Wednesday, December 17, 2014

San Francisco to Death Valley (6. - 10.12.14)

It was Saturday morning when we left the city quickly and without traffic jam. A few miles on the interstate and then back to Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz where we met Colleen. We met her for the first time already in July in the BMW MOA in St. Paul and that was the first time for us that we met one of our fans suddenly on the street. That moment caught us by surprise as well as it left us a bit speechless. Now it was a warm hello and after a short sightseeing trip through the city we went to eat something and had a good chat.

Thank you very much for your lunch invitation and your generous donation. We really appreciate it!
Colleen with her BMW.
It was already dark when we left Santa Cruz and rode a bit further on Hwy 1 south towards Marina where we found a cheaper motel. It was once more a Motel 6 and we were able to get free Wifi – thanks :)
There was a nice park nearby the motel and we found this important and cheerful warning sign.
We enjoyed the views and our ride along the famous part of Highway 1. The traffic was light, it did not rain, neither was it very windy.
Bright new sticker - sponsored by Colleen :)
The weather was not too cold and not rainy in other words camping in our next destination Morro Bay! There were a few options, however only one had showers. We both wondered how people who do tent camping were supposed to take care of their personal hygiene when there were no showers. I mean sure I have done weekend adventure rides like Pystymettä where there was nothing. I mean really nothing, no water, no sauna, no services of any kind and it was fun ... for a weekend. It was camping wild and neither did it cost anything. After that and back at home I needed a good wash and sauna :D
Therefore no camping at Morro Bay in December and once more we stayed at a motel. The price difference from this very cheap motel to the overpriced camping at KOA were also not that big. 
Coast line along highway 1.
... and more ...
... and more.
Suddenly there was a sign towards an elephant seal colony (Point Piedras Blancas) :)
A male elephant seal.
Colony life.
Cute ...
Youngsters' fight ...
... and then some more with the other fellows :)
Horny males.
They were sooo cute ... really. We could just stand there and watch.
Sunset in Morro Bay
The next day we had a lovely ride along Hwy 58 and 178 to Lake Isabelle. There were a few nice and curvy sections with almost no traffic whereas the road in the valleys was straight.
Hwy 58.
Many oil fields.
Some strange mist in the air and the smell of oil gave us company for many miles.
Our next stop for the night would be around Lake Isabelle and my map indicated many camping places nearby. It was already dark when we reached our destination and with all the good will I did not see any camping place open. Luckily I checked beforehand in Google maps and I knew there was a KOA coming (this time with a decent price). It was getting real dark and the level of desperation rose in me when we finally found the campground. The campground had a really nice patio with stoves, micro, sinks etc. and Skippy cooked us some simple yet delicious food. This was the first time we camped since we froze our tails off in Colorado and it was the opening test of our new sleeping bags which we bought in Portland.

Besides the kitchen patio, the KOA campground was well equipped with Wifi, a pub, pool, hot showers and so on. The downside of KOA camping was that typically they are just besides the highway and thus sleeping was once more limited and depending on the traffic. The temperature went down to 0C and I was cozy warm in my sleeping bag. Poor Skippy was still a bit cold during the night.

We got an early start in the next morning and the road to Death Valley was pretty easy to ride. The short piece of very loose gravel scared Skippy and we swapped bikes. Obviously it was the time of the year when it was raining in the driest area of the USA and the Wildrose canyon road was closed for traffic.
Stunning landscape.
Wild burro!
Wildrose canyon road was closed.
VAST! ... Not big enough ... VASTEST!

The Furnace Creek campground would cost 18USD for a tent site and once more no showers :-o
Since I anyway needed to buy a new pass for the national park, I asked from the ranger station where there are showers and she told me at the Furnance Creek Ranch for 5USD!! What she then also told was that the ranch had an own campground and that cost only 17USD incl. hot showers and a warm big pool – what a delight! Of course we stayed there at Fiddlers campground :)
Our track - about 940km
Next morning I went for another adventure ride deep into the solitude of Death Valley and had trouble to come back.

One more travelogue by Wolfi :)

~ Wolfi

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wolfi's day sentence

Yeah I went to prison ... all by myself and voluntarily :D

I invested some money and visited Alcatraz. First I had a joy ride one of those famous cable cars and after a brisk walk I was at the Alcatraz Landing pier. 
Cable Cars: old concept - still working fine.
Amazing how those cars manage the steep hills.
That was my ride.
Of course must have a Xmas car
I got lucky and they still had tickets for the same day and a few moments later I could jump on the boat to the island. I must admit that this was the first (and hopefully last) time in a prison. It was not a pleasant place to be, yet interesting. Plenty of old stuff from the 60s was on display and the audio tour helped to get a decent picture of what life must have been there.
Approaching the island

The island did have some real pretty sides.
Guard house at one corner of the recreation area.
Welcome :D

Audio tour was great - make sure you get your headset!
One of the inmate's cell of the famous escape - June 1962
Another one
The "Broadway"
Door locking mechanism
and the lever at the end of the cells.
Gun gallery with the reminding key.

Looks like a big breakfast
Solitary cells
Recreation area with a view of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco

What a view - a real teaser for the inmates.

Nice garden at Alcatraz - (Eng.: Arum, Suomeksi: kalla) a beautiful flower in America used at weddings, in Finland at funerals.
Some old stuff left.
Control room
And there was this beautiful full rainbow.

There was also an interesting exhibition (@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz). 

Alcatraz had many purposes - it was built originally as a fortress.
The weather was inviting and I decided to explore a bit the city by walking from the Alcatraz landing pier back to the motel. I saw some of the famous and known from movies landscapes (see also the travelogue). The hills were extreme and I could feel that I am in lousy physical condition – now I had the chance to improve my cardio a little :D

A short video clip about my Alcatraz experience :)

~ Wolfi