Saturdays: Return to Old Stations (2012)
Pictures start here
Timing for this years ‘romp’ was the first problem, the date conflicted with the yearly SMBC run to Minden for the yearly ‘Boot Award’. Okay, we lost a few but the ten that showed had a really good time.
The ride started on a sour note, my right mirror fell-off three time e/r to the Golden Gate Bridge. Thankfully Randy Hendricks was there, with duct tape. Oh goody! Nina and Joe Steiner were there with Randy at the bridge, Bill Grass and neighbor John Guy rode up with me. The six of us set-off for the breakfast rendezvous in Santa Rosa almost on-time. Brent and Sue Hansen were already there, having arrived early so as to have a table set for us. Don Theile pulled-up on his Gold Wing, with trailer no less. Don was using this run as a precursor to his trip fly fishing in Montana. Randy Bush showed-up just as we were finishing the last cup’o joe. We were now ten in number.
Our planned ride to Old Station was upset with the fire in Manton (Ponderosa Fire), that approach to Old Station needed to be scrapped. We rode for Calistoga, Mt. St. Helena, Williams and IS#5 for lunch at Nancy’s Airport Cafe in Willows. We experienced heavy (‘smellable’ smoke) around Corning, otherwise it was very minor if noticeable at all. Distant views were, however, out of the question.
After searching for a way to reserve Ash Creek Road for the ride to Sunday’s breakfast, we were forced onto it by gates and fire closure. We had about an eight-mile ‘wendy’ (read U-turn), and found ourselves on Ash Creek Road. Besides being unlined and paved, Ash Creek takes you past miles and miles of stone fence, but not like any you’re apt to have seen. Four feet square, comprised of un mortared rocks, these fences stretch for at least four miles. Think of the labor involved. Whew!
Ash Creek Rd ‘T’s into Dersch Rd which T’s into Hwy #44. I’d called earlier to confirm the Hwy was opened as it had suffered restrictions earlier in the week. I was equally relieved to find Shingletown as I’d remembered it. The fire touched the southern side of Shingletown but you couldn’t see any damage. Our market shopping became involved - more groceries were bought than consumed.
We arrived in Old Station and started to ‘settle-in’. The lawn needed to be cut and Randy stepped-up with Bill’n me doing string trimming. Throughout all this bedrolls were being set, Randy Bush pitched a tent, Don took the trailer (air conditioned) and John Guy made space next to an open window. The girls (Nina and Sue), with help, made the salad and Randy Hendricks set-up a steamer’n potato affair for asparagus. We ate well!
Saturday morning was ‘the day’ to ride. We headed for Fall River Mills via a very scenic backroad and arrived at the Fall River Mills Hotel where staff offered us the dinning room and an all you can eat breakfast at a dirt-cheap price per/head. Bangers, scrambled eggs, hash browns, orange juice, coffee and tea and pancakes.
Thereafter it was off for Hwy #89 via a county road (A-19) through Glenview (where was it?), and Dana (one closed store). We paused in McCloud at the museum (closed do the fire situations) and headed out for Gazelle. Randy approached and asked it there was a thrift store about as he only had long pants beneath his aerostitch suit; he wanted some shorts. We were e/r to Hwy#5 when I had the bright idea (all my ideas are ‘bright’. No? Don’t answer that!), to cruise the town of Mount Shasta.
Nina was riding with me (I had the padded backrest mind you..), and she was alerted to our detour and need to find a thrift store. We spotted one and what a find! Nina got a slick pair of jeweled jeans, Randy Bush his shorts and me, I got a new swimsuit.
We took the business IS#5 route through town for the freeway and just north of Weed, took the Gazelle turn-off. Randy Bush alerted me to a mechanical problem just prior so I took a ‘stop point’ beneath the IS#5 overpass. It was determined (with Brent’s professional input), that the stumbling was most likely a gas feed problem. We poked, prodded and head scratched. Brent’s short-term R/x was to bypass all the hidden plumbing on Randy’s ‘California friendly’ emissions control system and run gas straight to the carbs on each side. Chris just happened to have several feet of fuel line on board and wal-lah. We were again on the road to Callahan and what a spectacular road it is.
Arrival in Callahan presented two immediate problems. The girls wanted a restroom, and we needed shade. Well, from prior experience I recalled the location of the old school house and made a bee-line down the loose gravel access road. Yes! Shade! There was an outbuilding that could have been a rest room, but alas, locked. The girls headed up the hill to the highway and the local saloon where girls are always welcome. Meanwhile, Randy who’s been sweating, uses their absence to do his stripper routine so as to don his newly acquired shorts. Problem? Oh just an important button at the top of the fly. Randy was dressed now for inner city high school.
I tried to duplicate a fantastic photo taken by our resident artist, Dick Zunkel, when an old Old Station ride last visited here. He captured the nearly collapsing Callahan Hotel using the highly distorted ‘float glass’ reflection from the building across the street. Well, two strikes already. Somebody’s refurbishing the hotel (there’s a set of gonads!), and I couldn’t find a pane of glass with enough distortion. Dick’s still the ‘boss’ here.
Etna is just about 15 miles down the valley (Scotts Valley) and Main Street was well marked. We turned-up Main Street as I wanted the group to experience the Drug Store now mostly a gift shop, but with a pharmacy. It also sports a turn of the century honest to goodness soda fountain, where the antique spigot is still in use. We all had some kind of fountain confection. All my prior visits to Etna (maybe four at the most), the museum in the old firehouse across the street was closed. Not today. The Daughters of…(I’m not sure, DAR? Daughters of the Pioneers?), run the museum, it’s free but the guest book and donation bucket are prominent. Here we learned that Brent used to live in Etna as a budding teenager and worked a dairy farm in Etna. Who knew?
After dallying a while we mounted-up and took the long three-block ride to the Etna Brewing Company for lunch. They’ve quite a list and make their own root beer. We had a table for all of us and had a great time.
Leaving Etna in the rear-view mirror we made a bee-line to and through Fort Jones (Cavalry outpost like Old Station), on CA#3 for Yreka and gas. Some weren’t aware of ‘old town’ Yreka, it’s historic downtown. We rode there, took a ten-fifteen minute stretch and jumped onto IS# 5 to Redding, about 95 miles south. Gassed again. (You don’t want to buy gas in the mountains - it’s really ‘pricey’.)
We rode Hwy #CA 299 for Burney where I’d planned dinner but that was nixed for left-overs at Old Station. Some shopped Safeway for dips and the like. Delay? Well yes, seems John Guy needed to phone his mother and keep fellow riders from their evening brew and cocktails…only minor grumbling.
It’s now dark and we ride carefully the last 22 miles with high brights, etc. No deer seen. We party till Midnight and turn-in.
Sunday is clean-up and everyone pitched-in, stripping beds, changing sheets, dishes, garbage etc. We got the house in order and the laundry started. While our biggest critic (my wife Pat), wasn’t present she eventually would be - we all knew it!
We left for breakfast about 9:30 am, this after checking doors, windows, water heater (off), checking the trailer and closing the gates. Don Theile left about 30 minutes prior to our departure. He was headed for Alturas and points north.
Since I’d already taken the group over Ash Creek I took them down Dersch Road to Anderson and then the two mile romp on IS# 5 to Cottonwood. John Guy and Randy Hendricks missed the off-ramp but we were soon connected. We were headed to the restaurant in historic Cottonwood where management put tables together for us. Nice meal, nice time.
We all jumped on IS# 5 headed south. John Guy and Randy Hendricks wanted a direct route, everyone else, a scenic one. We parted company at the Hwy#20 intersection in Williams. My group (Grass, Steiner, Steiner, Bush, Hansen and Hansen) headed for Middletown, opting for a lunch at Jack in the Box in Lower Lake, gas in Middletownm and a quartermile double-back for Butts Canyon. We rode this passed the ‘hubcap farm’ and stretched at the blacksmith’s shop in Pope Valley. We rode down the valley to Chiles Valley and then took Lower Chiles Valley to its terminus with Hwy #128. We followed this road to the boat launch at Lake Hennesey (aka: Cohn Dam), where there’s a restroom facility for the ladies. Here we discussed Randy Bush’s recurring motor stumbling. At Sue’s insistance Randy was to ride with them to their home’ s shop where he could check his e-mail regarding work the next day, a day when the motor would have cooled and the valves checked.
We parted at Hwy#29/Hwy#128 intersection in Rutherford. That left Grass, the Steiner’s and me to find our way home. We opted for Hwy #121 to Hwy #37 - BIG MISTAKE. They were racing at Infinion Raceway that afternoon and we were caught-up in a major ‘clusterfluck’. Traffic delay cost us an hour’n half and took my temperature gauge to just below the ‘red’. We couldn’t lane-split as they’d put up cones every twenty feet to create lanes where they normally don’t exist.
Golden Gate Bridge back-up was to be expected and we could generally lane-split. Steiner had a harder time of it given the width of his saddlebags (Nina was fine!).
All’n all, a great ride, great company and a lot’o fond memories.
Chris - thanks again for another great ride. I easily made it home today after enjoying the hospitality of Brent and Sue last night. Thanks also for encouraging me to take them up on their offer. We had a pleasant visit last night, breakfast this AM, and then Brent went over my GS for a couple of hours. He found MAJOR crud and mechanical problems in both carbs - which explained a lot of the symptoms I was having. Bike ran great on the way home, will be checking mileage for improvements later this week.
Big thanks again to Brent and Sue for inviting me into their home, and for Brent working me into his schedule today. I owe you both a cold, quality beer. Or several.
Pictures from Chris
I used an empty 1.75 liter bottle which was filled with water. At the rest stop this was witnessed and the cops were called. CHP rolled-in to check that bottle. Nice going Steiner.