Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 19, 2012 - Visalia, CA Comfort Inn and Suites

We had a great night.  It was SOOO dark and quiet.  It looked like a little rain on the horizon.  A few drops fell before we packed up, but were dry by the time we did the final packing.  We headed out towards some of the sights in Kings Canyon.  There are giant sequoia trees everywhere and some of them are ancient and huge.  We toured an area of giants, took some pictures and moved on.  The road ends 25 miles away, without much to see, so headed back towards Sequoia NP. 

One Of The Fallen Giant Sequoia Trees.
This One has Been Down For Over 100 Years

Don got his National Park passport stamp at each location.  We were approached by two other riders, who told us about a construction zone in our direction that had up to a one-hour delay.  We decided not to mess around and left the visitors center right away. 
One Of The Few Trees Not Blocked Off By Fencing.
Walking On The Ground Around A Tree Will Damage The Root  System

The Giant Called Gen Grant.
It is HUGE!

Entrance To Sequoia NP

As we drove through the Sequoia NP, we were in awe at the big trees everywhere, particularly in the area called “The Grove of Giants”.  It had been maybe 25 years since I had been to either of these parks, and as usual, the scenery was spectacular. 

We continued down the mountain and towards Visalia, CA.  We stopped in a line of traffic and thought that this was the one-hour delay.  We turned off the bikes and got some cold drinks out of the coolers.  All of a sudden the traffic started moving.  WOW – this is great, no delay to speak of. 

The road was a mix of gravel, mud, sand and everything else that made it a nasty ride for over three miles.  We ended up being the second and third last vehicle behind the pilot vehicle.  We got back on asphalt, and not 100 feet later, just before a sharp curve, DOWN I WENT. 
Park Police Investigating The Wreck
Skid Marks Seen Immediately To Her Right Foot

View In The Direction From Which We Were Travelling

The Bike Where It Stopped (now in the upright position)
We Disconnected The Camper And Moved It Out Of The Way

OUCH…I slid sixty feet and came to rest along a low retaining wall.  The bike was facing the opposite direction, and the camper was at an acute angle to the bike, still in the right direction.  I paused for a moment, and then got up.

Don and the construction safety coordinator (imagine that) Roy Jacobs, came over to me.  They both witnessed the event.  They checked me out, and then looked at the bike and camper.  We disconnected the camper, and righted the bike.  The next hour was a flurry of phone calls and people coming to the scene.  Our phones didn’t have service, so all calls were made with Roy’s phone. 

The park police showed up and did the usual questions, and paperwork.  She was very helpful as was Roy.  We weren’t sure if the bike was roadworthy, so we called for a tow truck.  There was a mix up that we couldn’t figure out, and the tow truck was cancelled.  The park police came back three hours later and was pissed nothing had happened with the tow truck.  She made some calls as did Roy and got things back in line with the tow truck. 

The park police questioned us about a stolen portable gas grill from the campground where we had stayed.  The people next to us only came to fix supper, and then stayed at the lodge.  They were all drunk and our conversation with them was odd.  They left a number of items on the picnic table and left.  I had noticed in the morning the only thing left was a cheesy tablecloth on the picnic table.  I told the park police about that and the large group of Chicano’s just across the road from the suspect site.  We offered to have her inspect our camper and Don’s trailer for the stolen items.  She inspected our stuff and said OK.  She had mentioned that some people in the campground had told her about two bikers from Ohio, who might know something.  She then went on to tell us about all the “Euros” that come over here.  They only have a passport, and large sums of cash.  They go to WalMart and buy $500.00 or more of camping gear, travel around the area, the leave all gear where they last stayed, then go home.  It is a headache for the park service.  After 24 hours, they gather the gear and store it und the description of “evidence”.  After 12 months, they have to dispose of it.  They can’t sell it or give it away.  It is another bureaucratic Catch-22.  Too bad the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers/Sisters, or some half-way house can’t benefit from the items listed as “evidence”.  

We were surprised to see a tarantula crossing the road.  We found out later, the area has thousands of them.  Once a year, they all migrate elsewhere and cross the roads in huge swarms.

Tarantula Crossing The Road
Compare His Size To The White Stripe

Finally at 6:35 PM the tow truck arrived.  The wreck happened at exactly 12:30 PM.  Don left to go down the hill immediately after the arrival of the tow truck to make some calls and meet us further down the road. 

We had made arrangements with a local Honda dealer to look the bike over.  It was too late now to drop it off at Honda, so we opted for taking the bike to a hotel down the street from the Honda dealer. 

The road down the mountain was probably the most treacherous piece of road we had had on the whole trip.  It had quite a few turns beyond 180 degrees, steep decent, and narrow pavement.  We could watch cars inching their way up and down the road from our vantage point at the scene of my wreck.  It was a slow painful ride in the tow truck down the mountain.  The hours of delay, the heat, the dust, the unknowns were quickly taking its toll on me. 

We got to the hotel, unloaded the bike and settled in for the night.  We had to be at the Honda dealer at 9:00 AM tomorrow.

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