun.  My ride today was not all that many miles, but it will take almost all day.

Larry mentioned he might join us for the ride, but qualified the statement with, "if I ain't there when it's time to go, means I can't make it so don't wait,"  and we didn't.

I followed Don on his 98 1100 down a few local valley roads, as we worked our back to 395.  Irrigation contraptions were spraying water high and out over green fields.  How Americans came to tame the desert is a unique story, and the sight of green fields in a sea of sand, rocks and tumbleweeds always amazes me.
The riding was good as we rode up into the hills toward Yosemite.  Don pulled to the side and I came in behind him.  "Everything alright?"  "Yeah I was just checking, I put new brakes on recently and wanna make sure not over heating."  "No, they're doing good, I'm right behind ya, and I don't smell a thing."  Everyone knows overheated brakes has a certain odor.

Satisfied all was good, we got back on the road at our easy pace.  We stopped for a photo op and Don told me, "we're gonna gas up in Lee Vining, highest gas prices in the country probably, but no other options this side of the park."  I'm on 3 bars, so maybe it wont be all that painful."
I took this picture of a reservoir not far from Don's home
Riding up a long hill I checked the elevation- 3,000 feet and rising.  I've been on 395 several times, but on those rides I was north bound.  The Mono Lake Vista arrived and we went in for some pictures and to walk around.
U.S. 395 runs past Mono Lake to Lee Vining.
We dropped down off the mountain into Lee Vining, a town named after a miner I believe.  The town is no longer a mining center, but found prosperity as the first significant place you arrive when you exit the east side of Yosemite.

I pulled the 1300 to the high octane pump of the Chevron station and was floored at the price, 4.19 a gallon!  Talk about price gouging!  I stuck the nozzle in and topped of the tank.  Despite the fact I was showing 3 bars the fill up was painful.  "Man these folks oughta be ashamed."  A few Harley riders came in from Florida, but we didn't speak.

It was time for the morning break so I bought a couple of fig bars and stood around outside talking to Don.  A deputy filtered in off the highway and was standing by his cruiser eating something so I went over to speak to him.

"Working radar today?"

"Noooooooo just routine patrol"

"Ok I was just checkin"

We had a nice conversation with the deputy and Don found out they had something in common. with a instructor somewhere, but I forgot the specifics.  The deputy use to work for LA County, but left that mayhem behind.

"well things are definitely a lot slower around here," he noted.

It was mid morning and time to head to the park.  We turned off 395 for SR 120 and entered at Tioga Pass.  After paying our fees I went to the parking lot to mount my videocam.  The weather was cool and sunny, but would steadily warm on the descent down to the village.

Yosemite is a striking contrast of trees, granite, tall mountains, deep canyons and  sprawling valleys.    Traffic was minimal on the east side but the west was a different story.  I tapped the Zumo to compass view so I could keep tabs on the elevation. 
​Trees and granite rock in Yosemite National Park
I rolled the camera as I took the lead on 120 and moved up the mountains.  Long sweeping views could be seen from the various scenic vistas.  We pulled into a couple and took pictures. 

The Sierras are a rugged mountain range with bountiful snowfalls, and have a climate all their own.  You can have almost anything, anytime of year.

SR 120 is not particularly challenging, but the ride is good.  We took our time.  The turnouts were tricky with cars going in and out, mixed with onlookers who just might step out on the road because they were not paying attention
​ SR 120 carved into the side of mountains.  A great ride.

I especially liked the flowery meadows.
​Yosemite Meadow
At the crest of one of the mountains, I noticed a mother with the hood of her SUV raised.  We doubled back to her.

"Ma'm is everything alright?"

"I dunno we were going along when we smelled something and smoke started coming out from under."
I went over to check it out and the odor of brakes hit me.  "The engine compartment looks ok, I'm thinking your brakes are hot."  She had 2 teenagers, with her, boy and a girl.  The young lady noticed my videocam.  "Hey thats pretty neat."  "Yeah I don't have to stop for pics I just roll on by.

The folks were from Florida and in a rental SUV.  I told them I was from Alabama, and the family asked questions about long riding.

Don told the attractive lady, " use a lower gear on the long down hills, and not as much brake."
"Tell my husband, here he comes now," talk about a downer, but oh well.  Nice folks really and we spent a few more minutes chatting before mounting back up.
​One of the most famous views in Yosemite.  Looking
down in the valley.

Traffic was thick on the long downhill to the village, and the temp had shot up to the 90s.  We took the roadway into the village and stopped to check out Bridal Veil Falls and El Captian.  The area was so congested it was hard to find a parking spot to even take pictures.  I hate to see what this place is like on a weekend!
​Bridal Veil Falls
After some picture taking we parked the bikes under a shade tree and went to the snack bar/gift shop for something to eat.  We had just beaten the crowd, as a line quickly formed behind us, and lucky enough to find a table in the shade   I had the chicken fingers
​El Capitan
Don advised we would work our way out of the park to a special road of his, that he rides to spice things up.  I said I was down for it.  We tossed out trash away and before I could come back for my coat our table was snapped up, because shady tables were in short supply.

Traffic crawled out of the village on 120.  We rode out of the congested areas after 10 miles or so, and the riding was good, as we worked a series of sweeping curves.  I took this route back in 2001 but none of the area looked familiar to me.  I recall that as a late afternoon ride, and I rode into a setting sun.  I had spent the night near Winnemucca, and didn't arrive in the Bay Area till almost 9pm.  A long ride that day.

The ride today was much better, I still had plenty of time to get to Don's house, speaking of which, I was looking forward to seeing again.  He is in the middle of some big time remodeling at his home in Castro, and was not able to come out and ride with me like he usually does.  I told him that was ok, and was just thankful to hang out with him for a day and half.  I felt bad at putting him out when he had so much going on.

We stopped in Groveland to get oriented, but  I think Don just needed to check something, we were only there a short time.
​Groveland, California
A few miles later we left the highway for a road called Wards Ferry, a local road that snaked far back in the Sierras.  I wasn't sure where we going,  so kept Don in front of me.  The road was very narrow, and no markings.  You have the edge of the road, then a 800 foot drop, no buffer.  A mistake would have dire consequences.

Bumps and potholes were common, and tree trunks seemed to be inches away from the old road.  We came to a blind curve to meet a minor head on collision of 2 vehicles.  I'm sure not the first to ever happen there.  The occupants were standing outside the front of the cars waiting for the law to arrive to do the paperwork.
The road moved higher in the hills, I was curious about the elevation, but feared removing a hand from the grip to work the GPS.  I had to be really cautious not to let a pothole bounce me off the road and over the edge, it was a long way down.

I had just left a bumpy hairpin when I met a car coming at me.  We saw each other and all was safe, but we didn't have a lot of room.  Each of us slowed to a crawl.  I like professional drivers, this guy knew what was going on.

I ride with the rear end firmed up all the time on the Honda.  It makes for a nice handling bike, but on roads like Wards Ferry you pay the price.

The long uphill ride ended when I crested the top, and started the tricky ride down.  I wanted to stop for a few photos but there was just no safe place to do so.  A long, narrow bridge, perhaps 2000 feet below looked like a Lego block from our present height, "man that's a long way down."

I kept the ST in low gear keeping in mind what Don told the lady back in Yosemite.

The road banked, climbed, and descended for 40 miles before letting us off at SR 108.  It was a hair raising ride, but fun.  At the intersection Don and I said our good byes.  "Have a safe trip, and ever this way again call me."  "You know I will thanks for taking care of me."  Don Feyma is good people and loves the 2 wheel lifestyle as much as anyone.  Not only did he feed me, and offer me a place to stay, but led me on some great rides.  Days like this why my touring experiences are so good.  Having a local take you out on a ride gives you a intimate look at the area, that most folks will never get.

It was now time to come down out of the Sierras to the Bay Area.  Over the years I've managed to log all the major Sierra Passes, both directions, so this ride to the Bay Area was nothing new.  It is also not much fun.
I put Don's address in the Zumo to let the GPS take me on in.  I knew the way, mostly, but I turned it over to the Garmin.  In the old days this would be the time I went to the parking lot and pulled the map for out for 10-15 minutes.  The Zumo took care of that in 8 seconds today.  I can safely say my GPS saves me about a hour each day.  Notes on my sleeve were good for a lot tours and miles, and work well, but when you change on the fly you have to dig the atlas out and plot a new course, and that's a hassle.

One of the things I like most about GPS is never feeling like you're in strange place.

Soon I would be at the terminus point of the tour.  I'll take the day off tomorrow and then ride south to San Diego to see Jerrol, one of the primary objectives of the tour.  On each tour I have several special places, roads, or people to check out.  This ride it was the Mississippi Headwaters, ND SR 5, Crater Lake, Don Feyma, Freestyle and Joyce, Jerrol, Uncle Phil in Colorado, and sunset in Monument Valley.  Also 2 roads in the south are beckoning me to carve up, SR 33 and 74.

I took 120 past all the fruit orchards to Oakdale where I timed out for something cool to drink.  The temperature in the Central Valley was 102 according to the Honda.  For some reason I was thirsty, riding very seldom makes me that way, no matter how hot it is.  But not today, I needed something cool so went for a Gatorade, at a Shell con store.  I also filled the tank.

The urban sprawl around this area is not fun, and the long lines of traffic wore on me.  The gps pointed me to the 205 and away I went.  "Man feels good to get up to highway speed again, after slugging it out of Sonora."
The 205 took me to the 580 and I was in the final stretch.
It was a cool night in 2001 when I came through here for the first time.  It was dark on a Friday night and it was mass chaos.  I don't know how I ever managed that ride.  I had no clue where I was at, where to go, or anything else.  I took the a bad turn that night into Oakland, and struggled to get Dennis Ryan's house in Redwood, but I made it.

I expected cooler weather when I came by the windmills, but not today.

The east bound side was bogged in the biggest traffic jam I'd seen in a long time.  All 4 lanes were crawling at 5 mph.  I rode and rode but never did see the end of the line before I exited.  Well over 25 miles.  From the I-5 interchange all the way to Castro Valley was a parking lot.  I was soooooo glad to be riding west.

The GPS took me to my exit and from here I was good to go.  Up the long winding hill to Don's driveway I went.  Negotiating Don's steep and sloped driveway on a fully loaded ST is tricky, but being a old veteran I managed.  I set the stand after a 381 mile day, and 4219 miles for the tour so far.  A great ride.

Don's house was open and I went in to find my old friend.  We had a nice reunion and I recapped my trip and he told me all about his current remodeling.  He has a lot going on.  

Like always I made myself at home.  One of the nice things about the Casa Cortez, you feel at home there.  It was good to see him.

Don and I are both retired so when Joyce came home from work we laughed when I said, "well glad to see someone around here has a job."

Supper was at a great Italian place called Roberneros one of the best meals of the trip, but after all this was California, great food everywhere.  I ate way too much. 

The rest of the evening was quality time with my friends, the time went by fast.

I've been checking email from my phone, but that process is kind of painful, so I was glad to use Don's PC.  Don buys and sells a lot of ST parts, and he told me, "I gotta pull a wheel off for a boy back east, he needs a part for a rear hub, we can do that tomorrow."

Before turning the lights off I reflected back on the tour so far.  Great roads, and scenery and interesting people.  Like that boy in Oregon who thought his car was going to blow up, and the cell phone in Malta, Montana.

I went to bed early but took me awhile to fall asleep because I was bloated.  But once I got to sleep all was good.

Note-If anyone recognizes the town in the above pic shoot me a email.  The saloon in the pic is the Iron Door if that helps.