July 6, 2001
5:30pm. Red Lion Hotel, Redding. 3673 miles, 548.9 trip miles.
Suddenly I’m having the opposite problem that I had yesterday — every time I’ve gone somewhere to try and write for a minute, I’ve been flagged down or waved over to join someone. Can’t really complain about that! I woke up early this morning, even though I didn’t have 300 miles to cover for once, and went to the WoW hospitality room (a hotel suite they’d reserved as a place for attendees to hang out and look at photo albums, chat, eat munchies, etc). I saw a couple of the women that Sara had introduced me to last night as being Bay Area WoW members, so I chatted with them for a few minutes. I ended up sitting on a couch next to the woman who owned the newish Honda Nighthawk 750 that I’d seen last night, so we talked Nighthawks for a while until she headed out. Danelle, the SV rider from Colorado, came in, and we sat and talked for a while about SVs and tattoos and other sorts of really important things. 😉 Last night, I’d noticed that the paint was stripped off of a section of her tank; I asked her about it, hoping she hadn’t been in an accident. She said thereÂ had been an accident, but not the usual kind — apparently she parked her bike in an inner courtyard of her apartment complex, and on one hot evening, a fan vibrated off of a balcony and landed on the SV! Whoops.
At 9am, I went to seeÂ Dee Gagnon give a slide show presentation about her 100-day trip. Since I’d really enjoyed her book, it was neat for me to meet her and hear some of the stories first-hand. She was pretty much as she came across in her book — spunky, independant, and personable. She was very nice: she signed my copy of her book and chatted for a minute about being a female rider who prefers to ride solo. I felt sort of bad staying to chat with her, since it seemed like the other women there were sort of pushy in a way — they were sort of tripping over themselves to offer her lodging or free dinner, etc., if she ever stopped through their towns. The gestures were all very nice and sincere, but I got the impression that she had had experiences where people had taken it personally if she decidedÂ not to show up in that town after all, or ended up not feeling like being taken to dinner if she did arrive. One of the nice things about riding solo is that you can plan your own life, and stop when and where you want to, and all the offers — while, like I mentioned, were very sincere and well-intentioned — also somewhat put obligations on your plate. I can see why she looked a little apprehensive. I’m sure she also gets people who want to do everything in their power for her when she stops by their town, as a means of living vicariously through her. It’s much easier to take a world-traveller out for pizza when she stops by your city than it is to be a world-traveller yourself. I wonder if that’s hard for her — for me, one of the best things about travelling solo is the opportunity to be anonymous or anti-social if I want to me, and I wonder if that’s impossible for her to do now that she’s pretty famous in the WoW circles. I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading way too much into people, but that’s the impression I got. After hanging out a little after the slide show, I got my picture taken with Dee, and I wandered off again.
I walked down to the hotel restaurant for lunch, with the intention of getting a table to myself again and writing, but as soon as I walked in, a group of women saw me and waved me over to their table. They were Linda, Sue, and Rhonda from Illinois, and Joan from Redding (originally from Southern California, she pointed out). They wre all very laid back and funny. Joan was an older woman who’d been a nurse, and she and Sue spent most of lunch talking about Sue’s ailing mother. Joan kept referring to Redding as “Dorky Town,” which was pretty entertaining. They were all fun. After lunch, I walked over to the corner of the parking lot where BMW had set up their demo bikes. I was surprised at how low the seat of the R1200RS looked, but the guy working the booth said it was all stock. I sat on it, and was pretty surprised that I could fit on it. I was definitely tiptoeing, and wouldn’t have trusted myself to keep it upright on anything but the flattest asphault, but it was still fun to sit on. I met Dezi, one of two women who had unfortunate encounters with deer on the way to the Ride-In. She was in a wheelchair with a broken kneecap, and her other leg was covered in iodine-stained gauze. Her arms and face were pretty bruised up. She was in good spirits, though. Her husband Ron was there with her, and she was happy that they’d continued on (not on bikes, obviously) to the Ride-In. I guess the accident happened just outside of Reno. The other woman was still in the hospital, with a punctured lung and other internal injuries. Thoug she was expected to make a complete recovery, it was pretty sobering.
9:30pm. Poolside, Red Lion Hotel. same mileage.
This afternoon, after lunch, I rode out to Shasta Dam. It was still bloody hot (~110, I think), so I didn’t want to ride all the way to Lassen, but I didn’t want to waste my life sitting in the hotel, either. The dam was just twelve miles away, with a little bit of freeway, a little bit of small-town roads, and a little bit of twisties. Sounded good. The dam itself was actually shut off for repairs when I was there (figures), but it was still really impressive. The reservoir for the dam is Lake Shasta, and the watercourse is the Sacramento River, which irrigates most of the Central Valley. The dam is approximately 1100 feet high and 3500 feet long, and was built between 1938-45. I met a little friend there; a squirrel was sitting on the walkway when I came up, and graciously allowed me to take a picture. He followed me for a while and would periodically stop and look up at me, as if to say, “aren’t you going to take more pictures of me?” He was pretty cute. After I walked around the dam area. I went back to the bike and started gearing up. A park employee walked by and stopped to chat about the bike. He was a rider as well, and we traded ideas on how to keep cool in the ungodly heat. I rode down to the bottom of the dam, but since it was all closed for repairs, there weren’t any tours going on. So I rode back up and over to a vista point that I’d passed on my way into the dam area — from the vista point, you could see all “three Shastas”: Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, and Mount Shasta. It was really gorgeous. I took some pictures (surprise!) and headed back to the hotel.
After I got back to the hotel from the Shasta trip, I took a very welcome shower and an even more welcome nap. I went out to the pool to write for a few minutes, and as I was walking to a table, I heard, “oh, fine, be a loser and sit by yourself!” It was Danelle, so I gave up on writing and went and hung out with her and her friend (whose name I forget) for a few minutes. I really enjoyed talking with Danelle, but unfortunately didn’t run into her again after our poolside chat. I left a note for her on her bike later that evening, but when I went back a few minutes later, the note was gone. Whether she saw it, or someone else took it, or it got blown away, I don’t know. Ah well.
The banquet dinner started at 6pm, so I headed there right from the pool. Linda, girl I’d met at Dee’s slideshow, was sitting at a table near the door, so she waved me over and I sat with her. Linda actually only lives a few miles from me here in the bay area, so we chatted about local stuff and the local chapter of WoW. Also at our table were Barbara from Alaska (!), Suzi from West Virginia, some people from Iowa, and a wonderful couple from Alabama. They were all really nice, and we gradually warmed up to each other, and spent most of the dinner laughing and swapping jokes and bike tales. Suzi is an MSF instructor, and she told a hilarious story about a student who was very angry that West Virginia had a mandatory helmet law. Suzi asked why he felt so strongly about it, and he responded, “well, I was in an accident with my brand new helmet, and it got totally smashed in and ruined! I had to go and buy a new one!” Suzi prompted him, “and….?” He replied indignantly, “I had to go spend another three hundred bucks!” Apparently it didn’t sink in that he would have done hisÂ head more than $300 worth of damage had it not been for the helmet. 😉
After dinner, they announced the raffle winners (Barbara at our table won a $200 gift certificate from Kawasaki) and the various long-distance winners (Suzi won the long-distance award for her bike class). I won the award for youngest WoW member who rode her own bike to the Ride-In, though it was somewhat on a technicality, since I had met a girl earlier in the day who was 19. Sunshine (that was her name) lived in Redding, though, so I guess they figured it didn’t really count since she didn’t actuallyÂ go anywhere for the Ride-In. We thought that was sort of unfair, but she told me she’d win next year, when the Ride-In is in Kentucky. 😉 Sunshine was really nice, and I loved talking with her. She rides a 500 Interceptor and has a huge pickup truck and lots of spunk. I like that. I posed for some pictures with Esta, who at 75 was the oldest rider (I saw a women whom I think was older, but maybe she didn’t ride there herself).
I spent most of the latter part of the banquet talking with the couple from Alabama. They were probably in their early 60s, and had shipped their GoldWings to….I want to say Reno but I’m not sure that’s correct…and rode the rest of the way from there. She was pretty cool; she started riding 20 years ago when she up and decided one day that she wanted to ride dirt bikes. It was really neat to see a 60-year-old woman laughing enthusiastically about doing big jumps and wipeouts and stuff. 🙂
After the banquet, I tried to find Danelle and Sara to get a picture of the three of us on our SVs. I found Sara, so we got some pictures together (we cheated and moved our bikes next to Danelle’s, so even if she wasn’t in the pictures, her bike was!). At one point, a woman walked up to us with her son (?) and asked us some questions about the rally (they weren’t with the Ride-In). Her son looked around my age, maybe a few years younger, and they were sort of unnaturally excited about the prospect of getting a picture of him with Sara and I and the bikes. While she went to get her camera, we talked with the guy, who seemed to take a relatively long time in believing us that the bikes we were sitting on were ours. His specific comment to me after hearing about my bike was “wow, you can take 650?” which seemed like a really weird thing to say. It was hard not to make a slightly dirty smartass comment back at him, but we smiled and restrained ourselves and posed with him for the picture like nice little sportsbike riding motorcycle mamas.
I talked to Peter a little bit after that, and then just sort of lounged around before bed, figuring out which route to take home. Part of me really wants to get back and lounge around with Peter and hang out, and part of me just wants to stay on the road as long as possible!