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Monday, December 1, 2014

Road Trip to Landsailing World Championships 2014

Count Enrico and the media team go to the desert.

This is a story of a true road trip done by serious semi professionals in leisure studies.

The McGuffin (the pearl or idea the trip revolves around) is documented in a couple of places.  As Count Ferrari is now a Hobby Journalist, the documentation of his exploits may need to be done.  The articles are a ploy to weasel into the confidences of the unknown.

Please note this article is the ramblings of the 'Writer' 5 months after the fact of the road trip. It took place July 8-16, 2014.

On this trip we had assembled a very fine journalistic crew.  A writer (c'est moi) Count Ferrari (CF), a photographer the Rear Admiral,( RA) and a creative director (CD)(Joe Cheeta).  We all obtained kitchen passes in advance from our spouses and had motel reservations in Austin NV 6 months in advance as we knew they would be sold out if we had just shown up looking for a bed.

Count Ferrari, the Rear Admiral and Joe doing the selfie
We are at Crater Lake OR for this shot.

Guess who the photographer is?
The Uboat on the playa!

All other accommodations were done on the fly and the value of a good smart phone for travel was eye opening!

The planning was done online as research about landsailing was done.  The When, Where, How, and What were covered.  The Why, not so much.  The Who was a bonus that came as we got to the event and met them.  They were  amazingly helpful folks in the fastest form of sailing anywhere!

Planning article:  Link to planning article

Resulting article:  Link to Landsailing article

Bonus article:   Find a Sailing World, November of 2014 and you will see many articles on Sailing on the Fringes.  Eric Sorensen wrote a fine article describing the remoteness of the venue and partially describes the very international community that came together for this regatta.  The editor of this rag actually emailed and asked for one to be written and paid for same!

Day One:

The plan was for the Uboat to pick up the Braindamage Island boys so a ferry was taken from downtown Seattle and they were collected.  There was the usual "What do we need" conversation in terms of umbrellas, coolers, wine, etc...  More wine was chosen.  Fewer umbrellas.

The car was loaded with the trunk and 4th seat filled with stuff.  The auto leveling suspension kicked in and we headed south to cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and head for Cayuse Pass and then Chinook Pass.  See the photo below.

Our lunch snack with brews and  Dungensess crab caught on the previous day.
Mt. Rainier is in the background.  We are parked roadside and had a great time!
Documentation of lunch. Photographer siting in the Mountain, while the
Creative Director sets the table.

With the Rear Admiral at the wheel (he likes to drive the Uboat) we wheeled down to Yakima WA where we found our favorite Mexican food at the Taco Bus.

Some of the best Mexican food you can find.
Approximately 1 mile south  of the exit just after Yakima Speedway.

From here it was a sprint down to the Columbia River where we found a motel that would take us.  No great feat as we had Joe doing the 'smartphone' reservation thing.   We stayed in The Dalles and played some disc golf in the park on the hill.  

Disc Golf at The Dalles:

The Rear Admiral playing the Dalles disc course.

Lots of lawn, excellent views of the Columbia basin,  and great targets but the tees were elusive.  Joe got his first taste of disc golf.  Joe was granted a learning handicap for a par 5 while the RA played at a par 4 and Count Ferrari played at the usual par 3.  As memory serves, it was Joe taking the round but soon he will graduate to a par 4 handicap.

Some sort of first nation fishing dock just under the Bonneville dam and just outside our 1st motel in The Dalles.

We woke and hit the road after the breakfast provided by the motel.  That breakfast thing is one of the filters we looked for in accommodations.  Some were much better than others.  All were convenient.

I recall taking a jog in the AM and then hitting the road with the Rear Admiral taking the wheel.  He found a fine straightaway in Central OR that was good pavement with a slight down grade.  Count Ferrari noted. from the back seat that  the speedo was at 135 MPH!

A fairly common observation of the Uboat's data center.

We did stop for a photo session somewhere near Mt. Hood where there was a farm that was done and waiting to be photographed.

One of near 100 photos taken by both the photographers.
One of the best things was Mt. Hood in the background.

More Disc Golf:

The Creative Director shows off his 'moog'.  One would think goggles and sunglasses would be
too much.  I think it resulted in a found disc.

After that there was another disc golf course near Madras, as memory serves.  A fun course with hills and dry plant vegetation.  One would not want to try and make a living farming here.  Having the smart phone to navigate with was helpful but it still took a bit to find the course and tee #1.

Some nice art by the side of the road near our desert disc golf.  One would love to be able to think in metal sculpture as it takes to display in a grand manner.  The beauty of a road trip is taking one's time and noting the unusual!

After the disc outing we hoofed it down to Bend OR for a lunch on the river at a previously explored venue.  The smart phone truly helped as we didn't know the place but the river bends suggested it's location and we mostly drove right to it.  The atmosphere was mostly "yuppie" but the scenery was excellent with lots of bodies floating down the river on a beautiful day in July.  

 Crater Lake OR:
Departing Bend, we took a back road south that wound a bit but was nicer than the highway.  I had consulted with an OR highway patrol for scenic byways that AM in the Dalles.  /The goal was to get to Crater Lake as two of us had not been there before.  Truly, this is a scene to be taken in.

Crater Lake from the Eastern observation parking area.  It is a large volcanic cone that is now inactive.
Photos can be taken but don't do it justice.

Taken going down the backside from Crater Lake heading

Crater Lake Lodge.  Nice but @ $250 a night?

We took off and headed down the mountain heading toward CA but stopped just short in  some town that had good BBQ and a strange motel suite, with one King sized bed in a separate bedroom room and two queens in the main room.

We took our 2nd night at Klamath Falls with a an odd suite that had a king size bed in one room and two queens in the other.  BBQ at a good spot was memorable and good food. Breakfast was good.  We iced our little cooler and took off to California.

We drove south and found a great store that was maybe 40-50% liquor and then other groceries.  A larger store and that was impressive to see all that booze lined up for cheap, compared to OR.  

Tule Lake Grocery.  A sleepy little town that sells a BUNCH of booze and some good cherries.
After getting some fresh cherries we headed out towards a Volcanic National Park, using Count Ferrari's lifetime pass acquired for $10 due to his age!  A worthy document to haul about in the car as it granted us access to many national parks on this trip.


En-route we got a bit lost looking for the Petroglyph Park.  It was a faint suggestion on the map and by a fellow who was in our motel office in Klamath Falls.  Road Trip Rule:  Look for odd things...

This land was flooded back in the day and canoes came so the natives could leave messagees
scratched in to soft stone.

The dark stone at the bottom is the water mark.  

Oddness found:

You cannot imagine how many photos this old truck generated!
Volcanic Caves:

We found volcanic caves that actually had snow and ice at the bottom of them and it was pushing 90F in the parking lot!  We were very glad to have extra flashlights as it was very dark without them.

About to enter the Volcanic Tube

It is tough taking photos in the pitch dark.
An unusual rock bridge.

Note appropriate footwear and creatures of the dark caught in a flash.

We cruised south looking at the road map and the RA thought we could find a room near a resort lake that would give us some good views.  We found the lake and a resort but the only room available was marginal so we looked at the chart and headed to a town called Susanville that was a bit further than we wanted to go but the value of a cell phone came through as the CD made reservations for us and procured the last room maybe.  We arrived near 8:00 PM and found they didn't have a room with three beds as the girl had thought, but this is after we packed our stuff to the room.  Joe went down and negotiated a compromise where he kept the suite while the RA and CF went to a regular double room.  The place was packed! We are unclear on how he weaseled two rooms for the price of one.  There was a wildfire nearby and lots of firefighting crews were there.

CF went for a jog in the AM finding a minimal flow in the nearby so called river but a nice jogging trail.

We had our breakfast and headed out intending on a SE course to take us toward NV.  In no hurry we were looking for backroads and we thought we found one but it got to a gravel track that appeared to be limited in range.  We back tracked next to a large dry lake and checked our inadequate charts and phone navigations and tried another run over these hills.

We found a paved two lane that took us into the hills again and wound around.  The Photographer got out his Go Pro gear and mounted it on the hood for his first foray into cruising mode.  He took a shot every 10 seconds or so to make some sort of slide show.  


We did see some very nice reclusive real estate ending up in Sierraville by chance and discovered the best pulled pork salad ever made.  This place was one of the best food sources we found on the trip!

One of the best eateries you will find anywhere!
Do NOT overlook a meal opportunity here!
Hangin' in Sierraville after a seriously  good lunch and being serenaded by the chef!

Count Ferrari on the left and the Rear Admiral on the right.  Photo by the Creative Director with his iPhone.

Next was routing that took us past Lake Tahoe where we stopped to admire the water and odd rocks in a park.  Following that we decided to make it to Fallon NV, our jumping off point to find the Smith Creek Playa and site of the Land Sailing World Championship.  

Lake Tahoe with some eye catching rocks.  Photo by the CD.

Oddness found:
That decision and the long daylight hours allowed to explore on the backroads some more.   This resulted in a very washboarded gravel road that took us past a site where serious destructive testing for the military occurs.


A tradesman in his van was flagged down for local knowledge on just where in the heck this road was going.  It turned out he was a refridgeration tech and he was servicing some building that would take the temperature to -50C with a full sized battle tank in it and then they would take it for a spin in the desert at over 100F to try  and break it.  We saw maybe 8 tank hulks and many other military vehices littering the acreage which turned out to be 3500 acres with a race track they zoomed the rigs around.

We got to the main office which was just closing and talked with an engineer and a dude who cleans up the messes.  Apparently one of the tests involved towing a trailer at over 100 MPH on the test track and it flipped and they had to do a full 'CSI' investigation, marking each bit of debris with numbered markers and photo everything.

The road turned to pavement about 2 miles past this destructo business and we found a motel in Fallon that had 3 queen beds in the same room.  Very unusual but perfect as one of us didn't have to sleep on a rollaway bed.

Arriving at Smith Creek Playa:

Joe jumping for joy!  The springs in his legs are still amazing! 

A look behind the scenes of a mighty leap by the CD.
We are maybe 2-3 miles from the turn off to the Playa but nature called.

The playa was our destination from Fallon and we took a remote 2 lane road past sand dunes and scrub lands in temps close to 100F finding the flagged entrance to the world's longest boat ramp and the entrance to the playa.

We had seen the RV city on the big lake bed for a few miles and all the boats rigged and waiting to be used with their bright colors.  There was a huge 50' x 100' tent for registration and awards plus flag poles for every participating country erected (maybe 16 countries?).  There was no qualification need to attend, just show up with your boat.

CF checked in with the President, Dennis the Prez and introduced our team.  It seemed we were the only media to show early.  Another video team showed after we left and a very excellent photographer had been retained by the NALSA organization. Carel (website needed) who would allow access to any of his photos and he took a LOT including drone videos.

Austin NV:

Our Cozy Motel in Austin NV was our base for three nights and it was COZY with wifi and AC and two beds and a small space on the floor for a pad.  It worked and was one of the best options in town.
Cindy the manager was happy the event came to town.

Across the street was a great cafe for breakfast with a spectacular bar and a very international group getting fed each morning.  The French and Belgians were a large presence in Austin. These two teams had each sent a 40' container over crammed with boats.  As I recall each team member put up $5000 Eu and for that was in a bed/fed and with his/her boat on the playa with all transport costs covered.

One of the racing marks for local races.  It is called a Cow mark.
The Uboat is in the background.

Each morning we would fill our cooler with ice, maybe get some more liquids and snacks at the gas/grocery on the edge of town and head out to the playa, about 35 minutes on a very lonely two lane road.  A noteworthy anecdote would be the jack rabbits that waited until the last moment to race across the road at night in front of cars.  They didn't make and we would see about 20 new bodies a day with the local beasties getting a feast each day off the highway.

After a hard day of interviewing racers, trying out various boats, inspecting the whole event we would usually get back to the motel around 10 PM, sack out and start again in the AM.

We did this for 3 days, taking off after the 3rd day, around 5 PM when the  racing didn't start due to lack of wind.  It was the hottest we had seen with the temps going triple digits as we drove off the playa.  It was 102 and went to 109F at one point.  We were all really glad the Uboat didn't have an issue with that.

We drove through Fallon to the end and found a car wash that appeared to be new.  It sure did work well for about $10.  We had a shiny clean car to run the freeway north again.  

The route home took us through Susanville around 8 PM where we stopped for dinner.  The RA found many signs to take photos of and we ended up with a good meal and respite from the road.  The freeway was the target and we did a dance with the cell phones, finally getting a spot to stop at 10PM north of Mt. Shasta.  Mt. Shasta had rooms but they were over $200 and we decided we could go on further.  We found a nice spot in Yreka.

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