Lick Observatory with Peter

Yesterday, I showed Peter his “new favorite road”. *preen*

We had the whole day to ourselves, so we decided to do a nice motorcycle ride. He’d never been to Lick Observatory on Mt Hamilton, so I said, “go there, we must” in my best Yoda voice and off we went.

Freeways out to Livermore were boring as always, but we remembered the Hwy 84 shortcut from Hwy 880 directly into Livermore (bypassing Hwy 580), so that shaved a bunch of time and stress off of the ride. Peter led through this part because I still haven’t solved the Z mirror issue…leading on the freeway is nearly impossible for me as I can’t see a damn thing behind me over 75mph.

In Livermore, we peeled off to Livermore Avenue on our way to Mines Road. We made a quick stop at Concannon Vineyard for a bottle of wine, and managed to amaze the sommelier with our utter ignorance of wine. We couldn’t have been the first people stopping by for “whatever tastes good”, but you wouldn’t have known it from this guy. I guess most people do a wine tasting round before purchasing, which of course we weren’t going to do when faced with 80 miles of twisties.

Anyhoo, we ended up with a small bottle of Petit Sirah, and off we went. (I guess you can’t really see the bottle in the photo. Nice composition, Carolyn, to hold the black bottle against black clothing.)

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Mines Road continues to be 32 miles of fun. There was very little traffic (surprising for a Sunday afternoon), so I lead us straight through, only stopping once. At the stop, Peter said he was surprised that I didn’t stop for photos earlier on, when Mines twists around atop the valley of Chlone Regional Wilderness, but the Z and I were in a groove. *heart*

I was really pleased to hear that Peter liked Mines Road, too, because it’s one of my favorites. I really appreciated the light traffic yesterday, too, as the one downside of Mines is that some corners make me confident that my last sight on earth will be of an oncoming Gixxer headlight running wide.

I did stop for photos somewhere along San Antonio Valley Road, and Peter announced that he was going to ride back a couple of miles to grab a real estate flier he’d seen (some people play Magic: The Gathering for their fantasy card collections; Peter grabs real estate fliers for multi-million dollar houses). This allowed me to indulge in Sport-Touring.net’s latest trend of photographing other riders as they round nearby curves. ;)

The little speck in the middle is Peter:
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As you can probably tell in the clouds in that last photo, it did rain on us for a couple of minutes. This is because, bar none, every single ride I ever take with Peter has rain. So we had our requisite droplets, which resulted in some amazing cloud patterns for the rest of the ride up to the Observatory.

A couple of cool photos of the bikes; I love how the red and blue play off each other.
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When we got up to the Observatory, we had no sooner parked when we heard someone call out “Peter?”. It turned out to be our friend Carl, who had ridden his bicycle up the mountain. We see these crazy bicyclists on the mountains all the time, so here was our chance! We grilled Carl about the childhood traumas that must have occurred to make him hate himself so much as to ride a bike with no motor up a mountain. The memories must be very deeply repressed, though, because Carl insisted that he actually enjoys the bicycling. *shakes head sadly*

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Carl rode off down the mountainside again, and Peter and I headed into the Observatory for their 15-minute tour. We saw the 36″ refractor telescope (the largest functioning refractor in the world now, since the 40″ lens at Yerkes cracked) and heard the history of James Lick. It’s still my favorite story EVARRR that Lick’s body was exhumed from San Francisco and reburied underneath the refractor telescope upon the Observatory’s completion. Our guide joked that that should have become a fad for millionaires, to build huge telescopes so that they can be buried beneath them. I agree, because huge telescopes are really frickin’ cool.

One heck of a headstone:
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We puttered around the Observatory a bit, but it was closing time, so we had to get going. I still haven’t seen the 3-meter Shane reflector telescope; we’ll have to get there early enough next time.

We took Mt Hamilton Road down the mountainside. There was quite a bit of piled up gravel along the shoulders and in the turnouts for construction work being done to the road, so I couldn’t stop on the way down for my usual photo of the bikes with the domes in the background. Again, next time. ;)

Quimby Road down into San Jose was its usual fun, only this time instead of just the 10mph hairpins on the 11.5% downhill grade, there was gravel in the turns and deer in the road. Ah, Quimby.

We made it home with plenty of time to warm the hot tub and open the bottle of Petit Sirah, which made our lips and tongues goth-lipstick purple. Whee! A good time was had by all.

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10 Responses to Lick Observatory with Peter

  1. Becca says:

    Such a fun road! Glad Peter enjoyed it.
    I know lots of people that think gravel, hairpins, and extreme elevation changes = hell. Leaves the road emptier for those who can appreciate those things…

  2. carolyn says:

    I know what you mean! I could have done without the deer, though. Ever since I read that Lawrence Grodsky was killed by a deer, I’ve been really paranoid about them. I mean, if the author of the “Stayin’ Safe” column was felled by one, what chance do we mere mortals have? *shudder*

  3. James says:

    What is that big “7″ spraypainted in the middle of the right-hander in that picture of Peter?

  4. carolyn says:

    The whole road had those mileage markers — I don’t know what they’re for. They go up to 22 or so along Mines Road and then go back down to 0.

  5. Snarfdog says:

    I have lived here my whole life, always wanted to go there, but like a lame-o never have. Sounds like such fun. Glad you guys had such a great time.

  6. eric says:

    Calaveras rd from San Jose to Sunol makes a good entre’ to Mines… more gravel-strewn 1.5 lane twisties. From Sunol take Foothill to Pleasanton, and Vinyard from there to Livergulch.

  7. Alan R says:

    Based on the title, Sylvie thought this posting might have something to do with porn. :-)

  8. carolyn says:

    Hee! Sorry, Sylvie. ;) Bom chicka chicka bom chicka chicka!

  9. The Yerkes 40-inch is 100% functional. The crack was stopped about a half a inch in–then they hired a man with the most stressful job ever: he drilled a hole in the glass to stop the crack.

  10. carolyn says:

    Heh, cool, thanks for the clarification. I was assuming that the crack caused a significant reduction in aperture (I’ve been to Yerkes, but many many years ago).

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