This past weekend was three days and 696 miles on my vintage BMW R100 RT (touring motorcycle). It gave me some perspective on room. When you’re on a bike you’re not traveling in a “cage” (motorcyclist slang for a car). You experience the world in a more visceral way. The earth buzzes by just below the soles of your boots. Nothing separates you from that RV in the opposite lane but a little leather and fabric. The trees smell more intensely and the birds sing a little louder. Bees get in your clothes or impale themselves into your exposed parts. When it’s 110 degrees on the blacktop you can’t reach down and turn up the air-conditioner. You are not surrounded by a living room on wheels. It’s you and the open road.
A 696-mile trip is not much of a challenge over three days unless it’s nearly all twisty back roads with 35 mph speed limits. Leaving the San Francisco Bay Area, our group of 16 motorcycles and 20 riders and passengers headed out across the Central Valley and caught CA 108 to go over the Sonora Pass (9,624 feet). Through the foothills and over the Sierras we made our way to Bridgeport along the Eastern Sierras over U.S. 395 and then to Mono Lake and a nights stay at Lee Vining. The next morning we were off to visit Yosemite Valley over CA 120 and the Tioga Pass (9,943 feet). I was in awe of Sonora Pass and all its varied scenery but Tioga Pass was even more awesome if that seems possible. Tioga pass is the eastern gateway into the Yosemite Valley so it is a different view than most tourists’ experience. Most travelers enter Yosemite from the west or south and see that iconic view of the valley and Half Dome looking from the west to the east. Tioga gives you lovely high alpine lakes and meadows before dropping you into the valley floor. It’s a seldom used back door to one of the roomiest places on earth. Where does the room come in? Yosemite gives you that “top of the world” view when you’re standing on Glacier Point or Tunnel View. Go and experience a wide open room.
I’ve included a few shots of travel without a cage and roominess from the trip. Hope you take my suggestion and visit Yosemite and the Eastern Sierras, as well.
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