California

Friday June 30, 1989, Palo Alto to Pleasanton

40 miles. On a scale of 1 to 10, Jacky rated this day 6.

At last we’re off. We left about 5:30 after work, and stayed with Bob and Iris. We had told them we’d be there between 7:30 and 8:00. We called from Sunol at 7:45 and told them 8:15; we actually got there at 8:45. Bob told me later they figured we’d never make it across the country, after the time we took just getting to Pleasanton the first evening.

Our hosts fed us shrimp salad, rolls and raspberries. Great.

Their golden retriever is Wally, after Wallis Simpson. They also have two black labs, one a four month old puppy. The puppy was excited about the bikes, new and unheard of objects inside the house.

I brought along a book, The White Hotel, for times when there’s nothing else to do.

Saturday July 1, to Lodi

94.12 miles, 13 hours. Maximum speed 38, rating: 4

Our hosts really spoiled us. We both had cereal and I had an English muffin. Bob took pictures of us as we got ready to roll out.

 

 

We rode through the Altamont pass with a nice tailwind – all the windmills were going. We wanted to take some pictures, but the camera was buried in a pannier somewhere. The next day, we put the camera in Dave’s belt pack. We had a little cassette recorder and radio, and tried to record the sound of the windmills. When we listened to it later, there was nothing but wind noise across the microphone.

Saw a coyote running along the horizon. We took Patterson Pass road by mistake because the road signs were skewed, and thus added a few unnecessary miles.

Asked a ten year old girl in Tracy where downtown was – she didn’t know, had never been there. It turned out to be about six blocks away. We had second breakfast there, pancakes and waffles, as we watched them get ready for a sidewalk sale.

Later, we snacked on bananas and sugar bars that Beth had given Dave, sprawled decadently on the lawn of a company that wasn’t open on the weekend.

We rode north up Jack Tone road. Tone was a 49er who acquired land at the Calaveras river. The family was in its third generation, and the historical plaque said it was widely known for well bred horses.

Along Jack Tone road, a bra. Good time for somebody (somebodies)! Walnut groves. Corn, sunflowers, bell peppers, tomatoes.

Lockeford was a nice little town of about 1800, 15 or 20 miles beyond Stockton, but there was nowhere to stay. After dinner at Lockeford, we backtracked five miles to Lodi, where the third motel we tried had a room. Boy, did we appreciate that shower and bed.

This episode bothered both of us enough that we vowed to backtrack no more.

We walked half an hour in Lodi, and bought groceries for an early breakfast. The practice of going out for a walk turned out to be almost invariable. We wanted to explore wherever we happened to be, and the walk helped loosen potentially stiff muscles.

My new ventilated jersey lets the sun through, and I have a fairly sunburned back. The television says there’s record heat in the southwest; it must not extend up here – it was in the 80s and pretty comfortable.

We got lots of waves, and questions whenever we stopped.

Smells

It occurred to me that a blind person could make this tour and enjoy the scents of America. For the rest of the trip, I noted new and interesting smells of the day.

Smells du jour: a truck loaded with fresh cut hay.

 

Sunday, July 2, to Pine Grove

50.46 miles. Maximum 45 mph, rating: 7

Maximum speed

Our maximum speed is a good indicator of how hilly the day was, although it’s not foolproof. For example, the day we climbed the Sierra was very hilly, but our maximum speed would have been low (I didn’t record it). On other days, we might develop a relatively high maximum speed on a single river valley, when the rest of the day was flat. Nonetheless, I recorded maximum speed for most days.

We saw a hot air balloon as we left Lodi.

The driver of a broken down car asked for a tow truck call. When I stopped at a farmhouse a few miles down the road, I aroused two sleeping dogs. Loud, but not mean. The lady agreed to call a tow truck.

Second breakfast at Clements. Then the hills began. We had a view of real mountains ahead, and could see the whole central valley behind.

Beautiful country, and lots of time to see it, as we crawl up the west side of the foothills. The most difficult part was the long, hot climb into Jackson. After that, it was shadier and more rolling country.

A slide show for the next couple of days… To Iron Mountain

Tuesday, July 4, to Carson City, Nevada

Down the east side, after Carson pass

Sitting in Sorensens waiting for lunch. We ate breakfast here last year, on our way home from Grover Hot Springs. Sorensens seems to be a hotbed of cyclists. We met eight or nine riders climbing to Carson pass, not loaded for touring. Backroads, maybe?

5:00 PM, Carson City:

We did twenty miles in less than two hours, including that long lunch. There was a long, hot stretch north on 88/89 to Carson City. Hot, flat, strong west crosswind. Trees visible on the range bordering Tahoe, but they don’t come all the way down the east side, and there are no trees on the Nevada mountains. Sage and sage colored grass. Clear air – big distant mountains look like small nearby hills.

We stayed at a Motel 6 at the south end of Carson City’s strip: two or three well lighted casinos (dazzling), the state capital, etc. We finally found a Chinese restaurant and ate too much. Absolutely exhausted walking back.

No fireworks! In Nevada?! I suppose the big show was in Tahoe.

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