At some point in my life I’m just going to have to accept the fact that there is a dark cloud of misery and misfortune. Of course most of this misfortune is brought on by my own hand. Be it bad planning, inaction, or impatience. I shouldn’t leave out incompetence. All these traits combined with a sense of adventure and you have the contents of Heartajack’s Epic Ride Blog. What fun would a last minute road trip to Yosemite be without a cople of snafus.
Let’s start with google maps, shall we? I type in Yosemite National Park and it gives me multiple routes. I pick the recommended one and hit GO! Cool. Simple. I then go and consult my Garmin GPS. The GPS is mounted conveniently on my bike’s handle bars for easy turn by turn directions. I go through the arduous task of typing in Yosemite, anyone with a GPS knows what I’m talking about. It can’t find Yosemite. Wtf! Then I realize I need to change states from Nevada to California. Boom! Yosemite found. I hit the “calculate route” button. The damn thing takes 15 minutes to figure out the route. No idea what it’s problem is, but it wants to send me way the hell west and south to the western entrance to the park. That’s 5 1/2 hours! I say fuck it, I’ll use the iPhone and google maps instead. I hit the road. Google says to go south on 395 to US120 west and then drive until I hit Yosemite. Piece of cake.
I get to Carson City and the whole Google maps and GPS discrepancy is eating at me. I pull into a Starbucks to use their wifi and get a delicious Greek Yogurt and a latte. A little research tells me that the US120 route into Yosemite is closed on the east side because of snow! I Get an alternate route on Google maps. This time it tells me to go south on 395 to 108 west, then south on 49, eventually hitting 120 going east into the park. Cool. At this point, I’m feeling good. Just then, I get a call from Virginia Creek Settlement RV Park. I had left a message with them about reserving a campsite. I tell the lady my plans have changed do to 120 being closed. She then says “oh, looks like 108 is closed, too. No telling when that’ll open.” Son of a bitch! The Garmin GPS was right, after all! Did I just discover a cool new feature of my GPS where it knows of road closures and whatnot? How cool is that? I get back on the road.
The GPS has me on route 88. As you can see, some really beautiful scenery. California really is incredible. Somewhere along this road is where my next fuck up happened. You’d think that the squirrel that ran out in front of my front right tire would be that fuck up. No, it was somewhere along this road that the GoPro camera mounted by suction cup to the side of my bike decided to fall off. Naturally I didn’t see it happen or hear it hit the highway. Goodbye $300, I hardly knew you! Motherfuck! It also had a 32GB SD card in it. This trip is not starting out well at all.
As I said, route 88 is quite amazing, but I’m having doubts about the trip. The higher the altitude, the colder it gets. As you can see in those photos above, the lakes are still frozen over! My hands are starting to get stiff from the cold and it’s getting hard to focus on the driving. After an hour of this and my inability to enjoy the scenery, I decide to pull over at Kirkwood Station in the lot, there is a couple in one of those new Fiats with a flat tire. Cute car with ridiculous low profile tires. The guy is rifling through a manual trying to figure out how to change the tire. I. Couldn’t care less I’m freezing. Luckily, experience on these trips has taught me a few things, bring extra layers of clothes and winter riding gloves! Be prepared, as they say in the boy scouts. I throw on a long sleeve shirt under my hoodie and and strap on the winter gloves. All good to go. I clean my visor of the caked on bug splats, nod to the hipster couple changing their tire, and tear on down the road.
I missed out on some opportunities to take some spectacular mountain photos on account of the narrow windy roads with signs that read “absolutely no stopping-avalanche area.” They weren’t kidding, either. The road was littered with rocks and debris. Nothing requiring any of those evasion skills they teach you in the motorcycle safety classes. Although, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t have any scary moments, like almost flying off the road as I was stunned by the spectacle of the surroundings. Nothing like adrenalin to focus you!
Eventually the temperature started to rise and trees reappeared as I hit the lower altitudes. The warmer weather was definitely welcome. This is when I came across the town of Volcano. A quaint little town that looks as if it was designed by the town’s elders to look quaint and charming. It worked. I decided to eat at the Union Inn Restaurant.
The place was packed with people, which is always a good sign. I ordered a glass of Cannonball Merlot and fried chicken and the best damn mac & cheese. Friendly service and good food. Only one moment of near disaster as I was leaving the rest room and tripped over the fireplace. A couple old guys at a table laughing and clapping at my quick footed recovery. Thoughts of calling it a night made me consider staying in town, but I was still too far from Yosemite. I got back on the road. Really was a cool little town, even if it was superficially so.
At this point it’s starting to get late. Sun’s going down fast. The Super Moon is out. It’s huge and bright, always on my left. The road I’m on is really narrow and not very even. It’s possibly the windiest road I’ve ever driven on. The GPS says the speed limit is 50mph, but I’m barely able to manage 30. I feel like a failure and think I should get a real motorcycle some time in the future.
I’m trying to keep an eye out for the campsites that the All Stays Camp & Tent app on my iPhone says are nearby, but I see nothing! I pass one, but it is closed. I enter the town of San Andreas, yet another campsite/RV park is dark and closed. I’m starting to get worried I won’t have a place to sleep. I’ve already pulled into a motel, only to drive around the parking lot two or three times, never once seeing the main office. A group of young guys smoking and standing around on the second floor floor of the motel are laughing and pointing at me. That could just be my paranoia and building desperation. I’ve been in this situation before on my last Epic Ride to New York. Not in the mod for a repeat. Sometimes I don’t want fodder for the blog!
Yay! Found a motel. The lady up front is pretty cool. Keeps joking about several of the customers not being happy with her. Seems Expedia quoted the wrong prices to a customer and she’s like “nope, they’re wrong.” And the guy that kept coming in to the office to complain that the wifi wasn’t working. Did I mention that she was enormously pregnant? You don’t get this kind of color at Best Western.
No. You’re seeing that right. Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and red wine. Don’t judge. At this point I thought I’d check out the pool. Normally I try to spare the world the sight of my ever expanding hairy belly, but fuck it, I’m on a road trip!
Now that was a very shriveling experience. Pretty sure they shouldn’t have that pool open this early in the season. Once I stopped feeling my toes I figured I’d leave this for another day. It’s time to go back to my room and polish off the rest of that bottle of wine. With any luck, Yosemite will blow my mind and make it all worth it. Tomorrow, after my chocolate chip muffin I want to check out the zoo upstairs. I’d like to get some photos of the elephants they got stomping around up there!