In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Success

    A foot and a half of crisp March snowfall was enough to at least threaten our travel plans to Ireland to collect the American Long Stay visas. Luckily the fleeting 48 hour trip to the emerald isle passed without a hitch. We had a slither of time left over for a bit of sightseeing in the rain. Titanic shipyard, botanic gardens, and a stroll down the student quarter.

    So with fresh 10 year visas stamped into the books, we are free to get the hell out of here.

    We booked our flights to Los Angeles for the 26th.

    Back to the bikes, and back on the road.

    Love,
    Brucie
    29186694_939326019561744_4467014309964152832_n.png
    juno likes this.
  2. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 471

    Back at it.

    Much like a bored child finds himself fixated on the obnoxiously slow tick of the clock on a classroom wall - we counted the days til we could head back out and resume our adventure.

    We had packed our bikes and belongings up with the Lagueux family back in Los Angeles way back in late December in order to make a surprise visit to see our family and friends for Christmas. It had been our first for 2 years, as the previous ones had been spent in non-Christian nations, where December 25th was just another working day. The trip home was well worth the hassle, but the festivities soon passed and we found ourselves itching to get back out there. We managed to pick ourselves up a pair of American B1 Visas whilst home, to relieve the pressure on the timescale for this gargantuan nation. A absurdly cheap flight appeared on March 26th and we snagged it without hesitation. As such, March 26th took forever to arrive.

    After a largely uneventful 10 weeks back home we found our final week to be saturated with entertainment. First, a particularly nasty Siberian snowstorm held the whole nation to ransom with a couple feet of snow. So bad in fact it almost caused the cancellation of our US embassy interview and threatened the whole schedule of the trip. Quite dramatic, but nothing on the 40 tonne sperm whale who beached itself just a mile or two from the city just days before we were due to leave. The magnificent creature unfortunately lost it's battle and died after a day on the beach. Local people tried there best to rescue him, but he was just too big.

    I hoped the rest of the weekend would not be so eventful. I'm not a huge fan of flying and pray the day goes smoothly. We would leave early the following morning.

    When the big day finally did arrive it was not without it's dramas either. The first leg of the journey, a short hop from Edinburgh to Reykjavik was almost a no-go. I had a taken a sudden bout of light headedness and nausea, which culminated in me losing consciousness and blacking out half way into the flight. I was completely disorientated for a few moments and finally came to my senses with the whole flight crew, including the co-pilot, huddled around me. They made an enormous fuss in fear I was having some kind of in-flight stroke or fit. The truth was, the plane was absurdly hot, I had not drank any water that day, and had unwisely opted for a 1 mile run instead of an actual breakfast that morning. Very clever.

    I recovered quickly, but was assured that my episode legally had to be recorded as an 'in-flight incident' and so an ambulance and doctor had to be called directly to the runway. A team of Icelandic medics needed blood pressure readings, blood sugar levels, shining lights in my eyes and ears, and asking me to recite my name and the days date repeatedly until I could convince them I was not about to kick-the-bucket at any given second. The disembarkation of the flight was delayed and the whole plane gave me a glaring look. I'm pretty sure some of them took photos of me, likely to insert into some inane social media post, that of the disgruntled passenger. Admittedly, I was still quite queezy when they set me free from the ambulance. I did however get a free sugary drink, so the whole circus was worth it.

    What wasn't worth it however, was the recommendation issued that I should not be boarding the connecting flight. i.e no going to America, no refund, and the next similarly priced flight being 2 weeks later. Not good. The flight was due to leave in 45 minutes and as far as we could tell, I wasn't boarding - My complexion was just a little too grey to allow it.

    "Maybe you should just go yourself so we don't lose the whole ticket price?" - I suggest to Kyla.

    "Don't tempt me." - She grins. Kyla has a knack of seeing the bright side in all of my failures and misfortunes.

    It was not a nice feeling being stuck in the airport, not allowed to proceed with your travel plans. They wouldn't even let me take a flight home. We were stuck, and it was a really low moment. Kyla called ahead to Jef in LA and broke the news. It wasn't looking good.

    Isn't it strange how seemingly random events can coalesce into a linear storyline. Remember that storm that threatened the US embassy trip? Well, the aftermath of it resulted in extremely intense rain backed by category 2 winds, moving across Northern Europe. One of the storm systems made landfall on Icelands coast at 3.15pm, about 30 minutes before our plane was due to depart. The result? Well... A 5 hour delay of all departing flights from Keflavic airport.

    Every single person in that airport was depressed, stressed out and frustrated... Except for me. I could use my 5 hour window to eat, drink and even nap on the terminal floor. My body soaked up the nutrients like a dry sponge in water. I got my colour back, and although still unwell, I could convince the world that I was good enough to fly. They agreed. We were saved.

    Los Angeles; Here we come.

    Love,
    Brucie


    29595554_947183615442651_5251319548720178776_n.jpg

    29355069_947183662109313_8760274948237255840_o.jpg

    29595466_947183618775984_5280020738874840222_n.jpg

    29665425_947183638775982_6594347296490585871_o.jpg
    BillUA and juno like this.
  3. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 474

    Reunited.

    The second leg of of journey was not as eventful as the the first. We touched down at LAX at about 10pm, some 4 hours and 45 minutes behind schedule, with all of the passengers this time managing to retain consciousness for the duration of transit.

    Our shiny new visas went down a treat with the US border control and we were free to take our first steps of 2018 on foreign soil. Not including a brief stint in an Icelandic ambulance earlier that day of course.

    Jef picked us up from the airport and shuttled us back to his place, via picking up his 2 boys on the way back. Turns out the kids had spent the whole day vomiting over each other in their grandparents bathroom after a dose of bad Chipotle, whatever that may be; Some kind of notorious Mexican fast food place I have since been informed. Note to self: Avoid in future. The ride home was quite a reserved affair, with myself and the kids slumped in the back of the car periodically heaving and groaning with every lump and dip in the road. Kyla and the others had a grand time up front, none of them having been struck down with such... unpleasantries.

    To be reunited with the bikes again is an incredible feeling. Having been so intimately attached to a machine for so long, and then to not see them in weeks is a strange sensation. Those machines are our life. Our transport, our homes, they are the ground in which this entire story has bedded itself. They looked majestic glistening in the beams of Californian sunlight that ventured into Jefs garage.

    It has been said that jetlag doesn't affect you as much when you travel West, but experience tells me otherwise. I'd rather a few days living the American suburban life before we fire the bikes back into action. Such luxuries are few and far between to those who live on the road. More importantly it gives me time to watch the climate charts, and plan this next North American leg of the trip properly. So, with an enormous paper map sprawled across Jefs living room table, and council of curious minds, we are ready to turn this American leg into a reality.

    So, any tips for the USA/Canada?

    Love,
    Brucie


    29872064_948599288634417_5945868643506770547_o.jpg


    29664733_948599295301083_1489817006489254086_o.jpg

    29744676_948599285301084_9211553212870319888_o.jpg

    29982990_948599361967743_8010640387669492489_o.jpg
    SLUGGO, BillUA, juno and 1 other person like this.
  4. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 478

    The City of Angels

    I really can't quite convey how great it feels to be swept back up by life on the road. Returning to Southern California is as stark a contrast to Scotland as could ever be. After a particularly rough winter back in the Old World it has been like walking on alien soil with the consistent powerful rays of the desert sun constantly harassing our pasty skin.

    I feel that being on the road comes with a certain duty, which is to make a concious effort to immerse yourself in the most extreme and polarising environments possible. In Southern California that environment exists in downtown LA, and we had not yet actually ventured into the city proper.

    It's strange how somewhere can seem so familiar to you in spite of the fact you have never been there. The City of Los Angeles truly has no equal in when it comes to it's ability to project it's own image across the world. Hollywood has pumped images of LA into my home for decades, allowing me to grow familiar with a place where in fact every aspect of the ground level setting is different from home; The huge suburban vehicles that cruise enormous 7 lane highways. The bassy roar of V8 muscle cars to the backdrop of distant howling sirens. Yellow schoolbuses filled with kids who need not wear successfully identical uniforms. Every possible physical space to advertise something has been utilised, usually for fast food. We have Latino guys in lowriders, black guys in tinted window Cadillacs, millionaires, drug addicts, suburban families, soccer moms, the LAPD, hipsters, good guys, bad guys, cops, robbers... it sounds silly, but SoCal looks exactly like it does on TV. Exactly.

    What I wasn't expecting however was the proximity of the extremes that the city has to offer. I have never in all of my travels seen such luxury and such squalor so close to each other.

    A look over the regional map shows how a short one day cruise around the City of LA will take you from the skyscrapers of downtown and the multi-millionaire, and even billionaire, occupied mansions of Beverly Hills, out to the ghettos of Compton and South Central within a short ride. Skid Row, one of the most destitute areas I have ever encountered in North America, where the residents live permanently in cardboard boxes, sits proudly to the backdrop of the sparkling lights of the high rise building of downtown. We seen Skid Row at night, there's no other way to put it, it's not a nice place, the very air feels heavy and desperate, and the State of California should not be proud of it's existence.

    Other areas of the city like Venice Beach and the boardwalk have a kind of European feel to them, a kind of liberal blend of Amsterdam and the Costa del Sol. The beachfront boardwalk is strewn with vendors and buskers who hope to snag a days wages from the tourists. Stalls of plasticky sunglasses, handmade shell necklaces, caricature drawings, fridge magnets and various other trinkets which exist only to sit on a kitchen shelf back home and collect dust. The whole strip is of course extremely cheap and tacky, but it's absolutely essential for any visit for the LA area. The highlight being Muscle Beach, where standards have seemingly slipped a fair bit since those golden days of the early 70's and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The day we went we were met only with 3 bodybuilders, disappointingly in the form of 2 men with enormous beer bellies, and a third being a regular shaped guy who made a peculiar screeching as he squeezed out poorly executed bicep curls.

    But i'd still recommend a stroll down Venice Beach to anybody.

    The rest of the day was filled with the usual American antics; an extremely calorific portion of Chicken n' Waffles from a place called Rosco's, sugary drinks, and general behaviour consisting entirely of consumption and excess. No regrets.

    Los Angeles, there's certainly nowhere quite like it.

    Love,
    Brucie

    P.S Had to steal a couple skyline shots to accompany the post under fair use policy, all rights reserved by original content owners and photographers!

    30624179_952978664863146_8767407472508928000_o.jpg

    30571896_952978864863126_9062138440576925696_o.jpg

    30629953_952978954863117_8708067177850208256_n.jpg

    30531531_952978898196456_554959050802987008_o.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 1 other person like this.
  5. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 483

    Desert Camp

    Before we set off on any new chapter of the trip we are always sure to make a small precursory jaunt to test our camping setup. Almost 30,000 miles of pan-Asian off road exploration had expectantly left a lot of our camping kit quite beat up, the rest of it was cheaply acquired after we were robbed in Crescent city late last year. So we were well due an overhaul and round of replacements.

    Jef, who's house our bikes had lived in over winter, devised a worthy solution, a joint 4 day camp trip around Californias Badlands and the Southern Desert. We packed our gear and hit the road.

    I could quite easily write an entire book about my sentiments for the desert. All deserts on this earth harbour similar qualities as far as I can tell. Desolate, hostile, challenging, frustrating - and yet, all are beautiful without exception. The Mojave seems no different. Jef proposed a 3 night/4day round trip to a see a few interesting points with no major offroad sections. We packed our gear, and headed into the aridity of the great Southern Mojave.

    Our first nights camp took us to a place called Giant Rock, which was satisfyingly the site of an impressively giant rock, under which a German immigrant had once lived in a home he had carved into the stone. It should have been a happy ending, but he was blown up with dynamite by the FBI in 1942. The place later became a meeting point for UFO enthusiasts and has since become a hotspot for campers to come and shoot guns and ride dirt bikes without the harassment of law enforcement. During the night we were kept awake by the heat and dry air, but when we eventually did drift off to sleep we were swiftly re-awoken by the firing of machine guns by fellow campers in the not-too-distant area. There were probably more than 500 shell casing cast about our camp spot.

    The following day, feeling the effects of little sleep, we continued SouthEast into the small desert city of Palm Springs for supplies and then further South into the Anza Borrego wildlife reserve. Mush of the area lies in a natural bowl and the temperatures begin to rise and drop rapidly as you move up and down the various peaks and basins of the landscape. As with everything in the USA it all exists on a larger scale. The roads coil over and between the mountains which are truly just colossal rock piles. We saw the mercury hit 38C/101F at one point, a scary number considering this is still only the first week in April.

    The seconds nights camp was eventful enough to warrant it's own feature length film. Our route had us set up somewhere trackside of something called the Rockhouse Truck Trail, a small dirt track not too far from a small abandoned building with a simple but bold graffiti statement; 'Dead Body Inside', just East of a marker on the map that bluntly read; 'Hellhole Springs'. By the time we had set up an extremely powerful wind had formed shortly after sundown and threatened the integrity of the tent. Once I had managed to overcome the anxiety of the tent poles snapping we was able to eventually drift into to a much needed sleep. Around an hour later I was abruptly awoken once more, this time by one of the more sinister residents of the desert, certainly a little more potent than drunk rednecks firing guns.

    A rattlesnake.

    There is something quite primal about being awoken in the night by a venomous snake in the dark. This one was rattling itself quite vigorously just 5-10 feet away from the tent amongst some thorned desert shrub. I've heard rattlesnakes a few times before, but am yet to see a wild one up close. At 3am in the pitch black of the desert night I decided it was not the time for a first encounter. I woke Kyla to make her aware of my truly heroic decision to cower in the tent and avoid such beasts. Luckily we escaped any further dramas and aside from 3 or 4 further episodes of increasingly distant rattling, the snake was not heard again. The interruption lead to another poor nights sleep. Unfortunately mother nature had not quite deployed her full arsenal yet as we woke up to a swarm of bees in the camp who had taken a liking to the leaky cap of Jefs 5 Gallon water tank.

    I search for some solace we used our last day to head Eastbound towards the Salton Sea, a huge lake in the desert made entirely by the breaking of a levy and the unhindered flow of the Colorado river into a nearby basin for over 2 years. The end result is an entirely artificial oasis among the otherwise cracked and rusted landscape - but nobody said an oasis had to be a paradise. The Salton Sea is perhaps one of the most disgusting entities on this Earth - or certainly that I have encountered. A cesspit of pollution, agricultural run-off, household sewage and a salinity twice as high as the Pacific Ocean. When caught downwind the stench from the water saturates your senses and is truly unbearable. Worse still are the intolerable hordes of flies who pester you from sunrise to sunset. The lakeside beach is littered with the decomposed bodies of dead fish who have succumbed to the toxicity of the lake, the smell of rotten fish in baking sun is but one of the many grotesque realities of this ecological nightmare. It is truly a terrible place.

    The greater area around the lake is not terrible though - quite the opposite truth be told. We made our way out towards the Eastern side of the lake and through a scattering of ghost towns and abandoned trailer parks lies a few very unique settlements. Slab City, the last free place on earth, where hippies, drifters, and travelers alike have homed in on since the 60's to live an unrestricted and off-grid life. It's a kind of ramshackle job-lot of caravans, abandoned cars and shaky timber sheds. Like much of the desert, the whole town is bleached in the sun with summer temperatures of 48C/120F. It is a true enclave of anarchy, and although there is no active law enforcement, the town seems to exit largely peacefully. It is a fascinating place, all neatly capped by the the Salvation Mountain, the exotic decoration of a nearby hillside with various hay bale and telegraph pole constructions all dedicated to the love of Jesus Christ. All built by one man over 28 years. The town even served as the home of my namesake; Christopher McCandless, the ill-fated adventurer and extremely distant relative, after which the book and 2007 movie 'Into the Wild' was created.

    By the fourth day it was time to return to civilisation and take stock of what the trip had taught us. The heat of the mid-day sun almost killed me, I slept terribly, the tent was battered, and the wildlife was aggressive. I was even spattered with burning hot mud which sprayed from a miniature geothermal mud spring. Our camp gear does need a review, we are missing some vital components for sure.

    More importantly though, it solidified my feelings about the desert as whole.

    Desolate, hostile, challenging, frustrating... but beautiful without exception.

    Love,
    Brucie

    30652369_953822528112093_2287079164680863744_n.jpg

    30697757_953822601445419_4228960894270308352_o.jpg

    30629003_953822568112089_3320300501978841088_o.jpg

    30698651_953822624778750_8666220426722017280_n.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 2 others like this.
  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 488

    2nd Amendment.

    Bags packed, bikes primed and route set; there was only one thing stopping us from hitting the road.

    Guns.

    In a bid to make his farewell truly memorable, our host Jef and his brother Josh, had organised a day out to the wastelands of the Mojave high desert for a days shooting with some well armed locals.

    Guns are to America what kilts are to the Scots, Ice Hockey to the Canadians, or indeed Vodka to the Russians. They are the emblematic stereotype by which the identity of this nation can be suitably defined. Discharging a firearm is perhaps the quintessential American experience.

    We arrived at the desert rendezvous early, around 7am somewhere West of the small city of Barstow. We waited around 30 minutes and took the time to let the cold nights air warm itself in the new sun. Some pickup trucks showed up with a group of heavily bearded and tattood men inside who escorted us even further into the wastelend until they settled on a suitable spot to set up.

    And what a set up it was - from the locked pickup beds they produced an impressive arsenal of kit. 5 high calibre long range bolt action rifles, around 10 various semi automatic rifles, a few shotguns, a whole table of pistols, and a spread of other miscellaneous small arms. I'm not sure how much of it was still legal in the state of California with its ever evolving regulations, but I can assure you the answer was probably not 100%. It was an impressive collection, and only around 10% of what the guys had at home. Honestly, I felt like a kid at Christmas.

    Square cut sections of 1/2" steel plate and a few other spring activated targets were set up on the near by hillsides. Josh and one of the guys took off in his truck to set out 2 long range targets, one at 730 yards and another at 1130 - about half a mile away.

    They guys revealed themselves to be Be Tod, Matt and Cisco, 3 guys from Southern California who's passion was obvious, to collect and shoot guns - but rest assured, these guys are no rank amatuers. Before we loaded a single live round Cisco made a point of stripping an rifle down to the bare bolts and reassembling it in front of everyone to make sure we knew exactly what happens when the trigger is pulled. I have had moderate experience with guns by ways of various clubs and event days back home, and so knew how to load and fire one safely. Kyla on the other hand who had grown up in Johannesburg, South Africa - a city immersed in a dangerous gun culture, and yet she had never fired a single round herself.

    We spent the best part of 8 hours firing everything that was on offer. Gradually working our way up the calibres. I took a particular liking to a .300 Win Mag long range rifle that allowed me to hit the 1130 yard target 4 times in 5 shots. There were a few others too that seemed to agree with my frame and stature. One of the AR15s was heavily accessorised with sights, lasers and grips which I feel would give an overwhelming feeling of confidence should the zombie apocolypse ever come about. You really could hit alot of targets quite easily with that thing, and with all opinions set aside, it is an incredible piece of engineering. Shooting leaves you with a fuzzy sense of achievement too; there's something about hitting a square foot target a half mile away with a tiny projectile that's oddly satisfying. It's no mean feat either, taking into account crosswinds, and the fact that over that distance the bullet drops 10 feet or so. It's a very involving hobby for sure.

    Kyla had went from firing a small .22 beginners rifle at 8am to sending out enormous .338 Lapua rounds by 2pm. The girl clearly has a knack for it, hitting the furthest target 5 for 5, besting even the guy who in fact owned the rifle. We scratched it down to beginners luck.

    There's no away around the politics of guns however. Whilst taking a small lunch break at mid-day the conversation moved over to the 2nd Amendment and it's suitability today in 2018. These guys were fierce proponents, passionate about their art, and they made an excellent case for the 2nd Amendment to be upheld. The recent spate of school shooting in the USA, one of which we had seen the aftermath of in Las Vegas has done little to sway the lawmakers or indeed the majority of America as a whole.

    My opinion on the matter was once fluid, but has since been solidified. America has passed the point of no return when it comes to gun ownership, the fact is that with over 300 million guns in private hands in the USA, you don't want to find yourself to be the guy who doesn't have one. Gangs have them, criminals have them, the police have them, your neighbours have them, and by the measure of common sense you should probably have one too, and pray you never need it. As for reversing gun ownership, well, how could you ever give up your gun without those others giving up theirs first? I certainly wouldn't. Nobody would. The painful solution is that either nobody has them, or everyone has them. This is a simple fact about how rooted gun culture is in the USA. It was excellent to have a passionate and intelligible debate on gun ownership right here in the USA, it is perhaps the single biggest talking point right now, truly the narrative of the nation.

    Our day out with the guys was great fun and a perfect send off from our time here in Southern California. Once again we had shared an intimate slice of America with its native folks. It's something you really couldn't put a price on, quite fitting really, as the guys would not take a penny from us to spend the day with them, use their guns, fire all their ammunition, and destroy all their targets.

    Not only did their kindness leave a lasting impression on me, but it left a physical one too, as a tennisball-sized bruise appeared on my upper right arm the following morning. Likely from firing a whole magazine of 3" 12 gunge shells in about 4 seconds from a funky Russian manufactured automatic tactical shotgun. It truly kicked like a mule.

    Tomorrow we head North.

    Love,
    Brucie

    31562348_961061157388230_1033703709369958400_o.jpg

    31416769_961061194054893_5971759233148911616_o.jpg

    31396656_961061817388164_9018696912257155072_o.jpg

    31369719_961061254054887_3247748621629652992_o.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 4 others like this.
  7. forgorin

    forgorin Stuck in Japan

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Japan
    Green with envy! Glad to hear you guys are back on the road! Can't wait to read what you guys get up to next.
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  8. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,165
    Location:
    Jupiter
    thanks for the updates Brucie! I have not been on in a while and I am glad I caught a recent post. Great to see you two back on the road and ready to hit more of North America!
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  9. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 497

    High Sierras

    Selecting an appropriate window in which to tackle our projected route leaves little room for error. From our initial location in Southern California we had etched a vague path through some of the highest peaks and most imposing terrain that the continent has to offer. Embark upon this journey too early and you'll be met with sub-zero temperatures, snowstorms, and impassable routes. Leave it too late and the sheer distances required will become a burden and the goal of reaching Northern Alaska before August becomes unattainable.

    We selected this final week in April after careful consideration. In fact, most experienced travellers in the states had told us to wait til mid-May before setting off on such a perilous journey, but we decided we'd rather find ourselves ahead of schedule than behind. After all, it's a whole lot easier to slow down than it is to speed up.

    So wit the Mojave Desert growing hotter and dryer with every passing minute, we said our goodbyes to sunny So.Cal and pointed the front wheel Northbound, directly towards the Eastern rim of the Sierra Nevada. A string of very high peaks that run down the length of Central California.

    Now, if there was ever a living advertisement for a motorcycle adventure then our initial ride North from LA was surely it. You see, I believe that it is only via the exposure that two wheeled transport affords you, can you feel the hot dusty Southern air slowly transform itself to the crispness of the mountainous North. With every passing mile you can actually taste the air freshen, unburdened by the dust that hangs within it down in the desert climes. I have always preferred the vitilising breath of a colder sky, it doesn't sap the life from me like dry, hot, or tropical air does.

    Our route took us right to the base of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states of the USA. We found a campground close to the Whitney trailhead and pitched under a juniper tree with the tent door facing the spectacular view.

    We didn't know it when we arrived, but the footprint of Mount Whitney is a bit of a hotspot for things of interest. A range of small but uniquely formed foothills known as the Alabama hills was just a 10 minute walk from our camp where almost every wild western movie was shot during the days of the silver screen. We done a touch of hiking too around something called the Mobius Arch, an archway of sandstone, creating a window that perfectly frames the summit of Whitney.

    The following day took us deeper into the Northern reaches of the Sierras, where the air grows colder and the scenery gets considerably more dramatic. We made a few nights camp along the Eastern edge of the range and every time found ourselves impressed by the sheer density of impressive feats of nature on offer in such a small area. There are deep canyons, creeks, rivers gorges, cliffs and just about anything else you could ever want from a road trip. We made a short detour to the East to see Methuselah, crowned the world's oldest tree - an ancient Bristlecone Pine dated to 4,845 years old. Just think, it was seeded hundreds of years before the Egyptians even started stacking stones. Amazingly the tree is unguarded, you can walk right up to it and touch the massive twisted and contorted trunk. The limbs are more like writhing tentacles than branches and his huge presence on the hillside commands respect - as such, there is not a single scratch nor word of graffiti anywhere near by.

    A little further North something strange happened in the small town of Big Pine. Whilst Kyla ran into the towns only General Store she saw something very rare for us; a face she recognised. It was Lisa Morris, a rider on her own round the world motorcycle trip, with her other half Jason, who we had met very briefly 7 months previously in Vancouver while we were staying with the Vondruska family awaiting our bikes to be freighted from Russia. They had popped in to say hello just as we were just leaving to say goodbye. Now over half a year later we had unknowingly reunited in the same store searching for camp supplies. After a brief chat we realised we were headed in the same direction and so spent an evening at camp with them at the nearby Grandview campground, before parting ways the following morning. They would make a highway dash East to pick up some parts, whilst we would spent the following day crossing knee deep puddles on the Silver Canyon Trail.

    What was an excellent random crossing of paths.

    Further North into the mountains lay the June and Mammoth lakes; postcard perfect sapphire meltwater seated in the valleys between the seriously imposing peaks of the Yosemite National Park. No matter how hard I tried, it was just impossible to suitably capture with a camera just how inspiring the views truly are in this part of the world. If California is the jewel of the USA, then Yosemite must be the jewel of California itself. Add this one to your bucket list immediatly.

    As it turned out the advice of those who urged us to wait a few weeks until mid-May, unsurprisingly turned out to be correct. We camped 3 nights on the rim of the Yosemite range and all 3 dropped well below freezing as soon as the sun dropped behind the horizon. We had to abandon one camp spot at 8,500ft because snow started to blow through just prior to sundown. Many of the higher passes remained closed to due to heavy snow cover and the forecast suggested it would be a few weeks yet before anything changed.

    So then, just as foreseen. It's better to be an awful lot early than a little too late.

    Next up; Area 51.

    Love,
    Brucie

    20180427_172808.jpg 20180427_101600.jpg 20180425_155547.jpg 20180429_145827.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 1 other person like this.
  10. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 499

    Area 51

    After our week long and immensely fun time in the Sierra Nevadas we were due a sharp right turn Eastbound into actual Nevada. Everyone from shopkeepers, to museum guides, to the little lady at the sandwich stall had told us pretty much the same thing;

    "There's nothing to see in Nevada, just fly through it and you'll be glad the day is over." - Says the portly Shell Garage man.

    For most people, perhaps myself included, Nevada is just the place where Las Vegas happens to be. The terms 'Vegas' and 'Nevada' are often used interchangeably and for many folks, Nevada actually is Las Vegas. We had been given a chance to see the rest of the state, so we chose to take it.

    We felt we were off to a good start. In just the first 60 miles we had already hiked into the mouth of a shattered obsidium glass crater and then explored a set of surreal bloated crystalline growths known as the Tufa. These are towers of calcium that grow from the bed of Lake Mono. They looked like something that should be dripping from the ceiling of a cave rather than protruding from this hyper-saline desert lake. The water here is almost 3 times as salty as the Pacific, I can attest to that, becase I tasted it.

    But alas, if you consult a map you will see that these wonders lie just inside the California boundary, we were not in Nevada just yet. But things still looked ok - as we approached the state line the road weaved and dipped it's way through a gentle valley. We saw some deer, some abandoned cabins, and even a protected forest area.

    And then we hit Nevada.

    Amazing really how the change can be so stark. The valley starts to widen into an open plain. The trees thin out, becoming smaller and more pathetic, until they fully devolve into shrub. Any interesting specimens of wildlife of any appreciable size are replaced by flies and small grey moths.

    Nothing really changes for the best part of 200 miles. Sometimes you'll see a fuel station, or maybe a string of a telegraph poles to keep you enrtertained for a while. A car in the opposing lane might pass every 40 minutes or so, usually giving a cheerful wave, almost acknowledging the sheer absurdity that simply seeing another vehicle has been the highlight of the last hour. The stretches of road are flat and long. I was having vivid flashbacks of the Kazakh steppe all over again.

    And then, almost as if it had fallen out of the sky and crash landed into the wasteland, sits the town of Rachel, Nevada. Population somewhere around about 50, it's not really a town at all. It's a small building that houses a cafe/bar, a weather station that reads background radiation, and then a chaotic mess of broken down trucks, motorhomes, trailers, and portable septic toilets.

    When approaching from a distance it all makes little sense. There is no junction here, no meeting of paths, no fuel station, no crops grown, no real facilities of any kind - but upon closer inspection it all starts to become clear.

    The town of Rachel sits right on the perimeter of the Nellis Air Force Base, which famously houses Area 51. The cafe, serving as one of the only buildings in Rachel not actually on wheels, is decorated in as much plastic alien memorabilia as possible and it's existence is sustained almost entirely by UFO tourism. They offer free camping round back and cheap microwave burgers til 8pm. The tackiness of it all is just too appealing, we were sold. We pitched our tent and ordered a couple of 'World Famous Extraterrestrial Burgers for $6.95 a piece. The evenings entertainment was courtesy of the air base itself. We watched 4 jet aircraft successively break the sound barrier and make a series of impressive flight formations directly overhead. Truth be told it was better than I had seen at many airshows.

    We met a few of the residents of Rachel. I can assure you every single one of them has something wrong with them. One old man constantly asking his enormously overweight golden retriever non-rhetorical questions as if one day it may actually answer him. Another one would ride in endless circles on a quad bike with a small terrier strapped to the back. A thin brittle looking older lady who just seemed to constantly stare at me from a maintained distance of about 100ft, no matter where I went. But it was the young lady who served us our E.T burgers who got to me most. She seemed to have a more heart wrenching tale. A pretty young thing, with scars and marks all over her skin and a twitchy nervous disposition, she seemed so unsure of herself, rarely making eye contact or uttering a sentence longer than a few words. If I were to take a guess i'd say she was running from something, and this place is most certainly one where you would not be found. Her day would be a series of passing encounters with tourists and truckers stopping over to break up the monotony of the landscape. She has become one of the few permanent figures in this very temporary place. I find that very sad.

    We were awoken early the following morning by the almighty crack of another sonic boom. I guess the USAF don't care about the sleeping schedules of the townsfolk of Rachel. The early rise was welcome though, as it meant we could make way through the bleakness of remaining Nevada and get to our next port of call; Utah.

    Love,
    Brucie

    FB_IMG_1525926041119.jpg 20180429_163516.jpg 20180430_112754.jpg 20180430_190134.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 2 others like this.
  11. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 500

    500 days. Wow. That's quite the milestone. Strange, I can barely remember what I did yesterday, or in what order the events of the last week have unfolded, and yet I can remember every last microscopic detail of Day 0 - The day before the trip began. The last 'normal' day I have had for a long time. I quite clearly recall being sat at the living room table looking over a world map. I remember making what I believed to be well informed guesses as to where we would be on the milestone days like 100, 200, 500 etc.

    "Where would be on day 500 do you think?" - Kyla asked.

    "I'm pretty sure we'll be in Southern Africa by then." - I probably believed it at the time.

    I was only about half the planet away... A near miss.

    I said it at day 100, and 200, 300, 400... and I'll say it again to anyone who is still listening to this broadcast 500 days on; An extended period of life on the road is truly the greatest modern experience you can ever hope to have. And it's so simple; it's not expensive, it's not stressful, it takes almost no planning, and the drawbacks are incalculably small given the scale of the adventure you will have.

    Most importantly it's available to anybody.

    We have met old retired couples in their late 70's travelling full time in motorhomes. I've seen young couples spend 6 weeks in the back of a tiny shop van. A German couple with 4 children living and teaching on the road. A Frenchman who retired to the road to his handcrafted 1962 fire engine camper conversion. I met a young Italian who was walking 7,500 miles from Mumbai to Rome. A Dutch teenager cycling from Holland to Bangkok. A Hungarian guy on an 3 week adventure getting completely lost in the wilderness of his own country, no more than even 100 miles from his own home. A Polish girl motorcycling accross half the planet alone. I met a man with no legs and partial use of his left arm drive a modified Jeep accross Asia for 3 years and counting. Old, young, experienced, clueless, rich, poor, anyone... everyone... ourselves? We are no different, just 2 regular folks living life however the wind takes us, by ways of a pair of weather beaten dirt bikes.

    Countless people, from countless walks of life, all united under the same random and chaotic process of life on the road.

    It doesnt matter if you are in it for 10 years or 10 days, just trust me;

    Go do it.

    Love,
    Brucie

    IMG-20180509-WA0000.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, Lupin 3rd and 10 others like this.
  12. LightningBoy

    LightningBoy Waiting at the Crossroads

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    Oddometer:
    4
    Location:
    Sussex, UK
    Hi Bruce & Kyla,

    Just catching up - much like Juno I've not been on here for a while - I was beginning to wonder whether you were prefering a sedentary life in the frozen northern climes of our little island rather than blatting around this fascinating planet of ours on a couple of trail bikes and posting your keenly observed witterings on here for us to all enjoy :-)

    Looking forward to some more updates of your travels.

    Stay safe, have fun and keep up the good work.
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  13. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Thanks Lightning Boy, glad you are enjoying the report. It's great to be back on the certainly, but you know I quite like taking the intermediate breaks in between. It makes you appreciate the freedom of the road so much more.
  14. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 507

    Utah I

    Escaping the mind-numbing bleakness of central Nevada was welcomed with open arms by the time we hit the Utah state line. Our ride had taken us through a couple more back-country desert towns that were little more than specs of dust on the map. Crystal Springs and Caliente, Nevada were little more than a cluster of timber framed homes, a general store and a local bar. These small American towns are as charming as they thought provoking.

    "What do people do here? So far from anything." - I can't help but wonder.

    I'm starting to believe that Americas state lines are largely governed by the changing landscape. No sooner do you meet the 'Welcome to Utah' sign do you start to see the landscape transform again. Each of the states have a tagline, Utah has opted for Utah: Life Elevated.

    Sure enough, you undertake a gradual climb as you venture deeper into the states interior.

    This is our second run at Utah, the first time we passed through in late November and were hastily turned back by daytime tempretures as low as 13F / -11C. This time around we assumed early May to be safe, but the American West assures us yet again of its inhospitable nature. As our elevation creeped up from 5 to 6 and then over 7,000ft we found ourselves in the cloudline. We expected rain, but instead were treated to a heavy round of hail. I quite like a good hailstorm -amidst the constant threat of snow and rain, it's quite pleasant to be met by their forgotten cousin. The good thing about hail of course is that it doesn't soak you, it just bounces off. It makes a strange sound on the helmet as you ride into at 60mph. It really echos through your head.

    That same cloud hung about for 48 hours and we were forced to take cover in a cheap downtown motel in the charming town of Cedar City for 2 days to let it pass.

    By the third day, the sky eventually revealed itself to be blue once more, but the tempretures just didn't really budge. It stayed pretty cold. As per usual, we headed for the most remote and adventurous route accross the terrain.

    But Utah would not comply.

    The high passes were still snowed out. Many paved roads too. May is seemingly a difficult month for overland travellers to cross the state due to to a daily cycle of thaw and refreezing. Ever day the sun causes a slow melt, and every night it freezes hard accross the road. It made for some very sketchy cornering.

    The scenes are truly beautiful in these higher elevations. Crunchy packed snow clings to the exposed rocky faces of the canyon walls and cliffsides forming quite unbelievable structures. Every little outcrop and rock protrusion dawns its own snowy cap. If you stand still and keep silent amongst it all, you become immersed in background noise of a thousand droplets and trickles as the Spring thaw takes its grip.

    There was little for us to do but to make our way to lower lands. We settled for a stunning highway ride back down the mountainsides to the somewhat lower valleys of the central state lands, where the change in landscape is perhaps the most stark transformation anywhere on Earth.

    We arrived on planet Mars.

    Love,
    Brucie

    Canyons-of-snow-2048.jpg 20180503_102453.jpg 20180503_103150.jpg 20180503_103145.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 2 others like this.
  15. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 511

    Mars

    The Eastern reaches of Utah are as alien a landscape as I can imagine. Certain views are so gripping that they actually look fake, like some kind of Hollywood CGI insert for a Star Wars movie.

    It was water and wind that sculpted this rusted red maze of slot canyons, pillars, mesas, buttes, and cliffs. When navigating your way through the web of tracks and trails it is almost seems like there is an extra dimension to consider. It's truly a unique part of the globe. Where else can you ride from the surface of Mars to the surface of the Moon within 30 minutes?

    I imagine a geologist would have a dream in Utah. Layers of exposed sand and sediment form lateral striped patterns everywhere you look. Some places are twisted and folded over, other times as uniformly straight as a barcode. I know very little about sedimentary layers of the earth's crust, but I still spent hours scrambling about the hillsides investigating how the layers adhere to each other. Fascinating.

    The epicentre of this adventurous setting is the small city of Moab. We rolled into town with the intention of pitching our tent in one of the cities 20+ campsites. It should have been an easy enough task, but we had arrived on the busiest weekend of the whole calender year. 'Cinco de Moab' - a play on the words Cinco de Mayo, the Latin American celebration which translates simply to '5th of May'. As such, the whole city was heaving with visitors. We eventually found a spot in one of the campgrounds where a natural segregation of people's seemed to have occured; one end of the site where the domestic American visitor congregated together, and then a European section where foreign visitors were pitched. We scoped out both areas but eventually settled in our natural habitat, nestled between an adventurous French family and a delightful Austrian couple. The Austrians, Tina and Peter, seemed to warm to our tale and made us an offer.

    "In return for hearing your stories we will cook dinner?" - Tina suggests.

    Moab is no doubts a tourist town, but it caters to a very specific type of visitor. It sells itself as the outdoor activity capital of the USA; Mountain bikes, climbing, 4x4s, trail riding, rock crawling, and just about any other activity that will have you skin your knees. Everyone in town is geared to the hilt with action and adventure vehicles and corresponding accesories. There was some serious amounts of cash out on display too. One man at the campground had a $7,000 bicycle. Another had specifically towed a $80,000 modified jeep all the way from California on a trailer just to spend 2 days on the trails. He explained how he did this only once per year, and that the vehicle would only venture out of the garage less than 10 days or so in a 365 day period. There was a common theme here on Cinco de Moab weekend. Not everyone, but alot of people, were here to satisfy their desires to complete the adventure lifestyle image. The trails were backed up with literally hundreds of vehicles, each taking regular stops to take photos of mud spray or an awkward axle angle. It was quite frustrating actually, I never expected such congestion in the desert. The flow of traffic caused multiple traffic bottlenecks and the pace was too slow to feasibly continue. Many vehicles about turned, many overheated, many simply headed back to camp to complain. The latyer group included ourselves. Moab was starting to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

    "You're not in traffic, you are traffic." - I recite to myself. It's perhaps my favourite pearl of wisdom.

    The trails were choked up because people like us had turned up to ride them, we are no different from the weekenders who planned to do the same.

    The difference however was that come Monday, they were all gone - and we were still there. The entire atmosphere of the town changed. The campsite emptied, the trails were bare, the highstreet was quiet and the adjoining national parks were deserted. Perfect timing. Moab revealed itself to be quite a gem. Sure it's touristy and a little bit too convenient for my liking, but the setting of the town is nothing short of an adventure paradise.

    We spent 4 days there in all and met a bucketload of really interesting and motivated people. Moab is the perfect congregational point for like minded outdoorsmen, and women, to meet up and share tales over a campfire.

    Love,
    Brucie

    Next up, Kyla falls down a massive canyon and othersuch dramas.

    E2A1101.jpg 20180503_155756.jpg 20180504_101027.jpg 20180504_120851.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, BillUA and 2 others like this.
  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 519

    Hells Canyon and Passage to Colorado.

    One problem with the gorgeous rusted red land of Utah is that it does not always provide enough of a colour contrast to suitably analyse a sattelite map to scout out a route. It's not something I do very often, but Googles sattelite view on its map software can be very handy in identifying if a trail has fallen into complete disrepair and has become impassable. In Utah this is very difficult as the small tracks are barely distinguishable from the surroundings with a bird's-eye view.

    We opted to take the The Hells Canyon - one of the only routes Eastbound from Moab that pointed in the correct South-Easterly direction where we needed to leave the trail at the other end. The only problem was that we could get no confirmation wether the track was passable. We set off early to find out.

    The track started off quite well, chunky boulders strewn about a hard packed sandy base. As we ventured deeper toward the mouth of the canyon the track narrowed, the rocks got bigger and the trail became more vague. Soon it was no longer suitable for a 4 wheeled vehicle to pass. We continued on, for no other reason than it was quite fun wrestling the bikes through, but eventually we hit the obstacle that we could not ignore, a section of the trail simply missing, dropping some 4 feet sheer into a narrow creek bed. We did what we had only done 2 times before on this whole journey; admitted defeat and turned around. We later found out that the Hells Canyon Trail was recommended for walking and mountain bikes only. No motorised vehicles have regularly passed this way for a very long time.

    On the way back to the waypoint, we had to negotiate a particularly nasty uphill rocky patch.

    "It don't remeber it being this steep on the way down." - I muttered to Kyla via the coms.

    I slithered up in a fairly cumbersome fashion to discover what I through to be the top, was actually a hidden trap. A dip in the trail with a lovely beachball sized boulder right in the middle. I bounced off it and marginally saved the bike from tumbling to the side. Kyla who was in pretty much immediate pursuit was met by exactly the same fate as she did in Siberia; riding too closely together in formation, with me in front blocking her view of the trail. She hit the same rock considerably faster than I did. The bike took an awkward spill to the left side, and while taking much of the loose crumbling surface with her, she started to slide - almost in slow motion, down into the belly of the canyon. After 15 feet or so she came to an unceremonious stop. It would have been funny if her left leg wasn't caught under the bike.

    Unlike Siberia however she hopped up to her feet in an instant.

    "Umm, yeh that was a pretty big one... Are you ok?" - I enquire.

    "I think so. My ankle is a little sore though, and knee feels a bit wierd, but nothings broken. Honestly I'm good to go" - She tells me.

    But I don't believe her.

    We continued on and made our way back to the asphalt in about 45 minutes. We opted for a scenic loop through more of Utahs red maze to get to State Highway 90 and head for our 7th US State; Colorado.

    We had not yet even formed an iota of a plan for Colorado, but from what many people had told us, you really couldn't go wrong anyway. It's one of those pockets of the planet where it is just blessed in the geographical diversity section. In fact from where we entered it looked very much like Utah did, only much more green, and not nearly as dry or arid. In Utah trees were very much a rare sight, but here the land seems not so alien.

    The ride was so nice in fact that we took a 313 mile mountainous detour just to get to somewhere that was only 100 miles away. A small city called Grand Junction, our first intimate view of the 'Colourful State'.

    People have often said to me that the US states are like seperate countries, and for a long time I never believed it. To me America was always just America, and that was that. Coming to Colorado for some reason was the first time I could appreciate these differences accross state lines. Sure, the states are not nearly as diverse in language, food, culture, or history as the old world, but there is a clear detectable difference in the way people live their lives when you cross these invisible political bondaries.

    In Colorado that comes in two forms; a barrage of advertisements for cannabis tourism, and then a noticeable increase in the amount of people in more traditional western dress. Cowboy hats, leather boots, big trucks, country music, and a vague background smell of marijuana. It's a pretty strange combination. It's like the most traditional sect of conservative America made a pact with some hippies to create a new path for the future.

    Grand Junction city is nothing special but it does house a few old western buildings in the downtown area. We couldn't be bothered searching high and low for a campground so instead found a dirt cheap motel down a shifty side street and called it a day.

    When Kyla climbed off the bike to carry her bags inside (and then proceed to roll the whole bike inside too) I noticed her walking with a distinct limp on her left leg - the same leg that hospitalised her in Russia, and the same one that took the hit today.

    "Are you sure that knee is ok?" - I ask.

    "Honestly, it's ok" - She reaffirms.

    But I still don't believe her.

    Love,
    Brucie.

    extra_large_c497d8f7958871a6d67f17f632c7886b.jpg 20180507_114125.jpg 20180507_132119.jpg 20180508_124145.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, roadcapDen and 4 others like this.
  17. selkins

    selkins Gotta light?

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,722
    Location:
    The Frozen North
    Always enjoy y'all's posts. As you're learning, early May is still a bit early for exploring high elevations in the American West, but it seems y'all have managed.

    I expect you're now well on your way east of CO, but if it's not too late, I strongly suggest Marfa, Texas and Big Bend. One of my favorite places the last several years, and I expect Marfa would serve up some cultural delights if you're willing to hang out for a few days. Terlingua, just west of Big Bend park boundaries, could be a hoot, too.

    And for reading material that provides some insight into a particular kind of American persona, check out Edward Abbey's book, Desert Solitaire. Or if you prefer fiction, try out his novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang.

    Looking forward to more!
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  18. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,810
    Location:
    GTA, ON, CDA
    Nice to see ya met up with Lisa and Jason!
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  19. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 526

    The Rocky Mountains

    It's been a while since we were last in the presence of a Major Mountainous region. The Sierra Nevadas were impressive but the range is actually quite small and really confined only to central California. The Rockies however are a whole other beast. I didn't realise just quite how extensive the Rockys were until I saw a huge North American map in the office of a campground a few weeks prior in Nevada. They start way down in New Mexico and sprawl North-Westerly for almost 2000 miles just shy of Alaska. They truly split the North American continent in half and it's no wonder thousands of pioneers wasted many precious years searching for an easy passage around.

    We met the Rockies somewhere West of Gunnison, a small Colorado town that luckily had a Yamaha shop where we could snag supplies for an oil and air filter change that we would later do in a campsite. Don't worry, all old oil was properly disposed of.

    The Colorado Rockies are quite densely littered with a fascinating array of abandoned mines, ghost towns and log cabins that serve as living monuments to the days of westward expansion and those early frontiersmen, many of which were actually European immigrants, in search for their fortune. I have somewhat of an obsession with mankind's battles with the great frontiers, and Colorado is an excellent place to indulge in my obsessions. As we slowly climbed our way deeper into the Rockies, on gradually deteriorating trails I can only imagine what the first Westerners through when they sought passage. The terrain is very unforgiving. Huge loose boulders and snow run-off had destroyed almost every path we found. In fact we had to stick to some of the more established trails to make any ground at all. My particular favourite the Cumberland pass, through the old relic towns of Pitkin, Tin Cup, and St Elmo. Every time we climbed above 10,800ft specifically, we peaked above of the tree line and back into the snow line. A few rounds of wrestling the bikes over some knee deep patches of crisp snowpack had us gasping for the thin air. It's hard work up there, but it is an astounding place.

    Our meandering adventure took us to Leadville, an old mining village sat just above 10,000ft when we searched for a campground spot, we found one overlooking a nearby lake but had to abandon camp as the mercury hit 19F/-7C by sundown. We headed for the town and stayed in yet another ultra trashy budget motel at the outskirts. This one was run by a hardy Polish lady from Zakopane, a small town close to the Slovakia border we had stayed 2 nights in almost 21 months ago. I impressed her with my only 3 sentences I remembered in Polish and she upgraded us to the room closest to the office, which apparently was somewhat less of a disaster than the others.

    The next morning had me fraught with panic. For the first time since Kyla's crash in Utah I had a chance to examine her left knee. There's no other way to put it; It's not great. More swelling, and a bruise that looks suspiciously like the one in Siberia. The only difference this time is that she is in much less pain.

    You see, way back in February Kyla had visited a doctor to discuss the Siberia crash, they assured her that no surgery was required. I even wrote an update about it. Once we had our US visas and were ready to leave, 2 days prior to jetting back to the bikes, she recieved a letter from a second surgeon from whom we had sought a second opinion, saying that upon review her knee in fact DID need surgery and she would be scheduled in mid-June. Obviously we could not commit to such a schedule. I now feared the Utah spill had put us in a very precarious situation.

    It did make me think though. What did the men on the frontier do when they sprained an ankle, cracked a rib, or broke a tibia?

    The probably just perished.

    Love,
    Brucie


    33540663_973835402777472_3092604838005964800_n.jpg 33346673_973877419439937_1146257733998084096_o.jpg 33395486_973877879439891_5218576339145064448_o.jpg 33343532_973878172773195_4462561721663356928_o.jpg
    ACR, roadcapDen and BillUA like this.
  20. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Oddometer:
    714
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 532

    Wyoming.

    With Kyla's knee in tatters we made an agreement. To strap it up tight and take it easy for a few days. No crazy trails, crumbling tracks, or wild exploration for the time being - In fact we chose not to leave the asphalt at all to see if we could alleviate some of the pressure from the tender joint.

    Our machines are certainly not set up for long haul highway travel. We have the aerodynamic qualities of a bacon sandwich, and the single cylinder engine tends to vibrate your bones to a fine mist if sustained at any acceptable highway speed. None the less, the little 250 motor can indeed hold 65mph all day long if needed, as was proven on the 2,500 mile stint on the Trans Siberian.

    Lucky really, even the Highways and Interstates in Colorado are scenic. You don't actually need to take the back roads to escape the monotony of long haul driving, because the Major routes tend to sweep through the gorgeous canyon floors anyway. They have chosen to brand Colorado as 'The Switzerland of America', but I feel that is selling itself short. Colorado is very much it's own gem, and should never resort to such piggy-backing it's way into a tourist brochure.

    Colorado; it has been a pleasure.

    Two long, but immensely pleasurable, days in the saddle took us to the Wyoming state line, where yet again the boundary seems drawn across geographical lines. Wyoming is noticeably more wet than Colorado, each breath reveals greater evidence of humidity in the air and the skies are no longer a clear blue. In fact the sky was perhaps Wyomings most distinct feature that day. Our days ride was under a schism of the skies. To the East a huge swirling grey, and actually almost bruised purple, mass of thick thundercloud. To the West was a light brushing of sequential whispy flicks and waves. Then to our direct North, a narrow tower of bulbous white fluffy mass. Really very surreal, as if the local cloud machine had suffered a malfunction.

    The thunderstorm threatened to swallow us up all day, but we managed to stay just ahead of it. One evening we timed it to the point where just as we staked the last tent peg did the heavens open upon us and show just how wet Wyoming can get. It had been a long time since we last saw dew on the morning grass, and the rivers were flowing to the brim of their banks. Wyoming actually quite reminds me of Scotland with its very changeable weather system, a constant threat of rain and a biting cold, and never far from the presence of water. Lush green growth in every direction.

    Rural Wyoming is one of the most quintisentially American places to visit. Guns n' Ammo stores, men in cowboy hats, old Ford trucks, and clear rejection of anything that doesn't fit that bill. It's a nice place, these rural lands are untainted by the vague beigeness of multicultural plastic America as seen in the larger cites to the South and West of here. For the first time in a long time I saw a younger generation holding onto thier roots - or at least trying to.

    It's a nice place to ride through, although admittedly there is not alot to stop for. Wyoming is one of the least densely populated states in the country. You can ride many miles before seeing a building or encountering a junction in the road.

    A few more days North had us right at the doorstep of a place I have wanted to visit for many many years. The World Famous Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

    Love,
    Brucie

    33835356_976355339192145_3237671906798731264_o.jpg 33892825_976355875858758_4017081769487499264_o.jpg 34133861_976355492525463_7724518962691571712_o.jpg 33901940_976355385858807_3721504087271800832_o.jpg
    ACR, SLUGGO, roadcapDen and 2 others like this.