Friday, June 27, 2014

This is NOT a "Road!"-- May 24&25, 2014

I had grand plans for Memorial Day.

Alas-- the week before Memorial Day arrived but the birthday rack that the BF ordered for Pinkfoot had not. This would impede my plans to do a nice, leisurely ON PAVEMENT loop up through Oakhurst, along the 49 into Sonora, across Sonora Pass (108) and then down and back via Yosemite National Park.

Google maps boasted a mere 649 miles for my loop and I thought it should be no terrible feat for us to accomplish this on a couple of DR650's along well-maintained tar-sealed roads over 3 days.

But not having a rack on Pinkfoot meant not having much options for proper packing of my shiny new Nelson Rigg Adventure Series roll-up-tail-bag-majigger.

In other news: I got a new tail bag!


It's orange.

It's the same one the BF has, only the larger size (and orange) because I could NOT find any discussion on the Internets about these tailbags (plenty of talk about the saddle bags,) let alone any sort of comparison between the "medium" and the "large." So I go the the large. It's huge. I'll do some sort of review post in the future.

Suffice it to say, it was not going to attach well to the back of the DR without some sort of rack.

And coming straight from our first-ever moto camping adventure, we were both feeling pretty mellow...and poor, since we immediately sought to resolve some of our gear issues by taking advantage of REI's Memorial Day sale... and buying a new tail bag (did I mention it's orange?)

None of which, btw, arrived in time for the Memorial Day weekend either.

By Wednesday, I wasn't at all sure the BF was even interested in a 3 day tour of the Sierra Nevada so I sort of let it slide.

By Thursday, he was all giving me flack for not having a plan for the weekend ride.

So I spent an afternoon combing through Google Maps myself, picking out a route to get us up to the Dinkey Creek area above Shaver Lake. Afterall, I AM on record as saying I wanted to take 12S09 up that way. I combed through all those squiggly little lines that represent things that I rarely consider "roads," and I decided on a TO route and a FROM route that I thought I could handle and even probably enjoy.

But the next thing I know, my stupid-head boyfriend is also studying the maps.

Do you know? I actually BELIEVED we had AGREED on a route? That we had actually WORKED TOGETHER to CHOOSE a round-trip loop that would be scenic and fun FOR BOTH OF US.

HA! I should have known better.

I was even all easy-going about his plan to take over the "berry patch road" in both directions.

Fool that I am.

So we loaded up pretty much the same gear we took the weekend before-- I brought my precious (yes, do say that like Golem) Western Mountaineering Versa-lite sleeping bag as an extra top blanket, since we'd both been pretty cold the weekend before and it gave me an excuse to use it. And I packed everything into my new tailbag (it's orange,) but otherwise, we were packed very similar to the last trip.

We got a reasonable start on Saturday morning. We wound (really? "WOW-nd" is spelled the same way as "woooond?" coincidence?) our way through the foothills to the Vallerjo station in Squaw Valley/Dunlap/where ever it is, then up and out to (dramatic music and ominous tone) THE BERRY PATCH ROAD.

I was in good spirits. I'm invincible. This is great. I've done this before and I can do it again........


The BF: "Are you ok?"

Me: (wiggling my fingers and toes) "Yep."

The BF continued past me to park his bike and walk back up to help, but I was already up and even had the Wombat back on the rubber side.

I'm gonna have a nasty bruise on my hip but other than that, the Wombat and I seem fine.


The BF: (upon noticing the action camera still mounted to the gas tank of the Wombat) "Were you filming?"

Me: (looking disgusted) "I'm fine, thank you."

The BF: (chastised) "Just sayin' it'd have been cool, that's all."

Last time we traversed 12S09*  I got hung up on a couple of places where deep ruts ran across the road in a manner that the Wombat scoffed at, but the Wombat's rider was not willing to take lightly.

This time around, I kept telling myself that my problem had been that I'd hesitated too long. I knew the patch was coming up, just assess your path and GO!

I almost made it. At the bottom, the rear tire just didn't quite keep going and ended up sliding sideways, into the rut (very deep rut) and out from under me.

The hill is much steeper than it looks and the ruts are much deeper: Just picture me and the Wombat taking a dirt nap in the middle of the picture.

But we kept going, to the next section which had given my grief the last time. The BF was ahead of me, he went across, stopped, got off the bike, and... I thought... came back to spot me. His hand signals said "stop..." "stay to the right...." and then he got distracted and wandered off!

So I figured he figured he had done his job and was now busy doing something that had nothing to do with me. So I proceeded carefully and made it around/across/along the next rutted up section a little annoyed because I could have used a little more spotting!

It turns out, he wasn't even "spotting" me! He wanted me to just stop and wait altogether while he watched a rattlesnake make its way off the road.


I didn't even get to see the rattlesnake. (hrumph) I LIKE snakes. I mean, I'm glad I didn't run over it...but it would have been cool to see at least.

Onward we travel! Down to the river, where we invaded some family's camp site to get down to the water and cool down. On our way back up from the river bank, as we were mounting our trusty steeds, some lady comes down the path just to ask us if we're "hot" in our riding gear.

Yeah Lady. It's 100 degrees outside. It's hot. No matter what you're wearing.

So we headed off for this "dinkey/trimmer" road that will take us up, up, up in elevation to cooler temps.


The road was kinda dry, dusty, and boring-- just how I remember it when we did it on 4 wheels in the distant past. But not too intimidating and I felt pretty proud of myself for keeping it in 3rd gear.

Eventually, the road got narrower, with a steeper cliff on the side of it, long sections of freshly-dumped gravel, interspersed with sections of "Thank the gods it's not wet" red clay-- and cows. Lots of cows.

More gravel, then rocky, then gravel, and up, up, up.

I did pretty well, although I was not a fan of the gravel, but in my head I kept thinking, "I know it's been awhile, but I don't remember this road being like this."


Eventually we popped out on the main road, decided to go straight to our camp area and set up. With the bikes, we were able to make it way, way past most of the campsites to the very end of the trail and pick out a great spot.

We set up camp, and then bee-lined it to the Dinkey Creek store on a beer run. We settled on a 6 pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Partially because it seemed like an appropriate choice for a night in the Sierra Nevada, partially because it came in short bottles that fit reasonably well in my cooler-panniers. This time, I brought a dry bag that we could put a 7 pound bag of ice into!

The Dinkey Creek store closed at 7 p.m.-- as soon as we walked out.

Hesaid wants to ride across this bridge SO bad-- in his defense, it doesn't say "don't."



So we headed back toward camp, but as soon as we came to the turn off (I think it's 12S09-- I know, I'm calling all roads by the same number) he stopped. I pulled up alongside him and inquired. He wanted to "go on more beer run" into Shaver.

I just don't understand why? A 6 pack of beer between the 2 of us is plenty of both beverage and alcohol for one night.

But he insisted we did not have enough beer-- he really just wanted to keep riding.

I hit reserve on the way into Shaver, so we also got gas. And ONE 24 ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to round out our compliment. Seriously?! ONE more bottle of beer? THAT's "More beer run?"

I also made him give me the liner to his moto-jacket. I was wearing my mesh gear, which had done wonderfully through out our day, but the high elevation, early evening, setting sun aspect of Beer Run Part 2 was a little chilly. Not that his liner fits my  jacket, but the the extra layer made a big difference in enjoying the ride back to camp.

When we parked the bikes under our tarp-garage and discovered that the action camera had been filming.

Hmmmm. I was kinda saving the battery life for the ride home, when we would be on new territory. I didn't mean to be filming. I had no idea how long it'd been recording. Or what it had recorded. Turns out, we captured the best part of our entire ride (the beer run) and gave us a great example of how the little camera works in low light conditions!

I'm having some trouble adjusting to this new boyfriend who doesn't insist on a campfire every night. He's always been all, "What's the point of camping if you don't have a fire? How else are you going to cook the steaks?"

I'm also having some trouble adjusting to this new boyfriend who doesn't gripe about not having steaks for dinner.

We know fire restrictions will be in place soon, after a couple of dry years here in California. I figured he'd be all about having a fire while we can, but he's been more about learning to camp without one.

So I made a tasty dinner out of a pack of rice-a-roni with a freshly chopped jalapeno, a couple cans of chicken, and some jalapeno jack cheese thrown in. I added too much water :-( but it came out like a thick gumbo :-)

I was pretty pleased with our dinner. I'm sure 3 bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale had nothing to do with that.

We sat in our little tripod chairs, ate dinner from our squishy silicon bowls-- he with his new folding spoon, or fork, whichever one he chose, and me with my amazing PURPLE titanium Snow Peak SPORK. I love this thing! I think sporks are amazing implements of pure genius! Drinking our beer, chilled with plenty of ice, watching the stars shoot across the sky.

This was the second night of the camel-leopard meteor shower which ended up being a pretty big dud, but taught me a new constellation which I can't find in the sky, as well as teaching me that the Latin word for "Giraffe" is essentially "camel-leopard."

The "top-blanket" Western Mountaineering Versalite proved to be muy caliente and we slept warm and snug (it couldn't be the beer, we had beer last weekend too.)

The BF let me sleep till well after sunrise and we enjoyed a tasty breakfast of store-bought cinnamon rolls and Coco-cafe (for me, I don't know what he drank,) because he doesn't drink coffee, and I didn't want to boil water to make coffee when A. I didn't want a hot beverage on a warm, sunny morning, and B. it would have impeded the packing process. But if you haven't discovered Coco-cafe-- it's coconut water with expresso and milk, like one of those bottled Starbucks frappacinos with the hydrating properties of coconut water. Pretty tasty stuff.


Packed up and ready to head out! We gathered our dead soldiers and trash into the ice-bag, strapped it to the back of the BF's bike and headed back to Dinkey Creek.

We stopped at the ranger office where we recycled the glass, bought an updated map of Sierra National Forest, and had a chat with the docent about how awesome our bikes are.


Topped off the tanks at the Dinkey Creek store, bought a couple new (non-alcoholic) beverages and headed uphill to check out Courtright and Wishon reservoirs. It was a beautiful road and a great ride. I still take my corners pretty slow and the BF gives me grief about "keeping up [my] speed" and "staying close" to him.

I roll my eyes and keep riding my own ride.

We've camped at Courtright before, but we'd never been to Wishon. People keep telling us that there's a "store" at the "marina" at Wishon. I saw a store, but it in no way resembled a marina. I saw a boat ramp, but nothing that resembled a "marina."

We went across the dam, and came back.

Crossing the dam at Wishon

A long, steep boat ramp at Wishon.

Courtright Resevoir

I was pretty unimpressed with Wishon. We stopped at a scenic overlook for awhile and chatted with a couple on matching Harleys. Pretty bikes that screamed "take me somewhere!"

I liked that she said she wanted her own bike. I didn't like that she said her bike weighed 900 lbs without her on it! No way I'd be picking THAT up! But then... no way I'd be taking it down the Berry Patch Road.

Our bikes look so tiny and unkempt next to theirs!

She told her husband that they needed to get bikes like ours so they could go on rougher roads.

I told her she was far more adventurous than I am. Then I launched into a tale about life with the BF and all the pathways he has led me down that weren't roads.

He insisted that every place we have been has been "on a road."

(insert ominous, foreshadowing thunderclap here)

We all decided it was time to get to our respective next destinations and, one by one, we each filed out of the parking area. They, back to their "cabin" (no one has cabins at Shaver Lake, everyone's "cabin" turns out to be a 3,000 square foot, 2 story house) at Shaver Lake, us to our inevitable DOOOOOOOOOOM! (Cue arriving storm)

I thought I knew which road we would be taking home. I thought it would be the road with the little sign that said "Pine Flat Reservoir 30" that we'd passed on our way up.

But no. Of course not.

I follow (I have GOT to stop doing this!) the BF as he explores a few turn offs. He finally goes down one with a locked gate across one "road," a "no trespassing" sign on one "road," and then I watch him twist the throttle and disappear up a gravel pile and around a giant rock.


No. Really. Even as I followed him, I looked at the gravel pit that I was embarking upon and spoke aloud the words, "Are you f!!!ing kidding me?"

And yet. I followed.

This was not a road. This was not any sort of pathway that was meant to be traversed by civilian vehicles. And then I found myself in a forest of these signs:

Great. And now I'm going to get sprayed with raw sewage without notice too.

I gingerly edged past the last chance to turn around and retreat. I found myself on a narrow ledge along a sheer cliff. A ledge that no one in their right minds would refer to as a "road," a ledge that was covered in jagged rocks the size of a much bigger fist than I was waving at the BF's back.

But only for a moment, because I needed that hand for the death-grip I had to keep on the Wombat's handlebars.

I tried. I really, really tried to make peace with my inner dirt biker. But I DO. NOT. WANT. A. DIRT. BIKE!!!!!!

Just put your feet on the pegs and GO! Stand up! Lean back, keep your weight off the front end, and GO!

Uh uh. NO go. Feet down. 1st gear. Power walk.

Man, can that TW go slow!

Rock crawling like my old XJ did, one rock at a time.


I hate this man. I am DONE. This is IT. I am DONE. When I get through this alive, we are having a TALK. Either the BIKES go, or I do! This is EXACTLY what I meant when I said "I don't want a dirt bike." This is EXACTLY the sort of terrain I do NOT want to ride over. This is EXACTLY the sort of terrain that I do NOT think is "fun." This is EXACTLY the sort of terrain that makes for a single man.

Why couldn't I have ended up with a Harley guy? Why don't I have a 900 lb touring cruiser? To ride on ROADS? Sweeping, paved, well-banked ROADS.

By the time he stopped and waited for me to catch up to him, I was the very epitome of a frantic, hysterical woman. He asked me how I was doing and I opened my modular helmet to screech through my tears all the things I just said.

He said, calmly and matter-of-factly, "honey, I'm sorry. I didn't know it was going to be like this."

How could he not know? I knew the moment we left the pavement!

He snapped down his helmet, put his bike in gear, put his feet on the pegs and zoomed off like the road was made of butter. Well, probably not butter, butter probably makes a pretty slippery road. The point is, he did it like it was easy.

So I started back with my power walking the Wombat across the rock road of doom.

There were some sections where I had my feet on the pegs and my hand on the throttle. There were some sections where there weren't softball-sized, jagged rocks of death a foot deep on the "road." There were sections where there wasn't a 3,000+ foot sheer drop off the side of the road. But not for very long, and the absence of these features were invariably replaced with something just as treacherous.

There were a few more places where he stopped to wait for me. Where I threatened to disembowel him. Where we looked at the map to see how long this section of "road" was before we'd get back to the Blackrock road that cars could actually travel on.

At no point did I consider turning around and going back the way we'd come. I can read a map, I could see that we'd already done about half of this, I knew what lay behind me, I didn't figure it could get any worse by continuing onward.

At one point, the road went down a steep hill, all switch-backy on the side of what, for all intents and purposes, may as well have been a talus pile... switch back, switch back, switch back... I could see where the ground became level. I could see where the level ground was dirt. REAL DIRT! Not just smaller gravel, but ACTUAL DIRT! At the edge of a large pond.


I could also see every damn switchback with its 30% grade, stretching out before me, covered in these stupid rocks, slowly descending to solid ground.

And I could see the BF merrily skimming along across the top of them, feet on pegs, hand on throttle, zip zip zipping along, turning around each switchback, descending to the level earth, as though he was enveloped by some sort of Spell-of-not-falling. I watched him reach the level earth. I watched him stop and look back up at me, waiting for me to catch up.

I had my bike off. 1st gear. Ignition off. Hand on clutch. Hand on front brake-- no, no front brake on this shit. Foot on rear Both feet on the ground! Hand on front brake. Pull in clutch, advance 6 inches. Hand off clutch. Hand on brake. Walk forward 12 inches. Hand on clutch, advance 6 inches....

Tears. Deep, wracking sobs of hysterical anxiety and inadequacy. Bargaining with the gods. Hate. Hate this stupid man that I live with not just for continuing to take me on terrifying adventures that ARE NOT FUN for me, but because it IS fun for him. Because this all comes so easy for him. It come so natural for him...

I was having a serious melt down. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Most women I know would have had a melt down. OK-- most women I know wouldn't ride their own bike to begin with, let alone off a paved road. But I feel VERY vindicated in pointing out that I have insisted from the beginning that I did NOT want a dirt bike! Not because I don't want to ride on dirt roads, but because I don't want to ride like a dirt biker. I don't want to stand up on the pegs, I don't want to just keep my feet up and nail the throttle, I don't want to break the rear tire loose, I don't want to drift around corners.

I'd like to ride a Harley. A big, pretty pirate ship. Looking good and feeling mellow.

And then. As if on *#&@!ING cue. That SOB I call a boyfriend-- the same one that I had, just at that exact moment, been cursing the day his parents met-- turns his bike around and RIDES BACK UP THIS TALUS PILE HE CALLS A ROAD.

Back up the 3 steep, rocky, switchbacks that I have left to make it down alive. Just zip, zip, zips back up till he's stopped next to me on the 3 foot ledge he calls a road.


I told him that I'm so *!&!ing glad that this is so *!:&@ing easy for him and I'm so !*@&!ing sorry that he has to wait on me because it's so !*@&!ing scary for me and I can't @*!&!ing just ride down it like it was nothing, but for him to !@*!*!ing TURN AROUND and @*!&!ing RIDE BACK UP just to @*!&:!ing throw it in my face and @*!*@ing rub it in how much easier it is for him WAS NOT HELPING!!!!!!!!!

And he looks at me a little confused. And he says calmly and matter-of-factly, "I was just coming to report on the road condition."

Even in that moment, when I was ready to hurl him off the cliff to his end, I recognized the "my life is a movie" moment. I stayed relatively calm. I COULD SEE the road all the way to the level, beautiful DIRT earth. What-- praytell-- could he have to report?

So I gathered my wits. I wrestled up some Zen. And I asked, as un-hysterically as I could under the circumstances: "OK. What is the condition of the road?"

He said-- with the sincerity of a 4 year old explaining why he just brought a bucket of snails into the house-- "It's rocky."





Did he really? Did he really just pull his little "looky how easy it is for me to ride on this crap" stunt to tell me the road is ROCKY?!!!

Yep. True Story.

I couldn't kill him right there and then. I was too busy hanging on to the bike with my knees and the steep, rocky road surface with my toes through my boots! I had every intention of killing him once I reached level ground, but by the time I got there and had the Wombat parked by the pond, he was making a peace offering of a really old Milky Way candy bar that's been riding around with us since before we got bikes at all.

[side story-- short version: Once upon a time, when the BF was a young'un, his uncle lived in Wyoming. Every so often, his parents would load him and his sister in the back of the wood-panelled Griswold-mobile and drive the family to Wyoming to visit. On one trip, his mother packed a bag of tortilla chips. The tortilla chips rode to Wyoming-- and back-- in the rear of the wagon, completely forgotten. Somehow, taking a bag of tortilla chips for long road trips became a family tradition. Fast forward to 2007ish when the BF and I started dating and we purchased a Kingsize Snickers bar for a camping trip-- and didn't eat it. In the 8 years that we've been together, our Snickers bar has enjoyed many a road, camping, canoe-- and now, moto trip. Since we don't eat the Snicker's bar (it IS 8 years old, afterall) along the way we have purchased other candy bars-- that haven't been eaten.]

I guess the Milky Way was the most expendable/most palatable of the 3 candy bars that were enjoying the ride.

Now I feel bad about eating the candy bar... like we were all friends, had come so far together as a family-- but that Milky Way had the red shirt on. It was only a matter of time.

So the BF was spared.

The road surface did not improve greatly. I spent a lot more time walking the bike over the jagged rocks of doom that someone thought made a suitable road surface. But at least it was mostly level and there wasn't a 3,000 foot drop to one side.

Then I caught up to the BF at the creek crossing.


It was picturesque enough and all. And, at some point in this "road's" history, it had been outfitted with a fancy concrete ford. But this is not a road anymore. I don't care what the BF and his map say. And the creek has carved a nice little niche out of the bank on the far side of the ford. Which wasn't very scary. What was scary was that my exit bank was not a nicely sloped little ~whoop~. No. More like a WHOO-OOP! Steep enough that screwing up could set me sideways on the ledge of the concrete ford, halfway down a 2 foot drop in the creek. No bueno.

OK. No problem. Just don't try to do it slow. Just aim so I hit the bank straight-on, and stay on the throttle... Difficulty? THAT TREE!

The tall pine trees... they were in the way.

So I stood in the creek for a long time, staring at my path of egress, enjoying the the cooling effect as the water slowly penetrated the little meshy patches on my boots.


Wait... whaaaa????


Oh yeah, cross the creek.

I was pretty emotionally drained at this point. Full of "what if I screw up" thoughts. I seriously considered having the BF just come ride the Wombat out of the creek.

But if I do that, then I have to live with the fact that I did that.

So I kicked it into gear and went for it. Popping up over the bank and stopping just short of the tree without managing to topple Dr. Feelgood in the process.

Yay me.


Shortly hereafter, there was a road off to the right that intersected what we were on. It looked SO MUCH MORE like a road! But he shook his head and continued forth.

Over more rocks. And sticks-- no. Not "sticks."  "Branches." Possibly "limbs."

And then.... [insert the sound of angels singing]...the road surface turned to soft, moist, cushy, forest floor humus (not to be confused with hummus, which I like, but he does not.) I don't even care about the insane number of pine cones-- I love riding on this stuff. Yeah. Maybe it can get slippery, but at least it'll be a soft landing!

I was so excited. I thought we were finally on track to get off all those rocks and hook up with the actual road that would take us down to Pine Flat Reservoir.

But, just past the giant boulder in the middle of the big clearing, the road ended. Just *POOF* gone. What appeared to have once been the rest of the route was overgrown with 6 foot high manzanita bushes.


The BF finally had to utter the words, "This is not a road."

That's what I'VE BEEN SAYING for a mile and a half!

So we turned around, figuring this meant that our intersection HAD to be that little driveway of a road that veered off to the left just a ways back...

...have I mentioned a "driveway like road" that veered off to the left? No? Oh! Maybe because it was such a non-event that even in the recollection contained in this trip report, that road was so innocuous as to go unnoticed.

But now we turned around and headed down it. To a big, flat, turn out of NOTHING!

So the BF contemplated his maps for a moment and looked up at me. He said I was not going to be happy. He said that we needed to go back up, through the branches and limbs, through the rocks, but not quite to the creek again-- and take that road.

You don't say?

So that's what we did. And VOILA! Look at that: a ROAD!

Not a big, fancy road. But something that I am willing to call a "road." In fact, almost immediately upon turning onto it, we encountered traffic. Actual traffic. Other living, human beings in vehicles. Something I hadn't seen for awhile.

So began our descent of Blackrock Desert Road... no. Wait. That's where Burning Man is. Blackrock Canyon road. Yeah. I think there's a "Canyon" involved. I mean, in the name, there's DEFINITELY a canyon along the road!


Ahhhh, sweet dirt road. Switchbacks. Switchbacks. Switchbacks... more traffic.

This is the extent of the roads-less-travelled that I am willing to explore by bike. Most of the people I know would still be ashen with terror from this road; they have no idea where this road is when I speak of it. This road is still one of America's forgotten byways-- while STILL BEING A ROAD.

Yes. Totally willing to ride on this!

Blackrock road was pretty. And fun. And even, eventually, paved. It switchbacked its way down the mountain, into the hills, under pipelines from the Big Creek hydro-electric project... or maybe another hydro-electric project (turns out, there are a few.) We were on the east side of the mountain, so we stayed in shady areas most of the way down. We got views of Blackrock Reservoir-- a reservoir I didn't even know about until this trip.

We crossed "bridges" that were really just spots where there was no ledge blasted out of the cliff-- not scary. I enjoyed them! Although, the sadist in me wants to take our mothers for a car trip along them. (evil snickering)

Yup...willing to call this a "road" AND I enjoyed it! (I hear my mother cry everytime I see this photo.)

Suddenly, the BF wasn't behind me. I ended up having to turn around on the single-lane, blasted-ledge road (BUT A REAL ROAD!) to make sure he hadn't gone over the ledge. Oh sure! By this time, I actually DIDN'T want him dead!

So I cruise back up the road to find Dr. Feelgood resting on the side of the road (not that there's much "side" available) and there's the BF, up on top of a big boulder that's just sort of hanging there-- clinging to the side of the road, much in the way that rocks don't. Except this rock. Which is.


But he explains that there are these commemorative plaques on top of the rock.





The BF's view from on top of Memorial Rock.

Who puts plaques on top of rocks? Maybe I'm just jealous I didn't think of it first.

We continued downhill, through the community of Ummmmmmm.... Blackrock? Balch Camp?

Not a soul in sight. Kinda creepy and X-Filesian. I just want to get through this weird place now.

And we did. All the way down to the metal bridge that crosses the Kings River just upstream from Pine Flat Reservoir.

I'm knackered. The camping was great. But I fell down yesterday. I don't like falling down. Falling down is the exact opposite of what motorcycling is supposed to  involve. I don't care about all the people who tell me that falling down in dirt doesn't count-- I'm not a dirt biker, I'm not supposed to fall down. It's been a long day. A very long day. We've been in the saddle for over 8 hours. And I've already lived through navigating through several outer circles of Hell.

And now. Here we sit. At the crossroads of Take the Berry Patch Road UP to 180 or Ride-all-the-way-around-the-lake-and-through-the-peacock-place to the 180.

13 miles up the berry patch road. 45 miles around the lake
An hour and a half up the berry patch road. An hour and a half around the lake.

We "discuss" our individual concepts: He feels that the berry patch road is the shortest distance between two points.

I feel that there is a higher likelihood of disaster on the berry patch road-- especially considering the level of exhaustion I'm currently at-- and that it takes the same amount of time to get around the lake as it will for me to navigate the berry patch road.

He's mostly quiet. He wants to take the berry patch road. In his mind's eye, he views it as a shortcut.

I'm not taking the berry patch road. End of story. How can it be a shortcut if it takes the same amount of time? Besides-- I have enough gas to go around the lake.

OH! And did I mention my new Rotopax?

From our night in camp, using my Cyclerack rack as a beer holder-- but check out the shiny (dusty) red Rotopax!

I have enough gas.

I'm going around the lake.

I head a disgruntled, "The decision has been made." As Dr. Feelgood roars back to life and falls into line behind me.

It didn't take long for him to blow past me and disappear out of sight ahead of me. I'm grumpy. I don't understand why he can't just shrug it off after I've already fallen down on the damn berry patch road AND made it down that awful sewage field he keeps calling a road!

I think I've been a helluva good sport and I think I deserve a little easy, paved, road.

Grumble grumble...grrrrrrrr.

And now he's just gone. Cuz he can go faster than I can, AND he's more comfortable going faster than I am. I round curve after curve around that lake and don't see him.

He must really be upset with having to go around the lake. He usually stops and waits for me at some point.

Grumble grumble....grrrrrrrr.

I am bargaining with the gods again. I just want my gas to last until 180. I look at my trip odo-- "just let it make it to 100." I don't want to have to stop and unhitch the Rotopax. I want to make it to the gas station. I don't want him to be all like, "You said you had enough gas."

And I'm grumpy. Because he's all irritated that I don't want to go up that damn berry patch road.

And then I catch up to him. And he takes an unexpected turn, down a BOAT RAMP!

Well I don't know why he's going down the boat ramp. I don't know what he's thinking. All I can do is follow him.

It's a very steep boat ramp. I hate going downhill. At least the Wombat has that amazing first gear engine braking. This is really kinda scary. What the hell is he doing?!

We get near the end, before the ramp becomes actual boat ramp, and the he veers off to the left toward the dock.

I really don't think he understands AT ALL how much more difficult it is for me to maneuver my bike(s) on less than solid, level ground than it is for him. He does it easily. For me, it's a constant challenge to stay upright. Turning left on the ramp meant that one whole side of the earth had fallen out from under my right foot. Keeping the bike in a left-ward lean was essential. Good thing I was already in 1st gear!

I came up beside him, just off the ramp, on the relatively level ground that would lead down to the dock. I am not a happy camper. I want to know just what the hell he is doing and why I had to come down here?

He's that same 4 year old with the snails and he's all, "I thought they'd have a Pepsi."

Seriously? All this for a Pepsi?

Somewhere deep inside me, the idealistic 15 year old girl who was all optimistic about Love is deeply touched. I hear her say-- in a voice very like my 15 year old niece's-- "awwwwww, that's SO sweet."

Because, somewhere deep inside me, that 15 year old girl realizes that my boyfriend is attempting to make a very sweet, romantic gesture by seeking a Pepsi to share with me and sooth our road weariness.

But the jaded, tired, bruised, 44 year old woman who has to ride back up a freakin' boat ramp is not impressed. I still hear his bitter tone when he says "the decision has been made." I'm still convinced that he's irritated that I won't ride up that berry patch road.

This is no time to get all mushy.

Sure enough, we have to follow a truck up the boat ramp and I end up stalling on the incline. I hate this. I am all swear words that would make a sailor blush while I restart and try to get up to the level road without falling over or stalling again.

He just doesn't understand. He doesn't understand that this is challenging for me, or why, or how.

Which just makes it worse.

But we made it to the gas station in Squaw Valley or Dunlap or where ever it is without me ever having to stop and switch to reserve.... thank you to the gods.

And we got a Pepsi. And a peanut butter Snicker's bar (which we ate.) And I got it in my head that he wasn't mad at me for making him ride around the lake. Or, at least, he wasn't mad at me anymore.

We made it home just past dark on Sunday night with an entire extra day of our weekend left. So we brought in our gear, started dinner, and cracked a celebratory beer...and another one...and another one...and another......

Good thing we had Monday off.

The next day, the BF opened his shiny, new, Sierra National Forest Map that he purchased at the Dinkey Creek ranger station...

Guess what's NOT a road? (anymore)


He's already talking about going back UP it.

[PS: It took 2 weeks to get this written up, we had MANY conversations about the trip and my perception of it.... He claims that I AGREED to the oh-so-not-a-road section of our return trip with full understanding that I was agreeing to "explore" a section of  "road" which one of our 4 wheeling guides rates a "3."

Obviously our night in camp wasn't the only night I put away 3 beers!

Note to self: Must remember to do trip planning STONE. COLD. SOBER. from now on!]

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