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Old 02-08-2015, 08:34 PM   #1
antirich5 OP
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The long way across America, w/various detours

Like all good trip reports, lets start with an overview:

I've been involved with motorcycles since I purchased by first street bike at age 19 (with no idea how to ride it!). Since then, I've done some short trips close to home, a few short-term rentals in Europe, supermoto, and eventually got hooked on track days and racing; vowed never to have a street legal bike again.

Well, the racing thing started to get old, lots of friends have left. Turned 45, and wanted to try something different. Somehow came up with the idea of riding across the country. See, I love traveling, love going to new places, love motorcycles; so to me it made sense. Thought about it for a while, I though buying a bike in California would be a great way to start. Then, take my time getting back home, storing it in various places.

As cool, or unique, of an idea it sounds, I actually heard it form a track day buddy that did something like that with a BMW. Him and his wife would go on a long trip, drop it off for service, and fly back a few months later when they felt like it. Sounded awesome to me!

Another goal was to get my wife involved, as a passenger. Well, the idea first went over like a lead balloon. Despite all the 2-up trips we took pre-marriage, 16 years later, it didn't sound that great to her. My wife has lots of chronic pain and headaches, so that much time on a bike far away really scared her. I really wanted to do this trip with her, but took some convincing, along with cool photos of the California coast. Slowly, she started to come on board. A few test rides at dealerships was a big help, for modern adventure bikes are way more comfortable than my old VFR was.

Don't worry, story doesn't end in divorce or any major arguments. But it was a bit of a challenge.


Also, I put off posting this report, for I spend a lot of time reading other inmates reports that are WAY more epic than mine. Just didn't think anyone would care, for it's just

So just a precusor, you won't find any brakedowns, crashes, lost passports, stolen bikes, gun wielding bandits, $5 hotels, dead hookers, or international trouble on my report. I did experience some interesting things, and learned a lot, so take it for what it's worth. Just some guy from NJ deciding to travel way further than he's ever been, in places he's never been before.


Oh, to visually sum up my idea, here is the route that I was 'planning' on doing. Multiple trips, with stops/storage in the cities indicated:


But unfortunately, the southwest ended up being way more beautiful than expected, so this story will have some detours :-)
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:36 PM   #2
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So, my goal was to find a KTM 1190 Adventure in California, fly out, and start the trip. My personal goal was to ride the complete Highway one from San Diego all the way up to coast to Washington. Then, catch Canada Highway 1 and cross the country back to Nova Scotia, then head home to NJ. ON paper (and in my little mind), this sounded as epic of a trip possible. Needless to say, somethinngs have changed (more to come on that one).

So finding the bike in California was not as easy as I thought. Everyone wanted over retail, which I don't do with motorcycles (dont' like depreciation)

After a few months, I widen my search, and came across a 900 mile 1190 in West Virginia, which I can pick up. OK, not exactly California, but $2500 below retail sounds awesome. So maybe shipping the bike out to CA would work out, and give me some time to go over the bike/add shit.

Brought the bike home, and I'm glad I did. After some local riding, I quickly learn that i need A LOT of crap done to this bike. Luggage racks, luggage, driving lights, windscreen, new seat, iPhone set up, and more. Nothing like stripping an expensive bike down to the motor, frame and suspension!

So now I gotta get the KTM out the California. OK, this is EXPENSIVE!! Way more than I thought. After a few months of searching, I find an inmate on this forum who's heading out to Durango Colorado, and has room for a bike. OK, a bit of a detour, but that's cool. Trip is now a bit longer, but Arizona/Southern California desert should be cool. A quick visual, with SFO as the goal:



I knew the trip from Durango to San Diego would be brutal, 18 hours in 1.25 days) so I had the mrs fly out to San Diego, and I would pick here up there. This turned out to be a good idea.

A little side note about trips like this and marriage: on paper; asking your wife do something like this against her will, sounds like a bad idea, and often is. My goal was to create an epic trip for both of us, and get her back into traveling more. I knew it would be cool, but one bad headache or back pain, and it's all over. As such, I went way out of my way to make it easier on her with nice hotels, great gear, bike comfort, etc. But, it's always a bit touch and go, espcially with a wife who suffers from chronic pains and headaches. Overall, this trip was a very risky idea on many levels. I give her a LOT of credit for trusting me on this one.


DAY ONE: Landing in Durango.


OK, I just trusted my $16,000 motorcycle to someone I've never met. And, now I'm in the middle of no where (Durango Airport) with no idea where my bike is, or how to get to 'town'. Living in the northeast all my life; I'm used to an abundance of public transportation. I get out of the airport in Durango, and not only am I WAY far from town, but there's no bus, no taxis, so shuttles, nothing. Not a good start.

Oh, and the airport is basically deserted. about 1/100000 of the people that I expect to see. Kind of creepy. Outside looks more like a scene out of Breaking Bad; vast, wide open areas of nothing.

So I wait outside for a bit, thinking that maybe a cab might appear. After 20 minutes, I did see one, and made my case for a ride into town. "well, I gotta drop off this guy at a local casino, but if you can tag along; i'll make the trip into Durango". Cool, I'm in.

So after 30 minutes of driving to this Indian casino, we make it back to Durango. Driver was pretty cool; guys rides a Harley 1200 Sportster, but insists he not a 'Harley Guy'. More into the ride and scenery than leather and crap. I like this guy a lot, very genuine. We talk for an hour about all sorts of things relating to Colorado. Learned a lot.



Durango is a cool town; a bit larger than i thought, but nice. Grabbed an excellent lunch; people are friendly and open.




Bught a few things in town, got in contact with my transport guy (also named Rich), and waited for his arrival.




Lunch at a local beer pub. As expected, the beer was excellent





Chicken Slovaki in small town Colorado? And beyond tastey to boot? Who would have thought. Fries were amazing, even though they were baked, they tasted fried.




Overall, the town was fairly basic; far from the high end, show offness that you may find in Vail or Park City. But, out of nowhere, I spot an orange Lambo convertible with all sorts of graphics on it. To say it stood out was an understatement:




FINALLY, the KTM arrives. Despite it's strange mode of transportation, it arrives in absolutely perfect condition. At this point, I'm pretty happy and relieved.





Fill up in Durango, and off I go. Basically, I have very little planning; just a stop over in Flagstaff which is about 4 hours away. Unlike a lof of the adventurers on this forum, i have no route plans, no GPS, no maps, no idea what I'm doing. Just an iPhone and a Cardo headpiece.


What's with the 91 octane???


OH, forgot to mention, I have only 200 miles on this bike from back in New Jersey, and haven't been on a legal road in about 4 years. Never owned/rode a bike this size or weight. Do i care? not really

After a few hours, made it to Arizona. Very pretty scenery, complete opposite of NJ.




Just a sample of the Many mesas, buttes, hoodoos, and monuments that dotted the landscape outside of Durango. Would have photographed more, but the sun was too strong to get a good photo half the time





So one little tidbit that was a little disturbing. A asked a few people about my route to Flagstaff, which included Rt 160W. Everyone said that goes through Navajo country, and that I should "be careful, and get through Navajo country as soon as possible, don't stop for anything". When asked about details, they said "trust me, just get to Flagstaff".

Being from New Jersey, I know very little about the whole native American land issue. I'm sure Caucasians aren't looked too highly upon, considering history and what not, but I'm also a pretty good traveler and open to cultures and such. Needless to say, i didn't let it get to me.

Crossing into Navajo country was pretty obvious, but overall, didn't look all that bad to me (try West Philly or Camden NJ at night!). Had to stop at a local gas station; typical 'middle of nowhere' hole in the wall; kind of place where trouble could happen with little help for this gringo:



Well, despite the warnings, I had to great conversations with some locals. A few kids were very interested in bike, and where I was from. Cashier was pretty cool with directions and advice; all Navajo natives, and all as nice as can be. Maybe not Colorado nice, but ok in my book.

Something I've never seen before:


Had a little old Navajo lady try to ask me for help, but she barely spoke english. After some sign languange, it turns out that a HUGE liquid tank in the back of pick up was coming loose, and needed help tying it down. I though it was gasoline (which was spilling all over), but turns out to be water. Apparently, folks out there are like so off the grid, that they need to come to town to buy thier water. Again, something we just don't see in NJ, for it rains A LOT here, and wells are everywhere.

Re-tied the 1000+ gallon drum, and off I went. Lady was very appreciative, despite not being able to communicate it in English. Hopefully, this scores some Karma points, for I'm sure I'll need them


Later on, I stop at a nice Shell station in Tuba City AZ. This is in the Hopi reservation, and seems to be a little more built up (nice hotels, restaurants, but still had character). Decided to sit on the curb and enjoy a Frapachino, when a Native America lady pulled up next to me, questioned the NJ license plates. Ended up having a good 30 minute talk with her about her nation (the Hoppis) and her life in and out of the reservation. Very interesting stuff; apparently her family was interviewed back in the 1980s and was featured in National Geographic. Learned a lot about tribal life and its challenges. Very nice lady, and beyond friendly.


So overall, I'm glad i didn't listen to the folks in Durango and stopped at a few places. Really made my trip to talk to people I would normally see at home. To me, this is what traveling is all about.


Another warning I got was not to drive in Indian country at night. Very dangerous, and lots of wildlife to hit. Well, I wasn't so lucky, and night fell well before Flagstaff. But overall, no issues with danger or wildlife. Made it to Flagstaff and scoped out some hotels. All is good.


Day 2: Awake at 7000 feet
OK, My last ride was pretty warm, and driving at night; had no idea about the elevation I was climbing. The next morning at Sunrise, it was 49 degrees! Note that I only have a mesh jacket for this trip ;-)

Apparently, my bike made a friend overnight:



Flagstaff is pretty; again, arriving at dark means I had no idea. Very green and mountainous, wish I could stay longer.


So I take off towards Phoenix. I know it's going to be hot as Hell From phoenix to San Diego, so if I leave at dawn, and should be well in to California before the major heat hits. So far so good, after 2 hours, I made it to this stop on the highway just north of Phoenix:




See that smile, that is the smile of stupidity and arrogance. The 'thinking i was ahead of schedule' look was soon to be replaced with how much of an idiot I am.

Another look at the bike, See something missing?




Well, it was this; left back on the walkway in front of my hotel in Flagstaff:



So my 1.5 hour lead, turned into a two hour back track. Hotel was MUCH harder to find going the other direction, iPhone told me to F-off. Now it's 9am and I'm starving. A quick breakfast, and I'm on the road at 10am. 4 hours behind schedule Looks like I'm gonna hit a lot more heat that I planed; weather report says it'll be 102+F from Phoenix to San Diego


OK, so I try to speed it up, and now plan for a lunch in Phoenix. The right down I-17 is nice and scenic, all downhill and fast. But, as I progress, it starts getting hotter and hotter; like REALLY hot. I know Phoenix beltway traffic sucks, so I hope to get to the sound side for a lunch stop, and over to I-10. I make it to a semi-industrial area, stuck in traffic with the heat radiating off the tractor trailers around me. This sucks!

I pull off the Interstate to deal with the iPhone and a place to eat. First off, finding shade at 12:30 is REALLY tough in this area. Took a while, but found a building:



I forget why I had the tools it out, but something was loose.

Anyway, I though "man, how hot is it", well....




OK, yes, its a 'dry heat' and the shade is not that bad. We have TONS of humidity at home, and it's like zero here. But still, 108 is 108, and it's F'n HOT! Would have killed for the coolness of 101 that they predicted.


So my goal was to find a local Mexican place, thinking that would have the best food. Found a large Mexican bar that was nice enough to let my dirty, smelly self in there. Place was empty, and the waitresses were very nice. My 20 words of Spanish got me some excellent, low cost tamales, and endless amounts of ice water to fill my Camelpack. Very nice people.





OK, I'm well fed, hydrated, and on the road. Goal is the reach Yuma, so a short run on I-10 West. First off, I've lived in NJ all my life, and we have TONS of 18-wheelers on the highways, very used to them. But never have I seen so many on one highway before. Literally, the entire I-10 West was two lanes solid of large trucks heading out to LA as far as the eye could see. Soon, I'm off to I-8, and away from the trucks.

I-8 was a strange highway for me. Very empty, hot, and not much to see. As my Grandmother from Texas would say "It's just a whole lotta nothin!"

OK, now on to the heat. 108 in Phoenix was hot, but now its getting hotter. Like over 110 hot. I'm consuming a lot of water, and basically lasting about 50 minutes before I need to stop and get some shade. Fortunately, the shade is not that bad, but it's not like 2 pm, and the sun is intense. I'm buying a half gallon of water a stop, and after a while, I'm resorting to ice cubes for the helmet and jacket pockets:




This gives me a good 20 minutes of air conditioning, but that's about it.

Now I know I'm from NJ, and we rarely get over 100. But we have some God awful summer humidity; so thick you just can't breathe. I've even raced on days over 100 degrees in full leathers back home. But this is something else; it's like the air flowing over the bike is hotter than the bike's engine; and the air vents over the tank are like heaters that are always on. THere is just no escape from it, and I have 4 more hours of riding in this to go.

Fortunately, my Scala is pumping podcasts into my helmet, keeping me somewhat sane. But an hour before Yuma, but battery dies; and I start going a little mental . Need something to keep my mind focused.

OK, a side note: Yes, I'm bitching about the heat. But as I stop for water, two busses pull of, filled with migrant workers. I'm here with the Camelpack full of ice, mesh jacket, high tech cool-max clothes, and these folks are covered head to tow with heavy clothing and have been working the fields in the same heat. And they do this every day; men and women. At this point, I feel like a big wimp.


At one rest stop, I see this: 108 octane race fuel at the pump!


Sorry, just something we don't see at home. Kind of cool to me.



I finally reach Yuma, less than half way to San Diego. This town means something to me, for my dad was stationed there for a year before shipping off to Vietnam. My brother was also born there, so I've heard lot of stories. Unfortunately, not much to see from the Interstate.




OK, FINALLY make it to California. Should be a short run to San Diego and relief from the heat. Um, no.....



As I cross into California, I see the giant sand dunes on the right (very cool),




but also a wall of dusty haze that hit me (not cool). Breathing is more difficult, and it's now over 110F. Overall, this is way hotter and more uncomfortable than Arizona. WTF?


OK, not a lot of pictures at this point, cause I'm just too worn out by the heat. Been riding in 108+ degree heat since 11am and it's now 5pm, 110 degrees, hazy, and the sun is hitting me in the face. One stop at El Centro (NO SHADE!!!!), and i ham fist it to San Diego. Gotta make it to the airport by 9pm, and I'm sure traffic will be a nightmare.

By the way, sign says that it's now sea level, and hotter then ever.


Made it to the Mountains.
OK, I forget what the mountain range East of San Diego is called, but it is amazing. You're rolling along at sea level, and then all of a sudden, you go up, and I mean UP. Within 20 minutes I'm not at 3500 ft, and looking back at a vast, flat hazy desert. Yea, I know folks there are used to it, for me is was kind of surreal. Never seen an Interstate climb in elevation like that. Firtunately, the bikes outside temp is now down to 89 degrees. RELIEF!!!!!

Rest of the trip into San Diego was much nicer. Had to ham fist it, for I was concerned about time.

Make it into San Diego proper; expecting traffic nightmare for it's now 6:30 pm. Yes, there was unreal amounts of grid lock, but all of it was in the opposite direction :-) Flew into town well over 80 mph, vs. the .001mph on the other side

Overall, riding into San Diego was very nice, even in downtown. Very clean, pretty much as expected.

I had booked a nice penthouse suite in the downtown Kimpton hotel; mainly to make the mrs happy upon arrival. Three walls of windows and balcony overlooking downtown, the harbor and the mountains:





The price was only $190 (about 1/3 the normal rate). I expected a time share speech, but nope, it was just the off season. Deal of the century

When I get there, i find that my wife's flight was delayed leaving Newark. Should arrive 4 hours late: around midnight. Oh well, so much for a night out.

more to come . . .
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Old 02-09-2015, 01:16 AM   #3
zadok
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Looking good so far, Rich
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:49 AM   #4
Marc LaDue
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Interesting take on things....

...I especially like the self-analysis preceding the lack-of-bag discovery;-)
I've ridden those roads a time or two; they're awesome from the cab of an air-conditioned Freightliner as well. I used to attend the University in San Diego back in '78 & '79 and made my way cross country to Sioux City, Iowa during breaks. I'd try a different route each time; it certainly is a large country, these United States.
I also visited with a lady at the local McDonalds in Tuba City. Apparently it's in or adjacent to the Hopi Reservation which itself is surrounded by the Navajo Nation. As I was leaving town listening to an NPR broadcast talking about the latest Forbes 100 richest people in America I passed homes that resembled third world slum dwellings; what a contrast. I'll never forget it.
Good luck on the next stage,

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Old 02-09-2015, 09:29 AM   #5
foxthorn
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Originally Posted by antirich5 View Post
... I spend a lot of time reading other inmates reports that are WAY more epic than mine. Just didn't think anyone would care,
I know what you mean... some amazing reports out there.
Really looking forward to reading yours as "Epic" is different for everyone and there are a lot of way to have an adventure!
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:06 AM   #6
dksd39
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does not have to be a struggle to still be epic..and it became epic the second your wife agreed to try :) I am looking forward to following along.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:30 AM   #7
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The picture of you putting ice into your helmet is too hard to contemplate for a bloke sitting in the north west of Ireland. 'Too hot to ride'? Eh?? Last time I was out on the bike I wore so many layers you couldn't have stuck me with a knife.
Keep up the report, it's great to read.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:36 AM   #8
antirich5 OP
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Thanks for the nice words everyone.

Yea, when I planned all of this, I thought this was some huge, once in a lifetime expedition; something that others would be in owe of. Most of the people I know in my area don't ride motorcycles, and stick to cruise ships and beach homes for vacations.

Well, turns out, that group thinks my bike trip are 'interesting', but really don't get the attraction. Most tend to zone off, or just talk about how great lying in the sun in Bermuda was. Pretty boring in my book.

On the other end of the spectrum, those that do REAL motorcycle trips, see mine as pretty bland. Hotel reservations? paved roads? perfect weather? no language issues? Where's the adventure?

Well, i did return twice to the area to add onto this trip, all on my own with no real planing. Without the mrs, conditions got a little more 'adventurous'. Hopefully will earn some ADVrider proper for this noob
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:48 AM   #9
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Later on, ...I stop at a nice Shell station in Tuba City AZ.... This is in the Hopi reservation, and seems to be a little more built up (nice hotels, restaurants, but still had character). Decided to sit on the curb and enjoy a Frapachino, when a Native America lady pulled up next to me, questioned the NJ license plates. Ended up having a good 30 minute talk with her about her nation (the Hoppis) and her life in and out of the reservation. Very interesting stuff; apparently her family was interviewed back in the 1980s and was featured in National Geographic. Learned a lot about tribal life and its challenges. Very nice lady, and beyond friendly. . . .
Howdy neighbor, I stopped at that same Shell station on Oct. 7, this year, going the opposite direction that you were traveling on 160. Here's a couple of pics, I shot on that lonely road.
I stayed at the Ute Indian casino, a little west of Cortez, in the nicest $40 room on earth. I bet you passed it.
When did you take this trip? Guessing it was July/Aug. with the heat your reporting.


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Old 02-09-2015, 10:59 AM   #10
antirich5 OP
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Oh forgot, the trip was the weekend after labor day, so September 5th I believe.

They had a record heat wave hit the area, as well as the record drought, hence the temperatures. Brown was clearly the new black

Yep, I think I remember that hotel at that intersection. Looked very nice and new. Overall, was quite surprised. But as expected, there were quite a few poor isolated ranch houses off the main highway as well. Having spent some time in west Texas & West Virginia, I'm used to seeing dilapidated farm housing. Not something that's unique to native Americans only.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:32 AM   #11
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Pretty sure I was at that same gas station in Navajo country when I rode from Durango to Flagstaff. I also had no problems with anyone. Those sand dunes you rode by are also called the Glamis dunes. 100s of thousands of people on dirt bikes and 4wheelers/sand rails pack that place every Thanksgiving. Did you happen to ride up 550 north out of Durango at all?
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:38 AM   #12
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Oh forgot, the trip was the weekend after labor day, so September 5th I believe.

They had a record heat wave hit the area, as well as the record drought, hence the temperatures. Brown was clearly the new black

.

You went through there right after me. I was riding from NC to CA and riding out of Vegas on Labor day and the temp on the bike read 115 degrees. It was ROUGH. I guess you missed the rain? I was watching the weather the next week and it looked like they got their rain..everything was flooded and there was a video of water washing cars away.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:59 AM   #13
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Pretty sure I was at that same gas station in Navajo country when I rode from Durango to Flagstaff. I also had no problems with anyone. Those sand dunes you rode by are also called the Glamis dunes. 100s of thousands of people on dirt bikes and 4wheelers/sand rails pack that place every Thanksgiving. Did you happen to ride up 550 north out of Durango at all?

Yea, I saw some signs about ORVs and such, and someone later told me that it's a HUGE recreation area. Sounded cool in theory, but i was in no condition (or time) to explore. Kind of sucked, for I did a little research into the area, and hoped to get off I-8 for a bit; just didn't happen. Was also hoping to get a photo of the Mexican border, but that didn't happen either (follow up on the border patrol later on in this report)

Didn't have time to explore around Durango much, just bee-lined it to Flagstaff. I caught Monument Valley from a distance, and that looked very cool.


Funny, we had a Tyco train kit as a kid called "The Durango". Never though i'd see the actual town.
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Old 02-09-2015, 12:44 PM   #14
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Yea, I saw some signs about ORVs and such, and someone later told me that it's a HUGE recreation area. Sounded cool in theory, but i was in no condition (or time) to explore. Kind of sucked, for I did a little research into the area, and hoped to get off I-8 for a bit; just didn't happen. Was also hoping to get a photo of the Mexican border, but that didn't happen either (follow up on the border patrol later on in this report)

Didn't have time to explore around Durango much, just bee-lined it to Flagstaff. I caught Monument Valley from a distance, and that looked very cool.


Funny, we had a Tyco train kit as a kid called "The Durango". Never though i'd see the actual town.

Summer is the off season for riding the dunes so you didn't miss much, but if you ever decide to go back there, there's a place in Yuma that rents dirt bikes and atvs for pretty cheap. The guy rents the entire set up, truck, trailer, bikes, gas, everything. I'd love to go back one day. You can youtube "Glamis Thanksgiving" to get an idea of the place. You can get lost in the middle of those dunes easy. Monument valley is cool to ride through but it's really just another couple of big rocks.

Good write up, Subbin for the border patrol story lol
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:58 PM   #15
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Day 3 - Waking up in San Diego with the Mrs.
-----------------------------

Wife ended up getting in at Midnight, and cabed it to the hotel. She was a bit jet lagged, but was overall impressed with the hotel room. Didn't make up for the 5 hours of waiting in Newark airport though.

We woke the next morning with some time to explore San Diego; heading out to LaJola, then up to our hotel in Redando Beach (LA).

A note about Parking:
The hotel is downtown, and therefore has valet parking only. Obviously, the guys at the valet aren't gonna park a bike. So this one kid (who ownes and R6 and LOVED the big KTM), suggested that I park in the garage across the street, but don't pay when I leave. Apparently, the gate has a 3 foot opening, and motorcycles can easily get through. He's seen a guy park his Harley there for months, and has never paid.

I was a little skeptical, for didn't want to spend any jail time on day one. But what the heck. The next morning, I got get the bike, and sure enough; no one at the ticket booth, and enough room to get though. I pull up in front of the hotel; sans the $30 parking. The guys at the Valet game me a round of applause
I guess the Karma is coming back my way.


Last Night: COPS: San Diego, in 3-D

With a view like this outside our balcony:


you pretty much can see everything that's going on downtown. Well, last night around 10pm, i'm hearing police car after police car race through the streets. Like LOTS of them, all doing random things at various roads. Then the helicopters, one after another, all flying low with spotlights. After that, I'm seeing DOZENS of police cars going up and down the main boulevards, doing their best rendition of an OJ Simpson's chase. There had to be at least 30 cop cars and three helicopters, all after this one car. The whole circus ended two blocks away at police headquarters. Again, something we just don't see at home, even in NYC.

Turns out, the guy robbed a jewelry store, and was being chased. So rather than letting the PoPo stop him on some side street and pull a Rodney King, he makes it to Police Headquarters to give up in front of all the TV crews. Kind of smart I guess, or maybe a sign of the times, who knows. All I know is that I had a front row seat for everything, right off my 15th floor balcony


Before we head out, some limited sites of San Diego:


Very cool restored train station downtown, and fully functional. All Art deco from the 1900s:






We had a million wall buttons in our bathroom, and one of them did this:


Rather ironic that our governor shows up the second we hit the TV button, while looking for the light switch. Sometimes I wish we could turn him off that easily back home


Love this poster: so true:



This flower "Bird of Paradise" was all over the downtown landscape. It's also my wife's favorite flower, and they cost about $10 each here in NJ. Could have easily grabbed a few hundred dollars worth. Wife was impressed, for these are obviously bigger and healthier than the ones we get:



La Jolla Beach was beautiful, as expected. Don't know what kind of tree this is, but very cool:



Scored some awesome parking in La Jolla. Wife trying her best to look 'California Cool', despite the wind



OK, one thing I LOVE about California: motorcycle only parking. We just don't have this back east. One of MANY reasons why I prefer riding in California vs. New Jersey.

OK, time to leave La Jolla, and head up to LA.


The Trip to LA, and yes, I know, I was warned by everyone here.

OK, had to get to LA, wanted to see a few things and do the whole Venice and Malibu coast ride. Did it once while visiting a friend, though the wife would like it.

So we hit a bit of traffic (much of it stuck on hills going up) from La Jolla, but made it to the i-5 before 3:30. Probably to widest highway I've ever ridden on, some 6-8 lanes I think. NO problems, traffic is moving. And then it all comes to a halt. Accident? End of day traffic (it was Labor day though), no, how about:


US BORDER PATROL STOP #2
OK, I hit one of these when arriving West into San Diego on I-8. Never seen one before, we just don't have them at home and had no clue what they're about. I figured that the highway was close to the border or something, so a bit of a laugh by the cop (friendly guy), no big deal.

But this one was 5 miles north of San Diego? WTF? They stop 6 lanes of Interstate traffic and we're nowhere NEAR a boarder. I just don't get it, not to mention the HUGE show of force (weapons, cameras, vehicles, etc). Needless to say, I see where the budget goes.

This has got to a huge pain in the ass for residents of the area. I feel for you.


OK, on to LA, looking for the start of the PCH
I was warned by pretty much everyone on this form; the coastal road from San Diego to LA is not worth the trouble. Everything from 'hours of gridlock' to 'taking your life in your hands' was warned to me. But hay, the plan was to do the entire PCH, how bad can it be?

Well, I will admit, parts were pretty cool. Ran into some nice shore towns, in particular, we stopped and really loved Laguna Beach:



Kid at the Starbucks rode a KTM; lots of friendly conversation about bikes and travel. All good :-)

More funny trees at sunset



OK, so far, there's a bit of traffic and lot of lights, but the scenery was pretty cool for us East Coasters. Ocean to the left, cool art deco buildings on the right.

Well, that was all well and good until we get to Long Beach. Then, the suck started. Overall, about an hour of traffic lights, industry, check cashing stores, liquor emporiums, basically a replica of Paterson NJ. Wife's not happy, and letting me know on a regular basis (thanks Scala!). NO one's really threatening us or anything, but night and day vs. Laguna Beach. We needed to pull over, get something to drink and fuel, check the GPS, but no way that's happening here!

Then all of a sudden, it all changes; goes from rental furniture and liquor stores to a Whole Foods strip mall, in like ONE BLOCK. Amazing.

So our destination is a Crown Plaza hotel in Redando Beach, which is the nicest place in the area (and close to the waterfront). It's pitch dark now, so tough navigating it there, but we made it. Wife wasn't too thrilled at this point, but happy to be off the bike.

Place was pretty dead, a bit overly grand, and slightly pass its prime, but nice. After some friendly chit chat with the valet, he lets me park for free in the VIP spot! Even moves the giant planter over to give me some room! Cool guy:

The next morning, best parking spot ever, and the wife was happy!


Wife was also mesmerized by the giant salt water aquarium in the lobby. I think she named some of the fish while waiting for me.



The next morning I get out at dawn (learned NOT to wake her early on vacation) and head out to see what's around. I end up at a public pier across the street, for it seems to have the most activity (everything else was oddly quiet for LA). Ended up talking to this guy who's a regular at the pier:



Told me all about the fish that's out there and the local 'resident' named Gertrude that runs the place:



She's a 4' tall blue heron, that basically keeps all of the gulls and undesirable birds away from the pier. In return, the fishermen through her their scraps, and everyone is happy. The cool thing was that i was able to get about 5 feel away from her to get this picture; unheard of back home. We have lots herons in NJ, but they're very timid and don't let you get within 100 ft of them. This one was practically tame.

There were also some local Night Herons on support duty. A bit smaller, each one equidistant form each other:


Again, all within an arms reach. Better than a zoo.

I brought my wife here later that morning, as a surprise. She LOVED the whole laid back 'keeping it real' vibe of the pier and birds. They also had a crappy little restaurant on the pier that was slowly getting crowded with locals. We scored the last outside table and took it all in. Surprisingly, the coffee and food was excellent, great service, and VERY cheap. Much cooler than than the hotel restaurant. Good way to start the day, all is well.


Next up, the ride to Venice Beach, and beyond.
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