“Sort-of-Sabbatical” Day Twenty-One, Saturday June 23
I’ve packed up, fueled up, checked my tire pressure, re-loaded my grocery supplies, and am ready for a 200 mile sporting run of the Sierra Nevadas. Yesterday’s survey of Lake Tahoe was lovely, but a proper motorcycle tour always balances sightseeing with aggressive riding, and I’m looking forward to what I know will be one of the highlights of my summer.
But I'm disappointed to quickly discover that this blustery day is not just going to make for some cold riding. I’m blown off my line on a 10 mile an hour switchback, and 60 miles into my ride, I already know what I’ll be writing: 200 miles of glorious, twisty road, and I spent the day fighting to keep my Ducati on the pavement. The wind, if anything, is picking up, and I can’t bear the thought of the lost opportunity. Sporting run postponed, I spend the day holed up along with seemingly every other motorcyclist on the road, catching up on business, instead. I need to check the weather, and since tomorrow looks promising, line up another night of camping in the area, for Sierra Run Take Two. I shrug and face reality. I am going to have to traverse the desert again, and I might as well use this lost day to come up with the least painful strategy to do so. It takes quite a bit of time, checking routes, distances, and weather reports with my slow phone and now well worn maps, but I formulate a plan. It's almost too good to be true, but the forecast for Death Valley looks shockingly mild for the end of June – barely 100 degrees! – so I opt to avoid some of the boring freeways and cross through the national park instead. Ironically, I’ll likely be able to cool off in the rain projected to fall in northern Arizona at about the time I roll into Flagstaff.
While it may have brought a halt to my sporting day, I’ve got inside intel on the Tahoe area, and the wind won’t keep me from my planned dinner destination of JT Basque in Garderville, NV.
I have a passerby take a photo with my phone, so I can email it to friends who I know have shared many lively, convivial repasts here. It will surely make them smile.
I quickly see the attraction of this place. While I choose my main course from just a few items, all manner of extras (including wine if I could have indulged) come to the table freely, each one a more delightful surprise than the next.
I’ve ordered rabbit, but first comes bread and a big bowl from which I ladle as much hot soup as I’d like. Soup is good food. Especially after my breezy ride.
Now – what’s this? – a beef stew, beans, a green salad, all surprises to me.
Finally my rabbit arrives, with a healthy serving of fries. Is this all for me?
They must be reading my mind, because after a good meal, I like a little sweet bite.
This isn’t the very best food I’ve ever eaten, but it’s comforting, rustic, and tasty, and the merry, vibrant, genial feel of it all makes this a place I’d like to return to, with a warm circle of friends sharing the bounty of this good table.
I ride back to my home for the evening. The waves and clouds on Fallen Leaf Lake belie the windy day.
Tonight it’s my turn to be the friendly, helpful camp neighbor. The cheerful trio of campers next to me is not equipped for the cold, and I help them cover the screens and holes in their awkward piecemeal tent with blankets and zip ties. I am rewarded with songs around the camp fire, and a pleasant bedtime snack of wine and s’mores.