Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 15 - High winds on the road to Redding

It was cold as the dickens in Gorman this morning; the sun was shining bright but a nasty wind turned everything down to frigid levels. I moved the bike around to the hotel’s front entrance for loading which helped but it was still time for jackets and maybe even gloves. This would be the day I’d bundle up with long pants, fleece jacket, winter gloves and boots.
Ted, the hotel’s manager said it was because of the 4000 ft elevation and they always have cold morning. Lovely, just lovely. I ate a sensible breakfast of oatmeal & orange juice, then set off for points north. Sacramento was around 320 miles or so north and would be an easy target.

I don’t care a lot for riding the slab but when you want to get somewhere the quickest way it’s the only game in town. Sadly the part of the freeway leading out of Gorman is riddled with hasty repairs and miles of those damn rain grooves. I tried to maintain a straight line but the irregularities made it nearly impossible and I’m sure anyone watching me would think I was dizzy. Which I am of course but in general I try to keep it toned down a bit.
Eventually they went away but were soon replaced with the next challenge, the monster traffic jam stretching for miles. Not knowing if this was normal or due to some catastrophic occurrence I went into my lane-splitting mode and began to pick my way through the mess. Maybe it was because it was Saturday but it seemed there were a lot of drivers who were not bothering to maintain the usual distance between lanes. It was touch and go a few times and I freely admit looking down the long narrow space between two semi trucks was a bit scary. I went ahead with it though and probably passed several hundred cars in the process; eventually breaking out of the pack to discover there’d been a big fender-bender.
Once free of that things went smoothly for awhile, then the whole process repeated itself only that time it was just traffic backed up at an exit. God only knows why people are willing to suffer through that mess daily but they do.
I reached Sacramento around 3:00pm and decided if I pushed on for another hour or two I’d be in a position to make it home tomorrow, thereby cutting an extra day off the travel time. Right about then is when I noticed the first of two signs warning about the high winds. Boy was that ever an understatement, it went on for a good 15 to 20 miles and they were so strong it took all my strength to keep El Nino on the pavement and in the same lane. Added to that was the increased turbulence coming off the big trucks and I was a busy boy.

Look at how far over the tree is bent...high winds

Finally I couldn’t take any more and decided to find a spot to pull off and rest up for a few minutes. There was a small gas station and convenience store out in the sticks all by itself and I welcomed the chance to regroup a bit. The high point of the stop was the cool security sign they have posted over their front entrance.

Back on the freeway after my rest I kept at it until I reached Redding and the Quality Inn where I’m staying. After Mexico’s cheap digs it’s a hard swallow dealing with stateside prices but at least they give you wash cloths and the places are clean. (Except Motel 6 but if you’ve read my earlier posts you know how I feel about those people.)
Dinner tonight was at the Pizza Hut conveniently located right next to the motel. I hadn’t been in one of their places for years but I recalled they used to make a pan pizza that was pretty tasty so I figured I’d have one. The place was nearly empty when I walked in so I grabbed a menu and sat down at a table. Wrong move boy. At that exact moment the door opened and a huge crowd of people pushed in and bellied up to the order counter putting me dead last in the race for food. Realizing my error I jumped in line but by the time I got up to the counter and gave the kid my order  he told me there would be a 25 minute wait to make my piddly-assed little pizza. Notice I’m getting a little testy here?  

I was a bit astonished it would take so long and said so to which he said “So do you want it or not?” “I guess so” I said, “You’ve got a captive audience here.” Then I said “What the heck am I going to do in a Pizza Hut for 25 minutes?” This brought a repeat of his earlier question so I said “May as well have a beer” and ordered one. That’s when I pissed him off, when he asked for my ID. Incredulously I said “Boy I’m damn near 72 years old, do I look like a teenager trying to sneak a beer here?” I think I'm getting to be more like Archie Bunker every day. "I have to ask everyone who orders alcohol” he said and I could see he was ticked off. So I dug out my driver’s license and pointed at the DOB line and said “See? 1940? Do the math.” I suppose at times I’m a bit insensitive but this had to be one of the dumbest policies I’ve heard of.
So he told me he’d bring the pizza when it was ready and I sat down and nursed my beer. It didn’t take 25 minutes, it was more on the order of 10 but he didn’t bring it to my table, he sent some unknowing chicky-poo to deliver it. Gutless bugger. At least the pizza was good albeit somewhat on the smallish side but it was enough to take the edge off and probably didn’t tip the calorie’s scale over.
Tomorrow should be my last riding day for this epic adventure and if I get home early enough I’ll try and post one last entry. There are a few things that I’d like to touch on, how my gear worked, what didn’t work, and maybe a bit on why a ride that was going to last up to 8 weeks got cut so short.
Till then, Osceola….

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