Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Rally Day and First Day Heading Home

It was Saturday, the final rally day, and I was up at 5:00 AM, on the road at 5:30 AM to get to the rally grounds in time to set up for the 8K race. I was greeted by another absolutely perfect day in Redmond! Beautiful morning temps, clear skies, low humidity!

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There were 36 entrants in the 8K race, and while Andrea signed them in, I ran around trying to locate the 5 dozen donuts that were supposed to be delivered to us for the runners. No joy!! But we did commandeer two large Igloo water coolers for the runners' return. With so few entrants, everyone was a winner or runner-up in their age group. Andrea had made some nice little framed certificates for the runners...a nice touch! Maybe next year I'll be an entrant! And...a winner, since no women were entered in my age group!

I had to leave before all the awards were handed out, as my shift began at 9:00 AM in First Aid. We had another busy morning and time flew by. Before I knew it, it was 12:00 noon. Mike met up with me in First Aid and we headed over to the beer tent, where I ate a philly cheese steak sub and we visited with some of the other ralliers before heading for the vendor buildings so that Mike could do a little browsing and shopping. We both bought a really cool multi-tool from Adventure Designs, and Mike also bought another item for his GS.

We returned to the beer tent to enjoy a couple of shaved ice coolers and sat with a couple from S. America - ex-pats - who have returned to the U.S. after being out of the country for many years. They had some interesting stories to tell. I had a bandanna to give to Ara Gureghian for Spirit and had been keeping my eye for him all day. Earlier in the week we met up with each other and Ara shared with me that he would be getting his motorcycle rig in for some needed repair work. So I assumed that's why he wasn't at his campsite all day. But, as Mike and I walked toward the vendors, we met up again and I was able to give him the bandanna and say my goodbyes and Godspeed for their continued safe journeys.

The previous day, when I was returning from my bike after having stowed my few purchases, I chanced upon Bronce Smith. We gave each other a big hug and found some shade where we could get caught up with each other. Such a nice surprise! We exchanged cell phone numbers and made tentative plans to meet up in the beer tent that night after our club photo was taken. Unfortunately we did not meet up for a beer.

But now, as Mike and I headed toward the arena for closing ceremonies, I gave Bronce a call and left a message for him to meet up with us. Soon my phone lit up my pocket and there, across the arena floor on the other side, was a man waving his arms at me!! We reunited and sat together through the closing ceremonies, hoping one or the other of us would win one of the European tours so that we could take the other with us on a really great vacation, and claiming to have the winning ticket for the F800GS...but neither of us won. :-(

A very good rally, the opportunity to meet up with friends and to make new ones, but now it's time to head back to the hotel, pack my things and get ready for the long ride toward home.

My dinner Saturday night was the remainder of my Chicken Balsamic, which heated up quite nicely in a ziploc bag in the microwave in my room. Perfect!

Everything packed, all I need to do in the morning is load the bike and I can get an early start to the day. Now I can reflect on the whole rally experience. It has been said that when they were casting for the movie Wizard of Oz and brought all of the dwarfs and midgets together for the first time in Hollywood, it was mayhem! Never before had these people seen so many others just like them. Many had never even seen another dwarf or midget...ever. This was before television and other readily accessible forms of mass media. It feels a bit like that for me, seeing all of these BMW motorcycles together in one place. It's rare enough to encounter one or two others on the road in my travels on an ordinary travel day, but to start seeing them in large numbers the closer I got to Redmond and then to see thousands of them all together in one place was...well, it was just plain cool!!

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First stop of the day as I headed home toward Texas was the WWII Valor In The Pacific National Monument, in Tulelake. It preserves the buildings and grounds of a internment camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII. The museum is small, on the grounds of Tulelake fairgrounds and they offer tours by appointment of the nearby internment camp. They do not have a stamp, yet, but are keeping a log for those of us who would like one when it is available. the oldest entry in the log was July 2009 but the volunteer seemed reasonably certain they'd have it by the end of this year's season. In the meantime I took a photo and picked up a brochure as proof of my visit.


I continued on through town toward East-West Road which took me to Hill Road toward Lava Beds National Park. The ranger at the fee station was adorable! She gave me the full rundown of what to see and do while in the park and didn't seem the least bit concerned that a line was forming behind me. She wished me a safe ride and waved as I rode away. The ride through the park was all I needed to see, as it went on for many miles through lava beds and fields as far as the eye could see. At the visitor center I stamped my passport book, chatted with the park ranger about the condition of the exit road to the south ("Don't go there, back-track to the petroglyph road which will take you to 139 south of Tulelake") and then with an RV'er in the parking lot who concurred about the road having come into the park that way ("I drove it, but I didn't like it").

So I backtracked out the north entrance but turned right, onto rim road, which took me east and out of the park. I am amazed at how quickly the terrain changes out here! From lava beds to cedar-dotted mountain sides, to flat desert-like terrain in a matter of a few miles!

A quick gas-up in Alturas and I continued toward Fallon NV and my night's stop. Along the way I passed some really interesting hills off to my left. At first glance they appeared to be unremarkable, covered in brown grass, but then I noticed an interesting striation texture on their surfaces and so studied them more closely. They had a tiger-stripe like texture, looking like striped velvet, and I soon realized the darker striations were lava, and the lighter striations were brown grass growing up between the lava ridges. It made for a very unusual and attractive effect.

In Reno, I stopped for gas one last time at a little Chevron station on the east side of town, past all the commercially intense exits. It was one of those gas stations with two working mechanic bays and as I pulled up to the pump, I noticed two employees sitting in the shade of one of the bays. I struggled a bit with those miserable "foreskins" on the nozzle that are the law in CA and prevalent in other stations near the CA border. These "fume capture" devices prevent us motorcyclists from getting a full tank of gas and, as I tried to fill my motorcycle gas tank, one of the employees, a really friendly gal, came over and attached a flat aluminum ring-like device to the nozzle, which effectively held the "foreskin" back and out of the way, letting me get a good fill of the tank. I thanked her profusely and went inside to use the restroom and purchase some Gatorade. We chatted a bit about motorcycles and I was then on my way the last few remaining miles to Fallon NV.

Tomorrow: I ride the Loneliest Highway in America.

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