He says, "today is just a leisurely ride. Nothing epic. We're just going to head up to Tollhouse for lunch and then I want to explore the end of the road by the Kings River on our way home."
I say, "The end of which road by the Kings River? Will we be going off road? Is there going to be dirt? Should I take the Wombat or Pinkfoot?"
He looks at me inquisitively. As though I have made my reply in Cantonese-- a language neither of us speak nor are particularly accustomed to hearing. Which would explain why he would seem so confused if I had, in fact, actually replied in Cantonese.
In fact, I replied in basic English. Which, I have come to the poignant realization that I do speak more fluently than my average fellow American, but so does the BF and he's accustomed to the fact that I "speak English" as opposed to "talking American" so I'm not entirely sure which part of what I said sounded like Cantonese to him.
Nevertheless, he suggested that I might prefer to be on the TW for this ride.
So we suited up, gassed up, headed out through what has become a standard route in our day tripping repertoire and had a lovely ride to Tollhouse on an amazing spring day that resulted in the sad slaughter of several honey bees.
Everything is green and blooming. And there is nothing quite as amazing as the smell of orange orchards in April.
I am so grateful to not be allergic to orange blossoms. They truly have one of the best scents that can be processed by the olfactory senses of a human being.
Stopped along the way to take some photos-- because otherwise my ride reports would be all words, and if social media has taught me anything, it's that people don't like to read words.
This one shows a good example of the wildflower lava flow down the hill.
So after a perfectly good sandwich at Tollhouse (it is seriously nice to have a meal that doesn't make me regret leaving the house) we enjoyed yet more gorgeous spring day on our way down Maxon to Pine Flat Lake.
We made plenty of stops along the way to enjoy views and wildflowers, and then the BF spied a little bypass that offered... uhhh. Well... uhhh...
Ok. It's a boat. It's not like we don't know WHAT it is, it's more that we don't know WHY it is. But there it is. It was interesting enough to find the boat in the state it was in, in the place it was in, and it made for some of those awesome, "Because we saw it and thought our bikes looked good next to it" photos. But then we noticed the tiny scrap of paper that was nailed to the tree.
Naturally, we must investigate.
My only explanation is that it must be a poem. Right? What else makes sense?*
A few years ago, the BF made me read a book called Stepfather Bank by David Poyer. Apparently, Matt's mom went to school with Mr. Poyer and Mr. Poyer grew up to become an author of a surprising number of published novels for a guy that almost no one I've ever known has heard of.
But his Wikipedia page has nice things to say about him, so maybe the greater problem is that he writes a bunch of stuff in genres I have virtually no interest in?
At any rate, The BF made me read Stepfather Bank, and even though it has a "I've read this before" feeling of being an amalgamated story of a thousand other science fiction novels-- it doesn't suck. But most importantly-- it taught me the word "pome."
And since reading the novel, I have embraced the word "pome" as referring to a very specific type of folk poetry (eg: bad, and usually illiterate)... and this is, most definitely a POME.
I think it should be performed live in a Beat Poetry style by a guy wearing a black berret, smoking a clove cigarette and drinking absenthe. With a muted trombone and a snare drum accompaniment.
We pondered what events had led to the creation of the pome and marveled that it had been stuck to the tree with what was most probably the same pen it had been written with-- an act of art in itself.
Then we continued on: Have I mentioned that it is 35 miles around that lake?
We ran into a couple of DR650s-- who are also ADVers. They were headed up... OK. You know what? I admit it. I suck at giving a crap about the names and/or numbers of highways/roads/streets/drives/or trails. This is why we SHARE our ride reports on our moto forums. This part is all him. So I have no idea what road the guys were headed up.
I've only recently come to the tentative understanding the the road that circumnavigates Pine Flat Resevoir is called "Trimmer Springs Road" or maybe it's just "Trimmer" or something like that. It's the only road that goes around the lake, so if you find yourself going around the lake, that's the road you're on.
But, at one point, there's a nice, big bridge that crosses a river-- which I don't think is the Kings River-- that feeds into the lake. If you don't continue on the road and across the bridge, you find yourself on an unpaved road that heads uphill toward Dinkey Creek. It's a good road and lovely drive and I quite enjoyed it back when we did it on 4 wheels many years ago.
I would really love to take that road on the bikes.
That's where we stopped and talked with 2in2out and OldBMW for a bit before they decided to chance getting turned around by snow or closed gates, and explore that road.
We had to go across the bridge and finish our trip around the lake so that we could "explore the end of the road."
So, at the end of the road, we can either head up the "berry patch road" in the opposite direction that we have taken it, or we can cross the scary metal bridge and explore approximately 8 miles of unpaved "road" that offers several camp sites. Which is what we came to do.
Just because I don't offer a redundant retelling of how much I hate these gravelly, sandy, rutted up, hilly, twisty, scary trails... don't start thinking that I'm developing a love of them. This road was another in a growing list of "I didn't want a dirt bike" trails that the BF lures me down.
However-- it offered an abundance of pretty!
Here you can see how the hillside has eroded away to reveal the underlying strata of wildflowers.
It also offered several potential campsites that had me in enthusiastic agreement that we should begin our moto camping adventures pronto.
We reached the end of the road, turned around, successfully navigated the 8 miles of dirt in the opposite direction back to the actual ROAD, crossed the evil metal bridge and began-- sigh-- the 35 miles around the lake again.
Once more, we planned to get gas in Squaw Valley, or else we would be tempting Fate with the Wombat's short range. Which, once more, meant a trip through Wonder Valley, past the peacock place, up through the canyon where we met with the creepy night cows before.
At least THIS time, we would get through that area before it got dark.
Everything was going according to plan. The day was winding to an end. It had been a good day and we were on our way home. The sun was sinking, but there would still be light for awhile.
We made it through Wonder Valley and all its free range cattle. We made it through the Peacock place, past the pigs and the dogs, and the mules, and I marveled how every time we ride through there the peacocks have their tails up-- the BF thinks they are in love with the Wombat.
We crossed the cattle gaurd and started climbing up the twisty canyon road. The same road where we encountered the zombie cows on our last ride.
There were still cows all over the place. But this time they did the thing that cows usually do when traffic heads toward them-- they hustled along the road until they found areas that allowed them to scamped away.
The BF was in the lead, he was headed into a particularly tight knot of cows as he approached a curve. Some of the cows ran off the road to the left, some of the cows ran off the road to the right, some of the cows ran ahead of the bikes looking for an opportunity to flee the pavement.
The BF came to a stop in the road, a full sized pick up rounded the downhill bend in the other direction and came to a stop alongside him.
The cows went into a frenzy. They didn't know where to go, what to do. Several cows had started up the bank on the right side of the BF. The bank rose alongside the road to a height of probably 8 feet next to the BF.
I watched helplessly as the two vehicles in front of me just idled while they waited for the cows to disperse. I watched the cows on the hillside above the BF as they attempted to get over the barbed wire fence and flee into the trees.
One cow hadn't quite made the "jump" over the fence. It had its rear leg stuck on the wire and was attempting to drag the leg over the fence. Another cow, a brown one, still on the young side, ran up the hill, found its path thwarted by the flailing leg of over-the-fence cow and looked around wildly trying to decide on a Plan B for its escape.
Not many options.
It couldn't go forward, it couldn't make it over the fence, it couldn't turn around because there wasn't enough space on the top of the bank between the "cliff" and the fence...
In one stunning moment in Time, that cow and I were on the same wavelength of the Collective Consciousness and I instinctively knew exactly what it had in mind.
I didn't have time to get out the camera. I didn't know if I was terrified to watch what was about to happen or if I was going to fall over laughing...
Then the cow jumped.
Not over the fence.
Not over the moon.
But down that embankment. 8 feet to the road below, 2500 pounds of flailing, terrified beef... all aimed at my boyfriend as he sat there idling on the bike, calmly waiting for the herd to clear.
From where I sat, I had a split second to panic while it looked like that flying cow was going to land smack dab on top of Matt. Then the front hooves found purchase against the road surface and I thought the cow might trip and roll into him. Then the rear hooves made contact and all that future steak broke into a run, missing the BF, his bike, and the truck in the other lane by fractions of an inch as it made its way across the street and into the oak forest that lines those hills.
We were on our way once more and all I could think of was that the cows that graze this area are vicous, killers hellbent on vengeance against us and our carnivore ways.
Well, that, and how I would have explained his death to his mother and insurance agent if the cow hadn't missed him... which reminds me, I need to ask my insurance agent if I'm covered against cow attack.
I remember the rest of the ride home being uneventful, but then, what could compete with flying cows?
* Regarding the "Pome:" Yeah. I know, it's a Beyonce song. At the time, I was unaware of the song.
I was deeply disappointed to learn that this note wasn't an original work and that it was just some lousy rip off of some really crappy song lyrics.
Seriously, Beyonce, wtf happened to you? You used to be cool. If this is horny Beyonce in love, I say cancel her recording contract: "Partition" is barely tolerable, but "Drunk in Love" isn't even worthy of being called a "song".... it's more like a "pome."