By John Parker
WESTOC IX – 2004 MINDEN, NEVADA
This, our 9th
gathering of the Western branch of the ST Owners Club, would be my 9th year attending this legendary event.
Interestingly, the members of my own clan, the Parker Clan of the southern provinces
of the states of California and Oregon,
would be coming from no less than three points on the compass.
They would also be leaving their own points at different times and arriving in
Minden, NV on
different days. My
wife Becci, as a member of the esteemed Emeritus Council, would be leaving from our home in Grants
Pass (Northwest) via cage.
Our son Rick, a multi-WeSTOC attendee also, would be leaving from his home in
Reseda, CA (South) with his fiancée Jennifer aboard our CBR 1100XX. I would be leaving directly from the Northwest Passage Rally
in Chelan, WA (North) riding Becci’s ‘94 ST1100A rally bike.
Becci, in her official capacity as WeSTOC Den Mother, would arrive early on Monday,
September 13th to help “disorganize” the event with
Don and Cindy Feyma, Whit Brown, Steve Beckley, and Larry Talbott. I would be leaving Monday also, but not arriving until early
Tuesday morning. Finally,
Rick and Jen would leave early Tuesday to arrive that afternoon.
We had been looking forward to this event even more than usual, as it would be
the first time all three of the Parker Clan STOCers would attend a WeSTOC together since Taos,
NM in 1997.
This was Jennifer’s first WeSTOC.
It was 1100 Monday September 13th by the time I arose, packed, and loaded Blue Thunder for the ride south to the WeSTOC IX gathering
in Minden. I
slept later than usual this morning because I was making up for the previous 88 hours associated with the Northwest
Passage Rally, where-in I managed a mere 3 hours sleep in total.
After a rejuvenating 12 hours straight slumber, I was ready to hit the road again
for the 860 mile jaunt. First,
I had to have the best breakfast in Chelan at the “Apple Pan.”
Upon conclusion of the gluttonous repast, I was on my way south on US-97. Leaving the stunningly blue
deep water Lake Chelan behind, US-97 follows the broad Columbia River as it snakes its way south, east, and finally
west to the Oregon border. I peeled off onto WSH-28 at Wenatchee,
WA to ride the undulating steppes of central Washington
as it gradually slopes down to the Columbia River Gorge via US-395 at the Tri-Cities of Pasco,
Kennewick, and Richland, WA. The final Columbia
crossing is accomplished at Umatilla, OR over the all metal Umatilla
I left US-395 to follow Oregon highway 207 through
Lexington, Heppner, and Kimberly, OR,
eventually joining US-26 near Dayville, OR.
Rick, Hal Rumenapp, and I took this road in the opposite direction on our
way to WeSTOC IV in Kimberly, B.C. This 2-laner is virtually deserted most of the time and was thusly so on this Monday afternoon. 207 is one great motorcycle
road. Its surface,
recently chip sealed, stuck to Blue Thunder’s Avon ST AV45/46’s as I let her have her head up out of the gorge
and through the foothills preceding the dense firs of the Umatilla National Forest. All afternoon I had been assaulted by heavy winds as I leapt
from one thunder cell to another. But so far, I had managed to avoid the bulk of the precipitation. The ominous skies to the East portended
the end of my kismet. The
menacing jet black clouds spewed forth blue-white bolts of lightning that racked my nerves with each report. As I turned east on US-26,
the skies opened up and soaked me for the remainder of my ride into John Day. Three days earlier I had
ridden through this little center of commerce in eastern Oregon,
but, due to rally induced time restraints, I had to bypass my favorite area restaurant The Outpost. I have been frequenting this
café since the early 80’s when my dad and I used to eat there during our annual Elk Hunts. They feature local grown beef and is a must do whenever you
pass through John Day.
I had no such schedule on which to adhere this evening, so I stopped in for a
After my feast I hopped on the ST for a quick jaunt down the street to
Canyon City, OR
for fuel. This
is just a 1 ½ mile trip and usually takes 3 or 4 minutes.
Thirty seconds from the Outpost, the sky opened up and it began to hail. I hadn’t put on my gloves
in anticipation of having to remove them for re-fueling.
Big mistake; that $#*! stings! I
was reminded of August 2000 near Cedar Breaks
National Monument in Utah,
when Jeff Bertrand, Hal Rumenapp, Steve Kelly, and I got nailed by a similar storm on our way to WeSTOC IV. I poured 8.8 gallons into
the ST’s 11 gallon capacity for a 43 mpg average since Minden.
I left the rain behind as I cleared the Malheur
National forest and traded the mountains of Eastern Oregon for the high
desert plains of South-Central Oregon and North-Western Nevada. It was just getting dark as I tooled through Burns, OR. Further south on US-395,
I could only just sense the presence of the huge aqueous bodies of Lake Albert and Goose
It was as dark as the inside of a mine. My UN-shielded D2S HID headlights and PIAA 910 driving lights
combined to provide stadium lighting in this “Center-of-the-Earth” inky black “Heart-of-Bin-Laden” darkness. The little town of Lakeview,
OR was the only place along this virtually deserted section of highway
where I got a hit on the V-1. I was putting along sub-warp, as I always do in these little “revenue towns”, but the red Ka Band
illuminators on the little V-1 served to give an almost Christmassy look to the ST’s cockpit as I passed the OSP
cruiser in the opposite direction.
Later, I motored through the Basque village, and Modoc County Seat, of
Alturas, CA. I worked during roundup time
near here on Slim Austin’s ranch back when I was in high school.
Slim, a “full-blooded” Cherokee Indian was a family friend and early settler to
this region. He
came from Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl years with
a few bucks in his pocket from his share of the sale of his tribe’s reservation to the oil companies. Being a very shrewd businessman,
he soon owned a 3000 acre cattle ranch and options on all of the timber that had to cross his land to get to the
mill. This is
where, during Spring Break one year; I first learned how to rope and bulldog a bull then make him into a steer. I also learned what “Rocky
Mountain Oysters” were at the first breakfast after roundup.
That same year I discovered that the only one of all us cowboys who could ride
a certain Shetland pony named “Powder River” was Slim’s son Gene, a former rodeo bronc rider. Slim and his wife were tragically killed on the way home from
dinner in town one Saturday night several years later by a drunk driver. I think of them every time I drive late at night near these
little cattle towns.
I was just outside the mill town of Susanville,
CA when the chilly night air began to cut through my un-insulated Darien. The radio Shack thermometer
on Blue Thunder’s dash showed 44°. I turned up the Hot Grips and crouched behind the Laminar Lip while listening to Larry King on the
XM Roady. His
guest Bill Maher was espousing some drivel about so-called “assault weapons” being able to spray 1000’s of bullets
and blow up concrete walls with their terrible power.
What a totally un-informed bonehead! I switched back to Fox News for the “Fair & Balanced”
view of events. It
wasn’t until midnight that I pulled into Hallelujah Junction NV to top up with fuel and coffee. Blue Thunder took 9 gallons of 87 octane for 410 miles and I took 20 oz. of “high test” for the same
distance. I donned
my Gerbing’s before trundling off on an almost abandoned Reno
six-lane. Finally, I pulled into the Carson Valley Inn at Minden. It was 0140 when I called
Becci from the lobby.
Tuesday, September 14th was the “official” start of this year’s happening.
While Becci attended to Committee tasks, I wandered about watching STOCers arrive,
renewing friendships, and making some new ones.
In the afternoon I took advantage of Big Valley Honda’s service truck to get Blue
Thunder’s oil changed. Thanks
BVH for the support and for doing all of the service gratis.
We have Larry Talbott to thank for arranging this benefit. Rick and Jen showed up early in the afternoon. Poor Jen had her first real
experience with a saddlesore ride. Well, we’d toughen her up
by the end of this event. That’s for sure! Jeff Bertrand, Hal Rumenapp, and Rich Hagan rolled in soon after helping to round out the contingent
from SoCalSTOC. This was Rich’s first WeSTOC. Well it’s about time Rich, STOC #321! Also, George Catt, STOC #004 returned this year after a long hiatus from WeSTOC. Welcome back George!
Wednesday, September 15th “the usual suspects” met at the filling station at 0900 for our traditional disorganized ride. Jeff Bertrand, Hal Rumenapp,
Rick and Jennifer, and I, plus LT and a couple of others set out to do the “Three Passes Ride.” The route was designed to include three of the local passes;
Monitor, Ebbetts, and
Carson. We set
out by trundling south through the world’s longest 20mph zone on US-395. Soon we were out on the open highway passing many of the antique
cars that were sharing the CVI with us this week.
Its good to see this many
well kept “drivers” in one place. At Topaz Lake we
crossed into California, and in a few miles
turned west onto highway 89. This part of 89 shoots right up the near vertical cliffs of the Eastern Sierra
Nevadas. The road turns back on itself dozens of times on the way up
to the 8313’ Monitor Pass. There is a bicycle ride named
the “Markleville Death Ride” that
crosses Monitor. We
were glad we had the big torque monster engines in the ST’s as the thin air cut into the carbureted power plants
and Jen, on the fuel injected CBR 1100XX, said what thin air?
This road may be a little tighter than most ST riders prefer, but we had a blast
anyways. We turned
left on to highway 4 shortly after Monitor. Along the 4 there is a long stretch that is one lane wide (reminded
me of Oregon) which provided some thrills for
me in the lead. The
GMRS radios proved their worth in this section as I called back to warn the pack when opposing traffic approached. Everyone behind me was free
to use the entire road for most of this section.
The weather couldn’t have been more ideal in the high country. Temps ranged from high 50’s to mid 60’s. Azure skies with cotton white puffy clouds filled the overhead. The terrain was dominated
by the large granite domes and jagged outcroppings that define the alpine country of much of the California High
the meadows between the rocks were hundreds of ice cold, crystal clear ponds and small lakes. Previous experience had proven to me that they were filled
with hungry Rainbow and Brown Trout. A few of the highest ones could even support a Golden Trout population. The trees in this high country were mostly spindly, stunted
firs and Pinion Pines due to the rare air. We continued in this fantasyland until well past the 8731’ Ebbetts Pass. We cruised by locations with
such descriptive and colorful names as Mosquito
Lake, the Elbow, Alpine, Cliff Meadow, and Hells Kitchen. The tight twisties of the steep eastside mountains opened up into high speed
sweepers on the gradually sloping Westside foothills.
Following Jeff and Hal after our short break at Ebbetts Pass
brought back fond memories of the many thousands of miles the three of us have ridden together. We know each other’s styles so well that there are never any
ride down to Angels Camp was joy of spirited curve carving.
At noon our expedition took a respite at Rodz Café in Angels Camp. This is a little 50’s style diner with great tasting food
that I have eaten at before. As usual the burgers were greasy and the shakes thick. Mmmmmmmm! We re-formed our group after
lunch and headed north on highway 49. This is gold country. The area virtually steeps in history.
Many authors have written about this part of California
during the era of the Sourdoughs. Samuel Clemmons, AKA Mark Twain, made it and himself famous in his “The Celebrating Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County”,
about life in Angels Camp in 1849-50. The route up 49 was hot and traffic kept the pace jumping frog slow. We negotiated the
few radar traps without a glitch thanks to Mr. Valentine.
By the time our small group
reached Jackson, CA we had had our fill of hot California Gold Country and were ready for some California “Cold” country. We turned off on
highway 88 and headed east along the gradually sloping foothills on a seemingly endless series of high speed sweepers.
It took a while, but by the town of Kit Carson, we are back into motorcycle Nirvana again and the scenery
gradually morphed into the same fantastic alpine views we were immersed in on upper highway 4. What makes 88 such a great motorcycle road is the endless sweepers with great visibility around each
There are no switchbacks, decreasing
radius turns, or surprises anywhere on this road. It’s not a “technical”
ride, but it’s perfect for the 700+ lbs ST’s. Rick was probably
bored to tears on the Blackbird following these old men on their aging leviathans, but he never mentioned it. 8573’ Carson Pass is one of the few passes that are kept open year round
even though it gets 500-600 inches of snow in a season on average. Highways 88 and
89 converge in the wide expanses of Hope Valley. Highway 89 goes
on north to Lake Tahoe, while the 88 leads back to Minden. In a short time
we were down of the flat Carson Valley floor bee lining the last few miles back to CVI. Rick and I stopped to gas up at the Chevron Station. Blue Thunder recorded
an amazing 52.6 mpg for the ride, while Rick recorded a record high of 46.7 mpg on the CBR 1100XX. There’s something to be said about smooth throttle action.
Wild country seemingly forsaken
Mountainous passes trail breaking
Settlers clambering over monitor pass
Southward a waving sea of grass
Undulating grasses sway in the breeze
Approach the crest an absence of trees
While closely knit aspen gather below
Gleaming leaves shimmering glow
Early frost Ignites this sight
Eyes bountiful feast to fill and delight
Yellow aspen framed by green of grass
Beauties of nature fully amassed
Cautious descent greets river Carson
Meandering between shadow and sun
Carson river roaring down
Westward hurriedly It does commence
From Ebbits pass's entrance
Just below this pass's crest
This small valley a place to rest
Large trees surround a quiet plateau
This bit of heaven they come to know
Boulders awash in this rocky stream
Children elders gaze as in a dream
Joyful settlers find a place to rest
While thanks to our lord they confess
Hermits valley for a slight pause
George William Weber
That night the SoCal STOC Clan walked a couple of blocks to the best Mexican restaurant in Carson
Valley; Fransiscos. The
food and the margaritas were stupendous. The company was indomitable. It’s folks like these that make WeSTOC so extraordinary.
Thursday, September 16th was spent relaxing around the pool and letting Jen rest her bum. She was quite a trouper for putting up with an 8 hour 240
mile ride on the next day right after she did 400+ miles; on a CBR yet! In the afternoon Jeff led the Bike Judging Detail. Rod Depperschmidt and I assisted him. Actually I think he secretly
has us there so he can hide behind us at the banquet if disgruntled STOCers start thrown things at us: We walked
through all of the parking lots in the CVI complex looking at each bike in search of: Most stockled, most farkled, cleanest,
most Gold Winged, most schmeckled,
most unique farkle, best phantom
bike, best non-ST. And
the winners were:
Most farkled – Jim’s yellow ST1100.
Most stockled – Jeff and I can’t
remember who won this, but I believe the bike had “NO” modifications at all. Amazing!
Cleanest – For the second year in a row, Kenny Battle’s impeccable 98. Everything that could be chromed or polished was. An amazing feat given the
fact the bike was recently stolen and striped.
He restored it just in time for this year’s WeSTOC. Great job Kenny!
Most Gold Winged – This bike had a huge windshield and Gold Wing foot pegs. The winner was too embarrassed to claim it. Next year we’re going to post photos. You can run, but you can’t hide!
unique farkle – Keith Rosendahl’s
is the undeniable king of farkle
guy can make anything! Had to be seen to be believed.
I hope someone out there got a photo. What will it be next year Keith; the kitchen sink?
Best non-ST – Keith R’s friend Dave’s CBR1100XX.
A real gem!
Most schmeckled – Adam Kocsarski’s
“totaled” ST1100, now owned, restored, and brought to Minden
by George Catt.
Best Phantom Bike – This is the first year for this award.
It goes to Steve Kelly who “supposedly” has a 2004 ST1300, but no one’s seen it
Later that night 175 STOCers gathered for the customary closing banquet. A ”new” method for choosing which tables went first to the buffet line was introduced by the Disorganizers
this year. Last
year, apparently there were some folks that complained the selection process was unfair. This year the Disorganizers used numbers from the banquet
tickets as a de-facto lottery. Interestingly, none in the crowd caught on to the fact that the first number drawn was from the Disorganizers’
table. The food
this year was outstanding. There were plenty of selections to meet a wide diversity of tastes and dietetic requirements. And there was lots of it! The door prizes were, as
in past WeSTOCs, a high
point of the night. The only criticism I heard was that it drug on too long. One suggestion was that maybe some of the prizes could be
raffled off at the first night’s Rider Meeting.
But hey, how can you complain about getting free stuff? Again, we had (for the 9th year in a row) an accident free WeSTOC.
That is an enviable record and shows the quality of the riders that attend WeSTOC
events. The evening
wrapped up with the traditional passing of the WeSTOC Banner to the Disorganizers of next years get-together. Next year, the10th annual
event, will be hosted by Becci and I. The location will be in the Pismo Beach
area at about the same time as this year’s. We have our work cut out for us.
Previous events, including Minden,
have set the “standard” at a high mark, but we will give it our best. We are already putting together a support group of some of
the top “names” in the STOC Clan. See you all next year.