Okay, so the title can be read several different ways. But I thought starting out with humor would be good.. I've been riding a motorcycle for just over 3 years and soon after I started, I found advrider.com and became hooked! There are so many inspiring reports.. I had to.. Started out with a lot of local rides and figure out things like gear, pace and just general preferences... For the one day that I will take that big-ass ride. Last December, I took a short, brief ride to Baja. Not really a big deal since all you needed at the time was a tourist card and I was only in the area for 3 days... Not a REAL adventure trip in my opinion.. But it was a nice baby-step. Now, I'm on my way to Mexico for 3 weeks! Am I fully prepared? Probably not.. But that's part of the adventure.. To just go for it. Of course I've done a lot of my homework with some things having to be done at the last minute.. But I think I'm in pretty good shape. I got my trusty DR650 (who's name is Anna btw), proper gear and I hope, the right attitude. I haven't had a vacation in years and with especially hectic the way my business has been over the last few months, I feel I owe it to myself to have a kick-ass time this December! I planned on doing a full December trip to Mexico for several months now. Work is traditionally really slow during this time and I figured this would be the perfect time to take the month off. I have my own business that I run myself. I hired someone to take care of things while I'm gone. That was interesting.. But he was referred to me by a colleague and his credentials are very good. And he can still reach me while I'm gone.. So no real worries. I had to delay the start of my trip a couple of days due to crap weather.. But hey, I used the time to fine-tune trip preparation and get some more rest before the start. God knows work has been kicking my butt. So I left on a Tuesday at around 1pm. The last week in my town has been unusually cold, almost reaching historic lows. Heck, it was even SNOWING in downtown San Francisco! A dusting usually occurs every 7 - 10 years in the area.. But this weather came with a vengeance. So after a quick meal at my favorite local restaurant, I was on my way! At around 48 degrees, us Californians, even the ones from the North, aren't too cool with that. But hey, I'm going on vacation! I wasn't sure how far I was going to make it on my first day. I'm starting in South San Francisco.... Santa Barbara or Los Angeles.. Wasn't going to make it to San Diego cause it's just too cold and I don't want to spend all the day in this weather if I don't have to. It's about enjoying the ride after all After a while of the cold stuff, I stopped somewhere in Salinas for a cup of coffee and a short break. Anna didn't need it, but I sure did.. I tell ya, this was probably the best 97-cent cup of coffee I ever had! Yeah, it's freakin' cold! Yeah, snow-capped mountains near the California coast? Yeah, ALL over the place! Nice, no nose-hairs showing.. For once! One thing I noticed was that the California Highway Patrol was out in force today. I'd say all the way to Coalinga.. They were all over the place... But I'm not a naturally fast rider and with a DR650, it's just not very comfortable doing 90mph on it. So I settle in between 70-75mph. Once in a while I have the coppers pass me up. Taking a break when you need to or just for the heck of it is sooo important... I've done this route many times and it was time to mix things up... Like I said, I didn't need to stop.. But I needed a break.. So I did fuel up Anna far short of my usual time... And the coffee did miracles for me! I feel I finally woke up and my attitude got much better. As well as my energy level. Still cold, but at least in the right frame of mind. Remember what I said about mixing things up? Well, I had to stop in Los Alamos for some fuel.. I'd ridden by here on numerous ocassions.. So I thought it would be fun to take a quick look around. This is a REALLY cute little town! Even in the dark, I can see its charm. I definitely have to come here in the summer and spend some real time. I'd actually like to take a road-trip on the backroads from Gilroy to Santa Maria. This looks to be the main strip of Los Alamos.. Nice that they are really into the Holiday season... And for the couples.. A nice B&B.. I did my best here... But there can only be so many B&B's in Los Alamos... They were probably wondering who the creepy-guy on the motorcycle was doing taking pictures in the dark :huh Okay, so I decided on Santa Barbara.. Or more precisely, Goleta. Less than 10 miles north.. Even though Los Angeles was only about an hour away, my bike handling was becoming erratic and I was just plain getting tired. I think it's more about the cold.. I know that has a much worse effect on me than time on the bike.. But Goleta had a ton of hotels and they had plenty of services where I can get some more last-minute things done. Oh, and I gotta mention this... I was riding down highway 101. I was thinking of hwy 5 originally to save a couple hours of riding time. But the night before, I decided to call a friend of mine in Los Angeles to chat. She knew about my trip and we chatted about that amongst other things. Well, a couple of hours I left, I got a txt message saying that hwy 5 was closed due to snow! I would have been MISERABLE if I had taken the route. The traffic alone would have been HORRIBLE. So she saved my ass from hours of frustration. I owe her big-time. Thank God... Now, back to our regular scheduled programming. I need to stay on a fairly strict budget. I want to stay as close to $50/day. But because of the weather, I'm not about to camp out.. I want to get to Mexico rested and ready. I ended up at a Motel 6. One of the least expensive places I could find. $65/w/tax/night and it has WiFi I really scored! It's a really cool-designed room. No carpet which is kinda a bummer.. But I guess it's better for them to keep it clean.. And if people get busy on that bed, that mattress will start sliding off.. Otherwise, I really like the room. And it has a tub you can reall fit into. Yeah, I'm cold to the bone and that's exactly what the doctor ordered! Yes, I'm happiER! Dig the iPod looking tv mounting.. Think it was intentional? I had to take a better picture of this.. This is a really cool setup.. $65/night AND I get HDTV... Way cool. I was so proud of my packing! I have my 38L saddlebags and a large Northface duffel bag. I like being a minimalist as much as possible and combining as many things as possible.. I think I did a B+ job.. I'll know in 3 weeks My other saddlebag.. Not bad eh? I glow! Total vanity shot! I had dinner at Outback restaurant, which was totally overpriced... And spent some time at the FedEx Office doing some scanning... Yeah, I had to take care of some last minute things... But it's okay.. It's still part of experiencing Goleta.. But it was still a bit of a ghost-town.. It was way too cold for these folks! I ddn't get up particularly early... Around 7:30am. The day before wiped me out more than I thought. I got ready quite quickly.. But I STILL had some things to finish up at FedEx Office.. Dang it, didn't get on the road until 10am! This pretty much seals my fate for today.. I will not be making it into Mexico at a reasonable hour.. I want to get at least 2 hours away from the border.. Even though violence going on at the Border towns in Mexico is limited.. It will make certain people feel better that I didn't hang out there too long. No worries, one of my plans was to make leave California in two days.. So it's all good. Anna and I stop about an hour North of San Clemente which I was thinking of where I'll be staying. There's a good campsite if I decide to go that route and there are a good number of hotels too. According to my WeatherChannel.com app on my phone, it's supposedly 53 degrees.. If feels much warmer and it's a godsend! So I make it to San Clemente around 1:30pm and now I'll actually have time to hang out and check the sites. It's still too cold to camp out for me.. Like I said, I want to make sure I get to Mexico rested... But first order of business is FOOD!!! I found this really interesting looking place off the main drag... And the prices look right... But it's not open!!! In fact, it looks like they are remodeling. Bummer. The search continues... No, they didn't have food hear.. Well, at least I don't think so... I didn't go in... Really... No really... It was next to the place where I had lunch and it just surprised me that an exotic store was located in this min-mall... Really, I didn't go in... A carnitas-torta.. I found this Mexican place that wasn't a chain and looked interesting... This thing was absolutely DELICIOUS! It's really hard to get carnitas right.. This place did it! Really worth the $7.50 I paid for it and my drink.. Or was I that hungry? Whatever, it was GOOD! I like a nice menu... I think it's a family owned-built place.. They had a lot of pictures inside and I think it was the owner who came out and asked how the torta was... Nice. I shopped around for hotels.. There are many so I think I'll find a good deal. Took a while. I found this interesting place off the beaten path, but they were just rude and they quoted me a weekly rate.. When I told them I just wanted a night, I can tell it turned them off. I found this REAL dump that was $45.night. But it was to lowly for me. I mean, it looked really crappy... I looked across the street at a Budget Lodge.. I kept saying to myself that it looked too expensive for my budget.. But I thought it doesn't hurt to ask.. SCORE! The guy at the Budget Lodge originally quoted me $60/night, but lowered it to $55/night/w/tax! So for $5/night more, I got a really clean place, underground parking and the top floor of a 3-story hotel. I couldn't get a good picture of the room.. But it was HUGE. It must have been an apartment complex before... It had a SEPARATE living room! So I'm headin' out to the Starbucks down the street.. Think this look will get me some chicks? I think the bum-bag puts it all together! On my way to the Starbucks... A little chilly.. But you get moving and it's all good.. Until my next posting folks.. Goodnight!