July 2nd & 3rd

July 2nd

Drove out of Coos Bay, OR and up the coast on our way to Tillamook, OR. The winds were strong and made riding a challenge. Along the way we stopped at the sand dunes in Dunes City (catchy name for the town). We also drove thru Depot Bay where in March and August this is the place for whale watching. If you can’t see the whales, there’s always carmel corn and salt water taffy with a tee shirt shop thrown in for good measures.

Rolled into Tillamook around 3PM, got a room and went directly to the town’s main attraction, The Tillamook Cheese factory. It is known for its cheese and wonderful ice cream, which we can attest to both.

We were so exhausted from the day, we went to the local grocery store, bought some sandwiches and passed out in our room around 9PM.

July 3rd

OK, you’ve heard about the weather, the roads and the people over these past 30+ days. It’s beginning to be like the movie Ground Hog Day. Today was the same as yesterday: get up, pack the bike, drive some magnificent roads, look for a hotel, etc. So now I’d like to give you some commentary on what’s it is like to be 58 (almost 59) years old and on an extended motorcycle trip.

Medical observations while on a motorcycle trip:

1. Old sports injuries are the first to show up, then every bizarre joint you never knew you had, becomes a critical component, either allowing you to get on or off the bike, or more importantly, shift gears and apply the brakes

2. Stretching becomes the most physically intensive activity of the day

3. Bathrooms become a central topic of conversation, even though you are in the most magnificent location in the country

4. Why did you let me drink that second diet coke

5. You never want to eat TOO much roughage while on a trip, enough said

6. Your exercise routine is a thing of the past, straightening up the bike is all the exercise you need for the day

7. With your gear on, going to the bathroom is a 20 minute ordeal

8. Getting a suntan on the only exposed portion of your face, makes you look like you the Lone Ranger or the town drunk, with a red nose.

9. Lactate pills become a critical component to your DOB kit

10. Remembering where you put your gloves can take 10 minutes every time you stop for a bathroom break, which happens to be dependent on the number of diet cokes you’ve ingested

11. Hair – just forget about looking normal while you’re on the trip. The women hate “helmet hair”, the men wish they had it.

12. Gold Bond becomes your best friend and you buy it in the 10 oz. containers

13. Judi can’t smell the 2,000 pine trees that we just rode through, but she can smell an ash tray that is 20 feet away containing an old cigarette butt from three weeks ago.

14. Walking around with your ear plugs in gives you a good idea of what life is going to be like in the near future, do I need to mention anything about reading glasses in this piece?

15. You realize you’re a wimp when you have on your winter gloves, winter Under Armour and a heavy fleece under your riding jacket and you watch three bikers ride past you and the woman are wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts!

16. Lastly, I’m writing this a 4:30AM because I can’t sleep and I didn’t take my Benadryl last night.

Judi on a windy day overlooking the Oregon coast (lighthouse in the background)

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Clouds in the mountains, we’ll be in them in a few minutes

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Looking for whales in Depot Bay

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June 30th & July 1st

June 30th

Awoke to cool, brisk weather along the coastal town of Fort Bragg, CA. Approximately, 4-5 miles east, the record heat was already getting started. We, on the other hand, layered ourselves with long sleeves fleeces and cold weather riding gear. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a difference 100 yards makes in the weather along the coast. At times, we would be driving in cold foggy weather and just to our right (east) see beautiful blue skies. I’m not talking miles, but rather 50-100 yards! Knowing all along, that those blue skies meant a 5-10 degree difference in temperatures.

Even though it was Sunday morning, the roads were void of motorcyclists, bike riders and other cars. We’ve traveled far enough north to get out of the San Francisco influence. About 15 miles out of Fort Bragg the road transitioned from ocean vistas to an intense redwood forest complete with 22 miles of tight twisting roadway, as intense as any I’ve seen in the Alps or the Smoky Mountains. It was one of those roads that you needed to stay focused every second or risk becoming a statistic. The woods were so intense that the sun’s rays only reached approximately 10% of the pavement, the rest was covered in the shade of the redwood trees. Once we started to approach the Avenue of the Giants, the temps spiked and we needed to quickly shed our long sleeve clothing. The physical presence of these 1,000 year old redwoods forces you to think about how we interact with our planet. According to the experts, these trees are the largest living organisms on our planet, the tallest one being 379′ in height.

Once out of the forest, we headed for the coastal town of Eureka, CA for the evening. Within minutes the weather went from 80’s with bright sunshine to 60’s and foggy. After checking into the hotel, we decided to go to the Somoa Cookhouse, which is the oldest surviving cookhouse in the Northwest. This cookhouse dates back to the late 1800’s, when it fed the lumber jacks of the area. Judi and I were there in 1978 and I’m glad to report that it hasn’t changed one bit. The food is still good, and they’ll keep bringing it if you can eat it!

July 1st

Our impression of Eureka, CA was that is was a little “seedy”. There were many street people just hanging around and neither Judi nor I were comfortable with the area. As we started our drive towards Oregon, the temps were in the upper 50’s to lower 60’s and we needed all of our warm clothing. Once we hit the Redwood National Park, the fog became dense and visibility dropped to only a few hundred yards. It really gives you a whole new perspective on the landscape when you are driving through a cloud. This went on for approximately 20 miles. The fog wasn’t as bad as some that I had experienced, but it does put you on edge and your “radar” is on full alert. Even though the sun finally pushed through the cloud cover the temps never went above the upper 60’s – this is while the rest of the west coast was fighting a heat wave.

We motored up to Coos Bay, OR. which is the largest city along the Oregon coast. According to the internet the population of Coos Bay, Oregon is 15,903 (2011), and we all know the internet is never wrong.

As Judi and I discussed, our impressions of Oregon vs. both Southern and Northern California were that Southern California were all Mercedes, BMW’s and Ferrari’s. It was obvious that labels ruled how people both expressed themselves and were perceived. In Northern California, and at least the coastal towns of Oregon, the vast majority of the cars are Subaru’s and pick up trucks. The style was much more casual and the towns gave off a “blue collar” feel. I wouldn’t say it was still the 60’s in these areas, but they didn’t wander too far away from the general concept.

Hanging out in the Redwoods

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Pictures at the Samoa Cookhouse

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Typical coastal fog in Oregon, one of the only flat/paved spots!!

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June 28th & 29th

June 28th

Today was an interesting day. It started out with touring Monterey, CA. which is a beautiful little town along the coast. It is not as glitzy and star studded as Carmel, but offers all the same amenities of location and sun. Nothing really happens in Monterey except a little sailing, scuba diving, and other water related sports. Judi and I have fallen into a nice routine of getting set up on the bike and riding to our preset locations along the coast. Highway 1 north of Monterey is a four lane highway to Santa Cruz, which was a welcome change of pace from the twisties. Once north of Santa Cruz, the road turned into the proverbial two lane switchbacks that you’ve seen in all the travel journals. As I rode through some of the most incredible real estate on the planet, I was able to view both homes and bridges that boggle the imagination. I was torn by what impressed me more, the engineering feats that man was able to design and build or those of nature. Both have a way of drawing you in and creating an “oh my goodness” moment.

As we pulled into Half Moon Bay, CA., which is a cute small resort town just south of San Francisco, we were talking about where to have lunch. As I approached a car that had pulled over to the right hand portion of the lane, I slowly (1-2 MPH) started to go around the car. Just as I was within five feet of the car, the driver decided to pull an illegal U-turn right in front of me. I immediately jumped on both front and rear brakes and locked it up. The inertia of both Judi and I forced the bike to lurch forward and to the left. I tried to keep it up, but between the 600 lbs. of motorcycle, our gear, Judi and I, I couldn’t keep the bike upright and we tumbled to the ground. Both Judi and I hit the ground, but as Judi said… I was so heavily padded it felt like falling into pillows. The good news is, that neither Judi nor I were injured, however police and paramedics were called. Once the paramedics examined Judi, they noticed her blood pressure had spiked so they required her to go to the hospital to get checked out. After a little Valium, she was back to her old self and they released her. I asked the nurse for a couple of extra pills for the rest of our trip, but she couldn’t be talked into it! After checking out of the hospital, we checked into a local hotel in the vicinity, in order to relax and get some needed rest. Needless to say, with valium in her system, it was not a late night for either of us.

June 29th

Same drill, different day. Packed up the bike and headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one hell of a bridge!! There were people walking, running, biking, picture taking and anything else you could imagine on this bridge… didn’t see any jumpers! As much as I would have liked to have been able to share a couple of pictures of Judi and I going over the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought it best if I kept the bike upright today, at least for the morning ride. We cruised into Sausalito, which is another cute city by the bay. As Judi said, California is one “cute” city after another. The whole state is cute! They all seem to have different personalities, but are able to pull it off.

As we drove north on Hwy. 1 we passed the town of Bodega, CA. The town is known for their oysters and because it was a Saturday the place was packed. Unfortunately, neither Judi nor I eat oysters, plus we couldn’t find a level parking space in the entire town, so we decided to move on. We continued north and found a small town, if you want to call it that, called Jenner. If you want to know what happened to the 60’s, just go to Jenner. It comes complete with tie died T-shirts, a couple playing guitar and violin, set against the bay. As we ate our lunch of sprouts, we watched a guy float by on his kayak with his dog basking in the sun on top of the kayak. Again, I refer to my earlier statement, only in California!

Now for the good part. As Judi and I approached Mendocino, CA.(which is where they filmed “The Summer of ’42”) I was riding with my helmet visor in the up position. If any of you saw the movie, Wild Hogs, that starred John Travolta, there was a scene where one of the guys gets splattered with bird shit. Well, I’m here to tell you that stuff really happens, and it happened to me this afternoon. The bird perfectly directed his poop to land on my left check, inside the helmet. Needless to say I was more than a little pissed off and couldn’t get to the side of the road quick enough. I had brought along baby wipes thinking that they would be good if I wanted to “freshen up” while on the road. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be using them to wipe bird shit off my face, helmet and jacket. Just as all this was unfolding a state police officer pulled up along side me. I told him what had just happened. He couldn’t stop laughing as he pulled out on Rt. 1. I’m glad I made his day!

We ventured onto Mendocino, had dinner and checked into the Holiday Inn in Fort Bragg. Onto the Avenue of the Giants, trees that is, NOT BIRDS!

The entire town of Jenner, CA.

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After the bird attack, me holding the evidence bag!

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More beautiful coastline

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June 26th & 27th

June 26th

I take it all back about the rain in Southern California vs. Chicago. I understand that you’ve had enough rain for the entire summer, just during this past week.

Today was the start of our travels along the proverbial Pacific Coast Highway. Again, the weather was clear and warm and we immediately went to Santa Monica for breakfast. On the way to breakfast, we passed thru Venice, CA., which both Judi and I thought was a little seedy. Santa Monica, however is a sleepy little town with a world renowned pier- the Santa Monica Pier. After a couple of quick pictures at the pier, we headed up the PCH to one of my must see California locations, The Rock Store. The Rock Store is a restaurant set in the hills of Malibu that caters to motorcyclists. They’re only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is where all the “beautiful” people hang out that want to be seen when going out for a weekend ride. Routinely, you’ll see Jay Leno and others at this place having coffee and talking cars, bikes and other boy toys. We had the place to ourselves since we arrived late Wednesday morning. A couple of other bikers showed up just to check out the place. While standing around the parking lot at The Rock Store a group of eight CHIP’s motorcycle cops blew by us. I don’t know where they were going, but it seemed like they were out having a good time. After spending a few minutes trading riding stories with the other bikers, Judi and I set out for Santa Barbara. The roads in the Santa Monica Mountains were some of the most technical I’ve encountered in my travels, and that includes the Alps. Being fully loaded with gear and a passenger, it was particularly difficult to manipulate the 10 miles of hair pin turns and mountain switchbacks. Most of the time, I transitioned between first and second gear as I needed to “feather” the clutch in order to negotiate the 180 degree uphill turns. I was glad to get back onto PCH where the road had long sweepers vs. the hairpin turns.

As we rode up to Santa Barbara we passed through a large farming community devoted to cultivating strawberries. The smell was overwhelmingly sweet! They were growing strawberries as far as the eye could see. We pulled into Santa Barbara late afternoon and immediately made plans to see the town that we’ve heard so much about. We rode down State Street, which is the main business thoroughfare of Santa Barbara. It led us right to the harbor of Santa Barbara, which is loaded with kids, tourists, runners, cyclists, skateboarders and anyone else who wants to people watch. Santa Barbara is everything that I’ve heard about from friends. It just appears to be a very nice little community set in an idyllic location.

June 27th

Our destination for today was the Carmel/Monterey area, the home to the Pebble Beach Country Club and the 17 mile drive. The 17 mile drive is a private road that traverses through one of the most prestigious residential communities in the country. It is so fancy that you can’t ride your motorcycle through it unless invited by one of the residents.

On the ride up the coast we saw all the vistas that I am sure you’ve seen in the travel journals, etc. Unfortunately we were not able to take too many pictures, because the hilly terrain made it difficult to park. When you’re on a bike, it is virtually impossible to park on a downhill slope, due to the fact that the side stand tends to “give way” and collapse on itself. Also, there is a significant amount of gravel on each pull out, and as you can well imagine, gravel and motorcycles don’t go well together. One of the areas that we drove past was San Simeon. In the past, Judi and I have toured the Hearst Mansion at San Simeon. The mansion was built by William Randolph Hearst and at one time he owned the largest private zoo in the world. The movie, Citizen Kane, which was written, directed and starred in by Orson Wells was a semi biographical account of William Hearst life. If you’ve never seen Hearst Castle, it is the closest thing we have in the USA to a castle. As a matter of fact, a good deal of the artwork, ceilings and flooring were literally dismantled in Europe and shipped to San Simeon.

We decided to ride hard and make it to Big Sur to have lunch. What we didn’t realize is that Big Sur is not a town, but a region of the Santa Lucia Range. Our waitress a was third generation from the area. Her grandfather bought part of the mountain and started farming it and eventually developed a traveler services business along Rt. 1. When Route 1 was paved in 1937 he decided it was an opportune time to open up a business catering to the traveling public. The restaurant we ate at, “Big Sur River Inn Restaurant” , belonged to her family.

We pulled into Carmel/Monterey around 7PM, tired and hungry, but incredibly excited about what we saw today in our travels.

The Rock Store in Malibu

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Santa Barbara Pier

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Long Day in the Saddle – Judi’s such a good sport!!

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The Coast at Point Lobos, just south of Carmel

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June 24th & 25th

June 24th

What’s the deal with Southern California weather in June??? We awoke to rain showers and cold cloudy skies. I could have stayed in Chicago if I wanted this type of weather!! Judi and I decided to “camp” in and have breakfast at the hotel, $5 for a cup of coffee and $4 for a piece of toast, not bad for a guy on a fixed retirement income. Once the rain subsided, we ventured out onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) towards Laguna Beach. The weather, as predicted, was in the 60’s, which is quite comfortable when you’re wearing all the motorcycle gear. We rode up and down PCH 1 in search of a “cute” place to have lunch. I was passed by two squads of eight California Highway Patrol (CHIPS) motorcycle police officers. Talk about intimidation! They weren’t screwing around and were traveling at a very aggressive speed, I decided to let them pass me. As we rode up PCH 1 we quickly found out why they were riding so fast…they were going to lunch. All sixteen bikes were parked on the main street of Laguna Beach perpendicular to the curb, one right next to the other. Fairly impressive. I wanted to park my bike next to theirs, but I had images of my bike tipping over and watching sixteen police bikes go down like dominos, one at a time. As Judi and I were wrapping up our lunch, the police had finished theirs and they all took off together, pulling a U-turn in the middle of the street. Obviously, all of the cars stopped and the drivers let the CHIP officers perform flawless U-turns, one right after the other. As a long time motorcyclist, it was pretty “neat” to see them execute a difficult maneuver without a hitch. Interestingly, each bike had a large long barrel gun locked onto their bike, just like the old time cowboy movies where the rifle is tied onto the saddle.

In the evening we connected with Judi’s old grammar school friend, Karen and her husband Jack. Lots of fun catching up and hearing about how LA has changed over the years.

June 25th

Now for the trek up the coast. But before we can get going we have people to see and maintenance to perform on the bike. We met up with Judi’s college roommate, Carol Riggio, for breakfast. Carol has been out in LA for the past 25 years and by coincidence lives less than a mile from our hotel in Irvine.

Again, the weather was overcast, but not raining, thank goodness. We had to drive to Anaheim to get a new, taller windshield for my bike. It just so happened that the manufacturer was located just minutes from where we were staying. We hopped on one of the many freeways in LA and the replacement was installed within the hour. The company is called AeroFlow, which is a high end aftermarket windshield distributor. The owner and his wife run the company out of a small warehouse/office location. He formerly lived in Cleveland and moved out here in 1988. I don’t think I have met anyone in California who was actually born here, amazing.

We then headed towards the Getty Museum which is located in Brentwood, CA. John Paul Getty, a wealthy oilman and art collector, built this museum to house and display his personal art collection for the general public. From time to time they will also have visiting exhibits that will be displayed at the museum. If you have never been there, it is truly an amazing complex. I call it a complex because it has 5-6 buildings, all built out of Jerusalem stone, gardens and a tram that takes you from the parking lot up the mountain to the museum. Admission is free, but parking is $15. However, when I pulled up, the attendant told me to pull over to the side and he put me in a private parking spot. When we went to leave he told me to “drive around” the gate, so I didn’t need to pay. I must have looked broke after the $5 coffee!

We booked a hotel room in Marina del Rey and drove west along Wilshire Blvd. til we ran into PCH 1. At PCH we turned left to get to our hotel, passing by Venice Beach. We walked to dinner along the pier where I took the picture of the Mercedes parked in front of the marina, with his dog perched in the front seat! Gotta love Southern California.

Jack, Karen, Judi and I

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Getty Museum Pictures

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Mercedes at the marina

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June 22nd & 23rd

June 22nd

Another beautiful day in paradise, rich blue skies, 70’s and little or no wind. Today I’m traveling down to San Diego to pick up Judi, who is flying in from Chicago around 7:30PM. Prior to heading down to SD, Howard invited me to watch his daughter play in a three game 12″ softball tournament. It was an eye opener, these girls got game! They play the game with real intensity. Don’t get in their way unless you want to get run over.

After watching a couple of games I decided to head out to San Diego via I-5. It was only suppose to be a 90 minute trip, but as anyone who has driven on the California highways will tell you, nothing is routine. It was Saturday afternoon and the freeway was packed, but moving. Within a few miles it ground to a halt and we began crawling along. That’s when I experienced what motorcyclists are allowed to do in California, but not anywhere else in the USA, lane splitting. Lane splitting is where a motorcyclists can legally ride the white line between two lanes of traffic. This technique is not limited to slow moving traffic jams, they do it at 60-70 MPH!! I watched as these idiots come within 6-12″ of cars traveling at highway speeds. They also have no problem with passing other motorcyclists (me) within my lane. Needless to say, this is extremely dangerous because of the element of surprise. While on my way to San Diego, one of these morons decided to pass me in the left portion of my lane just as I was making an evasive maneuver around a pot hole in the roadway. I was within inches of him at 65 MPH and he was by me in an instant. After this little scare, I decided the safest place on the highway was in the left hand portion of the left hand lane. They do most of their lane splitting between the “fast lane” and middle lane. At least I only had to worry about one section of my lane vs. both sides. Just to show you how nuts the legislature is in California, they allow this type of extremely aggressive riding behavior, but have helmet laws. I guess they figure it’s nature’s way of thinning out the herd.

I arrived in SD and immediately went to the pool to start writing my blogs. I am sure everyone thinks that SD is warm and sunny in late June, its California! I am hear to tell you that is not the case. The temps were in the 60’s, which I am told is quite normal for this area. I have now transitioned from ventilated warm weather riding gear into regular gear with fleeces. Nothing like experiencing a 40 degree temperature change in a day or two.

Judi landed and made it to the hotel without incident. Now for the real challenge, how to pack two people on one bike for two weeks. Every square inch is precious and will be planned out so that we can get all of our equipment on the bike. We shall see.

June 23rd

Well, all of the equipment fit, but we will be jettisoning the Metamucil. Once I got the bike packed, Judi had to help me push it off its side stand. She wouldn’t get on it until I took it around the block to get used to the new weight distribution. My first 100′ was to ride down the hill that was in front of the hotel which then dumps you right onto a fast moving street. Are we having fun yet? It took a little while, but I got used to it. Judi decided to walk down the 100′ to get to street level. I told you she was smart!

We took off at 9:45AM for my second corner, which was only 20 miles south of San Diego. San Ysidro is a small town that borders Mexico. As we approached the town off of I-5, we realized that virtually all of the signage along the highway was in Spanish.
Thank goodness for my 15 years of Spanish in the Chicago public school system. I actually learned more Spanish while busing tables in Highwood then those 15 years! Unfortunately, the words and phrases I learned at the restaurant would get me in trouble on the street of San Ysidro. After taking the proverbial pictures at the San Ysidro Post Office in order to document our completion of this leg of the trip, we jumped on I-5 towards Carlsbad to meet up with a grammar school friend and his wife, Mark and Kathy Mazur. Mark and Kathy moved out here a few years back and are living the Southern California dream. Mark was the one who told me that the ocean never allows the temperatures to get much above the high 70’s. After lunch we wandered over to the boardwalk which overlooks the beach. The crowds in these ocean front communities make Oak Street beach in August look tame. There are people everywhere!!

Corner #2 San Ysidro, CA

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Judi at Corner #2

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Mark and I on the boardwalk

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June 19th, 20th & 21st

June 19th

Left Show Low early because I didn’t realize the time had changed. I was up around 5:45 which was really 4:45AM. Since I was up in the mountains at 5,000′ + the air was cool and the sky was crystal clear. The route I decided on was through the National Forest, which again was beautiful. I stopped at a local bait/restaurant/general store and the guy behind the counter told me about a bear that was in their parking lot yesterday and the cougar that one of the locals bagged a few weeks ago. As I stated in my previous emails, I really like being at the top of the food chain vs. in the middle. So it didn’t take me long to mount up and take off. After cresting the mountain, the decent was inspiring. The only problem was that I couldn’t get off the bike to take pictures because I was on a downhill lie and I couldn’t secure the bike. The temperatures stayed moderate all the way to Payson, AZ where I could catch Rt. 87 south into Phoenix.

As soon as I got on Rt. 87 the road was graded at a 6-7% downhill slope and the temps immediately started to skyrocket. WIthin minutes, the temps went from mid 80’s to close to 95-100 degrees. I had forgotten to wet down my vest, so I found a small side road where I thought I saw some shade. Once I pulled onto the road I saw two cars off to the side with two young guys just talking. I pulled past them to turn onto a sloped driveway to access the shade, but it was gated. Then I decided to flip a U-turn. As I was making the U-turn, I looked back to the left and caught a glimpse of a car traveling at 30MPH and pulling around their two parked cars. I immediately hit the front brake which caused the bike to buck to the right. With the downhill slope I couldn’t brace the weight change with my right foot and the bike and I took a spill. The good new is I was fully geared up and my gloves, riding suit and boots took the impact. After I realized I was OK I jumped up and went to the bike to turn it off. I then assessed the situation in order to right the bike. Because the bike was on an incline it was at a 120 degree slant. There was no way I was going to be able to right the bike. In the meantime the two guys, which were no more than 20′ away were watching this unfold and never took one step towards me to help out. Not until I turned to them, raised my hands and said “can I get a little help” did they come over. I found it amazing that two adults could watch an accident happen 20′ from them and not have the brains to offer assistance. I guess the lesson I learned is, just because there are people around don’t expect to get help.

The accident reinforced the motorcycle acronym of ATGATT, which stands for “All The Gear All The Time”. If I didn’t have my riding gear on, I am sure I would have suffered some form of “road rash”. Because I was wearing the proper clothing, I only walked away with a new sense of respect for how quickly things can happen on a motorcycle.

I pulled into Phoenix and went to my friend and former riding buddy, Steve Bensman’s home. While we waited out the afternoon heat, we were able to catch up on the past. His son, Jason was staying with him and it gave me a good opportunity to get to know him better. The last time I saw Jason was many years ago, now he is an old and wiser man of 16 and a new driver! That evening Steve helped me do a quick repair to the highway peg that was damaged in the spill. A few twists of an allen wrenches and the bike was back to new, less the scrapes. Now the bike has some battle scars that can be claimed on this adventure.

June 20th

Today was a day slated to get things done for the trip. I needed to get my panniers repaired, ship my duffle bag that contains my camping gear, and get my Magellan GPS fixed. I had set up an appointment with Alissa at Jesse Luggage for the morning. Upon arriving I asked her if she knew where Fed Ex was located. She asked why and I told her about my need to send the bag onto Seattle. She immediately said to leave it with her because they use UPS so much that they could take care of it, at their corporate shipping rates!! Nothing like killing two birds with one stone. The best part was I didn’t need to get lost looking for Fed Ex and filling out paperwork, etc. which would have wasted an hour or so. They pulled off both bags and did a complete maintenance update on them. While the bags were being worked on I told her about the trip and our plans to go up the coast to Seattle, Washington. She immediately told me that she grew up in Oregon and gave me places to see, things to do and an ice cream shop in Tillamook, Oregon that I must go to. You just gotta love traveling and getting the inside scoop (pun intended) when meeting people like those at Jesse Luggage. It makes the trip.

On the way back from my errands I hit triple digits….temperature that is. The heat was so intense that it was cooler for me to ride with my helmet face shield in the down position than to have it opened and get the fresh air into the helmet. As Alissa said, it is like holding a hair blower in front of your face! I was back at Steve’s house around 1PM and we stayed inside until dinner time. I guess it is no different than January in Chicago, when we wouldn’t go outside in 10 degree weather to hang out. They don’t venture out in June, July and August.

Based upon the intense heat predicted for Friday June 21st, Steve suggested I get an early start to the day, 4AM! He said that by 10AM the heat is already building and I will be crossing the AZ and CA desert. Based upon his recommendation and my experiences with this unfamiliar heat I went to bed early and got up at 3:30AM the next day.

June 21st

It’s dark at 4AM!! I snuck out of the house without waking them up at 4AM and headed over to I-10 West to LA. You just can’t believe the number of people out at that hour, where are they all going? As Steve promised the temps were very comfortable and I was able to make good time heading into the desert. I thought I would be all alone on the highway but I was wrong! There were trucks everywhere heading west. I’ve always heard the desert gets cool at night but didn’t realize how much the temps drop. About 45 minutes into my ride I needed to pull over to put on a windbreaker under my ventilated riding jacket. As I rode into the desert I paid particular attention to my gas situation and filled up when I hit 1/2 tank. There was only one time that I got to 1/4 of a tank with no gas stations in sight. I actually pulled off the highway at what was once a town, but is now deserted. There was one guy on the side of the road who was towing a boat and he told me that the next station is 20-30 miles to the west. I figured I had at least 70 miles of fuel so I was comfortable getting back onto I-10. I figured that even if I did run out of gas, I was better off on I-10 with a million trucks and cars. Just as he promised a Chevron Oasis appeared and I was able to refuel both bike and body, particularly with leaded coffee.

At this fuel stop, I realized that I was just a couple of miles away from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. Since I had made great time and the heat wasn’t so bad, based on the altitude of the area I decided to see what the park had to offer. The park is 30+/- mile driving loop that takes you through some of the most magnificent rock formations and cactus. Joshua Tree is located in the Pinto Mountains. In the 1930’s Minerva Hoyt, a community activist and desert lover persuaded President Roosevelt to proclaim Joshua Tree National Monument in 1936. In 1994 it was renamed to Joshua Tree National Park. The park is 794,000 acres and nearly three quarter of it is designated wilderness where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge. It takes about 2 hours to drive the park and take pictures. I chose not to do any hiking, since I was in riding gear and have an intense fear of rattle snake and scorpions. You gotta pick your battles!

Once out of the park you end up in Yucca, CA. From there I rode to Redlands, CA to stay with Howard and Sue Zelener and their daughter Alex. I pulled in at around 2PM and settled in. Howard needed to run some errands because he coaches his daughter’s fast pitch softball team. When I say that he coaches that really doesn’t describe his intense love for the game or his team. He is fanatical to the point of recreating Billy Bean’s statistical analysis logarithms for the team.

Prior to dinner, Sue suggested we take a walk around the neighborhood while Howard filled out his lineup for tomorrow’s game. Before setting out for the walk she poured us two large glasses of wine for our trek. Only in California can you combine drinking good wine and exercise. Isn’t the west coast wonderful!! On our walk she showed me the local Mormon Temple (see photo, with wine glass, 1/4 full). I was told that the angel on the top of the building is Moroni and that he is presenting the golden calf to Joe Smith Jr., the founder who translated the plates into the Book of Mormon.

Observations from the Road:

I have now been traveling since May 28th (26 days) the back roads of our country from Chicago to Key West and from Key West to San Diego. I would like to share what I have noticed along the way. If you are thinking of your next investment, forget about Google, Microsoft, GM or any of those companies. I can, without question, state that the future of our country and the growth industry in the America is firmly entrenched in the following industries: fast food, tattoo parlors, liquor stores and gun/bait shops. Whenever I cruised into a city/town I couldn’t hit the first stop light (assuming they had one) or stop sign without seeing one of those for industries represented.

I am not sure how you are going to invest for the future, but I plan on developing a “kick ass” tattoo that I can patent and sell in every town across America!

Respectfully,

Charles “Goode” Kuralt, for those old enough to remember him

Steve Bensman and me

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At Joshua Tree National Park

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At Joshua Tree National Park

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Vista at Joshua Tree

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Picture of Cholla Cactus at Joshua Tree Park

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An actual Joshua Tree!!

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Howard, Sue and I

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