Thursday, April 26, 2012

I was Never There

California, The Golden State, the land of glitter and dreams. It is a state that sits next to mine, yet I rarely brave the harsh desert and explore it. Most of my dearest motorcycling friends also live there when I stop and think of it yet, I see them only in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. It is time to make the change and head west. I will be accompanied by Howard, who being retired has no real reason not to go. The ride is the NorCal meet SoCal Riders but being NoCal boys we have no problem crashing this party. It is one that has been on my list of must rides for several years. 

Getting ready to leave and I am so excited about the ride ahead. Satellite Radio is a major deal when crossing the desert. That and for the first time I am using a camel-back water system to stay hydrated.

We head west late in the morning, but only need to ride about 400 miles to our first night stop in Lancaster CA where we will hook up with the Desert Rats and the LA crowd tomorrow morning. Nothing like 100 degree weather, a straight road, and traffic like this to make me want to trailer out there next trip. 

We soon are out of the worst heat just beyond Palm Springs and I remember why I like the high desert north of the LA metro area. We roll into Lancaster, where we agree to have dinner with Don and his wife downtown. 

After a quick off loading of gear in the hotel, we ride into downtown Lancaster where they are having a farmers market. 

Howard checking out the local goods

The veggies looked amazing

We have dinner with Don and his wife and take off back to the hotel so we are ready to ride in the am. 

After a quick breakfast at the hotel we are off to meet the peeps at the local Starbucks.


The usual suspects are there from the LA area along with a few new people who I meet for the first time. A note. I didn't really try and remember names this trip. My apologies but for me this trip was about riding with my mistress. I promise to be better next ride.

Don, “the Duck" is our ride captain and he wastes no time getting us the hell off the interstate and on to the back roads. As always, we spread out depending on our style. I am in the middle for the first miles getting my groove going and enjoying the open high desert scenery. 

This was the last section of straight road we would see for HOURS!!!! And there is something totally awesome about these massive wind turbines that I find amazing. 

After a short stop in Tehachapi, getting about 10 more riders we take off! 

The first road we come to just out of Bakersfield is full of dips, tight S corners, and amazing farmland and the start of the foothills of the Sierras with their oaks and scrub pines. I begin by sticking to the tail lights of Howard and a guy wearing Red Leathers, a half Helmet, and riding their RT's. The cobwebs quickly leave my brain and I throw myself (literally and mentally)into the riding. 

Every road is new to me, so as you go into every corner, or go over every rise, you simply don't know where you are going to turn next. Once in a while you have a nano second to look at the GPS, which is scaled to show every curve. But you can't trust it so there is still the need to have all senses on. No radio, no thoughts of work, looking at the cows on the side of the road or even thinking about how sore you may be at the end of the day. 

Some pictures from the riding. 

We stop in Porterville for Lunch and pick up some additional riders. 

After this break we head out North towards Fresno with even better twisities.

Our leader who I think studied theology some time in his past smile

Seriously Don, you made my day with such a great ride..

See what I mean!!

More up downs, around. And even though Howard, Cornelius, and Jose tried to shake me, I never let them.

Taking a deserved break before the last 40 miles into Course Gold to see the group.

We got to Joe, the host's house at about 6:30 and we were whipped but with smiles on our faces. A note here. Not many people would open their home to people they don't know. Joe had over 40 people at his house for the whole weekend and it was great. He and his wife Juanita deserve a great amount of praise for taking such good care of us. Thank you.

Party HQ

Our luxurious accommodations (by Bangladeshi standards) motel the Black Hawk.

How do you describe the black hawk.
1. There is peeling Pergo floors
2. Paneling that had about 4000 stainless steel Screws in it holding up the wall between the room and the shower
No closet, but a rail with hangers from Kohl's... (I told you Larry I was a size 4 and I my jacket fit on the hanger.
5. The lady at the front desk handed me a bottle of suave shampoo for my stay....the big one you get at Costco

Note the screws in the paneling

But it would hold me for a night. Howard and I decided that we would probably not spend a second one there and head to someplace a little better. 

We make it through the night and meet the folks for breakfast.

There are about 30 people there already and all are off to do different things. My buddy Phil is not around though which is a bummer. Ed, Howard, Jose and I decide to ride to the park and check out Yosemite. 

Like all rides there is always at least one issue. This morning Larry and Sue are having tire problems. The crew gets to work finding and patching the leak. I heard there was more to this after we left and Sue owes me that tale.

Jose ready to moto. 

As is Ed

We take another amazing road through Ahwanee and into Mariposa before entering the Park from the West. The Flowers and views are amazing, and despite the fact that it is a free weekend, the park traffic is bearable.

The weather is perfect for riding

And snow some pictures from the park

Everywhere you look it is worthy

We hear that Glacier Point has opened up and decide to head that way. At our first turn out Phil shows up on his new S-10 Super Tenere made by Yamaha. It is a nice moto.

The background makes me look even more handsome than in real life. I didn't think that was possible. smile

It is amazing 

Whats a Little Snow when you are on an adventure

I was in awe and would have love to take a week to shoot pictures there.

We ride down the mountain barely keeping up with a BMW Z3. Acutally the idiot was doing 27mph and not using the pull outs. All of us mentioned this to him several times both in english and in sign language. Alas some idiots just don' get it. 

As we get closer to Joe's house, I get the chance to ride the Yammie

It is more like my GT than my GS on the road. Phil has the bike set up perfectly as usual and farkled to the nines. I really enjoyed riding it, but think I better hold off getting another bike for a while. 

Upon arrival we all exchange wild exaggerated tales of the day. Here Ed is explaining how he used an improvised zip line to get his bike down from Glacier point to the Ahwanhee lodge to avoid 3 squirrels crossing the road. At least that is what I think he may have been 2 squirrels and a chipmunk visiting from Reno. 

Our host grilling mushrooms. Its ok I think he has a card from the state saying he can work with Mushrooms.

About 8pm Howard and I suit up and ride about 220 miles to Tehachapi and sleep for a few hours. I get up every day early so by 5am I am already in Mojave making for home

Made it back to the barn by 11:30 and have to say it was a trip for the ages. 

Can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mr Tommy Goes to Washington

Those of us living in this Republic spend a great deal of time complaining about Congress, voting the same people back in more often than not and yet we know so little about how government works or what the city is really about.

I have recently gotten to spend some time working in DC with our government relations people trying to influence our Congress on some issues that are important to my company as well as I believe the good of the country.

While there, I have the opportunity to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my wife as well as explore the town with my our dearest friends Larry and Louise. It is going to be a great weekend!

We are staying at the Liaison Hotel in DC. It is a block from the Capitol and I recommend it to anyone. They really took amazing care of Laura and I. Sending up a very nice bottle of Champagne and Chocolate covered Strawberries for our anniversary.

Its Friday and we set off to see the sites. My office is right across from the Capital. I mean right there and I take the gang up to see our technology center

Think of it as a way to show people in government what products we build and how we are working on some very cool technology.

The conference Room in my office. I have no idea if that guy has any real power.

From there we head up to the penthouse area where we hold functions.

It is a great view and I am really happy I get to share it. This is the first time ever I have been able to show my wife anyplace I work.

From here we set off to see the National Gallery and explore the museums. It has been years since I got a chance to have several days to explore DC. And the weather is great!

My man checking out some of the paintings done in the first part of the 19th Century. Very Very cool stuff here.

The stories these paintings tell. You get sucked into each of them

We wandered around some more and found some painting by foreigners

They had some pictures by this french guy.

Some Italian Guy who seems to never get the ladies to smile.

We looked at a lot more but I didn't take many pictures. Some of the things we saw were amazing, others I didn't enjoy. Picasso is beyond me I am afraid. I walked right by Samuel Morse's Picture of the Louvre only to read afterwards what it was and what it meant. It is now going to be a goal of mine to learn more about these paintings and go back and spend several days there.

From here we went over to the Air and Space Museum. It was super crowded, I felt like I was at work and I have seen these all before. I want to go to the new annex but I am not really sure I will go back to it again.

It speaks volumes that other than a quick shot I posted on Facebook, I took only one picture in the Air and Space Museum. One of Curtis' motos

We did have a grand dinner at a swank DC Steakhouse but prior to going we had a drink in the bar and it is here we discovered the "The Incumbent"

The next morning we rise early and decide to walk the mall. Friday had us log about 6miles And today we are planning to do a bit more.

The weather is amazing! Even the Birds are hitting the pool this morning.

We head out and decide to stop at the "Newseum" which Tripadvisor gives high marks.

WOW! This museum is one of those places that I am so glad we stop at. It is NOT free like the Smithsonian Museums, but worth a visit. They give you an orientation movie that explains the museum and then allow you to go off and see exhibits. We stay almost 3 hours exploring.

It is good to know that somewhere out there ALF is still Front Page Material. The Newseum puts out over 50 Front Pages every day. It is fascinating to read them in a row next to each other.

It is not until I get to the roof and look towards our Capital that I finally figure out what is really wrong with Washington.


Scary people...scary

The bathrooms are hilarious there as they have tiles with real life headlines that I am sure the editors would love to have another shot at.

We are in a merry mood as we leave and decide to lunch at a local hot dog stand prior to moving out and seeing more of the Mall.

It is fun to watch the people in DC.

After Lunch we begin the march down the mall

Once we got to the Lincoln Memorial, I found the trips "Album Shot"

We are a week early for the Cherry Blossum Festival in DC but the Winter has been so warm, we are seeing them in Full Bloom. It makes Louise Happy which means we all are!

The Jefferson Memorial is our final stop and we are pooped. We then head home via Cab to some great Fried Chicken. What a glorious day!

Sunday arrives and we are off again to see a few more sights concentrating today on the Natural World

Who doesn't love dinosaurs!?

My children love to think of me as an overgrown Caveman and relish the stories about the last Ice Age that my Dad and I lived through.

I don't know where they get it from

I will miss you Fluffy

I had no idea they have a Jesus Perez Exhibit going on in DC

Of course they have to bring this up....

All I want is to get my wife a little something to remember the Trip with.

We spend the last night in Georgetown.

We will be back DC. There is still so much to see and do. And a special note of thanks to Larry, Louise for joining Laura and I. Too often we go months without seeing each other, but never doubt that both Laura and I treasure every single minute we are together. In a Black and White World, I am glad I have you in our lives.