RideAbout65.2

RideAbout65.2 – Day 1 – Natchez Trace Parkway into Mississippi

Total distance: 270.22 mi
Download file: Day1.gpx


Today’s Mileage: 270 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 270 miles

 

I finally escaped the gravitational pull of my office and blasted off on RideAbout65.2. I soon encountered a bit of a weather hold – had planned to take the Natchez Trace Parkway to Jackson, MS and visit my cousin in Brandon – then continue down the parkway to Natchez. I got a late start down the parkway as planned but after consulting the weathermap (what did we do before smartphones?) I decided to route around the rain – that sent me north and west so I did not get to Jackson tonight. I will visit my cousin in the morning instead – that’s the good thing about not having a schedule.

It was great to ride those roads over in West Tenn around the river where I spent so much time as a teenager back in the 60’s – riding my Triumphs and other bikes on those same roads…

Raining…on radar looks like only spot in the state. But a lot better than snow and besides, the Ducati is waterproof…I think.

Day 1 video below.

 

This just about says it all....

This just about says it all….


 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 2 – Through Mississippi to Natchez on the River

Total distance: 275.48 mi
Download file: Day2.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 276 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 546 miles

 

Today was just a day to get somewhere for a visit – the weather did not cooperate with me yesterday so I did not make it to Brandon, MS for the long-awaited visit with my cousin. This morning raining again – got a late start waiting to see if the rain would move out – broke the back roads only rule and just hoofed it down I55 while it was raining – finally broke out of the rain about two and a half hours later. Raingear worked good as usual and no seepage to make me uncomfortable. The interstate is easier to manage in the rain – no cross traffic or starts and stops to fog shield – otherwise just drone on…yuck. Had great visit with my cousin and her daughter, ate some great food, and stayed all afternoon instead of just an hour or so. But rain stayed away and had plenty of daylight to get to Natchez for the night. I might try to start doing something more interesting tomorrow…or not.

Tonight at my Hampton Inn, I ended up in a handicapped room (no snide jokes!) – they must have thought I was blind because the view from the window was, well, no view…weird.

My Room with a "View" in Natchez!

My Room with a “View” in Natchez!

RideAbout65.2 – Day 3 – Natchez to Orange, Texas

Total distance: 267.19 mi
Download file: Day3.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 267 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 813 miles

 

Headed out from scenic Natchez, MS by the Miss River down to Krotz Springs, LA at the suggestion of my brother-in-law Tommy to find the location where they filmed the last scene in Easy Rider (the scene where Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda get shot and crash). There is no marker or anything but a lot of chat on the internet – apparently there is a big following of the Easy Rider movie lore.  The location is about 4 or 5 miles north of town.  Krotz Springs, what can you say – I suppose it was a big deal when all the movie folks and stars came to town. The stretch of road is just that – I did video the ride and maybe if you watch the movie along with it you can figure out the spot where they were filming (video links below).

Pretty much filled up a morning just doing pretty much nothing – but that is what the RideAbout65 series is all about. Click on the video links at bottom of post to see the scene as it looks today and to see the original movie clip.

Through Louisiana and on to Texas. The plan was to visit Lacy, multi-time ISDE Women’s Team rider extraordinaire and her husband up in their Texas paradise but arrival schedule and her work schedule did not mesh – so next time. Her husband invited me to come on up and go fishing but since I am better at eating fish than catching them I decided to head on over toward Austin to meet up with my friend Pat for a little Hill Country riding.

Something nice about Texas: back roads have 70 and 75 mph speed limits. Texans apparently like to go fast – works for me.

Overall Day 3 is very scenic and good riding. Weather perfect – but there was a large group of bugs out to meet me in Louisiana. Will have to wash the bike in Austin – big splatts all over front of bike and me. Dropped down to Orange, TX for the night.

Krotz Springs, LA

Krotz Springs, LA

Entering Texas

Entering Texas

Speed sign

Speed signs on Texas back roads

 

 

 

 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 4 – Orange, Texas to Wimberley, Texas

Total distance: 342.23 mi
Download file: Day4.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 342 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 1155 miles

 

I had a very nice experience at the Hampton in Orange, TX.  Last night when I checked in there was a groundkeeper working out front, a Japanese gentleman perhaps about my age (60’s). He was very interested in my Ducati and seemed to know a lot about them, with my poor hearing and his broken English we spoke in gestures as much as words – but a wonderful conversation none the less. The next morning I was loading up when he appeared again, this time with his wife who also worked at the hotel. He introduced her and after she asked a few questions through him, she produced a carefully wrapped package containing a bottle of water and some energy bars. They presented the package to me with great ceremony and sincerity,and as we returned bows, they told me the purpose of the gift was to bring “Good luck in my travels” – Wow! Talk about good Karma – there are good people left in the world! With that scene resonating in my mind, I rode away feeling all’s right with the world. I had a great ride up north of Houston and down to the San Marcos airport to meet Pat at his hangar. We had a delicious meal nearby at the Gristmill Restaurant (http://www.gristmillrestaurant.com/) and then rode out to his place in Wimberly for a little bike maintenance and to stay the night.  We spent the rest of the evening visiting and getting ready for tomorrows hill country ride.

Photo below:

At Pat’s hangar in San Marcos – Pat has a sweet deal “babysitting” his friend Darren’s immaculately restored vintage T-34 airplane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_T-34_Mentor).  Very nice plane!  When I was stationed at Edwards AFB back in 1970 I had a part time job as an aircraft mechanic for the base aero club.  One of the club members landed the club’s T-34 without bothering to put the landing gear down (I don’t need no stinkin checklist!) – I had the job of repairing the sheet metal damage to the underside. When it came time to start riveting things back together, I enlisted Sandy to help me (pregnant with Chelsea at the time).  She would get inside and hold the bucking bar against the rivets while I used the rivet gun on the outside…lots of fun nights…(Sandy may have a different take on this heartwarming story…)

T-34 and Me at Pat's Hangar

T-34 and Me at Pat’s Hangar

Pat's Gate - What is the movie reference?

Pat’s Gate – What is the Reference?

 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 5 – Texas Hill Country

Total distance: 333.09 mi
Download file: Day5.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 333 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 1488 miles

 

A quick look out the window revealed clouds ready to unleash their accumulated burden of moisture any moment – so with rain gear at the ready Pat and I rode into downtown Wimberley’s favorite homey breakfast spot – you could sort of tell the locals might be thinking as they watched us park, “you poor idiots are going to get wet”. After a hearty Texas sized breakfast we staggered out to the bikes and headed out of town and into the rain. Our first destination was the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum near Leakey, TX (http://www.lonestarmotorcyclemuseum.com/). On the way out of town we stopped at Kevin Schwantz’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Schwantz) and admired his what seemed to be miles of concrete driveway.

Kevin Swantz entry gate

Kevin Swantz entry gate

I was skeptical when Pat said there were some really nice roads in Texas but I have to admit he was leading me over some really pleasant and scenic terrain – enjoyable even in the rain.  BTW, Pat’s bike of choice today was a Yamaha FJR1300.  Our next stop of note on the way to Leakey was the “town” of Luckenbach – known more as a tourist and music destination – read more about it on this link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luckenbach,_Texas). The mandatory photos shot, we continued toward Leakey and the museum.

Luchenbach, Texas

Luchenbach, Texas

We arrived at the museum anxious to get right to the Ace Café section and sample the hot coffee since we had been riding in the rain all the way.  However, we were met instead by locked gates and no one around – it seems that the museum is now only open on Friday, Sat, and Sunday now. Disappointed about the museum but still enthusiastic about the days ride – Pat and I headed now toward the famous Three Sisters loop, named for the consecutively numbered roads: TX335, 336, and 337.  Pat promised me that this loop was the best Texas had to offer and would not disappoint.  Well, I thought, it is Texas… I vowed not to show my real thoughts if the roads turned out to be underwhelming.

 

 

 

Lone Star Motorcycle Museum

Lone Star Motorcycle Museum

On the 3 Sisters Loop - the sign says "Rust in Peace" - I agree...

On the 3 Sisters Loop – the sign says “Rust in Peace” – I agree…

The Three Sisters loop – now I can say it…Awesome!! Twisty, uphill, downhill, downhill turns, uphill turns, big sweepers, roller coaster style sections that unweight suspensions at the tops and compress them at the bottom.  The first section we rode in the rain and it was still great fun, then, like a miracle, the sun came out and dried the pavement up…now the real fun began. But of all the great twists and turns, the one feature that keeps coming back to me is the roller coaster sections – I keep rewinding and replaying over and over in my mind – it was simply a sensation you can’t stop thinking about.  I have been on off road sections like that in the desert but rarely on paved road sections with that profile.  I see why everyone raves about it…even if it is in Texas. Texas may not have real BBQ but they have at least 3 good roads.

At the end of the day we headed up to Rocksprings, TX and made a lucky hotel find – we stumbled upon the Historic Rocksprings Hotel (http://www.historicrockspringshotel.com/), a delightful place oozing with old school charm and friendliness.  We knew we were in the right place when the proprietress checked the weather on her computer to decide if we should park out front or in the covered garage.  She also recommended a good place to eat, after which we came back and sat out on the comfortable porch and compared notes of the days ride.  I would be heading up to Roswell, NM the next morning and Pat would go home – Rocksprings was picked for our evening stop since it was more in the direction I was headed.  We headed up to our rooms for a comfortable and restful sleep so we could pack up and leave early the next morning.

Day 5 video below.

Gilmer Hotel

Gilmer Hotel

Gilmer Hotel, Rocksprings, Texas

Gilmer Hotel, Rocksprings, Texas

 

May your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.  –  Edward Abby

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 6 – Rocksprings, Texas to Roswell, New Mexico

Total distance: 420.97 mi
Download file: Day6.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 421 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 1909 miles

 

Day 6 was sort of a long haul but a very scenic one – it rained off and on all day but have gotten used to the drill now. No big deal. Little Ducati humming happily along and even happier when there is a curve or two in the road.  Roswell, NM is tonight’s destination and tomorrow we will dig right into the UFO Museum and family history.

Welcome Home!

Welcome Home!

RideAbout65.2 – Day 7 – Roswell to Socorro, New Mexico

Total distance: 172.57 mi
Download file: Day7.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 173 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 2082 miles

 

The famous Roswell UFO Museum – I expected this “museum” to be pretty hokey, and, well it was – but it was also very interesting.  Especially reading all the newspaper articles of the time and recalling that there was no 24 hr news or really any TV news for the general public at that time…radio and newspapers. Lots of people visiting, here.

Heading out toward Socorro, pretty wide open and desolate.  But, beware of desolation!  In the middle of nowhere a cop car waited patiently at the speed limit change area…for he knew they would come unknowingly into his clever trap…and they did, one after another until he had his fill of donut dollars.  Yes, I too was selected as a donut donor for this day.  The cop was a bike guy and I think if I had been alone he might have just given me a donut warning but with the group of cars all stopped together with me, he could not really just let me go and not them….well, he could have but he did not.

All in all, the Day 7 route from Roswell to Socorro was an excellent ride except for that little meeting with the local authorities at the very endSocorro is the closest town to the Very Large Array (VLA) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Large_Array) which would have hotels, etc.

 

 

 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 8 – Socorro, New Mexico to North Phoenix, Arizona

Total distance: 388.77 mi
Download file: Day8.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 389 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 2471 miles

 

I woke up to a beautiful and chilly morning in Socorro – I had to break out the electric vest to keep warm, amazing, since by the end of this day I would be down to the mesh jacket because the heat.  The elevation here in Socorro is about 5000 or more feet. I would spend most of the day at higher elevations and cooler temperatures before dropping down into the Phoenix area and heat.  I headed out Route 60 for about 50 miles over to the VLA, then continued on Route 60 through the Cibola and Sitgreaves National Forests and the towns of Datil and Show Low (wonder how they got that name?).  Then I took 260 thru Payson and the Tonto National Forest and finally 87 into the North side of Phoenix.  I decided to brave the Phoenix area to visit my friends Don and Todd.  We would be having breakfast and a visit on Monday morning.

Stopped for a neat visit to the VLA.  The VLA was featured prominently my favorite movie, “Contact”.  I met a group of French tourists doing the walking tour at the same time. Had a very good time trying to communicate…While we where there they repositioned the dishes – really impressive thinking about what they might be looking for that morning, maybe ET? After a fun tour with the French group we all headed out to the highway. On the way out, we had to stop and wait for a herd of Elk to cross the road – by the time I got my camera out they were gone – a nice touch for the morning. Now on West to Phoenix!

VLA Panorama

VLA Panorama

 

 

 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 9 – North Phoenix, Arizona to Temecula, California

Total distance: 392.79 mi
Download file: Day9.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 393 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 2863 miles

 

I met Don and Todd for an early breakfast before they went to work – had a long and enjoyable visit and then went outside to kick the tires on our bikes.  I don’t think either of them really thought my little Ducati was a proper steed for a trip across the country but then Todd has a Harley and Don has a big Yamaha cruiser.  They both reminded me that it would be very hot and I should stay hydrated and try to put as much distance between Phoenix and myself as quickly as I could.  To this end I decided to break my “no interstates” rule and jump on I-10 over to Blythe, CA and then head across 78 past Glamis to Brawley.  Out of Brawley I would stay on 78 and head into the hills and on to Julian, home of the famous Julian Apples. The road up to and out of Julian would be curvy and fun all the down into Temecula where I would spend the night.

Glamis is pretty much like the face of the moon – not much there unless you really love sand.  I have been riding there in the past with a paddle tire bike – that is fun – just standing around out there is not.

YeeHah!  The great road into Julian is shown on the separate map below.  The temperature dropped from over 100 degrees down on the desert floor to about 75 degrees or so around Julian.  That was a big relief – the ride from Phoenix to Brawley was pretty boring and grim with the high temps.

Video Link below.

Nice curvy road into Julian, CA

Nice curvy road into Julian, CA

Glamis Sand Dunes - pretty bleak without a sand rail or paddle tires on your bike

Glamis Sand Dunes – pretty bleak without a sand rail or paddle tires on your bike

 

 

 

 

 

RideAbout65.2 – Day 10 – Temecula to Palomar Observatory to Cypress, California

Total distance: 180.52 mi
Download file: Day10B.gpx

 

Today’s Mileage: 181 miles

Total Trip Mileage so far: 3044 miles

 

I made an early morning run up Palomar Mountain to the Observatory to see the famous 200 inch Palomar telescope. Great ride-Happy Ducati! Then equally good ride back down the mountain.  The famous Mount Palomar Observatory  was built in the 40’s – I remember as a Kid of about 10, I think, being keenly interested in the building of this telescope and all the wondrous discoveries that were made with it.  It continues to be a working telescope today.  It was awe inspiring to stand beneath it and think about how difficult it was to construct with the existing technology of the day.

Next I had a little work related activity for a couple of hours in Temecula during which I  ran into Jeremy Ketchum – I am not sure who was more surprised, him or me…!

After finishing up in Temecula I headed over to Lake Elsinore and across the ever popular Ortega Highway to Dana Point for the first view of the Ocean on this trip.  Ortega Highway from Lake Elsinore toward Dana Point is yet another very nice road – lots of traffic though. Arriving in Dana Point checks off a main goal of this trip, hitting the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.  To this point my Ducati and I have traveled about 3000 miles West,  it is time to turn right for a while.  So up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) through high-dollar land so full of cool cars and beautiful people (so they say).  Around Huntington Beach I cut over to Cypress to meet Texas Pat for dinner.

Video link below.

The route up Palomar - just a few turns and twists to make the Ducati happy...as well as me!

The route up Palomar – just a few turns and twists to make the Ducati happy…as well as me!


Tom Carter
Leipers Fork, Tennessee

Mechanical Engineering Consultant

Motorcycle Rider/ Racer/ Tester

Husband/ Dad/ Grandfather/ Great-Grandfather

Planet Earth Arrival 1947

First rode a motorcycle around 1958

Still riding today…