As we went through the little town of Beaver, 2 young boys, I'm guessing 4 and 6, were walking barefoot down the road with their grandmother ( again guessing). As we went by -- I saw the most enthusiastic thumbs up from both of them. Brought back memories and warmed my heart.
Through Milford, home of World Champion Saddle Bronco Riders and into Baker for fuel and lunch. Great chicken caesar pita sandwich. Named T&D's after it's owners Terry and Debra, it reminded Lisa of the "Whistlestop Cafe". Along with the owners there was a young waitress that was saving for college -- reminded us of Ruth.
After lunch, we stopped in at Great Basin NP --- home of the Lehman Caves and protector of the world's oldest living trees, Bristlecone Pines. When I have time, I want to look into that more deeply. There are different classifications for oldest. According to Wikimedia Commons -- A Bristlecone pine named Methuselah in California's Whie Mtns is the oldest non-clonal tree in the world. It's exact location is a secret for protection. But I thought one of the Giant Sequoias -- General Sherman or Grant held the title of oldest. Hmmmm --- no time to investigate right now.
Spent the night in Ely, NV - home of the bathtub races. We stayed at the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall. Themed rooms - Jimmy Stuart, Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Mickey Rooney, Kit Carson. The Halls of each floor were covered with old Wild West memorabilia. Hand plows, hitches, traps, lanterns, saddles. One floor was dedicated to motorcycles, mostly Harley's. Fun, funky and old -- we had a great time. The Mayor of Ely came to dinner and gave us all our own "official survival guide and passport" for NV Highway 50 -- the loneliest highway in America. Apparently, in 1986, Life magazine described NV 50 as such and said their were no attractions or points of interest along the 287 mile stretch and recommended that drivers have " survival skills " to travel the route. Nevada put a positive spin on this article and now has a passport that can be stamped along the way. This highway follows the old pony express route. It is lonely, and hot in July, but it is historic and everyone along the way was friendly. As the passport says, " If you consider yourself a traveler, rather than a tourist, if you welcome the twists and turns that come with a new adventure, then this belt of Nevada highway was paved just for you".
We took our time leaving Ely. It was 80 degrees, 77 in the Mtn passes. Saw 2 patches of Black eyed Susan's. Started thinking of my brother. Robert and Sara rode with us in Robert's Indian and sidecar. They did some filming of us while we were riding and then an interview by an old general store in Eureka. It was shaded and quiet. It is also, another place I dropped Stormy -- see 9R's wresting pic on FB. LOL. We had lunch in Austin at a great little place called Cafe International. Met a 9 yr. old girl sitting at the counter on a stool. Her name was Chloe. She was learning how to cook and she was good with money. We told her about the sister's ride, she thought her mother would be interested, so we gave her a card. She looked at the word Centennial and said, " the T gives that word it's life, it is it's soul". We were blown away. Our angel. Sara later looked up what the name Chloe meant. It is Greek and means "Young shoot, new growth -- a powerful name for a spirited woman". It fit perfectly.
Before lunch and after our interview, as we started to take off, my gear shifter fell off. ---- Luckily the torq screw was still in it and I had tools. Robert put it back on for me, as I sat on stormy to make sure it was in the right position. Of course, it took 3 times to determine that. Everyone was patient and this time we used loctite.
Outside of Austin, we dropped down onto 722. -- it was cooler and more interesting -- went through a couple of passes which was fun. I hung back and watched Robert and 9R play. We saw fires, and watched Mountain Goats that climbed sheer rock cliffs. We stopped at the shoe tree..... See photos on FB for these days. We passed a mountain of sand that reminded me of the dunes in Corolla, NC.
As we did the last 52 mile stretch on 50 into Carson City, the road was pushing up heat, the sun was in our faces and I saw 4 riders. In front was Dad, then his grandson, my son, Tommy. Next was my brother, Jody, and me. We rode together -- a dream come full circle. No words.
Pulled into Carson City around 5:30 --- long day, we were hot and tired. There were a lot of riders joining the ride here to go into San Francisco tomorrow. There was a meet and greet at 7 --- but we still had work to do on our own bikes and 73 yr. old Holly from Canada had asked 9R for some help with her chain. We decided to fore go the meet and greet and just take our time. Tomorrow would be crazy, best to be calmly prepared. Around 8, LISA headed downstairs to pick up the dinner I had ordered. She texted me, get down here immediately ---NOW --- Hurry....... I head down in my sweats, t-shirt without bra and flip flops --- as I walk into the room -- Lisa yells my name and everyone starts clapping, I get pulled up for my AWARD. Embarrassed but overwhelmed with gratitude --- all cross country riders received a medal. 9R got a standing ovation when she got hers --- she was thanked for her service. Very cool, very thoughtful.
Today was the day. We would complete "The Sisters Centennial Ride" in San Francisco.
Today was Tommy's birthday. This morning, I read that one of my schoolmates lost her daughter to a post childbirth infection. Insanity. My mind was reeling as we headed W towards Lake Tahoe State Park. Low 60's --- beautiful ride through pines around the lake. Headed up to Donner Pass --- temps dropped to 50's -- I had to turn on my hand grip heaters.
Once in CA, there were the familiar brown velvet hills dotted with oaks. But the brown was actually more of a mix between camel hair and straw --- very light and dry. Could smell the dryness. I felt home. I love California, but I hate the traffic. I-80 was a mess. One big rig breakdown, and accidents put us really behind schedule. Again with lane splitting options --- still too wide with panniers and still uncomfortable. Again, we went down the shoulder of the road in 1st and 2nd gears. Once on 37, we were fine, until the Mare Island Causeway. We pulled off to regroup --- figured out that even with the 20 min. Back-up it was the fastest way. By this point, we were pretty sure we would miss the group photo and the staging to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. At this point, we just wanted to finish the ride safely. Deep breath and onward. We rode the shoulder over the causeway as well ---- beautiful orange CA. Poppies welcomed and encouraged our progress.
We made it to Ft. Baker in time --- craziness. --- dancing, screaming, hugging, crying. We were not the last in, still one more. We were staged for photo and they rolled in to our cheers!
The San Francisco Motorcycle Club led us over the bridge and around and through the city and eventually to their clubhouse on Folsom St., where they had a beautiful spread set up for us. I originally thought it was 100 plus bikes, but it was closer to 250 going through red lights and stop signs --- The club did an amazing job of blocking. So cool to ride to and along the Pacific Ocean and smell the sea and salt air. Past the Cliff House -- that triggered some memories of a beach party -- some 36 years ago?
Lisa and I made our way to our hotel on Van Ness. Parking was in a garage and there were cars and motorcycles backed up and blocking movement. It was a cluster f..., if ever there was one. People were yelling and honking. Everyone was exhausted and on an emotional roller coaster. Pete, the husband of Cathy, one of the cross country riders and a friend we made along the way, was doing a great job of trying to clear up the flow into the garage. Something the hotel staff should have been doing, in my humble opinion. The problem was that you needed a key to get into the garage --- couldn't get a key until you checked in --- then it was discovered you didn't need a key, just had to push another button and take that ticket with you when you checked in......... Anyway, I parked out of the way --- and checked us in, Niner went around the gate, lol. And found us a place to park in the garage.
Party at the Dainese D-Store on S. Van Ness. Really fun!!! We left our bikes parked and ubered. We got there late but before closing speeches. Free beer and food, Trevor ( ColoradoAdvMoto) was there as we walked in --- he said there is a really tall gorilla walking around here somewhere. I was so excited -- Another one of my favorites from Rawhyde who now works for BMW Mottorad and Adventure Brothers. Shawn Thomas! Big Hugs --- his daughter Hailey had ridden up with him. He carried me on the back of his bike for 2 hrs. In Feb. of 2015, when I broke my leg. That's another story.
Great, Great time ---- 9R presented Alisa, this ride was her dream, with a US Flag that she had flown in Afghanistan. The timing was perfect -- she jumped in right after Alisa presented "Final Salute" with a check. Very emotional.
Goodbye's and questions ---- where do we go from here.