8-16-04, Reno, Nevada to Ramona, California
650 plus miles in one day.
It was drizzling when I left Reno. I drove down through Carson for my first ever pass through Nevada's capitol city. South of Carson was the Carson Valley. It was cool to cold. The drizzle stopped, but it remained cloudy. I drove for about an hour, and then stopped to put on my flannel insulated overshirt. My hands were numb. Back up, I rode 139 miles and stopped for gas. I had some hot coffee and quick talk with a group returning from Sturgis. They told me that the weather warmed as the road dropped into the Owens Valley. Shortly thereafter, I crossed the border into California, following the Walker River through the mountains. My impression was and is that California took the best and Nevada got the rest. The landscape turned greener and the mountains wetter as I crossed into Cali. I skirted Mammoth Mountain and the Long Valley Caldera. As the road dropped into the Owens Valley, the air became steadily warmer. I went through Bishop, the small town of Independence, and then stopped a short time later at a favorite rest stop. A small, high volume creek flows on the edge of the rest stop near the picnic area. Water in the desert: always a rarity and always appreciated. Volcanic debris and lava flows littered the landscape just to the south of the rest area.
I took off my insulated shirt. The next town up was Lone Pine, arriving around 3 PM. Over lunch, I checked the map. I would try to make it to Hesperia, in Riverside County, for my day's stop. The Sierra escarpment around Lone Pine had a few clouds, but it was clear enough to see the 14,000 foot plus peaks, including Whitney. On the other side of the valley, White Mountain had picked up a light dusting of snow.
The riding was hot and hard through Owens Valley. For the first time, I ran the bike out of gas and into the reserve at 189 miles. I flipped the lever as the bike began to falter. The engine resumed its normal thumping. There was a gas station in view about 2 miles ahead. The fill verified that the switch to reserve was indeed required. Constant climbing, high speed, and the heat and wind must have all combined to reduce mileage.
While stopped at the gas station, I again checked my distances. The San Diego mileage signs made a run home look doable. I drove to Adelante, which as always, was a windy spot in the middle of nowhere, gassed, called home, and got a time check. I was too close to quit, around two hours away. At Victorville, the 395 joined the I-15 and the I-15 dropped down from the Cajon Pass. The run was a high speed zoom down the mountain in light traffic. I don't like freeways, but going hell-bent down the mountain was fun. I bore left on I-215 and got a reminder as to why I disliked the 215: it goes from a freeway down to a single right lane exit to a continuation of the freeway. There was more confusion outside of Temecula, where the 215 rejoins the 15. A wrong turn can take you back on North 15.
The cities of Temecula and Escondido passed by in the dusk. Off at the Felicita exit in Escondido to the 78, and through the San Pasqual Valley. The road twisted, but it was not fun. The fixed headlight couldn't sweep to see into the curves. I rode with a line of cars and followed the leader. Left at Olive Street, right to 7th, to Main and Ramona's last stoplight on the eastern side of town, and I turned left.
All the way from Escondido to Ramona, a thunderstorm over the desert provided an intense lightning display. Sometimes the whole nimbus lit up like a lightbulb. Sometimes there were multiple strokes of cloud to ground lightning.3rd street, a turn right, it becomes Old Julian, it becomes Vista Ramona, and I reminded myself that most accidents occur close to home. Around the final 25 mph curve before my driveway, slowing all the way to warn the car behind me that I was turning, then a right into the gravel driveway. On the gas to get a little wiggle, to the top of driveway onto the patio, and shut the engine down for one last time. I was home.