The Usual Way, Unusually

Like many moto clubs, we have a series of roads we often ride and often default to when we don’t have anything else in mind. For us, that typically means Highland Valley Road (HVR,) Old Julian Highway (OJH,) Palomar Mountain, and various other roads in that area. We know these roads well and travel them frequently.

Yesterday, I took a lot of our usual roads in an unusual manner – in my car. For the first time ever.

My dad and step-mom, Janet, are visiting for a few days, and I wanted to take them out sight-seeing. Motorcycles not being an option, we piled into my Maxima and struck out toward Palomar Mountain as our first stop. The road out to Palomar is, in itself, a good time with light traffic. We enjoyed the gorgeous, day with its blue skies as the sun shone down on the mountains and valleys around us, and then began the trek up South Grade.

I love my car – it’s fun to drive, though I’ve not done that very much since arriving here in San Diego; I put more miles on it yesterday than I have the entire time I’ve been here. The Maxima is a wonderful platform – other than the CVT (which is above-average as CVTs go,) I have no complaints about it. The interior wraps around the driver, the engine sounds great and performs well, and it grips the road insanely well. As any bird or any passionate motorcycle rider will tell you, however, a gilded cage is still a cage. I missed the wind in my face, the elevation of being on a bike, the leaning and rolling, the sense of adventure. However, showing my family some of my favorite places was well worth the tradeoff.

Going up South Grade, I made sure to keep a very sedate pace to prevent alarm or motion sickness in my passengers. The visibility was fantastic, and, as we reached the top and began down East Grade, we pulled over for a photo opportunity and took in the view.

Click for panoramic view.

We admired the houses we could see and were envious of their general living conditions. I suffered having my photo taken with my dad, too:

Turnabout is fair play, Janet:


As we cruised down East Grade, I pointed out the place where my FZ1 met her untimely near-demise, and then we stopped at the vista point overlooking Lake Henshaw. As we got out of the car, we heard this crazy WHUMPING noise nearby. Peeking over the edge of the viewing platform, we saw a highly skilled helicopter pilot helping a crew set a new power pole below us with a Karman K-Max – The intermeshing rotors on those things always blow my mind. Winds were very strong, so we were really impressed with his or her skills. They were at the edge of my phone camera’s digital zoom, so photos weren’t very good.

After a few minutes, the pole was set, and they flew back to pick up another. This crew has been really busy around the valley since 2016, running power from the new substation.

My step-mom has always wanted to see the Salton Sea, which worked well – I really wanted to show them the views from Montezuma on the way out to Borrego Springs, and also to take them to Kesling’s Kitchen for lunch. It was well worth the time – the views were, as ever, beautiful.

Click for panoramic view.

Janet has now seen the Salton Sea from a safe, non-stinky distance, and I got to share some of my favorite roads, views, and places with Dad and her. We needed to get back to their hotel to let their two tiny, crazy, adorable, trying dogs out, so a nice drive on Banner Grade through Cuyamaca and back down to the 8 just in time to have a near-miss with rush-hour traffic. We stopped for pie at Lake Cuyamaca, and as we were leaving, a fire truck went by, sirens a-blaring. A few miles down the road, we saw a Harley had run wide on a sanded curve and was lying up against the ridge on the outside of the road. All people seemed to be up and moving, thankfully, but anyone taking the 79 through that area should use major caution – the road is decidedly unfun right now.

 

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