Home, done, still a little dusty.

We’ve been back home for two weeks, and I’m trying to get this post completed before the experience just turns into a mushy memory. I do need to hurry.

Well, what a trip indeed. Our first extended motorbike trip. We are still reflecting, thinking about our adventure, and adjusting to life back home.

We spent weeks planning the trip, route planning, lists and lists of what to bring, and who would bring what. We learned we can spend a lot of time planning, but that flexibility is more important, and not hold on too much to any pre-conceived ideas or plans for or about the trip.

For example, we thought, we would ride from Victoria to Missisippi… and back. 12,000 kms.

Once we got on the road, everything changed. The route we planned, well, very little of it was followed. The Anacortes ferry from Sidney, B.C. to Washington State, wasn’t running in March! The route based on that departure point well, went south. So, the alternate route was Victoria to Port Angeles Washington, staying on the coast. That was part of the plan, but we thought we would be heading east in northern California – to Reno. Again, the route had to change as the routes were freezing/with snow. Basically, I’m saying, that we really just had to roll with it, and take into account the weather mostly, and a bunch of other things as we went.

Once we got into the rhythm of things we found this kind of pattern worked the best: Travel 2-4 days, staying in motels, with a specific destination in mind. This allowed us to make some ground up, and then we would usually be camping and exploring a particular area. We didn’t start camping until we got to Death Valley, a two to three weeks into the trip, so it was motels and AirBnB’s until DV. Camping before this wasn’t practical; it was March, and Washington, Oregon, Northern California were too cold for camping, (for us, anyway). We also considered if we were approaching a weekend/spring break etc, when accommodations were harder to find and secure, the weather – whether camping was going to be comfortable or miserable…

On the trip towards home we were able to camp a bit more, as the weather was warming. Zion, Moab, North of Bend, then Nakusp. Same sort of patterns here, continuous travel for a few days, staying in motels, then stay put camping.

Others definitely travel further in a day than we; 400kms is a high average, but, that’s what worked for us. We like to get to places before dark, so we have some downtime; and we don’t rush in the mornings either. Steady state, as Lars says.

Expectations and impressions

We really didn’t know what to expect with a big motorbike trip such as this. We have done a few smaller trips, but this was almost open ended, and the feel was quite a bit different.

To be honest, at the beginning, I wasn’t really liking travelling on the big bike. My other bike is an XT250, and 90% of my motorcycle travel had been accomplished with that little dirt bike. It did take a long time to get used to riding the NC700 at freeway speeds, and at some point, I really enjoyed the ease of the highway travel. It did come with a cost though. I had noted turbulence and noise issues earlier, and despite our efforts at trying different windscreens, deflectors, helmets and earplugs, it didn’t get resolved to any satisfaction. A souvenir for me, is tinnitus. Still some things to sort out there, but I’m confident something can be sorted out.

Anyway, we had to be flexible, and, while we did have a few bumpy days, overall, being flexible and not hanging on to anything too tightly, really made the travel a positive experience.

In Moab Utah, we experienced a fire in the campground one day, and a torrential downpour with thunder, lightning, hail and rains that were 6″ deep the next night! In regards to scenery, Utah and Nevada really knocked our socks off. The red rock of Utah, and the wide open desert landscapes, Hoover Dam in Nevada. Roads open, wide and empty. Truly amazing. The Butler maps really helped us plan the routes, and select amazing roads for the bikes.

2018 big trip map

This is the map we used to roughly plan our trip. The pink, if you can see it, is what we had planned. From Victoria, to Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi.

The blue highlighter, is the route of what we actually accomplished. One half only. Victoria to Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada. Punctuated with a flight and a two week trip to New Orleans, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast; then returning to the bikes in Las Vegas and on to to Utah, and home via Nevada, Oregon, Washington and the Kootenays in B.C., and to Victoria via the Tsawassen – Nanaimo ferry.

The pink route was 12,000 kms. We travelled half the map by motorbike and that was 11,000 kms. We didn’t take into account any to-ing and fro-ing we would be doing during the trip. In Death Valley, for example, we were staying in Mesquite Spring Campground and needed to do errands, and get camp fuel. That took us to Pahrump, Nevada, which was 180kms one way. That was really expensive camp fuel, but we needed the fuel, and to do other errands as well. So, I don’t know how we would have managed riding all the way to Mississippi, and back.

We left on March 10, returned to Victoria on June 4, 2018. Out of this time, we spent two months “on the road” and the equivalent of one month “staying put”. This meant we travelled 11,400 kms in two months.

If you like numbers, this is how the bikes fared:

  • Versys average 4 litres / 100 kms
  • NC Average 3.2 litres / 100 kms
  • Versys used 440 litres
  • NC used 352 litres

On the way we had some maintenance done in Las Vegas, at Carter Powersports. On Lars’ Versys, an oil change and both tires were replaced. For my NC700, just the rear tire. Have to say that service was just OK there. They were very busy, as there was some recall for the Polaris quads. On top of waiting there for five and a half hours for this work to be done, we found out once we got to Mead Lake, that the three tires had been over inflated to 55 psi, and the bolt that holds the front axle on Lars’ bike had not been tightened at all. They seem very service oriented, but, some quality control was lacking that day.

The only other mechanical to note, ironically, is a flat tire. On Lars’ Versys. No idea what caused the flat, but it was a very slow leak. I mentioned it to Lars in Nakusp, but it wasn’t until we left there, headed for Merritt that Lars checked the pressure. 16psi. Ooops. What to do in Lumby? So, we inflated the tire, and weighed options. As it was a slow leak, we could fill and ride… always nerve wracking, but we have had a bit of experience with flat tires. They haven’t blown up on us yet. Someone didn’t realize that the Ride-on tire sealant product sold at Gnarly Parts in Chilliwack, was actually on the way to the ferry. Someone else, suggested that we stop by on the way and pick some up. : /
Huge Shout Out to Gnarly Parts! They had the sealant, and let us use the service bay, to put the goo into the tire and helped get us on the road.

It sounds kind of ridiculous, but before setting out on a trip like this, we needed to be on the same page, both having an overall high level understanding of what we wanted to do, realistic understanding of expectations. As we travelled, we could talk about having some common understanding and approaches of dealing with the “what comes up”, whether it be a flat tire, or whatever. It wasn’t always easy, the constant travel was definitely work, and sometimes our misunderstandings were even harder. All good in the end, as we talk about our next adventure… Will keep you posted!

2018 big trip map

See Lars’ awesome photos from the trip

The jaw dropping continues.

This trip has certainly been one of surprises, when it comes to the vast and amazing landscapes and scenery that we have had the opportunity to see and explore.

Lars and I were both totally unaware of how beautiful the views and vistas would be.  We had heard about the parks, Zion,  Bryce etc, but. .. we were so amazed at the beauty once we got there!  Unreal. We spent time in Zion,  Capitol Reef and Moab/Arches. All was beautiful.  More than what we could have ever imagined. But, it wasn’t just the parks that were stunning it was all the areas that are nearby as well. It’s not like the beauty of the parks are within the drawn boundaries! In addition, there were state parks that were equally as beautiful, but maybe didn’t have the same exposure, and thankfully not the same amount of traffic! Arches had line ups at the gates; something I think is absolutely ridiculous. We didn’t go at peak times and also didn’t go to Canyonlands as the queue was long and unmoving. There’s always a silver lining. Instead of Canyonlands, we went to Dead Horse State Park, and dropped our jaws there instead.

So, there are the parks  and then there are the roads and highways. More amazing, mostly empty highways, not a lot of traffic, but stunning vistas, and a wide variation of temperatures and a lot of wind.  Cross and head mostly!  That sites make it pretty tiring, but, still the roads and riding, parks and scenery continued to amaze us, hour after hour, day after day.

Nevada was also a treat, with landscapes and vistas that were totally unexpected. Lake Mead National Park was nothing short of spectacular,  red rock, amaazing vistas, and we don’t have one photo to show you.  It was hot, and the distances were very long getting from our campsite at Echo Bay, to anywhere in the park. Take our word for it, it’s an amazing place. Valley of Fire was also un unbelievable. Red Rock left and right. Wet did get photos there, honest…

What is most impressive here, is the overall attitude towards this public land. The state and federal governments invite the public to use the land and dispersed camping is welcomed and encouraged! On Vancouver Island, and British Columbia,  it is absolutely ridiculous how our public lands are behind gates, and restricted from public access. Which a stark difference. We could learn a thing or two about land management!

Enough,  for now,  some photos!

Rock wall formations Zion National Park

Donna and Lars, Zion National Park

Lars and I at Observation Point at Zion National Park. Big sweat, bigger payoffs.

People!

We have met some amazing and wonderful people on our road trip. Motorcyclists often seek one another out, and there’s a kinship of a shared hobby or activity that connects people.

We have been sharing contact info with folks, and if we have met you, we truly would love to hear from you again. Keep the lines of communication open!

Some of the awesome people we have connected with on this trip. (We would have met you in March, April, May 2018):

  • Jeanne, Bob, Dylan, Mandy and Colefax, we met you at the Slickrock Campground; and expect to see at least, Jeanne and Bob in Victoria in 2019, right?
  • Sarah and Doug Greer, from Kentucky. We met you in Ely, Nevada. Wehave never met a couple who have had and ridden so many bikes, on so many adventures. Prudhoe Bay on GS1100’s; Trips to Canada and other on DR 650’s; to Utah on Yamaha 225’s. You seem like really awesome people, I hope our paths cross again!
  • Doris and Rolf from Germany; we met you at Echo Bay Campsite at Lake Mead. Do drop us a line and let us know how you got along with the Tiger fork seal in Las Vegas;
  • Rick, who was the Campsite Host at Death Valley; Lovely fellow, great with people;
  • Russ, with his wife (whose name we didn’t get); we met you at the campground across from the Corona Arches Trailhead. We connected because you have an XT 250 – way to go! As we said, feel free to email about that KLX 250…
  • Ray, from Nanaimo; we met you at the Stovepipe Wells Campsite. You put us onto the Mesquite Spring campsite. Thank you! This set us up so well, I don’t think this would have been as wonderful an experience at any other campsite in the park.
  • Rich, the TW200 rider; we met you at Mesquite Campground in Death Valley. You gave us some good tips for Las Vegas, we did end up spending a fair bit of time there getting our bikes sorted out.

On the sharing economy, AirBnB and Uber;

Two hosts come to mind, Shira in Windsor California and Anthony in Las Vegas. Great hosts, we would like you to know how much we appreciate your hospitality. Thank you!

Uber; we’ve met some interesting people on our rides, allowing us to get a window into the world and communities we have travelled in. We both were negative to these business models, but now, see such benefits in the way they can connect people.

Mississippi, Katrina, Nola

We left New Orleans yesterday, just closing out our trip in the southern states. Ocean Springs Mississippi was our end destination, before we did a turnaround to begin the long journey home.

How can I say, we have had just a wonderful time. We stayed with Marie and Ray and their super hyper but terribly adorable black lab Winnie. Marie and Ray are pretty adorably too, and considerably less hyper.

Being off the bikes for this part of our trip was a nice break. We left them in Las Vegas and flew to New Orleans and rented a car to get to Ocean Springs. It is so different there, where the land rarely exceeds sea level, and the bayous, where the sea water from the Gulf of Mexico, mixes with the river water. So much of the Mississippi coastline is dotted with the bayou marshy wetlands. Unreal to have alligators and tortoises as the local wildlife! The bugs are pretty incredible too, the gnats… tiny, but horrible little creatures! It was a cool spell, so the mosquitos hadn’t quite joined the party. So, that was the worst part of being in the south, except for the hangover in New Orleans… anyway…

We learned that during Hurricane Katrina, the damage was definitely not limited to New Orleans. There, the damage was from the levees being breached, and the areas there being flooded asking with the damage from the winds, up to 150 mph. The storm surge there was 25 feet high, which is incredible to imagine…

Ray was a fire fighter during Katrina, and told us much about the disaster and damage in Mississippi,  Alabama and Louisiana.

The storm spanned 500 miles, from Louisiana to Florida.

Across Mississippi the coastal towns of Gulfport, Pass Christian, Biloxi and Ocean Springs experienced storm surge from 25 feet, to a maximum of 50+ feet! The damage from the surges off the Gulf of Mexico was immense, key bridges were destroyed, thousands of properties also. According to Ray the houses were battered from the incoming surges, and the damaged houses and debris inland took out houses as the storm surges receded.

Its evident that many houses have yet to be replaced, driveways lead to vacant lots, mailboxes sit infront of  foundations of past dwellings.

Nonetheless, it was so very interesting, fascinating and saddening to hear of this destruction.

The next chapter of our education was in New Orleans. The state museum had display about Katrina, first voices, the kinds out thing one expects to see in a state-run display.

One off the reasons I’m loving uber so much is the connection with people of the city. Our driver was vey honest and frank and shared his experiences of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

He had family who drowned during Katrina. His daughter was stranded by the high water; she wasn’t saved by the national guard, but was passed by them. Apparently they saved the whites and the blacks were left to fend for themselves… the girl was saved by a black man who had a boat.

After the damage, he was promised federal/insurance money to help, it never came. According to him, the nice “white” areas received federal funds.

“People wonder why we’re angry, no wonder we’re angry!” Is what he said.

It has been interesting, to say the least, to talk to people who had first hand experience living through Katrina.

Mobile Alabama

Photos from our daytrip to Nola:

Some travels, New Orleans and Mississippi

 

Lars Vegas!

Currently we’re in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, visiting with Lars’ daughter Marie, her husband Ray, and their people loving, black lab, Winnie. We have left the bikes in Las Vegas, using it as the jumping off point to and from here.

We were in Las Vegas for a few days, mostly needing the days there to get some motorbike work done. Simple stuff, change of tires, oil change for Lars’ Versys. We stayed at Anthony’s Air BnB, which has been really good. It was Lars’ first visit to Las Vegas, and I think he thought it was pretty over the top, and generally enjoyed seeing the spectacle that it is.

We wanted to see a Cirque de Soleil show, but on the Tuesday, it was one of their break days. So, options were limited, and prices were high; that and it was spring break, so I’m sure that helped to drive up demand. We walked the strip, and tried our ”luck” at some slots. The retirement fund isn’t any healthier after that. But, it was entertaining!

So, it’s evident that the nightlife and energy that goes with that isn’t our thing, but we still have enjoyed the city. Of course we were still only just skimming the surface of knowing a place, but by getting around on our bikes doing errands, and chatting with our AirBnB host, we feel like we’ve gotten to know a little bit more, the untouristed side of the city.

We would like to return for a longer stay, and see what the hiking, and maybe bicycling opportunities might be there. But in the meantime, have a look at our photos.


Death Valley

We’re in Las Vegas, we left Death Valley yesterday. We’re doing some bike maintenance and there’s a change in plans, so will be here for a few days.

We were in Death Valley for a week, riding up from Mojave, to Ridgemont, and then to Panamint Springs for a night. After that night, we camped at Mesquite Spring Campground, until we left for Vegas.

Ride from Mojave to Panamint:

Wow, the roads, again… and the wind! It was a little intense, to say the least! Red Canyon was pretty amazing, we didn’t stop, but it was very beautiful. The winds, gusts, pushing around on the bikes was a bit hard to take. That and some of the shitty drivers passing at the absolute wrong time, and then tailgating like a very huge *rsehole… was not a relaxing ride… But, the scenery entering into the Death valley area was stunning. At Ridgemont, we stopped for gas and met Chris, from Fernwood, a shop teacher at Monterey Middle School. He’s on spring break, buzzing down to SFO, sleeping in his SUV, and generally enjoying things. After parting we got on our way to DV. The landscape is so hard to describe open, arid desert – mountains in the distance…

As we entered Death Valley, heading to Panamint springs, we approached via some elevation seeing the valley below. Past some little mineral town, that seemed to be very busy at some point, but certainly isn’t now. So, unbelievable. We stopped for a few pics along the way. 

We got to Panamint Springs around 2:30-3:00 ish, and while the scenery is amazing, PS campground is a bust. $50 US for a tent over a pad, and seriously crappy bathrooms and showers. We did make do, had an amazing dinner of Thai jerkey turkey, rice and veggies. Then, retired to bed. We both woke around midnight it was very windy and the tent very noisy; and Lars was cold as he did not put his mat under his sleeping bag as someone suggested. I was cold underneath, and hot on top. Did not sleep well, at all.

The next morning, we had a $3.00 coffee x 2, at the bar/restaurant/ pit at Panamint Springs, and then headed towards Stovepipe Wells to secure a campsite. All campsites except Furnace Creek are first come, first serve, so we thought Stovepipe was a good option.

The road from Panamint Springs to Stovepipe Wells was unreal. From 2000 feet at PS, to 1500 metres at the summit. It was cold and very windy. Or very windy and very cold. Beautiful again… Like the mountains were puckered like a piece of fabric. 360 degrees. We got to Stovepipe Wells, and there were many campsites available, and almost set up. Then we met Ray, from Nanaimo, who gave us a primer on the area. He said that Stovepipe Wells was a zoo, packed, and that we might like Mesquite Springs a little better. So, that’s what we did. It’s not a small jaunt to Mesquite Spring, but we got there for noonish, and found site 24. It’s beautiful, but the winds were oppressive! On the way there, Lars was cornering left, but leaning to the right! 

The winds that night were just bonkers, we’re guessing the gusts were up to 70kms/hr. Ironically, I slept like a baby! The winds also brought in a large helping of fine dust into the tent. I was crunching it in my teeth for the remainder of the stay.

Tuesday,  March 27

We wanted to pick up some online maps of the area, and we could not pickup a signal so, it was a ride to Beatty Nevada seeking in addition to wifi, veggies, and beer. This was the day we started to love Denny’s Restaurant.

The road to Beatty is like most of the others in the area, absolutely stunning. We had to wait for a pocket of road construction, but otherwise it was smooth sailing. Corkscrew Peak 5000’+ Daylight Pass, 1400 metres. We were unsuccessful on the  veggies and beer front, but we did find wifi, while dining at Dennys in the Stage Coach casino.  Lars’ first Nevada casino experience.

On heading back to Mesquite Springs Campground, it was even more amazing on the way back. It was evening light, baking hot, but breath takingly beautiful.

Wednesday, March 28

We did a very hot hike to Ubehe Crater along the wash.

The walk was 14 kms, but too long to get to the crater. Far too hot too! So we went out a ways had lunch and water and took photos and our time returning. Stops in the scant shade, and water breaks. We estimated the temps to be mid 80’s to 90 fahrenheit. Baking hot.

Took some photos, from the little ridge we hiked up, still just amazing scenery, landscape, and breathtaking views of this valley of death.

Thursday, back to Nevada, Pahrump, this time.

We had planned to go to Furnace Creek, Zabriskie Point, Artists palette etc, but we ran out of fuel for the camp stove. So, got to the Stovepipe Wells general store to find tourist kitsch, overpriced ice-cream, and no fuel 😦  The next likely candidate was Pahrump, Nevada. About two hours from Mesquite Spring, and more than an hour from Stovepipe. It was baking hot, almost 100 degrees fahrenheit there. Off we went, to Nevada again The road is very beautiful, from very below sea level at Furnace Creek, to 3000 feet above at the pass over to Nevada. The cool at the elevation was a very welcome respite The mountains still persist, craggy landscapes, some snow in the higher mountains. Pahrump is in a high valley, we thought we might want to stay there m but. ..nah.  a very uninspiring town. We got to the Walmart to get the fuel and non perishables, then we went to… Denny’s! Had lunch a salmon platter thing and fired up the GigSky. Got on to airbnb and after what seemed like a painful eternity, we secured accoms and bike storage for the time we want to spend in Mississippi. Great!

We got gas and headed back to Mesquite Spring. Gas at Furnace Creek was $5.00 a gallon,  $3 at Pahrump.

What a ride that was, wow. 93 degrees fahrenheit as we descended into the park, and Furnace Creek.

As we headed back the sun was beginning to set and the colours were incredible. The orangy pink of the setting sun was tickling the undersides of the clouds, as the almost full moon rose in the sky. The light on the mountainsides showed off the contours of the hills. It was all around us, 360 degrees of beauty, and it was changing by the minute. I was like a bobble head doll on this ride, taking it all in.

Death Valley is almost indescribable in its beauty, vastness, and physical effect.

It’s spiritual in a way, as the environment has such an impact on all the senses. I thought it was important to hit all the must sees that have been written of; now seeing those things does not matter one bit. Being here, and being present is more than enough.

The people we’ve met in Death Valley

  • Ray, from Nanaimo who put us onto the Mesquite Spring campsite. This set us up so well, I don’t think this would have been as wonderful an experience at any other campsite in the park.
  • Sharie, from San Jose state University, natural history museum, who gave us tips on pup fish, showers, and shared some rations with us.
  • Rich, the TW200 rider, who lives in Pahrump, and had some good tips for us in Las Vegas.
  • Rose-alba, who is passionate about Ubehebe and Death Valley. From what I could understand, she is studying the crater floor at a micro biology and geology level,  She shared some tips with us on hiking the crater,  and a story about a lost dog she found and helped rescue in the crater.
  • Rick, the camp host who shared the forecast with us every day, and always took time to chat with us.

Here are some links to our photos:

Donna’s flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shorncliffe/albums/72157694376535494

Lars’ iphoto: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9bjPOzsHXauDQprh2

Finally, we have a change in plans too; we’re bailing on riding to Mississippi; we’re going to take a break and fly from Vegas to New Orleans instead. We’re moving a lot more slowly than we anticipated, and the interstate riding doesn’t look to be so appealing to us. We’re in Las Vegas to get the flights sorted out.

Next post, will be Lars Vegas, it’s his first time here!

Wow, what amazing riding!

The last post I wrote was about turbulence and noise.

Well, I’m still working at it, hopeful that some setting will work. On the way, we have experienced some really amazing roads, landscapes and riding. This is a little trip summary.

We rode from Windsor, California, to San Francisco’s Golden Gate State Park, to  Monterey, Big Sur, Atascadedero, Bakersfield, Mojave. Today, we go to Death Valley, to stay at Panamint Springs.

Thursday, March 22, we rode from Windsor to Santa Cruz, on Highway 101 through San Francisco, (SFO) … It was a wild and crazy ride! Highway 101 can be a very fast freeway, and it was for the most part; and then, it was very windy. spitting rain, and lots of traffic. There was an accident or slow up on the bridge, so there was tons of congestion. We really couldn’t enjoy going over the bridge, b/c it of the accident, the wind, having to pay such attention to the conditions. We made it to the Golden Gate state park, where we took a short break. Southern California! Can’t quite believe it, but we have travelled quite a distance, and this is very new territory for us!

We left Golden Gate state park around noon, heading for highway 1. There was a detour, taking us one block inland, which was a good thing! It was very windy!!! So windy, that it was hard to hold the bike up!

We took our time with this ride, still figuring out the windshield spoiler, (varying degrees of success this day), but also, to go along the California Coast. The land that John Steinbeck wrote so much of. I would love to come here again, after having read his works, and then visit the places, Salinas, Monterey, Cannery Row… Later, again, next time.

So, we got to Monterey before noon, and followed the beautiful Monterey coastline. Wow, so beautiful. We stopped to take it in, and take some photos. Glad we did that.

We continued on, and rode to highway 1. Big Sur! Also very amazing!

The coastline is more hilly, but also more open that it is in Northern California, and Oregon.

Highway 1, the coastal road to Big Sur. It did not disappoint! Amazingly beautiful coastline, hard to describe why it was so beautiful, or different from the kilometres of coast that we have already travelled, but, it was amazing. We did stop a few times along the way for some pics, so have a look at those at the end of this post. There was a lot of traffic on the road, folks just going down and back, as the highway closure is still in effect. We didn’t go down to see that, we just stopped at the town of Big Sur, and headed back up the coast. That was neat too, to see the same coastline in the opposite direction.

At this point, we left the coast, Monterey to Salinas, and down to Atascadero.  The Salinas valley is also very beautiful, through the farmland which extends up to the mountains on both sides of the highway. We were travelling very fast on highway 101; up to 120 km/hr, so it’s hard to truly enjoy and appreciate. Traffic moves quickly, but quite respectfully. Merges, passing lanes, all works quite well. Still gotta say, that freeway riding isn’t a ton of fun. Not nervous doing it, but if we could avoid it, we would! The next bit of coastline, if we keep going according to plan, will be the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.

Next day, we travelled from Atascadero to Mojave.

What a ride! We rode Highway 58 – California State Route – http://www.dangerousroads.org/north-america/usa/4665-california-state-route-58.html

wow… We headed out from the dank Motel 6, and were able to avoid the freeway until after Bakersfield. So, we rode highway 58, a little bit windy, but not really; roller coaster, flat, and not, beautiful valley up in the hills. Landscape was rolling hills, must be sunny all the time b/c the California Solar Farm had thousands of solar panels set up there.

Perfect motorcycle route, with the fun twisties, rolller coasters, and absolutely zero traffic on the road. It was just wonderful! It’s probably not sport bike friendly as the road is a bit beat up, and also can undulate a bit. 

After we left the pass, the roads were flatter, straighter, and with more traffic as we got closer to Bakertsfield. Just a side note, we are trying to eat cheaply, but on the road, we get what we can. We never eat fast food, but did get spicey chicken burgers from Wendy’s. $11US, – $14.77 CDN. Uggg! For two fast food burgers! 

Back to the road trip… We headed to Mojave, more amazing riding but a lot busier than the section from Atascadero to Bakersfield. Definitely more of a freeway, lots of semi trailers, and cars, moving quite fast up to 115 kms/hr or better. But, it was still amazing, going over the pass, 1200 metres, quite cool, lots of farmland, and quiet in spells, busier in others. Dramatic change in landscape, going over the pass; ranch and wine farms on the west, to the scrub desert on the other side. It was cool to cold going over the pass, down to six to eight degrees celcius, which is cold when travelling at 110km/hr.

It’s very windy up this way. Thousands of windmill turbines greeted us as we turned towards the town of Tehachapi, close to the summit of the pass.

Mojave is a little bit bleak. We walked a few kms and back to the grocery store, and there were lots of locked, gated properties, barking dogs, and not a very trusting or welcoming place. Not sure why, but the hotel owners here are very nice. In addition, we are very near to the airplane graveyard; and a cargo train corridor. 

So now, we’ll pack up the bikes and get to Death Valley this afternoon. To be continued!

California. Big Sur