So nothing but brown velvet hills, dotted with Canyon Live Oaks. Although, they may actually be Interior Live Oaks, there is a difference, but that I forget. Think it has to do with elevation. The road itself was empty and Stormy and I were both content to silently go with the flow, until we reached Pinnacles. I didn't know much about Pinnacles NP, only that it is our 59th NP, created just two years ago. This is the park that drove me crazy during a conversation because I was sure there were 58 NP's. Google to the rescue, once again! Anyway, Pinnacles is named for the eroded remains of an extinct volcano. Most of it is protected wilderness, as it is a nesting area and release site for California Condors that have been hatched in captivity. I think there are about 33 of them there now. They were put on the endangered species list in 1967. I saw 3 of them flying outside of the park, once I knew what their wingspan in flight looked like. I think I saw a couple going into the park, but I can't be sure, didn't know what I was looking for. This park also has some caves and is home to several bat species. There is a colony of Townsend's big-eared bats, that stay in the park year round. White nose syndrome is not here!!
Nice, albeit short drive through the park, this is a hiking park, and it was way too hot this time of year for that. Why it was so empty. Beautiful campgrounds, Beautiful Park.
Butler Maps highlights hot springs on their maps. There was one about 53 miles from Pinnacles, so I decided to head there. Getting there, was a gorgeous ride on Panoche Rd. and Little Panoche Rd. However, Stormy was low on fuel, there really had been no where to fuel up the way I way coming in. So beautiful riding soon turned into worry as we hit our reserve. The road did not want to stop. Nothingness. Just brown velvet, live oaks and a very occasional ranch. I stopped 3 times to check my maps. And of course, no cell service. Finally, I came around a corner and saw green in the distance, knew that had to be it. What a surprise Mercey Hot Springs turned out to be....... Heaven! and just a few campers. Met a nice couple from Pismo Beach, CA. who also ride BMW GS's. Although they weren't on them for this trip. Found out that fuel was about 17 miles away, N on "The 5". We could make that, with the 30 ounces of extra fuel I had. Relieved, I unloaded, lubed Stormy's chain, checked her over, fluids, loose nuts, etc., then headed for a magnificent soak in a tub filled with hot mineral spring water. They had two tub areas, one where clothes are required and one where clothing is optional. No need to guess which area I headed to.
Had another soak with my morning coffee, completely alone, before heading off for Interstates all day. For the next 17 miles, I was running at 3000 RPM's, instead of 4300, pulling the clutch in on downhill grades, and using my brakes instead of my engine to slow down. There was probably something else I could have done to save fuel, but that was all I could think of. We made it! Never have I been so happy to see an Interstate.
Headed toward Oakland/San Francisco, I was mulling over a conversation I had with Chris and Phil, the couple I met yesterday aft. We were talking about motorcyclists not being seen. Phil observed that it's not that we aren't looking for motorcyclists or bicyclists, it's that we aren't used to seeing them, so when we look and see them, we don't see them because our mind isn't used to seeing them. I recall the training videos about Railroad Crossings for school bus drivers. When we cross the same tracks, sometimes 4 times a day, we stop and look, but we see what we are used to seeing -- empty tracks, even if a train is coming, unless we change our way of looking.
After Tommy died, I was coming to terms with my anger about his death. I was on my way to work after lunch, at the end of my own road. I stopped, looked left, looked right, then looked left again before making a left hand turn. Saw empty road. Started to pull out, heard a beep and slammed on my brakes, a motorcycle went by, and the driver had a huge smile. I just started shaking and sobbing. That was Tommy. Had that motorcyclist not beeped, I would have hit him. I meant to tell that story to Roy, don't know if I did. But I am reminded that I need to.
So I guess the point of this particular rambling is that when we look for motorcyclists or bicyclist, we need to EXPECT to see them.
Wasn't expecting to go into San Francisco until the way back down the coast, but traffic directed me that way, rather lack of traffic. But that way a myth...... Anyway, crossed the San Francisco bay first from Oakland into San Francisco and then from San Francisco into Marin County. Going through the city brought back a flood of memories, I recognized street names and just picked my way through. It was fun. Eventually made my way to 101 and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. From there the fun ended. Traffic, Traffic, and more Traffic. And it was 2:30 in the aft. on a Mon. I was hoping to make it to Santa Rosa for the night, but gave up at Petaluma. I had been standing on my pegs because I get more air and I want traffic behind me to see me. Lane splitting is legal in CA. and every motorcyclist I saw was doing it. I even saw cars moving over for them. But I am just not comfortable doing it, especially with all my gear.
Petaluma used to be small town, really small town. Not the case, anymore. I asked the young woman who checked me in, she said it was "discovered" because of low housing costs so close to the city. The traffic was not an anomaly, it is the way it is now.