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Offline Scratch

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Nevada/California 2013-14
« on: January 07, 2014, 09:45:18 PM »
Early in December we decided to bug out from the dreary, cold mid-Atlantic region and spend the holidays someplace warm.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV) our decision was made a little late in the season to find much of anything down in Key West, our usual winter haunt.  After some discussion we elected instead to snag a cheap flight to Vegas, rent some motorcycles, and make it a proper road trip. 

I'd had an excellent rental experience with BMW of Las Vegas in 2010, so after looking over the various Eagle Rider options (Harley, Honda & BMW) we defaulted to them.  Owing to our current GSA affinity Tammy & I both chose 'regular' R1200GS'.  We packed up our aftermarket Russell and Sargent seats in a large suitcase and took them along  - had we to do it over again we would've taken our windshields as well.  Rue being height challenged, she settled on an F700GS with low seat option.

We flew out from BWI the morning after Christmas day on Spirit Airlines. 

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I got a pretty good deal on a room at the Bellagio.  While we'd been in Vegas several times on past x-country rides and usually stayed at HIE or the equivalent, I was curious about the Bellagio and wanted to experience it.  The Bellagio experience over holiday weekend turned out to be like rush hour on the New York subway, with gambling and liquor.  Mobs of foreign tourists barging in the queues, forming human pyramids and scaring the children. 

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To get around town for the two days before picking up our bikes I rented an FJ Cruiser.  Very submarine-like; not a favorite.  We hit on the Black Bear Diner as our 'go to' breakfast place.

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We visited various attractions like the Clark County Museum (the best $2 tour you'll find in the area),

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http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/parks/pages/clark-county-museum.aspx

the Pinball Hall of Fame (row upon row of working vintage pinball machines - a real labor of love), http://www.pinballmuseum.org/

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and the National Atomic Testing Museum (if you visit, skip the hokey 'Area 51' exhibit).   

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We ventured past the 'Pawn Stars' shop located in lovely north Vegas and kept right on driving after seeing the line around the block. 

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 11:42:48 AM by Scratch »

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2014, 10:16:26 PM »
Saturday afternoon we visited BMW Motorcycles of Las Vegas and picked up the bikes.  After a short ride out to Red Rock Canyon (which had a traffic jam all the way out to the highway) and back we rode back to the hotel for a final dinner.  The nadir of the whole crushing 'balls to the wall' Bellagio experience was seeing some foppish Ukranian tourist walking his jewel-collared foofoo dog through the casino stopping just long enough to let his mutt shit on the promenade floor, then carry on without a glance back.  :o

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Sunday morning bright and early we were loaded up and heading south out of Helltown on I-15.  My original planned route was 95 through Searchlight, but a fierce windstorm put a damper on that (the sandstorm caught up with us nevertheless right at the NV/CA border).  The ride took us through the eerie beauty of the Mojave desert and Joshua Tree NP.

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Our first stop on the ride was Palm Springs.

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 06:24:42 PM by Scratch »

Offline bluepoof

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2014, 10:57:41 PM »
:inlove: One of my favorite areas in the country to ride! Looking forward to more.  :inlove:

Was the pinball museum worth a visit?  I'm always looking for off-strip stuff to see when we're in town for hockey tournaments.  We did the atomic museum last year and liked it.

Offline Jim

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2014, 11:12:58 PM »
+2 on the pinball museum.  Entrance fee?  I assume the machines aren't quarter operated, no?  (also assuming the machines can be played - at least I'd hope so).

A quick search... (didn't catch the link above  :o )

http://www.pinballmuseum.org/
Quote
All machines are available for play, so not only can you see them, you can actually play your old favorites. The pinball machines are all restored to like-new playing condition by people that love pinball and understand how a machine should work. All older pinballs are set to 25 cents per play, and newer 1990s models are set to 50 cents per play.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:19:06 AM by Jim »
sodapop6620: You are never lost as long as you have gas.  Mrs. DantesDame: Side roads lead to interesting discoveries

Online viffergyrl

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2014, 11:19:19 PM »
:popcorn:
The world is a mess. It has always been a mess. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.  Joseph Campbell

Online M.Brane

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 12:00:32 AM »
The ride took us through the eerie beauty of the Mojave desert and Joshua Tree NP.

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 As someone who grew up close to that area to me it's not eerie at all. That is what that part of the desert is supposed to look like. It's when I go to areas where there used to be Joshua Trees that it seems eerie.

Offline demenshea

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 12:23:47 AM »
Absolutely love that country and can't wait for more!!
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment." Papa-Ken

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 11:15:26 AM »
Monday, January 30th

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Having celebrated late into the previous evening at Las Casuelas Nuevas restaurant in Rancho Mirage, we let the weather warm up a bit before bugging out.  This day's ride was a perfect 10, beginning with the twisty mountain goodness of the 'Pines to Palms' Highway 74 south of Palm Springs.

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We hopped on 371 to connect with Hwy 79 south to Warner Springs, then hung a right onto 76 to Lake Henshaw.  East Grade Road (CR7) took us up the long winding road to Palomar Observatory.  I'd last ridden that route in 2001 on a friend's borrowed Cagiva Gran Canyon.

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The ride back down from Palomar on South Grade Road was even twistier (note to self: next time reverse the route).

Of course being in the general vicinity, we had to stop in Julian for some apple pie.  Even though it was a Monday it appeared everyone else in the general vicinity had the same idea -- the experience was not unlike the Bellagio.

We rolled into San Diego late in the afternoon, with the setting sun glaring into our eyes, and landed at the Blue Sea Beach Hotel.   We were treated to a complimentary upgrade to a fine two-room suite facing the ocean. http://www.blueseabeachhotel.com/

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« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 12:13:30 PM by Scratch »

Offline Max Wedge

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 03:20:14 PM »
 :bigok: I'm liking this. I wish I would have thought of that.
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Offline Cablebandit

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 03:36:26 PM »
Looking forward to the rest of this since Beth will be in San Diego later this year.

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 05:28:41 PM »
Tuesday, January 31st

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After an all-too-brief reunion dinner with our old riding buddy 'Pix'; a San Diego native and owner of the aforementioned Cagiva Gran Canyon, we left SD the next morning and slabbed it up I-15 as far as Fallbrook.  From there we took some preliminary curvey backroads further north to Lake Elsinore, before turning westward again on the Ortega Highway.  Traffic was very light and we were able to enjoy the twisties at a brisk pace with a minimum of police presence.   I had wanted to incorporate the Angeles Crest Highway on this leg, but reports I got from the local riders were that parts of it at higher altitudes were dicey.  :( Next time out.

After the 'good' riding was done we still had to get through LA, so at San Juan Capistrano it was back to the slab (79 and 405) as far as Santa Monica.  We stopped for a late lunch, then followed the 1 a brief distance north to Topanga Canyon Road.  Traffic was a little heavier and we sorta slow chugged to its connection with Mulholland Highway - next time we'll explore Old Topanga Canyon Road as a shortcut.  Once on Mulholland though it was smooth riding again.  Along the way we did the expected motorcyclist stop - unexpectedly they were closed for New Year's Eve.  :crazy:

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In Santa Barbara we stayed at the Best Western Beachside; dinner that night was an easy walk to Chuck's Waterfront Grill overlooking the marina.  We were back and snoozing before the new year was rung in.  :redface:


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« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 08:09:44 PM by Scratch »

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 09:09:24 PM »
Wednesday, January 1st

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Breakfast the next morning was at Sambo's - the original and sole remaining restaurant of the chain.  The 360 mile ride to Pacifica (at Rockaway Beach just south of San Francisco) was pretty much a leisurely straight shot up the PCH. 

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We decided to make Thursday a 'down day' for sleeping in and exploring the San Francisco area.  To keep it simple (and in deference to Tammy's vicious head cold) we left the bikes at the hotel and  rented a car for the day.   I'd ridden across the Golden Gate several times on previous rides but hadn't explored the Marin Headlands.  Pretty interesting history.

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Online R Doug

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 11:40:24 AM »
What an excellent diversion from Baltimore weather! 

:popcorn: 
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Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 11:48:19 AM »
In SF proper we visited Pier 39 (another crushing Bellagio-ish experience), had a sushi lunch at Hana Zen, looked across the bay at Alcatraz, and enjoyed watching the resident sea lions bask, swim and noisily shove each other - again not unlike the Bellagio. 

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Tammy hadn't yet ridden a cable car so we worked that into the day. 

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Not having ridden the streetcars, we took one back to the Pier.  I have dim memories of riding the old DC Transit street cars as a child; thought this might have been one but a quick Google search showed what was left of the DC fleet went to places like Barcelona, Sarajevo and Fort Worth.

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Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2014, 12:12:15 PM »
Friday, January 3rd

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Bleech.  That day we had to make time from San Francisco to Ridgecrest (just outside Death Valley).  385 miles; spent it pretty much hammer down on I-5 most of the way, with little quality riding except the final 100-mile stretch on Highway 178 between Bakersfield and Ridgecrest.  That was nice, the route took us through the extreme lower part of the Sequoia National Forest and Kern River Preserve; and for once we weren't riding off into the sunset.  8)  In Ridgecrest I can highly recommend Casey's Steaks & BBQ - great service, good beers and fall-off-the-bone ribs.

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Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2014, 12:47:35 PM »
Saturday, January 4th

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All good things must come to an end.  :-[ 

We left in the freezing cold morning.  Although there are more direct roads to Death Valley out of Ridgecrest, reports were that Trona-Wildrose/Panamint Valley Road was closed due to flood damage.  That left us a nearly 60 mile jaunt up 395 to Olancha to get to the turnoff.  I'd been through DV before; Tam and Rue not though so we took our time. 

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We rolled back to the dealership in Vegas with plenty of time to spare considering our flight out wasn't scheduled until 11:47 pm, and didn't actually take off until nearly 1:00 am.  If you're ever stuck at McCarran Aiport for any length of time, the AMEX Centurion Lounge is the place to hang out.

The flight back home was uneventful - we took the rest of Sunday to sleep in and adjust to the time (and temp) diff.  Cat A immediately accepted our return and Cat B gradually stopped freaking out and hiding.  All in all our mileage was about 1800 & change - the weather was absolutely perfect the entire trip. 

This might be a future trend.  :)

Offline Cablebandit

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2014, 12:52:16 PM »
 :clap:

Offline MrsCablebandit

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2014, 03:52:29 PM »
Retired people suck.  :twofinger:

KIDDING! Well done! I've been to Palm Springs, San Fran, and Vegas. I'll add San Diego in July. None of them on two-wheels, though. CB and I need to do something about that!
I used to make a bigger impression.

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Offline Max Wedge

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 09:08:42 PM »
 :bigok: :smiley_thumb:
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Offline Moto-Angler

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2014, 02:11:35 AM »
 :clap: Great ride report!  Great trip planning as well.  Much of your trip was conducted on the roads I choose to travel when leaving or returning from my home here in the desert, well done.  I was surprised to see that the Trona-Wildrose/Panamint Valley Road are still closed. They were closed when I was in DV back in Oct.

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2014, 09:32:33 AM »
:clap: Great ride report!  Great trip planning as well.  Much of your trip was conducted on the roads I choose to travel when leaving or returning from my home here in the desert, well done.  I was surprised to see that the Trona-Wildrose/Panamint Valley Road are still closed. They were closed when I was in DV back in Oct.


Thanks.    Next time we won't stay in Vegas as long, to give us more road time and less boring slab time.

Last I read on FB was that the road through Trona to Panamint Valley was expected to open 'sometime' this spring. https://www.facebook.com/DeathValleyRoadConditions

At that time of the year all of the good mountain passes were closed.  http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2014, 09:33:49 AM »
.

Online radon222

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2014, 08:02:17 AM »
Great report Scratch,

I totally agree with Mrs. Cable --- 
Retired people suck.  :twofinger:

Offline Scratch

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2014, 08:04:05 AM »
Great report Scratch,

I totally agree with Mrs. Cable --- 
Retired people suck.  :twofinger:

Took ya long enough to get over here.  :wave:

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2014, 10:12:04 AM »
better late than never right?

Between work and Holiday travel and I haven't had a ton of surfing time.  I was checking-in  over at .net periodically and noticed that things were getting really quiet over there.  Just didn't know where ya'll went.


Offline demenshea

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Re: Nevada/California 2013-14
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2014, 12:18:50 PM »

All good things must come to an end.  :-[ 

We left in the freezing cold morning. 

Though freezing cold, the skies are just gorgeous!  I love the clear and cold days, it keeps the roads clear of rif-raf.   ;D
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment." Papa-Ken