Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ride to Walley's Hot Springs and Horse Ranch

(This post got a little out of control, enjoy!)

Another sunny and 70 degree day to train my little Ninja. Speaking of, I think the Ninja needs a name. I tend to refer to cars as female. For instance, my Dad's old Dodge Ram Van was named "Betsy" because she was very similar to a cow. My dad would be climbing a hill with the van and say, "Come on, Betsy! You can do it!"

I don't really see the Ninja as a female, it seems much more male. It is tiny, it goes fast, and it is practical. (ah ha hah!) But I can't really come up with a name for it. I'm thinking along ninja-lines, obviously, and the only one I can come up with is Rikimaru, from Tenchu. Maybe I could just call it "Riki" for short, but then that sounds girlie again.

Hmm... ninja... ninja, hmm. Masamune? From Final Fantasy/Chrono Trigger? Mrr.. doesn't quite have the catch I'm looking for.

Anyways.

Today was both fun and productive, the best kind of days I think. Today started off with a few quick hours at work, then I headed to the CA DMV. I only had to wait ten minutes or so, then I was informed I needed my passport if I didn't want to use my WA driver's license. I didn't want to use my license, because I'd like to keep it in Washington State for tuition reasons.

I drove the explorer back home, grabbed a bite to eat, my passport, and a few things to do while waiting in line at the DMV. I headed back to wait some more at the DMV and hoped to get my motorcycle permit. After waiting 20mins, I got to a person and she said that she'd need to take my WA license info, because it is against the law to possess two licenses from different states. Boo!

I ended up having to take both the driver's and motorcycle written tests. I got lucky on the driving one, because I hadn't studied at all for it, and I didn't know the specific Cali rules about alcohol limit and U-turn status and what-not. I ended up guessing correctly quite a few times, and only missed one answer (out of 30 or so).

The motorcycle test didn't go as well! I missed 8 of the 24 questions, for a D-evilish 66% I asked when I could retake the test, and they said, "anytime before 4pm." So I sat down and studyied my failed test, studied the brochure a bit, then asked to take the test again.

And failed again. Dammit! I missed five, one away from passing. In school--C's are passing, and I got a high C! Oh well, one more shot. You get three tries on your initial $27 licensing fee, and I got to study two graded tests. This time, I STUDIED the brochure, and went over my old tests a few times each. I was set. I felt very confident after taking the final test, and didn't think there was a way in hell I got more than three wrong.

The DMV ladies were actually really funny and were joking with me about the two failed tests while they graded the 3rd. It was taking a bit longer than I was hoping for, and the lady grading it asked for help. It turned out they didn't have the answer key for the particular test I had been given. They looked high and low, then ended up calling two different branches to have them fax over copies of the answer key. The new and improved answer key didn't work either, so I was testing them on the questions while we waited for another answer key to be faxed over.

For giving me so much shit, they didn't know diddly about their own test. It was fun, and I got some re-ribbing in! They finally got the key, and again, she took much longer than I was hoping for. She brought it up and said "minus seven, sorry Chris." I was a bit shocked until she bust out laughing and tossed me the paper with a nice -1 on it.

Woo Hoo! I know failing twice might sound like I don't know my ass from my elbow (which are eerily similar) when it comes to the motorcycle.. but I learned a lot more than I thought I would today, and I can't be much further behind others who have only ridden for three days.

It was probably the most fun I've ever had at the DMV, and we joked around a lot each time I came up with a failed (or passing) test. I wrote a complimentary opinion survey while waiting for the answer key to be faxed over. I was pretty sure I'd pass that last one :)

Albeit fun, I was ready to get the hell out of that place.

I happily drove home, then grabbed my camera and motorcycle gear and vroomed off down the hill. And killed it at the bottom. Dammit! I really should go up the hill a little ways every time I start out, to get the engine going (and if something goes wrong, I can just coast it back down to the house and use the explorer). I put the choke down all the way, and it fired up with a little help from Mr. Throttle.

I went down to the library and high school and drove around there for ten minutes trying to get the bike nice and warm for my planned trip down to Minden. The high school was a bit smaller than the google-map satellites make it out to be, but I probably didn't see all of the area from my bike. Came back to the highway and the engine was nice and warm, so I headed South to 207.

The road starts out winding its way up probably 500ft with a 45mph speed limit. It has multiple sharp (25mph) turns along the way, which was fun on the bike! After the turns and 500 elevation or so (and a few miles), I hit the "upper" Heavenly Village, which I'd never seen before. I ended up hitting the village on the way back, but I cruised on past initially.

The road opened up from a tight two-lane road, to a much wider two-lane road with shoulders for bicyclists... and then the descent started. I coasted most of the next 3 miles due to the nearly 2k ft elevation drop. On the way down, all I could think was, "Ugh, coming up this is not going to be fun." Well, fun in the sense that I'd be pushing way past the recommended 4k rpm limit if I wanted to keep any speed going. I let the thought go though, because I wanted to enjoy my time in the valley. Which I did!

This is the map I was looking at when trying to scout out a trip for this afternoon. See anything interesting on there? I was heading from Zephyr Cove to the Minden area. Do you see "Walley's Hot Springs" too?! Jackpot!

Unfortunately, Walley's Hot Springs turned out to be this:

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I putted around the parking lot a bit, and it seemed to be more like a resort spa than a hot springs. When I think hot springs, I think natural hot springs in the Cascades or Olympics. Kennedy Hot Springs near my cabin was an amazing hike, my favorite and most-often hiked path to date. Unfortunately, it got covered up by a wall of gravel from a huge rock slide, which demolished the entire trail a few years back.

Stacey, Kristle, Brien, Nickdoll and I all went on a fun hot springs hike in the Olympics at the start of Spring Break 04'. I'll remember that hike for a long time, because it was the start of an amazing fun and completely random spring break. Stacey came up from Sacramento for the week, and we planned to spend lots of time together--which we did--but we also spent an amazing amount of time with Brien, Kristle and Nickdoll. I didn't even really know Brien and Kristle before that week, but we all got along great. We had a little party at their place the first Friday of Spring Break, then on a whim, we all decided to sleep over at their place and go hike to a hot springs the next morning.

And a hiking we went! We hiked a few miles and got to the last, most desolate hot spring along the trail... only to find an old naked guy. Balls. Literally. We still had a fun time. The little birdies were all about the doritos, and ate them out of my hand, off of Kristle's head--anywhere they saw orange. I have a great shot somewhere of Stacey's outstretched arm feeding one, and Brien and Brian each feeding birds too. That's right, I forgot about the other Brian that came on the trip. He was a friend of Stacey's when she attended UPS, who seemed like a nice enough guy.

A few days later all of us went up to my cabin (again, pretty much on a whim), and we played a few memorable drinking games. If you ever play a drinking game with NickDoll, make the "don't say drink" rule, and GAME OVER for him. It was the classic:

ND:"Brien! Drink! ah hahah!"

B:"You said Drink"

ND:"You said Drink too!"

Me:"You just said it again"

ND:"Dammit, I have to drink two now?"

K:"Three"

ND:"What? Why do I have to drink 3??"

S:"Four now, you just said it AGAIN!"

Then he'd fall over and curse himself (which we eventually made a rule against!) Good Times!

Anyways... yes. It ain't a hot spring unless it has birds stealing your doritos and an old naked man. "Walley's Hot Springs" might have had some naked people, but I definitely saw some bleach-white towels. Hot springs don't have towels, unless they are multi-colored and hiked in at least two miles. I wasn't too pleased with Walley's World, but I did snap this shot of the ominous mountain pass I zoomed down:

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I wasn't really sure what to do next. I chose the Minden area because I think I'll probably go there to get fingerprinted for my observation hours--but I had called the lady while waiting in line at the DMV, and she wanted the university to send her a request for observation instead of just relying on my word. Bitch. But, it makes sense (I guess?). I didn't really need to go into town, so I ran a few tests on the back roads.

I know I'm not supposed to go above 5krpm or so, but there was a 55mph country road, so I tested what rpm I'd have to be in to go 60-65mph. On a flat road, I'd have to be staying at a constant 7krpm to be going 65mph. For a long-distance trip, I think I'd be anywhere between 60-80mph most of the time. I didn't want to test 80mph yet, so I left it at "no trips to Sacto until I get 500miles under my belt."

The test brought up a few interesting questions though. If I'm averaging between 7k-8krpm on the freeway, I can't be getting great gas mileage, can I? I'm still not sure where the comfort zone is on the rpm scale, because I'm not used to bikes. The "red" zone on the tachometer is at 13krpm! Does that mean that going 12krpm won't hurt the bike? Holy crap! That is twice the max on the Explorer's tach!

I understand that the ninja's aren't really made for long-distance riding, but I still think it would be fun to do. I might change my mind if I get some information either through friends or research. If maintaining 7-8k rpm is a danger to the bike, I'll probably have to nix the road trip to Seattle and grab a plane ticket. Vegas bike trip could be a bit of a problem as well, because not only would I be hitting 8krpm, I'd be doing it in 100 degree weather. I'd definitely have to hit the 1k mile mark before the Vegas trip, and also probably get an OK from the guys at the shop.

But... I knew going into the purchase that long distances weren't the strong points on the Ninja. Riding it to work and putting around town is really what I'm more interested in doing. Both in Tahoe and in Seattle. Although highway treks aren't its strong point, it is more than enough bike to get me out hiking this summer :)

After contemplating the rpm results, I didn't really want to go back up the mountain pass. I wanted to give the bike a break before going up that beast. I cruised along some country roads. Took a left here, a right there--just sort of moseying around. There were lots of cows and horses around, so I decided to find a good place to stop and take some pictures of horses and maybe even get a chance to feed them, like I did up at the cabin when I was younger.

I was a bit scared of pulling off on the dirt and gravel, because even going 5mph on my gravel driveway feels like I don't have the control I'm used to on the street. I found a paved side street, that could have been a driveway, and took it. It wound around a little stream and then dead-ended at a house with a stables. I didn't really set out to park in front of someone's house and take pictures of their horses--but there was a colt (or tomboy foal) along with (presumably) his mama and papa in the fenced area--and it was just too cute to pass up:



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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Oh, and did I mention the wind yet? Holy Hoot-Nannies it was windy down in the valley today. Gave me great practice nearly getting knocked off my bike! I hunkered down a few times, ala ski tuck, to keep the wind-resistance down. And what would a strong-wind claim be without proof in the pudding! I mean, picture!

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It was time to head home, and I was dreading it. But, I ended up getting extremely lucky and a big truck got on the incline just before me, so I was giving the illusion "oh poop, I'm stuck behind this truck--oh well! I'll just have to go slow!"

I thought it was pretty slick.

Until a Harley zoomed past me and the truck about 50ft from a blind corner. Owned! The truck eventually got a group of five behind it, and had to pull over to let us by. I just pulled over at the next slow vehicle turnout and let everyone pass me--like a man with nothing to prove! I felt a bit shamed, but it turned out to be the perfect move, because then I got to hop out in front of the slow-moving truck. The truck blocked off any cars from tail-gating me as I slowly but surely made my way up the hill--just a little bit faster than the truck!

I hit the apex and decided to cruise around Upper Heavenly Village to give the bike a rest. It is nothing like "normal" Heavenly Village. One has condos upon condos upon trees, the other has shops upon casinos upon shops. Neither is really my cup of tea, but I did feel a bit envious of the condos in the winter time--talk about ski-in, ski-out! There was also a local-looking pizza pub that tempted me, but I steered clear, and made my way back down the Tahoe-side of the pass.

I swung by Kahle Community Center for 30minutes or so to see if any of the basketball or hockey playoffs were still going. Yes, but it was too early for either of them (4:30pm). I did a little workout, then got some gas on the way home. It looked a little on the empty side, but I was really sure how deep the tank went--so I filled it to the brim.

100 miles on this trip. 1.6 gallons. Holler! I think I even filled it further than it had been filled last time, so it is probably closer to 100mi / 1.3 gals. It is a 4.8gal tank, so I'm sitting pretty on the gas mileage so far. Spending $5 at the gas station instead of $50 feels good. No... it feels great :)

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5 Comments:

Blogger Schaefer said...

I'm really enjoying the blogging. I was planning on tagging you but I guess I'll have to find someone else, once I fill out my own 7 facts. Keep up the blogging and I'll see you in Vegas soon.

11:37 PM  
Blogger meanhappyguy said...

I still check your blog daily--can't wait for Vegas!

12:25 AM  
Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Ninja names:

Usagi Yojimbo, an obscure rabbit creature from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don't know why I thought of it, but it works.

Takayuki Masuda, a Japanese guy I went to camp with as a kid. We called him Taco, odd for a Japanese guy to be called a Mexican dish.

6:40 AM  
Blogger BrainMc said...

A non-riding, but motorcycle related piece of advice...When you go to another state to get your new license, make absolutely clear you want to transfer the motorcycle endorsement as well once you get it. I got screwed when I moved to Georgia and didn't tell them I wanted to transfer the motorcycle portion of my license as well. Don't assume it's automatic. If I had done it when I turned in my Alabama license to the GA DMV, I could have just taken the written and kept my endorsement. Since I didn't find out until later, I had to do the written and riding test. By that time, I had already sold my bike and didn't have my next one yet. I was able to take a 3 day Motorcycle Safety Foundation class through the state and that counted as the riding portion so all I had to do was pass the written exam. So of course until I did all of that, I was driving without an endorsement for about 10 years.

8:44 AM  
Blogger staceyface said...

horsies! oh my goodness that video is cute. this blog has everything i need. which is really just pictures and videos of animals and the occassional funny story. oh and ninja motorcycles. that's pretty sweet too.

that hike was awesome. it was brandon though, not another brien. one of the best spring breaks ever..even though i wasn't in school :D

11:14 AM  

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