Archive for the ‘Central and Northern California Tours’ Category

Some recent pictures around Mt. Madonna in Central California.


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Map from Santa Cruz to Idria Ghost TownTrip: Santa Cruz, CA to New Idria mine (ghost) town, CA
Miles: 106mi
Time: 3 hours 6 minutes (one way)
Town website: http://www.new-idria.org/ (But trust us, it’s not as pleasant as it sounds, this place is CREEPY!)

We checked out the New Idria area because it looked like an interesting ride. We looked up the town of Idria and found out there was a ghost town nearby. We thought that would be an exciting trip. The ride down there was great. We stopped at Flapjacks Country Cafe for lunch on the way down. We’ve been there before. The food and service has always been good. Lots of bikers stop here and they have a nice outdoor patio.

The rudest and meanest lady we've ever encountered!

The Dragon Lady: This time around we had the pleasure of sitting near the meanest most negative woman in all of California. She continued to yell at the staff about how the food was horrible, everything was “just wrong” and that she wasn’t enjoying her meal. We continued to stare at her hoping she’d keep it down but I think she must have been drunk as she seemed to be trapped in her own horribly negative world. Her boyfriend/husband and kids just sat quietly as she continued to complain. What hell they must live in. We made sure we told the staff how much WE enjoyed being there. We learned that she was, in fact, a drunk who comes by often and complains rudely every time. Why do you keep coming back lady? Anyway, make sure you avoid this woman at all costs.

Awesome views on Panoche Rd.

Panoche Road and New Idria Road: These were amazing roads. Very green and beautiful. Lots of cows, rolling hills, streams, and the roads weren’t too bad. The road is a bit windy here (no switch backs, casual turns with some one lane areas) and New Idria became pretty straight for a bit but very pleasant. New Idria Rd. Is rougher than Panoche Road and we went through a few flooded areas but nothing that any bike couldn’t get through. We finally got to the dirt portion of the road (after about 25 miles on New Idria Road) when it got pretty bumpy and muddy. Christopher tried to ‘test the mud’ head on to make sure it was okay for me to go on (what a sweet man). Well, our tires are far from knobby and didn’t provide enough traction for this type of road. He went down pretty quick. The mud was pretty damn deep though. We had a good laugh. Took lots of pictures and managed to slip and slide around until we got the bike back up. We were just at the beginning of the town so we decided to walk.

So our tires aren't really for riding in the mud. We learned this pretty quick.

I think there was someone in thereNew Idria Ghost Town: Alright folks. This is not a neat, tidy ghost town like Tombstone or others that tourists flock to. This place is creepy. I mean REALLY creepy. Signs everywhere say NO STOPPING, CAMPING, OR PARKING… oh yes and “F#*$ Sierra Club”, “Sierra Club Sucks” and our favorite, “Keep The F*(& Out”. It seemed like if you DID stop, you were sure to meet your demise. As we walked up the hill to the main part of the town we saw a man and his kid. This put us at ease a bit to see other people. As they soon drove away he warned us, “Be careful. This place is scary.” We laughed and headed deeper in the town. This guy was right. It felt really scary especially after they left. These buildings look like squatters frequent here and it just felt like there were people in the hills or deep in those houses watching us. Mattresses and furniture were broken and thrown all over the outside of the houses. Windows were broken, canned food was all over the patios (which means someone probably brought them there recently – they didn’t look old…) Old shoes and things were laying everything. The place was really really creepy. We kept thinking zombies would come out of these houses at any moment. I soon felt stupid for going in there on foot and we quickly decided we needed to leave. Now I love a haunted house and a good scare now and then, but folks, these place is REALLY scary. Take my word for it. Drive your vehicle through if you must go, don’t stop, and bring a weapon if you visit this place.

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After Christopher’s accident we put off buying another motorcycle for a while since I’m away for grad school for a few (long) years and motorcycling generally only happens in the summer. But Chris spot an awesome deal on Craig’s list for a 2002 BMW F650GS for only $3300 and just over 2000 miles. We couldn’t believe it! He swiped it up pretty quickly and he called me as soon as he returned from his trip to pick up the bike in San Francisco, “I am getting one of these too!” He had such a good ride back – saying how nimble and fun the bike was.

I recently flew home for a few days where we took a nice trip from Santa Cruz to Morro Bay down the coast then headed inland on the way home. It was mostly in the rain, but we had such a great time. Man, the GS is awesome! I have to say it is probably the funnest and best bike I’ve owned!

foggy and rainy day

foggy and rainy day

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle



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Christopher:  This was a four day trip that was planned by me…which meant that it was totally last minute.  Sarah and I decided that we should take a motorcycle trip before she went back to school in Denver.  I said that I would plan the whole thing, and Sarah was all for it.  Man, I can’t believe she didn’t want to help.

So, after looking for a few hours online , I found a few campsites available in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  We’d be able to camp and ride some awesome roads on one trip…kind of like our Yosemite trip, but we’d be able to camp out longer at one site.  I’d planned on using one site as our basecamp and riding some loops each day, then returning to the basecamp each night.  The loops were awesome rides, and each night at camp was a blast!  Great riding, great scenery, great food (every night MEAT grilled over an open fire).  Just awesome.

Sarah: we had an awesome time! Luckily, Chris is an awesome cook on the camp fire. We had steaks, chili, and chops. Not bad for ‘roughing’ it 🙂 I was sad that this would be our last trip for several months as I was heading back to Denver to finish up my school. But this allows us time to figure out our next trip in the winter!

Day 1:  Santa Cruz to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (340 miles)

We left early in the morning and took Hwy 1 all the way up.  Took over 10 hours, but, as usual, it was a lot of fun riding the coastline.  Plus, we never ride on the freeway unless absolutely necessary.

Which brings me to a tangent:  I think it’s sad to see motorcycles traveling on the I-5 between Los Banosin the North and Los Angeles in the South.  It could be out of necessity that these motos are on the freeway, like time constraints, medical reasons, etc., but…what a boring ride…hell, it’s boring in a car, so I don’t want to even imagine what’s it’s like on a motorcycle.  I guess if I wanted to just wear out the middle of my tires, then that would be the best ride to take.   (Gotta love tangents.)

We get to the Hidden Springs campground right at sundown, pick up some firewood, set up camp, and plan for the next day’s ride.  (insert picture)

The campground at Hidden Springs had amazingly secluded sites, considering how many sites there were.  We had a site 124 (I think) and it was perfect.  The vegatation that surrounded each site kept everything private, unlike some of the other campgrounds in the HRSP, where everyone is out in the open and one can see from one side of the campground to the other.

Day 2:  Loop from Hidden Springs Campground to Capetown to Fernbridge and back (130 miles, seven hours)

After waking up to the sights and sounds of nature (the birds chirping, the sunlight permeating through the tent, and me yawning and moaning for coffee), we start our day with a hearty breakfast of eggs, spam, toast (with butter and jelly, of course), and coffee (nothing beats a french press out in the woods).  Our first loop would be considerably short, however, it still took a long time due to the roads and terrain.

We made our way through the HRSP on the Avenue of Giants.  What great ride to be amongst what truly are giants.  Riding at a slow speed to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells is definitely the way to go.  No point in speeding because there are plenty enough cars on that road.

We knew we started to approach the coast when the temp began to drop and it got downright chilly when going 45-50mph.  The high speed winds didn’t help, as they just pushed Sarah and I around,  but made for some really neat coastline action; there were lots of violent wave crashes and the color of the water was an odd brownish gray (probably due to the high wind conditions stirring everything up?).    As we finished the coastal ride and began to turn inland towards Fernbridge, the road began to narrow and get a little goaty.

Fernbridge was a perfect place to stop for some food.  There are quite a few restaurants/eateries on the main strip.  After lunch, we stopped by Jamie’s Jams, a tiny hole in the wall store  that sold fresh jams and preserves.  We were quite surprised to see that there wasn’t a store clerk in sight, and that you actually purchased the jams by the honor system.  After putting the eight bucks (pricey!) into the money holer, we got the red plum preserves and headed out.

Day 3: Loop from HRSP to Fortuna to Weaverville to Willow Creek and back (320 miles, 8 hours)

This loop had lots of scenery and very few cars on the road with us.  It started out really cold, but ended up warm as we made our way back to basecamp.

Heading north from basecamp on the 101, we exited HWy 36.  It was a scenic route that led us east into Shasta Trinity Forest.  It was a gradual climb, and higher we got, the colder it became.

We had to pull over more than a couple times to warm up before getting to the juntion with Hwy 3.   The turn onto the 3 was kind of tricky.  It came up real fast at the top of a hill and we had to make a quick left onto the 3 towards Weaverville.

We took a brake for lunch in Weaverville at a Noelle’s Garden Cafe on Main St.  It was a gorgeous day and the place had some really cute outdoor seating, where we had studel!  I was thinking apple strudel, but it turned out that they were actual meals!  I had the ham and egg strudel, Sarah had the spinach and cheese strudel.  They were both yummy.  The town itself was very rustic and had looked like an town you might imagine from the old west.

After lunch we headed on Hwy 299.  Great ride with lots of high speed sweepers.  The whole road paralled the Trinity River (I think that’s the name).  After having the river well below us on the left for most of the ride, we finally hit the 101 and went south to Eureka.

We stopped at the Lost Coast Brewery for some nachos and a beer.  Afterwards, made our way back towards basecamp stopping in a the really small town of Scotia for some chicken to barbeque for the night.

Day 4:  Headed back home (sort of)

On this last leg of the journey, Sarah and I decided to try out some other routes inland, since we’ve been up and down the coast on several occasions.  We decided to see what Napa Valley had to offer in terms of riding.  There wasn’t much.  But there were A LOT of wineries…it is Napa Valley.  It was really hot, and we changed our minds about heading home and decided to stay out another night.

We took the 101 South for a while and broke off east on the 175 and headed towards Calistoga hoping to find a place to stay.  We couldn’t find anything that was in a town that had anything to do!  Sure we saw places to stay, but the towns were sooo small, and we wanted somewhere to hang out, besides in the hotel.

We decided to hit the coast again and hoped to find a place to stay.  We didn’t think it would be too hard as it was the Monday of Memorial Day and everyone was heading home from their holiday.  We took the 128 west out of Calistoga and headed towards Stewarts Point on the coast.  That road was very interesting as the tail end of it had a small town, in the mountains right before the road descended to the coast.

Once e headed south on Hwy 1, we began to get a little anxious to find a place to stay because the sun was going down.  We finally found the Salt Point Lodge just north of Jenner.  It was your standard hotel by the coast.  Great views, high price.  Side note, we spent a lot of money on dinner at the restaurant at the hotel.  The food was mediocre, at best, and  way overpriced.  But when you’re the only game in town, I guess you can do that.

We headed home the next morning taking the freeways (yuck) to make up time.  It didn’t matter, though, because we had a wonderful time taking in the gorgeous weather, scenery, and roads Northern California had to offer!

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TripMount Hamilton / Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sarah: We began by taking Hwy 9 from Santa Cruz to Saratoga (we avoid the 17 at all costs… as of yet, we haven’t ridden the motorcycles on it – Why would you when there are so many beautiful roads through the mountains?) We stopped in Saratoga for some oil for Chris’s bike which was strangely empty! Luckily he caught it and filled up before our ride.

We wanted to save time so we briefly took the I-280/680, exiting Alum Rock Road then headed towards Mt. Hamilton on the 130.

Initially, the 130 was incredibly bumpy and on-coming traffic was backed-up for miles. The turns were tight as oncoming traffic consisted of cars, school buses, SUVs, and huge trucks that couldn’t keep in their own lane. But, eventually the road became very secluded and very windy (and HOT!). Heading counter clockwise in this loop avoided tons of traffic.

We took a lunch break at the Junction Cafe near Del Puerto Canyon and Mines Rd. Here tons of bike stop for a break before they hit the windy road again. This cafe is the only thing on this road (other than the observatory) and you definitely need to refuel before getting on the 130 loop.

After the cafe, the roads were a little less windy towards Livermore and we didn’t see other vehicles in our direction (plenty of bikes going in the opposite direction though). Although a long and hot trip, it was tons of fun and good to practice your throttle control and tight switchbacks.

On the drive back we took an extra side road off the 9 towards Bonny Doon which is one of our favorite places to ride. It was almost dark and the forest was refreshingly cool compared to inland.

Christopher:  We actually scouted this out last year in a car, and just now got around to riding it on the motos.  It was good fun.  Some parts reminded me of the tight switchbacks in Switzerland near the Alps.  The main difference was the heat.  It was really hot that day at Mt. Hamilton.  I really like my BMW City Pants, but they can get warm, as they are textile.  I need some mesh pants.  If I complain enough, maybe Sarah will let me buy a pair…or maybe I’ll just find the City pants with a bunch of holes punched through them the next time I go riding…Sarah is really creative like that.

Mileage: 210 mi round trip – about 6 hours 31 mins: June 8, 08

Mt. Hamilton

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