OP
@gogogordy avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
Reprehensible Misinformant
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Posts: 7573
Location: Winchester, California
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@gogogordy avatar
Reprehensible Misinformant
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7573
Location: Winchester, California
UTC quote
My wife (and fellow MV'er Patty) and I decided to head to Lompoc's Vandenberg AFB to watch from a close proximity, the launch of a Minuteman Missile....for some laughs and as a thinly veiled excuse for an overnighter.

Having once witnessed a daylight launch of a NASA space shuttle (by accident almost) as well as a failed Boeing Titan III launch both while businessing and vacationing in Florida, the attraction to see another launch gets under the skin a bit. For those who have not, an up-close experience of a large government projectile launch is something to see, hear, smell, and feel. Really makes you proud to see some tax-dollars turned into fireworks. Really.

We began our day at 06:30, or for us civilians....zero-dark-thirty in Temecula, and took the requisite number of major freeways into Santa Monica, where we headed north towards Malibu, Santa Barbara, and the greater Lompoc area. The Coast Hwy through Santa Monica and Malibu was at this early-ish hour relatively traffic free and a pleasure to drive.

We continued into Oxnard and Ventura, and head up the coast towards Santa Barbara. It was threatening rain, we soldiered on, hoping to stay ahead of the precipitation. Along the way, my trusty GTS hit a long overdue milestone of hitting 10,000 miles. I've had this scooter since 2006, in fact it's the FIRST GTS sold by the now defunct Vespa of Riverside....and I would likely have hit that mark sooner were it not for an everchanging constellation of other scooters which always seem to come and go around my GTS, robbing it of some well deserved use. It is my favorite scooter. Anyway, I was pleased to pull over, record the moment forever, and look for a baggie to cover my GPS with, cause now it has begun to rain! Done, so off we go.

We stopped on a roadside gas-station in Summerland Ca., to wipe off a bit, fuel-up, and re-group. I begin to grouse at a couple in a Jeep, parked and preventing us access to the gas pump...they were doing EVERYTHING but fill the Jeep. While we waited, I hear a crunch-crash sound, and mention to Pat that "someone just hit something". We finish our fuel stop, jump back on the freeway to see the accident which I heard previously, stopping all forward freeway progress from exactly behind the gas station we just left. Perhaps the Jeep peep's inconsideration for our time, actually saved us from being right in the thick of that wreck? We both later marvel at that chain of events.

We make our way into an ever moister Santa Barbara, and decide to get of the freeway, and figure out our game plan. This included re-wrapping the GPS to protect it from the rain. We decide the scenic route, Hwy 154 through the mountains would be nice...this route is known as San Marcos Pass, features some great elevations over Santa Barbara, great smooth pavement, and moderate sweeping curves to enjoy. I highly recommend this route.

We head up towards Solvang and Lompoc and as the road just starts to get interesting, the traffic slows down, and there is a southbound Mercedes 430, on it's roof apparently the victim of too much speed, on too moist a road. The skid marks told me the car crossed into oncoming (OUR lane) of traffic, hit the berm of the hillside, and rolled over. ANOTHER accident missed, through our own dumb-luck by a mere few moments...was it the GPS re-wrap, or the few moments Patty spent admiring a young ladies' puppy while we prepared to continue? We'll likely never know...and it really doesn't matter.

Our "side-trip" on this, based on a missile launch window (remember the missile?) of 0301~0901 Sunday. Yes, thats 3:01 AM in the dark, to 9:01 am, pancakes and eggs time...leaving today, Saturday for travel and a trip to the Solvang Motorcycle Museum. http://www.motosolvang.com/

The museum charges a VERY reasonable 10 bucks a head, is small but very tidy, and chocked full of an ever-changing variety of bikes, which are NOT behind thick ropes, but rather squeezing into and between the many bikes is the appropriate and accepted way to enjoy the displays. Without boring (continuing?) you with the lurid details of each and every bike there on this particular day, I am posting a small sample of pictures, and will note that for me, the main point of interest in this museum, is to note the variety of ways the same engineering challenges are addressed by different makes, from different nations, and different generations. For instance, the number of ways to drive an engine's valvetrains, suspend the rider's seat, activate brakes and clutches, etc. all seem endless when you appreciate the detail differences on the many varietal motorcycles they had....

The Motorcycle Museum is worth the trip alone to Solvang, then there's the town's famous authentic Danish bakeries.....but that's for another report on a completely different forum! We spent about 2 hours at the museum, and that seemed to be just about the right amount of time.

Well, that whole missle part of our mission was next, we rode approximately 20 miles further to Lompoc, to dry-off a bit and relax in our room. The road between Solvang and Lompoc, is peppered with beautiful flower fields which were spectacular on this moist, August afternoon. We couldn't help but stop, but we were in need of rest, food, and a fresh baggie for the GPS!

Upon arrival at our ho....er, motel in Lompoc we reconfirmed with the clerk, and others that the flight window was 03:01 ~ 09:01 and we were told the "the Air Force wants to stick as close to the beginning portion of the launch window as possible" and it was generally interpreted that the missile would launch at or near 3:01. AM. In the morning. Nightime. In the dark. We were told that the best viewing location, would be the flower fields at the edge of town....some several miles away. OK, we'll pre-ride to see where we'll stake our claim, in the middle of the night. When we normally sleep.

The plan is set. Walk down to the all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet, turn-in early, wake-up at 2 am, gear-up, and scoot to the edge of Lompoc, to the flower fields for best viewing, take some incredible launch shots, and be back asleep like babies by 03:30 am.

Well, standing on a semi-soft shoulder, on a darker-than-dark country road in the middle of the night when we normally sleep was weird. What was weirder was the complete lack of the expected Superbowl-sized crowd of other nerdy "Missile-watchers" to keep us company. We had plenty of time to reflect on our middle-of-nowhere solitude as 03:01 turned into 03:45, 04:00, 04:30 and....then the launch site went dark! Good News! I thought. They "always" kill the lights nanoseconds before lighting that fuse....well maybe minutes beforehand. Maybe the last 30 minutes?

Then the realization hit....maybe they scrubbed" the launch? Besides, it's almost sunrise, we're tired, and remember that buffet I mentioned? Back on our scooters, and back to the room.

Well, we awoke about the normal time for us....in time to take full and complete advantage of the free breakfast feature found in most mid-range lodgings. The buzz in the dining area was that the launch had NOT indeed taken place. I knew it! Wise decision on our part to call it quits at the uphill side of 5 am....aw shucks, maybe next time.

We check out, gear-up, re-wrap the GPS as it was sprinkling still, and decide to head to Los Olivos Ca. It's on the GPS, and freshly in the news.
The town of Los Olivos is just as picturesque and quiet as anyone could imagine. The one-laner to the ranch is about 9 miles in, past numerous cattle lands, and horse properties. These properties are huge, and my GPS told me I was "there" at 5225 Figueroa Mountain Road (thanks Len for the on the fly address Google) well before the gate or any sign of civilization appeared. My guess is that as soon as we crossed the property line, it prompted me I was there, but we kept riding till we found the entrance. We were met with a young couple in a cage, the guards, and us. We chatted for 10 or 15 minutes, and headed to the highway back to Solvang, the San Marcos Pass, Santa Barbara, etc.

We made our way back to the flat coast, and jumped off the freeway earlier than normal, for a scenic ride into downtown Ventura. A few moments off of the coast highway, we were passed by numerous ambulances, police cars, etc. head north ONTO the highway with lights, sirens, etc. Come to find out, moments behind us, a small plane landed on the same freeway we just exited, and was hit by 3 vehicles. Another possible crisis averted! Dumb luck smiles on us yet again!

We enjoy the rest our journey through Ventura, Oxnard, and into Malibu, where some seafood would hit the spot....and we knew just the place to get that. Well, Sundays at Neptune's Net brings out the Security and Parking Conductors, and they seemed to feel instructing us to park our brightly colored Vespas smack in the middle of a sea of Harleys apropos, many belonging to "real" bikers, the kind with parole officers, and many simply belonging to weekenders wearing leathers....proctologists and accountants by day...you know the type.

Well, it's family-style seating at Neptune's Net, the couple we sat with, a VERY Harley-ish pair and nice, noticed us, and the man told us "I have a scooter too", and he wasn't kidding! No issues there, just some great Ceviche, and interesting people-watching....and the joy of being the ONLY Vespas there, and having ridden quite a spell to eat there. Good times.

Our trip home from Malibu in Sunday traffic wasn't as pleasant as it was in the wee hours on Saturday, headed up....but thankfully was just as uneventful as the rest! We logged 522 miles, visited a great motorcycle museum, saw some beautiful flower fields, visited a pop-culture destination, and enjoyed some great scooter riding. What more could we ask for?

I wholeheartedly recommend the Solvang Motorcycle Museum, Neptune's Net, Los Olivos, and the San Marcos Pass to anyone looking for some interesting scooting destinations.

For me, the missile launch will have to wait for another day....and in the grand scheme of things a few extra moments waiting for another patron at a gas-station, or convenience store, anywhere...won't seem like such a bother again.
On the way north....this somewhat famous (infamous?) seafood stop does NOT serve breakfast. We know that now!  Stay tuned for another glimpse of this place in full bloom...later in the report
On the way north....this somewhat famous (infamous?) seafood stop does NOT serve breakfast. We know that now! Stay tuned for another glimpse of this place in full bloom...later in the report
A long time coming, the GTS has been a great scooter for these 10,000 miles.  One I plan on keeping for a long, long time.
A long time coming, the GTS has been a great scooter for these 10,000 miles. One I plan on keeping for a long, long time.
At a rest stop overlooking Lake Cachuma, on the beautiful even when wet, San Marcos Pass. Hwy 154.  Notice the high-tech GPS weather protection system.
At a rest stop overlooking Lake Cachuma, on the beautiful even when wet, San Marcos Pass. Hwy 154. Notice the high-tech GPS weather protection system.
Shot in B&W, because it seemed the thing to do!
Shot in B&W, because it seemed the thing to do!
Remember the Mazda Wankel engine? Norton built one too....
Remember the Mazda Wankel engine? Norton built one too....
If you look really close, you may notice a very complex steering arrangement, and although this isn't a 3 wheeler it makes me wonder if maybe, a Piaggio engineer who ended up on the Mp3 Project may have been to this museum before and seen this display!
If you look really close, you may notice a very complex steering arrangement, and although this isn't a 3 wheeler it makes me wonder if maybe, a Piaggio engineer who ended up on the Mp3 Project may have been to this museum before and seen this display!
Anyone who knows Patty, and her trademark Doc's will realize that Solvangs flower fields may have been their inspiration.
Anyone who knows Patty, and her trademark Doc's will realize that Solvangs flower fields may have been their inspiration.
To the untrained eye this may look like a garden variety "bad picture". It isn't....thats the launch site glowing in anticipation some few miles away....in the middle of the night.  When we normally sleep.
To the untrained eye this may look like a garden variety "bad picture". It isn't....thats the launch site glowing in anticipation some few miles away....in the middle of the night. When we normally sleep.
A much remodeled gate to what is formerly known as Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Now known by it's former moniker of Sycamore Valley Ranch, the name it had when MJ purchased it way back when he and Macauley and others frolicked there.
A much remodeled gate to what is formerly known as Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Now known by it's former moniker of Sycamore Valley Ranch, the name it had when MJ purchased it way back when he and Macauley and others frolicked there.
Well-wishers sign the slate in the wall since MJ's passing. The guards were nice, and conversed with us...one of them still sporting a black cap with a large "N" embroidered on it.  Numerous surveillance cameras on the fences, in the trees &
Well-wishers sign the slate in the wall since MJ's passing. The guards were nice, and conversed with us...one of them still sporting a black cap with a large "N" embroidered on it. Numerous surveillance cameras on the fences, in the trees &
Neptunes Net in Malibu at lunch. If you look really, really closely...you may see a Vespa or two in there amongst the Harleys and such.  Yup, those are ours!
Neptunes Net in Malibu at lunch. If you look really, really closely...you may see a Vespa or two in there amongst the Harleys and such. Yup, those are ours!
A few more museum images...
A few more museum images...
When 2-strokes ruled the earth....
When 2-strokes ruled the earth....
different means to an end....the myriad ways of doing the same "job" was astounding to me
different means to an end....the myriad ways of doing the same "job" was astounding to me
Time Capsule? Or motorcycle dashboard? You be the judge.  (I say it's both!)
Time Capsule? Or motorcycle dashboard? You be the judge. (I say it's both!)
Everybody visits this museum!
Everybody visits this museum!
Padded seats are (apparently) for weanies!
Padded seats are (apparently) for weanies!
Duplex Steering rendering. A distant cousin to the Mp3 ?
Duplex Steering rendering. A distant cousin to the Mp3 ?
Tree-lined road of the highest order!
Tree-lined road of the highest order!
A stand of bamboo clings to the coastline
A stand of bamboo clings to the coastline
⚠️ Last edited by gogogordy on UTC; edited 30 times
@witch avatar
UTC

Moderatrice Strega
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7666
Location: Oregone
 
Moderatrice Strega
@witch avatar
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7666
Location: Oregone
UTC quote
That had to be a great trip! I love Solvang. Stayed there a couple days one time, and didn't want to leave.
UTC

The Host with the Toast
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7199
Location: SoCal
 
The Host with the Toast
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Posts: 7199
Location: SoCal
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Very cool ride report, I've been looking at doing the same ride to Solvang
@benito avatar
UTC

Moderator
2010 Dragon Red GTS 300 Super, 2018 Grigio Titanio Piaggio Liberty S 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 16296
Location: Toronto, Canada, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
 
Moderator
@benito avatar
2010 Dragon Red GTS 300 Super, 2018 Grigio Titanio Piaggio Liberty S 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 16296
Location: Toronto, Canada, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Wow, what a great ride. I'd love to see more of the scenery you passed.
OP
@gogogordy avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
Reprehensible Misinformant
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7573
Location: Winchester, California
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@gogogordy avatar
Reprehensible Misinformant
Joined: UTC
Posts: 7573
Location: Winchester, California
UTC quote
Benito wrote:
Wow, what a great ride. I'd love to see more of the scenery you passed.
Benny, I'm sure you were being kind, but I DID add a couple additional shots, and I'm maxed out at 20 attachments. Enjoy!
@benito avatar
UTC

Moderator
2010 Dragon Red GTS 300 Super, 2018 Grigio Titanio Piaggio Liberty S 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 16296
Location: Toronto, Canada, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
 
Moderator
@benito avatar
2010 Dragon Red GTS 300 Super, 2018 Grigio Titanio Piaggio Liberty S 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 16296
Location: Toronto, Canada, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
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Nice, I love the tree lined street shot, thanks for posting more.
@oneprairiepiston avatar
UTC

Hooked
LX150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 403
Location: Lincoln, NE
 
Hooked
@oneprairiepiston avatar
LX150
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Posts: 403
Location: Lincoln, NE
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Sweet ride.
@dee avatar
UTC

Hooked
ET4 "Bucky"; Midnight Blue MP3 400 "Zucchero"
Joined: UTC
Posts: 252
Location: West Coast
 
Hooked
@dee avatar
ET4 "Bucky"; Midnight Blue MP3 400 "Zucchero"
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Location: West Coast
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Finally found your report....had to actually resort to the search engine. Wonderful report of what sounds like a fun trip.

I have long been patient when waiting for things to happen because I truly do believe things happen for a reason, and in their planned time. Your "missed accidents" support that for me. Things like that make me think about "timing" all the more. Thanks for the reminder. I hope those who weren't so fortunate in your story are ok.

Thanks again for sharing.

Dee
@scooterfish avatar
UTC

Hooked
250 GTS, Xmax 300, BMW R1200R (sold)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 151
Location: So Cal, OC
 
Hooked
@scooterfish avatar
250 GTS, Xmax 300, BMW R1200R (sold)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 151
Location: So Cal, OC
UTC quote
Nice trip report...sounds like a great trip, I love that area up there. Everytime I think of going to Lompoc though, I enevitably have to stop at Jalama Beach for a Jalama Burger....yummm.
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Banned
GTS 250ie YELLOW N WHITE,Giallo Lime
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1374
Location: Beautiful Orange County CA
 
Banned
GTS 250ie YELLOW N WHITE,Giallo Lime
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1374
Location: Beautiful Orange County CA
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I loved reading about your ride and seeing the photos, love neptunes net. I'm happy you and Pat are getting some riding in this year.
⬆️    About 2 months elapsed    ⬇️
UTC

Hooked
Joined: UTC
Posts: 209
 
Hooked
Joined: UTC
Posts: 209
UTC quote
thanks for sharing .... looks like it was a great trip and congrats on the 10k miles !!!
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