On the Road to the 2013 BMW MOA National
Part I The Planning
Written by Deryle & Wanda Mehrten
Just over a year ago we made our reservations for two nights at the
Grand Hotel in Salem, Oregon - which just happens to be right down
town and right next door to the Oregon State Fair Grounds where the
2013 BMW MOA National rally was to take place. It was announced at
the 2012 national rally that Salem was to be the location for the
2013 rally and usually the hotels and motels around the rally site
fill up within the first week of the announcement. We got
lucky…time to begin planning what was to be a 16 day 3,325 mile
Sierra Vista, AZ to Blythe, CA to Merced, CA. Click on the map to
go to the Google link.
Getting to the rally we would pass within stopping and visiting
distance of three of our relatives – oldest son Adam and Cindy in
Merced, CA; my uncle in Roseville, CA; and my older sister in
Vacaville, CA. Before any visitation dates could be set, we needed
Adam’s schedule. He and his soul partner Cindy work for a living and
our visit would need to be timed to their work/vacation schedules.
It was important we let them know early in the planning stages the
windows we would have to visit. As luck would have it, our going
and return schedules were perfect matches for Adam’s and Cindy’s
off-work schedules. Some of the grand kids wouldn’t be able to make
it for both of our visits, but we would have quite a crowd on our
stay on the way to Salem.
Now that the dates we’d visit Adam and Cindy were set, all the other
stops along the way needed to be worked out. There’s only a couple
of ways across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts: Across I-8 with a
first stop in Yuma; a dash across I-10 to Blythe; cut through Parker
on the Colorado; or travel way north through Needles on I-40. We
went with Blythe for the first night out. That put us on the edge
of the Mojave Desert, hopefully getting the first hot day behind us
a quickly as possible. The next night we needed to be close to
Merced, CA where we would spend three nights with all the kids,
grand kids…and great grand kids. We looked at a ton of routes, too
many to list. Our final decision came down to Johnny McNally’s in
Fairview, CA on the Kern River. On the southern tip of the Sequoia
Forest, McNally’s has nice rooms, though they’ve gotten a bit long
in the tooth, and a super good restaurant right on the river. We’ve
ridden from McNally’s to Merced several times through some awesome
motorcycle friendly roads this side of anywhere. For this trip we
chose to ride through California Hot Springs and do a couple of
twisty-turnies we haven’t done before. A jaunt up Hwy 99 would make
for an easy day.
That would take care of us getting to Merced and oldest son’s. Next
would be a visit to my oldest sister in Vacaville and a stop at my
uncle’s place just outside of Roseville. Both are within an easy
riding distance from Merced but doing both in one day would be
difficult and still allow us to make Salem, OR by Friday afternoon.
Things got easy when my sister called and said they would not be
home due to a grandchild needing Grand Mom’s presence. We
understood, so we did a two hour phone call in lieu of a visit.
Stopping for a photo-op at my uncle’s would be a piece of cake and
gave us another opportunity to take a road or two we hadn’t been
down. From Merced we planned the first night out to be half way to
Salem. Weed, CA at the junction of Highway 97 and I-5 worked
Merced, CA to Weed, CA to Salem, OR to Seal Rock, OR. Click on the
map to go to the Google link.
From Weed to Salem, OR is straight up I-5, a very scenic and nice
piece of I-5 by the way. We would be in Salem two nights, Friday
and Saturday. The next stop would be on the Oregon coast for a
three day visit with some friends we haven’t seen in years. Then it
would be down the coast on Highway 101, but not so much coast riding
that we couldn’t be in Merced in two days with no single day being
too long. Weed was a nice middle-of-the-stint stop on the way
north, so it made sense to stop in Weed on the return. From there
it would be I-5 to Highway 99 to Merced. Easy planning.
Seal Rock, OR Weed, CA to Merced, CA. Click on the map to go to the
Home from Merced would be three easy days of riding down familiar
roads. Our route would be down Hwy 99 to Bakersfield, then Highway
58 to Highway 247 to Yucca Valley, CA where we got a free hotel room
via the points system. From there the route would be Highway 62 to
Parker, through Bouse, Salome, Tonopaha and Old Highway 80 to Gila
Bend for the night. The last stint would be south on Hwy 85 to Hwy
86 into Tucson and home.
Merced, CA to Yuccal Valley, CA to Sierra Vista, AZ. Click on the
map to go to the Google link.
I stuffed three states worth of maps into the tank bag, we were