Saturdays: Return to Old Station
Pics are at the end of the report
Well, while many were invited and about eight expected, only three answered the invite: Randy Hendricks, Bill Grass and the host, Chris Weld. A fourth, Brent Hansen, appeared for breakfast in Novato. The morning fog was plentiful, thick too! It reached into the valleys all the way to Napa - which made for comfortable riding. We paused to shed some clothing on the east side of Mt. St. Helena and thereafter beat a path for Williams and a turn up Interstate Five. Our single problem evidence itself here.
Chris glanced into his mirrors to see Bill and Randy heading for the shoulder of I-5 and Chris ducked-off too; albeit a quarter mile from the ‘action’. They shortly caught-up and Randy explained he had a ‘grinding noise’ which had gone away. Again we were ‘off’, only to have Bill and Randy again duck to the shoulder of the Interstate. Chris took to the ditch for some ‘dirt riding’ which had recently been cut and arrived to see Randy’n Bill perplexed, but Chris had a ‘from ditch’ perspective where the front of the skid plate on Randy’s GS was but an inch off the pavement. We generally agreed that Randy didn’t know how to ‘screw’ but what to do? Chris took a bungee cord from his cooler’s tie downs and strung it under the front of the skid plate while snugging-up the loose rear fittings. Randy was visibly concerned so Chris suggested we plot a course for Chico and Ozzie’s BMW in hopes of getting the special bolts used on that troublesome skid plate. A quick study of the map showed such a detour to be minor and it was off to lunch at Nancy’s Airport Cafe.
Nancy’s is right on the Willows airports’ apron where good food and good prices come together. The bungee cord set-up was doing just fine. We left Nancy’s in route towards Orland but turned up Hwy #45 for a bit before a series of turns as dictated by the GPS. None of us had been to Ozzie’s so it was some local inquiry and programming. We got there, they had the parts (2) and Randy thus made himself ‘whole’ again, poorer, but wiser now, we were off up Hwy#99 for Hwy #36 just east of Red Bluff and the ten’er so miles of Hwy #36 to Doan’s Station and a turn-off for Manton. We stretched again in Manton and partook some more water from Chris’ once frozen jug of same. We also bought some fresh tomatoes from a local farmer.
Manton sits just south of Shingletown and about 1500 feet lower so the ride from Manton to Shingletown is a fun one. We bought some russet potatoes and three similar sized rib eye steaks. Randy found some bread sticks. We were going to eat well. Shingletown to Old Station is a 30 mile jaunt over great highway which crests (5933’) just north of Hwy #89’s exit from Lassen Volcanic National Park. We arrived at the destination just after 5 PM.
Firemen know how to cook, Randy’s a just-retired firefighter so things were looking good. Chris washed the spuds, Bill got out the barbeque and Randy used a plastic bag and some of Paul Newman’s Italian dressing to make a marinade. We wrapped the spuds in aluminum foil with holes poked and butter - threw them on the fire and had a cocktail’er two (maybe three?). After dishes we hauled-out the maps, cigars and some more libation to discuss the following day’s ride (Friday). Bill and Randy both liked Chris’ suggestion. It was agreed.
The morning brought bright sunshine, low 40 temperatures so it was coffee, showers, orange juice and an idyllic start to a great day’s riding. We departed Old Station about 9 am for a twenty-five’er so mile ride to breakfast in Fall River Mills but not via the fast route. We turned toward Casel, past Bing Crosby’s country estate, one now owned by Clint Eastwood. The property sits aside Rising River, a pristine stream of clear water (Bing was an avid fly fisherman). We took the beautifully paved ‘trail’ known as the Casel-Fall River Road. We encountered by two motorists driving the other way over the 15 of so miles of this route. We dined in the old hotel, one built in 1935. After breakfast we gassed-up and re-traced our route a couple hundred yards back over the Pitt River and turned onto De Knoch for a scenic ride through rolling farm country for Pittville and the ‘Old Highway’, one which ends at the new highway, Rt# 299. We rode over Big Mountain Valley Summit and down through Nubieber (maybe five buildings here) and on to Bieber. Hwy #299 just ‘kisses’ Bieber at the outskirts and just past that, a left turn (NB) for the bustling community of Lookout (maybe 15 buildings?). We stretched in Lookout and took a hit from Chris’ bottle of melting ice (refilled and frozen the night before). Adin was next on our list of bustling communities to visit.
This area of California is noted for the production of wild rice, Fall River Mills sponsors a wild rice festival. It’s also noted for producing strawberry seedlings. Out around Adin and Lookout it’s cattle and hay country.
Chris found Adin right where he’d last left it, leading Bill and Randy into the Adin Market and Deli. This is a very large ‘general store’ with groceries and merchandise. There’s a meat counter which also does deli foods, but also a hunting/fishing area and the whole place, roughly 220x80 feet square is festooned with mounted trophy heads, stuffed birds and a grizzly bear. Randy found a display of coon-skin hats, need one? We had snacks here, cappuccino, maple bars and the like.
We rode to the edge of Adin and picked-up Hwy #139 for Susanville, a route which took us around Eagle Lake. We’d had almost no traffic and very little on Hwy #139. Adin to Susanville is about 74 miles. Again we paused in Susanville to tap the water bottle and ponder our next ‘play’. Since we were initially programmed to dine-out for dinner Chris suggested Westwood. Fine! We rode Hwy# 299 west for Hwy #36 and on into Westwood, a one-time company town where all the buildings were painted the same color. Chris first motorcycled into Westwood in the late 60’s just after the mill closed and kicks himself still for not buying the whole town. Chris looped through Westwood and stopped in front of Young’s Market, one of the few commercial buildings in town. It was still early, about 3 PM and some plans needed to be made. The map was studied and it was agreed, we’d have an early dinner ‘out’ in Chester, about 15 miles distant and then ride through Lassen Volcanic Park as Old Station was just on the other side.
We each ordered-up a full meal at Chester’s Copper Kettle restaurant - we stuffed ourselves! 50 minutes later we were back on the Road, now Hwys 36 and 89, to follow 89 through the park. We arrived at the Visitors Center about 4:40 and lounged around to get the last showing of the 20 minute film about Lassen Volcanic National Park. There are only four kinds of volcanoes and all four are represented at Lassen, (shield, dome, etc.). By 5:30 we were leaving the visitor’s center, the parking lot was all but empty. Gas was a ‘concern’ as I’d meant to have us fill-up in Chester. Did Bill have gas? He hadn’t yet hit a reserve setting and he has several. I knew gas was available in the park, but on the other side. We proceeded to ride the 33 miles of Hwy #89 through the park and never caught-up to a single vehicle and only three, possibly four were found coming the other way. The roadway was recently re-paved and it was sure bliss! We made it to gas with Bill on his 3rd reserve setting, only ‘regular’ was available and we were glad to get it! Whew!
We all arrived back in Old Station with still plenty of day light and Chris took the short loop through his neighborhood here for Randy’s edification. It was cocktail time! Chris brought-out good cigars and the map. It was time to plot a return to the Bay Area. We’d logged 228 miles since gas in Fall River Mills.
Chris suggested breakfast in downtown Cottonwood as it could be reached via some scenic backroad (agreed). How about doing Hwy#45 end to end? That idea was welcomed. We had a plan! Cause for another drink!
Cottonwood has an historic downtown but since the town is just off Interstate #5 with no easy on/off, it remains a local ‘secret’. We got to Cottonwood by coming down Hwy#44 and taking Dersch Road for Anderson. (This is the fast way into/out of Old Station, Anderson is four miles north of Cottonwood via IS#5.) About a third of the way down Dersch is a turn-off for Ash Creek Rd and Ash Creek runs into the back of Cottonwood. The pavement isn’t good, nor high-speed, no center line, but twisting and scenic. What’s unusual here are the miles and miles of stone walls. Stone walls? Yeah, I’ve seen those built by Chinese labor around Copperopolis but trust me, there are stone walls and then there are stone walls. These are 4-4.5 feet tall, and all of three feet thick. (Note the proper pictures here).
After a great breakfast we hit I-5 south for Red Bluff and turned onto Hwy#99 and rode that to just south of Los Molinos where we took the Nord-Hamilton-Cana Hwy into Hamilton City; the northern terminus of Hwy #45. We rode Hwy 45 to its southern terminus at Hwy 113 in Knight’s Landing. Hwy#45, while mostly straight, has some ninety-degree 20 MPH turns. We saw a lot of agricultural equipment on the highway, all shapes and sizes. This is ‘nut country’ in the north which gives way to rice growing, then sun flower and ends in a mix of tomato and melon. There were the occasional other crop, pumpkin for one.
Knights Landing is 13 miles NE of Woodland and needed a ‘pitt stop’. I knew of a park on Beemer Street and went right to it but alas, locked! Petrol Station solved that problem. We rode west on Main Street, right through Woodland for Rode 98 (aka Pedrick Road), which intersects IS#80. We jumped onto and into traffic on IS#80. A cross-wind was soon added, one which adversely effected Randy. He dropped-back but we’d agreed to visit the rest area above Vallejo where we re-grouped. Since we could see the fog pushing into the area we took the opportunity to ‘layer-up’.
We were each home circa 5:00 PM (+/-). Great run!