Thursday, August 4, 2016

Golden State Finale – Part 1

My May Motocaching trip to California was fraught with GPS problems, a lot of cold and wet weather, considerable high traffic areas and the usual logistics problems.  This trip was different but, unfortunately, no less pleasant.

The old and the new
Grass Lake Rest Area
I left early Sunday, July 24th.  This was basically just a travel day and it was a long and hot one.  However, in retrospect I guess it wasn’t so hot because it was the only day of my trip where the temperature did not exceed 100 degrees (just 96).  Only stopping for 5 geocaches, mainly for breaks, I made the 525 miles to Klamath Falls, OR, around 5:30 pm after being on the road for eleven hours.  The Maverick Motel where I stayed was in the old downtown section of Klamath Falls.  Streets go every which way making it difficult to find your way around.
Coincidentally there was an old Triumph Bonneville parked next to mine at the motel. I used my Subway app to find one downtown less than a half mile away so I just hiked down for my dinner.

I left K Falls early Monday morning on Hwy 97.  Let the fun begin.  It was a nice pleasant morning.  My first stop was just over the CA line at the “Tallest Flagpole”.  Unbeknownst to me, this cache had been archived and was no longer there.  The flag pole was really tall but I had arrived before they had raised the flag which I would like to have seen.  I next stopped at a very pleasant rest area and almost had another DNF (did not find) but one of the employees helped me as the cache had been moved.  That took care of Siskiyou County.

 I got on I-5 briefly at Weed before turning east on Hwy 89 at Azalea. I stayed on Hwy 89 all the way through Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The park was beautiful but slow going as you can imagine.  I made only one stop to see a bubbling mud pot.

Lassen mud pot
Lassen Volcanic Natl Park
My new Triumph Tiger XRx gets better mileage than my other travelers did and also has a larger gas tank.  I figured 250 miles per tank would not be a problem.  I remember noting I had traveled 125 miles before reaching Lassen.  From then until Lassen there were no gas stations and, of course, there were none in the park.  I was getting concerned by the time I exited the park.  My concern grew as I turned south toward Chico and noted there were only two small places before I got to Chico which was a long way.  After passing Campbellville which had no gas I stopped at Deer Creek Falls to get a cache for Tehama County.  Another family was there and thought there might be gas at Forest Ranch which was the only other place before Chico.
Deer Creek Falls

I did stop for one more cache as I needed one for Butte County.  I had to hike up a steep hill to get this one and I think it may have been sabotaged because the baggie containing the log was soaked in tree sap.  Now I had sap all over my hands as well as anything I touched.  All I could do was rub my hands in dirt to lessen the transfer damage.

My motorcycle instruments indicate how many miles left to empty and by the time I reached Forest Ranch the indicator had blanked out and the fuel gauge was showing empty.  And there was no longer a gas station in Forest Ranch.  I was desperate because I didn’t think I could make the 12 more miles to Chico.  All I could do was to begin begging for gas in this small hamlet.  Finally, an old gentleman leaving the post office said he had a place about a mile back in the woods and if I could follow him back he could give me a little gas (I was asking for only a quart).  He warned me that he would be driving slow.  That was the understatement of the year.  We began winding along this maze of dirt roads at a top speed of 8 mph until we finally got to his place at the end of one of the roads.  After pouring about a quart of his lawnmower gas in my tank I headed back to the highway with the aid of my GPS.  I don’t think I would have been able to negotiate the maze otherwise.  It was over 100 degrees when I reached Chico just after midday.  I had traveled 266 miles on that tank but as it turned out I put only 4.7 gallons in my 5.3 gallon tank.  At least now I know I have a little leeway beyond the empty indication.  I took this opportunity to clean my hands and bike with gas to remove some of the tree sap I had acquired as well as eat my sardine lunch in a spot of shade.

Not well heeled
One of the caches on my list was a challenge cache requiring you to log certain counties in CA and OR and it was off my direct route up toward the little town of Paradise on Hwy 2 or Skyway Drive.  I wanted to get this one since I had met the requirements.  However, my GPS showed a street leading near the cache that turned out to be a gated driveway.  I was within ¼ mile and thought I might just hike over there through some thick woods but then I encountered a fence and I was already behind schedule.  So I took another street in that direction and ran into road construction so after wasting a good hour I had to give it up.  In the meantime the heel of my left boot had come loose and was flopping with every step I took.

Not so well maintained
It was 103 degrees now so I took off my jacket and hung it over my tail bag.  Soon afterward a bee hit me in the shoulder and gave me a good sting.  It didn’t hurt all that bad at the time but for the next several days it itched like crazy.

I picked up caches in Glenn, Coulsa and Lake counties before arriving at my destination at the Lamplighter Motel in Clearlake about 7 pm.  This was the worst place I’ve stayed in all my Motocaching travels.  The only redeeming feature was a nice swimming pool which I utilized.  My room was hot, stunk, had poor internet service and the whole place was rundown except the before mentioned pool.  It was expensive too as were all the dumps in Clearlake.  Needless to say Clearlake is a tourist place and otherwise beautiful.  The motel was on the lake which did not appear to be aptly named. To be continued.  M/W


murray.warnock said...

Adventure, scenery and close calls! I would expect nothing less, Dad. Looking forward to the next installment. Glad to hear you got home safe. How is the shoulder.

Hallie said...

Hallie does NOT approve of 11 hours of driving via motorcycle. I echo Murray's sentiment of gratitude that you are home and alive.

Kathy said...

So glad I wasn't there. I would have been clicking my the heels of my sparkling red sneakers and saying, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home . . ."