I haven’t had a chance to wrap up the Brown Water before now. We were on a cruise to Alaska and then my two months out of warranty hard drive failed.
Monday, July 8th was officially the last day of the 2013 Brown Water Run.
When we settled down the night before, the Bison Fire was raging east of us. The distance that the fire covered was astonishing. I’m glad I was a police officer and not a fire fighter. I will never comprehend how a sane person can put themselves in front of a moving fire. To all Fire Fighters – Thank you for your service.
Here is a quote from one of our riders, “This is a fast-moving fire.” Jeff Zolfarelli – Fire Chief (Retired). Personally I think all fires are fast movers and should be avoided.
Monday started poorly. First, the Bison Fire continued to grow. The Motel 6 staff told us, “We don’t put out coffee until 7:00 a.m.”. We had two motorcycles down. The Harley people told Keith Wallace that his problem was the stater. They couldn’t get one in for a day or two. Fred Sicard had to wait for the service department to replace his tire.
When Keith got back to Arizona he raised cane with the Harley-Folks who had “fixed” his electrical system. It turns out that it was the regulator, not the stater. Carson City had regulators in stock and could have fixed the bike. I believe they returned his diagnostic fee.
Fortunately Grandma Hattie’s was just across the parking lot. We trooped over and had coffee and breakfast.
Paul Wallace had our waitress deliver a jar of mayonnaise to me. I HATE MAYONNAISE. This wasn’t just any mayonnaise, it was from 2003. He had saved it since I was airlifted out of the Oregon Mountains to the hospital in Medford. What a guy.
Larry Eade models a shirt from Pig Trail Harley-Davidson, Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The Pig Trail is a popular ride and should not be missed if one rides through the state. Here is a shortened link http://goo.gl/MhYxo0 if you care to learn more about the trail. Larry, Jim, Burny Matthews and I were on route to Washington, D.C. for the 2010 Law Enforcement Memorial Service during National Police Week. To learn more about this program, link to http://www.nleomf.com
After breakfast we loaded up and prepared to go our separate ways.
The Los Angeles riders headed over to Carson City Harley to wait for Fred. Later they enjoyed a great ride over the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, State Route 4, before spending the night in Fresno. Some BWR riders took US-50 back to the Bay Area. Jim Kennemore took I-80 over Donner Summit. For a “slab” it’s not a bad ride.
I headed to Las Vegas to attend the Public Safety Writers Association Annual Conference. As much as I enjoy riding with a group, solo riding is a delight. I took US-50 through Dayton Valley to US-95 south to Las Vegas. Last June, Jim Kennemore and I were on US-95 up in Idaho. This section is desert, but in its own way, just as scenic.
The Bison Fire was visible looking west, the reverse view of what we had seen the night before. The fire destroyed great tracts of mountain terrain.
Wild horses are not uncommon in areas of Nevada. While this looks to be a rural range, it wasn’t. The west side of the road is wide open with no fences, the east is not. I pulled to a stop and took this shot from about fifty yards. On the east side of the highway were several gas stations, stores, and fast food restaurants. The horses did not seem to have any interest in me or the Ultra’s loud pipes.
I spent the night in Beatty, Nevada and was in Las Vegas by noon on Tuesday. Passing Creech Air Force Based I saw three or four remotely piloted aircraft systems flying in the area. Most of us refer to these devices as Drones. They were bigger than I had imagined.
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.
Jim Kennemore demonstrates the modified OPD Leather God riding style near Mammoth Mountain.
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.
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.
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.
Jim Kennemore is delivering an important point about some insignificant subject to anyone within hearing range.
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.
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.
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.
The temperature in Morro Bay was chilly. Once we crossed the mountains and approached the Central Valley, it heated up. It was hot.
Gassing up before crossing I-5 gave us an opportunity to shed our heavier clothing. It was now T-Shirt riding time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.