27th of September, San Diego. Captain’s log. The Crew has
a headache. The last three and a half weeks have not been
easy. End of August, we arrived in Seattle where we were very
warmly received by Ellen’s friends with whom we spent four
days. Besides having the bikes serviced and visiting some
of Ellen’s favorite haunts, we invested quite some time in
teaching everyone who would listen how to mix a decent Caipirinha.
Ah, the joys of teaching….
leaving Seattle, we rode on Highway 101 and Highway 1 along
the coast through Oregon and California to San Francisco.
The riding was great. The Redwood forest in Oregon gave way
to spectacular coastline scenery and perfect, windy roads
with few cars or other nuisances. This is the second time
I’m riding along Highway 1 and I still believe it to be one
of the most spectacular rides I’ve seen so far. Along the
way, in Crescent City, we met Paul of the Cape Crusaders,
a group of three that had started their motorcycle trip in
Argentina six weeks earlier, riding through South America
in the middle of Winter. Hardcore.
We arrived in San Francisco where we met my father who was
going to ride with us for the next two weeks on a rental Harley.
We spend most of our time around the harbor where attractions
were plentiful : One of the Piers, Pier 39, was partially
taken over by sea lions who refused to leave despite efforts
to the contrary. Eventually, under pressure from the citizens,
the town administration gave up and let the sea lions have
the pier. It’s quite a sight, a dozen docks covered in sea
lions that spend their time lounging in the sun and barking
at the tourists. There’s plenty of fish around the harbor
for them to feed on, no predators and sunny weather all year
round. Not a bad way of life.
The next destination was Yosemite National Park where we spend
a couple of days enjoying the scenery, before heading on to
Death Valley. This had been one of the places all of us had
most looked forward to seeing and we were not disappointed.
Moon-like scenery, incredible sunsets and temperatures that
made the evening cerveza(s) taste better than anything ever
before make this a place to come back to in order to explore
it more thoroughly.
with my father was great, this being the first time that we
rode together for a longer distance. Before this, we had spend
several vacations together, either skiing (snowboarding, in
my case) or horseriding. He started motorcycling only a few
years ago, but 40 years of horseriding have provided for the
kind of leather backside recommended for motorcycle touring.
the desolation and the calm of Death Valley, we rode into
what must be one of the most decadent places on Earth, Las
Vegas. After visiting some of the great hotels (that are really
self-contained cities, with restaurants, shops, theaters etc),
we went to see the Blue Man Group, a great performance art
piece. Highly recommended. One day in Las Vegas is not much,
of course, but even so, it was good to get out again, riding
through Zion National Park towards Bryce Canyon. Seeing the
full moon over the main amphitheatre of Bryce Canyon was a
great way to celebrate my 30th birthday. In fact, it was so
great that my father decreed that the birthday celebrations
should last until he would leave us. This meant having an
excuse for quite a few extravaganzas, one of which was my
birthday present, a helicopter ride during sunset over Grand
Canyon, where we arrived two days later.
There’s no point in describing Grand Canyon (or, more generally
the landscapes we have been riding through), you have to see
it for yourself. Riding along the rim, occasionally catching
glimpses through the trees of the abyss beyond, or riding
in savage heat in Nevada or Utah with strange rock formations
lining a straight road, the heat, the smells, the views ahead
and those already behind combine to form an atmosphere impossible
to recreate through descriptions or pictures.
Some of the people encountered along the way fit in with their
strange environment : One that comes to mind was David, owner
of a café in the middle of absolutely nowhere which claimed
to be “Home of the Misfits and the Ugly Man’s Contest”. There
seemed to be quite a few former winners in attendance when
we were present.
Grand Canyon, we rode west again, towards Joshua Tree National
Park, the final attraction of a total of six National Parks
we had crossed in 12 days. A day later we arrived in San Diego,
where my father left us, having totaled 3300 km in 11 riding
days. His commentary was short : “It was great. We must do
it again”. There seems to be good reason for hoping that he
might join us again sometime during the year to come.
We’re now in San Diego, having spent the last few days relaxing,
updating the web site and servicing the bikes (by the way,
when in San Diego and in need of service, House of Motorcycles
is the place to go). Total distance traveled so far amounts
to 10.640 km in almost seven weeks. Average distance covered
comes to approximately 300 km per riding day. The pace has
been somewhat hectic since there was much to see and we had
deliberately planned to ride through North America fairly
quickly. Now that we’re about to enter Mexico, land of looong
siestas, cold Coronas and wiggly Gusanos, we’ll take it easy.
Hasta la vista, Baby.