One of the best rides in the Sacramento area is the River Road portion of Route 160. In the late spring and summer, the ride is a nice way to cool off, with the Sacramento River on your right as you head south. The road is in great shape and you can ride it all the way down to Paintersville Bridge, where the 160 takes you across to Sacramento, and then you can travel further south to Isleton and the delta.
I have ridden as far as Paintersville. After that, the territory is uncharted for me. If more experienced scooterists point out better rides, I am happy to check them out.
When I do not have much time, one of my favorite routes is taking River Road to the town of Freeport, crossing the bridge there and heading up South River Road back to West Sacramento and to Jefferson Blvd. Here, I cross the river at the Tower Bridge, and then make my way home.
During this little run, I enjoy taking pictures of the farmland with my scooter in the foreground. This trip is not about me showing off as it is about a different way to display nature or a rustic environment. I got the idea from the excellent photo blog, Scooter in the Sticks
Steve Williams is a photography and motorsport enthusiast. In addition to his Vespa GT 250, Williams has a few road and sport bikes. He also has a close relationship with a motorcycle shop and is able to take other bikes on extended test rides. Lucky dog! Of course, I am not as skilled a photographer as Williams, and the cameras that I use—a relatively old Canon Powershot SD400 and, lately, an iPhone 4S—do not produce the higher quality images that Williams’ SLRs produce.
I have taken this route even when the temperature was in the mid-40s. I love the ride in any kind of Sacramento weather, except for rain. My only complaint is that the South River Road on the west side of the river (whoever named the road may have had the map at a 90° angle from North) is bumpy and has many potholes, road snakes, and underdeveloped pavement. The ride was invigorating albeit not very challenging—I have rarely ridden farther than this loop.
Whitey’s “Home Made” Burgers
Before starting the trip back—crossing over the Tower Bridge—I stopped at Whitey’s Jolly Kone (1300 Jefferson Blvd in West Sacramento). Whitey’s is a great hamburger stand that, for some crazy reason, is closed on weekends. This time, I rode on a weekday and was able to enjoy this stop. The stand has no inside seating but offers six or seven tables, so in hot or cold weather, most customers eat in their cars. On this day, the temperature was comfortably in the mid-80s, even with my boots and Kevlar jeans on.
Whitey’s appears to have many regular customers. At least two of the people who came up to the window did not have to order but just said, “give me the usual.” The help is extremely friendly and so were the customers. Many went out of their way to greet me despite my usual facial expression that, I am told, looks a little like, “Don’t bug me” or “My dog just died.” (The staff at Whitey has a mi casa su casa attitude that is quite different from an experience I had on the road some months earlier, but more on that later.)
|1/3 Pound Cheeseburger and fries. I think their default delivery is
to-go. Either that or they didn’t want scooter trash hanging around.
The menu is displayed on five signs under the stand’s front windows. Besides burgers, Whitey’s offers chicken fried steak sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, BLT sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, fish sandwiches, garden burgers, various burgers and dogs, and drinks. They also serve Mexican food and breakfast.
I had the “1/3 Pound Cheeseburger,” a traditional burger with just the right amount of shredded lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles on a solid if not inspiring bun that stayed with me the whole time and did not shrink, as some do. As I was eating the cheeseburger, I was reminded of the burgers that Dad used to make. This is both a good thing and not such a good thing. It is a good thing in that you can taste the fresh ingredients and you know if you ever come by here again that you would love to have something on the menu (check out the Grilled Onion & Pepper Burger or, better yet, the King Grilled Onion & Pepper Burger!).
On the other hand, if you are looking for something different, something that will knock your socks off, Whitey’s is not it. I suppose that if I created a separate top ten burgers list, one for good but not fancy burgers, Whitey’s would make this list. It would be in stiff competition with Jerry’s Tumbleweed Inn
, Jamie’s Bar & Grill
, and Scott’s Burger Shack
The French fries were thick, which I usually do not like, but they were very crispy and did not require ketchup. The iced tea was good, especially for a place that was not a restaurant. While at Whitey’s in the past, I ordered shakes. They are terrific; I cannot overstate how good they are.
After I finished my iced tea, I left Whitey’s and crossed the Tower Bridge. From there, I wound my way back home through downtown and South Sacramento. I have gone this way a few times in the past and noted the total mileage at approximately 14 miles. In the future, I plan to stretch this loop and visit Isleton and other places on the River Road or 160.
Road Rage: Ford F-350 v Vespa GT 200
The last time I took the River Road loop, I did so not to cool down, but to relax. I got something quite to the contrary. The temperature was in the mid-40s, but the day was clear and it was not cold when in the sun. What was notable about that run was when I pulled up to a light on Jefferson Blvd. In my mirrors, I saw a big white truck coming up on me quickly, its horn blowing. When I looked up at the light, it was green so I gunned it.
The truck appeared to be a Ford F-350 monstrosity with an extended cab. If that is incorrect, it was some kind of Ford, believe me. The blue emblem on the grill was all that I saw in my mirrors before I goosed it.
|I did not have time to take a shot of my harassers so
here is a nice soothing picture of a scooter near a field.
The truck moved into the left lane to pass me but slowed down alongside me just enough for a foul-mouth youngster to lean way out of the window and spout off, “Get off the road you f%$king A#@hole!” and then sped off. Though I was rattled, I did not look directly at the harasser. The truck then slowed down and was next to me again, and the potty-mouth youngster again yelled about the same thing to me. I could see that I was dealing with some serious Whiskey Tango (NATO phonetic alphabet for W.T.—W.T. for “white trash”)—a Whiskey Tango that can afford an
F-350 truck, I suppose.
I pulled off Jefferson Blvd. into Whitey’s Jolly Kone’s parking lot and heard the kid belt out the same thing at 100 feet away and fading. I waited no more than 30 seconds to put some distance between the road rage rangers and me, and then I took off again, only to find that the truck had slowed down quite a bit just to serve up more verbal abuse to this confused scooterist. One more time, I heard the little punk say the same tired colloquialisms directly across the lane from me. Then, the truck made a left turn and drove out of my sight. I pulled over one more time to make sure the truck was not turning around. It was not. The ordeal was over.
Whenever I do something on the road that may have been wrong, I always reflect on my driving with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. After the scooter came to a stop, I skipped the “You idiot, Jocko…” spiel and ran through what I might have done to bring out the G.E.D.-level mentality in this Whiskey Tango. What I came up with was that either I did not notice that the light had changed (because I was admiring the shiny big Ford emblem on the truck’s grill as it filled my mirror) or I was looking at the wrong red light while approaching the intersection and stopped on a green light. I hope not.
I would have preferred if brat’s diatribe was more illuminating, such as “Hey [insert profane noun here], we almost killed you. Are you color blind?” but the simpleton chose words that implied that I did something to them rather than the other way around. Whatever the reason for the unimaginative insults, I was reminded that I need to S.E.E. (Search. Evaluate. Execute), and S.E.E. with vigilance. Whiskey Tango drivers are out there, my fellow scooterists so beware!