Me, the great southwest, for maybe a week - Advice welcome

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by nhbubba, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    A little under a year ago a good friend and co-worker up and relocated from here in the greater Boston area to San Diego. We all heard horror stories about rents and housing costs, so I figured the poor bugger would be living in a cardboard box by now. It ain't so. Turns out he landed a pretty sweet place not far from the beach and is loving life. He has a 2nd bedroom for a guest to crash and has been on me to visit. This yankee has never been to SoCal and wouldn't mind checking it out. I happen to need a vacation anyway.

    First thought was how much I hate rental cars. "Hey, why not rent a bike." I thought. Then "Well, hell, gotta check out the mountains, maybe make it up to LA for a day, see the place." That morphed into a hair-brained idea to spend the better part of a week touring the south west on a rental.. see my buddy for maybe a day or so. Never liked the SOB that much anyway!

    Buddy does not ride. This is planned as a straight up solo mission.

    Here's what I have for a (very rough) route plan:
    http://mapq.st/1croA2x

    Several of the 'days' are way too long and others too short. But it includes some roads I've been advised not to miss. I am seeking sport-touring type routes. Not after any off-road badassery on this one. A goal was to avoid interslab and stick to more scenic highways. I'm sure that does not make sense in a few places and I could make up time.

    I also haven't planned any down-time to see things. That isn't important, is it?! :D


    Couple things I am seeking input on:
    1) Moral or supernatural support to get off my ass and make this actually happen
    2) Rentals - I based the routes above around 'Vegas because I know there are several MC rental options there and I know I can get a reasonable flight. But I'm open to suggestion. So far, the best rental option I've seen from this vantage spot on the 'net is actually MotoQuest in Long Beach. They have BMW 700/800GS'es at not completely obscene rates. Eagle Rider out of SD also has a nice Tiger 1050 for rent on their website. But it is pricey.

    That said, rental for a week or so gets expensive fast! I've been advised that I could probably ship my own bike (V-Strom 650) out there for half the cost. I'd then have to ride it back. Route plan would change and after the four corners area I'd pick up my feet and start making long day hauls back to the North East. Sucky thing is that is a solid 3 days of hard, boring riding to get back. Not my idea of vacation time well spent.

    3) Timing - Any insight on the best time of year to do this. I'm thinking early May. That works with my work schedule and I did some spot checking using the historical data on weatherspark and the higher altitude places on that route seem reasonably warm enough by May 1. But I don't know the area at all... is May 1 too early?

    I'm gonna be disappointed if I don't pull this off.
    #1
  2. surlywill

    surlywill Adventurer

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    Lived in San Diego for years, great town. Your route leaves little time for sight seeing, but it looks good. I would drop the L.A. section and Add Zion. Let me know when you hit Prescott, might be able to show you the sights......
    #2
  3. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    Sight seeing.. isn't that what you do when you look around you, from the saddle?! :D

    Honestly not much for the tourist thing. No patience for the guided tours or whatever. But yes, the plan is not laid out well. Most of my rally points were almost random. I expect the days to fall very differently from that. I probably need to add an overnight and redistribute across the board. I need to figure out if or what I'm renting or whatever first.

    I gotta see LA man. I hear it's a freakshow. Ride 'the snake', maybe see a movie star or somethin'.

    I'm thinking 4 corners needs to fall off. My ex went out there and claims it was underwhelming.

    Thanks for the offer. Damned solid of you.
    #3
  4. TrophyHunter

    TrophyHunter Long timer

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    Is your buddy actually in SD or Oceanside? Looks like O'side from your map. Some of your route looks like it takes advantage of tree filled mtns, like Big Bear & Idylwild, etc. You have trees and mtns at home? I like to see things different from what I can see at home so I'd pop into Joshua Tree, do the loop and head south on 86 past Salton Sea, head west through Anza Borrego and up to Julian (mtn and tree loop) back east thru the Cuyamaca's and into SD.

    To each their own and you'll have a smile on your face no matter what.

    If you end up within an hour or so of San DIego, be happy to lead a route unless you wanted the complete solo thing. Also available for mechanical needs or just throw a burger and beer at you.

    And you have to know where to go in LA for the show - otherwise it's a giant city that will just swallow you.

    Whatever you do.........have fun and safe travels.
    #4
  5. Off Limits

    Off Limits Banned

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    I'd go with the ship your own bike route. Maybe even ship it home. Plus, being in San Diego, baja is 15 minutes away.
    #5
  6. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    Correct. Buddy settled in Oceanside. Forgive me for classifying that as "San Diego". From where I sit right now, it's close enough. But I realize it isn't. Probably like when the government tells me I live in the "greater Boston metro" area and I give them this: :huh


    I'm leaning ship and ride home. Lets me flatten the trip, not make a loop out of it, and leaves more flexibility. Costs less money, but will cost more time from work. ... But man, that's gonna be a long haul.
    #6
  7. TrophyHunter

    TrophyHunter Long timer

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    No prob at all, just asking due to route suggestions. Still SD County :D

    Enjoy
    #7
  8. RocknTroll

    RocknTroll Been here awhile

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    What about Toroweap Overlook instead of the North Rim?

    Seemed like a lot of smelly tourists the time I was there :lol3
    #8
  9. TrophyHunter

    TrophyHunter Long timer

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    #9
  10. Bigbugberg

    Bigbugberg Meatbucket Supreme

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    I agree about Zion. Must do.

    After Natural Bridges, head south on 261 (Moki Dugway). If you MUST do 4 Corners then do it, but the 163 through Monument Valley is waaay better.

    Down the 191 stop in at the Hannagan Meadows Lodge for a chili size!
    #10
  11. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    Thanks all.

    Drew up a map.. but mapquest sucks. It has removed all of my buddy's picks for roads in AZ and near Lake Mead/Vegas. Also it has decided to route me through Mexico! :huh

    Highlights of amendments:
    - Bypass GC south rim, bypass the whole Flagstaff area and just cut around Phoenix to Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves NF
    - North to Natural Bridges National Monument, then back track to 261 and south to Monument Valley
    - Monument Valley => best route => GC North Rim
    - GC North Rim to Zion
    - Zion to 'Vegas with diversion to Lake Mead
    - Drop four corners monument/tourist trap
    - Drop Bryce :cry



    Overall trip highlights:

    - Overnight in Oceanside CA with friends
    - Ortega Hwy past Lake Elsinore
    - Twisties east of San Jacinto (not even sure what this area is called)
    - North to Big Bear
    - South through Joshua Tree
    - Pick up slab to AZ, divert north through twisties to Prscott
    - Around Phoenix via twisties in NF's to the north (through Cottonwood, Camp Verde AZ)
    - South east to Safford AZ, north through twisties to Eagar
    - North to Natural Bridges NM
    - South through Monument Valley
    - West to GC North Rim
    - NW to Zion
    - Zion to Las Vegas via detour to Lake Mead
    - Vegas to Death Valley through Red Rock
    - Cut through bottom of Seqoia NF to Bakersfield
    - South west to twisties, hit CA coast near Carpinteria CA
    - South through Ventura to PCH
    - PCH to Moholland Hwy
    - Latigo Canyon Rd to PCH west of Malibu
    - More twists north of PCH near Topanga State Park
    - Best route from Santa Monica to Long Beach
    - PCH south to Oceanside CA


    Undecided where I am starting that whole loop. Likely either Las Vegas or LA/Long Beach. Priority things to see are in bold.

    I estimate 9 days, 8 nights.
    #11
  12. CA Stu

    CA Stu Tremendous slouch Super Moderator

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    It's called Mount San Jacinto. :D
    You are looking at riding through Idyllwild and dropping down into Banning.

    I suggest skipping the Ortega Highway and Lake Elsinore, you are looking at riding some pretty boring stuff between there and Hemet.

    Instead, I'd head west from Oceanside on the 76 to Palomar Mountain, ride up the South Grade road, down the East Grade road, over to Julian for some coffee and pie, then down the Banner Grade (78) to Yaqui Pass Rd, to Borrego, then up the S-22 (Montezuma Valley Rd) to S2, 79, 371, 74, rejoin your route at the 243.
    #12
  13. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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  14. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    Yep, that's important info I had missed.

    Chilly I can handle. Have electrics, will travel. Snow, probably not. Closed roads, definitely not.

    As I say, I've been spot checking historical weather data from the web. But I dunno the area. And 8000 ft is definitely a new concept to me.

    Thanks for the heads up.
    #14
  15. surlywill

    surlywill Adventurer

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    Been so mild this winter there is no snow anywhere. Yesterday was 70+ in Prescott. Rode 89a through Sedona to Flagstaff and had to take my jacket off. Nights can be cold at high altitudes but days are great thru spring....
    #15
  16. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    I'd cut your map in half and just do everything west and south of Las Vegas.
    #16
  17. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    You might take a peek at this thread:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=906413

    Similar area, similar time of year, except they're doing it in a rental car. Same advice applies, except they're ending in San Francicsco and you want to be in Oceanside.

    I'm with Stu: some of the stuff you have on that itinerary is positively, absolutely pedestrian (Ortega Highway, etc). That includes the whole coastal thing from Carpinteria down, Mullholland Highway and Latigo Canyon. Crossing the Sierras at Highway 178 is nothing too memorable. I see your goal is to do 33. Nice road but, not worth traveling across the country for. Skip Death Valley after May. Not even safe to traverse on a motorcycle and you'll miss all the scenery if you just cross it on 190 (the pretty stuff is along the north-south axis).

    I assume Mullholland Highway because you want to experience the Rock Store? You need to do that on a Saturday or Sunday for it to be the real circus experience. Otherwise, it's just a windy road with an artificially low speed limit (45 MPH). Latigo Canyon actually sucks. The pavement is terrible right now (did it a few months ago). Nothing noteworthy about it.

    If you insist on wanting to do that section of the Santa Monica mountains, I can give you a much better route through there with breathtaking vistas and twisties that will wear you out. We just need to figure out which way you're coming and going.

    Other parts of your trip? Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon (south approach to Flagstaff) is a beautiful ride and great road. South rim is a snooze-fest. Four corners is a disappointment (and your GPS will reveal it's in the wrong place). North Rim, Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches and Cedar Breaks are unforgettable. Lake Mead? Not so much. If you do the Utah area, don't miss Monument Valley and Mokee Dugway (already mentioned). That would be a national park if it weren't already protected Navajo land.

    Don't mean to tear apart your itinerary. Just trying to give you some feedback on where there is some high-value stuff, versus low-value. I wouldn't trade a day in the Utah / Arizona area for a day crossing Bakersfield, highway 33, PCH or Mullholland Highway. There is no comparison. Now, if you really want to do the So Cal thing, say the word and we'll get you the best, most scenic ways to see it. Just giving it to you straight. :D
    #17
  18. nhbubba

    nhbubba Internet Tough Guy

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    By all means, tear it up. I dig the input. Can't thank ya'll enough.

    Fair enough.

    Let's try this a different way: Let's say I'm going to be in SoCal for 4-5 days sometime between April 15 and May 31. I'm aiming to center my trip around Oceanside CA to visit a buddy. I'd like to be on 2 wheels and check out some interesting stuff. I'm considering flying into Las Vegas, LA, or San Diego. What should I not miss?

    I have a buddy in Phoenix. Maybe next year I visit him and tour northern AZ then.
    #18
  19. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    This changes everything. How many self-travel days are you planning? Is 4-5 your total visit or your dedicated motorcycle days?

    • San Diego is a really nice place. You could rent a car, spend your time wandering around town for 4-5 days and be perfectly happy with your time spent.
    • If you want to go to Los Angeles during that time and do any of the Hollywood tourist stuff, a car is a better option anyway (secure, less likely to be stolen / vandalized).
    • If you have 4-5 travel days and want to check off every motorcycle cliche available, that is also possible (Mullholland, Rock Store, Newcomb's Ranch, Palomar Mountain, highway 33, etc). Just FYI: if I took you on a loop through the Santa Monica mountains on any weekday, you'd ride right over "the Snake" and never even know you did it. There is absolutely nothing special about that mile of road except that there is a turnout where others can watch the carnage on weekends.
    • If you've never been to California before and want those 4-5 days to really count, give you the best motorcycle experience possible and something that will make you want to sell everything to move here, Sequoia and Yosemite.
    #19
  20. Mil T

    Mil T Been here awhile

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    4 or 5 mc days. You need to stay in California. San Diego County along with Orange, Riverside, San Benardino etc. have enough to keep you busy for sure. Especially if you take in all the MC hotspots as mentioned above. Your other big route into Utah, Nevada etc. is very ambushes and probably cannot be done and see the things your going there to see. My one big suggestion though on that route is to Skip 4 corners and take 191 down through Monument Valley into Kayenta. Theres other suggestions I'd make but not now.
    No matter what you do you will have a great time but just be very careful in So. Cal on an MC.
    Mil T
    #20