Monday, July 2, 2012

Turns, Trout, and Transects

“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Three, Tuesday June 5

My  bag of granola hits the picnic table with a solid and satisfying “thud.”  A month’s worth of granola weighs quite a bit, doesn’t it?  I jettisoned a number of other food items when packing so I could ensure I’d be eating my own granola for breakfast.  This  batch doesn’t have anything particularly special in it, and I can’t quite put my finger on why homemade* is so much better, but like many things, it doesn’t matter.  It just is.  And I won’t survive this trip if I have to eat store bought granola, or, even worse, what-have-you-bars for breakfast.  This, and those little cups of unsweetened applesauce are two of my most essential camping staples.**

Before I leave Joshua Tree National Park, I take a ride over to Keys View to have a birds eye look-see of the San Andreas Fault in the distance.  Funny, I never would have identified it as such on my own, but there it is, seen from here as a line of low mountains -  mounds, really - on the Coachella Valley floor.

Joshua Tree National Monument Keys View
Difficult to see in this photo:  look at the right side of the mountains furthest back on the horizon. Follow the valley floor from their base towards you and you'll see a tiny row of mounds.  Yup, that's it.  Not exactly, uh, earth-shattering.  Until it is.

It feels good to have the most desolate areas of desert behind me as I make my way to the home of a friend in Pasadena.  But Mother Nature sends a little message to keep me humble.  While I’m no stranger to being blown off course by strong winds, this breeze is unlike any I’ve ever dealt with before.  No wonder there are so many windmills here.  Wham!  I am blown clear across two entire lanes of I-10, and after taking the Lord’s name in vain in my helmet, I give thanks that no one else was occupying the space I so unexpectedly entered.

Every good motorcyclist knows that detours are always in order, so it seems perfectly reasonable to ride south to go west.   The persistent wind hampers my performance on the Banning-Idyllwild Panoramic Highway, but even so, it’s beautiful, and it feels fantastic to dispense with the never-ending straight line of freeway riding.

I’ll be saying this all month, it turns out, but this is a special trip, so I decide not to overly economize on my first touring restaurant stop.

Trout and Eggs at Gastrognome Idyllwild, CA
I am quite pleased with my trout and egg brunch at Restaurant Gastrognome.

Either the wind has abated, or the mountain is protecting me, because after lunch, I have no trouble enjoying the lefts and rights as I drop down the other side of the mountain.  When I reach CA 74, the road’s camber tilts this way and that, and I find the non-sensical angles tricky to read.  I’m riding on a giant asphalt fun house mirror, and it keeps me laughing.

The fun ends all too soon, and it’s time to get serious again.  I take a deep breath before doing battle with a good 80 miles of the southern California freeway system.  I don’t want to take my eyes off the road to consult my map, so I’m barking the directions in my helmet like an air force pilot in combat.  215 North! 60 West! 71 North! 57 North! 210 West!  I rehearse the plan over and over in my head, as I would a challenging flute solo, lest I forget my next move.

Doesn’t everyone pack solar viewing glasses when motorcycle touring?  I’ve got mine, and they are handy at the Venus Transect Viewing event at Cal Tech.  Between last month’s solar eclipse, last night’s lunar eclipse, and today’s transect, astronomers (and astrologers, I suppose) must not be getting much sleep. The transect, clearly visible as a black speck on the sun, is rather less dramatic than a solar eclipse, so I don’t bother photographing it.  But it’s a fine enough excuse to drink and dine outdoors in the perfect weather, and the Cal Tech campus is beautiful with happy flowers and turtles, so I snap a picture of those, instead.

Cal Tech Campus (1)

Cal Tech Campus

*Rolled oats (and whatever other rolled grains you might choose), plus your choice of simple to exotic extras: nuts, dried fruits, dried coconut, etc.  Toss the grains, nuts, and coconut with warmed mix of peanut oil, maple syrup and vanilla, and toast low and slow in the oven (225), stirring frequently for an hour to an hour and a half.  You know, ‘til it looks like granola.  Mix in the fruits after.

** At this point, I don’t own a camp stove, although this may change. I’ve started experimenting making my own dried soup mixes, and if that goes well, I’ll make the investment.  ‘Til then, I also carry little cans of V8, summer sausage, Triscuits, some dried fruit and nuts (NOT mixed together!) among other things.  Every few days, I’ll buy a couple rolls from the grocery, along with just enough cheese to make a cheese sandwich, along with a durable piece of fresh fruit.  That’s enough for me to feel like I’m eating a meal, rather than snacking, which gets old after a few days.  I also go out to eat once a day, and will either stuff myself silly, order something whose leftovers pack well in a bit of foil, or both.


Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Forget the traditional camp stove and get a jet boil. They're awesome and fast! Great when you're starving or cranky in the morning and need tea.

Paula said...

A jet boil has totally been on my list. And (no surprise, perhaps) I've been experimenting making my own dehydrated soup mixes.

Eating On Two Wheels said...

Guess who got a Jetboil for her birthday? Happy dance!