JJ Campbell was going to ride his motorcycle to Las Vegas and on to Yuma in April, so I decided to take a long weekend and ride part way with him to Reno and then return for work.
We watched the weather and decided to take I-5 South into Oregon. A guy I know, Marty Hayes, had ridden his motorcycle to Phoenix for a trial earlier in the week and had to lay over a full day due to snow. That's his snow-covered bike pictured below. He suggested we stay away from Eastern Washington and Oregon, which was higher and colder. So, even though it was rainy in Seattle, we headed south on I-5 and would later make a decision whether to turn east at Mount Shasta or further south at Donner Pass.
We stayed the first night in Oregon, and then headed into California the next morning. A California Highway Patrolman told us the road was clear around Shasta, so we headed east. It was in the high 20's and low 30's, with some light rain now and then, but the road was clear and basically dry. No ice on the road, but snow on the shoulders of the road. We thought there might be loose gravel from the road crews, but it was fine.
We dropped down into Susanville and warmed up over some Kentucky Fried Chicken and then hit the road again. We got into Reno late the second afternoon. We stayed a couple of nights at the Silver Legacy. I noticed some empty buildings and felt Reno is being hurt by the economic downturn and Indian Casinos. The lack of people was noticeable since I was last there a couple of years ago, but maybe it was the time of year.
When it came time to leave, the television reported that there was snow on the highway to Donner Pass, with traffic backed up. I decided to head north through the desert into Eastern Oregon and Washington, hoping to bypass the storm and stay dry, even if colder.
The skies were big and I could see storm clouds coming. There were some light snow flurries in Susanville as I headed north, then a few light showers as I headed northeast, but I pretty much missed all the rain clouds and storms-- rode right between them. The scenery was beautiful. It was pretty cold. I had four layers over my legs, and nine layers over my chest-- (1) long T-shirt, (2) wool shirt, (3) leather vest, (4) light nylon shell, (5) rain pants bib, (6) sweat shirt, (7) jacket liner, (8) leather jacket and (9) rubber rain coat. That, with chemical hand-warmers in the toes of my boots, made the ride pretty comfortable. All that, and the electric seat.
It was a trip I've made several times before, but always in the summer. This might have been a little early in the year. Then, again . . . . it was worth it. (JJ Campbell rode back from Yuma later in the month).