Day 39/41: Coastal Fog

I spent my last day in Los Angeles out riding in the canyons. I should have went out and rode everyday because I know once I get back home I will have dreams about curvy roads.

I was then treated to a great dinner with Nick and Scott followed up by an impromptu DJ set. It amazes me that even on someone else’s setup with someone else’s music I was fully engaged and having a great time. I will certainly try to get some gigs when I get home. If I could turn that into a part time job I would be a pretty happy camper.

The next day I was up moderately early and finished packing up. After 2 weeks of relaxation it was time to hop back on my steed. Gassed up and re-inflated my tires to their correct levels and we were off. The morning contained much coastal fog.

It is probably a good thing that I left a little later than I originally planned. The sun eventually burned off most of the fog during some of the most beautiful ridgeway riding.

CA-1 is easily the most beautiful road I have ever travelled on. It now makes perfect sense to me why people go out of their way to travel on it. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to be traveling for the holiday at the same time. It didn’t matter. I was in no hurry… I just like to go the speedlimit at the least.

The last 100 miles I hopped off the coast since it was so foggy and flew into San Francisco. I love how the temperatures can vary 20 degrees within a few miles of the ocean. I went from cold with a sweatshirt and jacket to sweating in the valley to cold again… all depending on how close to the water you are. It’s something else.

It is America day so I must get off this laptop and go partake in America celebrations. Happy 4th to everyone!

Day 35/38: Mixed Feelings

Forgive me for this post. This is the first time I’m attempting to write an article off of my phone. Also,

The Dodgers game was a lot of fun. What a beautiful stadium just shoved into a mountainside. Can’t thank my brother enough for all the hospitality these past 2 weeks.

A few days after I was off to Paradise Cove to hang out on Pamela Anderson and Lindsay Lohan’s private beach front. Now that was something I could get used to very easily.

I got beat up in the waves boogie boarding with my niece. It made me feel like a kid again. It actually made me want to have another go at surfing. Last time I did that I was 12 or 13.

I’ve enjoyed every state on my journey west so far but the addition of the ocean just makes California that much more beautiful. It’s another place I find trouble describing.

The mixed feelings are probably for a whole multitude of reasons. Obviously it is expensive but coming from downtown living in Chicago, it is right in line with what I’m used to. Something I find extremely appealing is the fact that people of all ages seem to value their happiness. I’m not sure if that is statewide but everyone I run across seems to understand that we are only on this planet for so long and if you’re not enjoying yourself you are not doing it right. Maybe it has taken me this many states to realize but it’s very apparent here.

My next thought could be caused by my extended stay and time to over think. The southern patience/hospitality is something I was exposed to for a good amount of time. That is nonexistent here. I have found myself more irritable over trivial things. Maybe my irritability was the reason I noticed many others seemingly suffering from the same. Who knows.

Today I received a phone call about one of the 19 jobs I applied for. It made me hopeful that I could possibly be moving out here sometime in 2013. That hope was soon shattered with a little research. Turns out this company was a huge scam. Oh well. We push on as planned. I depart SoCal on Wednesday and will arrive in San Francisco that evening. I really do love it out here but without having a source of income it is time to move on. Next post will be from NorCal.

Day 31/34: Untitled

These past few days have been a continuation of my relaxation strategy. I’ve been watching my niece, visiting my friend in Los Angeles, and did a bit of riding with my buddy Jonny. I’m not going to give you the play-by-play in this post so I’ll just dump the photos here.

I’ve been enjoying my time very much just like I always do but I’m wondering why I continually feel tired. When I’m on the road I have no problem waking up early and getting to sleep easily. Since I’ve been here I have slept over 8 hours every night and still wake up tired. I wonder if that is because I’m getting restless with all this relaxation. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to stay out here before I continue my trip north. I originally planned to head out of here tomorrow but I’m not prepared to leave yet. Maybe I’ll change my mind this evening after the Dodgers game.

I’ve had a lot on my mind as of late. My dad seems extra concerned with me getting a job immediately. I don’t think some people realize that I have been applying for jobs throughout this trip that I don’t really want. I’ve tried to utilize this quiet time to help determine what I would want to do if money was no object. Honestly, I still don’t have a clue. Tomorrow I’ll go for a ride and make some decisions.

Day 27/30: A Horse With No Name and California

I woke up at about 7AM on day 27. That night after I finished writing up my article I walked over to the neighbors spot and had drinks with them until 1AM. Met quite a few interesting characters but it was fun nonetheless. By 8AM I was off and heading through the desert. I wasn’t sure if I would push all the way to my brothers house or stop halfway and complete the journey the next day.

I headed south to go through Sedona, AZ, on my way west and it was even more beautiful than everyone had said. The riding was fantastic. Mountainside roads the whole way down makes for some amazing riding.

This day of riding has definitely been the best. I went through quite a few mountain passes and it feels so great to just lean the bike over. I took some video so hopefully that turns out.

After the first few hours of mountain riding it was time for some lonely riding. Into the desert I went.

People were not exaggerating when they said that this would be a long and boring ride. The heat was well into the upper 90s and I was happy to stop at any gas station I could find. I filled up conservatively the entire day to prepare for any long stretches I might encounter. I also didn’t want to be stuck in the desert without any water. After a few hours I reached a milestone for my trip.

I rode over 7000 miles and just made it to California. I was excited. Actually, I was equally exhausted as I was excited. I assumed that I would be running into more towns once I reached CA. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true at all.

I honestly thought I was going to have to utilize one of the call boxes that are on the side of the road. I was at the 165 mile mark and still didn’t see anything close to resembling civilization. Fifteen miles later I finally made it to a gas station. It makes me laugh how slowly the miles go by when you think you are going to run out of gas. Time just seems to stop and at the top of every ridge you hope you’ll see some form of life on the other side only to be met with another downhill and uphill with nothing else in sight. I was very thankful to not have to hitchhike or use a call box.

A few hours later I was in Thousand Oaks, CA, locked out of my brothers house. Thankfully his neighbor was home and had a key for me.

After some much needed sleep I woke up on Day 28 and decided to really go for a swim and enjoy some sun.

After some well deserved relaxation I ventured down to Los Angeles to visit my friend Nick. Thank you for the double-double buddy. It was exactly what I needed.

I decided that I needed to do something productive yesterday so I changed the oil on my bike.

Later that night my brother took me to an outdoor winery/pavilion that had some great live music. I felt like a true adult drinking fancy red wines with a bunch of adults. It was pretty funny to see how hard these “adults” could party. I was impressed. We stopped at a few more places, had a few more drinks before finally calling it a night. It was a good evening.

California very similar to Florida in the sense that it is a point of recuperation for me. I’m not sure how long I will be staying here but it will be well into next week. I have family and friends to see here so I’m in no hurry to leave the perfect weather. Not sure if I will be doing daily posts but I’ll try to put an article and some photos up every other day at the very least.

Time for lunch. See you in the next one.

Day 25/26: Day of Delay and Grand Canyon

This very moment in time is exactly what I envisioned for this trip. Typing an article by a bonfire in the woods.

Yesterday was a trying day. I wanted to put on as many miles as I could to get close to the Grand Canyon. The campsites there are first come first serve. Thankfully my host that previous evening prepared a delicious egg breakfast that would fuel me until 9PM that evening.

WIthin 40 miles from her house I was riding some amazing New Mexico roads. I felt like a king that just owned it all.

My GPS told me to turn onto Old Route 66. I thought, AWESOME! This is some history I’m about to ride on. I’ve witnessed “Loose Gravel” signs before so I thought this was just like all the others. Boy was I wrong.

I went from riding on pavement at 70MPH when all of a sudden the pavement just dropped off and it was only rocks and ditch size potholes all while flying onto this at 70. This was the first butt puckering moment I’ve had the entire trip. Lance, I dedicate those 13 miles of obnoxious road to you my man.

After that I was blessed with some pavement. Shoddy pavement but pavement nonetheless.

This is an area of no fences, no houses, no anything. I see something in the road ahead of me. What was it you ask? Horses. Wild horses just standing in the middle of the road. One of them even ran next to me for 30 seconds. I can’t even put into words how crazy this was to see firsthand.

After that it was smooth sailing ahead… or so I thought.

While in the middle of “No Service” New Mexico I thought to myself, “what if my phone charger stopped working. That would really suck and I’d be screwed.” I tap the home button on my phone to find that my charger is in fact not doing any charging. Shit. I stop at a 2 pump gas station and ask if they know where the nearest Best Buy or Radioshack would be. They direct me to a bigger city about 40 miles off the path I was taking. This is the part of the trip where you need to take the blows as they come.

I get to Gallup and head into the mall. Find one of the many cell phone vendors and pick up a new cord. Plug it into the bike and see that I’m still not getting power to the phone. I have 18% battery left. I better figure this out soon. I text my parents and say I love them and then stop at a gas station to rip the bike open. It had to be the direct charger off the battery.

Well what do you know. All the off road riding (also known as the bumpiest stretch of road that probably loosened all my bolts… good old Rt. 66) jostled all the wiring and switch. Two quick presses and we were back in business. Thank god.

With a functional phone charger I was off 40 miles back to my original route. After a little while I was in Arizona.

So when people tell you AZ is hot, they mean it is hot. You can be at 85MPH with a strong wind and still be sweating. I have no idea what it actually was that day since I couldn’t check with no cell phone reception but it was quite warm. Something you never want to do in these situations is stand still. What do I run into? Multiple “One Lane Ahead” situations.

I could see the couple behind me laughing as they pulled up and saw my bike fully loaded with a guy in full leathers sitting at 0MPH melting.

As I proceeded through Arizona I saw a lot of burned up plots of land. I can’t imagine seeing these fires in person. Everything is so dry that a spark would set a few square miles a blaze.

I also suffered from GPS retardation which played into my large delay and 600+ mile day. I was 35 miles past where I needed to turn and thought, “I’ve been on this road for more than 20 miles.” I check the GPS to find it is stuttering and says I’m at my destination. Another hard reset and 35 miles of back tracking. I couldn’t catch a break.

I knew the last 100 miles of my trip were going to be the enjoyable one. I put out a call on the previous night to help me decide which route to take. I was so ready to see this sign.

I was finally able to enjoy some very twisty national forest roads before I got to Flagstaff. I was pleased.

The last 15 miles was gravel but I didn’t even care. This was a side of Arizona I never expected to see. Sheer beauty.

Day 26 began with a big bowl of cereal thanks to my gracious host Dave. I needed to get to the campgrounds early to secure a spot. By 1045AM I was in the dirt and ready to set up camp.

I can’t begin to explain how happy I was to get a spot here. This was one of the major things I wanted to see on this trip.

I have many more photos on my point-and-shoot but I’m not chancing the upload at this campsite. I didn’t have any service for a long time so let’s appreciate the fact that I was able to type this article.

I stopped into the visitor center and said, “if you only had one day to spend here, what would you go see?” She told me to park at the main grounds and take the shuttle everywhere. To the shuttle we went.

While driving into the park there was one point where the trees cleared and I saw the grand canyon. I wish you could have heard me scream into my helmet. I couldn’t believe what I saw in that fleeting moment. I was excited to get to an outlook and really see what this Grand Canyon was all about.

I spent 6.5 hours around the park. I even went on an hour long hike. I spent 20 minutes walking down and then 40 to walk back up. While on that 40 minute walk back up the mountainside it really hit me in the face that I was actually not in shape at all and that my 20oz beer with lunch wasn’t helping my current situation. I felt better when I read signs stating that at 7000ft elevation everything is more difficult. Thanks sign.

This trip has opened my eyes to how small I am relative to the world. Until this point, the vast open roads and huge plots of land were the reason why. Not only did I feel ridiculously small after seeing the size of this canyon, my trip felt small. Think about it. I’m from Chicago and I rode here on a sport bike. There are people who most likely spent 24 hours on airplanes to get to this very point. I’m so used to everyone calling me crazy and talking to me about how long of a journey it has been but here that is not the case. People from around the world were riding the shuttles and I realized that I’m not the only traveler. The entire day I had my helmet strapped to my Camelbak and I honestly laughed when the server commended me on my journey considering the fact that she seated people from Germany and France before me. I am but a mere speck in this large place we called the world.

I made it back to camp sunburned as hell and decided to go walk a mile down the road to see if I could find some firewood.

Without further adieu I present the “man’s pack” for camping.

I was fully ready and capable to start the fire myself when the people in the spot next to me wandered over and gave me lighter fluid and charcoals. I’m not going to complain. In my book this counts as me starting the fire by myself.

It is so relaxing out here I can’t begin to tell you. I want to get off this laptop and enjoy it. See you all in California.