Tioga Pass… CA

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

I was finally ready to get on the road for the big planned loop through Tioga Pass. I have to say that it was well anticipated, thermos was filled with coffee for the day and I was heavily loaded for an overnight stay, somewhere along the way… so much for traveling light! Hard to pack light… I kept thinking just the tent, sleeping bag, pad, little stove and coffee apparatus for the morning, and then we have Spirit’s food, bowls, much water… lets add this and that… telephone and camera battery chargers… little 140W converter… the result?… 482 miles beating my rear tire to even a smoother surface!


We did get to leave early, 7am, and of course at first it is a straightaway to Yosemite’s entrance. The feel was great, there is nothing comparable when taking off for another little excursion… with plenty of time and no schedule, a never traveled road for us where every curve is a new chapter… a new picture!  

Friday morning… a nice time to get on… traffic was very light, the little towns traveled through seemed to be still asleep… doesn’t anyone works around here I thought? Well, not meaning to jump ahead in the story… as chatting with another rider while stopped at an overlook… somehow the day, the date, comes into the conversation and I find out that it is not Friday but Saturday… not doubting him, but also not believing him, I check my calendar (yes… I have one!) on my cell phone… and sure enough it is Saturday! I am a bit blown away, maybe not that surprised, I was suppose to attend a Birthday gathering on Sunday… so much for that, try to explain that one to the Stevie, the host… “listen, I lost a day somewhere…”    

Familiar roads as we enter Yosemite Park, not for long as we take a left, 120, which will take us all the way to 395… Well maintained road, this is “the fun” road… The scenery is spectacular and it is a photo opportunity a bit too often maybe! The famous Tioga Pass I was thinking, finally carving it… with due respected speed, caution and much eye candy!


And I met quite a few people on that ride, on that road… The altitude with its lack of oxygen was making me feel a certain, how can I describe this… “euphoria” taking over me through my senses! Not light headed… just a “feel good” long moment, a moment that went on for a long time as long as the end was not near. There was a calm and peacefulness to the ride, realizing that it had been a while since I we had ridden by ourselves… It was still early, having reached the initial Gate around 11am, the plan was to stop somewhere overnight, plenty of time.


The most memorable “meet” was a couple on a rented Harley from England! Half Scottish… half English… he, specially, had me in stitches with his sense of humor, a dry English humor perceiving life’s intricate simplicity with a view that most of us do not see! With patches on their riding jacket labeled as “Dinosaurs”… I had to find out what this was all about… Not a Club… not an Organization… they are not even on the Internet… they are just “Dinosaurs” for those reasons! As the saying goes… he/she is a Dinosaur amongst us… a relic left from the past… they are all over the world… you had to be there to appreciate the entertainment! Non conformists… a bit abstract maybe, but, I understood, I think, the label.


The photos explains themselves… and yes, the greens where very green as I look back on them, the day was glaring… high noon at a time when I had decided not to take pictures with such sunlight… but what choice did I have! Very bright, I tried to manipulate the camera as well as possible to dim things around a bit.


Spirit as usual is the center of attraction, a bit lethargic himself, that little body of his deprived by his needed oxygen I was assuming… still… posing for those many sightseers wanting to take a picture of him in his car… Mr Cool himself… a donation can after all might not be a bad idea… maybe I can teach him a trick or two also?… like wave his paw saying “thank you”… or a little bark when a bill or two drops in the can? “feed me… feed me” could be written on it… or… “doggie treat donations”!

We are getting near the descent which I now see on my GPS and little incident before the gate, about a mile or so, has me infuriated for a change! I noticed a few V Stroms (a Suzuki motorcycle) about 5 of them behind a couple cars in my rear view mirror, I knew their Forum was having a gathering in Reno… Speed limit, 35 or 45, I am even looking forward at the time to waive at them… but looking straight ahead, even through my ear plugs, I suddenly hear the high RPM roar of their engines… things happened fast… before I could even glance in the mirror a couple of them are passing me at warp speed… there is a couple cars coming the other way, they are tucked in, saying “they” because they are riding double, and as that was not enough, one more goes by cutting in front of me to avoid the first car coming… thinking the last ones will wait… but… testosterones and idiocy must have been building up on their group ride, as one more does the pass cutting sharply in front of my wheel… making me abandon my own throttle and jamming on the brakes… The cars behind me must have had the same reaction as there was no pile up… a bit startled and knocked out of my space… it takes me a bit to regain composure… I will skip my kind words heard only by my own ears… the exit gate is ahead… but… too late… they have already gone through as myself I come upon another motorcyclist fumbling for his pass.


 A wide open road, maybe… in a Park where already driver’s eye are everywhere but on the road?… more drivers against motorcyclists by now!



A dark cloud into the ride… I have learned to let go, going back to our scheduled momentum! Mono Lake is ahead of us… 395 north… bright blue waters, haze, suddenly it is hot, the wind again has picked up and some real dark clouds are ahead of us. Will we hit rain? I am thinking… A bit of it would be a welcome change, cooling things off a bit!  

It just did not materialize, the roads were wet at times, but the somber skies seemed to be moving consciously forward as ourselves went on down the road… A black Kawazaki 1400 passes me on an uphill (of course!…) and the rider turns around signaling me to pull over… nicely! We do… turns out to be, his handle, “Savoir Faire” from Chicago on a little ride!              

He has seen my Blog… he knew right away who the rider and passenger were when he saw the sidecar! Nice chat… cut short a bit as he needs to go on, he has promised his family that he will not ride at night… responsible person for sure! Of course, black bike, black suit… not much visibility in the dark.


The choices to drop into Lake Tahoe were a few… Sonora Pass… 88… Or… 50, a wider road, an easier ride. 50 it was, my arms were starting to get tired, without any inverted forks on the rig, hundred of mile are just about comparable to a week training session at Gold’s Gym…


I happened to have Robert’s phone number who lives in Lake Tahoe and if you remember tried so hard to help me with my last breakage. It is getting late, I do call him from about an hour away, deciding to call him back when in town and finally meet him. It was not going to happen! By the time we arrived to the shores, grabbed a bite to eat… the one battery bar remaining had gone dead… my charger was packed away at the bottom of my big bag… so was the converter… it was getting late… suddenly spending the night in Lake Tahoe did not appeal to me… the night was young and the air was crisp…


Bite the bullet… make this day another long ride… we headed back to Sacramento, eventually pulling in the camp about 11pm… and I had promised myself… and Spirit… that this would not happen again as the past ride to Yosemite when we returned a bit passed midnight. Oh! Well… it is called the “freedom” of the moment… this definitely calls for better campsite planning… closer to the areas we like to ride in… not three hours away!


So we were back the same day after all… the Birthday gathering on Sunday?… too tired… 482 miles in a rig was just a bit too much for these arms… specially as twisty the roads were… Don’t miss that road if you are near by… this is also a good time of the year without too much of a crowd yet, and the snow still shining on the mountains, quite a feel it was…

We should be taking off Friday, Mendocino most likely, it is getting near that time to seriously head north. I just received an e mail from Andrew in Seattle… the kind man that is going to dismantle my rig and redo it all, including addressing the yearly maintenance of the bike itself… maybe even the transmission which is at times giving some serious signs of fatigue… there will be much to do and without wheels for?… a week… 10 days maybe… Why have been so lucky and fortunate on this Journey to come across such kind and giving human beings? I think about that a lot as the list keeps growing… I will write about it soon… it is more than luck… You be well…

Ara & Spirit

               A “DONATION”?… I have been asking if reading this BLOG is worth a dollar a month to you?… in the form of a yearly donation. Some think so and I thank them for helping the increasing posting costs… For those not using PayPal, here is my snail mail… Ara Gureghian 853 Vanderbilt Beach Rd #245 Naples Fl 34108

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2 Responses to “Tioga Pass… CA”

  1. joe Says:

    My cousin’s ashes were scattered just off the Cave Rock parking lot where you took the one pic. Its a special place for some of us. There’s a bench out that way that we donated to the State with Donny’s name on it. One of my bro’s lives in South Late Tahoe and he tells me its a popular spot to scatter. I’m not all that sure its legal, you do need a permit in California to scatter ashes. (we found this out when we scattered my brother. Even in death the taxman reached out to your wallet). Granted the Rock is in Nevada.

  2. Jerry Feldner Says:

    Ara, I’ve been loving your words and your pics. Some of them are really spectacular. You are pretty lucky. I remember years when Tioga Pass was snowed in in June!! Keep up the good work and when you come to AZ, do look me up.
    O h yes, I did mean to comment on Spirit and his goggle getup. Really neat!

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