Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess

Friday, July 19, 2013 we boarded the Grand Princess at Pier 35, San Francisco. We chose this cruise because of its proximity to our home, only thirty-five miles. The last time we cruised to Alaska we flew to Vancouver, Canada, spent the night, and boarded the ship the next day. We enjoyed it, but it was a bit of a hassle and expensive.

If we board the ship in San Francisco, we won’t have any hassles. Nothing is hassle free. The first thirty-three miles took a half-hour. The mile or so along the Embarcadero took an hour.

The weather in Dublin was great. I dressed in proper tourist attire, shorts and Aloha shirt. San Francisco was cold and windy. It got worse.

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Don’t you just love Cathy’s latest hair style?

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Notice the lack of California sunshine?

It got worse, much worse. The winds continued to increase throughout the night.

Saturday morning the captain came on the P.A. System with this announcement. “No Cause for Concern.”

Instantly alert, I turned to Cathy. “What the hell?”

The captain continued. “The winds coming across the bow are running at 40 knots.” Looking out our balcony window we could see that seas were running deep with more white caps showing than dark gray water. Wanting us to feel better and I assume to appreciate the mere forty knot wind, he continued. “Throughout the night we had sustained winds of sixty knots with gusts of eighty knots.” He had our attention. It got better, or maybe worse. It depends on your point of view. “Eighty knot wind is just shy of hurricane conditions.” Oh, Boy. “Although we have closed several areas of the ship for safety, there is no cause for concern.”

According to disastercenter.com, 80 knots equates to 92.2 miles per hour. Above 73 mph hurricane devastation occurs.

Saturday was spent at sea. Heavy seas kept everyone indoors. I didn’t even write. I spent the day eating and reading a novel by recently published author, I.C. Enger. I met her at the Public Safety Writers Conference in Las Vegas. Her book, Blue Ice, is the first in a series. I found the story very interesting, a page turner. Later in the week, I read her second book, Green Ice. The third in the series, Black Ice, is due out shortly.

Sunday we docked in Victoria, B.C. just as the weather broke. It was a beautiful day. We’ve been to Victoria several times and have seen most of the sights. It’s a good thing. Victoria was hosting a Good Guys type car show. The theme was Deuce Coupe. We learned that more than a thousand 1932 Ford Deuce Coupes were entered along with another thousand or so vintage cars and hot rods. Several locals told us, “This is the largest event ever held in Victoria.” I believed them. Most of the downtown streets were closed down. Almost all tours in town were cancelled. The open streets were worse than San Francisco.

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This was the only car not sporting a DO NOT TOUCH sign.

Every car entered in the show, and all the ones parked around town were brought in by ship and ferry.

We spent Monday at sea. It was a productive day. There is a library and game area on the ship. Just like at my home office, I couldn’t write in our room. Even though kids and adults play a variety of board games, it didn’t bother me. I rarely hear them, it is a pleasant distraction. Occasionally a group of adults will take over a couple of tables and each tries to outdo the other in volume. These are interruptions and they do bother me.

Cathy dragged me away for lunch. I returned in the afternoon. While A Tale of Robbers and Cops is out to an editor, I’m concentrating on my second novel. The story is about police officers working Anti-Gang Enforcement in the fictional city of Liberty, Arizona.

It was a good day. I wrote 3700 words.

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I won’t ever do this again.

PSWA Sign

I attended the Public Safety Writers Association Annual Conference this week at the Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas. The conference was a smashing success and I will be back next year.

What is it that I won’t ever do again?

I rode my Ultra Classic Harley Davidson from Carson City to Las Vegas. The two-day ride wasn’t bad. The weather was hot, hovering around 100º to 102º.

Las Vegas to home is another matter. I left at 1:00 p.m. and rode 302 miles. The Amber Alert signs warned of heavy traffic to California and major delays. They weren’t kidding.

Eleven miles outside Primm I-15 traffic stopped dead. I split lanes to Primm. It took 35 minutes. If I hadn’t, I’d probably still be there. I ‘forgot’ that Nevada frowns on motorcyclists who enjoy this time saver. I got honked at a few times by folks riding in air-conditioned cages.

Ten miles east of Baker, California I realized that it was hotter than anything I had ever experienced. Temperatures in the low hundreds are uncomfortable, this was painful.

I stopped in Baker for fuel and to hydrate. Asking folks in their air-conditioned cages the temperature, provided a consensus of 112º. The highest I’ve ever ridden in. After downing two Gatorades in four swallows, I got on the Ultra. My dark glasses burnt my nose, the grips stung my hands, but the kicker was my seat. I stood up on the floor board and dropped onto the HOT black leather. Not only did I burn my thighs, I scorched everything in between. Ouch.

Weather.com lists the high as 110º.

I’m spending the night at Motel 6, Button Willow. I will be up at dawn with the goal of being home before the sun has a chance cook me again.

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12th Annual Brown Water Run

Day 3 – 7/7/2013

Where are we? Are we in Egypt? I am the victim of a military style coup.

The evening before, while the brigands ate the KFC that I had so generously provided, Paul Wallace led a conspiracy to oust the legitimate leader of the Brown Water Run.

Before breakfast, I was presented with the fait accompli. My comrade of forty years made this proclamation, “George you’re out!”

Said I, “Like President Morsi in Egypt?”

They tried to clean it up, but I was out. Hip, Hip, Hurray!

The junta’s new route took the group north on US 395 to CA 89. The portion of US 395 from Bishop to CA 89 is probably the best 120 miles of the highway. It goes through Bridgeport. Years ago Bridgeport hosted a great destination ride. Because of an overabundance of nudity, the highway was at times blocked. The California Department of Transportation prohibited the continuation of the event. It was a fun time.

There is one thing about this part of US 395 that often causes consternation, the unstable weather. This was only the second time I’ve ridden this route that I wasn’t drenched in a cloud burst, or banged about by a hail storm. It was a great day with bearable temperatures.

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Jim Kennemore demonstrates the modified OPD Leather God riding style near Mammoth Mountain.

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Jack Young cruising along on his DynaWideGlide. My first Harley was a Dyna. I loved that bike until I had my first ride on an Ultra Classic.

John S. Bridgeport

A fuel stop at Bridgeport was an early rest halt. John Sensiba took this picture. It embodies the essence of the Brown Water Run. We ride through some of the most beautiful country in the United States while celebrating Old Glory and the independence of the greatest nation in the world.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

When we reached CA 89 we headed up into the mountains and over Monitor Pass for a lunch stop in Markleeville.

Larry Eade - Wolf Creek Bar

Lunch was at Wolf Creek Bar and Restaurant. Here we have Larry Eade beside his Road King. In the background Jeff Zolfarelli checks his luggage.

The ride from Markleeville continued on to Lake Tahoe. The traffic was heavy, but Pioneer Trail allowed us to by-pass the worst of it. The ride around the south end of the lake took us through Cave Rock Tunnel and over the Carson Range down to Carson City.

Sunday was the shortest ride of the Brown Water Run, 208 miles. It was a pleasure. The weather was not too hot and no one suffered like we had the day before. I wish I could say everyone had a good time. It wasn’t so. Keith Wallace was still riding in the Train Mobile. Fred Sicard from Los Angeles had a flat tire. Once Lauren dropped Keith off at Carson City Harley-Davidson he had to return and pick up Fred. The service department told Keith they couldn’t work on his Ultra until Tuesday. That was unusual in that most Harley Dealers put travelers at the head of the line.

Lauren got Fred’s bike to the dealership too late for them to work on it. He had to return on Monday along with his L.A. riding buddies. Fred, Ron Ricci, Dan Larson, and Jim Griffith rode up from Southern California. While I was riding south to Las Vegas, they headed home. I don’t know who had it worse Monday night. They stopped in Fresno while I spent the night in Beatty, Nevada. Neither town is a favorite of mine. I’m told they had a great ride over the mountains on CA-4. CA-4 is one of those mountain pass rides that I never tire of making.

Sgt. JAK

Jim Kennemore is delivering an important point about some insignificant subject to anyone within hearing range.

Fire from Carson City 2

This is of the Bison Fire east of Carson City. This was taken from the Carson City Motel 6. Fires are being fought in north and south Nevada. It appears that at least some were started by lightning strikes.

Las Vegas Fire P.C.

Later in the evening, my son Paul sent me this picture of the Carpenter 1 Fire near Las Vegas. He took it from a parking lot at his apartment.

Once again the day was topped off with BW Runners sitting around the swimming pool solving all the problems of the realm.

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12th Annual Brown Water Run

Day 2 – 7/6/2013

What is an Axiom? An “axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy”.

Keith “Axiom” Wallace is always the first Brown Water Runner up. By the time anyone else is awake, Keith is out by the motorcycles with a cigarette in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other. It wouldn’t be fair to tell you that the third part of the Axiom is that he is always the last one ready to ride. It wouldn’t be fair because he couldn’t get ready to ride with his Ultra broke down.

Saturday was no exception. Keith was up first but he had to walk four blocks before he found a cup of coffee. When the other riders came out, there he was coffee and cigarette in hand.

Our planned route took us over SR-58 to Button Willow across the Central Valley, on to CA-178 to Lake Isabella. The next leg was to US 395 and north to Bishop. California was suffering from a heat wave. The area around Lake Isabella and north was listed on weather maps as “Extreme Heat”. We’ve ridden this route before and even at the best of times, it is a miserable ride.

We all agreed it would be dangerous, foolish, to follow the original plan. We decided to take CA-41 east. This allowed us to stay on the same highway until we reached CA-120 near Yosemite. CA-120 took us to Tioga Pass. Tioga Pass is one of the best rides in the state.

This did increase our ride from 340 miles to 362 and from seven hours to almost nine. It was worth it.

The first leg of the day was CA-1 to CA-41. Mike Foster checked his GPS and made this announcement for all to hear, “It’s 19 miles to 41.”

Once we were all fueled and ready, I lead the group to CA-1 and headed north. Imagine my surprise when less than a half mile later I saw a sign for CA-41. I quickly, much too quickly, crossed from the fast lane over and on to the off ramp. I jumped from the Ultra and began waving the riders off the highway. Once I had everyone off, including the Train Mobile, I returned to the front of the pack.

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The temperature in Morro Bay was chilly. Once we crossed the mountains and approached the Central Valley, it heated up. It was hot.

SR 41 at SR 33

Gassing up before crossing I-5 gave us an opportunity to shed our heavier clothing. It was now T-Shirt riding time.

Oakhurst

After lunch in Oakhurst, Keith’s Peace Officer Special Edition Ultra would not start. Up onto the Train Mobile trailer it went for the next three days. The electrical system decided it would rather ride a trailer than run the motorcycle.

Saturday on the 4th of July Weekend in Yosemite was hectic. Traffic was beyond heavy. A young man who apparently drove at excessive speed went off CA-120 and over the edge at a tight corner. He was lucky and ran up a tree. One of the two lanes was closed. Getting through the area once again split the group into several segments.

Tioga Pass is one of the most beautiful rides in the state. We made one brief stop at Tuolumne Meadows for water and gas. We were enjoying ourselves so much, we all neglected to take pictures. Going over the 10,000 foot pass it got a tad cool, but not enough for anyone to add layers. Tioga is always a great ride.

Once over the pass it was down to US-395 and south to Bishop. The pool at the Motel 6 was soon the scene of a gaggle of middle aged men in ugly shorts. A dip or two helped cool our overheated heads. A bucket of KFC Chicken made for the ultimate dinner and end to a great day.

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12th Annual Brown Water Run

Day 1 – 7/5/2013

Twelve years ago we began a motorcycle riding tradition, the Brown Water Run. That first year we had about seven or eight riders. This year we had twenty-four riders and one chase vehicle.

Ken Green came the furthest, Scottsdale, Arizona. I’d say it was a tie with Keith Wallace, but one has to ride a motorcycle to complete the BWR. Keith’s Ultra Classic broke down before the ride even began. Our chase car driver/mechanic, Lauren Camera, managed to get it running Friday morning. But Saturday, the 6th it gave up the ghost (twice). Keith finished the ride in the chase vehicle. Before the BWR, he spent something like $1,600 getting the electrical system repaired. Can you guess what failed? Yes, you’re right the electrical system.

Zacs

We began the 5th with seventeen of us having breakfast at Zac’s Restaurant in Dublin, California. About halfway through breakfast, a very attractive lady came into the restaurant. She looked about somewhat confused. After a moment or two she approached the group. “Are you all going on a motorcycle trip?”

A chorus of “yeses” echoed throughout the room.

To which the young lady responded, “Where’s Keith?”

Told that Keith had broken down, her shoulders drooped, she seemed to collapse within herself. She said, “I’m his daughter. He called me. He told me to be here.” She did not appear to be a happy camper.

Ultimately Keith arrived on his questionable steed.

At the appointed hour, seventeen motorcycles and the Train Mobile departed on the first leg of our adventure. The ride over the Santa Cruz Mountains and down State Route 1 to Carmel was picture perfect. I was leading when a strange thing occurred. Jim Kennemore passed me up and took over lead. My first thought, “Was I going too slow?” It soon became apparent that was not the case as Jim did not increase the speed, if anything he slowed somewhat. I was confused.

That evening when we were alone, I asked him, “Why did you pull in front of me on seventeen? You didn’t speed up.”

Much to my surprise his answer was, “To slow you down, you were going too fast.” That was a shocker. The last few times over this roadway, I was criticized for going much too slow.

At Carmel we picked up three more riders. Getting out of the gas station and back on the road was a fiasco. Instead of one cohesive group we had at least four clusters. We did not get back together until we reached Morro Bay.

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We stopped near San Simeon and visited the sea elephants. If you ever get the chance, stop and watch these behemoths.

One group of riders stopped to eat at a large tourist trap. I’m told it took upwards of an hour to get their meals.

We picked up another four riders in Morro Bay. These folks came up from Los Angeles.

I wish I had the room to list all the great people who joined us on this ride. I will point out a pair of wounded warriors, Paul Wallace and Byron Atwater. Less than a month ago Paul fell off of his bicycle. Yes, bicycle. He suffered a punctured lung and several broken ribs. When his daughters learned that he rode the BWR, they had a hissy fit. Dad Wallace was placed on probation by the girls and his grandson. For Shame!

Byron had a double hernia operation three weeks before the ride. However, he had permission to ride. His lovely wife, who always sends chocolate chip cookies, gave him permission to ride. She assigned their son-in-law, Brad Bell to keep a close eye on Byron. To make his ride a better experience, Byron purchased an Ultra Classic.

GDC 24 MCs 1 Truck

The white Dodge truck is Lauren Camera’s Train Mobile. He has a real train whistle that he plays from time to time. Once in Burney Falls he sounded off and created pandemonium. There are no train tracks near this small mountain town. Everyone except us BW Runners stopped cold and looked in all directions for the train. Lauren has a habit of picking the perfect time and place to sound off. If the horn doesn’t get you, the authentic train bell mounted under the truck certainly will.

I’m leaning on Keith “Axiom” Wallace’s Ultra Classic. My touch gave it enough strength to run for a few more hours.

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You meet the nicest people on a Harley-Davidson

In my post of June 14, 2013 I described our encounter with two Harley Riders from Wellsville New York, my wife’s hometown. We were leaving Grizzly Harley-Davidson, Missoula, Montana when I noticed the New York license plates and a “Hart Comfort House” flag.

Going back inside the dealership I found Jim Smith and Rob Warboys. They rode to the west coast and now were riding back across the top of the states to Wellsville. The purpose of their trip was to raise money for the Hart Comfort House in Wellsville.

Comfort House of Allegany County, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation known as Hart Comfort House, offers free comfort care for those in their last three months of a terminal illness.

You can check it out at www.comforthouseofalleganycounty.org. Click on What’s New and scroll down for more about these two men and their ride.

We had a nice visit. Jim and I figured that we had heard the last of them and their ride.

Imagine my surprise when my wife got a letter from her Uncle Johnny Dean containing clippings from the June 25, 2013 Wellsville Daily Reporter describing the two men’s ride in support of the Hart Comfort House.

The article mentions us stopping and visiting with them. They even mention “He was Francis Dean’s son-in-law and knew all about Wellsville and Hart House.

The ride was a success. Their goal was to raise $5000. When they returned they had over $7,700 with money still coming in. Supporters will be holding a picinic on July 6th to raise more money.

Wellsville Riders Photo

Rob Warboys and Jim Smith

You do meet the nicest people riding a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

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