March 6, 2013
In September of last year, I rode my Harley Davidson motorcycle to Seattle to have a sidecar constructed so I can take my 12-year old disabled grandson, Oliver, on road trips.
Construction of the sidecar is complete, and I am traveling to Seattle today to pick up my bike and sidecar. The weather forecast looks grim, so I am guessing my trip home will be an Everest experience.
If I can thaw out my hands at the end of the day, I’ll post some messages and photos on the way home.
Here is a photo of the sidecar.
I can’t wait to see the look on Ollie’s face when he enjoys his first ride. I’ll share that video with you.
Click here to learn more about my beloved Training Partner, Ollie.
March 6, 2013
I arrived in Seattle this morning in a driving rain. I took a cab to Liberty Sidecars to pick up my bike & sidecar. The sidecar is stunningly beautiful. I love it, and I know Ollie will love it. Pete Larson, the owner, gave me a lesson and off I went.
The sidecar adds a lot of complexity to riding the bike. I have to be constantly aware of the fact that the sidecar adds significantly to the width of the bike on my right. There is a real risk of side swiping other cars or running up curbs with the sidecar wheel. Also, the riding feels very unstable. It is sort of like riding in a rowboat in large sea swells as the bike rolls left to right and right to left. The steering is more difficult because it is hard to turn the handlebar. So, imagine me learning how to ride the bike on unfamiliar streets in downtown Seattle, in heavy traffic, all the while enduring a heavy downpour. Yikes!!
I had lunch with Garrett Madison, a good friend who is a lead guide on Everest for Alpine Ascents. It was good to connect with Garrett. As he described his plans to return to Everest later this month, it sent pangs of envy and sadness through me. But, Sharon and I are looking forward to our river cruise in May, and I think the mountain will be there for at least one more year.
I am staying at the MarQueen Hotel in downtown Seattle, waiting out the weather. It is a beautiful old-style hotel built in 1918 by the Ford Motor Company to house its factory workers building the Model T’s. There is no elevator in the hotel. Tonight, I plan to have Thai food at a restaurant across the street.
I hope to get out of here tomorrow.
March 7, 2013
I had a slight break in the weather, so I bolted from Seattle in mid-morning.
The ride South on Highway 5 was bearable most of the way. I turned West on Highway 12, hoping to make it to Highway 101 so I could ride South along the coast. That didn’t work out so well. I ran into heavy rain squalls as I neared the coast, and they drove me back to Highway 5. The trip down Highway 5 to Salem was near perfect.
I am now feeling very comfortable with the feel and ride of my bike and sidecar. So comfortable that I donned my ear phones and i-Pod music and was riding in the fast lanes. The rocking and rolling and steering aren’t a problem anymore.
My plan is to ride to Eugene, Oregon tomorrow and salute the Ducks, as ordered by my friend, John Dahlem. Then, I will ride west on Highway 38 to the coast so I can enjoy those fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean.
March 8, 2013
The ride from Salem to Coos Bay was really fun, especially the traverse from Eugene to the coast. The morning ride to Eugene was free of rain, but was very cold. The traverse from Eugene to Coos Bay proceeds over the mountains to Highway 101, very scenic and beautiful. I know I am taking a weather risk riding along the Pacific Coast, rather than Highway 5, but the ride down the coast is breathtaking.
I am now completely comfortable with the ride of the bike and sidecar. For the first time today, I was even able to steer with just one hand.
I stopped in Eugene to salute the Ducks in order to keep my Everest summit friend, John Dahlem, happy.
I have a special place in my heart for the University of Oregon. My Mom, who was an Angel on earth, applied to the University of Oregon when she graduated from high school in Long Beach, California. She told me she felt a little guilty when she applied because she knew, if she was accepted, she could not attend because, as she said, “I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.” She was accepted but could not attend any college. During one of our family trips to Eugene, we brought my Mom with us and I took this photo:
We love you and miss you Mom.
Tomorrow, I plan a leisurely ride down the coast, with no particular destination in mind.
March 10, 2013
Yesterday, I rode from Coos Bay, Oregon to Garbersville, California. A pleasant ride in good weather.
The day didn’t start so well. In the morning, at the hotel in Coos Bay, I put my bike in neutral and started the engine for a warm-up. I went into the hotel room to collect my gear. When I came out, I discovered, to my horror, that my bike and sidecar rolled back and crashed into a beat-up pickup truck parked next to a diner. Fortunately, the riderless ride was short and there was no damage to the bike, sidecar or pickup. Only my ego! Please spare me the obvious question: what were you thinking?
The ride to Garbersville was really fun. I had great views of the Pacific Coast.
I stopped at a hotel in Garbersville, the same hotel I stayed in on my trip North to Seattle in September. The hotel has a free wine and cheese tasting in the evening–right up my cheap alley.
I rode South on Highway 101 to Laytonville and then turned West on the Branscomb Highway to Highway 1, which proceeds directly along the Pacific Coast. The ride on Highway 1 is narrow and winding, but is absolutely breathtaking in its beauty. I stopped at the Pacific Star Winery along the coast and sampled and ordered some great wines.
I am now staying at the Agate Cove Inn, which is a bed & breakfast in Mendocino. This is the oldest B & B in Mendocino (built in 1860) and has a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. The B& B has no shower, only a bathtub. So, I will be taking a bath tonight.
I had dinner at the Mendocino Cafe–Thai Firepot Soup with chicken and rice. One of the best dinners I have ever had in my life. If you are ever in this part of the state, stay at the Agate Inn, eat at the Mendocino Cafe and visit the Pacific Star Winery.
Tomorrow, I plan to visit wineries in the Anderson Valley and then ride into the Napa-Sonoma wine growing region.
p.s. Everyone is admiring Ollie’s sidecar and taking photos of it.
March 11, 2013
You don’t have to travel far in California to enjoy some of the most beautiful vistas on planet earth. The Pacific Ocean and Redwood Forests are great examples.
The trip South from Mendocino proceeds along the rugged shores of the Pacific Ocean and then turns East on Highway 128. Highway 128 took me through some stunningly beautiful Redwood Forests.
I was not aware of the fact that the Anderson Valley, along Highway 128, is a prime wine growing region in California. I stopped at several wineries and sampled the wines. I even purchased some bottles and stored them in Ollie’s sidecar. Here is a photo of one of the vineyards in Anderson Valley.
From Anderson Valley, I traveled to Alexander Valley, all the while stopping at wineries and purchasing wines. I have stopped for the night in St. Helena in the Napa Valley and am lodging at the El Bonita Inn. This is the same place I stayed in on the trip to Seattle in September.
Ollie’s sidecar is now a mobile wine cellar. If my bike fails on the way home, I won’t die of thirst. I have a very close friend who lives in New Jersey and is a Wine Master, whatever that means. He has thousands of wines collected in his wine cellar in the Catskills. John, you have nothing on me.
I have been blessed with great weather. Apart from the first day in Seattle, the weather has been beautiful. For the first time today, I was able to strip down to a long-sleeve t-shirt, Everest cropper pants and no gloves. I love it!
March 12, 2013
The late Huell Howser was a popular television personality who had a series called “California Gold.” He featured interesting venues in California and always closed his show with the song “California Here I Come.” Here is my attempt to carry on his legacy.
Well, hello everyone. This is Huell Howser, Jr. with another webcast of “California Gold”.
We are traveling in the famous Napa-Sonoma wine country in Northern California. This place is amaaaaazing.
Today, I decided to sample the less-visited wineries along the Silverado Trail in the foothills of Napa Valley. I started with the favorite winery of my family-Rombauer. I ordered a Chardonnay for my daughter, Lisa, who manages my website. I also ordered 3 Zinfandels. My son-in-law, Jeff, who is married to Lisa, once told me he won’t drink Zin, which is a lower class wine. Jeff is the finest Italian chef west of the Vatican. Jeff, I am sure you can put together an Italian feast that will enhance these Zins.
I stopped at several other wineries and ordered wines. Here is a photo of the Hill Wine Company winery:
Tomorrow, I will be visiting friends in the region and will then press on to our next California Gold destination.
“California here I come
Right back where I started from
Where bowers of flowers bloom in the spring
Each morning, at dawning, birdies sing, and everything
A sun-kissed mist says don’t be late
That’s why I can hardly wait
Open up that Golden Gate
California here I come”
March 14, 2013
Yesterday I planned to have lunch with a mountaineering friend who lives with his family in Santa Rosa. I arrived at the MayaCama Country Club at 11:10 am. As I was entering this beautiful compound in the foothills of Santa Rosa, the engine in my bike came to a sputtering halt. Fortunately, there was a Harley dealer just South of Santa Rosa. I nursed the bike down the mountain to Highway 101 and barely made it to the dealer. The mechanic diagnosed the problem as a faulty engine heat sensor. After 2 hours of work, he had it fixed.
The defective heat sensor
Despite this setback, the day ended well. After the bike was repaired, I rejoined Ron, with his wife, Laura, and son, Ron, Jr., at the country club in the late afternoon. We enjoyed some drinks and good conversation. Ron & Laura have 4 children-two boys and two girls. Twelve- year old Ron Jr. Is planning to get his pilot’s license. What a great family. Ron, who is a winemaker, honored me with a gift of a great bottle of fine wine, which I will save for a very special family event.
Today I plan to ride east to Murphy, in the heart of California Gold Rush territory.
Some of you know that my wife, Sharon, recently took a fall in the driveway and broke her ankle. The cast went on this week and will be on for a month. Real bummer, but she has lots of help and attention from family.
Life is good. God is great.
March 15, 2013
Yesterday, I pulled into Murphys, California and checked into Murphys Historic Hotel.
Murphys is located in Calavaras County, which is in the heart of California’s historic gold rush territory. The Calavaras County Fair in May features the Frog Jumping Contest made famous by Mark Twain in his 1865 short story “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
Like many of the old gold mining towns, Murphys was plagued by fires in the early days and burned down 3 times-1859, 1874 and 1893, Approximately 20 million in gold was discovered in Murphys. The town is registered as a California Historical Landmark.
Murphys Hotel was built in August, 1856. Many dignitaries have stayed at this hotel, including President Ulysses S. Grant, John Jacob Astor, J.P. Morgan, Black Bart, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), Susan B. Anthony, W.C. Fields, John Wayne and Allan Smith (my filmmaker friend who recommended this venue).
Downtown Main Street features 25 wine tasting facilities (26 if you include “Ollie’s Sidecar Winery” which had its grand opening today), several really great restaurants and lots of curio shops. I had one of the best pizzas of my life last night at the Fire Wood restaurant. If you visit Murphys, be sure to have the dynamite $6 breakfast at Murphys Hotel.
Tomorrow is Murphys Irish Day. Too bad I’ll miss that celebration.
The Ironstone Winery is just outside of town. They have a 1922 Ford truck on display. Ford was one of my best clients, so, I took a photo of the truck for my friends at Ford. A 44-pound Kautz crystalline gold specimen is on display in the museum at the winery. It was discovered in 1992 and is the largest crystalline gold specimen in the world. As I was gazing at this magnificent gem, I remembered Sharon’s birthday is next week. So, now I am searching for a very large and durable ring setting to hold the Kautz.
My final stop in Murphys was the Mercer Caverns, discovered by Walter Mercer in 1885. These limestone caverns descend 190 feet. The stairways installed for visitors descend 160 feet. I am terrified of heights, but I can deal with depths. So, I toured the caverns and enjoyed the argonites, stalactites and stalagmites. A little cheesy and touristy, but fun nevertheless.
In the afternoon, I rode up Highway 4 to the Calavaras Big Tree State Park, home to some impressive old Sequoia Trees.
Tonight, I am staying at the Gunn House Hotel in beautiful downtown Sonora.
March 17, 2013
I can’t believe my good fortune on this trip. First, the great weather, and now a stop at a great Gold Rush Town on the way home.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would miss something important if I didn’t check out the Irish Day Parade in Murphys. Yesterday morning, I backtracked to Murphys from Sonora and arrived just as the parade started. It was worth the stop. Here are some photos of the parade.
I left Murphys, heading South, around noon and arrived in Jamestown in mid-afternoon. Jamestown is a quaint old gold mining town that has a rich history. My first stop was Mooney’s Irish Pub on Main Street. I was immediately attracted to this Pub by all the bikes parked in front of the Pub. The locals greeted me warmly and wanted to hear all about Ollie’s sidecar. Here are some photos, including a photo of Mike, Dave and me (Mike has the Irish green hair).
On the recommendation of my new best friends, I spent the night at the Jamestown Railtown Motel. The rail reference is to the gold discovery in the summer of 1848 at Woods Crossing, west of Jamestown, which led to arrival of the Sierra Railway steam passenger train in the summer of 1897. One of the locals told me that, when they dug up Main street recently, they re-discovered gold.
I have changed my heading to Costa Mesa. My current plan is to ride North on Highway 49 to Jackson, and then head West on Highway 88 to Highway 395, which proceeds Southwest along the High Sierra mountain range, one of my favorite mountain ranges in the world.
I should be home in 2 days.
March 18, 2013
After yesterday’s ride, I feel like I have now seen about everything on this journey.
My ride Northeast on Highway 88 through the Sierra mountain range brought me significant altitude gain, which peaked at 8,000 feet, and bone chilling cold. I bulked up with clothes and really enjoyed the day.
I love the High Sierra. I have this slide show on my website that I made with many of my favorite photos from this area.
Below are some High Sierra photos from this trip. There is an interesting story behind the third photo. This is a photo of the Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail. This trail was blazed in 1848 by discharged members of the Mormon Battalion who were traveling east to rejoin their families after fighting in the Mexican-American War. Five hundred Mormon volunteers served in the U.S. Army in that war. When they were discharged from the Army, 100 members worked for John Sutter in the winter in the Sacramento area to raise money to obtain supplies. Forty-five men and one woman turned their backs on the newly discovered gold fields and headed east for Great Salt Lake Valley with 17 wagons, 2 cannons, 150 horses and mules and 150 cattle. They crossed these rugged mountains on trackless trails bound for hearth and home. Pretty impressive!
I stayed in Bridgeport last night and should be home tonight.
March 19, 2013
When I woke up yesterday morning in Bridgeport, it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit. My bike and sidecar were covered with frost.
I left the motel around 9 am and headed South on Highway 395. As I descended to lower elevations, it warmed up nicely. I took my time, enjoying the beautiful views of the High Sierra and stopping in the little towns along the way. Here are some more photos of the Sierra mountain range.
I arrived in Costa Mesa at 7 pm. It is so great to be home.
My daughter, Lisa, who manages my website, will interview me about the trip, and I will post that interview later today or tomorrow. After I clean up the bike and sidecar, I will present the sidecar to Ollie and give him his inaugural ride. That precious moment will be shared with all of you.
Thanks for following my journey, and thank God for the safe and fun trip.
p.s. This is his daughter Lisa sneaking in….It’s his birthday today- Happy Birthday!!
March 20, 2013
Here is a post-trip interview of my trip from Seattle to Costa Mesa in March of 2013. My inaugural ride with Ollie is postponed until tomorrow.
March 22, 2013
Yesterday, Ollie had his first ride in his sidecar. As we all expected, he loves it.
We had 4 video cameras trained on Ollie for the maiden voyage. Two GoPros were mounted on the bike, Simon, Jr., Ollie’s older brother, filmed with a video camera and Simon Sr., Ollie’s Dad, filmed from the back of another bike with a GoPro mounted on a pole. Family friend, Steve Horowitz, piloted the other bike.
Steve bought Ollie the coolest Harley skull cap, but Ollie would have nothing to do with it. Once we got rolling, he was all excitement and smiles. When Ollie raises his arms, he is excited. When he waves his hands, he is super excited. When he claps his hands, he is in Ollie Heaven. We saw all of those emotions on the ride.
At the conclusion of the trip, as Ollie was walking up the driveway to the house, he stopped and bent his head forward. We all recognize this as Ollie’s version of a big thank you kiss.
I want to thank, Simon, Sr., Simon, Jr. and Steve for all the help in the filming.
ps: don’t worry, this weekend, Ollie & I are going to the Harley dealer to purchase a real motorcycle helmet.
(best to watch the video in full screen mode)