As usual, I sent my check early and got my pre-registration card early. Then I made my reservation at the Silver Club in Sparks.
Last year I explored California Highway 4 over Ebbetts Pass on the way east. This year I planned to take California Highway 88 through Jackson, over Carson Pass and into Nevada.
Wednesday, September 19
I spent a little time packing the T-Bag with socks and underwear, a few shirts, an extra pair of pants, maps and hotel reservation papers. This left room for trinkets and t-shirts I would be acquiring while there. Packing the day before allows me to sleep well, then get up in the morning, strap the T-bag to the bike and go!
Thursday, September 20
I awoke about the time my alarm would normally sound, then got up at 6:00 a.m., went through the normal morning activities and left the house at 6:40 a.m.
(Skip the next two paragraphs if you're not interested in the path I took.)
My route from San Jose took me north on Meridian, south on I-280, north on I-680 and east on CA 84. I have learned to skirt the congested part of Livermore by taking Concannon to Arroyo (which changes to South L Street) to 4th Street to East Street. I continued past the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to Greeneville Lane and then under I-580 to Old Altamont Rd. and then east. (This avoids having to actually travel on Super Slab 580.)
At Mountain House I continued east on Grant Line Road, southeast on Byron Highway, back to Grant Line Road in Tracy, north on I-205 and north on I-5. In Stockton I turned east on CA 4, then north on CA 99 for a very short distance and then east on CA 88 near Waterloo.
At 99 miles into this trip I was slowed by road construction and then an accident. Then some one-way traffic control. Such is life in California. I continued east on CA 88 through Lockeford and Clements.
A little before 9 a.m. (109 miles) I stopped at a closed A&W Root Beer on account of Sore Butt syndrome, made a few notes and watched a number of bikes go by.
A cute blonde gal stopped to use the pay phone, then wandered over to ask if I was going to Reno. She was headed in the other direction but recommended I check the map for Sloughhouse for my next trip.
As I continued east on CA 88 I saw several signs saying that the highway would be closed at Silver Lake from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for construction. I didn't know exactly where that was but felt that if I kept moving, I would get by there in time.
At 9:40 a.m. (134 miles) I pulled into a Chevron Station in Jackson to refuel. If you go this way, you should know that there is another Union 76 gas station and mini-market 8 miles further in Pine Grove. Then there's another Union 76 another 10 miles down the road. So you have several choices.
I got to the construction zone at Silver Lake at 10:55 a.m. and stopped behind a few cars. I "lane-shared" up to the front of the line and chatted briefly with the Caltrans flagger with the "stop" sign. She said we'd be the last group of vehicles escorted through and then traffic would be stopped for two hours.
It was clear to see the area where they were working. They were doing some blasting to remove rock on the north side of the road to widen Hy 88 over Carson Pass.
A half hour later (11:30 a.m., 210 miles) I stopped at the junction of CA 88 and CA 89 in Woodfords, then turned south on Hy 89 for about 6 miles to friendly Markleeville.
I took a picture at the Markleeville General Store and kindly accepted a stranger's offer to take a picture of me and the Road King. I got an orange juice and talked to the owner of the store (see last year's report). I will have to remind myself to take a few pictures of what Cupertino looks like in 2002 to go with his pictures of what Cupertino looked like in 1952 or thereabouts.
Across the street is the Alpine Hotel, containing the Cutthroat Saloon, so I took a picture and kindly accept the offer of some bikers from Fremont to take a picture of me and the Road King. This was a cheerful group of six friends on three bikes, all of which had been purchased at Cycle Center in Fremont.
I returned on CA 89 to CA 88 and then turned east for the short trip into Nevada. Conveniently, CA 88 becomes NV 88 and I continued north into the Minden area and then north on U.S. 395 into the construction zone which is called "Carson City."
It was about 12:45 p.m. (252 miles) and very warm when I pulled into Carson-Tahoe Harley-Davidson for another S.B.S. break and to look around the store. There were a lot of bikes in the parking lot but not as many as there would be in a day or two.
Since my crash in Arkansas in May, I had lived with a damaged T-Bag. I took the opportunity to check for a replacement, and thanks to the crack staff at Carson-Tahoe, I was able to replace the old one for less than $200.
I continued north on Hy 395 into the Reno area and turned off at Moana Lane to the Atlantis Hotel Casino for official check-in. They provided a secured parking area again this year, so I walked up the stairs and over South Virginia Street, then back to casino level, then back up to the second floor and presented my pre-registration card. This was a good time to register since there weren't that many attendees in town yet.
The bag o' goodies contained the (correct size!) t-shirt, a schedule, "H.O.G. tags," coupons galore, lots of advertising, and a very nice glass beer stein from the Silver Legacy Hotel Casino. The most important item was the headlight sticker that lets you enter the "closed streets" area of South Virginia Street.
After a non-productive stop at a slot machine in the casino, I retraced my steps back to the parking lot and then continued on to Sparks.
It was very warm as I arrived at the Silver Club at 2:25 p.m. (284 miles from home) and checked in. I asked for a room on the west side of the building so that I could see the Road King out the window. They accomodated my request with a sixth-floor room waaaaaaay down at the other end of the hallway from the elevators. I shlepped some of my stuff up to the room, hung up the shirts and then wandered across the street to the casino to win a couple dollars and a food coupon just for staying there. I got a sandwich at Port of Subs inside the casino for later.
I rode over to downtown Reno by way of a Union 76 at 4th @ Center St., and discovered that this year there was only one entrance to South Virginia Street and only one exit. We were NOT allowed to enter at the north end but had to enter at the south end. Fortunately I remembered how to get down there but it was a pain in the neck to have to go all the way around.
I found a place to park near Harrah's Plaza (across from Fitzgerald's) and commenced posing next to the bike. This didn't seem like exactly the right place to park, so I rode up Virginia Street a few blocks and parked near the Harley-Davidson Motor Company trailer - the center of activity.
I talked to a guy from San Jose who was job-hunting (!?) and another guy who was thinking about buying a H-D and admired my motorcycle.
A visit to the H-D display was in order, and while admiring the new V-Rod, I chatted with J.T. Hasley, Northern California H.O.G. Coordinator, who asked for my card and said he'd send me a H.O.G. Log book (which he later did!).
Two years ago Sprint PCS had no service in the Reno area. Last year they promised to have service but did not. This year I was pleased to see "four bars" on the phone. I made a couple of calls and then rode up to Reno-Stead area to visit my friends Rick and Helen.
I got there about 5 p.m. and Helen gave me the grand tour. It's a beautiful tri-level home with three bedrooms and three garages, overlooking the Stead Airport (the former Stead Air Force Base). One of the functional features is the upstairs laundry. No point in lugging dirty laundry downstairs and clean laundry back upstairs.
Rick arrived a short time later and we got caught up on all the news while we enjoyed a fantastic home-cooked meal. Thanks, Helen!
After dinner I rode back down U.S. 395 and I-80 to the Silver Club and parked the Road King under a light pole at the city parking garage across the street. While securing the bike I had short but interesting conversations with a woman truck driver who was walking her dog and the parking garage's woman security officer.
I went up to my room to make a few notes and do some planning for the next day and then went down to the casino. I didn't "win big" but I did "improve my situation." I got back to the room a little after midnight, took a shower and went to bed.
Friday, September 21
As usual (for me in a hotel bed), I didn't sleep very well. And it didn't help that I got a junk page before 7 a.m. Damn that paging company! I tossed and turned and finally decided to get up a little after 8 o'clock. I watched a little CNN, made some notes and checked the schedule of activities again.
I left the hotel about 9:15 and headed down Kietzke Lane and then cut over to the Sands Regency Hotel (4th and Arlington) and stood in line for the poker run to Virginia City. They gave me a blue sheet with instructions to the various stops as well as a scorecard. I drew the first card there.
While there I signed up for a Sands Regency player card, got a coffee mug, and ran into former co-worker Keith Palmer, who was standing in line with his friend Bonnie. After we chatted a while, I participated in a slot tournament (got 1194 points) and then moved along.
I stopped at a couple of machines and "improved my position" a little, then went on the poker run.
The next stop was the brand-new Tamarack Casino and Restaurant (no hotel) way down on South Virginia Avenue. The route continued south and then east on NV 341 into Storey County.
It was a beautiful warm day and the road to Virginia City was really well maintained. The Sheriff's Department was in evidence along the road (working radar) so we all felt safe!
Upon arrival in Virginia City I found a place to park directly in front of "H.O.G. Central," although I had to stand in line for a while to get my poker card. Then I went across the street and got a turkey leg and a bottle of water for lunch.
The instructions pointed me toward Carson City again, so I continued on NV 341 through Gold Hill and then back to U.S. 50. I wanted to avoid downtown Carson City (and all those traffic signals) at any cost, so I picked a likely side street and worked my way north and then west, and somehow ended up on Hy 50 just north of Carson-Tahoe H-D.
I picked another poker card there, made a donation to the Ladies Of Harley charity drawing, and then continued back to Reno on U.S. 395.
The next stop was at the Peppermill, where they had set up a parking and vendor area on the north side of the building, complete with a sign out on Virginia Street that said, if I recall correctly, "H.O.G. crossing."
From there the route went over to Reno Harley-Davidson for another card. There was a pretty big crowd there, enjoying the sunshine.
As it was just after 3 p.m., I made a quick detour from the route to check at the Sands Regency to see if I'd been the big winner on the slot tournament. I was not. So I continued to Keystone Cue and Cushion to preregister ($21) for the Cathouse Poker Run, to be held on Saturday, then over to Paramount Cycles on West 2nd Street, where the Cathouse Run was scheduled to begin at 9 o'clock on Saturday morning, so I would know exactly where to be.
Curiously this year the final stop on the poker run was the good old Silver Club in Sparks. So I was able to draw my final card, turn in my sheet (nothing exciting) and then take a few things upstairs to my room and put them away.
Then I went back to downtown Reno. It was very warm, very crowded and very slow going.
I had just left the "closed" street area and was going over to park at the Silver Legacy parking garage when the Road King just stopped running. I managed to get her to the curb but she had a low battery and just would not start. I'd wait a while and try again, but it was clear we weren't going anywhere soon.
Meanwhile, hundreds of bikers were going by, all stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, trying to get to various places. I made a note to myself: make a little sign that says "jumper cables" in case this happens again. Or better yet, assemble or acquire a set of jumper cables.
Finally I called Reno Harley-Davidson and they recommended Superior Tow. I called Superior and gave the location as "Westbound 5th at Sierra." I waited a while longer and the tow truck arrived, but he came down Sierra and turned eastbound. He swore he had not been told "westbound."
Traffic was so heavy that he was not able to turn the truck around, so it was necessary to push the bike across four lanes of stopped traffic to get to the tow truck.
He used the jumper cables and the bike started and ran fine. I carefully kept it running while he wrote up the bill for $37.50, which I paid in cash and then cautiously rode less than a block to the Silver Legacy parking garage. I parked in a place where I could easily point it downhill in case it would not start.
Since I know the Silver Legacy pretty well, I knew I could walk right through the upper casino area to the El Dorado Hotel Casino next door. I was about 15 minutes late for a pre-scheduled buffet dinner with many of the San Jose H.O.G. members, but managed to find a good place to sit (near Michelle & Rodger and his son Chris) and paid for my meal (thank you, Sharon).
It was a nice dinner, with many choices, which I washed down with a cold (light) beer. I don't drink very much, but this occasion demanded it.
During dinner we were told that word was being spread to be on Virginia Street at 7:55 p.m. to sing the National Anthem. I was down there about that time and didn't see it happen, but it could have been happening somewhere down the street.
While sitting on a bench and "taking it all in," I happened to talk to a woman from Ontario, Oregon who had recently quit her job as a police dispatcher after 10 years. She said she was tired, they were understaffed and their center doesn't have computer-aided dispatching. I can identify with two of those: I'm tired and our center is understaffed, although we have a very good computer-aided dispatching system.
After a short and unproductive stop at a dollar machine, I wandered back through the hotel lobby and up to the parking garage. I could hear the solenoid clicking but the bike would not start. So I rolled her down the ramp and she started. I kept on the throttle all the way back to my hotel, including a quick stop for orange juice.
At the city parking next to the Silver Club, I found a nice cement post on the second floor and wrapped my cable around it, since I could not see the bike from my room.
I was back in the room at 9:20 p.m., checked CNN, made a few notes, ate a sandwich I had squirreled away earlier, took a shower and got to bed around 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 22
As usual, I didn't sleep very well, with some tossing and turning. I awoke at 6:19 a.m. but since it was "too early," I went back to sleep for a while, but was awake again (to the sound of a loud motorcycle, no less!) at 7:02 a.m. I got up and got ready and was down to the parking garage at 7:50 a.m.
Not surprisingly, the bike would not start, but I rolled it down the ramp and it started right up. The ride over to Reno Harley-Davidson took about 20 minutes. The service department had opened at 8:00 a.m. and I was about sixth in line.
This is a "drive-in" service department. Three or four bikes can fit in the lobby. As the line would move forward, the bike started three times, but by this time, I knew something was seriously wrong and I needed to get it fixed.
When I got to the Service Writer, I was told that they'd check the electrical system as soon as they could, and that it would be about $56.
By this time, the line outside was getting longer and longer. Folks came in with various problems. Two came in with broken drive belts. The guy directly behind me had an electrical problem similar to mine, and he wasn't happy.
There were many other things going on at the dealership, so I was able to wander around and see lots of things while waiting.
Ten o'clock came and went and I knew that I would never make the Cathouse Run. Since I had paid my fee the day before and could not go, you might say that I got screwed anyway. Oh, well, there's always next year.
The crowd in the parking lot slowly increased in size, as the weather was good and food had been promised. Live music was also provided, the Christian Motorcyclist Association was there with cold water, donuts and literature, and many beautiful motorcycles were posing in the sunshine. The combination showroom/boutique was shoulder-to-shoulder most of the time.
I saw a tee-shirt that said "Jesus would ride a Harley," and another that said "Life is full of important choices," and was accompanied by picures of various H-D models.
By mid-morning I was able to take inventory of all the Reno H-D employees I could see from the Service Department lobby: Service Manager Joe, Service Writers Walt, Blake and Leo. All were up to their proverbial armpits in motorcycles and paperwork. They would tell each new customer that they were taking the bikes on a "first-come, first-served" basis and that seven technicians were working, so it would be a while.
At one point I walked across the street to another multi-marque dealership and looked at motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and Harley clones.
About noontime Michelle & Rodger and his son Chris came by the dealership, so I said "hello" and told them my tale of woe before they went on their way.
I could go right up to the door and look into the Service floor through a small window, but my bike didn't seem to be moving forward very fast.
At 1:10 p.m. they closed the Service Department door and posted a sign saying, "No more bikes today."
Sometime later I could see that my bike had made it to the front of the line.
At 2:45 p.m. I was told that the technician that would be working on my bike had been sent to lunch at 2:30 and that she was expected back at 3:30 and would start working on my bike then. Leo pushed the bike to her work area so that it would be there when she returned.
At 3:50 p.m., Rose ("PHD" [Professional Harley-Davidson technician] ) came out and talked to me. The battery (eleven months old) had failed the load test, so she replaced it. Tests showed that the voltage regulator needed to be replaced. I understood her to say that the regulator had been allowing the stator to put out 18 volts for some period of time, frying the battery.
She said she would continue working on it; would check to see what codes were stored, and then she would know more.
At about 4:20 p.m., Rose came to get me. She had replaced the regulator but the problem was not solved. Further tests showed that the stator was grounded and should be replaced, but they did not have one in stock.
After some discussion, she said she'd check around to see if they could borrow/rob one from another motorcycle, otherwise it would be unlikely that they could get one that day or on Monday (the next working day).
She said she could put the old regulator back on and with the new battery, I "should" be able to get back home, but no promises!
Meanwhile, one of the other guys who had been behind me in line that morning was pleased to get his bike back. They had replaced his stator and he was ready to ride back to Oregon.
At 5:00 p.m., "it's done." She had put the old regulator back on. With the new battery, I should be able to get home, but the stator must be replaced right away so that it doesn't fry the new battery. And when that's done, it might be a good idea to replace the voltage regulator, too.
I paid my bill ($151.23) and was almost ready to go.
While walking around to the back of the shop to pick up the bike, I called my local dealer on the phone. They did not have a stator on the shelf so I asked if they could order one *now* so that it would be in by the time I got there on Monday or Tuesday. Evidently I'm not a good enough customer because their policies don't allow this.
I thanked Rose, she gave me her business card in case my home dealer had any questions, and I was off to my hotel.
So let's see: I'd spent over eight and one half hours at Reno Harley-Davidson, still didn't have a working motorcycle, and was two days and 300 miles from home. And the guy behind me in line got the last stator on the shelf. What can we learn from this experience? Life is an adventure!
Actually, if I'd been forced/allowed to make the decision, I would have decided to let him have the stator because he had a longer trip home that I did.
I got back to the Silver Club, parked the bike and took some stuff up to my room. I went across the street to the casino and had a buffet dinner. After a few somewhat productive sessions in the casino, I stopped at Port of Subs for a sandwich. Even though I had been told that they were open until 9 p.m., I got there several minutes before 9 and the kid was counting money. I asked him about being open until 9 p.m. and he said he was sorry. Sorry won't make a sandwich. Thanks, Port of Subs.
I was back in my room at 9:30 p.m. CNN, notes, shower, check messages, turn off pager, sleep.
Sunday, September 23
Noisy people in the hallway woke me at 4:41 a.m. (Couldn't be bikers, they're considerate of others!)
More noise at 6:15 a.m. I was up and making notes at 6:45 a.m. I had a mini-breakfast of juice and bear claws.
I went down to the bike at 7:15 a.m., did some cleaning with rags provided by the hotel.
I rode down Kietzke Lane to the Atlantis to turn in a ticket stub for a drawing, then rode up Virginia Street to the Peppermill Hotel Casino for a lousy free breakfast in the parking lot. (Note: they had advertised it as "free;" I'm the one who says it was lousy. Juice in cartons and cold pastries do not "breakfast" make, but it was something.)
The Street Vibrations parade usually leaves the Peppermill at 10:00 a.m. but riding in heavy traffic is what caused the motorcycle to fail on Friday evening, so I reluctantly decided to "pass" on the parade.
Instead, I rode up Virginia Street (along the route the parade would take) and waited a couple minutes for them to open the "closed" streets at 9:00 a.m.
I parked in front of Harrah's Plaza (across from Fitzgerald's) by the famous arch and watched a photographer take pictures of a group of four exotic motorcycles.
I wandered the area a little, then moved a block or two north and parked on Virginia Street just south of 4th Street so that I could have a good view of the parade and my bike at the same time.
I stopped at the Harley-Davidson exhibit and again spoke with J.T. Hasley from the Harley Owners Group. In response to my comment about the Motor Company obsoleting the American Flag kit, he told me that he'd just received an e-mail stating that the flags were coming back, and when individual dealers got the memo, they would be able to order more.
There were many vendors selling all kinds of things at booths on the street and in Chrome Alley, the warehouse building nearby. I must have been inside the building when the parade came through, because the next time I knew what time it was, it was past 10:00 a.m. and I had missed it.
I talked to a vendor who was selling a bolt-on attachment to the sissy bar that helps keep young children attached to the bike. I watched Walter's Workshop install a replacement brake pedal on someone's bike. I looked at a lot of helmet stickers - both the polite and not-so-polite varieties. I looked at the mini-mini-motorcycles and the people from Zooke cleaning people's glasses and the lock people, the guy with the "remove before flight" keyrings and all the other vendors.
Back on Virginia Street, while I was checking on my bike, I saw a family of Scandinavian tourists walking by; mom & dad, grandma and two little blond kids, wide-eyed at all the motorcycles. I asked the parents if the kids wanted to have their picture taken on the big blue motorcycle. They sure did! Chalk up two points for international public relations!
Someone walked by wearing a tee-shirt with the legend: "You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever."
I went into the Silver Legacy and put my ticket stubs into the drum for the drawing later in the day.
Someone walked by wearing a tee-shirt with the legend: "When did my wild oats turn into Shredded Wheat?"
I went back to the Silver Club and rested for about an hour before returning to the Silver Legacy for the 5 p.m. drawing. I parked in the garage, then went down and deposited a few more ticket stubs. With much fanfare and some delay, they drew the name of a rider from Spokane to win the motorcycle. The winner had to be present, and he was, and I left when they were taking pictures of him and the spokesmodels.
I got out to the street and it was pretty quiet, with much cleanup in progress. Lots of bikers were already heading home. I returned to the Silver Club by way of AM-PM for some orange juice for the next morning.
I parked and secured the motorcycle for the night about 6:00 p.m., had some juice and a sandwich, watched CNN and made some notes.
Shortly before 8:00 p.m. I walked across the street to the casino to deposit a ticket stub for the hourly drawing and renewed my friendship with one of the slot machines. After a while I could not stand the excessive sidestream smoke and had to leave. Gee, I wish they'd provide smoke-free environments.
I went back to my room about 9:25 p.m. Shower, CNN, sleep.
Monday, September 24
I was awake at 6:30 a.m., up at 6:55 and made a couple trips downstairs to repack the bike. I checked out of the Silver Club, warmed up the bike and left Sparks at 8:30 a.m.
After fueling at Union 76 (Kietzke Ln @ Vassar) at 8:40 a.m., I headed south on U.S. 395 to Carson City, then westbound on U.S. 50 toward Lake Tahoe.
On my last trip through the area, I was frustrated at not finding a "Zephyr Cove" sign so I could take a picture for the Harley Owners Group's ABCs of Touring.
I had written to the Postmaster at Zephyr Cove and had received a response that the exterior signage had been overlooked when the building was remodeled, but that I could get a photo at a nearby post office. I stopped at Zephyr Cove to thank the woman, but she was not there. So I continued to the Stateline Branch on Kingsbury Grade (NV 207) just off Hy 50, where I thanked her and then relied on the kindness of a stranger to take a picture of me and the bike in front of the building. Finally got my "Z" picture!
From there it was a short drive to South Lake Tahoe to visit my friends Ted and Cathy, to take a couple more pictures, and to catch up on the latest in their lives.
Deciding to press on, I continued west on U.S. 50. I fueled in Sacramento, dined in Tracy and wound through the outskirts of Livermore before getting back to San Jose. I stopped at the post office and arrived home at 6:45 p.m.
I got home without any motorcycle problems, except that the "check engine" light was on for about 60 of the last 100 miles. But I made it home without getting stuck somewhere.
Mileage for the day was 290 with a total of 745 miles for the trip.
Another Street Vibrations is history.
Post Script: the bike went into San Jose Harley-Davidson for repairs the next day. They replaced the stator, the voltage regulator and the engine temperature sensor, after which everything is back to normal.