The day’s plan started out simple enough: Ride 168 west to see fall color, Ride 168 east to see the Bristlecone Pines, Ride Sherman Pass to Stay in Kernville. As they say nothing is as simple as it seems. And so the day begins.
I slept in a bit and had a more leisurely breakfast before getting on the road. I packed up and was about to get on the road when I realized I didn’t have my keys with me. Fortunately I keep my motorcycle keys on a separate ring from my other keys. Unfortunately the two sets were not in the same known places. I tore up the room searching for them, unpacked everything completely, and then tore up the room again. I just couldn’t find them. I left messages with the restaurant, the bar, and the hotel to see if they might have an eye for them. At 11:30am, I hit the road. Keyless. No way to get in my house, but I didn’t have to deal with that for a few more days.
168 has got to be one of the most split personality roads I know of. I started up the west side. The road is steep and very few turns. The road has about 5 turns in 5000 feet of elevation climb. That being said, the scenery is spectacular, especially on the approach!
Lake Sabrina is one of the prettiest lakes in the Bishop Creek Canyon. The snow gave a strong alpine feel to the area!
The fall color wasn’t really all that near Lake Sabrina. The the bright colors just wern’t there. A few spots had some marginal color, but the autumn paintbrush didn’t cover the area.
Some leaves were prettier than others though.
Option number two was South Lake. The road there is nearly as straight as 168, but the scenery is equally good. On the way up there was a very pretty waterfall that had a great flow to it!
Also the fall color was much better as well.
No trip to Bishop is complete without a trip to Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ. It’s an authentic Dutch bakery with excellent bread. The only problem is that the rest of the world knows about it too. The claim to fame is the Original Sheepherder Bread. The Sheepherder break is a firm, but grainy and airy bread that works very well for sandwiches.
Erik Schat’s Bakerÿ (C is average. No grade inflation here):
|Seating||C-||I got there on Sunday at 12:15 the bakery was packed and standing room only. I saw some ebb and flow during my stay, but best to get your order to go and give plenty of time for the wait in the line.|
|Atmosphere||C-||Nothing special. The outdoor deck views 395 so you get some road noise with no real view.|
|Wait Staff||NR||Average. Didn’t go above the bar, but handled the full restaurant well.|
|Food||B+||The sandwich was solid. Very well made and proportioned. The Sheepherder Bread is good and worth a trip at least once.|
|Value||C||Par for what one would expect to pay in the bay area. No small town discount here.|
|Overall||C||I’d go back as I enjoy the bread, but that’s about it.|
I stopped at the gas station on the way up to the Bristlecone Pines. I decided against getting gas as I’d need to get it again before my final stop and figured I could optimize my gas stops if I skipped it. The ride up 168 east to the Bristlecone was super fun. As you leave town signs alert the passing motorists that the nearest services are some 100 miles away. It’s the total opposite of the ride west. The road has a liberal amount of twisties with very little water and vegetation. As I was nearing the summit I began to feel very dehydrated. Not good. Not good at all. I had no water from my haste at the gas station. I made the decision to turn back.
Even at the top of the pass it was still 70 miles to nothing and then another 50 miles to Beatty!
Since the Bristlecone Pines were a sight I wanted to see this year, I was bummed to have to turn back, but I felt like it was the right thing to do. After heading south on 395 the GPS let me know it was 100 miles to Sherman Pass. The CHP let me know it was going to be a speed limit ride. I’d never seen so many police out there. In 100 miles there must have have been 15 cops. All of them were on the hunt for speeders as the state needs it’s revenue. I got gas, sheepishly and efficiently, before heading up to Sherman Pass. I caught some riders who had just come from that pass. The road had about 1/4 mile of semi deep snow and tons of gravel. Since I was alone and it was getting late in the day and cold I decided to pass and hit CA-178 to the south. As not every golf game is going to be sub 75, it was just one of those days where I was not on my game. A miss for the Bristlecone Pines and Sherman Pass.
I hit Walker Pass as I was starting to chase daylight.
Shadows were getting long in the setting sun:
At the top of the pass on CA-178 I met Gene from Bakersfield. He, like me, was alone and out and about enjoying the nice day. We shared war stores of leading rides and solo ventures. I felt better about the day after coming across his path. Thus the smiles were back even if they came in Harley Chrome
The contrast between the lush western side and the dry eastern side is incredible.
The setting sun lit up the landscape of Joshua Trees. They have to be the most interesting looking plants in the desert climate:
Up close and personal with a bit of over exposure the trees look pretty cool!
The moon seemed to be up early and was very bright as it was nearing very full. With the orange light of the sun the mountains made for a nice ride and some good photography:
Sierra Road into Kernville is a nice route around Lake Isabella as it’s much more intimate than 178. Two lanes the whole way and great lake views abound. I was still enthralled with the full moon so here it is again with a touch more purple in the photo.
I hung my hat in Kernville that night. It’s a nice town tucked into the southern Sierras
|Seating||B||Easy seating and the host good at handling the weekend crowd.|
|Atmosphere||C-||The restaurant has lots of small alcoves in sort of odd places. Mine didn’t have heat.|
|Wait Staff||B||Good at handling the crowd.|
|Food||D+||My lasagna wasn’t very good. Stouffer’s makes a better one.|
|Value||B||Definitly cheap eats. If the food was better it would be a clear A.|
|Overall||C-||Kern River Brewing Company is the better bet in town|
Kernville Inn (C is average. No grade inflation here):
|Room Comfort||B-||I had the large upstairs room. Other than having to navigate a flight of stairs the room was great. The furnishings were clearly dated and worn but functional.|
|Location||B+||Kernville is awesome in the fall and spring. Plenty of great riding abounds!|
|Breakfast||F||No Breakfast. A diner is next door though.|
|Value||B||$130 for a night. Very reasonable. Breakfast would be nice though.|
|Overall||B||It’s the clear winner for Kernville for the motel format.|