Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Las Vegas, Red Rocks

The drive into Vegas, the towns on the outskirts of Vegas took me by surprise. There is some shady activity going on out there. Mix the dry desolation of the desert with poverty and legal prostitution and people will make a way to get by. I might be making assumptions from the comfort of my car driving by on the interstate, but the area seemed really rough and I had no desire to lurk around the area.

We pulled into Las Vegas mid morning after a good two huge days of riding in Tahoe that were stacked on four days of riding before that. I felt my bits and pieces wearing down and even though the timing was perfect, we parked it in the trail head parking lot, I put my foot down and insisted that we take rest day.  It was turning out to be a scoarcher of a day and riding in the heat of the day isn’t the funnest way to spend time. John used a few hours to disassemble the back of the van to charge the AC and the extra love that a 25 year old German van needs which appently includes replacing fuel lines in the parking lot. John waned about the size of a tool box to pack, and after much consideration he packed a pretty hefty repertoire, including extra fuel lines that came in very handy. I love the Westy but I don't think I would feel as comfortable traveling in it without John and his mechanical savy. After cleaning up the yard sale we drove into the Red Rocks National Park.
Lucy loves the nomadic lifestyle

Neither of us had been into the park even though combined we have been to Vegas more than a dozen times. We enjoyed jumping out and snapping some pictures, saw a wild burro and looked for the alleged wild tortoises. Red Rocks is a major climbing destination (we have yet to climb there). It was fun to watch people gear up in the parking lots, knowing that this is what we must look like.

There didn’t seem to be much free camping in the vicinity so we camped in the one designated camping spot near the park. I think we hit them at a bad time but it felt like an incredible waste of money. There was no running water in the whole spread, it was under construction ( lets hope it was to bring water in) and a mess, no showers, no shade. The place was packed to boot, it would have been great to have been able to find a spot in the the main area and strike up a conversation with most likely other climbers but the place was at capacity. There was a spur for Rvs and we ended up finding a spot there and parked it for the night. It took all the will power we had to fight the urge to indulge in the city. Seriously. We were inches away. I made us a salad, John cracked another beer and we embraced being dirt bags. We invited a Swiss couple to share our site with us. They flew into LA and rented a cargo van and were hitting all the climbing spots in the south west.

The next morning we beat the heat and went for one of our shortest and fastest rides (for me) at Cottonwood and rode up to black velvet canyon. It was nice to be able to pedal hard for 90 minutes after being at elevation. The riding was fun enough but nothing to be blown away by.
I insisted on going to an In and Out burger in down town Vegas. I eat about one hamburger a year and for some reason I thought that today needed to be the day and I was under the impression that I was missing something by never have partaken in the chain. John tells me that I usually like the idea of something more than actually doing it. He knows me too well.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Second Stop: Crater Lake, Oregon

I am going to call this a stop because of the sheer grandness. Not far from Oakridge and on our way south to Downieville I begged John (which took little effort) to detour for a few hours to see Crater Lake. We had both never seen it and knew that it was a must do since we were so close. So worth the afternoon.

That is Wizzard Island in the middle of the lake.

There is  narrow road that circumnavigates the lake with countless pull offs. The whole experience is rather breath taking. We opted for a shorter route that ran along one side of the lake. We have friends that rode biked around the lake earlier this year, seems like a great idea.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Road trip 2014 - First Stop: Oak Ridge, Oregon

After weeks of preparation, countless hours of planning and a couple years dreaming of a fall bike trip in the south west, we are finally on the road. The van, Stella, is decked out and ready for the three of us to call her home for the next four weeks. We are hitting all the classic riding spots along the way, extending the beautiful summer that we have had in Bellingham. John has pulled out all the stops and everything is to the nines.

 The first stop of Oak Ridge, OR, was a days drive from our home base of Bellingham, WA. We had never been there but when we mentioned it to people they insisted that we make the trek. We pulled into town and hit the Oak Ridge bike shop,  picked their brains about riding, conditions, camping and the sorts. From there we headed to what seemed to be the one happening spot in town besides the Burger King for dinner and a pint the local brew pub, Brewers Union Local 180. The beer is a worthy stop on its own, they offer traditional English style beers. We met a lovely couple that were passing through from Bend on their way to Coos Bay to go crabbing with their families for the weekend.

The first ride, The Alpine Trail, of the trip was a shuttle offered by Oregon Adventures. We had never done something commercial like this but figured it was the way to experience the most trail. It was totally worth it. We ended up ridding 20+ miles of alpine downhill. The trail was swooping, fast and fun through meadows, old growth forests and alpine rivers. We took Lucy with us this ride and she did awesome, all 20 miles.  The shuttle was full with about 8 other people. A couple from Whistler on their way to LA. A father and son who meet up each summer and ride together. And a few other guys who all wanted to hear about the riding in our area. We ended up really enjoying and riding with the father and son. When the ride was over we stopped and sat down with them for a bite and ended up talking for hours. The ride ended and spit us out right through the above covered bridge and in the parking lot was a great little bed and breakfast that served beer and sandwiches. We partaken - of course.

 From there we drove further east to Waldo Lake, which is breathtakingly scenic, peaceful and alpine. All of the above photos. We camped here a night and woke at first light to ride to the Twin Peaks trail. Epic trail. Do it.
I toted our favorite local beers and the last cucumbers from the our garden.

The view from the back seat of the van at sunset.

John toted the Uke on the trip and plays while I drive.

We were thoroughly impressed by the fast fun nature of the trail and the amazing view from the top of Twin Peaks. I opted not to summit the peak because it looked like a huge hike a bike over and scree surf on the descent. Hindsight and scoping out the descent it looked totally doable and fun. Next time. 

 There will be a net time, Oak Ridge, Oregon is awesome and totally worth the stop for a few days of great riding.

Just bringing it all back to earth, we are driving an 80's van. Day one the lights for the spedmeter went out. John is good at problem solving in German.