Angeles Forest and the Planet Cestus III

It was another cool, cloudy, and damp day by LA standards. But for me, it was like a day ending in Y during a New England spring, so I was ready to ride. It seemed like a good day to visit some of the old favorites that I haven’t gotten to yet this visit, up in the Angeles National Forest.

Google led me across Pasadena to the 210, which brought me to the Angeles Crest Highway. I’ve ridden this on both my KLR and Carolyn’s Sportster, so I know the road fairly well. It’s a good basis to compare the V-Strom to two other bikes I’m familiar with. The road is closed at the old intersection with Route 39, a.k.a. San Gabriel Canyon Road because it’s covered in snow at higher altitudes, but I could at least experience what was open.

I had a great romp for the first several miles. As I climbed, however, I ended up entering the clouds that have been sitting over the entire area. As I passed Angeles Forest Highway, it got so thick that I had to slow down a lot just to see where I was going before I got there. The numerous sports cars playing on Angeles Crest did not appear to be doing the same. I pulled over, pondered my options, and decided to abort the rest of my Angeles Crest run. It wasn’t fun riding it so slowly, and there was a degree of danger involved with the thick fog. I turned around and hit Angeles Forest instead, hoping that I would descend out of the clouds.

This plan worked perfectly. While there were a couple spots of clouds, for the most part, I had a good clean run all the way through, with no traffic ahead or behind. The only thing I could wish for is slightly warmer temperatures, but beggars can’t be choosers.

As for the bike, it’s amazing. When the roads get curvy, it feels like it turns into the SV650 from which its engine came. Once again, it’s the right size and the right amount of power for me. Plus it can keep right up on the highway when I need to get places, and I’m not afraid to take it on a bit of dirt, despite its current road tires. Tires can be changed. I chose wisely.

Next, I beamed down to the planet Cestus III, ever watchful of the possibility of an attacking Gorn. Okay, in reality, I went to Vasquez Rocks, where the iconic yet terrible Star Trek fight scene in the episode “Arena” was filmed. It was only a few miles from the top end of Angeles Forest, and I’m a big enough nerd that a pilgrimage was in order.

It was fun to find exactly where and how they filmed this scene. There’s a good reason why the camera only ever pointed toward the distinctive rock formations. Highway 14, which I rode in on, was clearly visible on the other side! A remote alien planet, this is not.

The rocks were, as one scientist would say, “fascinating” to explore, even aside from their TV history. The small round caverns were bubbles in the lava, and the shapes remained as the rock cooled and hardened. Continents smashing into each other forced the formerly level ground to tilt upward at an angle, creating what looks like an alien landscape. It’s no wonder Star Trek used this place as an alien planet on many occasions.

There are many places that never appeared on film, at least for Star Trek. But numerous movies and TV shows have been filmed here, which is why it looks straight out of a movie set.

I could’ve ridden this trail on my bike, but I didn’t. It’s not allowed, and I respect that.

After exploring for a while, I looked up local restaurants on Google and made my way to the Home Made Restaurant. It was a tiny place that makes a mean chili burger. After some thought, I decided to take the highways back to Carolyn’s, rather than go up and over the mountain again. The clouds seemed to be getting thicker, and while the roads are amazing, I rather like seeing where I’m going, so that’s what I did. I was back by mid-afternoon, and put my bike in the trailer to sit out tomorrow’s rain in a dry place.

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