Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 27: Louisville, KY to Marietta, OH

Today was pretty much about moving East, which meant staying on the Interstate or other major roadways.

I started in Kentucky, through Illinois, into Indiana and then to Ohio, on I-71, I-275, U.S. 25, U.S. 52, U.S. 50, U.S. 62, OH Hwy 32, back onto U.S. 50 and finally on OH Hwy 7 – and I didn’t got lost once.

I left Louisville late - 10:30, and got into Marietta at 6:00.

Weather is much more cooperative today – low 80s and low humidity.

The miles started to catch up to me today. About half way to Marietta I pulled into a rest stop, found a shade tree, and took a half hour nap.

I’m staying at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, OH. It’s an old hotel on the Ohio River in the historic section of Marietta. I stayed here about a year ago and found a very good restaurant up the street, so that’s where I'm heading tonight.

There wasn’t much in the way of scenery on the way, but there is a nice view of the Ohio River and the bridge over to West Virginia.

Upriver from The Lafayette Hotel

Downriver from The Lafayette Hotel

Tomorrow is the last day of the journey and it’s a long one from Marietta to Phoenixville.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 26: Rolla, MO to Louisville, KY

I had a passenger for a little bit of the trip today. He (she?) didn’t stay on board for long however.

Lots of Interstate – little Route 66
I saw a sign for Cuba and pulled in looking for cigars – didn’t find any cigars (turns out I was still in MO), but there are lots of great murals on the downtown buildings. Cuba has been undergoing a revival over the past few years and the murals are a part of the revival. Here's some examples...

One of the planned stops was in St. Louis to see the Train Station. I had read somewhere that it is a great example of train station architecture – it’s now converted to a Marriott Hotel (still an Amtrak depot) – bummer, so I went to see the Arch.

Another planned stop in St. Louis was the Chain of Rocks Bridge – well it’s an old steel bridge and not all that much to see.

Since I was in Missouri I wanted to find BBQ Ribs for lunch – but I had no luck ended up at Wendy’s – bummer #2

Most of the ride was pretty boring on the Interstate and U.S. 50 /150. The last 50 miles or so were on a nice quiet winding section of U.S. 150 with no traffic, which was a nice surprise to the end of the day.

Landed in Louisville about 9:00.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 25: Bethany, OK to Rolla, MO Prequel

Once again I’m a slacker. Yes, it was another long day – 425 miles.

I made it to the hotel at 8:30.

The temperature was high all day. It started at 85° F and most of the afternoon was about 92° F. This isn’t too bad while you’re moving, but today the humidity really came up and it was sticky and tiring.

It was so hot and humid the even the cows were in the shade.

I rode in three states today – OK, KS and MO – of course Route 66 is only 13 miles long in Kansas.

There were not many interesting sights on this leg, but I’ll update you all later with some pictures.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 24: Tucumcari, NM to OK City (Bethany, OK) Prequel

OK, so I’m a slacker and I’m sending another prequel.

Left Tucumcari about 9:30 and got to the hotel in Bethany, OK (right outside of Oklahoma City) at 8:15.

I had a few fun stops on the way and ended up spending a lot more time looking, talking and fooling around than I thought I would. Nevertheless, it was a fun day, so I’m happy.

The topper to the day was in Erick, OK (the redneck capitol of the world), at the Old City Meat Market (now known as The Sandhills Curiosity Shop) with Harley and Annabelle, “The Mediocre Music Makers”.

Check out their blog ( and/or go to You Tube and enter “Harley and Annabelle”. I had quite a fun time…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 23: Winslow, AZ to Tucumcari, NM Prequel

Long day – Short night

I left Winslow at 7:30 AM and several thunderstorms later I finally got to Tucumcari at 9:00 PM. So, I have two days to catch up on – maybe tomorrow.

Not too many “interesting sights” on this leg, but lots and lots of long straight Interstate – more later.

Off to OK City tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 22: Kingman to Winslow, AZ Prequel

Not a long day – but a long night…

Rode on Old Route 66 for much of the day with some nice stops along the way.

Got to Winslow and stood on the corner.

Checked in to the La Posada about 4:30 and after getting cleaned up, I checked out the property. This is a very interesting and historic railroad hotel, with a first class restaurant.

More tomorrow - I hope. It’s a long ride to Tucumcari, NM

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 21: Lone Pine, CA to Kingman, AZ via Death Valley and Hoover Dam

Today was a day of extremes and a couple pretty magnificent natural and man made spectacles.
Stats for the day:
Elevation Change
Highest point: 5400 feet above sea level
Lowest point: 282 feet below sea level
Temperature variations throughout the day
Lone Pine @ 5:30 AM: 67° F
Stovepipe Wells Death Valley @ 8:00 AM: 103° F
Furnace Creek Death Valley @ 8:30 AM: 108° F
Hoover Dam @ 1:00 PM: 113° F
Hoover Dam @ 3:00 PM: 116° F

I was very happy once again to have the Swamp Cooler Vest…

I got an early start and left Lone Pine at 5:30 (OK, I was trying to leave at 5:00). From Lone Pine I turned East on CA 136 and then on to CA 190, which crosses Death Valley. Leaving early morning is a good idea to beat some of the heat, but when you’re going West to East the Sun is in your eyes for an hour or so.
The temperature was cool and didn’t get above mid 70s – but not for long. As soon as I went over the two passes that are before entering Death Valley the temperature shot up.

Death Valley deserves its name. It is foreboding. The National Park Service web site starts out by saying “Hottest, Driest, Lowest”.
First, you have to go over two passes – both of them are narrow and tight twisting routes. The landscape is so different and desolate it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road, but I sure didn’t want to run off the road because the drop-offs are pretty hairy.

Finally there is a long decent into Death Valley proper, giving me a long look at what I was heading to.

I stopped at Stovepipe Wells to get gas and more water. It was already hotter than hell and I still had more than 40 miles before I’d actually exit Death Valley. The heat doesn’t go away when you leave the park either. The temperature at Furnace Creek was 108° F and it was only 8:30 in the morning.

After making it through Death Valley without running out of gas and water I headed towards Hoover Dam. U.S. 95 heads to Las Vegas, but I took a side trip on NV 160 to the town of Pahrump to get breakfast at the Pahrump Café. After filling up on a Pahrump Skillet (a bunch of eggs, cheese and potatoes) and re-watering the Swamp Cooler in the bathroom, I got back on the road to Hoover Dam. NV 160 took me to Interstate 215 and right past Sin City (Las Vegas), but I kept on going.
Welcome the Death Valley

This Road Sign is an Understament of the Turns

Landscape on the way over the First Pass

Rock Formations are Impressive

The Grade Dropping into the Valley

Down on the Valley Floor

Stovepipe Wells

Sand Dunes just Past Stovepipe Wells

Desert Floor near Furnance Creek

No Caption needed
From I-215 the turn off is NV 93 towards Boulder City. About 5 or 6 miles from the Dam the traffic came to a crawl.
It was about 106° F and the Swamp Cooler was drying out, so I pulled into a gas station for gas, water and used the hose to recharge the vest. I re-joined the crawling parade to Hoover Dam and in about a half hour got to the dam.
Somehow I managed to walk from one end of the dam to the other and back again without passing out from the heat. It’s been about forty years since I have been to Hoover and there has been a lot of updating. There is a very nice visitor center now.
In addition, there is a new bridge that spans the chasm the Colorado River flows through just past Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam Bypass is a huge project and is almost completed. I understand it opens in November. Take a look at this web site for more info – it is impressive.

Hoover Dam: Started 1931 and Completed 1935

Lake Mead and Nevada Tower. The Colarado River form Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam

Leak Mead and the Arizona Tower
The lake level is very low (the White Band is normally Under Water)
Marker at the Nevada and Arizona State Line

Colarado River Side of the Dam
River Side and new Bypass Bridge

Looking straight Down the Face of the Dam Where Lake Mead Flows out to Re-form the Colarado River

Traffic Crossing the Dam and New Bypass that will take most of this traffic. The Power Cable Tower isn't falling. It is supposed to be that way (I don't know why)

Original Dedication Placque and New Bypass Bridge

After leaving Hoover Dam the traffic was at a crawl again for about 15 miles through the construction zone for the new highway for the bypass – two lanes – slow RVs and Trailers – no passing possible. I finally got to the end of the construction zone and the highway opened up, so I beat feet for Kingman.

I arrived in Kingman at 4:15 – earliest arrival yet. After settling in to my room and cleaning up I had a delicious dinner of grilled red snapper in Oyster’s, a Mexican restraint a block away.

A good end to a brilliant, but very hot day…

BTW, there was a small malfunction with the Spot device yesterday (the bread crumb tracking shut off around Angles Camp, because I forgot to rest it), so if you are following the bread crumbs there is a gap on Day 20.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 20: Cameron Park to Lone Pine, CA via Yosemite

I got an early start today – 7:30.
Heading out of Cameron Park I worked my way over to CA 49 that winds it’s way through the Sierra Nevada foothills where gold was discovered in 1849.

I took a small side trip to the town of Sutter Creek where John Sutter first discovered gold. This gold discovery of course instigated the “Gold Rush” and thus California became the Golden State, attracting all kinds of stange people, including a certain Austrian Body Builder.

From Sutter Creek I continued on CA 49 and then to CA 120 that leads into the West Entrance of Yosemite. There are small towns along the way like Jackson, Mokelumne Hill, Calavertas, Angeles Camp, Chinese Camp, Moccasin and Big Oak Flat. Some are pretty good size communities and others are no more than a wide spot in the road. All of them started during the Gold Rush.

CA 120 has a step and very twisty stretch about 6 miles long called Priest Grade that takes you into the town of Groveland.

Groveland is the home of the oldest bar in California – The Iron Door Saloon. Back in the old days fire fighting wasn’t too advanced, so the residents built the stores out of stone and installed iron doors to cover the wooden doors in the case of fire. Therefore, that’s where The Iron Door Saloon gets its name – or so the story goes…

From Groveland, the ride on CA 120 to Yosemite isn’t too far.

After entering the park the turn off to Tioga Road is about 9 miles – still on CA120. Tioga Road, up to the summit is about 47 miles and full of spectacular vistas.

A Gentle Reminder

Towards Yosemite Valley from Tioga Road (about 8500 feet Elevation)

Half Dome from Tioga Road

At about the 40 mile point is Tuolumne Meadows.

Tuolumne Meadows
The Park Exit, or Entrance (depending on the direction you are heading) at Tioga Pass Summit is 9945 feet.

From there 120 snakes quickly down in to Lee Vining and connects with U.S. 395 where I head South on 395 to Lone Pine.

The temperature heading to Yosemite and through Yosemite was pretty bearable. It got up to 90° F, but as soon as I started to climb to higher elevations the temperature dropped to mid 70s. As i dropped down to 395 and headed South the temperature started to rise again. When I got to Bishop it was 104° F.

I’m happy to report that my “Swamp Cooler” vest works. This little device is a vest made of some material that will absorb a lot of water. You wear the vest under a mesh riding jacket and the air passing over you causes the water to evaporate and thus keeps you cool. Its not air conditioning, but it sure cools you off.

The landscape on the Eastern Sierras is very much a desert that runs right up to the base of the Sierras. The slope of the Sierras on the East side is also much steeper than on the West side.
I settled in to the motel in Lone Pine and will turn in ealy, as I'm going to cross Death Valley tomorrow morning starting at 5:00 to beat the heat.

Day 19: San Carlos to Cameron Park, CA

Today is supposed to be an easy day and a short ride to Ryan’s house in Cameron Park, East of Sacramento and near Folsom, CA.

I decided to take mostly secondary roads and stay off of the Interstates.

The ride is only 167 miles, but it turns out to be a hand full. There is road construction all over and the after leaving Russ and Debbie’s at 9:30 I don’t arrive at Ryan’s until 2:00 PM.

Sorry to say there were no Kodak Moments along the way…

We had a nice visit and ended up going to bed early as we both had real early mornings.

Tomorrow I head South and East and South; South to Yosemite – East over Tioga Pass to U.S. 395 – South to Lone Pine

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 18: Breaking in the New Tire, Food and Friends

I pulled the panniers, top box and soft bag off of the bike to get it ready for a fun ride with Russ and another friend Steve.

There are plenty of nice roads all through the Coast Hills, so we don’t have a real plan, other than to head out and eventually find something to eat.

About 11:30 we came into Pescadero, a small farming community right on the coast and decide to have lunch at Duarte’s Tavern.

Duarte’s has been in business since 1894 and is well known for their homemade Olallieberry pie, cream of artichoke soup, and cream of green chile soup.

After lunch we did more riding on the back roads and eventually stopped at the top of a steep road that is also a very popular cycling route.

Steve and Me

Steve and Russ with the bikes

While the three of us were talking two other friends - George and Steve - showed up on their bicycles – so it was old home week.
This evening I have dinner with my son Shaun and his wife Emily.
Tomorrow I'm off Cameron Park to see youngest son Ryan.