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Well, huckelberry1 (Lisa) and I are back from our 12 day ridin’ vacation. Yes, you can pack enough clothes for 12 days, if you come across a washing machine or two on the way. This vacation was not exclusively ridin’—we built in a number of “touristy” experiences along the way and brought along “nice” clothes for evening ware. In this report, I’ll emphasize the ridin’ part of the vacation but will touch on the “touristy” stuff at the end.

We had everything packed up the night before so we just had to strap and tie-down bags onto my 2000 FLHTC on the morning we left. Lisa tied on a pair of saddlebags to her 2002 FXDL. The bags were used mostly for coats, maps and easy access items. I have a luggage rack on my TourPak so the Dresser can pack quite a load. (Drop Lisa a note for her techniques on packing nice clothes and keeping them from wrinkling.) Our trip out of Pasadena began early Saturday morning. We drove out on Colorado Blvd., part of ole’ Route 66, going through Old Pasadena, and quickly onto the 101.

We’d planned out our trip using guides from the world famous H-D Forums www.harleydavidsonforum.com (disclaimer: not affiliated with the MoCo in any way) Scenic Road trips database, articles from Friction Zone biker magazine, www.pashnit.com , and several travel guides. You’d be surprised to learn the number of interesting and unique sites and experiences out on the Road—if you look for them.

Up the 101 (Pacific Coast Hwy) to Ojai for a gas stop and breakfast at an out of the way locals’ stop called Eggs & Things. Bikers have found the spot for the great food at reasonable prices. Then off on a planned route on Hwy 33 into Los Padres National Forest. I love this phrase from the magazine: “the first 35 miles are a well-known definition of the verb ‘to curve’.” The road was memorable. We’ll definitely give it a spin again. We did the 150-mile loop and headed toward Santa Barbara. Took a quick stop at the famous biker friendly Cold Springs Tavern, an old stage coach stop turned weekend biker and yuppie hang-out, with live music. After a brew, we took a quick drive through Solvang, a touristy, old fashion Danish village, famous for pastries. Lisa stopped in at a store she’d visited several months ago and the owners remembered her! Although the day was drawing short, we elected scenic Hwy 1 into Pismo Beach.

We staid at an old place downtown, called appropriately enough the Pismo Beach Hotel. The place was recommended in a biker magazine because it provided “secured” parking for bikes. The Pismo Beach Hotel is definitely “biker friendly”. The hotel was “funky” with an old fashion elevator, with the pull-grate door, but we did have a partial ocean view for $80/night. When you check in, they tell you: “no smoking in the room. That includes marijuana and incense.” I’d never been told that before when I checked into a hotel.

We used Pismo Beach as our base for a couple days and toured the local area, including checking out some biker haunts and some great roads. During one stop, Lisa said to me, “they made this road for us today”. And it was true. The hotel was within walking distance of the beach and pier. Numerous bars and restaurants were nearby.

Our favorite part of the Pismo Beach leg of our trip, aside from the riding, was taking a dip at the Sycamore Mineral Springs in Avila Beach, a few miles north of Pismo. For $25/couple/hour, you get a secluded mineral hot tub (made of real redwood) in the woods. Amazingly, this place operates 24 hr/day/364 (closed Christmas Day). There were several Harleys in the parking lot when we were there. Yes, your spouse or significant other would love this spot.

When we left Pismo Beach, we took PCH (Hwy 1 north) past Cambria (an artist community), past Hearst Castle, and past the amazing Big Sur area. Even though I’d been on this road in a car, taking the trip on a bike made the experience all the more memorable. PCH up the California Coast is a ride everyone should take at least once in his or her life. We had our mandatory picture stops and gawking breaks. We had plotted out a number of places to stop to check out the wildlife (sea otters, sea lions, a whale or two, etc.) Our most memorable stop was at the Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park, where we stopped for a picnic lunch and took a hike to a waterfall-viewing site.

We spent a couple of days in Monterey, CA doing the typical tourist stuff: Monterey Aquarium, Cannery Row, gawking, having a good cigar, etc. Fun, but very crowed. The weather was cool and pleasant. When we left Monterey, we made a decision to avoid the Bay Area on our trip north and east. We took off early and stopped for breakfast at a quaint place called Casa De Fruta. The spot started off as a fruit stand that expanded into a restaurant and related shops. Amazing, the place is also a biker stop. Oh, they serve a darn good biscuits and gravy there! Made a quick stop in the infamous little town of Hollister (of Life Magazine fame). Not much there. And we were off across the mountains, and soon to I-5. We had a long boring ride on I-5 till Sacramento where we caught US-50. Our next stop was at Placerville, CA, a small town just down the hill from Lake Tahoe. We had a pleasant visit at the Harley dealership (Hangtown H/D—like the name!). The little town reminded us of Deadwood, SD, without the casinos.

The trip up US-50 to Lake Tahoe was one of rising suspense. The views of the American River running alongside the road were awesome. When the Lake finally came into site, a sense of peacefulness took over. Along with the smell of pine, tranquility was in the air. Although the sky was a bit hazy, the lake was still beautiful. We drove into South Lake Tahoe (our base) and found the place we were staying. (Yep, we staid at a condo, with amenities and even a small view of the Lake. We did not “rough it”.) Hung out in South Lake Tahoe for 5 days, doing a number of touristy things. These included a trip to Emerald Bay on a private boat owned by friends, a visit to the Shakespeare Festival (presented beach side on the Nevada side of the Lake), and a couple quick casino encounters. We did find time to drive the 72 miles around the Lake. Luckily, the sky was clear that day. Unluckily, the traffic sucked. I’d read that the road around the Lake could be crowed—it was and seriously distracted from the experience. And of course, this was the only day the sky was clear and we did NOT take any pics. Much of the time we were in the Lake Tahoe area, the skies were hazy from distant forest fires. This seriously affected the views while we were in the area.

We took the bikes down the mountain into Carson City, NV and went over to Reno and Sparks. We staid with friends in Sparks one evening. While there, we had to experience Hot August Nights, a classic car show and event. Quite an experience! The classic rock band Bad Company was playing as evening entertaining the night we were there. We also had time for a fancy dinner out while in Sparks. As I noted earlier, Lisa had packed “appropriate” clothes for us to go out to a nicer place. We headed back up the mountain the next day. On the trip back, we stopped in at Carson City H/D. Not much there in the way of bikes or accessories, but the people were friendly.


While in Lake Tahoe, we had the chance to wash clothes, which made packing easier for the return trip. (Well-folded clothes take less space than “balled-up” clothes. LOL) While in the area, Lisa had the chance to visit with friends. We left at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. We planned on returning to the LA area via scenic Hwy 395, which travels in Eastern California. (This route provides easy access to Yosemite and Mammoth—we’ll keep those in mind for future trips.) On the drive, we stopped in the LITTLE town of Bridgeport, CA. In the past, Bridgeport has been the home for a number of major motorcycle events, with thousands in attendance. The woman in a local gas station said the “Jamboree” was canceled because some people were riding “naked” through town and having sex in the street. Hmmm.

South of Bridgeport was Mono Lake, a rather famous spot for environmentalist. As with Lake Tahoe, a smoky haze seriously detracted from the view of Mono Lake. The highest elevation for our trip occurred not far from Mono Lake. I recall seeing an elevation sign for about 8500 feet. Oh, speaking of elevation, both our bikes are carb models. We didn’t have any carb problems. Just used the enrichener a bit more than usual when we started up.

The 395 goes through a significant part of the Mojave Desert. I’d told Lisa that we would NOT be in the desert until Thursday and we’d be traveling through it in the early morning hours so the heat would not be bad. I intentionally lied to her (because I knew she’d be anxious about riding through the desert). We ended up traveling through about 150 miles of desert and semi-desert territory on Wednesday afternoon. I’d prepared for the heat by having “cool snakes” in sealed bags of water in my saddlebags. Before we left Wednesday morning, Lisa had asked why we needed the “cool snakes” if we weren’t going to be in the desert until Thursday. I said: “just to be safe”. With the “cool snakes” wrapped around our necks and drenching our long sleeved shirts with water at frequent stops, we made it through the desert. Regarding the heat, Lisa said, “the door to Hell had been left open”. That evening, we relished the hotel pool and had pizza delivered. When we left Thursday morning, we had another 100+ miles of desert to ride before the temp’s would moderate. By leaving early in the day, the temp. was considerably reduced. The temp. felt almost cool when we drove into the LA Basin. We got home in time for lunch on Thursday. Pulled up to the garage, punched my turn signals to activate my garage door opener (the “official” MotoFX model) and drove in. It was a GREAT feeling to be home.

The total mileage was just shy of 2K miles, with about 300 miles being the most driven in one-day. Is this sort of combo-ridin’/traditional vacation for everyone? No; however, it worked for us this year. We got to see a lot of new roads AND we got to experience a lot of traditional touristy things. Using the bikes as our mode of transportation required some special planning, i.e. how to pack away “good” clothes for those nights out. Yet, using the bikes as our mode of transportation gave us a “connection” that we’d never gotten if we were traveling in a car. We also got to talk with a lot of folks who would have never bother to speak with us if we hadn’t been ridin’. With patience and planning, and if both of you like ridin’, I’d recommend a ridin’ vacation for you. You’ll enjoy it.
 

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Hi Jim & Lisa.

Sounds like you had a great time! I like traveling on bikes and having the time to enjoy the sites and things along the way makes it an unforgetable experience. Unfortunately I don't get to enjoy trips like that as often as I would like to. I'm happy that you and Lisa had a chance to go together and return to share that experience with us...... almost like I just got back myself. Thanks Jim, and tell Lisa I said Hi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We are now using a new "picture" program, Picture It Publishing. We can now (or at least Lisa can now) actually manipulate the pics a bit and make them more "sizeable".

Below is a pic of Lisa getting ready to get in the hot tub. Her last words were, "are you sure nobody can see!" Yes, dear!!! Nobody will see this picture. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Tahoe Digs!

We did not rough it while on the road. Our place in Lake Tahoe was a condo. There was a neighborhood bear that liked to play in the trash. Luckily, he left our bikes alone.
 

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Hey Jim,

Man, these stories from you and KrazyGG are down right depressing! I'm gonna have to wait until next spring before I can go on any lengthy trips! Seriously, those were great stories from both of you guys. They do make us want to pack up and hit the road!
 

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Boy, talk about making us want to go on a"Road Trip". Connie and I are going to Monterey this weekend, but can't wait to take a much longer trip. Look fwd to meeting Lisa and you, greg
 

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Great story with lots of useful tips. The Princess and I are going to Solvang this weekend, and we already have dinner reservations at Cold Springs Tavern. In two weeks we'll be in Hollister to have our custom Dual Touring seat made for our 02 Heritage, and plan to follow a similar route that you took on your wonderful adventure.
 

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Nice ride Jim! Me and the wife were planning on doing more of the 'mini' version of that when we were going to come down for the two rides. Unfortunately, it was cancelled at the last minute :( I will remember this for future planning (like the 395 part).
 

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Jim,
Sounds like you had a great time ! Were you keeping a journal throughout the trip ? your notes and descriptions are excellent. That is something I need to do every time I take off on a long ride. I really envy you guys when it comes to geographic location ! You have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
Enjoyed reading this,
Fugly
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The pictures always trigger memories about what we did. And we'd planned out the trip so we "knew" what kind of adventures we'd be having.

CA is a GREAT place for ridin'. However, there are many wondeful places to ride and have adventures.
 
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