Today was a simple day. A quick day.

Leaving the campground at Crane Flat I ventured up to one of the oldest fire lookouts in the country. I was tipped off by my camp neighbor the night before.

I had seen the helicopter earlier, flying over the camp site. It was carrying some basket under it; I’m guessing a bucket for water. Whatever it was you could hear the engine straining.

Looking at the chopper from afar — and the carcass of one from nearby — brought home that these guys and girls really work to keep people (like me) safe from uncontrolled wild fire.

I spoke with one of the guys for a moment. He was wearing a search and rescue shirt. I asked how much of of the SAR was from stupidity and how often they have to go on a run?

“Around 50%… the rest are people having accidents like breaking a leg or something. Sometimes we go a week between search and rescues, sometimes it’s every other day.”

Visitors are welcome to the top floor of their station showing the panoramic view that these folks have to deal with every day. While I’m sure it’s tough at times, it’s something that I don’t think could get old.

After that I headed east over Tioga Pass. I quickly ran into some traffic. Leading the pack was the RV-bound German couple from the night before. Grrr… To top it off we were in some construction.

The construction turned into a blessing.

There was some confusion over which lane we should be in — started by the car behind me. I took advantage and overtook.

The next half hour was some of the most sublime motorcycling I’ve ever had. No one in front of me except a couple of easily overtaken cars — no strings of idiots. This is what a motorcyclist dreams of: flowing, natural corners with a good pace. Almost heaven.

Eventually I stopped to take some pictures resigned that I’ll be behind more roadblocks. It was worth it though.

Lunch found in the oddly-named town of Lee Vining. A hot beef sandwich. Yummy. Heading out I decided to circumnavigate Mono Lake — for no other reason that I could.

I started off with some off-roading, but the twitchiness of the bike turned me off of that. I got on the highway and was tooling along when I noticed a sign for Bodie the ghost town. Holly and I watched a documentary about it a few weeks back and I couldn’t say no. I turned left onto the potholed road.

A sign soon appeared “expect 30 minutes of travel time.” For 6 miles?!


The pavement soon disappeared and the twitchiness came back. I took the opportunity to put the bike (the suspension really) into offroad mode.

Holy shit.

Immediately the front felt planted. I’m guessing the rebound damping was eased up a bit… but that’s just a guess. I cranked in a few more clicks of steering damping and I was off. Even the craptacular washboard didn’t get in the way. (sans steering damper I’d be in a ditch) It’s almost mind-blowing how much settings like this can make a difference. You know it logically, but when you feel it for real… astonishing.

I got to the entrance of the park and asked which road was better, the one I took or the one I turned on? The other was “better.” I parked and I realized that the camera had been off. :-/

Bodie was cool. Seeing in real life the stuff you saw in TV is pretty cool.

(pics later)

On the way back I was sure to turn on the camera and I ran the “bad” road the other direction. This time I started off with the right setting and had no issues.

Heading to the campground I stopped to top off my mostly-full tank. I ran into a fellow ADV riding a Yamaha Super Tenere. He was on the last bits of his trip. We chatted a bit and traded contact info.

The campgrounds are spectacular. Oh Ridge sits on June Lake, a pretty and damn cold lake. I took the opportunity to take a dip and wash off the hot. Back at camp I did laundry, ate, and caught up with Ennie since I had a signal here.

Once 10PM rolled around it finally quieted down…