The Grand Tour of Pashnit California


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He turned to me and said, "Just so you know, I'm armed."

With that, he turned and lifted up the back of his shirt showing me the gun in the small of his back.

And I knew then it was going to be a very good tour- A Grand Tour.



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I was joined by Neil and his father Ron. Neil had booked the ride months ago- as a birthday present for his father who'll be turning 60 soon. I felt a special desire to provide these two an amazing ride- Neil had mentioned to me it was the first time he'd spent time with his father- just the two of them- since he was 17. Now married, two kids, wife, full time job, overtime, I knew very well his place in life.

Ron joined us all the way from La Crosse, Wisconsin and works in the apartment management industry. Neil is a police officer with the Turlock Police Department, and recently learned he'll be going to school soon be a motor cop- as in those police on motorcycles.


During our ride together I constantly kept photographing Ron simply staring off into the distance, maybe in awe of our California scenery.



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I also had the pleasure of riding with Gary on his Yamaha FJR again, who'd accompanied me on our Sierra Nevada Tour in June. Gary, had the every consumate joke ready at a moments notice and was quick to let me know he hadn't been able to attend the Pashnit Trackday because he didn't have a full leather suit as they'd have to kill two cows, and the animal rights folks woulda been all over him. Gary you see, is a rather large fella.



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If you have the time... take a moment to listen to this story.

48 hours before the ride, my partner Tim takes ill. It will be the first ride he's missed a ride due to illness in all the years we've been running the tour company. He's the healthiest guy I know. Another couple bows out at the last minute and I cancel my unneeded hotel rooms wrapping up all the preparations.

So it's Thursday evening, the night before the ride. The wife, the kids and I are headed home from the store as I'm going to be gone for the next four days.

It's 6 pm. The phone rings.

It's a man in a bar. In the San Jose Airport. In the Bay Area. Is this "Pashnit" he asks? Yes.

He hands the phone to the man next to him and the other fella comes on with a thick sounding melodic Scottish accent. I've flown over from Scotland he says to go on your tour. The tour is tomorrow morning.

Do you have a bike? No.
Do you have any gear? No.
Do you even know where we're going? Not really, never been in the United States before.

I'll call you back I say taking down the cell number of the man in the bar. I call Eagle Rider, the Harley rental folks in San Jose. It's now 6:30 pm, they close at 5, and they have no answering machine.

A voice picks up, it's Gloria, the owner. Hi Tim, How are you, she says. Gloria, I need a favor. Call this number I say, giving her the cell number of the unknown man in the bar sitting next to our Scotsman.

Thirty minutes late, now 7pm, I call our unknown man at the bar back. He hands the phone to the Scotsman- Well?

I've got a bike he says, I can pick it up at 9am tomorrow. Great I say, we'll meet you in Santa Cruz. The ride is in 12 hours. And with that, Robert was able to room with me, he had a bike, and we were set. All the way from Dunde, Scotland, no plans.

Robert, who flew all the way from Scotland to attend the Grand Tour of Pashnit California.


In short, Robert described himself as a 'Fatalist'. My dictionary tells me that Robert was with me because some things in life are simply meant to be- that some events in life are supposedly predetermined by some agency beyond human control, an inevitable succession of events. For some reason, we were supposed to be together on that ride.

Robert was with me because of what he called 'Voluntary Redundancy', a term I've not heard before. In Scottish terms, it meant early retirement, and he was here with me after 20 years of working in the IT field and needing to get far, far away. He had done some homework on the internet about motorcycle tours and simply got on a plane and flew to New York, than the Bay Area. Other than that, we knew next to nothing about Robert, only that he was here with us.

The Road Glide that Eagle Rider was able to provide at the last minute.



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We'd also be joined by Mark & Judy who are local to the Bakersfield region and came on their BMW GS. They'd meet up with us on the 2nd day of our ride. Mark & Judy have been together for 33 years, and Mark a police officer for many of those years.



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After the usual meeting in Saratoga in the Bay Area,



it was off to Big Basin to see the massive coastal redwoods. Robert we would meet in Santa Cruz after he'd picked up the bike.

In this pic, you really can't tell just how big this tree is...


Now you can.




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A ride down Hwy 236 to Jamison Grade, on up the hill and that a relaxed jaunt down Emipire Grade to Santa Cruz where we awaited Robert. He was a bit frazzled when he arrived, first time driving, or rather riding, in America, all the street signs were different, the street lights, we drive on the wrong side of the road, the huge Harley (his normal ride is a Ninja 636). After securing Robert a jacket from the great folks at 'We All Ride'- a moto-retailer in Santa Cruz, it was off southward through Carmel to to Rocky Point Restaurant for lunch.

Lunch at Rocky Point Restaurant



The view here is quite something, although due to warm inland temps, things were a bit foggy.

(See the people??)



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Painting... with the Rocky Creek Bridge in the background completed in 1932.


Flowers against the Rocky Creek Bridge


(Photo by Neil)

Painter painting




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Then it was off to explore Hwy 1 Big Sur Coastline, a fantastic 80 mile stretch of pavement where every turn and pullout it a picture perfect postcard.

Ron taking in the California Coastline.



Ron's Street Glide


Photography can be serious business ;) - the behind the scene shot of Yours Truly chatting with Robert trying to figure out how to to get the shot above.



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The Harley's- I got to learn all the differences between all the "Glide's". StreetGlide, RoadGlide, WideGlide, etc.


Ron's Road Glide



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Suffice to say, didn't get many pictures of Hwy 1, as it was a rather foggy day. But a clear day?

Bridges look something like this...


Curves go something like this...


Even the straights look something like this...


While rainy days can look like this...



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After riding Big Sur, a stop to check out Ragged Point on the far southern end of California Big Sur.

Ron, Robert & Neil

Not bad! Think I'll put my house right here!!



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When I was a kid, my dad always used to take pictures of flowers, and back then I never could understand why. Starting to figure that out.


Anyone know what this is? Pretty cool looking.



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Flower-less shot of the view northward of Ragged Point.



Arriving in San Luis Obispo for the night, all wrapped up in the Geza Cover. Tomorrow, we'd leave the Pacific Coast behind and ride clear across the state to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I'm beginning to like this ride.


-End Day 1-

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