Got Mink, Oil that is?

More than anything else, this month's rant is about the importance of preparation. And, not the "H" variety. I'm talking about planning properly for one's ride and anticipating future events.

Case in point: Deke and I recently did a 3 day camping trip to one of Northern California's most pristine camping areas, MacKerricher State Park. Just north of the rough and ready town of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher boasts well crafted individual campsites with high hedge rows insuring privacy and a great wood covered walkway that takes one out to the Point where seals and assorted other marine life may be viewed in relatively close proximity. Do mind the ground squirrels, though. While they are wont to beg for food and come up really close, be wary of bites and the critters they host. Not good to go to bed with fleas...right?

Now, we were lucky in that my wife decided to drive up to the campsite, which meant that Deke and I were able to offload all our camping gear into the SUV. No mean feat, in that there were 3 folding camp chairs, two propane 2 burner stoves, two tents, two airbeds, 3 sleeping bags, ground cloths, assorted cooking gear, clothing and a cooler. Oh yeah, even a guitar. The only thing we toted in our saddle bags were our leathers. Notice something missing? I'll get to that shortly.

The weather was dry, sunny and perfect for a ride. We blasted up that slab of concrete called Highway 101 to Cloverdale and hung a left turn at Highway 128. About 45 minutes later, after enjoying the s-curves and hairpins in the beginning of the ride we came upon the town of Booneville. Of course, we'd been there many times in the past. So, we stopped for a bite and a drink at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company's food establishment. Conversation revolved around what a great day it was and how the "weather gods" seemed to be smiling on us.

We left the local quaffing establishment and meandered out to the coast, through the Navarro Redwoods. I'm still in awe of these trees. They have such a presence, reminding me of slumbering giants from a time long past. I always enjoy my ride through them and make a deliberate effort to ride slower, just to more fully enjoy my surroundings. Finally, we bust out on the coast and continue north, past quaint Mendocino and zigzag northward to Fort Bragg, stopping to pick up some drinks and gas up the bikes.

Three minutes outside of town on the left was the entrance to MacKerricher. We turned in, mentioned our reservation to the Ranger inhabiting the kiosk, and shortly thereafter we were parking the bikes and SUV. Tents went up with a minimum of fuss. With as much camping as we've done, I think we could set them up blindfolded. Chairs were unpacked, stove was set up and then we put up our feet.

I won't bore my esteemed readers with the evening's or the next day and night's activities, except to say that we ate and drank well, talked, walked about, played guitar, sang some songs and generally had a most relaxing time.

Now, it's about 10:30 on Saturday night and it's starting to get a little damp, as in light mist. We didn't think much of it, because the weather channel said no rain until Tuesday. Eventually, we (the wife and I) started to fade and toddled off to bed. Deke, who I believe is part owl, stayed up looking at the moon, peeking in between the increasingly dense clouds. Finally, he too gave it up and hit the rack.

The following morning we awoke to the sound of rain on our tent. Venturing outside, I discovered that a light drizzle was in evidence. Of course, everything we had left outside the previous night was now soaking wet. A quick conference by all concerned resulted in packing everything up, loading it back in the car...wet tents and all, and going into Fort Bragg for breakfast rather than cooking in the rain and having my favorite inclimate weather dish, "eggs a la precip."

After a tasty breakfast, we bid goodbye to the wife who wanted to hit some art galleries on the way home. Deke and I began to put on our leathers in preparation for the ride back. We soon discovered a pair of chaps was missing, likely placed in the back of the SUV to conserve weight on the ride up (Geez..I thought we packed all the leathers on the bikes). A hurried phone call, brought my sweet and loving spouse back with the missing article of outerwear. Finally, we're all decked out in our riding togs and decide to venture back down the coast route, knowing that it was raining. Now, to be fair, Deke did give me a choice of routes...inland or coastal. One of us is a maschocist, and I'm not telling.

Yes, we're experienced rain riders. Although, one could say we weren't very smart in our decision to take that particular route rather than going inland and avoiding most of the rain. So, off we go. The rain runs light and heavy by turns, but the temperature is not unpleasant. In fact, it's so warm that my sunglasses are fogging, in addition to being covered with rain drops. And, of course we're both looking over the top of our respective windscreens. Now, I do remember looking at a bottle of Rain-X, sitting in the tank bag of my other motorcycle before I left for the weekend. I figured it wasn't going to rain, so I wouldn't need it. There it was, in a nutshell. I wasn't truly prepared. I should have anticipated something like this. Now, I'm in deep doo, because not only is it raining and my glasses are fogging, but when the rain lets up, we're in heavy fog with about 25 ft. of visibility. Nothing I can do about that, except to ride even slower and more carefully.

About this time, I'm beginning to feel some wetness in my boots. Gads, they must be leaking. Granted they are about 20 years old and have been through numerous re-heelings/new soles, but they're my favorites. Kind of like an old blanket, if you know what I mean. Even my sox are soaked. I began to think back to the last time I waterproofed them. I couldn't remember. Again, the thought of piss-poor preparation came to mind. I really should be maintaining my motorcycling gear as well as I maintain my bike, which means periodic maintenance, like waterproofing boots and leathers. Yep, the lower part of my chaps were soaked completely through, as well. While I was mulling this over in my mind and wondering where I had stashed my jar of mink oil, Deke suggested (yes, we can talk to each other on the bikes if we ride very slow...too much exhaust noise, otherwise) we stop in Gualala for gas and something hot to drink.

A quick stop for gas and then down the street to the Gualala Hotel for something hot. As we stepped off the bikes, Deke made a comment about changing his sox. Hmm, sounds like a plan to me, but I didn't have any clean sox with me, having used them all during our camping trip. However, I had just happened to put my dirty laundry in one of the saddlebags, and was able to extract a relatively odor free pair of slightly worn sox. Stuffing them in the pocket of my jacket, I followed Deke into the bar of the hotel. Coffee and brandy seemed to be the order of the day, as we wrapped hands slightly numbed by our ride around the hot mugs. We each took a turn in the loo to change sox and determine the extent of the water damage to our respective persons. Like I said previously, wet chaps, wet levis and very wet sox. More than ever I was determined not to repeat this blatant lack of preparation. Oh, how I wished that I had thought to bring my "rubber duck" rain suit (yeah, it's yellow...and no, there aren't any feathers).

Finishing our drinks, we saddled up again, venturing back into the elements. The rain finally subsided about 5 miles north of Jenner, as we made our way home. We turned inland and once past the coastal range, the temperature began to warm up and we were in "air-dry" mode. 45 minutes later I was pulling into my driveway. Tired, almost dry and determined to make sure that I went through my gear and "prepped" it before my next camping trip. Now, where did I put that mink oil...

Ride Safe,