Saturday, March 24, 2018

~ 10th Annual JPM Ride ~

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
John Muir

His name is John Paul Magao.  

Today, this motorcycle memorial ride, is in his honor.  We remember.

Honestly, I never met him.  But sometimes life makes connections that we are scantly aware of the origin.  This is my third annual memorial ride in his honor.  I always leave feeling good about life, about myself, and about his passion.  That is good.

The purpose of this motorcycle ride is to raise money for the JPM Memorial Scholarship Foundation which is a nonprofit organization and public charity that raises funds for scholarship awards to local schools (Redwood High School and College of the Sequoias).

Sometimes things happen for a reason.  I was not aware that this memorial ride was happening until I got a quick email from my friend, Dennis late Friday night.  I’m not a morning person but I got up an hour early to be at the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle dealership off Highway 99 in Visalia by 9:30 am.  This Harley-Davidson dealership sponsors so many such fundraisers in our valley.  They are some of the ‘good guys’ helping bikers with a cause.

Words about safety by organizer James Wilfong

Our ride into the foothills near Dinuba, Orosi, and Woodlake is easy going.  The sight of snow in the Sierra mountains is comforting.  Our recent rains have dumped tons of snow in the high country of Sequoia National Park.  

I’m riding towards the end of the pack.  It is critical that safety is foremost on these rides.  We ride in a safe, staggered formation and wave to the many people who see us rolling down these country roads.  I love to see the expressions on their faces, especially the young kids who look at us like warriors coming to save the day.  That's how I feel.  I'm sure that John Paul could understand.  He would likely do the same without a second thought.

I normally don’t do this, but I want to thank ALL, and I mean ALL, of the sponsors who made this ride possible.  Rather than list them all, here is a picture on the back of the awesome t-shirt that we were given.  Thank you!  I'll wear it proudly.

Thank you sponsors for your support of this worthwhile cause

The lunch was delicious and plentiful.  I walked away with two raffle ticket prizes.  It was a fun day, rain-free and safe.

Thanks JPM for this moment in your honor.  I remember you, though we have never met.

Good friends, Robert and Dennis

Flags wave freely behind this Marine and biker

End of the ride at Plaza Park - "We remember you John Paul Magao"

Thursday, March 22, 2018

~ Miracle March ~

"All good things are wild and free" ~  Henry David Thoreau

Sun, beach, and clouds

Our California winter has been mild, especially when compared to the severe storms on the east coast.  In 1991, it rained and rained and rained.  We fondly called it ‘Miracle March' and those rains pulled us out of a drought.  This month the rains keep on coming.  In fact, it is raining as I type.  The grass is green, our creek is flowing, and the wildflowers are popping up everywhere.

We had planned our camping trip to San Simeon State Beach earlier to celebrate Denise’s birthday.  We hoped for clear skies but the California coast offered more rain.  The positive side is that we had the campground virtually to ourselves.  In between the rain, we managed to do some hiking and viewed hundreds of the Northern Elephant Seals.  

Then, like magic, the sun appears and we hike some more and walking in silence, getting lost in the fine shells placed perfectly along the beach.  

Northern Elephant Seals

There is alway one who is unique

We took a drive north on Highway 1 as far we were allowed.  At Ragged Point, Cal Trans has closed the road.  Massive rock slides closed down this iconic highway.  I’m so glad that I was able to ride my motorcycle from Monterey and Carmel south on Highway 1 before the rock slides.  That ride is perhaps one of the best rides in California, no wait, in the world.  I'm serious.

Highway 1 closed at Ragged Point

In our camper, the rain comes back in full force.  We play several hands of “Kings in the Corner.”  After several losing hands, I surrender.  Surprisingly, we have great cell phone reception.  That’s when I got a real surprise.  

I was searching the internet and decided to look up some of the top motorcycle blogs.  Of course, RoadRUNNER Magazine was there.  Their blog is awesome and I consider their magazine the best in the motorcycle world.  It wasn’t surprising to see my fellow RoadRUNNER writer, Bud Miller and his awesome blog, Zen Motorcyclist.  There were many others, many which I have not yet read.

But honestly, when I saw my blog on the list of the Top 100 Motorcycle Blogs by Feedspot, I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face even if I tried.  It's a rush and they allowed me to download the emblem.  I feel like a ten year old kid winning his first medal and love it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my readers who follow my blog and those who have taken the time to comment on my stories.  I never, in a million years, dreamed that my words would be read by so many. 

My mantra is, and always will be, “The Wind, the Open Road, and my Motorcycle.”

I guess miracles do happen in March.

Sunset from our campsite

View north from Ragged Point

View towards Hearst Castle

Denise and Bob celebrating her birthday

Sunday, March 18, 2018

~ National Park Week 2018 ~

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”  – President Theodore Roosevelt

Photo by Denise Griego looking towards Mineral King.

There are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day and they are America’s best idea. The fee-free days provide an awesome opportunity to visit that favorite park or perhaps one that you have never been to before.

My favorite National Park is in my backyard here in Three Rivers  – Sequoia National Park. My wife and I were hiking the short trail to the little-known, Hanging Rock when I spotted this awesome motorcycle parked along the highway amidst the Giant Sequoias. The road continues to the more famous Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow. To reach the top of this granite dome, follow a stone stairway over 350 steps that climb 300 feet to the summit for panoramic views. At the top, you can see the mountains of the Great Western Divide. Peaks in the Great Western Divide climb to more than 12,000 feet. Don’t climb Moro Rock if ice or snow is present on the stairs; it is very dangerous. 

Hanging Rock.

Moro Rock.

Great Western Divide.

Moro Rock, view from Hanging Rock.

Our friends from England, Vic and Jane Simpson.

You can read more about Sequoia National Park in my articles – Celebrating100 Years of the National Park Service and Exploring the Backcountry of Sequoia National Park. The Chronicle, In Pursuit of Wildness, features other great National Parks like Pinnacles National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and El Morro National Monument.  Undoubtedly, there are hundreds more favorites – just pick one.

For one week each April, the National Park Service welcomes you to celebrate America’s treasures upfront close, and free. This year, National Park Week for 2018 will be celebrated from April 21 through April 29! There are some special programs and events to be celebrated at most parks such as:

·       > April 21: National Junior Ranger Day

·       > April 22: Earth Day

·       > April 28: Military and Veterans Recognition Day

·       > April 29: National Park RX Day

Celebrate National Park Week at a park in your backyard. Now, I need to climb those 350 stone stairs to the top of Moro Rock.  I know the view will be amazing.