The Breakfast Club: 2011 Sequoia Camp-out
Friday, Sep 16
Many SMBC trips have had some sort of theme. This one was no different, although I did my best to confuse the issue on the ride home. More on that, later.
I got up at 5:30 AM Friday morning. The bike was packed and ready to go save for food items for the cooler still in the refrigerator. Preparation. That’s what it’s all about. I loaded up the cooler with the items for the three in camp meals and strapped it on the back of the bike. Gear on, garage door up, I’m on the road at exactly 6 AM. Next stop is the Cozy Cup in Hollister where I’ll meet the other campers for breakfast.
About half way to Hollister I realize that the morning vitamin pills I usually take were still sitting on the counter where I’d placed them the night before. I was prepared, just didn’t carry through with execution. About the same time I noticed I’d not turned on the GPS. I don’t need it to get where I’m going, but do use it for the track logs that I attach to some of the trip reports. Oh well. Guess I wasn’t quite prepared after all. The track log from San Mateo to Hollister is boring, anyway.
I pulled in front of the Cozy Cup about 7:14. A minute later Tom and Fred pulled up. Breakfast was fine. After breakfast we headed south on 25. It was the coolest ride south I can remember. The fog was at ground level in quite a few spots. We stopped at highway 198 for a few minutes; a spot where we typically start shedding layers. Not this ride. We were soon back on our bikes for the next leg into Coalinga for fuel and another break.
It’s boringly straight most of the 100 miles from Coalinga to Three Rivers. The perfectly straight section from Hanford to Visalia is down to one lane in each direction with a double yellow while they are building what will be the eastbound lanes. At least it wasn’t hot.
After getting fuel in Three Rivers we rode the 15 miles into the park to the campground at Buckeye Flat… the almost full at 1 PM on a Friday afternoon campground at Buckeye Flat. We grabbed two sites side-by-side. This is why we leave the bay area at 6 AM. Had we left at 7 AM we may have still found two sites, but certainly not side-by-side.
Setting up camp proved I wasn’t the only person not quite prepared. Tom forgot to pack his Kermit chair. Fred had his chair, but didn’t pack a Thermarest.
Once camp was set up Fred and Tom headed back to Three Rivers to get firewood, extra beer, and Fred’s dinner. When they returned we did what we usually do when camping: talk, drink beer, take a walk down to the river, etc. The river was flowing pretty full this year.
Back in camp we made our dinner and tried to make a dent in the beer supply while watching the fire. By 9 PM the fire had died down and we crawled off to find our sleeping bags. I slept soon and quite well.
Saturday, Sep 17
One down side of camping at Buckeye Flat is the 6:30 AM wakeup call all campers get in the form of garbage pick up. If the sounds of large trucks in low gears doesn’t wake you up the sound of hydraulic lifts picking up heavy steel bear proof garbage bins and banging them around to knock out all the trash will. Still, I managed to turn over and get some more sleep before getting up to make coffee and breakfast.
It was at breakfast where Fred showed just how unprepared he really was. He had all the implements for making espresso… except for the coffee. Good thing I had extra freshly roasted beans. Tom provided the paper towels Fred needed to sop up excess grease from the bacon he was making.
After breakfast we took a little ride. Fred wanted to visit CA 245 as it had been years since he last rode that road. Tom and I mentioned taking Dry Creek Rd to get to 245, a route that we’d done in the past. That’s what we did. We re-entered the park on 180 and rode the Generals Highway to Lodgepole to refresh supplies. We lucked out on the leg from Lodgepole to the campground. The Generals Highway has been under construction for the last three or four years. On weekdays it is open once in the hours between 8 and 5. On weekends there is a typical 20 minute delay to get access to the several miles of one lane road. We waited less than two minutes. Even better: the flagman let us proceed to the front of the line and go first.
Once back in camp we spent a lazy afternoon reading, taking pictures, taking a nap, etc. The temps were mild compared to previous years. None of us felt the need to walk down to the river and get wet to cool down. Before dark we fixed dinner and were sitting down to eat when Jessica and her friend (Ryoko?) arrived. They were staying in Three Rivers, but brought Fred his guitar. They left to find dinner at a restaurant then came back to spend a short while by the camp fire before leaving, taking Fred’s guitar back with them.
The fire was down to nothing about 10 PM and we were in our tent’s shortly thereafter.
Sunday, Sep 18
Surprise, surprise… the garbage trucks didn’t make a pick-up Sunday morning. We got to sleep in. Didn’t make much difference as we were up sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 and started to break camp shortly thereafter. By 8:30 we were on the road to Visalia for breakfast.
Fred was introduced to the Cheesy Hash-brown Potato Casserole at the Main Street Cafe in Visalia. That’s a full meal worth of side dish that is an option to go with your main entree. Neither he nor I could finish the dish.
The route home varies slightly from the route to the park. Instead of taking 198 all the way to 25 we take Old Coalinga/Los Gatos road, picking it up after a short spin through the oil fields and stock yards north of Coalinga. There is a county park that is pretty close to half way between Visalia and Hollister where we stop for a break. It was much warmer coming home than on the outbound ride, but not too hot.
It was the leg on Coalinga Rd between the park and SR 25 that I found myself not quite as prepared as I could have been. There is a concrete pad in a section of road where water sometimes flows. This is the first time I’ve seen water there this time of year. There wasn’t much. I was not going very fast. I had plenty of time to read the “Caution: Very Slippery” sign. I aimed for clean concrete and made my way through.
Why is the rear end of my bike trying to pass the front end? Of course once out of the wet the rear end decided to regain traction. I though I was going to go down on the left… then I though I was going to save it… and finally the bike crashed on the right. Sigh…. I’ve not been very nice to my bike this year, what with bouncing off of deer in April and lying down in the dirt last month.
Tom and Fred slowed way down and made it through the water without issue. They helped me lift my bike. I needed to put the mirrors back where they belong before we could get back on our way. Total damage is a bent right crash bar and bends in my right pannier. Time to get the big hammer out, again.
We stopped in Hollister for gas and a snack before continuing to 101 and home. I split off 101 at 85 and was home by 3:30. Good trip. Join us when we do it next year.