So trip completed with little drama. Overall it went a lot easier than I thought it was going to go. I have never taken a trip anywhere that long before and so there was a bit of a learning curve for me. I went with the Fieldsheer Contour Tank Bag and the MotoCentric Mototrek Sport Saddlebags as well as the MotoCentric Mototrek Visor Bag. They all held up pretty well. I have a plastic tank so there was some slipping with the tank bag till I rigged up some zip ties and micro bungees. Once I got all the gear dialed in it worked pretty well. I was always a bit nervous that it was going to shift in a turn but it never did.
I left New Orleans around 7:15am on Friday 9/16 and got on 10 and just drove. It was pretty miserable. I stopped somewhere past Houston for a little bit and grabbed a brisket sandwich. It was pretty good. Before I even got to Houston I started seeing signs for Buckee's in Luling TX. I had a lot of time to think as I was riding without head phones and just ear plugs. I started thinking about Buckees and why the **** they would be advertising 250+ miles away. I decided I would stop. At one of my gas stops I looked it up on my phone and saw reviews saying it was really fantastic, and a must stop, and the only thing worthwhile between Houston and San Antonio, and the cleanest bathrooms on I-10. The cleanest bathrooms had me, but so did the miles and miles of billboards they had posted. I was a sort of excited when I stopped and it really turned out to be a huge, kitschy, convenience store. I took advantage of the rest rooms and dropped a deuce and took some photos for your pleasure. Nothing explicit but just an idea of the cleanest bathrooms on I-10. I bought some Jerky and water and headed out. I had no idea where I was going to stop, but I did know I really didn't want to be traveling at dusk and when it got dark. Too many deer on the side of the road, and I was pretty tired. I stopped in Kerrville TX and took some photos of a cross by the side of the road and gassed up. Checked my phone and saw some hotels in Junction TX that were getting decent reviews. Being naive to West Texas I thought it would be a nice little town with all sorts of good food choices and so on. I had seen there was a college or university there and I was assuming that it would be a youngish town and sorta hip. Not sure why I was thinking this but it may demonstrate how fried my brain was. Pulled into Junction and couldn't remember the name of the hotel that had gotten the best reviews. As I rolled down Main Street I noticed three separate deer processing stations. Stopped at gas station and looked at phone for hotel, no ****ing internet service. Called the wife and she reminded me the name. As I pulled in another guy on Vstrom was pulling in. We got into a conversation and he invited me to dinner with him and his two buddies. We sate around and ate fried catfish and I learned Junction TX has a series of roads called "The Twisted Sisters" and is actually a bit of a motorcycle mecca in TX. Two of the dudes had ridden down from Dallas and one from Houston for a weekend of riding the hills. The ride from San Antonio to Junction was actually pretty good with good scenery and some turns. I was thinking the rest of west TX was going to be like that but these lads burst my bubble and told me that I would hit flat and straight and 80mph highway in about 20 miles. I slept like a log that night. Day one down.
Waking up the next morning, I put all my gear onto the bike and made it my mission to get well past TX for the day. People had told me there was **** all nothing in west Texas and it turns out they were right. The only redeeming quality of west TX was the 80mph speed limit. I exceeded it all day by at least 15mph. A guy in AZ told me later that the cops will grab you for exceeding 80 with the idea that 80 is fast enough. I guys I am lucky to not have been gotten by the cops. I was however unlucky enough to almost have been gotten by the rednecks. I was cruising along blissfully with no fuel gauge and just an orange light that tends to get washed out in bright sun, which the desert has in spades. I passed a gas station assuming that the good entrepreneurs of Bum**** TX would let me know that they were the last gas for 70 miles or so. So about 15 miles after passing the station I notice my gas light is on. Not sure how long it has been on but it is just staring at me. I contemplate heading back but then I say **** it and keep on keeping on. 20 miles later I am starting to get nervous. I come over a hill and there, in all its glory, is a gas station right off the highway. I whip off the highway and turn left to the station. As I am pulling in I notice an idling semi and an abandoned pickup. I then notice that the station is abandoned and there will be no gas. I stop and ask the truckers and they tell me I am shit out of luck for 30+ miles in either direction. I see that there is repeated spray paint that says "Fuel - call 432-661-7737" (this is his real number, feel free to call this mother****er and repeat what I said to him). I call and get the guy on the phone:
Me: Hi, I am at an abandoned station on i-10 and I got your number from the spray paint. I need fuel, where are you?
Him: I know exactly where you are, this is how it works... I drive out to you with a 5 gallon container of fuel for $110
Me: I'm sorry I thought I heard you say $110...
Him: Yes that is how much it is. There are no stations for 30+ miles on either side of you.
Me: Who are you? Are you a private guy? wrecker service? something else?
Him: I am the local towing service
Me: so when I run out and I call my roadside assistance you are the guy who will come and give me fuel?
Him: yes, but I am heading out to Stockton in a minute and if you run out you will be on the side of the road.
Me: Look I am on a bike, I can't even take 5 gallons. Let me come to you and I'll get the fuel from you directly.
Him: I am in Sheffield. Hurry up because I am out of here in 10 minutes for Stockton.
Me after hanging up phone: cocksucker
So I hop on the bike and rip down to the next exit where Sheffield TX happens to be located. I whip another 7 miles off the highway into a shit stain of a town. First I pass the fire house where there were about 15 mid-teens standing around in all white with white hats and 3 army dudes around them. They were washing the ambulance but all paused and watched me as I drove by.
I quickly realized I had no idea where this asshole lived so I stopped and walked over to one of the army dudes.
Me: Do you know where the towing service is?
Him: No sir, I am not sure
Me: Do you know where I could get a gallon of gas to get me to the next station?
Him: No sir, I do not but this guy over here might know
Other guy: I think Stockton is the closest and that is about 35 miles
Me: This guy from the towing company said he would sell me 5 gallons for $110
Army dude: What!?!!
Me: Yeah, I got the number from the station down the way
Army dude: Well that is just plain un-American. I'll tell you what. I have a 5 gallon can in the back of my truck down there. Go down and take what you need
Me: Let me give you some money.
Army dude: don't worry about it, I can't believe someone would try and charge a fellow American in need $110 for 5 gallons of gas.
Me: here is $20.
Army dude: If you insist
I rode down the street and found his truck and started to gas up.
I got a lot of odd looks by people in the area but no one approached me. I waved to them all as I left and was thankful to get on the road again.
I stopped in Stockton and gassed up again. I learned my lesson to pay attention to the odometer and gas up when I had the chance and knocked off 100 miles.
Hit El Paso TX in the afternoon and was really taken by surprise. I know I probably shouldn't have been but there were a ton of Mexican license plates which I had never seen before (that I recall) and just a really dusty feel to the whole place. I guess I was right next to Mexico and got some decent views of the lovely town of Juarez. No incidents that I recall except a bunch of young dudes running around in fast and furious type cars and one dude with a really nicely painted Charger with big ass rims. Made me think to myself about getting some American muscle with a nice paint job on some rims. something like this: http://imgs.inkfrog.com/pix/monaco/7..._0k_medium.JPG would be ideal This gave me something to think about until I stopped for the night. I wanted to whip through New Mexico and was shooting for Tuscon but the whole gas thing took about an hour to sort out so I had to stop in Willcox AZ. I stopped at a hotel where I met one of the dumbest girls I had ever met.
Me: I would like a room for the night
Her: Ok I need a card and an ID.
Me: Ok here you go
Her: (Looking puzzled by my id; full disclosure and in her defense I have a New Hampshire ID with my New Orleans address) "Is New Hampshire the same as New Orleans"?
Me: ummm I am not sure what you mean by that... New Orleans is a city and New Hampshire is a state.
Her: So New Orleans, Los Angeles?
Me: What? oh... uh, no... LA stands for Louisiana
Her: I'm so confused.... So New Hampshire, Louisiana?
Me: Look... I live at xxxxx New Orleans LA
Her: What is this number after the LA?
Me: It is the zip code
Her: Why is it so long?
Me: They put the plus 4 onto the normal 5 digit
Her: what does that mean?
Me: Just write 70115 please and let me go
Her: I should have paid more attention in school
I shit you not, this is almost verbatim with very little embellishment or exaggeration
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.
Hustled up to San Francisco. It was getting dark as I rolled into town and not sure where I was going I pulled over. I had to go over the Golden Gate which forced me to go through the middle of the city. It was getting dark and by the time I made it to the city it was dark. By the time I got to the bridge it was nighttime and the fog was rolling in thick. The fog coated my mask so bad on both the inside and outside that I could barely see. I was pretty certain I was going to die. All I could think about was this movie I had seen called The Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridge_%282006_film%29 I thought for sure some bad shit was going to happen. I got to the other side pulled over and collected myself and moved on. Got to the place and met my friends and got dinner.
My friend in Novato gave me a couple little tips for the ride to Lake Tahoe so I followed them. I got a little past Sacramento and stopped at Roseville Yamaha and got more oil and some chain lube. Added oil and lubed the chain and kept going. The scenery really started to get spectacular. Going up into the mountains and the size of the trees, it was all a lot better than the other parts of the trip. I got to South Lake around 5 or 6pm and we got dinner at a local place.
Two days in Tahoe seeing the sights and finding a mummified coyote body and taking the head to try to get the skull had me in good spirits when I left. Tahoe is gorgeous. I headed towards Vancouver via google maps directions and it was a great ride. Really beautiful lakes and mountains. All the photos are in the photo link. So all of the beauty soon became redundant and I just wanted the drive to be over. It started to get dark and moist in the Oregon mountains and I was thinking I would like to get to Eugene to get a hotel. I made it to Oakridge. I went through Oakridge but I saw a Deer sign and then an Elk sign. It was the Elk sign that made me rethink my push through to Eugene. I stayed at a nice little motel and had a great burger at a local diner. The roads through the mountains were sick and I was just glad to be almost done.
Awake and on my way. No real rain the whole way but then outside of Eugene it started to come down. Put on the rain gear and pushed on. Got to my land lords house around noon and settled in.
No trouble with the law until Monday after I got to Vancouver. Cop Pulled me over and went around my bike and told me I needed about 5-6 different things. I think I got it all squared away just by moving my plate and getting some reflectors but we will see.
That is good
Glad you made it in one piece. Best of luck with the rest of the move and getting started on the next episode ...............
You think he's gone? He's not gone. That's the whole point! He's never gone!
Makes me itch, i just put my saddle bags back on my bike. Good job getting there!
I have a very short attention span. Let me know when the abridged version comes out.
"I haven't shot anybody since 1992...and even then I didn't do it!" - Mark 'Chopper' Read
I like shiny things.