Some of you know, most of you don’t, but I am currently on an epic journey of epic proportions. It’s gonna be epic.
Okay, maybe I’m overselling it. In a nutshell, I am participating in Bodie Bowl 2015, the inaugural MTB race in Bodie, CA. That’s on Saturday the 22nd (of August. in 2015). Today is Friday, the 21st. I’ll tell Day Two’s story later. I want to tell the story of Day One, which was Thursday, the 20th.
Yesterday was mostly road trip, but it was an interesting road trip. I got my stuff all packed up and was on the road by 10:30 or so, which would put me at the Paradise Shores Campground by 2. I believe you would be hard pressed to find a more stunning stretch of road to drive. Driving up Highway 50 to South Lake Tahoe, then taking a right and driving south on 89 to 395 to finally end up in Bridgeport. My first story involves the little town of Markleeville.
I had ZERO intention of stopping in Markleeville. Plenty of gas, just finished eating the sammich my lovely wife made me for the trip, I was cruising. I blasted through that cute little mountain town, and about five miles up the road, I ran into a Caltrans worker. “Road’s closed, jack-knifed big rig. Should be open in about an hour.” So, I went back to Markleeville. If you have never been, it’s a cute town. But, if you have ever been to a California mountain town, then you’ve been to Markleeville. General store, art gallery, pizza joint, bar, and a diner. What makes Markleeville different is that it hosts (sort of) the California Death Ride every year. I used to want to do that ride, but now I don’t think so. Anyway, I walked around town for a while, and walked into the art gallery. The gallery was being run by this sweet little old lady who was still hanging onto the last vestiges of youth by drawing on her eyebrows with a sharpie. We chatted…she told me that the hot spring in Grover was a place I should go for a soak (yeah, not my cuppa). I saw this cool plate (pictured). “Oh, the owner made that piece. He’s an old hippie.” We chatted a little more, then I headed back to my truck. I had another 30 minutes before the road opened, so I planned on sitting in my truck and maybe catching a nap.
The old guys outside the diner had other plans for me.
“Where you coming from, young fella?” This from the guy in the middle. These guys were lined up outside the diner, drinking Miller Lite, and itching to tell stories. “Well, I came from Folsom, but I’m on my way to Bridgeport. Road’s closed up ahead, so I have some time to kill.”
“Really? What happened?”
“Jack-knifed big-rig. They said it happened last night, but they should have it open in an hour.”
“Hoo-eee! Must be some kinda jack-knife!” *turns to Hat Guy. “Remember when Nate run his truck off the road? If he hadn’t jumped out, he woulda been 600 feet at the bottom o’ that canyon! Took two cranes to fish that truck out…that musta cost 50 grand to clean up.”
It went on like this for quite a while, and I loved every second of it. One story led to another story, led to another…much better than taking a nap. After a bit, I made my goodbyes and got back on the road.
The other thing in Markleeville is that there was a fire near there recently, around Father’s Day. I guess the fire got within a few miles of town. The gallery lady told me that she had packed up all the art and went out of town and kept calling to see how things were. The Death Ride was almost cancelled, but they got the fire put out a week before the start time.
So, just after Markleesville, I took a left and went over Monitor Pass. Monitor is just over 8000′, and it’s beautiful. As I was climbing the pass in my truck, I kept thinking about those guys doing it on the bike…tough, tough climb. But that isn’t even the hardest part, IMO. the back side of Monitor winds steeply down the mountainside to the valley below. Hairpin turns, off camber with no shoulder. High consequence descent…this is when I decided that maybe I don’t ever want to do the Death Ride. But the view at the top is something to behold.
Rest of the trip was uneventful, I got to the campground ~3:30, had camp setup by 4. Alan, the guy who runs the campground, is super cool, laid back, and WAY fit. Wanted to know all about my bike, and pointed me to some trails nearby, which I will try out today. Paradise Shores is a very nice campground, with the nicest bathroom I have ever encountered on any campground EVER. I’ve stayed in hotels with worse bathrooms. I made dinner around 5:30, but I forgot my brats so I made my potato hash with bacon instead. A worthy substitute. If you want pictures of my food, campsite, etc., follow me on Instagram. I’m tagging everything #mantrip2015 and #bodiebowl2015.
Oh, and the reason for the hastag? Well, I’m all by myself. Teresa believes that camping is the devil, and the girls are busy with work/school stuff. Also, I couldn’t get anyone to go with me, even though I tried recruiting other guys.
Well, my coffee has grown cold and I should probably take a shower. Stay tuned for Day Two!