ABCs of Touring
Northern California Trip - April 2002

Dave Schultheis

The ABCs of Touring is a program of the Harley Owners Group that encourages owners to ride throughout the country (and the world!) and gather points by taking photographs of official city, county, state and national signs while traveling.

At the time of this trip I had not yet received my awards from the 2001 program (pin, patch, bandanna, zipper pull, ratcheting screwdriver and possibly a plaque) but I had been assured that they would be mailed in April.

My co-worker Dave Clements has a 2001 FLHT Standard that he got during 2001. He had done well in the ABCs for 2001 and wanted to do even better for 2002. So he set up a trip through northern California and invited me along for the ride.

Friday, April 26, 2002

The weather was supposed to be "okay," with possible chances of showers over some parts of the route. We kept hoping things would be pleasant, and for the most part they were.

I got up at 7:20 a.m., handled some e-mail, finished packing my saddlebag liners, then packed them again, then rearranged some stuff.

The saddlebag liners are great, but this was the first time I had used them, and it showed. The theory is that you put everything into the liners and then put them into the saddlebags. Unfortunately, I had things in the saddlebags already and the liners didn't fit right. So I had to do some rearranging. Next time I will do better.

Everything finally fit together pretty well and I left home at 10:00 a.m. with cool temperatures and grey skies.

After a short stop for refueling, I continued north on Almaden Expressway, south on CA 85, north on CA 87, south on Interstate 280, north on Interstate 680 into Alameda County.

Shortly after turning east on CA 84 there was a bit of wind, but there wasn't too much traffic to deal with in the middle of the day. The City of Livermore is growing, so I found a new city limit sign just east of the S-turns, so I stopped and took a couple pictures.

There was some rough road due to construction, but light traffic made it pretty easy to handle.

I turned east on Concannon, then north on Arroyo, which turns into "L" Street, then east on 4th Street and east on East Street. Though the speeds are low through residential areas and school zones, this route avoids the super-slab.

East Street goes out past the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, then I turned north on Greenville Road, went under I-580 and east on Altamont Pass Road. This route is also a little "slower," but more scenic and avoids the high-speed slab called 580.

While riding on Altamont Pass Road I observed a small pickup truck parked at the side of the road facing the opposite direction. I also noticed a light bar on the roof. As I was riding safely, I had no need to adjust my speed, but I noticed as I passed that the truck said "traffic unit" on the side. It wasn't important enough for me to stop and see who it was, but it appears that the Alameda County Sheriff's Department is interested in keeping speeds down in this out-of-the-way portion of the County.

I continued east on Grant Line Road, turned southeast on Bryon Highway/Bryon Rd., got a picture at the Tracy city limit sign, then continued east on Grant Line Road East and got onto Interstate 205 in Tracy. This is a short section of freeway that transitions onto Interstate 5, and while there was some traffic, it wasn't too bad.

Shortly after getting onto I-5, I turned east on CA 120, continued a couple of offramps, stopped for a Hy 120 sign, then continued a few blocks to Dave's house. It was about 80 miles and about two hours ride to their mailbox.

I called Michele B. on the cellular phone to thank her for coming in to work for me, so that I could have the day off, then called Dave to see where he was.

He and the kids were on their way home from an errand, so I rode through beautiful downtown Manteca to visit my friend Wendy and when I got back it was almost an hour later. What traffic!

I got reacquainted with the three kids and the dog, enjoyed watching Dave help his middle child ("the birthday boy") find the clues hidden around the house which culminated in finding a brand new bicycle!

Dave's wife Pandora got home, then Grandma came over, then we had pizza delivered (birthday request!), we watched a movie about a dog and a mailman with David Arquette and Paul Sorvino, took a walk around the neighborhood, came home for ice cream cake and eventually everybody went to bed.

One of the children had kindly given up her bedroom for the night so that I could have a nice place to sleep. I appreciated that, else I would have had to sleep on the c(ouch).

Miles for the day = 86.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

As expected, I was awake early (happy children!), got up about 6:20 a.m., dressed and re-packed the saddle bag liners.

Dave's wife loaded the kids and their stuff into the car for the short drive over to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Dave and I moved the bikes out to the street, made sure everything was filled, tight and clean, and enjoyed the quiet of the morning.

Friends Lee and Kelly arrived in a little while, so we warmed the bikes, and left the house at 8:10 a.m.

We filled all three fuel tanks at the Union 76 station around the corner, then worked our way through town and north on Jack Tone Rd., the longest and straightest road in San Joaquin County.

We cut over on Baker Road to get the "Waterloo" sign, then ran into Clements on CA 88 and stopped at Lay's Restaurant for breakfast.

[If you don't regularly read r.m.h or don't know what it is, skip the next paragraph and continue.]

[We had invited Redbeard Emeritus to join us between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. We arrived about 9:20 a.m., just a tad late. Dave asked the "server" if she'd seen him and she said she had not. So we lifted a glass of orange juice and ate like pigs in his honor.]

I had French toast, others had biscuits and gravy and eggs and bacon and other forms of nutrition (!) and sustenance (!). We all enjoyed our breakfast and some of us almost licked our plates clean.

After breakfast I called my friend Mark on the cel-phone. He said it was raining in his part of El Dorado county and that he would not be coming down to see us.

After taking pictures at the Clements post office and fire station, we continued east on Hy 88, then turned north on CA 124, got pics at Ione, continued north to CA 16, then jogged over to CA 49, the Gold Country Highway.

It was just a few miles to Plymouth ("Old Pokerville"), then Nashville (not much more than a gas station), then El Dorado. I called Mark again from the Tower Mart on Pleasant Valley Road, told him that the weather was fine, and he agreed to meet us at Hangtown Harley-Davidson. He told me a quick way to get into Placerville, so we continued a few miles to Diamond Springs (picture), turned north on Missouri Flat Road, and then followed Forni Road to 1st Street and then onto Main Street to the dealership.

Mark got there a few minutes after we did, and while he'd had rain at his house in the forest, it was much nicer west of there.

Our plan was to get a few tee-shirts with the soon-to-be-extinct "Hangtown" logo on the back. The hot rumor is that the Harley-Davidson Motor Company has forced ? persuaded ? Hangtown H-D to discontinue usage of the hangman's noose as a part of their logo.

Evidently the decision-makers in Milwaukee have never been to Placerville and seen the eight-foot tall wooden sign on U.S. 50 that says "Welcome to Old Hangtown," and realized that the hangman's noose is a part of the history of the area.

Anyway, we bought "stuff," packed into away on the bikes and continued north on Hy 49 through town. We passed Coloma and Cool, stopped for pictures at the American River (El Dorado County - Placer County line), and took a few group shots, then continued into Auburn for fuel.

We stopped at Rowdy Randy's gas station at 1:40 p.m., then continued north on Hy 49, stopped at the Nevada County line, continued into Grass Valley and then to Nevada City about 2:35 p.m.

Mark had decided that this was as far as he would be going, so he turned around and went back. [I later talked to him and he said he didn't really mind the "out and back," he got to see a completely different view of the scenery in the opposite direction.]

From the Chevron Station just off the freeway we rode through Nevada City, then followed Hy 49 as it split off of Hy 20 and went up toward the Tahoe National Forest (pictures).

We arrived in Downieville at 4:00 p.m., stopped for a rest and started to feel a few raindrops.

It started to rain just a few miles out of town. We were gaining altitude to go over Yuba Pass and we had rain, sleet, hail and snow. Or was it rain, hail, sleet and snow?

Dave says we went by the sign for Sierra City, but I must have blinked and missed it between the snowflakes.

Whatever, we had snow for a few miles, then it got nice as we went down the other side.

Somewhere in the pass there is a sign on a hillside that starts out "Bikers Beware," and proceeds to warn about a dangerous curve 15 miles ahead. It might as well have read, "If you read this sign, you will veer into the oncoming lane," because we both did. Good thing there was no other traffic!

The snow stopped and we enjoyed high overcast as we approached Sattley. We stopped for pictures of ice and snow on the bikes and then continued north on CA 89, then kept to the left as CA 70 came over from Portola.

It was a shame that we were so close to Portola and yet so far; it's only a few miles but it wasn't to be in the cards for this trip; perhaps another time.

On up the Feather River National Scenic Byway we went, passing Cromberg and Spring Garden (have they officially run out of place names?), and then into the Quincy area.

Lee and Kelly had reserved a room at the Lariat Lodge in east Quincy, so we stopped there and Lee noted ruefully that the pool was closed (!). Dave and Pandora and I continued into Quincy and found The Feather Bed, where we had reservations.

We pulled up at 6:02 p.m., glad that Dave had called them earlier from the road and told them we'd be there, if a little late.

As I parked on the street in front, I saw an employee who was just leaving. It turned out to be Jenny, the woman who had taken my reservation over the phone. She said she would be back for breakfast in the morning and promised it would be special.

Meanwhile, Dave and Pandora had continued a few hundred feet down Jackson Street and were in the midst of making a U-turn when something happened. There was a little spilled fuel, some bruises and one dented helmet involved. Since I didn't see anything, I can plausibly deny that anything happened.

After we got parked, Bob (owner) showed us The Guest House (where Dave and Pan would be staying), and then the Main House, and then showed me the room where I would be staying. He explained the rules and how to reach him if we needed anything, and most importantly, when breakfast was served.

We shlepped our stuff to our rooms, hung up our jackets and turned on the heaters. I checked for cel-phone coverage and determined that Sprint PCS did not have coverage in Quincy.

After a quick stop at the Main House (built in 1893) for a couple of Jan's chocolate chip cookies and to meet Jackson, the house cat, I went over to The Guest House for the full tour. It was wonderful! They had a double bed and a day bed, a private bathroom with tub and shower, two period-style chairs that were actually recliners, so they warmed their feet in front of the faux fireplace.

Each room had hand-made bears on each bed, and there were more bears on a love-seat in the main house. The bears are locally produced and for sale, but we were already packed to the gills and didn't think the bears would enjoy the rest of the trip, so we left them there for others to enjoy.

Off-street parking was included, so Dave parked his Standard on the front porch of The Guest House after convincing Bob that it did not leak oil. I parked my bike in the gravel near a security light and Bob loaned me a tarpaulin and bungee cords to keep it (mostly) dry in case it rained again.

After checking the menus of some of the restaurants in town, we decided to walk over to Moon's for dinner. It was about 5 blocks and quite pleasant.

They had run out of Prime Rib (too bad) so I chose lasagna. I don't recall what the others had, but they really enjoyed it. The lasagna was more like a treasure hunt. I found piece of green chile and zucchini slices in it. You don't suppose they forgot to mention on the menu that it was vegetable lasagna? Anyway, the lemonade was good.

We passed on dessert and walked through the downtown area again, ending up back at The Feather Bed, where we went our separate ways. I took a few pictures of the room and checked the heaters. As it was dark outside, I walked down to check the bike and sure enough, as I approached, the security lights came on, and I knew it would be safe for the night.

I returned to my room and took a shower, repacked my clothes and went to bed about 10:45 p.m.

Mileage for Day One = 258.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

I slept fairly well but had forgotten to ask for an extra blanket, so my feet were cold, but I was awake and 7:10 and up at 7:45 a.m. to a bright, beautiful, sunny morning, even though things were still a little wet outdoors.

I could hear that Dave had started his Classic and was warming it up. I wanted to call down to him "more enrichener," but he had everything under control.

I was dressed by 8:10 a.m. and went downstairs to The Guest House. They had made up the bed and taken pictures.

Breakfast was to be served at 8:30, so we were there right on time. They began with a fruit cup and raspberry smoothies. Not exactly "biker food," but we enjoyed it anyway.

The main course was something involving eggs and corn and olives. Sorry, Jenny, I can't remember exactly what you called it...fiesta something. It was good (except for the olives, which I put aside, but how was she to know?).

After breakfast Lee and Kelly arrived from the Lariat Lodge, so we gave them the tour of The Guest House, my room and the main house. We took some photos of me in the bathtub (you sort-of had to be there) and then turned in our keys and prepared to leave.

There is a Union 76 station a few blocks away, so we all fueled there and headed north/west on Hy 70/Hy 89 shortly before 11:00 a.m.

We had hoped to find a place to take a picture in Keddie but there was nothing. We saw some photographers waiting near a railroad bridge, so something special was coming, and I hope they got good pictures of it.

We turned west on Hy 70 and passed by several other towns (that were no longer there) as we followed the east branch of the north fork of the river.

Upon nearing Belden, we rode across an old iron bridge for a rest stop at the Belden Resort. Lee likes to pause and refresh there.

Once back on the road, we passed some other towns that had seen better days, then crossed into Butte County (picture) and stopped for lunch (across from the CDF* Fire Station at Jarbo Gap) at a place called Scooter's Cafe. I'm sorry to say that the food wasn't very good, nor was the service, but they were nice folks.

* = California Department of Forestry.

Lee and Kelly headed for home so that one of them could get to work on Monday morning. That was the last we saw of them.

A short while later Dave and Pan and I stopped for a Yankee Hill picture, then continued on Hy 70 into the Oroville area. (Yankee Hill is just east of Paradise, but you can't get there from there.)

We got Oroville pictures and then turned west on CA 162, passing Thermalito but not finding any signs. We rode past the Thermalito Afterbay, then south for two miles on a two-lane section of CA 99, then 162 continued west, across the Glenn County line and into Butte City (brand-new sign since Dave was through last year).

Just west of Butte City we turned south on CA 45 and rode through Princeton (photo), down to Colusa, west on CA 20 to Williams (fuel and photo), then continued west on Hy 20 for about 40 miles, passing into Lake County (photo) and then south on CA 53 a few short miles to the city of Clearlake.

We turned onto Lakeshore Drive and pulled into the parking lot of the Best Western El Grande Inn a few minutes before 5 p.m. (We had also called them and told them we'd be there when we got there.)

Charles, the desk clerk, said that our reservations were in order, and he had put us in two first-floor suites so that we could see the bikes out the windows. Unfortunately he had forgotten that the first two parking spaces were handicapped, so we couldn't park there. But that would turn out to be a moot point.

We stowed our things in our rooms and decided on a plan. Dave and I would run down to the Rite Aid for some more little plastic cameras and then over to Kelseyville for "K" pictures while Pan would rest in the room. We said we'd try to be back in about 90 minutes.

While trying to follow the desk clerk's direction to the shopping center, we saw the Clearlake police car (okay, maybe it's one of several) working radar on Lakeshore Drive. He made one stop and then got back into position in a parking lot. When we'd decided we couldn't find the store, we stopped in clear view, I walked in front of the patrol car with both hands in clear view and asked if he could refresh the directions to the Rite Aid store.

Officer B. Hughes was polite enough, if not especially friendly, and gave us directions, for which we thanked him, then rode off at twenty-five miles per hour, of course.

We found the shopping center about 1/2 mile beyond the point where I had said to Dave, "you don't suppose it's right over the top of that hill?" and then turned and went back. I found the Rite Aid and got a couple cameras and we were on our way.

We went south on Hy 53 to Lower Lake, turned right onto CA 29 in spite of the fact that there was no sign saying "Kelseyville," and sure enough, there is was, about 15 miles away.

We found the Kelseyville Fire Department immediately, and they were kind enough to have parked an engine in front. We didn't see anybody but got our pictures. The post office was just around the corner, so we got pictures there, too.

We rode back to the Best Western, arriving at 7:02 p.m., just about when we'd said (and hoped) it would be. We parked the bikes under a lamp post where the front desk clerk could see them on camera (if the contrast and brightness had been adjusted properly). That also turned out to be a moot point.

We walked down to the lobby and into Anjali's Steak House for dinner. I asked if they happened to have some Prime Rib left from the weekend and they did, so I had a portion. It was good but not excellent. My tablemates had other selections that they enjoyed, and again we passed on dessert as we were full.

After dinner we moved the motorcycles to the front of the hotel and parked under the overhang, on the instruction of the desk clerk. We parked the bikes right side to right side and ran my cable through wheels and frames. The maintenance man provided a plastic garbage bag which I used to cover my day pack. The motel employees assured us that they would keep a close eye on the bikes.

I went back to my room to make a few phone calls (no Sprint PCS coverage here, either) and found that neither phone in my room had dial tone. I walked back to the front desk and asked about it; the clerk said they'd had a problem with their phone system and he would report this problem again.

So I went back down the hallway to use Dave's phone. The bulb in the lamp near the phone was burned out, so I had to swap bulbs from one lamp to the other to see what I was dialing.

I went back to the front desk to ask for an extra blanket and it was delivered in a few minutes.

Dave and I calculated our point count for the trip; he had 21 points in two days and I had about 34 points since the first of the year. We knew that we'd have several more on the way home the next day.

I said good night to them, took a shower and went to bed.

Mileage for Day Two = 221. Miles for the trip = 479.

Monday, April 29, 2002

I slept okay but not great. Several times in the night I awoke to hear the pitter-patter of rain falling outside.

I got up at 7:30 a.m. and turned on the Weather Channel. They said we'd have rain. I looked out the window and they were right, it was raining.

I dressed and repacked the bag liners two or three times. I took some photographs of the hotel suite and walked down to the front of the hotel to check on the bikes. They were slightly moist but still there.

As it was Monday morning, the hotel manager was in his office, so I stopped in to compliment the front desk clerk (who had been there all night and was still there) and the maintenance man for their assistance to us.

I went back to the room and repacked the bag liners yet again, so they'd fit properly in the saddlebags. Then I put on my rainsuit pants.

Dave and Pan were also ready to go, so we all shlepped our stuff to the front desk and checked out. We warmed up the motorcycles and hit the road at 9:00 a.m., with a light rain falling.

We went back north on Hy 53 and east on Hy 20, then turned south on Hy 16, where we dodged rock debris in the roadway for a while.

I heard a "ping" (or maybe it was a "tink"), which meant either that something had fallen off the bike or I had run over something metallic, neither of which was a good thing, but I did not suffer any failures, so maybe it was just a rock that got thrown up into the rear fender.

We stopped for a picture at the Yolo County sign and it was no longer raining, then a few miles later we saw a lone Highway Patrol officer herding cattle back into a hole in the fence. Officer Moo must have had some command presence, because his only tool was a regulation baton. We imagined what kind of a traffic problem we would have had if we'd been there 5 or 10 minutes before the officer arrived.

We stopped for pictures in Rumsey; while Dave and Pan pulled into the post office, I found Town Hall (established 1903) and persuaded two Rumsey residents with paint brushes to step out onto the porch for a picture of the building they were renovating.

Dave and Pan got a picture at Guinda, we passed Brooks and a few minutes later pulled into the parking lot of the Cache Creek Indian Bingo and Casino in Capay Valley. I had heard about this place but had never been there. Aside from the fact that many of the employees were Native Americans, and the security presence was the Tribal Police, it was hard to discern from any other casino I've ever visited.

I stopped at the men's room and fought with my rain pants (!) then took advantage of some kind and friendly slot machines. I can't say I was a big winner but the number 7 was my friend and I had enough to fill the gas tank at the next pit stop.

Meanwhile Dave and Pan were stuck in the gift shop due to a broken credit card machine. They finally were allowed to take their purchases and leave, so we went out to the bikes, repacked and continued on our way.

We followed Hy 16 through Esparto (picture) to Interstate 505 and rode north for a few miles, then turned east on a county road to the small community of Zamora, where we got pictures at the post office, town hall and fire station.

We then got onto Interstate 5 and rode down to Woodland, where we stopped for fuel. After that, we continued south, through the Sacramento area and toward Stockton.

Dave and Pan like to stop at Elk Grove Boulevard for a rest and recharge at the turnout there, before the final stretch. We then continued south and they turned off at French Camp Road and returned to Manteca, while I continued south and then west on I-205 toward Tracy.

Seeking to avoid I-580 on the way home as well, I road west on Grant Line Road East, then Byron Highway, then Grant Line Road and Altamont Pass Road, turning south on Greenville Road, west on East Street and 4th Street, south on "L" Street and Arroyo, west on Concannon and back to Hy 84 in Livermore.

Last June I had an unpleasant experience on the transition ramp from westbound 84 to southbound 680, and I communicated my concerns to Caltrans* via e-mail. They responded that they had fixed the problem, but evidently I had failed to explain the location correctly, because it was still very rough and dangerous for motorcycle riders. So I stopped and took some pictures of what I was talking about, in hopes of sending those pictures to Caltrans and asking them to try again.

* = California Department of Transportation, the highway maintenance people.

I continued home via the post office and the photo processing store, where I left my little plastic cameras to pick up photos later that evening.

I arrived home at 4:35 p.m. As is par for the course, Barney was very happy to see me!

Mileage for Day Three = 237. Miles for the Trip = 802.

Stay tuned for our next ABCs trip!

Post script: I picked up my pictures a couple hours later and they had all come out quite well.

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Created on May 6, 2002. Last updated on May 9, 2002.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA