Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Yeah, It's Been Awhile

A new year starts.  What will it bring? 

Certainly the last half of 2012 was not like it had been envisioned.

Lots less motorcycle riding.

Some excellent scenery seen - and photographed for future 'catch-up' posts.

Travel to Gran Canaria - and being in a totally different culture than America was enlightening.

Avoiding all of the involuntary political advertisements of the political season was absolutely wonderful.  What a bunch of crooks and liars they all are.

Well, it's a bright and cool day here in NCal - I'm off for a MC ride through some of the gold country.

I sincerely hope that your 2013 brings to you all that you wish for.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life - Not On The Road

The plan was for me to arrive in Mather on Friday 22nd.  My DiL – Jessica – was going to fly to New York with the youngest – Kinsley – to visit her parents for two weeks.
I was to be the designated caretaker of the three boys for the first week as Jeremiah still had to work.
But the problem with the Hard Krome exhaust pipes preempted all the plans to ride the California national parks, so I arrived a week early to deal with that problem.
And I also bought the new caravan – the Casita – to deal with the problem of the Aliner not being suitable for frequent travel.

The plan was to spend the days surrounding the 4th of July in the Sierra’s at a campground  near Bridgeport CA.  
That part of the plan occurred as planned – WOW!  Something that actually went as it should without any unusual drama.
First night in the campground – with 2nd grandson, Garrett.  This lounging chair position was a favorite each afternoon and evening when the campfire was lit.  

  
3rd grandson, Colton, with the Rainbow Trout that he and his dad caught.


Panorama of the valley that Bridgeport is in.  Our campsite is beyond the far right of the pic.

Kids – old and young – playing in the creek.

Sunset **

Brilliant Sunset **

We went to Bodie – a mining ghost town to the SE of Bridgeport.  About Bodie.
Panorama from near the remaining stamp mill
Window artifacts
Tattered curtains
Iris flowers
A nice ride to the cemetery
Not much left of this car - but it had a six cylinder engine
General store
Weathered siding
House
Panorama - looking SE
Panaorama of the high dry mountains near Bodie - ~7000 feet elevation
The next day we traveled south to Lee Vining - http://goo.gl/maps/zS8J - for a gas fill up in the son’s SUV – 40¢ difference in the 25 miles between Bridgeport and Lee Vining.  $4.60 is still expensive – but $5.00 a gallon is robbery when in the flat lands of Sacramento gas is $3.55 at CostCo.
Mono Lake at Lee Vining.
Panorama - Mono Lake
 Anyway, we went up Lundy Lake Road into Lundy canyon.  Quite lovely.
Panorama - Beaver Pond
Small waterfall
Aspen burl - there were lots of these!
 Then we went up to Virginia Lakes – 9770’ elevation!  More than lovely – the area is absolutely gorgeous as you can see.
360º panorama - Upper Virginia Lake
Upper Virginia Lake
Wood swirls

Then we went into Bridgeport for their 4th of July parade.  There were other activities in the afternoon but the grands were being idiots and not worthy of these extra activities.  But we went back to a spot outside town to watch the fireworks.  Impressive for such a small town!

Colors Presentation **
Parades are for kids **
Horses - always horses!
Restored Stagecoach
Hot Rods and old cars are always part of the parade
Smokey The Bear
**
**
**
**
On Thursday Jeremiah rented a boat and we took a 4 hour cruise on lower Twin Lake.  Beautiful scenery and an enjoyable morning with the kids.
The jagged peaks are on the NE border of Yosemite NP

L-R - Trevor, Colton, Jeremiah, Garrett
Later that afternoon Jeremiah and Trevor went down the creek and caught more fish.  We froze about 20 and brought them back to the flat lands.
Trevor and fish
On Friday we left the highlands and on the way down to Mather I stopped at a couple of view points for these panoramas.
Antelope Valley
Carson Pass - 7990' elevation
So… That brings this blog up-to-date and the next posts can be from my actual travels – and MC rides!

** Picture credit to Jeremiah

Exhaust Pipes


As detailed earlier, I suspected a crack in one of the Hard Krome 3” Res-Tec exhaust pipes I purchased in August 2011 and installed in September.
Arriving at Mather – after cutting out my planned rides in the national parks – Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite – I bought the new Casita caravan and on Sunday I took the offending pipe off the bike.
The crack was barely visible, but there.
On Monday afternoon I called Hard Krome and started the process of a warranty claim.
Can you say run-around?  Shuffled from here to there – person to person and no one would make any TIMELY decision. 
After this shuffle game got to the point of ridiculousness, I contacted a company in Washington to purchase some Vance and Hines replacement pipes.  

A minor shipping incident delayed delivery by 3 working days, but the pipes and quiet baffles arrived late in the afternoon on Tuesday June 26th.
It took about 3 hours on Wednesday to install them.  And yes, they are nice sounding – still a bit louder than I would like, but I’ll live with it.
In August 2011 I was buying accessories for the bike from different vendors.  In preparation for the recent sale and move I cleaned my email and deleted all the “receipts” and other correspondence relating to the purchase of all these accessories.
I emailed and then called the vendor Phat Performance Parts I thought I had purchased the pipes from – unfortunately it was not those folks.  However they were very responsive in their efforts to verify my purchase.  When I called I talked to a man that told me that Hard Krome pipes frequently cracked and they had to cut them apart and repair the cracks.
Ironically, Hard Krome no longer makes the 3” Res-Tec pipes.  Ken Davie replied – “I see a significant issue should the warranty claim be accepted.  We no longer produce these pipes.  The current pipes may be viewed at the following URL: http://hardkrome.com/models.php?modelID=130

Please note that these pipes are much louder than the Res-Tech pipes.”  My emphasis.  
And that was the problem I had with the HK's - they were too loud regardless of what mitigation I attempted.
Later Ken did offer to repair the pipes – shipping to them at my expense – but I made the choice to forego any further contact with Hard Krome and as detailed above – purchased Vance and Hines replacements.
Now… On with the planed Summer Vacation

Out With The Old - In With The New


On the trip to Mather from San Antonio the folding camper – the Aliner – proved to be the less than perfect caravan for this summer trip.
Essentially the problem is the need to setup and tear down the caravan every time you want to get inside – it doesn’t matter for what.  It requires unlatching the top – erect it and the sides, cook lunch or access the fridge or whatever.  When finished you have then fold the sides and top back down.  Latch it and get on with the day’s travel.

What a PITA!

If – IF – you were just going to go camping for a few days and not travel this problem would not be a problem.  You arrive at the camp site, set the trailer up and then get on with the camping.  The trailer stays in one place and all the problems are nonexistent.
Arriving in Mather about 2-ish in the afternoon I started looking on Craigslist for a suitable replacement.
There were several in the price range – and a couple just on the too much side – but mostly too large for towing with the F150.
About 5pm I checked again and there was the perfect caravan – a used Casita 17’ Freedom Deluxe.  
I immediately called and arranged to go look at the trailer. 
It did not take but 15 minutes of looking to recognize that this was a very good caravan for my summer trip.  Perfect?  No, but it’s called compromise.
So there was some financial tap-dancing on Monday morning to get the cash but I brought it to Jeremiah’s home on Monday afternoon.
A bit of cleaning and then it was off to a local RV repair center to ensure that there were no major problems with the running gear – wheel bearing pack and electric brake adjustment.  I also installed a digital brake controller so that we would not have any preventable roadside “emergencies”.  Even though I’m an AAA RV member I do not want to call them.

So here’s the pics as I first saw it.







Days 7-9 – Thursday-Saturday June 14-16


Travel days.
With the problem with the exhaust pipes I cut out my planned rides in the national parks in California (Sequoia, King's Canyon and Yosemite) and I headed to California and Jeremiah’s place in Mather for resolution of the pipes issue.
I left Springerville and drove west and north to Holbrook and then west on I 40 all the way to Kingman.  Map
In Kingman I stayed the night in a small RV park where it was necessary to plug in the electricity to have the AC going – it was only about 98º when I arrived at about 5:30!  Please note that was June 14th – not yet the height of summer!
I had to spend an hour at an AT&T store in Flagstaff.  My old iPhone was becoming very unreliable – it would take a crap in the middle of a call or when creating an email.  At times it would not connect to the cell tower and take a crap.  So that got old really quick – so it was time to replace it with something reliable.
This whole Summer Vacation trip can – and has been done – without a telephone by folks in past years.  But in this day and age a cell phone is so much more than just a phone.  It’s my MP3 player, my address book, my web browser and of course a telephone.  And yes, there are other apps installed, but those four are my main uses.
Unfortunately that comes at a cost.  The cost?  Over $800 for the upgrade to a new iPhone4 + tax of course!  But… Once again I have a reliable phone/browser/MP3 player/email multi-function device.
Up early on Friday morning and out of Kingman by 06:15.  Luckily I made it through Las Vegas on the fringe of the morning commute and had nothing but a couple of slowdowns.
On past LV there was nothing but desert.  Sagebrush, creosote bushes and not much more.
I was on US 95 heading north and took a left toward the west at Lida Junction on NV266.  It’s not too often that you see signs that strongly suggest that trucks and trailers with more than 25 feet between the 5th wheel kingpin and the rear axle avoid the road completely.
So yes, it was narrow, steep, with sharp corners.  But once in California I turned on to CA168 toward Big Pine.  
If NV 266 was narrow, steep, and had sharp curves, then CA 168 was its daddy!  Narrower, steeper, one-way blind crevices cut through solid rock!  Lower gears and slow speeds were the order going up and down!
Owens Valley at Big Pine
Once to Big Pine I turned north on US395 toward Bishop.  In Bishop I paid $4.10 for gas – prior to this  the highest was $3.90 at that ‘almost empty’ place on my MC ride a few days ago.  Before that most gas was in the $3.55-3.65 area, getting more expensive the further west I traveled.
Interesting storm over the mountains as I headed north – I experienced about 46 gigantic rain drops from this – just enough to mess the windshield.
Summer storm over Sierra's
All over the west coast there is evidence of how alive Mother Gaia is – this Long Valley Caldera was a gigantic blast just an eye-blink ago (in geologic time).  There’s a nice lake there now (part of the LA water supply now) that apparently has some nice trout therein.  I did not experience that myself.


I stayed the night in an RV park just to the NE of Bridgeport CA – a nice enough place if the wind wasn’t howling!  But as the sun went down the wind died and the night was very pleasantly cool – in the upper 40’s (9ºC).  Route map.

Then the final leg of the commute… Bridgeport to Mather.
This was accomplished over CA 108, Sonora PassWikipedia for Sonora Pass.
Another one of those roads where the recommended length is short – less than 25’ from kingpin to axle.
The F150 putted right up this narrow twisty road – not fast mind, but steadily.
This was my first real taste of the high sierras.  I do not count driving on I 80 over Donner pass as anything but an expedient route to get east of the mountains.
Texas mountains and rocks are predominantly brown.  Arizona mountains and rocks are predominantly reddish.  These California mountains are granite and predominantly grey-white.  Quite a contrast from the more usual I’ve so far encountered.
Upper Walker River Valley
CA 108 - Sonora Pass
CA 108 - Sonora Pass  
Insane Bicycle Rider on CA 108 - Sonora Pass
As I was going down the west side of the pass there were about 18 INSANE bicycle riders going up!  Now,  this isn't a small hill they're climbing.  The gradients are STEEP - I'd guess 15% to 20% in places and 8% to 12% pretty much steady.  That means that for every 100 feet of horizontal run the road gains 15 to 20 feet in elevation.  These folks were riding this steep road at elevations of 7500 to 8200 feet elevation.  INSANE!

CA 108 - Sonora Pass

CA 108 - Sonora Pass

Sierra Nevada Mountains - CA 108 - Sonora Pass

Then we finished up driving through the towns of Sonora, Angels Camp, San Andreas and finally on to Jeremiah and Jessica’s in Mather.  Route map.