Wednesday 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….

After 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.

Riding 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.

>From 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.

After 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.

M & E