So I get to my room and unpack and decide to get some food and a beer or two. I start walking from my room and see a beefy looking dude with a shaved head and tattoos drinking a beer
Me: Hey where did you get the beer?
All of a sudden his wife/girlfriend appears, looks similar to him but with bleached blond shoulder length hair
Him: We got it across the street. You want one? We have pizza too, come on in.
Me: I gotta stretch the legs, thanks for the offer, maybe on the way back
Him: Well we will be here all night and we got plenty of beer
I went to the grocery store and got some sandwiches and 2 tall boys. On the way back I made sure to avoid walking by my new friends doorway as I was not interested in any sort of further conversation. After a beer and my 2 sandwiches I basically passed out. Day 2 down.
Woke up in Willcox and was confused by the time. Turns out all of Az is in the Pacific time zone. I used that as an excuse to start later. I have a cousin in Phoenix who I figured I should visit. I called him last minute and turned out he was coaching Hockey in Tucson. I rode to Tuscon and called him again. He said he had another hour so I figured I would take it slow to Phoenix. Looked at a map and took a super roundabout way. The days start out cold in the desert but heat up pretty quick. I went a roundabout way and got out into the desert. Being that it was Sunday there were a number of other motorcyclist out. Turns out the Southwest is cruiser bike territory. I followed a group for about 15-20 miles in the desert and finally decided to pass them as they were riding about 5 under the speed limit and while I was not in a rush I wasn’t really enjoying the 100+ heat in leather jacket and armored jeans. I promptly got turned around and confused where I was going. I stopped and out of nowhere a dude appears and asks if I have seen any dogs on the side of the road. I was in the middle of nowhere and the fact that this dude pops up out of nowhere freaked me out a bit. I asked him what type of dogs and of course they were pits. I guess they had a litter of blue pits that went missing. He felt they had been stolen or something. I spend the next 10 miles looking for little blue pit puppies trying to figure out the logistics of carrying a puppy in my jacket while riding. Luckily I didn’t see any so I don’t have a new dog. Realizing I was lost, I put in Phoenix into my phone to get me back on i-10.
Got back on 10 pretty easily and stopped at a Wendy’s to call my cousin. We decided on some tavern and I put it into my phone and headed out. Noticed at a bank the temp was 103. I followed the nav directions and found them ending in the middle of downtown Phoenix. I was like what the ****… then I realized I forgot to wipe the previous destination. I started to change the destination and the phone told me it was too hot and would shut down if I didn’t let it cool down. I got the directions and from where I was I needed the phone working. I popped it in and hoped it would stay alive until I was close. I made it to the place and parked under a tree. I walk into the bar and it was like New Orleans. The Saints were playing and everyone in the bar was dressed in saints gear and carrying on. I am not a sports fan but it was pretty amusing to me. My cousin said it was just a sports bar and that he didn’t know about the big group of saints supporters. Midway through the meal one of the valets came in and was like “do you own the triumph?” I replied “yes” and he handed me my keys. I had just left them in the ignition. I realized that the stop for lunch was a good thing. Got back on the road after about an hour and started my final push to LA to see my friends. It was hot and riding into the sun in the afternoon for the 3rd day in a row was killing me. On top of that traffic going into LA was a pain in the ass because it was the end of a weekend. It got dark and I changed masks but I was tired and cramped so it took me longer than it should have to get to my friends place. I got there and let myself in. Stage one done.
Took it easy on Monday and just stayed on a couch. Went out for oil but it being Monday the shops were closed. Bought a few cigars for the rest of the trip and took it easy. Walked with friend and his kid around a local park and then went out to dinner while the wife stayed home with the kid. Went to a place called Animal. http://animalrestaurant.com/ it was decent but has nothing on New Orleans. I realized I am ruined from living down here and all other restaurants will probably be mediocre. I believe that this restaurant has the right idea but their execution is done poorly. I found that they offer all sorts of interesting dishes but then over season to make them more palatable for mass consumption. An example is the sweet breads. The first time I ever had them is at a place in New Orleans called Upperline. Upperline prepared them so that the sweet breads were the center of the dish. Animal prepares them as deep fried with a sauce. My friend and I split the dish and we both felt that they could have been fried anything. The chefs miss the opportunity to let the central ingredient do the talking for them and instead over produce the whole dish. Anyway… the dinner was good but it was not Cochon http://www.cochonrestaurant.com/ or http://www.upperline.com/ standards.
After dinner we went across the street to a small bar for an after dinner aperitif and ended up about 10 Jameson’s deep and had some good conversations. My buddy works in “The Business” or whatever they call it and is a writer for a number of TV shows. It was interesting being out with him and talking to people he vaguely knew because they were so tied into the industry and can quote lines from movies as obscure as The Last Boyscout (no shit, someone did). I honestly cannot remember if I have seen a movie until I am almost done with it. I watched the whole fist season of Eastbound and Down while out there and didn’t remember seeing them all before. They all seemed familiar but I wasn’t sure if I had seen them. So anyway we were at the bar and talking to everyone and somehow I made friends with a 6’^” British dude named Alex and his friend. Alex provided money while his friend developed music talent. His friend and I had a conversation that went like this:
Him: Where you from?
Me: I have been living in New Orleans for the last 2.5 years
Him: Oh? I have been helping develop Curren$y, have you heard of him?
Me: yeah, he sucks… not good at all… weak lyrics and nothing original
Him: no he is good, people just haven’t gotten him yet
Me: because he sucks…
We continued to talk and break balls and have a good old time until early in the morning when we stumbled to Canters Deli which is the biggest ****ing rip-off ($6.55 for a bagel and cream cheese and a large coffee. The bagel was tiny and shitty. In NYC it would have been $2.50 for a manly bagel and good coffee) star ****ing place in LA. I even went to Yelp and wrote a review about this place. Being the negative asshole I am, I only write when I hate places.
“Moooooommy”, me: Ouch
I wake up on my friends couch to their son waking up at his normal time. I have that feeling of I need to stay on the road and stick to my plan but I decide **** it, I am going to stay in LA for another day and take it easy, again. We chill out for the morning and my friend has to work with his writing partner while I lay around and watch Eastbound and Down and then probably the worst movie I have ever seen Torque. Wife comes home at about 530 and we go to the park again, grab pizza and call it a night. Next day I head out. To Marin County via Highway One; the whole reason I came on this trip.
7:30 am Wednesday. I pack up and head out. I am not 100% where I am going but I finally figure it out. I have heard about the lane-splitting in CA but I am not prepared for the process. The majority of cars will proactively give you some room as you are riding along the white line and going over the little reflectors. Others are totally oblivious and block you out. I found when I came to those cars and looked in, more likely than not there was a person on their phone gabbing away. Got through Morning traffic pretty quick and was up the coast. I was disappointed because Highway 1 through Big Sur area was really fogged in and cold. On top of that the road is in horrible shape and not conducive to fast riding. A lot of imperfections from mud slides, one lane roads due to construction, trailers, RVs and dirt/gravel in turns. I have done the drive a number of times in a car and never notices any of this. Stopped in Carmel for a coffee. My grandmother lived in the Carmel area for 30+ years before passing away in 208 so it was nice to stop and revisit the area, even if just for a coffee.
Carmel to San Jose was interesting in that it was jammed with traffic. I wisely allowed a guy on a Harley go in front of me with the idea of following him as he split traffic. I was really amazed at this dude flinging his bike around and whipping it in and out of traffic. He did a great job of revving his engine to inattentive drivers and splitting the path. We did 15 miles in about 20 minutes or so and came to some crazy situation where a truck that was carrying heavy construction vehicles had one of the chains securing the vehicle break and basically fall off causing the semi to run off the road. Would have been miserable if not for the lane splitting.