Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cool Hand Lucy

Day 14, August 15, Tuesday 410 Miles

Have you ever seen a road worker flagger, female, take a shower in front of the line of waiting cars? Read on.

I got a good start out of Bend, OR this morning. It was 60 and clear. My first destination was Crater National Park. I don’t know about the people who live there, but Hwy 97 sucks when it’s packed with traffic, which is most of the time. When not, it’s a decent road.

I turned west on the hwy below Beaver Marsh and ran quickly toward the park entrance. I love to ride when the sun is behind me. The only time I don’t is in town because I worry about cars not seeing me.

I turned back south on the road to the crater and then had a choice to go on the west or east side of the crater. I chose east in order to get the sun behind me while taking pictures. Alas, the haze from fires still hung in the air, but as the saying goes, “you take the pictures when you’re there…then buy the postcard if necessary.” They didn’t turn out too bad. The little spine-back looking rock formation is called the “Ghost Ship.” I’m not going to post all kinds of stuff about the lake cause you can Google it easily enough.

Leaving Crater Lake, I passed several fields of cows and, yes, they were all facing the same way in each field. You might recall a post I made early in the trip about this phenomenon. I’ve been puzzling about it the whole time. I thought I had the answer once: the cows all faced with the sun in their back. But, alas, this proved to not be true as cows in adjoining fields faced different directions. Oh, well.

Then, back to Hwy 97 and head down toward Weed, CA. It was clear that I was in logging country, both from the log trucks on the road and the clear-cut sections on the mountainsides. The road up to this point was relatively smooth and fast, especially for a two-lane. In Weed, I took this picture of Mt. Shasta, the most southern volcano of the Cascade Range.

I decided to take Hwy 89 west off of I-5 just below Weed and head toward Susanville. The map showed the little dots on the road, designating it as a scenic drive. Well, this wasn’t the first time that the dots, instead of leading me to a scenic drive, lured me into a royal screwing. At first, the road was narrow, with no shoulders, and had large pines and firs only a few feet from the asphalt. I thought, wow, this road needs some work cause if you go off you’re dead. Well, my thoughts proved to be prophetic, because I began to encounter work sections after work sections.

At one, I was the second vehicle in line at the stop. After 15 min of waiting in the 90 deg. heat with leather jacket and chaps on, I pulled up on the right side of the car in front to chat. Two young guys were in it along with their dog. We visited while the woman flagger jawed with the guy on the radio…they were obviously doing the blue collar flirt thing. “Hey, hon, will you ever turn that ‘stop’ to ‘go’ for me?” And, ‘you getting all hot standing out there in the sun?” And on and on. Well, a water truck roared past us on the left and pulled up next to the woman. I wondered what that was all about, but looked down at my new friends in the car. The driver was looking at me, but the passenger was facing ahead and said, “Oh, my god, would you look at that!”

The driver and I both looked up and saw that the water/sprinkler truck driver had turned on a valve that released a shower of water about shoulder high in the back. The woman flagger had taken off her helmet, vest, and scrunchies and was half-crouched under the shower. She was wearing a, yes you got it, white t-shirt. She soaked her hair, then turned and let the water soak her chest. Then, yes I swear it's true, she turned toward the line of cars cooking in the heat and kind of sashayed about.

Then, she spent the next five minutes combing her long blonde hair out.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t that pretty. I mean, she may have been ok for a the-bar-is-closing date, but that’s about it. Still, it was a picture. I just gawked and forgot to get my camera out of the case that I keep strapped to my belt for quick shots. Oh, well.

Finally, I was through the repairs and hit the section that had already been fixed. It was a biker’s heaven. I had two cars running a front door for me, a tailwind, and 5,000 ft of altitude. (It’s remarkable the difference riding a cycle at high altitudes makes. Down lower, the wind buffets a lot, even behind a shield, at fast speeds. Above 3-4,000 feet, the air is much thinner and you feel like you’re gliding through gossamer instead of swimming through pea soup.

On a smooth-as-glass road, the three of us ran at about 75-80 through heavily meadow calderas that morphed into forested lava fields and back again. I have one picture…notice the blur at the bottom.

Finally, down to Susanville. You may love northeast CA, but the towns there leave something to be desired in the way of art and theatre.

I'm so good at schlepping my stuff in and out of rooms now that it takes no time at all. By this time, my Harley and I have become well familiar with each other. I know every sound, every vibration, and every move.

Tomorrow it will be down through Reno and maybe include a jaunt by Lake Tahoe and I shall continue my peripatetic journal.

Summary: Low point of the day - Waiting on the construction work.
Highlight of the day – Riding those same roads where the construction work had been completed.

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