|The next morning, after taking advantage of the complementary continental
breakfast, we set off in light traffic planning to make Solvang by
noon. Hwy 101 south of King City is a nice ride and worth your consideration.
We pass Camp Roberts, an abandoned Army post off to our right, and
then reach the summit of Cuesta Grade with a great view of the valley
below off to our left. As we approached Atascadero, Dave pulls off
for gas and a visit to the local Harley dealer.
Something I didn’t realize until Dave explained it to me, and you
may not know it either, but Harley-Davidson made more money last year
from selling clothing and accessories than from selling motorcycles.
After visiting Gary Bang’s Harley in Atascadero I understand how this
could happen. They had every motorcycle doo-dad you could ever desire,
all with a Harley logo attached in some way. I’m not kidding; shot
glasses, tee-shirts, clocks, games, puzzles, sun glasses, kiddy clothes,
dog clothes, big models, small models, hatchets, knives, and hundreds
of other items, all of it for sale, and all of it expensive.
Oh yeah, there were six custom Harleys squeezed onto the showroom
floor starting at $24,000, four stock Sportsters in the back, and
a couple of vintage Harleys out front, so I’m sure you could actually
buy a Harley motorcycle there if you wanted to. This marketing strategy
makes perfect sense. Most of us usually buy only one motorcycle but
you buy accessories for years to come.
Shortly after leaving Gary Bang’s Harley, we passed a Honda dealer
but did not stop. Since they only sell motorcycles, for the most
part, and I already own a Goldwing, there was little else there to
see, so we kept going. We picked up 101 again and within an hour of
pleasant morning riding, we were in Solvang.
It was getting close to noon and we were starting to get a little
hungry so after a brief tour of the “downtown” area, we stopped at
the “Mustard Seed” restaurant for some good home cooking (photo
1). “Good home cooking” is what the sign on the wall says and
the meatball soup and salad didn’t make me want to argue the point.
Solvang bills itself as a “Little bit of Denmark,” so all of the
buildings in town reflect that theme in one form or another (photos
2, 3, 4 & 5). An interesting aside is that this “Danish” town
is also the home to one of California’s 21 original Spanish missions.
Juniperro Serra must be rolling over in his grave. When you walk
through the mission gates (photo 6), it’s an architectural
step back in time to California’s mission days and Indians. The
Roman arches and bell towers (photos 7, 8 & 9), are
surrounded by trees, plants, and tranquil rose gardens (photos
10 & 11),
which harkens back to a quieter time. This is in stark contrast
to the Ump Pa Pa, Ump Pa Pa, of a Danish Pokka being played in the
square just a block away.
Fed, fat and happy, we mounted up for the long trip to the Vintage
Motorcycle Museum, which turns out to be about six blocks, just on
the edge of town. Dave and I liked this museum (photos 12 &
13). You can walk among the bikes, touch them, photograph them,
and generally look just as close as is necessary to figure out where
things go. When I visited the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit
at the Guggenheim in Las Vegas, it was just the opposite in almost
every respect. Even though each bike was identified with its historical
information, the exhibit really was like going to an art show with
lots of glass, chrome, and presentation, but don’t touch. They also
charged me twenty bucks where Solvang lets you in for five.
The Vintage Motorcycle Museum is a museum designed by motorcyclist
for motorcyclist. The following photos present a sample of what we
saw. The oldest motorcycle on display dated back to 1910 (photo
14), the newest was a Honda 750 Four from the 70’s (photo 15).
There was also a replica of the first automobile produced by Daimler-Benz
in 1883 but was included in the exhibit because it only has three
wheels (photos 16, 17, 18). There were several bikes from
the time of my youth so that I could say, “I remember that!” We spent
a pleasant hour or so at the museum looking at a bunch of interesting
motorcycles (photos 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 ). Dave
and I both remember the Ariel Square Four (photo 28). I give
it four stars. Besides, it gives you an excuse to ride south from
the Bay Area, or north from L.A. and you may need an excuse. Tell
your wife you have to go there because the DMV is going to ask some
historical questions when you renew your motorcycle license.
Dave took us east out of town to a local park and waterfall. The
ride was on a narrow, winding, backroad, just the kind of road two-wheelers
take pleasure in. When we got to the park, there was a livestock fair
of some sort taking place but we found a shaded parking place under
the trees. Dave led the way as we hiked the trail for a “10 minute”
walk to the Nojoqui Falls (pronounced No-Ho-Key) taking pictures along
the way (photos 29, 30, 31, 32 ). It was a pleasant diversion
and change of pace, which is what touring is all about.
When we got back to the motorcycles, there were three young boys standing
around admiring the bikes. Well, I should say they were admiring
Dave’s Harley. For these young lads, my Goldwing didn’t exist or at
least, didn’t fit their definition of what a “motorcycle” was supposed
to be. I heard one of the boys say to Dave, “Nice looking bike” and
he thanked them for the compliment. I, of course, pretended not to
Back on the road we followed 101 south to 246 and pointed the bikes
toward the afternoon sun and Lompoc. It was this stretch of road
I referred to at the beginning of this story. The slow winding asphalt
went sneaking between low mountains, colored in various hues of green
and emerald. Stands of trees cover the hills with random stragglers
filling in the bare spots. Around a fast turn is a 10-acre patch
of cultivated, soft brown farmland, manicured and ready for planting
squeezed between the mountains. I immediately thought of a huge sand
trap on a giant golf course, and then it was gone.
We reach Lompoc and keep moving west. The Vandenberg Air Force Base
sits right across the street from the Hwy 1 junction with 246. A
right turn took us north toward the ocean and I find myself looking
forward to seeing the Pacific once again. The temperature has been
dropping slightly as we’ve gotten further west. Yes, the ocean is
close at hand.
We stop for gas in Guadalupe where I calculated I’m getting a little
better than 40 miles to the gallon. This is much better than I did
on our trip last summer. There must be something about not pulling
a trailer and carrying a passenger that the Goldwing likes. Leaving
the gas station we head right into a northerly headwind. It was more
of an annoyance than dangerous, but I prefer not to ride in headwinds
if I have a choice. Of course, you don’t usually have a choice.
Still, at this point in the trip I’m feeling good and no headwind
can change that fact. I find myself singing, “A way out west, they
have a name, for wind, and rain, and fire. The rain is Tess, the
fire is Jo, but the call the wind Mariah.” Now at this point, we’re
heading north with the wind and the ocean on our left, and I’m belting
out, “Mariah…Mariah… they call the wind Mariah…..!” The acoustics
of my helmet give me a bathroom studio effect and I sing all the louder!
Hot damn, this is a great way to spend an afternoon!
For those of you who live inland a bit, seeing the ocean again is
always a treat. For those of you who live deep in the interior of
our great country, I have to ask, why? We have water on three sides
and you choose to live inland. Why is that? Pack your belongings
right now, I’ll wait, and move to the coast. I don’t care which coast;
any coast will do, but move now! Remember, you are 97% water and
your relatives crawled out of the sea about a billion years ago.
They had no idea you would move inland. Get back to the water just
as soon as you can. You owe it to your relatives. Enough said.
The wind slowly diminished the further north we got and by the time
we reached Pismo Beach, it was no longer an issue. We checked into
another independent motel, this time for $59 bucks (location, location,
location), and headed downtown (photo 33) to get something
to eat and see the sights. This time we decided to do some serious
meat eating for dinner, and landed at Mo’s BBQ in Pismo Beach (photos
34 & 35). We got a ¾ slab of pork ribs and proceeded to clog
our arteries, first class. Why is it that all the things that taste
so good are so bad for you? Mo’s is good eating but Mo himself is
on the American Heart Association’s 10 most wanted list.
After dinner, the sun was still shinning, the town was jumping (photo
36), so we took a stroll down to the pier. You see if you live
on the coast being next to the water is not always good enough. Some
communities need to allow their citizens to actually get out over
the water, if they can, so many coastal communities build themselves
piers for walking and fishing on. Such is the case in Pismo Beach
(photos 37, 38, 39). Having watched the surfers and sightseers
and still needing to walk off at least 100 of the 3000 calories we’ve
just consumed, we head back to the motel, secure the bikes, and call
it a day.