The talk of the town yesterday seemed to indicate that everybody was planning to roll down Interstate 5. From Yreka to San Jose it’s about 350 miles. To complicate matters it was going to be near 100° for most of it. With that kind of distance in that kind of heat there are two schools of thought: leave early or deal with it. We slept in a little too late for the leave early plan so we made due.
We had a nice breakfast at the Black Bear Diner. It’s the only place I know of where even the diet plate is so much food you barely finish.
Black Bear Diner (C is average. No grade inflation here):
|Seating||A||We lucked out on this trip! Despite the large number of riders on a crowded Sunday morning we were seated quickly.|
|Atmosphere||B||The restaurant had a mix of decor that reflected the local area as well as the corporate fodder.|
|Wait Staff||B||Our waitress was friendly, but wasn’t quite on top of keeping some of the smaller aspects like drinks filled. Given that the restaurant was overwhelmed I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.|
|Food||C||The black Bear Diner is one of those places that has 100 things on the menu. Everything is at least good but nothing is great.|
|Value||A||Every meal here is about twice the food you think it is. I don’t think there is a place in existence that has a better “value”.|
|Overall||B||I’m happy to patronize the Black Bear Diner. I’ve always been treated well here in the food is good.|
We got on the road crazy late. It was nearly 11 am by the time we started heading south. I saw a postcard for Lake Siskiyou in the restaurant that looked very pretty. Thus, I had to go find it and see it. Fortunately the lake was just to the west of our ride a little ways out of town. Once we were on Interstate 5 traffic was rolling it at a pretty good clip. We found Lake Siskiyou inside of a small campground. It was only a dollar to get in so we all paid the tab and were off to the lake.
I’d love to actually camp here and see the lake during a sunrise or sunset. It’s unfortunate with all the fires around as the views were not nearly as crisp as they could’ve been.
Nick finally got his clear body of water to swim in. Since Lake Siskiyou is a fairly small body of water it was warm.
Ann was our fearless leader for the day. That KTM would blaze a trail down Interstate 5 back down to the Bay Area. After a few hundred miles and 100° heat that smile faded :-).
We decided we’d stop about every hour to rest and rehydrate. The stretch from Mount Shasta to Anderson was probably one of the most difficult I’ve done in a while. Traffic was fairly condensed and aggressive all the way down the mountain. When riding in a group the further back in the group you are the more difficult it is to keep up. The lower we got in elevation the thicker the smoke got from all the fires. As we crossed Lake Shasta you could barely see the far edges of the lake due to the smoke. Just before Redding the California Highway Patrol was running a sting operation on the north side of the freeway. They had a patrol officer sitting on top of a bridge tagging cars for speeding. A little ways down the road there was a set of squad cars waiting to pull over the unaware speeder. Fortunately they were on the other side of the freeway. 😛
We arrived in Anderson at about 1:30 and hit up the local A&W for lunch. The lady in front of us had the A&W comprehensive coupon book. She let us take a set of coupons to give us a cheaper deal on an already cheap lunch. The gesture was well received! The obvious thing to get here though was root beer floats. With the heat behind us and ahead of us it was nice to have a refreshment. The size of this thing was astronomical! It literally must’ve been over 1000 calories in itself. Why they serve something that huge I haven’t a clue.
The stretch between Anderson and Willows was equally difficult if not more so. Sure, the road is straight as an arrow. The heat however really started to sap our strength. Some 80 miles later we rolled into Willows exhausted. There was a decision to make: take Highway 20 over to US 101 in hopes of cooler weather or stay the course. With it already being 3:30 PM the group decided to press on. With 45 minutes of rehydration and people watching out in the sticks we felt good enough to keep rolling.
From here the main goal was to get down to Interstate 80. Once we got to Interstate 80 the breeze from the bay would bring the temperatures down to a very reasonable level. Being the last day of a holiday weekend traffic on Interstate 80 was going to be miserable. Our reality exactly matched our prediction.
We stopped again in Vacaville for gas and said our goodbyes. Steve and Anne would stay on Interstate 80 towards the city while Nick and I would catch Interstate 680 to the south. It was a great four days and thanks goes to Steve for reaching out and pushing me to go.
Nick and I made the last 80 miles back home in one stretch. Before we left I told him that every motorcyclist who travels usually will run into one long shitty day on the interstate. This was his day. Sure, we could’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn and done more miles and had a better ride. Sometimes though taking time to soak in the people and the experience is worth the price of a less-than-perfect ride.
All in all it was a great trip. I’m glad I went. The Range of Light Gypsy Tour is an experience that every motorcyclist in Northern California should try to do at least once.
Till next time…