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Saturday, June 1, 2002
New York City to Charlottesville, VA
Interstate from New York City to Front Royal, VA, then Skyline Drive to Waynesboro. Obviously, the interstate does not warrant comment. Skyline Drive is pretty spectacular, although the aggressively enforced speed limit is aggravatingly low (I didn't actually see any cops, but I was warned by a guy at a gas station that they don't fool around). 105 miles @ 35 MPH = 3 hours with no stops, which is about what it took me. It would have been more fun to take longer and stop at more of the frequent turn-outs. Lots of deer and people stopping to take pictures of the deer. A guy in a Mercedes who was pulled over and peering into the forest claimed a bear cub had run across the road in front of him. I saw a skunk; luckily it wasn't interested in me.
A view from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Forest.
Sunday, June 2, 2002
Charlottesville to Asheville, NC
Blue Ridge Parkway all day. I ended up thinking of the BRP in three sections: Waynesboro to Roanoke, Roanoke to Blowing Rock, NC and then Blowing Rock to Asheville. The first leg was pretty good. The second leg was my least favorite - mostly relatively dull road through farmland. The third leg may be the best stretch of motorcycling road east of the Mississippi. It goes through almost all woodland, with long, sweeping curves, great switchbacks, and frequent passing zones, although there was almost no traffic. As you approach Mt. Mitchell, the air gets cooler and the mountains get bluer and bluer. The 30 miles or so just before and after Mt. Mitchell made for a great conclusion to a very satisfying day. Probably 60% of the vehicles on the road were motorcycles.
George Washington National Forest from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The bike that made it all possible.
Monday, June 3, 2002
Asheville to New Orleans, LA
Interstate all the way. I-40 from Asheville to Chattanooga, TN, then I-59 through Alabama (took the I-459 bypass around Birmingham) and Mississippi to New Orleans. I-40 up past the Great Smoky Mountains was a pretty good road for an interstate, but the rest did not warrant comment, except to note that it was beastly hot.
Tuesday, June 4, 2002
New Orleans to Beeville, TX
Interstate from New Orleans to somewhere just past Houston, TX, then secondary highway the rest of the way. I-10 west of New Orleans is kind of interesting because you are driving on a road essentially built on stilts above the bayou. Miles and miles and miles of swamps. Hit Houston right at rush hour - blech. Note about the major east-west interstates such as I-10, I-40, and I-80: they are much more choked with semis than the minor north-south routes such as I-81 and I-59. Got off on Rte. 36 to 60 to 59 to Beeville. This was a decent stretch, nice to be off the interstate, but not particularly memorable. There are signs along US 59 saying they are planning on building an interstate - why? There's nothing there. Connect Houston to Corpus Christi? Who knows?
Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Beeville to Van Horn, TX
Secondary road all the way. Pure western driving delight. US 59 to 624 to Cotulla, I-35 (only for 11 miles) to Artesia Wells, 133 to 83 to 2644 to El Indio to 1021 to Eagle Pass to 277 to 90 to Van Horn. Passed some military proving ground site out in the desert along with numerous road runners out running along the road. Lunch at Charlie's Barbeque in Eagle Pass was one of the high points of the trip out.
Vultures waiting to benefit from some other animal's misfortune, similar to the guys I play poker with.
A fellow I met taking in some sun in southern Texas.
He was actually more afraid of me than I of him.
Along with vultures and tarantulas, they also have xenophobes in Texas.
The Air Force's TARS project. It makes for quite a sight when you are riding across the desert and haven't seen anything taller than a cow for several hours.
If you're interested, click here to read more about it.
Thursday, June 6, 2002
Van Horn to Kingman, AZ
Interstate until early afternoon, then secondary highway to Flagstaff, and interstate after dark to Kingman. I-10 from about 20 miles before El Paso past Las Cruces is the ugliest urban sprawl misery. US 70 from Lordsburg to 87 south of Payson was pretty bleak and very, very hot, even up by Theodore Roosevelt Lake. 87 north out of Payson to 65 to Clints Well to 487 into Flagstaff was among the top three rides of the trip. Nice, cool forest and a spectacular run past Mormon Lake and Lake Mary. Hotels on I-40 west of Flagstaff are expensive due to Grand Canyon traffic.
The desert alongside US Highway 70 in New Mexico. This photo doesn't capture how blistering hot it was or how unforgiving the desert seemed.
Your garden variety saguaro.
The bridge over Theodore Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.
Friday, June 7, 2002
Kingman to Oakland, CA
Mix of interstate and secondary highway. I-40 to Barstow, 58 to Bakersfield, 46 to I-5 for the rest of the way. This was probably the low point of the entire trip. Riding on I-40 through the Mojave Desert was like riding inside a hair dryer with a brutal cross wind to boot. 58 between Barstow and Edwards Air Force Base is the most miserable, truck-choked, hot, windy, two-lane stretch of road in America, I'm sure. It improved significantly after an air-conditioned lunch at Domingo's in Boron (I'm told they come from all over to eat at Domingo's) and I was happy again by the time I got to Bakersfield. Lots of cool things to see on 58 west of Tehachapi like the Air Force junk yard full of dismembered fighter jets and the windmill farms. As much as it gets criticized, I actually enjoyed I-5. Rolling hills, cool irrigation canals and dams, and lots of bored people trapped in cars shuttling between LA and San Fran.
Spike's Texaco in Needles, CA, home of Snoopy's brother Spike. Just about every business in town is named Spike's, such as Spike's Bar & Grill or Spike's Tire Service.
Believed by the author to be the KJC Solar Farm in Kramer Junction, CA, featured in the 1997 film Gattaca. What looks like a pool of water is actually an array of mirrors that focuses the sun on a tower (indicated by arrow) that collects the energy. Click here for more information.
Wind farm in California.
There was a good breeze blowing and they were all going when I passed through.
Saturday, June 8, 2002 Finally, a day of no riding whatsoever!
Sunday, June 9, 2002
Oakland to the Pacific and back
Across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to the Marin Headlands and the beach on the Pacific Ocean! I made it! Lunch in Tiburon. Great ride from Tiburon to San Rafael on Paradise Drive.
Rob's Honda CBR 600, the bike I was actually riding when I got to the Pacific.
Who is this mysterious Rob fellow anyway? If you encounter him, do NOT try to apprehend him yourself; call the authorities.
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