SF to Denver: 2013 - Day 3
Wake up this morning in Ely, Nevada. In theory, I'm supposed to pick up Jennifer from school today, but that doesn't seem terribly likely, as she's 650 miles away and I'm the the Nevada desert on a dirt bike.
I remember the towns of Tonopah and Ely Nevada from when I passed through this same way 18 months ago. The towns are laid out slightly differently than I recall, but memory isn't perfect, is it?
I serviced the bike last night....it's good to go. Topped off with gas and oil. It's leaking oil like a sythe, so I make a habit of checking the oil every time I fill up. The leak is serious enough that it shouldn't be all that difficult to locate, but I'm too lazy and it's easy enough just to carry a quart and add some when it gets low, which I do.
I check out of the no-tell motel, and the desk clear says the forecast calls for rain. I'm checking out at about 9:00 a.m. which is pretty good for me. I hate the idea of riding a motorcycle in the rain. I mean, yeah, it's part of it, but it's not fun, by any stretch of the imagination. And it's not like I have decent rain gear. I've got Dri-Ducks, which are about as cheap of raingear as you can find. The wind rips them into ribbons on the bike.
He says he's from "Persia". I'm like..."Iran?"
Yes. That's what he means, of course. He says the Shah that got run off in 1979 wasn't such a bad guy. Now, it's run by religious zealots, which is no better, apparently. The northern and central part of his country is apparently green, not desert. This surprises me.
I return my key and walk to my bike in the parking lot. As I do, an old man pulls up in a rusted import. The doors have holes rusted nearly through them. Tires about to pop. Seats held together with duct tape. It's pretty clear that he's living in this thing, though I'm not sure why he's in the motel parking lot, if that's the case. Baggy jeans. Shoes cracked and worn. Threadbare shirt.
And I think about Carrie. I think how nice it would be to find someone you could live with and grow old together with. Because, if I don't find someone that I can tolerate, then I'm afraid that I'm going to be this guy.
Blow out of Ely, not real sure where I'm heading. General plan is to follow US 50 East to I-70, and then take I-70 home.
A short while later, I'm at the Utah state line. I pull over to take a picture. This is also where the time zone changes. I remember this gas station from the last trip. There's a guy on a bike there. A big Yamaha cruiser. Little older than me, with white hair, getting gas, talking on his cell phone.
I want to see if he'll take a picture of me at the Utah state line, so I pull up and we start talking, and he's a really good guy. Just one of those cool people you meet on bikes on the road. The kind of person that makes going on the road fun, instead of a long, desperate dry race across the desert.
I tell him about the trip I'm on now...and how Carrie figured out I wasn't taking the most direct path from SF to Denver and was upset for some reason.
"Why would you want to take the most direct route? Who would want to do that?"
"Exactly! That's what I thought, right? I mean, the whole trip doesn't make any sense. I mean, flying from Denver to SF to drive a dirt bike back that's only worth $1,500.00 doesn't make any sense to begin with. It's just an excuse to get out in the desert and clear your head, right?"
"Of course! Exactly!"
Now, we're fist-bumping like old friends. He's a real character this guy.
We talk about some of the road trips we've done. We both with down the Baja peninsula in Mexico, but he got on the ferry which I could never swing since I entered the country illegally. Doh!
I tell him about my upcoming trip to Panama and beg him to come with me, but I think the timing isn't right.
So we decide to ride together for a while. When US 6 and US 50 split, we'll go our separate ways, be we agree to ride through the desert for a spell.
I'm not sure that I have enough gas to make to it the next town, but we strike out anyway. Sure enough, my bike dies in the middle of nowhere. I reach down to switch it onto reserve, but it's already on reserve. So, I've got to do my trick and lean the bike over, to get the gas to drain from the right side of the tank to the left side.
David circles back and checks on me. I explain that I have to switch to the "reserve tank", and proceed to lay the bike down on its side. I stand it back up, it fires right up, and we ride on into town.
The parts of Nevada that I've crossed are just scrub-lands surrounded by mountain ranges. A never-ending series of 15 mile desert bowls surrounded by low mountains.
The desert is nice, it's own way. The air is clear. No smog. You don't have to worry about running into any large animals because, to my knowledge, there are none.
But Utah is much different. When we cross Utah, suddenly everything is green. The land is all irrigated, and they're growing crops of lord knows what but it smells heavenly.
All of the motorcycles that pass us wave, and this is the camaraderie that I miss. You get on a bike, and you're in the club. It makes no difference. Harleys. BMW's. Honda. Yamaha. All are alike on the road. Everyone gets a wave.
I don't have a map or anything. And Google Maps is next to useless since they updated it. Finally, I just give up and follow the signs towards US 50.
It threatens to rain on me a few times. I get rained on very lightly about 3 or 4 times. But the clouds never looked that intimidating, so I just kept driving, and then the rain would always stop just as soon as it had started.
I end up on Interstate 15 North for about 3 exits, then back onto the two-lane black tops through the Utah mountains. When I descend into the next valley, I recognize it as the valley that I-70 runs through. Hop onto I-70 heading East.
I don't really like riding on the interstate, of course, but I'm got to make better time. I'm not sure where I'll spend the night. The furthest I've ever gone in a single day is like 500 miles. And then I nearly crashed I was so tired.
But today, I want to see how far I can get. I've been holding the throttle wide open all day. I'm thinking I should be able to make it into Colorado today...drive all the way across Utah, and then at least get into Colorado. Then I think I'll try to Glenwood Springs instead of Grand Junction, and once I leave Glenwood Springs, I just decide I'm going all the way home.
As I climb up the summit of Vail pass, the temperature drops drastically, and I start shivering uncontrollably. On the other side, I race down as fast as possible, trying to get out of the cold.
Lake Dillon is all dried up. Just a series of disconnected small ponds. Zack had told me this, but I didn't believe him.
Down to Silverthorne, now climbing back up to the Eisenhower Tunnel. At the summit, I'm freezing again. Uncontrollable whole-body spasms. Sun is setting fast. Temperature dropping. In the tunnel, I'm running 100 mph, just trying to get back down off this crazy mountain. Racing downhill wide open past Loveland, Georgtown, Idaho Springs. Finally, I warm up enough at Idaho Springs that I think I might survive the night.
Now, I just have to follow the backroads home in the dark, dodging elk, deer, foxes, coyotes, etc. Somehow, I make it home in one piece.
My legs are so tired I can hardly stand. My back is killing me. Jen says she's down for the night, so I'll pick her up in the morning.
Somehow, on Sunday, I've got to convince myself to start my next ride from Illinois to Panama. Ugh..
Miles traveled today: 650 milesCategories:
SF to Denver: 2013 - Day 2
I am alive and well and resting quietly in the town of Ely, Nevada.
Miles driven today (odometer): 29,015.9 - 28,619 = 396.9 miles
In the morning, I leave Groveland, California and follow 120 into Yosemite. I'd forgotten about all of the lime-green moss on the trees.
I was last here in September of 2011, so that was about 21 months ago. But there are large sections of the park that I don't really remember.
It's hard to understand how large Yosemite Park is. I drive and drive and there's nothing but forrests and mountains and lakes. Hardly anyone is in the park yet, as school isn't out.
Tioga Pass opened last Saturday, so I figure I'll run over Tioga Pass. When I first catch a glimpse of the pass, however, I'm stunned. White snow-capped peaks, and it's snowing.
What I failed to realize is that if they opened the pass 6 days ago, odds are it's going to be freezing cold. As we climb toward the pass, the temperature keeps dropping until finally I stop and put on everything I have, which isn't a lot. Three t-shirts, a cotton shirt, two thin rain jackets, and a leather jacket. Put it all on.
Then I resume climbing up Tioga Pass. The elevation of the pass is approx 10,000 ft above sea level. At the peak, it's snowing. It's so cold I'm shivering uncontrollably.
As I roll down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the trees disappear and now it's this barren desert. At the bottom of the hill, the dramatic Mono Lake, and I stop for gas and lunch in Lee Vining. South 5 miles to 120 East, and 60 miles later I cross the Nevada state line, a cattle gap, if you can believe it.
Basically, Nevada is a barren desert. The Great American Desert. Although, I don't ever see a lot of bare earth. It's more like grass lands or sage brush. Not so much cactus and dirt.
There's pretty much zero traffic on the road. Long, ten-mile straight stretches of road cross flat bowls surrounded by low mountain ranges.
The landscape is beautiful, but vast. I have to get home to Jennifer, so I open the throttle and just hang on. The bike runs about 95 mph top-end on level ground. I don't know what the speed limit is. I don't really care.
I just hold the throttle wide open for hours. My wrist hurts. Shoulder hurts. Back hurts.
As I drive, I think about Carrie and me. I'm not sure what happens now. She left me. She's dating some new guy now. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life. So I think about if I could get her back, and if it would work out if we did get back together.
This is what the desert does to you. It gives you time to think about complicated things. Sort of like if you dropped a piece of granite into a hand-crank cranberry grinder. If you have a tough problem to work out, driving across the desert is a good way to free up some time to think.
At some point last night, Carrie figured out that I'm not necessarily taking the shortest route back to Denver. She's upset because to her, it seems like, somehow, I'm trying to trick her. But that's not what's going on. The whole trip doesn't make any sense. I mean, the bike is worth maybe $1,500.00. To fly to California and drive it back to Denver is, at best, a break even proposition. The bike is just an excuse to drive across the country. "I've got to drive it back to Denver," doesn't really make any sense. It's just an excuse to clear my head, obviously.
I stop for gas again in Tonopah, Nevada.
It's 180 miles to the next town of Ely, Nevada. I have plenty of daylight, so I want to keep driving. Try to put up some good miles today. I'm hoping that there's a place to get gas before Ely, though, because 180 miles will be at the upper limit of the distance I can go on my bike. 30 miles outside of Tonopah, I pass a gas station. The signs seem to indicate another town before Ely. So, I pass the gas station.
Halfway to Ely, I'm so tired that I start to hallucinate. I see cars that aren't there. I see my own rear-view mirrors and get startled by them. I see things moving in the road that I can't understand. Nothing lives out here that's any bigger than a rabbit. Finally, I realize I'm seeing giant tumbleweeds rolling across the road.
But, when my trip meter gets to 143 miles, I switch over to the reserve tank. I'm still 37 miles outside of Ely, Nevada, in a barren wasteland. On this stretch of road, there are no other cars. This is not good. I switch over to reserve and keep driving, but I'm freaking out, of course.
I have some gatorade, and some cherries, but I won't live long out here in the desert. No cell coverage. No other vehicles.
I've been calculating my gas mileage at every fill-up on this trip. It varies from 43 down to 37 depending on how fast I'm going, how hard the wind is blowing, etc.
I do some quick numbers. My estimate is that the reserve tank is only 0.6 gallons. If I only have .6 gallons left, at 37 mpg, I'll only be able to go another 20 miles, tops. That means I'll run out of gas in the desert before I get to Ely. This is going to suck in a big way.
I drive until the engine dies, 9.5 miles further down the road. Now my trip meter is at 152.5 miles. I'm still 27.5 miles outside of Ely, Nevada, stranded in the desert. But now, I remember the last time this happened. I ran out of gas in the Owyhee Desert in Idaho, and later, in the office, I did some calculations, and decided that the gas tank still had gas in it, but it's on the other side of the tank. I have to lean the bike on it's side to get the gas over to the left side of the tank so it can flow into the carburetor. In theory.
I open the gas tank. Sure enough. There's plenty of gas, it's just on the right-hand side of the tank. I lay the bike over on the left side. The gas flows to the other side of the tank. I stand it back up. It fires right up, and I drive into Ely on fumes.
When I fill up the tank, it hold 4.58 gallons, meaning I had .02 gallons left in a 4.6 gallon tank. I decide to crash for the night. I'm exhausted.Categories: Short Stories
SF to Denver: 2013
Last Philly Cheestake at Busters
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly at the north entrance to Yosemite, in Groveland, California.
Spent the day working on bike like mad. New front brakes. Changed oil. Lubed chain. Found out frame was broken. Welded frame. Reinstalled rear rack.
Reinstalled Givi case. Finally taped down the rear rack as one nut is stripped.
Changing the oil
One grain of sand will ruin the engine. Why doesn't our government see this. They open the borders and import muslim terrorists, criminals, illegal immigrants. And thing how well your engine would run if you threw a handful of sand in there? Not good. So stop importing these grains of sand.
Also, I installed my license plate. Now, this is an interesting lie. That you have to have a license plate. Why is this? It's to generate revenue. Because, surely, I've driven through this city for years as a truly free citizen. If you want to see what freedom feels like, it's terrifying. Pull your plates off your car and drive around for a while.
Suddenly, the red light cameras have no power over you anymore. Now, make no mistake. The red-light cameras were not put in to make the intersections. It's well documented that the traffic accidents increase when they are installed. This is not open to debate. It's a documented fact. Their goal is to make money off of you, not to make you safer.
You can run the red lights with impunity. You become something close to free. But, you are treated like a terrorist.
Now, you think that we have to have these things or civilization would break down. But that's not the case.
In fact, take the case of illegal immigrants. They're allowed in the country. They're not deported. They don't file income tax returns. They can't be turned away from the hospitals. They can't be deported. They don't have drivers licenses. And they don't go to jail.
Same is true of the homeless. The homeless people cannot go to jail, regardless of what they do. They smoke weed in the streets, litter, cuss, scream, shout, and shit in public. But they never go to jail. The reason is because they don't have any assets. The goal of the government is to a) stay out of the paper and b) liberate your assets from you.
At the start of a trip, the first thing you have to do is take inventory. Things that you have, and aren't aware of, you don't have. Things you think you have, but don't have, you don't have.
So, it's very important to figure out what you have at the start of a trip.
Get into Groveland, California at about 7:30 p.m. or so. Check into the same place I stayed last time.
Run back a mile down the road or so to a gas station. The front end has been acting sqirrelly all day. Check the pressure in the front tire and it's so low it doesn't even register.
It's a state law in California that they have to give you free water and air if you ask. So I tell her to turn on the pumps. Pump up the front tire to 30 psi.
Swing back to the Iron Horse Bar, the oldest bar in California.
Start pounding Stellas.
Miles driven today (odometer): 28,619 - 28,429 = 190 miles
Miles driven today (GPS): 167
Max Speed: 84.4
Total Ascent: 9,979
Max Elevation: 3,069
WWII's Strangest Battle
When German troops fought along side of U.S. soldiers to defend a castle in Austria days after Hitler's suicide in May, 1945.
Postcards from Nowhere: San Francisco - May 2013
I've been walking into work every day, packing two canon EOS 50D frames and the following lenses:
- EF-S 17-85mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom
- EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom
The photographs are from North Beach, Greenwich Steps, Filbert Steps, Chinatown, and the Financial District.
This slideshow features a song by The Veils called Vicious Traditions.
The images are compiled into a 20 Meg (4:30) Adobe Flash slideshow (SF201305.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (SF201305.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.
Click here to view the other slideshows.
Lyrics in the extended entry.Categories: Slideshows
N the morning cool wet streets and pigeons pecking at soggy wet bread in the streets of north beach
The sun is shining today
Dripping wet motorcycle but ots mine! Got it back from sfpd.
A spectacular day
Peeling back the blanket of winter
All the scars and all the scabs of winter painted over in fresh spring makeup
Grizzled men Watering the flower boxes along columbus
Homeless sleep in doorways beneath damp blankets
At transamerica pyramid scaffolding and a chinese beggar pushes before her a
Titanic sized Cart filled with cans
Columbus turns into montgomery
A couple comes down the wet street on motorcycle
Precariously riding the line between death and life
Im at wk :)
Chinese new year
The year of the slug
Firecracker wrappers cover chinatown
Old broken chinese men smoking
All Red Crackers is the brand of fire crackers
An old woman rushes down steep hill on a walker
Im at work
Mostly takn pics today
Cool grey low fog skies
I try to shoot the city
So that i might rememder it when i'm gone
So that i might remind my future self what Sf was like
Kids toddle down steep hills babbling like fountains on the way to school
Washing down the sidewalks at broadway
Writing parket tickets
A bus stops spilling asians into the streets
They surge across the street
Theyre writing tickets to a fedex truck n NB
The cable is going nits today
The uphill cable has too much slack in it
Its snapping and popping louder n ever
I wish i could record that sound
I just realized i dont have my headphones on
Somethin goin on at market/montgomery
Man in loud dooming voice
Baritones "and they shall rise up!"
Like a drum major for the Homeless parade
U might follow him also
Marching along calling the chant
Where is he going
Wearing two backpacks
He is like Captain Homeless
Bellowing and marching
So that you might want to follow him
To see where he leads you
Only i follow him a short distance and he turns around to walk the other way
And you realize hes, at best, a false phophet
But in truth, just another meth addict
Im at work
In the cool morning sun burning off thick fogs
Im climbing the filbert steps
No jacket today
Im sleeping with the windows open again
Finally got my iphone synced w the macbook air n got some new tracks to listen to on the walk n
Now some tourists from vancouver looking for the parrots
Princess flowers n bottlebrushes n great flocks of robbins pecking at white blooms
Tangled mangled mess of vines choking one another likes city subway vagrants
Some agapantsus beds at the end of montgomery street
A london plane tree slowly cracks out of a planter
The gardens at the foot of vallejo
Crippled pigeons hobble down montgomery
Flocks of pigeons over broadway. I wonder why they form and fold like prayer cloths n split apart again
Boxes of fresh cut flowers
Theyre cutting them open on the sidewalks
Wrapping them in clear plastic wrap
48 degrees n u would never want it any warmer if youre walking
And now the firetrucks screaming down montgomery
Everyone diving from the crosswalks
Flocks of pigeons explode leaving behind treasured morning bread heels
The homeless scan the free dailies which is kinda funny
Like i live in the streets but i wonder whats going on in the world
Now screams the ambulance
Racing down market
Hell kill the ceo of a fortune 500 company trying to save a meth addict
Im at work
The inconceivable madness of chinatown
I bounce down the sidewalks of stockton like a warm pachinko ball
At one point, i find myself on a pallet being lifted into the air as i dodge crates of produce and ancient chinese babbling in cantonese
Fresh fortune cookies from the fortune cookie factory in ross alley
Shattered purple glass sidewalks and hobo feces
A handicapped homeless old black man with a shiny new scooter ripping down the sidewalks
Slowly it dawns on me that the financial district is all owned by the national and international banks
Banks that closed ranks with the repeal of the Glass-Stegal Act.
Both of the cables are popping like mad today
Uphill and downhill
Red said he hangs out at the walgreens on pine n montgomery
But i dont see him there
Im at wk
Cool foggy san francisco
The queue at mamas on washington square
The asians perform foreign exercises in unison in the park
Service trucks squeak by
They all work together
The asians are all in step
Staying in shape
When have the blacks ever organized themselves to do anything?
Produce distributors unloading produce onto sidewalks
Its easy to see the things you see
Whats much harder is to see the things you dont see
Or to wonder why the things that are missing are missing
Yeah....like when you look beside you why am I not there!? Or in the window reflection peeping around you!;) I am missing!!
The madness of chinatown
Aged men chained to dollies
Smoking in perpetuity
Im looking for a sign
Am i through here?
Or should i dig in deeper?
Its so hard to know
A courier rides a bike up an impossibly steep hill
Its so hard to see whats not here
Where are the jugglers? The street musicians?
I saw a black man in the bart tunnels blowing on a flute
But he didnt know how to play it
A group of homeless people waddels down steep Pine Street
Pushing rolling suitcases before them
Im walking down kearney now
It would be nice to have a break
One post plaza
Office workers mix uneasily with the fields of homeless
A group of first grades led like ducklings with backpacks down brick sidewalks with marble curbstones
The guy that holds the door at 7-11
A firetruck screams down market
Stops at bart
I try to follow them down past all the homeless people living underground
But my Clipper card says SEE AGENT
The kids are all on spring break field trips
Thats the deal
Waves of children now
Guided by frayed teachers
The same girl works the desk every morning
I wonder why
But i do the same thing every morning
Am i any better than her?
Im at work
When you are alone talking to imaginary friends
I saw this bit of paranoia taped to a utility pole in SF last week (04/29/13). I googled the lunacy, and found a single reference to this gibberish on the intertubes from last year. Interestingly, the wording has changed a little. So, my guess is that someone actually believes this nonsense. I'd say they're probably fairly intelligent. The grammar, spelling, etc., is pretty much spot on. My guess is that they're just completely bat-shiat insane. I'd pay good money to find out who's posting these. Screed follows:
"When you are alone talking to imaginary friends and the discussion is (1) detailed, (2) is with supervisors, friends, lovers, or celebrities, and (3) it seems like you can almost feel what the other person feels like, you are being influenced with remote-based computer programmed conversational skits.
How we are technologically manipulated from a remote location:
Each person's natural & distinct electrical cerebral emissions are assigned human tracking numbers. Our emissions are then constantly attached to thru usage of tracking medium (such as radio and microwave) which also have an open channel for transferring speech into and from our heads (i.e., our emissions are used like a transistor inside a radio; chip implants are not needed). Computers, programmed by operators for conversational manipulation, are at the other end of the tracker medium where our tracking numbers and other information such as name, sex, family members, likes, and dislikes, etc., are stored. Libraried conversational skits, designed to make it appear that you talk to yourself a lot with persons you are aware of (for better influencing impact), are applied into our hearing reception centers. Web query: Mind Control and US Patents (beware, many sites include speculation).
Our leaders are of 3 types: (type 1) fearful of the usage of WMD by the imposters AND too manipulated / kept busy to have sufficiently met and conferred (we need to post notices to enable them through their seeing our discourse on the subject); (type 2) selfish / cavalier; (type 3) criminally implicated in our abuse through ordering the usage of the remote technology.
Solution: Spread the word to permit that these manipulations become commonly discussed by the general public so that compromised leaders on both sides of the aisle will no longer be able to ignore it. It is inconsistent with our laws and therefore must be prosecuted if discussed out loud on a regular basis.