Thursday, 23 May 2013

Road Trip

America is quite a big place you know. I know this to be true because over a period of two and a half weeks I dragged the extended whanau around California and Nevada in a big van.

A big van last week.

Since we live in New Zealand and all other family members live in England we consulted a globe and decided that California is roughly midway. About a hundred years ago I spent time working in various parts of America but I'd never been to the west coast. Well goodness me, isn't San Francisco a pleasant city? I was very taken with the place and it's people, a view probably enhanced by the kindness shown to us by a local wheelman. I would like to publicly thank Christian Wignall and his family for going out of their way to make us feel welcome and entertained.

Almost as soon as we arrived I had been loaned an 1888 New Rapid for a guided tour of the area. New Rapids have a well deserved reputation as high quality machines and I was very excited to have the chance of an extended ride.

Christian with some wonderful engineering and a big bridge in the background.

Christian has done extensive research into the company and he had published this a few years ago in the Veteran Cycle Club journal. I thought that I recognised the name. An online version is available here, I urge you to take a look.

The next day Christian took me to meet Greg Barron of Rideable Bicycle Replicas. I needed to buy some tyring (or tiring since I bought the US system) and Greg was very happy to give us a tour of his workshop and his collection of antique bikes.

Greg's unique storage solution.

Whilst there I was pleased to be introduced to a few other wheelmen.

Greg Barron, some other bloke, Christian Wignall & Mike Walker.

Later we drove down to Half Moon Bay to visit Jack Castor and his amazing collection. I had briefly met Jack once before and it was good to renew his acquaintance.

Shite and Briny the next day we picked up the van and started the road trip. Highlights in no particular order would have to include.

Yosemite National Park, all of it. 
We stayed here for a few days and did and saw many exciting things.

Black bears, a mother and her cub just a hundred meters or so away. 
Quite close enough thank you very much.

Yosemite does waterfalls very well indeed. This is Vernal Falls.

Snakes and lizards, my son was in heaven, my lovely wife less so. 
This dinosaur was *this* big.

White water farting. 

Ghost Towns in the desert.

Death Valley, what a fascinating place! We stayed the night at the aptly named Furnace Creek, being spring it was only a mere 115F (46C). I was pleased to find an early example of Mr Starley's tricycle balance gear on an 1894 steam tractor. More massive but just the same technology.

How do you differentiate between different differentials?

Dried up and not quite so dried up salt lakes, the most famous being Mono lake. 
Ducks float ridiculously high in the water.

A helicopter flight into the Grand Canyon. It really is a very big hole indeed, so big that our feeble minds can't really comprehend the scale even when you are there staring at it and you know the statistics.

The Colorado river is a mile below us.

Riding over the Golden Gate Bridge. Christian once again assisted us with a loan of a bicycle each and also acted as our tour guide. Later we had a personal tour of all the really steep streets in San Francisco that they don't put in the guide books. Not on bicycles I might add.

The cable car museum, my son and I spent a very happy afternoon here. We now understand how the cable cars can cross other cables. Of course we immediately had to go out into the street and find examples of all the engineering solutions we had just seen described.

My idea of heaven.

Meanwhile my lovely wife took my daughter shoe shopping. I had failed to warn the shoe shops in advance but I think the staff coped reasonably well. Details are unclear at this stage of the volume purchased but I've found at least two new pairs in her shoe room.

Because the light is better in my workshop, that's why.

Las Vegas, not my cup of tea I'm afraid. I tapped a bronze statue outside Caesar's Palace to discover it was fibreglass. Pretty much sums the place up.

Outdoor Escalators. Seriously?

Normal service will resume next week.

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