May 17th, 2009

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Longer ride than planned

I went back to California today (er, yesterday). I rode to Sutter Creek via route 88.

Wow. The views are indescribable. Elevation to 8000 feet, and... wow. And the lakes too, with snow right up to the water (and ice floating on one of the lakes), and this time of year with it being warm, it was really beautiful. Only I didn't stop but for once when I had something in my eye.

The way there, I got off 88 onto Ridge Road and took that into Sutter Creek. On the way back, I decided to go to Jackson to get onto 88, as Google Maps suggests is the fastest route. I dutifully followed the sign that led me onto 88...

...but completely missed the fact that that road is only highway 88 for about a block.

I started seeing "49 South" signs. Eventually I stopped to find out where I was. I was in the town of San Andreas, California. I had to go all the way back to Jackson -- a 45-minute round-trip -- and essentially start my journey again.

I passed the gas stations in Pine Grove, thinking there were more along the way, as I had noted when the first gas station appeared during my trip there. But after passing through Pioneer and beyond, I had my doubts and guessed that the 76 station I saw in Pine Grove must have been the one I saw on the way as the first station, so I turned around -- a 15-minute round trip.

The station was unattended, so I had to pay by debit card. Guess it's a good thing I have one now.

Turns out, my original hunch had been correct, and there was indeed another 76 station a bit beyond Pioneer, so that second round trip was completely unnecessary.

As it was around midnight, it was pretty cold up over the Kit Carson pass. I left Sutter Creek while it was still in the high 70s or low 80s, but over the pass it was in the low or mid 30s. I almost wished I had brought my extra jacket, but it wasn't too bad. A couple of my fingers began going numb, as I was wearing my regular riding gloves (though I had brought my winter gloves but chose not to wear them).

So, I had left Sutter Creek at about quarter to 10, and got home at quarter after 2. Yeah, that was longer than expected... This means I spent a total of about seven hours riding today. That's a new record.

But I was right: It doesn't seem so long when it's mostly a deserted winding mountain road.

And I have rid El Dorado National Forest of all its flying insects.