Friday, May 1, 2009

North through the Wine Country to Clear Lake

So when the weather forecasts started showing the first rain we’d seen in a few weeks falling right over the weekend of the trip, we chose to interpret the 50% chance of torrential downpour to mean that there was half a chance of no rain at all and hit the road Friday morning. The plan was to head north from San Francisco through the Napa wine country and via backroads to Clear Lake. From Upper Lake, we’d head into the Mendocino National Forest and spend the rest of the day testing the new bike on the off highway vehicle trails before finding a campsite.

NOTE: Because of the weather, we didn't get the camera out much. To fill in the blanks, I have taken the liberty of creating VERY realistic pictures of what our pictures would have looked like.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

Well, the rain started before the first coffee break and pretty much didn’t let up all day. We made the best of it though, winding through shortcuts Dave knew from growing up in Santa Rosa and passing huge ranches and family wineries nestled in the hills. By the time we got to Clear Lake, we were pretty well soaked through and a check at the ranger station in Upper Lake informed us that our route on the M1 road the next day through the forest was still blocked by snow at Hull Mountain. Feeling like we’d had our fill of exposure to the elements for the day, we retreated to an Indian casino a few miles back to see about a room and warm up (the tables!). If the rain let up at all, we’d head back into the forest and hit the trails without all our camping gear weighing down the bikes.

From 2009-05-03 Ave of the Giants Motorcycle Trip

By the second happy hour beer in the deeply, deeply depressing casino bar, the rain was coming down harder and harder and the guy sitting next to us was yelling louder and louder in a slurred but grizzly voice to no one in particular “Does anybody shoot some pool?” We tried our luck at the blackjack table and with the first withdrawals depleted, suited back up for a ride to a dinner spot up the road called the Blue Wing. Nothing special but got the job done.

Back at the casino, Dave felt that the establishment “had to pay” for his earlier embarrassment at the tables and left the room a man on a mission. Ann and I happily got ready for bed and settled into the first episode of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries on the iPhone. All our friends are into it and we’ve learned that you either keep up with the shows or endure hours of conversation with no idea why the Greek God of the Sun can’t stay away from some chick named after a ubiquitous coffee chain.

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