I'm a few days behind on the blog as I sit listening to seagulls on the Columbia River. Keeping this post short on words.
Fantastic weather and empty back roads meant 250 mile days and countless county lines. The gravel road north from Parkfield is incredible in regards to scenery, changing forest dynamics and wildflowers. It felt like being in an alpine meadow.
I broke down just before camp and almost missed this view at sunset. Free camsite to boot!
I'm knocking out the miles with only 20 uphill twisty more left to go before Mt. Laguna Campground when I hit a bumpy section of road and the bike loses power. Thankful there aren't any cars following, I pull over and begin to diagnose. It will run on the centerstand and rev high with wheel spinning but as soon as off the stand, it dies. There is no stand switch on scooters. After checking the clutch and belt, I lift the rear swingarm while it is running and it dies. Clearly an electrical short down below the floorboard.
After jiggling wires, I find that the positive lead to my ignition coil is frayed and broken at the rubber boot. I was in here while in LA and must have reconnected the female end with a twist in it. After removing the old and crimping on a new female spade, I gave it a test and she ran as usual. Crisis averted and I didn't even have to follow my Mother's voice in the back of my head to "check continuity in all the wires".
It was not easy saying goodbye to my wonderful friends in LA but the time had come to head north with the season. I recently had seen photos of the superbloom in one of my favorite parts of CA, the Carrizo Plain. It took the entire morning to escape the greater LA area but I finally found peace on Hwy 33 outside Ojai. The twisty mountain highway was almost empty and offered many pull offs peppered with fragrant yellow flowers. The weather couldn't have been finer and I smiled at mt fortunes.
After fueling up in Maricopa, I climbed back up the mountain and turned onto Soda Lake Rd. I couldn't reconcile the number of passing vehicles with my past visits. The once desolate dry lake valley was verdant with swaying grasses, shallow reflecting lakes, yellow wildflowers, lupine and sunkissed hills. The spring bloom always attracts a crowd and the full campsites were evidence of this. My memories of the quiet and monotone Selby Campground was erased by an overpacked RV wonderland with generators, screaming children and abundant flowers. It was only one night but in the morning I was ready to see what the northern valleys had to offer up the lonely road.
For many of you following without Facebook, I'm alive and well! The last two months have seen a hiatus from Scootering while travelling to VA for the month of March to visit family and exploring the areas of Southern California by kayak. In February I received a fb message from Scott inviting me to take a break when traveling through Los Angeles. Arriving during one of the heaviest winter rainstorms, I felt like a drowned dog and the hot shower and warm home was a welcome respite from the road. He and Yvette made me feel at home and provided a comforting environment to reconnoiter gear, work on the scooter and get private tours of the LA attractions.
Scott's big hobby is whitewater kayaking, something I had been interested in learning but never had the opportunity. We spent countless days practicing my brace, hip snaps, and roll in his friend Liz's pool dubbed the Roll Hole. This opportunity for one-on-one training will seriously pay off in a year when I put my SeaYak in the Monongahela. The last three weeks were nearly continuously spent paddling and camping. I challenged my limits on Class II and III water with high flows on the beautiful but cold Kern River, took a swim or two and learned much about eddy peel outs, surfing waves, punching holes and rescuing swimmers.
A weekend of cooler wet weather left us searching for sunny skies so we loaded up the flatwater sit on the opposite kayaks and headed over toward Vegas. Just downstream of the Hoover Dam, the crystal clear waters of the Colorado River enter the Black Canyon for a gentle Class I paddle. We put in at Willow Beach then paddled upstream 7mi to camp at Arizona Hot Springs. For the following three days we set out from our basecamp to explore slot canyons, hot springs, waterfalls and extreme scrambling up and down wet ropes on waterfalls. Downright dangerous fun! Desert Adventures out of Boulder City can rent all the gear necessary so if you've got a few days to kill in Vegas, you'll never forget this side trip.
We turned around and headed back to Kernville again for the weekend to hit the 3000cfs river on rapids with names like Lickity Split, Big Daddy and the Cemetery Run. Around the crackling campfire, the sound of a baritone ukulele drifted on the breeze and drowned out by the roar and crash of the swift river. I will look back quite fondly at my time spent in SoCal and to Scott and Yvette for their famous hospitality.
The Ruckus has been serviced and I'm feeling the familiar call of the road again. Planning routes, checking out new places in California and riding northward up through the NW are all heartwarming activities on the horizon. Follow along as I make my way up to Inuvik, NWT in the Arctic Circle.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.