The 40 Year Ride In celebration of Wade, Syd & Tom turning 40 this year we were looking for something exciting to do! Having read the book: Great American Motorcycle Tours. A description of one particular ride- caught our attention and the idea took hold: “Of all the runs profiled in this book, this one is the most exciting, frightening, grueling, exhilarating, fascinating, inspiring and humbling.” So…. we just HAD to do this ride.
“From the materialistic and surreal city of Las Vegas, the mood descends to the stark landscape of Death Valley. What follows are arguably the grandest vistas in America at Yosemite and further North the clear and clean waters of Lake Tahoe- a treasure to see on a spring or fall run. This ride will test your mettle and reward your efforts.” –Peter Fonda
WOW!! For those of us who turned 40 and those who joined in the fun- this was certainly a thrilling and memorable trip! The group: Wade & Syd, Syd’s sister Kim & husband Tom, good friends Stace & his wife Sherri, and good friends Mike & Sandy. It was and excellent group!
The girls: Sherri, Syd, Sandy & Kim
We all flew into Vegas and met up at the NY, NY hotel and after checking in the guys left for Eagle Rider to pick up the bikes (all 2004 Harley Davidson’s fully appointed!) the girls took in the surrounding sights at the hotel, shopped and played a few slots. After regrouping we had dinner together and taxi’d down to see the water show at Bellaggio (SPACTACULAR). When the show was over, Wade and I headed back and left Tom with the girls to walk the strip and take in all that is Vegas ! We all went to sleep that night anticipating the morning ride!
After a hearty breakfast we “shook off the glitter” of Vegas at 9:00 a.m. and hit the road for Death Valley and our next destination, Lone Pine by dinner time. We stopped in Beatty (for cold, flat Pepsi), and learned that BMW and Mercedes do their hot weather testing there. (That got Wade’s attention!) It was a nice noonday break from riding. The desert scenery, tumble weeds, rock and cactus, were interesting but it was HOT when we weren’t moving! The scenery didn’t change for miles and miles- a welcome site would have been anything, anything at all that was green. We arrived at our destination: the hotel at Lone Pine. Stace and Sheri shared the John Wayne suite, Wade and I shared the Hop-a-long Cassidy room... No kidding. By the end of the day we were really ready to relax.
Wade at Death Valley
Sandy & Syd at Lone Pine
L 2 R Sandy, Sheri, Tom, Wade
Kim & Tom at Mono Lake
Leaving Lone Pine the next morning the scenery started changing and roads started curving. The mountains were still various shades of brown, but slowly things were beginning to change and short pines trees and green scrubby-brush made their way into the landscape.
We came upon Lee Vining the closest city to the entrance of YosemitePark and home to the famous MonoLake, around lunch time. The girls shopped and the guys gased up the bikes and found us all a nice place for lunch. We ate leisurely and anticipated the afternoon trip into the Yosemite Valley and our destination for the next two days- Yosemite Lodge.
The ride into Yosemite that afternoon was breath taking - we entered the park via TiogaPass- and at that elevation it was pretty chilly!! You could smell the trees and oxygen- a stark contrast to the dust we’d been inhaling yesterday.
We found Yosemite Lodge in the valley and loved the entire layout! Our room was simple, and the view of the mountains and granite rock above could be seen from our window. The architecture was very fifties, large overhangs, big windows, the lodge, restaurant, registration and gift shop were all connected via covered walkways. It was really perfect.
Kim & Sheri The Lodge at Yosemite
We had an incredible ride through the twists and turns of the park roads on our way to see the great Sequoias. It was early in the day and the air was brisk- thank goodness, because us girls were white knuckled-and-sweating-bullets as the guys had fun chasing the curves (our screams fell on deaf ears). After a stop for gas we entered Maricopa Grove, home to Yosemite’s Giant Sequioa’s and one of the largest: Grizzley Giant (below). This tree is 2,700 years old and the base is 31 feet across. Mere photos and words cannot capture the greatness and beauty of these trees. We took a train ride through both the lower and upper groves and listened to the park ranger talk about specific trees and their "burn management program".
I never did get comfortable with the whole -burning of the forest floor concept, it just doesn’t seem right- although we were assured at every opportunity it was necessary work to keep the trees alive…
After the gigantic trees we headed for Glacier Point, but made one stop along the way at the Western Summit – where oh where are the guard rails above 7,000 feet elevation??? Another hair raising ride even from the backseat- but oh-so-worth it!!!
Although hard to spot with the naked eye (there’s a telescope for viewing) people hike up and actually walk around on the top of Half Dome, one of the parks most notorious landmarks- see photos below. Again, no guard rails, no safety net, no handrails!!! We heard it was a “4 hour hike” for the pleasure. No road? No thanks!
We discovered after arriving at Glacier Point that we will have traveled all the roads in Yosemite by the time we leave the park the next morning. Pretty satisfied with that – we road leisurely back to the valley for our last nights stay in the park. We traveled through YosemiteVillage, stopped to see the Ahwahnee hotel (4 star) we took photos of the architecture while the rest of the group watched rock climbers traverse El Cap-i-tan from the parking lot. Kim and I visited a gift shop before leaving the village and bought our Yosemite fleece which came in handy the next morning. Stace and Sheri went with Mike & Sandy in search of fine cigars. That night the girls provided dinner as the guys tried to figure out how they could extend the trip a few more days. It was an excellent evening relaxing and enjoying good company.
The guys: Mike Tom, Wade, Stace
Half Dome through the viewer- those are people on it.
WADE that's not funny! Elev. 7,214
Kim & Tom Yosemite Valley floor
Bright and early with a complete breakfast- (4 in a row) and we were back on the bikes saying Adios to Yosemite. It was a very cool morning as we left the valley and before we reached TiaogaPass we had to stop and really bundle up! It was so COLD! FREEZING COLD!!
Our destination on Day Four was Reno, with a trip around Lake Tahoe before turning in our bikes at 5:00 p.m. Tahoe was gorgeous, incredibly blue and clear- so beautiful ! We had lunch and all wished we had more time, another day and more riding ahead of us!
We rolled into Reno about 4:00, handed over the Harley’s and took a cab to the Atlantis hotel- where we all took some down time before trying lady luck one last time.