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 better!

Enough,  for now,  some photos!

Rock wall formations Zion National Park

 

 

 

 

 

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 fabtric. 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

Very hot hike to Ubehe Crater along the wash

Chatted with Rich, TW200 owner, who now lives in Pahrump.

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

 

Turbulence a-head

This should be easy. Get up, pack bikes, ride, eat, sleep. Repeat.

We’ve been away for just more than a week, and it’s definitely an adjustment, getting used to travelling, and moving by motorbike. Not complaining, we are in a very privileged position to be able to go on this trip together, but, I did think it would be easier!

The trip is still a little in limbo. Less limbo than a few days ago, but still a bit in question. Problem is me, or my noggin, or the ears on either side of my noggin. Turbulence, be damned. I have found the noise of the wind hitting me to be a bit challenging in regards to the intensity/volume, and duration. I do experience a bit of tinnitus, but I’m not really liking the idea adding hearing loss to the mix.

We had spent a lot of time preparing bikes, gear, and route for this trip. The one thing we weren’t able to do, was go on any extended rides to really iron out the bugs. I guess that’s what the travelling is for. So, with that in mind, we went with what we knew, and 95% has worked. The last five per cent for me, was my helmet, and the turbulence. One mistake was removing the visor right before we left. I did this, because I was very concerned about the noise and wind buffeting from having a helmet with a visor. I thought that by removing the visor, it would reduce the buffeting, and turbulence.

I have found that in the first couple of days that my ears were ringing after hours of 100+km/r riding. The hearing loss isn’t something I’m prepared to accept, and Lars doesn’t expect me to either.

This kind of put us in a difficult situation. We were only three days into the trip, and not very far from home. The reality of turning around not continuing was very real. We were both pretty quiet for a couple of days. We stayed in Florence Oregon, at a lovely place, The Landmark Hotel; we made some calls and planned to go to Eugene, to the Cycle Gear store. They confirmed they had a good selection of helmets, so off we went. The ride was pleasant, but cold, and wet.

At Cycle Gear in Eugene, (Shout out to Ryan, he was very awesome and super helpful!)  I did replace the Shoei DS Hornet with a Shoei GT Air, and some big cost. Then I shipped the beast back home, another big cost. That definitely has improved things, but still, it’s not quite perfect. Right now, we’re staying in Windsor California, at an AirBnB, waiting for a windshield spoiler to arrive from Revzilla. Tomorrow, we’ll receive and install, and the next day we’ll head out on the road.

This has caused a bit of turbulence between us too. Lars has been frustrated with the delays, of my g-ear issues, and the weather has also slowed us down. Moreso, Lars has been planning this trip for a couple of years, and my participation was confirmed in September of last year so not much time to anticipate the impact of extended highway riding for me; Hopefully, optimistically, the wind deflector will work. We aren’t really considering what the options are if it doesn’t.

As far as the riding goes, the first couple of days of riding were cold, and wet. Five to eight degress celsius, and rain. Not exactly comfortable riding weather. Thank goodness for heated gear and heated grips.

We have been travelling on Highway 101 for the most part, and it is beautiful. Ocean Shores, Lincoln City Oregon, over to the coast to Highway 1 in California. From Westport down to highway 128, through the Redwood forests. I thought trees in British Columbia were big, na-a! It’s just stunning scenery here.

We haven’t taken too many pics so far. The reality is that it’s been quite cold, and it’s such a big hassle to stop, take off gloves, find the camera or phone, and then snap some pics. Gear back up again… Sorry…

Here are our pics so far:

Windsor, California

So, we’re both cautiously optimistic, that we’ll continue down to Mississippi. In the next few days were travelling south through San Francisco, Santa Cruz, then across California to Bakersfield and up to Death Valley by the end of the weekend. We hope to bask in the sun, and avoid slithery things that rattle….

For you bike nerds out there, here’s a thing or two I’ve learned about turbulence, in trying to figure out what’s gone right and wrong.

I thought for sure it was the mirrors that was causing the turbulence. Tried removing them, and it didn’t make a difference. That’s great, and not great, because along the way, I picked up some short little screw on mirrors in desperation. Now, what the heck do I do with those…

Then we removed the windscreen, and bingo, that was it. So, for me, a 5’1” rider, with a not tall torso, the screen I have was causing the air to hit me right at the head level.

I’m getting this: Spoiler blade to attach to my windscreen. Fingers xx-ed peeps!

As we were riding the other day, with the new helmet and no windscreen, we were travelling about 100kms/hr, on an open stretch of freeway. I was to the right of Lars about five metres back. Super quiet, and very enjoyable. Then, I tracked behind him and the turbulence was back. Sagging off probably 30+metres would negate it, but any closer and I was back in noise-ville. I wish I figured that out last week.

Yes, I’m already using earplugs.

So, that’s the first post from the road. Would love to hear your feedback!