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Nov 5: Grant, California to Cambria, California

Today was not nearly as dramatic as yesterday.  I woke up at 6:00 after eleven hours of sleep and recovery, geared-up and did a test ride in 35° temps to get breakfast.  All OK.  Just needed the right clothes.

The ride today was Hwy’s 395 and 14 south to the junction of 178, then Hwy 178 west over a mild mountain pass, past Lake Isabella and on to Bakersfield.  From Bakersfield the scooter took me along Hwy 99 north for 20 miles then Hwy 46 west across California’s San Joaquin Valley and Coastal Range to Hwy 1 and a few miles north to a settlement of motels between Cambria and San Simeon.

Some of the things I saw…

The motel where I stayed also rented teepee tents, “mostly to Europeans” according to the manager.

Lots of ruins of various sorts along Hwy 395…



Hwy 178…

Lake Isabella…

Almond trees and oil fields in the San Joaquin Valley…

This tree and surrounding structure are a memorial to James Dean, who in 1955, died in a car accident 900 yards east at the junction of Hwy’s 41 and 46.

End of the day…

Tomorrow I will be home.

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  1. Randy Pfyl, Concord CA Randy Pfyl, Concord CA

    more great photos of desert and mountains.
    It kind of pains me to see the almond orchard tore up – guess this is the fallout from having years of CA drought where farmers have to make tough decisions.
    James Dean acting career cut short by car accident near this memorial site you visited. Won’t forget him in Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. Thanks.

  2. Bob Clem Bob Clem

    As I type this you are probably just arriving home or very close. Sea to shining sea and back again…Bravo, Mike! I remember from last year many of the same roads through Death Valley and Hwy 178 you just completed. Must have been inspiring to see the Pacific coast once again. Your latest photos are up to your usual standard, that is, great.

  3. Mike, what an excellent adventure! Good for the spirit!

  4. It’s been quite a ride — at times almost too much to take in. I’m grateful that you’ve diligently documented the journey in words and pictures so well that I can sort of transform your trip into one of my own imaginary rides.

    You’ve seen the country in a manner that’s much different that other transcontinental adventures I’ve followed and while I would like to attribute that difference to the Vespa my more methodical side says it has to be you and the way you see the world and choose your path.

    It will be sad to see the trip end but none of us can ask for more. I suspect in the coming days and weeks reflections will present themselves that had not occurred while you were riding. So I have that to look forward to should you decide to write them down.

    Ride safe!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  5. Ken Wassum Ken Wassum

    Mike: I own the same vespa including color, but a 2014, and have been thinking about a similar trip after I retire next year. Don’t know that I will actually do it, but reading about your experience is exhilarating. Congratulations on your adventure. What an awesome trip.

    • Mike Hermens Mike Hermens


      Thanks for your comment. The scooter trip was and continues to be a significant event in my life. I’m still enjoying it. I believe you would enjoy a trip, although I don’t think it needs to be a big one. Just getting out on the road for two or three days can be challenging, liberating and therapeutic. Best wishes with whatever you do.


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