After this trip, I now hold several new truths to be self-evident. 1. A fully-loaded DR350 does not a motocrosser make. 2. Baby wipes can do anything. 3. No matter how you shoot the photo, it looks like easy, smooth riding. 4. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, puts a finer exclamation point on a day of dual-sporting than sitting around a roaring campfire with a fine briar pipe, a bowl of fresh English tobacco, and a flask of Pedro Ximenez sherry. Magic. For a Canadian leaving cold, rainy Ontario in mid-November, roosting through the high deserts and scrambling through the deep canyons of Southern California made me feel just about like this. Ok, now for a little context. Living here in Ontario, I happen to be lucky enough to have one of my best, and oldest friends, living in sunny Pasadena, with a driveway big enough to store a few bikes. California lets me plate and own a motorcycle, so I now keep a cherry little 94 DR350S tucked away next to his house, begging for adventure riding whenever we can scrounge a few days off and a cheap flight. My buddy Wes (rinconrider) rides an F650GS most of the year, but keeps a DRZ400 for just such an occasion. We had hit Death Valley earlier in February, and this time, Wes had plotted out a interesting route. We planned to head north from Pasadena across the San Gabriels on mostly USFS fire roads, then up the western part of San Francsiquito Canyon, through the Hungry Valley OHV area, across the mountains again to the Carrizo Plain monument, through the Plains and over to the coast at San Luis Obispo, then down through the Santa Ynez valley, over west Camino Cielo, down to Santa Barbara, and then along East Camino Cielo through to Ojai, and then back to Pasadena. At least that was the plan. The last part in particular presented a few challenges. I found a cheap flight to L.A. leaving on November 4th. Turns out nobody wanted to travel Nov 4th. For me, it was great! I had a 3 hour layover in Denver, and got the chance to peruse a New York Times at the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, watching the early election returns come in. This guy kept me company with great conversation most of the evening. Turns out he was a political junkie, very well-informed about the electoral system and many of the intricacies of both local and distant state politics and races for seats in the House. I met a handful of really fascinating people while layed over here, and it greatly enhanced my experience and enjoyment of that amazing election day. I was glued to this TV for most of the afternoon. I was so fascinated, in fact, that I missed my connection to LA... so I had to return to the Puck and watch for another 3 hours, though I did get to see them call Virginia, and thus the election, just before I boarded. Bike prep the day before we planned to leave. I got sidelined with a leaking magneto cover gasket and we were scrambling to get it all prepped for early the next morning. This made my heart skip a few beats when I took off the cover. A little more involved than I wanted it to be. We got it all together and packed up, and this was about an hour into the ride, turning onto a USFS road past a locked gate just off the Angeles Crest/Tujunga Canyon road. Locked gates are no problem for little dual-sports. Taking a rest stop at the bottom of this canyon. Riding fairly challenging off-road after months of commuting took a while for us to get our legs. Unfortunately, this road dead-ended at a huge old rock-slide, which, based on the vegetation growing, had been there for years. You could barely walk through it, so we certainly weren't riding. Ah well, we'd get used to retracing our steps this trip! High up on the Mt. Gleason road. California is remarkable for both the variety of the geography, and how close it's all packed together. Hardly an hour from Pasadena, we'd already ridden through a deep, rough canyon, and were now up at 6000 ft in breezy, cool pine forests with spectacular views over towards the Central Valley. Bathroom break at a closed USFS campsite up on this road. Good thing the toilets weren't locked. The next morning, after camping in some lovely olive groves at Lake Piru. Riding back through the village of Piru the next morning, we stumbled across an open door to a fascinating chap who was doing restoration body-work on vintage European sports cars. Great find. He gave me some nuts and washers which had vibrated loose off my taillight the day previous. The many, many hammers of a body-shop guy. I think this was a late-50's Porsche 356D Classic grill from a very old MG. One of many classic, bleached, weathered buildings in Piru. Fixing the taillight outside of his shop. All bolted up and ready to go, outside the body shop.