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Sep
12

It’s All Over…

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… but the blogging!

Two thousand eight hundred forty miles and ten days later, our round trip two-state tour is complete, and the stories… well, there are a ton of stories to distill.

Story distilling begins soon, but for tonight,  Sleeping Beauty and I hoist a amber glass of beautifully distilled spirit to the Best Day Ever!

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Sep
10

Almost Home…

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Two days left, and our last long ride of 2009 will all be just a bunch of memories (and blog posts).

Oregon was beautiful, with secret curvy roads tucked in between towering pines. Rain Cloud Follows enjoyed a fork upgrade from the wizards at GP Suspension, and Sleeping Beauty and I enjoyed testing the upgraded forks all through Oregon and into Northern California.

It’s been eight days since we left the smoke filled valley of Southern California, and I am happy to report that even with eight days of nearly constant contact, and riding over two thousand miles, we’re still talking to each other! After I had a simple  guidance/directional miscue, Fiona has taken charge of the map, picking out the smallest, curviest little gray lines as our route home. Our daily improvised route is taking much longer to return, but we’ve discovered a LOT of interesting places and people that we’d have otherwise missed.

Seems high speed internet has yet to make it to the logging camp we called home last night, making picture posting nearly impossible (and there are a LOT of pictures to post!) On our second to last day, we’re aiming for two of Northern California’s fables five mountain passes (Ebbetts and Sonora), stopping in Mammoth Lakes for some much needed beer tongiht, then slogging it the rest of the way home.

Real blog posts will resume Sunday. Feel free to leave comments!

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Sep
02

News of Newcomb’s Death…

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… may have been premature, at least according to Mayor Sam’s Blog.

Fingers crossed that it is true!!

Newcombs Ranch - On a Better Day

Newcomb's Ranch - On a Better Day

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Sep
01

Fire Update Update

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UPDATE ON MY LAST POST:

A friend sent me this unsubstantiated rumor today from a motorcycling website:

from apriliaforum.com

I got a text message from Carlos last night at 11:30 saying that Newcombs had caught fire. I called this morning and he said that Victor was the last man standing and that he called to say he was evacuated as the flames over-took the building. He said they tried to save Chilao but lost that battle in addition to Fish Camp, Pacifico, the Cal Trans yard, and pretty much everything else on the mountain.

Carlos, for those who don’t know him, works at Newcomb’s Ranch behind the bar. He would definitely know what’s going on up there.

Through a Google search, I also found these Twitters (I’m just about hip enough to use Google, but not quite hip enough to be a Twitterer….)

Another sad day for bikers in SoCal. Newcombs Ranch on Angelis Crest Hwy burnt down in the fires! Where will we go now?

Looks like I just saw newcombs ranch burned to the ground on the news so sad

Newcombs ranch, my church and playground, may you rest in peace and arise anew from the ashes

If  these rumors are true, and I am afraid they are, this is truly awful news about Newcombs Ranch. Feels like I’ve had a death in the family, or at least been punched in the stomach.

A few weeks ago, while heading to Jessica’s house for a ride, I noticed the eternally CLOSED to Wrightwood sign had changed. Open?? Can it be? I wasn’t sure I saw what I thought I saw, and vowed to come back and find out if in fact the beautiful road, the fantastic and fun route through the mountains that had been closed for way too many years had miraculously reopened.

Very recently, Fiona and I had some free time, so we headed to Angeles Crest Highway to find out. I saw the OPEN to Wrightwood sign again, but still I had my doubts. As we always would when riding the Crest, we stopped at Newcomb’s Ranch for a snack. Newcomb’s Ranch was about twenty-seven miles from the start of the Angeles Crest Highway, conveniently located just before the road closure. It was a shock to find out inside the Ranch that the rest of the road, in fact, was open! Honestly, road open or closed, Newcomb’s was always one of my favorite places to stop, because of the eclectic bunch of weirdos that invariably massed at this hideaway in the middle of the mountains. It was always good for a laugh.

The day we  went, there was a GIGANTIC bear of a man sitting at the bar, flanked by two other big dudes, all devouring their lunches. In a thick Russian accent, the bear of a man asked the bartender for more horseradish. Exasperated, the bartender replied, “OK, man, but this is it! Next time, I’m gonna charge you for more!”

The Russian bear-man bristled, drew up to his full height and, with remnants of his sandwich spilling out of his mouth said, “That is fine. I do not care. You charge me whatever you want. Do you know who I am?”

The bartender, interested for about a millisecond, turned around and said, “No. Who are you?”

“I am world heavyweight champion boxer. I fight Mohammad Ali.”

“Well, in that case, for you, extra horseradish is now $500!”

And that is how great Newcomb’s Ranch was. You never knew who you were going to run into, you never knew what might happen, but you knew it was always going to be entertaining.

As Fiona and I sat outside eating our lunch that day, a tall, lanky KTM Adventure rider, decked out in full leather adventure gear came over to us, told me that he’d seen my ADV sticker on the back of my bike, and had to come over and give me ‘the salute.’ He promptly chucked me the bird. We all had a good laugh about it.

The first time I stopped there on my own, a few years ago, I got into a deep, two hour long philosophical conversation with two other FJR riders, who turned me on to some great roads and some good ideas for improving the handling of  Rain Cloud Follows. Because of the extended bullshit session, I was late getting home, and got in trouble, but it was worth it.

And now, Newcomb’s Ranch has apparently burned down. What the fuck? All the beautiful artwork on the walls… the kitchen that churned out that fantastic chili.. the picnic tables with the blue jays in the trees just waiting for a dropped french fry… Gone? I shudder to even think about it.

Sad day – definitely not the best day ever…. I am devastated.

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Sep
01

Fire Update

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Just a quick update about the wildfires that are raging all throughout California.

My adopted home in the Golden State is more-or-less right at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. My favorite road, Route 39 –  which I call The Milk Run – runs right through these beautiful mountains.The Milk Run starts about five miles from home, and, on a good, traffic-free day, I can make a short lap around this terrific road in less than an hour.

Last Tuesday, a fire was reported near the base of the Morris Dam. This dam, nestled between two mountains, is the first real landmark that I pass on a Milk Run.

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