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Old 11-01-2013, 11:13 AM   #76
clintonl OP
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Ca > nv

Usually when I do extended trips I focus my planning efforts on just getting there and then completely winging it on the way back. This trip was no exception and I was now thinking it would be nice to travel the Pacific coast to Mexico before heading back to the Newer Jersey.

I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons:

1. “Alaska to Mexico” sounds cooler than “Alaska to the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce, Cayucos, California”

2. Dipping my tyre into Mexico would prove to myself that you don’t automatically get kidnapped and killed when you cross the border like everyone tries to tell you.

Anyway that plan soon became moot because I decided I’d far sooner relax with my friend Paige in San Francisco rather than continue south. The South American adventure would have to wait until I could attack the place properly.. or it could attack me perhaps?

So with the knowledge that I was now officially on the return leg I let out a huge sigh and tacked north east along Rt 80. I knew if I mindlessly stuck to this road it would lead me all the way back to New York City — But that was the very last thing I wanted to do. I really didn’t want to go home, I just wanted to keep riding and riding and riding. However the grownup trapped inside me knew he needed to first finish the house before that could become a reality.

I peeled off Rt80 onto Rt 50 "The Loneliest Road in America". I was excited by this description and by the time I passed through Lake Tahoe I was itching for the “Loneliest” part to kick in. Well I didn’t have to worry because I soon entered the thermofan oven of the Nevada desert — a hard, windy 100 degree slog across nothingness. Perversely I was starting to feel good that the slightly masochistic element of riding had started to sneak back in again.



At one stage I was running parallel with a small dust devil and in the time it took me to think "oh that's cool" it changed tack across the road and hit me head on like a brick wall. The force of the impact dislodged the ball compass from my windscreen and popped my two wide angle mirrors from their adhesive mounts. I remember yelling fuck me!! and chuckling nervously within my helmet. I dunno I gotta admit I kinda get off a little when I get pushed outside the comfort zone like that — It just makes me feel alive.



By the time I hit Sand Mountain the wind was just nuts. I remembered my friend Heather had mentioned you could camp on top of it and I was looking forward to that prospect. However after surveying the situation I quickly realized that if I did that I’d be living with sand in every orifice for the next 5,000 miles.

It’s one thing to make dumb decisions in a group because you can all sit around at laugh at your collective stupidity. However to sit on that mountain alone in the middle of the night realizing how idiotic you are, well that’s much less fun. So with that in mind I made the executive decision to push on down the road as there was apparently a good bar ahead.

I seriously wished I had two extra wheels and was 400lbs lighter watching that guy.



As I rolled over a gentle rise I spotted an oasis of ramshackle huts in the distance. Somehow I instinctively knew this was the Middlegate Station bar I was looking for @ 39.287056,-118.026968. I was as dry as a wooden god and wasted no time parking and heading in the direction of the cold beer.

As I sat down the woman behind the bar was showing two Japanese guys (who couldn’t speak a word of English) the fine art of tequila slammers — It was so hilarious it bordered on parody.

I asked her if there was a spot out back I could stay the night. She said “Sure no problem” but then proceeded to warn me that 100 nude woman bikers were scheduled to arrive at 6:00pm and that I should set up my tent now while there's still space.

She’d hardly got those words out of her mouth when I decided that I’d definitely found my campsite for the night.
Clearly this was my reward for not quitting 100 miles earlier.



"Wanted: Skinny, wiry fellows. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." — 1860 ad for Pony Express trail rider.



Trailering it to the mine is just lame. Just sayin'



Surveying the road ahead and feeling a little lost in time, and lost in space — and meaning.



I still had some ground to cover…
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:27 PM   #77
clintonl OP
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NV > UT > Monument Valley

After passing hundreds of these signs on my journey I think it's now high time I publicly profess my lust for the curvy National forest font.

Hey National forest font, you're absolutely beautiful! Every time I passed you and your hot sans-serif friend I couldn't help but stare at you both. There I said it.



Nostromo, do you copy? I've taken off my helmet and the air here is perfectly breathable.



As a kid growing up with the lush green flora of New Zealand the concept of a desert was highly exotic to me. I used to watch old westerns on TV with their visceral images of cowboys traveling in wide open landscapes and think to myself “someday I’m going to go to that place and do that!” — to this day that desire has never left me.

I didn’t know it at the time but that place was Monument Valley, Utah where the hollywood “west” was filmed.

Over the years Monument Valley has tantalized me by cropped up in all sorts of films including 2001: A Space Odyssey (my fav), Once Upon a Time in the West, Easy Rider, The Eiger Sanction, Back to the Future, Thelma and Louise, Forrest Gump etc.

Well I finally made good on that promise to myself and it turned out to be more amazing than I could’ve imagined.



Now I’m not a particularly religious person but this place definitely stirred something spiritual within me— A spectrum of emotions really. From sadness over how a once proud nation of indigenous people have now been forced to live to the pure joy of being able to experience this amazing planet first hand.



Just out of the valley I met Keith, a Navajo man who was sitting on the side of the road thumbing a ride.
I pulled over and apologized that I couldn't give him one. He smiled and said "that's ok."

I asked him how far he was going and he replied
"The next town, 20 miles away".
"How long does it normally take for someone to stop" I asked.
"About an hour" as he raised his thumb to a tourist who just sped by.

Keith then asked me "Do you have any water?"
Pleased I could help out I said "Sure... When was the last time you had a drink?". "Early this morning" he responded.

At that point I'd classify the next few minutes as one of highlights of this trip: I had the slightly surreal experience of teaching a Navajo elder how to drink water from a camelbak. (It's not as immediately obvious as we think.)

After chatting for another 10 minutes I rode away feeling really, really good about being able to help this man with such a core human need you know?

A few hours later I looped back past the same spot and smiled when I saw he was no longer sitting there.
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Old 11-02-2013, 07:28 AM   #78
clintonl OP
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Valley of the Gods

So I didn’t want to just ride through Monument Valley, I wanted to •camp• in Monument Valley. I wanted to experience the intense warm hues of her sunset and sunrise. I wanted to drift off to sleep with nothing but the sky and those eroded rock silhouettes as companions — just like one would’ve done in the days before tarmac, roadside motels and flickering neon signs.

Well it appears I was 48 years too late to camp in the valley proper as it’s now an established Navajo Reservation. However I did discover that on the periphery lay a 20 mile trail into a place called the Valley of the Gods. I wikied it and was encouraged to see that it featured: a rad sounding name, public land, no tarmac and those same John Fordesque rock formations… plus they filmed Dr Who there. Sounds perfect. Lets go!



As I set up camp I wondered if some cowboy might've chosen this same spot 150 years prior to my arrival — Although our camping gear and choice of transportation are worlds apart we would've both fallen asleep to the same amazing view.

Our anxieties would be a century removed as well— While I sat there checking my iPhone calendar to see if my house insurance premium was due he would've been primarily concerned about avoiding an arrow in his neck.

Both equally as painful I reckon.



“Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.” ― Kerouac



Honestly I don’t think it gets any better than waking up to this. That night proved to me that given the right environment your own body contains more than enough chemicals to expand consciousness.



I’m not checking this place off my bucket list just yet because one visit in a lifetime is not enough for me. I’ll be back here for sure.

“there are some things a man just can't run away from.” – Stagecoach
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:56 AM   #79
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Rt 66 > Chicago > NJ

Pixar Fans will recognize this guy…



This is the •actual• boomtruck that inspired the tow mater character in "Cars". Apparently Pixar's Mike Wallace was traveling through Galena, KS in 2000 and saw this truck up against a brick wall with a tree growing through it —He thought it was the "coolest thing ever" and voila it ended up in a Pixar movie. The town of Galena is also pretty interesting aesthetically so much of its frontage inspired the town in that movie.

But for me the really cool thing about Galena is that a satisfyingly crusty original segment of Route 66 flows through it.



I really wanted to capture a picture of my bike on this spot and so I parked right in the middle of the road to frame it. As I was doing so an SUV pulled up behind me and an oldish guy with a cowboy hat and badge on his belt stepped out. I thought to myself “oh man he's going to bust me” but to my surprise he shook my hand, introduced himself as the chief of police and offered to take a photo with me in it.

"Because you never get pictures of yourself when you travel alone" he said.

He went on to say he was happy for me to stay and take as many pictures as I liked while his truck protected me against oncoming traffic.

Thanks chief of police guy, you and the rest of middle America effing rock in my book.



So on Route 66 I definitely got some kicks out of pumping the 300th gallon of fuel into the bike and traveling 12,500 miles so far — That's the equivalent of riding half the circumference of the earth, not that it actually means anything but it sounded cool to me. However I was starting to miss my record collection at this point I must admit.

So as the paraphrased (because I’m riding in the wrong direction) song goes “it’s onto St Louis, up from Missouri …”

“The illusion of danger is essential for any kind of adventure.”- Bob Cassilly — at City Museum, St Louis, MO.



I tried to follow as much of Rt 66 as I could back to Chicago but quickly realized that it’s far from coherent now — often relabeled, redirected, resurfaced or just plain MIA. I know that if I ever wanted to do Rt 66 in its purest sense I couldn’t just wing-it, I’d have to get pretty detailed directions GPSed. Oh well I was happy with parts I did find this time around.

So after relaxing briefly in Chicago with a friend I met in Alaska I set off to slab it back to New York. Rt 80 is boring but I just needed to get home, finish the house and start planning the next trip!



So after 68 days, 13,700 miles, 4 tyres, 8 quarts of oil and 337 gallons of fuel I finally rolled back into my New Jersey garage in one piece. I patted my bike to thank it, let out my customary end-of-trip “yay I didn’t die!” pronouncement, stumbled upstairs and collapsed into my sofa with a huge grin on my face.

I’d done it. I’d bloody well done it. I’d ridden to Alaska and back, experienced more than I could’ve imagined and ended up with only one regret in life:
Not buying this t-shirt when I had the chance.



• fin •
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Old 11-03-2013, 12:11 PM   #80
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Sir,
You have given us a gift of an artfully crafted story...with the photo evidence to back it up. You have filled in our blanks with your experience and visual apogees.

Muchas gracias
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:16 PM   #81
Chip Seal
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Alaska trip

Wow, excellent. Love your perspective and pictures.

....... the chief of police and offered to take a photo with me in it.

"Because you never get pictures of yourself when you travel alone" he said.

He went on to say he was happy for me to stay and take as many pictures as I liked while his truck protected me against oncoming traffic.

Thanks chief of police guy, you and the rest of middle America effing rock in my book.

This chief understands the allure of Rt 66!
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Old 11-04-2013, 04:46 AM   #82
Not the Messiah
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Hey Clinton, Congratulations on a great adventure and many thanks for a great report.
And never mind the rugby, how's about the netball? Oh, oops, I think you did us there too. Bring on the cricket then.
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Old 11-05-2013, 08:42 AM   #83
clintonl OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptrpan View Post
Your trip is very inspiring, and I'd like to go on a similar adventure. Could you put up a map of your route?
Thanks!
Hey glad you enjoyed it. I tried to put together a googlemap of the route when I got back including the more random dirt excursions but it all went pear shaped on me. I'll give it another go for you.

All I can say is just do it, do it as soon as you possibly can. I'm back working on my PITA house project now and all I can say is I'm very, very happy I went when I did.
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Old 11-07-2013, 07:49 AM   #84
r3mac
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Fantastic writing backed up by even better images.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:01 AM   #85
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Personally I'd regret buying that T-shirt lol, nice write up and pics
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Old 11-07-2013, 04:24 PM   #86
bemiiten
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Really well done! Thanks for taking us along.
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Old 11-09-2013, 09:22 PM   #87
JimVonBaden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoged View Post
Sir,
You have given us a gift of an artfully crafted story...with the photo evidence to back it up. You have filled in our blanks with your experience and visual apogees.

Muchas gracias
I couldn't have said it better!

Jim
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:40 AM   #88
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Thank you.
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:29 AM   #89
D.T.
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Great ride report!

Yay, he didn't die!


Man, these just keep getting better and better...
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:53 AM   #90
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Great report! AMAZING pictures!
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