…is this thing on?
Kenny dug out my granny’s Singer 301a, circa 1950-something, and is happily sewing patches onto his Kermit chair.
June 16, we made it from Weatherford TX to Meridian, MS in blazing heat that never dropped below the high 90s. We were relieved to have a short 320 miles or so on June 17th to make it home from Meridian, while experiencing relatively cool temperatures in the mid-90s!
It was at this point we said goodbye to cool rainy weather. It was almost 90 degrees at 9am in Roswell NM. This would rise to around 102 in west Texas.
As we left NM and crossed into TX, the temperature never went below 96.
We pulled into Post TX looking for some air-conditioning and local food. What we found was one of those rare places that really make the whole trip. We drove into the old section of town looking for a café and by accident spied a small diner sign on the front of a building Cocaras Diner.
The front windows were dark from the outside glare but they were in fact open for business. We decided to investigate and all I can say is that we ate one of the best meals of our trip. The lady who owns the place hails from Alabama and bakes all the pies, cakes, and food herself. She sat with us while we ate and told us the whole history of Post, how she came to live there, and how her restaurant’s desserts came to be featured in Southern Living magazine. We left Post TX with full bellies and smiling.
We headed up Hwy 40 to Clines Corner.
More rain and wind… I remember the last time we visited Clines Corner there was a major blizzard. Cline’s Corner is a cool store with just about everything in it. We rested a bit bought a few items and headed out to Roswell NM.
The trip from Clines corner to Roswell is one or the longest stretches between gas stations on our trip.
The wind picked up and gusted dangerously. We would later find out that the storm we were driving through created measured 80 mph winds and severe sandstorms as far away as Post, Texas.
The wind died a few miles outside Roswell NM. We drove around town looking for signs of aliens, found a few, and had a coffee at Starbucks.
From Monticello we rode the devils highway 666 to US 40.
Southern Utah is both a beautiful and a hostile place. The arid environment and heat created spectacular dust devils. To sum up US 666, Dust, Rocks, Wind and blinding sun.
We made it to Hwy 40 and turned east to Albuquerque NM. The wind picked up quite a bit and was very challenging.
We could not pass thru Albuquerque NM without stopping by one of the friendliest BMW dealers, Sandia BMW. We stopped in and they decided to look at my bike and its lack of decent brakes. Still, I had no luck on my brakes. We left there feeling good with a couple of shirts.
We fought the wind which was gaining strength all the way to Moriarty NM.
Heading south from Provo UT our next destination was Arches National Park. The ride to Arches was uneventful. Lots of desert and the weather was finally clearing up for us a little.
The drive thru Arches is simply beyond words. I will let the photos speak for themselves.
Just outside the park…
We pulled into Monticello UT which is one step removed from a ghost town. Kenny whiled away a pleasant evening here replacing his rear brake pads…
Monticello is also at the beginning of the infamous Hwy 666 the devils highway.
Heading North from Ely NV we made our way thru some truly vast and remote stretches of highway. It was rainy and cold and I was traveling on residual brakes.
Thru the high passes the temperature would drop 10 or fifteen degrees and chill us to the bone.
We decided to stop in Wendover NV for lunch at a casino. I had a spare 2 dollars and decided to try my luck.
Wendover NV is at the beginning of arguably the longest straightest section of highway in the continental US 33 miles. This may not seem like a long way but trust me when you are standing at the rest stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats looking both directions it is a little unsettling and how flat and vast this flat is.
It was pouring down the rain as we entered Salt Lake City so we did not see much of the Great Salt Lake.
We made our way to BMW of Salt Lake Utah where I was informed that they really did not know what was wrong with my bike and perhaps a good brake bleed job thru the servos would solve my lack of ABS and residual brakes.
We left there 83 dollars poorer, made our way to Provo UT and saw this lovely rainbow, at the end of which happened to be a steak restaurant. We took the celestial hint and ate here!
Heading North from Mono Lake we ate lunch in Fallon NV. The temperature we around 85 and as we would find this would be our high for the next week.
We took US 50 “The loneliest Highway in the US” out across the great basin area. Let me tell you these basins are really great.
The temperature dropped to the low 50s and we would see rain storms.
Outside of Fallon on US 50 we saw a strange site, a large tree covered with shoes.
There is a lot of space out in these high basins. While out in the empty lands we stopped to take in the remote beauty and when I started my motorcycle I got the dreaded red! Triangle and the infamous flashing “Brake Failure” This would plague me for another 1600 miles.
From Petaluma CA We headed south to San Rafael, Marin BMW, Kristy needed a new set of tires before we headed out to the nether regions of Nevada and Utah.
From Marin BMW we crossed the Richmond- San Rafael Bridge. As we crossed the bridge we gazed out across the bay at Angel Island and caught brief but beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our next stop was Yosemite Valley. While driving through Escalon CA we were both discussing how hungry we were and then we passed a girl holding up a sign that said “Eat at Hot Diggity” Intrigued, we decided to stop. If you ever find yourself in Escalon, CA, the Hot Diggity did not have a big sign so look for Cindy’s Restaurant. Hot Digity is located in the same building.
On word of caution however, Do not order the large polish sausage dog unless you are a very large or very hungry person. Kristy and I ordered one and wow, all I can say is it is large. We finished up and headed out to our destination, Yosemite Valley.
The drive up to the valley is replete with curves and beautiful mountain scenery. Descending into Yosemite Valley is one of the most picturesque drives thus far on our trip. The many vistas are larger than any camera can really capture.
We saw a baby bear just before our decent into the valley which was very exciting to both of us.
Once in the valley we took many pictures, it seems that one really cannot look in any direction without wanting to take a picture.
We really wanted to stay the night in the valley at Curry Village or one of the other camp grounds in the park but all of them were full, also we drove through a few and they were way to crowded, muddy and just not really scenic. They looked like a refugee camp. This kind of sucked because it was late, wet, and cold and we still had to cross the Tioga pass and reach Mono Lake.
Other than the many animals that come out at night, the evening is really the most scenic time to drive through the mountains. The setting sun cast beautiful shadows. The wind begins to gently blow. The many small and remote mountain lakes we passed and the snow banked roads had a mysterious and beautiful air about them.
When we passed Tioga Lake the clouds were low and we were climbing in altitude, like Crater Lake Oregon the isolation and lack of people gives these areas a very alien feeling.
Ellery Lake was also very beautiful and had an air of isolation about it. We stopped and took some pictures. We were the only people around. There was no traffic or no people; there was just me and Kristy sitting on our bikes beside this beautiful alpine lake.
We also passed very expansive and beautiful alpine meadows surrounded with snow covered peaks that would call to us. Standing on the side of these meadows one could only gaze across them and wonder what was in their remote reaches.
When we crossed the Tioga Pass it was getting very cold and late. The Guard shack looked like the loneliest place on earth for as the sun begins to set traffic thru these passes really tapers off.
After we drove thru the 9945ft pass the decent to Lee Vining, Mono Lake was incredibly steep and exposed. A few feet to the side of the road were steep drop offs into valleys hundreds of feet down. This demanded 100% of our attention for there was a severe penalty for a moment of inattention. We pulled into Lee Vining Late signed into a hotel and found out that we got the last room in the town.