Dave's Counter-Clockwise Tour 2003

Preparations and Day One

by Dave Schultheis

This trip, my second cross-country trip of the summer, took me by motorcycle from San Jose to Lindale TX, Southington, Jefferson, Madison and Geneva OH, Rapid City SD, Shelton WA and back to San Jose. Thanks to my friend and riding partner Dave Clements for pointing out that the cities visited, when plotted on the map, make a kind of counter-clockwise circle. Thus the name: the Counter-Clockwise Tour 2003.


The motorcycle is a States Blue Pearl 1996 Harley-Davidson FLHR-I Electra Glide Road King with electronic sequential port fuel injection. At the beginning of this trip I had owned and ridden it for over 3 1/2 years and over 55,000 miles.

Along the way I stopped for photographs of city, county and state signs, and National park and forest signs, for the Harley Owners Group's ABCs of Touring. I use little plastic cameras; single-use disposables that I call LPCs, and stop where I can along the way to get the film processed.

When I first mention a highway, I typically use the official name ("Interstate 40," "U.S. Highway 101," "TX Highway 287," and then use "I-40" or "Hy 101" or "Hy 287" on later references.

Even though I document crossing state lines, I often use the U.S. Postal Service's two-letter state abbreviations when referring to cities in that state, if I think it would be helpful to the reader.

Prior to this trip I acquired a Formotion Products Scooter Thermometer, to replace the one that got smashed in Ohio in 2001. So, for good or for bad, I note temperature readings, degrees Farenheit, in the narrative. I hope that this information will be helpful to others who may be planning to visit some of these places.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before my Monday departure, I did some packing, paid some bills, bought dog food, and took care of other household chores.

On Sunday, July 27, 2003, I rode with my local H.O.G. chapter to Vallejo H.O.G.'s Island Madness run, had a good time, and got home about 3:30 p.m. I set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and went to bed about 9:30 p.m.

Monday, July 28, 2003 - San Jose, California

As expected, I was awake before the alarm sounded, and got up about 4:40 a.m. I packed the last few things into my T-Bag, loaded the Road King, and started the engine at 5:30 a.m. It was 60 degrees in the garage and 63 degrees outdoors.

I set off from home a few minutes later, rolled south and east to Gilroy, where there was heavy overcast, and turned east on CA Highway 152, where I observed that the California Department of Transportation ("Caltrans") had erected a new sign just east of U.S. Highway 101, stating "Junction 156 - 12 miles, Junction I-5 - 40 miles and Los Banos - 47 miles."

I rode east toward Pacheco Pass, and was greeted with a beautiful but distracting sunrise at about 6:30 a.m., as I passed Casa de Fruta, a large recreational complex north of Hollister.

I had to ride directly into the sun for a while, and also experienced some windy conditions over Pacheco Pass. I stopped in very windy conditions at the Romero Visitor Center, associated with the San Luis Reservoir, to make a few notes and to rehydrate.

Upon departure, there was a very minor incident at the roadside, of which I will not speak, except to say that the right side engine guard _works_perfectly_ and is quite capable of preventing bad things from happening. It was very windy and 74 degrees as I got back on the highway, heading east.

At precisely 7:00 a.m. I passed under Interstate 5, exactly 71 miles from home, and continued 6 miles into Los Banos, where I stopped for fuel at a Shell Station.

I called Slug Brother # 205, Al B. in Fresno on my cellular phone, to let him know I'd be meeting him for breakfast in about 45 minutes [although that estimate was incorrect by a half hour] at our pre-arranged spot.

It's a mostly boring 30-something miles from Los Banos to Chowchilla, where I turned south on CA Highway 99 at 7:52 a.m., then jetted down the highway past Madera and other small communities before pulling off the highway at Olive Avenue in Fresno, and turning into the parking lot at Al's Cafe (not related).

Al arrived moments later. It was 88 degrees as we parked our bikes and went inside for a nice breakfast. Al loves Mexican food and I do not, and the beauty of this place is that we can _both_ get a great meal.

We left at 9:00 a.m. and Al agreed to ride south for a few miles with me. He waved and pulled off at Kingsburg to return to Fresno while I continued south, past the International Agri-Center in Tulare, where the sign said it was 89 degrees.

At 9:52 a.m. I pulled into the Raines Safety Rest Area to rehydrate and to take off my lucky green shirt, as it was 90 degrees. I also checked and changed my Sprint PCS voice mail message and called a friend to ask him to double-check it for me.

I continued south on Hy 99 for another 52 miles, then stopped for fuel at a Texaco Station at the north end of Bakersfield, where it was 98 degrees at 10:55 a.m.

In an effort to see if there was a good way to avoid some traffic, I turned off Hy 99 a few miles south of Bakersfield, and rode east on CA Highway 223, to and through Arvin. I got stuck behind an onion truck for a while, then safely passed him and continued to CA Highway 58, where I turned east toward Tehachapi.

About 12:15 p.m. I stopped for rest and rehydration in Mojave, where it was hot; 102 degrees. East of Mojave the thermometer got up to 105 degrees, and I pulled into a shady spot at Kramer Junction (CA 58 and U.S. Highway 395) for a rest at 1:05 p.m.

From there, I continued east on CA 58, then onto Interstate 15 for a couple miles into Barstow, where I stopped for fuel at a Union 76 Station. It was about 107 degrees as I rode a few blocks back to Interstate 15 and almost immediately took the turnoff for Interstate 40, where I saw a sign saying "Wilmington NC 2,554 miles."

I stopped at a rest area for rehydration, only to find that my bottled water and Mountain Dew had both warmed up nicely in the saddlebag guard bags. So I continued a few miles and stopped at the Chevron Station in Ludlow for some cold ones. I chatted with a young couple traveling with their dog and another couple driving east in their car.

I got into Needles CA at 4:45 p.m., where I stopped for fuel at a Texaco Station. It was still warm, 100 degrees, although the sun was behind the clouds, and it was very windy with dark clouds ahead.

After experiencing very light sprinkles near the border, I crossed into Arizona at 5:10 p.m., where it was 94 degrees and the speed limit was 75 miles per hour.

At 5:37 p.m., I stopped at the Havilland Rest Stop, where it was 85 degrees. I took off my jacket, went inside and washed my face. I had been experiencing some eye discomfort, which I had attributed to onion debris in my eyes.

Refreshed, I walked back to the bike and rehydrated, while saying hello to a small boy and his grandparents in a motor home, and a trucker with a dog. Everybody thinks the blue Road King is a nice bike.

I continued another 25 miles into Kingman and took exit 48 where I found a nearly empty parking lot at the Arizona Inn and a room that was a notch above scuzzy (tm Redbeard Emeritus), and $14 cheaper than the Motel 6 across the street.

In spite of the sign in front, Room 109 did _not_ have a refrigerator, and the motel's ice machine was broken, so the (ethnicity deleted) room clerk gave me a cup of ice (!) and said I could use the small refrigerator in the office. He also gave me a room key and TV remote, which I stowed, then rode out to a nearby convenience store (with a Wendy's next door) and got some milk and Mountain Dew for the morning.

I got back to the motel and parked (right in front of the room) at 6:50 p.m., where it was 82 degrees, and found that I could cable the bike to a pole. I also found that Sprint PCS works in Kingman (got a voice mail message), found a loud buzz on CNN, and watched the reports that Bob Hope had died.

The room door was very worn, the curtains, rods and cords were in poor condition, several television channels had a loud hum, there was no clock or radio in the room, the towels were very old, very thin, and barely usable, the sink drained slowly, there were cigarette burns in one of the chairs, and both chairs showed signs of numerous repairs. Yep, that just about sums up "a notch above scuzzy."

I walked across the street and down a block to a little convenience store, where I bought a bag of ice, then filled my ice bucket and took the remainder down to the office. I figure the desk clerk needed the excess ice more than I did.

I took a shower, then made a few calls home, then watched TV for a while and went to bed. It had been a long, hot day and I had some difficulty getting to sleep.

Miles for the day = 600. (It wasn't planned, it just worked out that way.)

Tomorrow: dark clouds, mechanical failure and recovery, rain and construction.

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Created on February 3, 2004. Updated on Febuary 11, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA