Today, a few of us decided to explore Stagecoach Road as recommended by our friendly motel manager. When we set out, the group included Sandy and I in the lead followed by Sherm, Teri, Slots, Lanny and Cranky. We took California 246 east to 154 and followed that southeast past Lake Cachuma. Along 246, we saw a series of vultures sitting on the power lines with their wings spread in the sun and several deer in a field. After one false stop at a closed Scenic View site (you think they would mark the closure on the highway signs), we found the open one and stopped for a photo opportunity.
Before we left the lot to continue, we encountered a situation that left Cranky speechless and the rest of us amused. There was a young fellow in the lot with a Yamaha sport bike who was trying to reach someone on his cell phone. It seems he was out of gas and Cranky, ever prepared, grabbed the spare fuel bottles he carries on his engine guards and took them over to the kid. In one of the dumber moves we have seen in recent times, to youngster refused the gas because it wasn't 91 octane even though 87 would not have harmed his engine provided he had taken it easy to the next gas station. We left him still trying to find cell service.
Crossing the large viaduct on 154, the GPS led me to make a right turn on Stagecoach Road and start a steep winding descent. We weren't in very far when we came to Cold Spring Tavern, located on a tight downhill curve. To say parking here was a challenge would be an understatement. I've been told that their parking area is reserved for motorcycles only on Sunday but we had to work around the cars today. Although the BBQ looked very good, it was a little early for us to eat so we took some pictures and then continued to follow the road downhill.
Stagecoach Road is quite technical in its descent. I led a spirited but careful ride with Sherm right on my tail on the red Mean Streak. After a bit, I let Sherm lead and chased him the rest of the way to where Stagecoach Road rejoined 154. We stopped there to wait for the rest to catch up.
We followed 154 back to Los Olivos and then headed on to the Lavender Barn where Sandy bought some sachets. Slots left us here to go back and explore Los Olivos, an intriguing little town, while the rest of us went on to see the miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch. The tiny equines and their offspring were out and we were able to get close to some of them. The young ones have the habit of lying down on their sides when not eating looking, to all intents and purposes, like they were dead. I still haven't figured out who is buying these little creatures or, more importantly, why.
We returned to Solvang by going back up to Los Olivos and taking Ballard Canyon Road. This is a winding stretch with some blind corners where I almost made my worst mistake of the trip. Not far in, we came up behind a small pickup truck. I was focused on him and didn't read how tight an uphill left turn was folding back on itself. As a result, I had to compensate by cutting inside only to find myself, leaned heavily into the turn, aimed between the headlights of an oncoming SUV. He slowed and I did some big move to straighten up and then cut back onto my own side. Disaster averted, we followed the winding road past farms and cattle/buffalo herds. The pickup soon turned off and we were able to crank the pace up a little.
In Solvang, the rest went back to the hotel while Lanny came with Sandy and I to Del Sol where we picked up a few gifts for the kids. We also scored another free carry bag. Back at the Inn, we started to move our gear into the motorhome, preparing for our morning departure. I spoke to an older gentleman in the lot who was cleaning his nice white BMW car. His name was Bruce and he retired as a homicide detective from NYPD 35 years ago. He lost his wife four years go and met his current lady friend on a cruise. They currently have residences in LA, Nashville and Florida. Here is a person who is living his retirement years to the max.
We jumped in Sherm's truck and went over to the Hans Christian Andersen Park for the BBQ and raffle. The BBQ was Santa Maria style, provided by a caterer. We served ourselves buffet style from a selection of Caesar salad, potato salad, beans, bread, chicken and tri-tip beef. There was plenty for everyone and the beef was particularly excellent. After the meal, they drew tickets for the raffle prizes and Phil won more than anyone else. We didn't make out badly, though, with a Kawasaki gym bag and blanket, several other items and a free Riders Of Kawasaki membership. Sandy's tickets won most of them. We also bought a painting, Mountain Mist, painted and donated by VROC member Hoser for the silent auction.
Fed and happy, we took our swag back to the hotel where we stashed it in the RV and I loaded the Wing in the trailer. We spent the evening mingling and saying goodbyes. This has been a very good gathering with its laid back atmosphere, great food and interesting roads and attractions. Seeing old friends and meeting new was special, as always. This is the furthest VROC rally from us on this continent but, if it is scheduled again for next year, we will seriously have to consider attending. Thanks to Jim and Cat for doing a wonderful job organizing it, to Howard, Linda and family for looking after the raffle and silent auction, to ROK for the prizes, to Solvang Inn and Cottages for being so welcoming and to Teri for being the face of Kawasaki with us (of course, by now, she really is one of us too).
Going to bed was sad because we knew that we would be homeward bound in the morning.
Today's Route (56 motorcycle miles):
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