Day 49 – Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA

Day 49 – Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA     10/09/10     Mileage: 133

After a nice breakfast with Steve and the family, I packed up the bike and hit the road. My destination was my Uncle Bob’s house in San Diego, but I had one stop to make along the way in Lomita to get 2 new tires put on the bike. Once at MC Tireworks in Lomita, I was greeted by Mike who had arranged for my tires to be waiting for me…and sure enough they were! In the interest in saving time and money again, I took the wheels of myself on the side of their shop so they can swap the tires on the rims.

First the front wheel...

While the rear wheel was off, I also took the time to swap out the drive chain and both drive sprockets.

By putting the bike on the center stand and balancing the bike on one of my side boxes...I could pull off both wheels at once...

I’m not carrying a socket and breaker bar large enough to swap the front drive sprocket, but they were happy to lend one to me which was much appreciated! The owner, Paul, is also a nice guy and we chatted about bikes and the trip….and he even bought me a soda. All this took much longer than I hoped, so I got a late start down to my Uncle Bob’s and didn’t pull into his house until 7:30. I hadn’t seen him and his wife Janet for some 15 years, so it was so great to catch up with them! Janet had an excellent dinner of filet mignon and tuna steaks prepared…just a tad nicer than my regular diet of simple road food! They also have a really nice house… between the food, the house and the SoCal weather…I may never want to leave! After catching up on the years gone by and the trip, we all called it a night.

Day 48 – Los Angeles, CA

Day 48 – Los Angeles, CA     10/08/10     Mileage: Local miles

Today was all about getting the KLR serviced, and I had a service appointment at Honda of Hollywood….which is also the local Kawasaki and BMW dealer.

Honda of Hollywood (and Kawasaki and Suzuki and BMW) ...

The valves were due for adjustment, and I had to pick up a few more oil filters and other parts. I was able to save some time and a few bucks by stripping the bike myself in their parking lot.

Stripped naked and ready to be serviced...

While the bike was being serviced I went around the corner to a café to get a bite to eat and catch up on the blog. After returning the bike was ready to go (for you tech heads: intake valves were fine, exhaust valves were slightly loose and needed to be re-shimmed), so I put it back together and they gave it a full cleaning as part of the service….cool! 

Looking good and feeling good after having the valves adjusted and a good cleaning!

If only the owner looked and smelled as nice!

That was the first wash it got…aside from a quick power-wash in Fairbanks…since leaving NJ, so the KLR looked as good as new! After that was dinner with my cousin Steve, his wife Rachel, son Leor and Leor’s girlfriend Maya.

L to R: Me, Steve, Leor, Rachel and Mocha the lovable pit bull.

Steve recently published a book titled “Up in the Bronx”, which I am making my next read.

Here is a link to buy it on Amazon! ebook/dp/B0040GJDDK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286831544&sr=8-1

Day 48 – Big Sur, CA to Los Angeles, CA

Day 48 – Big Sur, CA to Los Angeles, CA     10/07/10     Mileage: 311

I awoke to sunny blue bird clear skies and the temperature was perfect! With the best section of the Pacific Coast Highway ahead of me, it was going to be a good day. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but it’s was spectacular all the way around. The scenery was only rivaled by how much fun it was to ride through it on a motorcycle. I also put the helmet cam to good use…so here we go…

Packed and ready to go!

Helmet cam 1

Helmet cam 2

Helmet cam 3

Helmet cam 4

Helmet cam 5

Helmet cam 6

Helmet cam 7

Helmet cam 8

Helmet cam 9

Helmet cam 10

Helmet cam 11 - Time to pay the $5.69 per gallon. Worth every penny!

Helmet cam 12

Helmet cam 13

Helmet came 14 - Twisty...oh yeah!

Helmet cam 15

Helmet cam 16

That was some spectacular road…and I didn’t even take another picture all day after the highway turned inland away from the coast. OK, I’m a bit spoiled now…perhaps a few days in downtown LA will cure me.  😉

Day 47 – San Francisco, CA to Big Sur, CA

Day 47 – San Francisco, CA to Big Sur, CA     10/06/10     Mileage: 169

 The run down to Big Sur was only going to be a few hours ride, so I was in no rush to leave. Linda and I went to Starbucks for a coffee before I said goodbye and hit the road. There were some nice sections of highway 1 south of San Francisco, but not quite as good as north of the city.

Ran into these San Francisco police on dual-sport bikes...pretty cool!

Along the PCH...

View from the PCH...

View from the PCH...

There are many of these beautiful arch bridges on the PCH...

Same bridge as above...

I stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz and took in the sights for a bit.

Helmet cam - Santa Cruz

Helmet cam - Santa Cruz waterfront

Santa Cruz boardwalk...

I continued south and also detoured through Monterey where I had my first brush with the law! He pulled me over for rolling through a stop sign and speeding. Whoops! The officer was astride a BMW “R” police bike…so being a fellow rider I gave him the brief story of the trip and told him its the first time I’d been pulled over in 11,000 miles! It must have worked, as he gave me a good talking to, but in the end only gave me a verbal warning. Whew! Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve made it this long…as I’ve definitely been taking some, errr, liberties with speed limits and the occasional passing in a double yellow line.

Monterey waterfront...before I got pinched by the law!

After that I blasted…I mean…quietly and slowly…rolled out of town. As I approached Big Sur, I saw a dirt road that ascended up into the mountains with an ominous sign saying it was impassable when wet. Now that sounds like a fun road that I have to check out!

That is practically an invitation!!

This poor bastard left pieces of his Acura all over the road! Should of had a KLR instead...

Dirt road detour...

Dirt is good!

Dirt road detour...

I got tight and twisty for a bit...nice!

Dirt road detour...

The payoff was the view above the tree line...

One more of the payoff...

That's my twisty road down there....

Taking it all in...

Don't go off the road to the right!

Once the dirt surface improved, I could whip up the pace...good fun!

On the brakes!

"Working the clutch"

Nice ride above the trees with the Pacific in the background...

Back into the trees...

It was a very narrow, steep and rutted dirt road, but a piece of cake for the KLR….good fun none the less! The rain unfortunately started which was a bummer as I had totally planned on camping in Big Sur. I tried to wait it out for a bit but the forecast was for showers all night. With that bleak outlook I found a room at the Fernwood, a cute place with a bar/restaurant and general store.

The Fernwood in Big Sur, CA (The next morning...with great sun!)

Inside the bar at the Fernwood...

After settling into the room, I went to the bar for dinner and a few drinks, used the wifi for a bit and then called it a night. Tomorrow I should make it down to LA…

Day 46 – San Francisco, CA

Day 46 – San Francisco, CA     10/05/10     Mileage: Local miles

 Today I spent the day catching up on the blog, email and lining up some parts and service for the bike when I get to Los Angeles. I also met my cousin Bradie and her husband Pino for dinner at their place. Pino is a great cook and they spoiled me with a great home cooked meal. I had such a good time chatting and catching up that I completely forgot to take a picture with them…so I had to have them email me a photo.

Pino and Bradie

They also sent this great shot of the bridge that they!

 After dinner it was back to Linda and Kai’s for some couch surfing sleep.

Day 45 – Fort Bragg, CA to San Francisco, CA

Day 45 – Fort Bragg, CA to San Francisco, CA     10/04/10     Mileage: 217   

The air is definitely getting warmer as I move south and it’s a nice change to not freeze my nuts off as I’m packing the bike each morning. Today promised to be some spectacular riding down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 towards San Francisco….and it did not disappoint!   

Along Highway 1...


Along Highway 1...


Yep...more from Highway 1...


Keep your eyes on the road...keep your eyes on the road!


It's this good mile after mile....


There was a cute town tucked away in this cove...very cool.


The road hugs the coast with twists, turns, ups and downs and is so much fun to ride it’s hard to stop and take a picture…I just wanted to keep riding! If the scenery was any less than what it was, I wouldn’t have stopped….but the scenery is simply that amazing.   

The scenery just gets better and better!


...and better!


 I also put my helmet came to work today….here are a few shots it captured along the way.   

Helmet camera 1


Helmet camera 2


Helmet camera 3


Helmet camera 4


Helmet camera 5


Helmet camera 6


Helmet camera 7


Helmet camera 8


Helmet camera 9


Helmet camera 10


I was in touch with an ex-colleague of mine from Jimmy Choo, Linda, who now lives in San Francisco, and she was off today taking her brother Kai, her cousin Blaine and his wife Laina to Napa to do some wine tasting. She invited me to meet up with them…and I couldn’t pass up on that! Linda is a “member” at some of the wineries….and membership has its privileges as we got to do the tastings for free!   

Wine tasting in Napa....even me in my smelly biker outfit complete with beer t-shirt! L to R: Kai, me Linda, Laina, Blaine


We also had an excellent lunch at Mustard’s, a local Napa favorite. Afterwards, Linda, Kai and I headed back to San Francisco to meet up with Linda’s friend Andrew and some other friends at his place. After watching some Monday night football, we went out for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant.   

Linda and Andrew...


Linda’s friend Andrew is actually originally from Argentina and still has family there, so we hit it off immediately and I picked his brain for all the info I could scribble in my Blackberry! After dinner we all called it a night, and it was back to Linda and Kai’s place…which is a sweet 18th floor penthouse overlooking San Francisco bay and the Bay Bridge….nice!   

Sweet digs...


...with a killer view!


 Staying here was quite an upgrade from the tent and budget motels I’ve called home as of late!

Day 44 – Lincoln Beach, OR to Fort Bragg, CA

Day 44 – Lincoln Beach, OR to Fort Bragg, CA     10/03/10     Mileage: 473  

Today I was up early and on the gas again with over 400 miles. I stopped off in Newport for a breakfast burrito and coffee, but was back in the saddle after 15 minutes.  

Sunrise over the Pacific...


The Newport Bridge at Sunrise...


A nice mural in the old town section of Newport...


Another good one...this time of a Coast Guard rescue helo...


The scenery was once again breathtaking and it was hard to keep the KLR on the twisty road while I was rubbernecking for a good look. The 101 is another awesome road purpose built it seems for motorcycles. There are some dull sections, but not many…and when it hugs the coast perched above the Pacific it’s stunning.  

The Pacific Coast through the morning fog...


...complete with a Light House to help guide the ships through it.


Big dunes...big waves....not another person in site...


Another view from the 101...


One of the countless coves along the coast...


And another from the 101 roadside...


Another reason it's hard to keep your eyes on the road...


Parting shot....


In California, the 101 starts to head inland through the mountains and it just a blast to ride. I veered off of 101 onto the 1 and the road got biblically good! It was just at dusk that I reached the Pacific again and I got as far as Fort Bragg, CA. Tomorrow I hope the weather is clear, because the road promises to be epic!

Day 43 – Whistler, BC to Lincoln Beach, OR

Day 43 – Whistler, BC to Lincoln Beach, OR     10/02/10     Mileage:  487 

Today I was back on the gas and did nearly 500 miles despite the 2 hours it took to cross the border. The ride and scenery from Whistler to Vancouver down the “Sea to Sky Highway” was stunning and the road full of twists and turns. I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to ride in New Jersey again!  

Along the "Sea to Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver...


I would have stopped to take more pictures but the road is literally stuck to the side of the mountain most of the time and there just isn’t much room for many scenic overlooks or even to pull over. Once back in the US, I wailed down I-5 through Seattle and Portland, OR on my way to the Oregon coast and highway 101. No pictures there either as I’ve been to Seattle before and it was already nighttime in Portland. 

OK, I feel bad for not taking 1 picture of Seattle...


...or Portland. Maybe next time!


I pulled into a KOA and they wanted $26 for a patch of earth for my tent…so I told them to shove(el) it and I kept going. I ended up “poaching” a campsite at a small airport parking lot. It was already 11:30pm and it was all closed up, but I planned to get up early and beat it before anyone showed up in the morning. At least the price was right…

Day 42 – Whistler, BC

Day 42 – Whistler, BC     10/01/10     Mileage: 0

Whistler was always on my life list…for skiing and mountain biking….and I got to cross one of those off today. After a hardy breakfast…well, as hardy as a banana-Nutella crepe anyway…I was off to rent a mountain bike.   

Morning on the mountain...


Whistler Village


Whistler Village


 Those of you who know me know that I have more miles on a mountain bike than I do on a motorcycle….present trip included. The kind of mountain biking I do is called cross country…which means we ride up the hills…we ride down the hills…and everywhere in between. Well, there is a whole other facet to the sport called downhill…which is done almost exclusively at ski areas on specialized mountain bikes. You and your bike take the chairlift up the mountain, as the bikes are too heavy and so specialized at going down, that they are unable to go up! Downhill is all about going downhill…fast…really, really fast…over all manner of jumps, rocks, kickers, table tops, banked turns and all sorts of other terrain. The bike I rented was a full on downhill rig and weighed in at twice what my dual suspension mountain bike weighs…it was over 50 pounds!   

My Rocky Mountain downhill bike...


 They are built that heavy to endure the pounding that they take flying down the hill bouncing of the scenery….it’s almost like an off-road motorcycle without the engine.  So with my newly acquired steed and a lift ticket, I was on my way up the hill.  




At the top of the chair...


Now, mama didn’t raise no fool…so despite the fact that I’ve been riding mountain bikes for 20 years, I figured I’d warm up on some intermediate difficulty runs to get used to the new bike. After two runs down, I felt pretty good and the speeds that are possible on these big downhill bikes is amazing!   

This was a cool board section they built...


 My third trip up I was ready for the big show, and a steered the rig over to the entrance to A-Line…Whistlers signature black diamond downhill run. If this were golf, it would be the 13th at Augusta National or the 18th at Pebble Beach. They have a warning sign and a jump right at the entrance…just to make sure you don’t accidently start down the run and kill yourself!   

"The warning" sign at the top of A-Line...


The jump at the entrance to A-Line... It was not huge, but it does look really small in the picture!


Well, all I can say is it was an awesome ride! I’ll admit I wasn’t man enough to take the big jumps at full speed…which could easily put you 20 feet or more off the ground! I’m just glad these bikes also have huge hydraulic brakes to control the speed. After 2 more runs down A-Line, I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring some other runs.   

Whistler Village from on the mountain...


Been riding a bike all day, took 10 pedal strokes..but I'm beat!


Yep, that black dot is a bear just above where the chair lift drops you off!


The lifts close at 5 and I was kind of glad because my shoulders and quads were thrashed and couldn’t take any more anyway! Next it was back to the room for a shower and to catch up on the blog. For dinner I found a good sushi bar and stuffed myself with pricey bait.   

Sunset on a good day at Whistler...


On the way back to the room I got sucked into a bar having a bit of an Oktoberfest celebration….and I’m not sure if it was the oompah band or the waitresses dressed in dirndls(Thanks to Andria for that!). Either way, I was good for 2 steins worth before calling it a night.

Day 41 – Prince George, BC to Whistler, BC

Day 41 – Prince George, BC to Whistler, BC     09/30/10     Mileage: 387  

Cold. Wet. Yep, that was my morning. Fortunately the place I camped came with a hot shower…which I used to chase off the morning chill! After packing up the soaking wet tent (from heavy dew and fog), I hit the road. The first hundred miles were cold and miserable, but then the sun came out and all was right with the world. That is until the truck I was following locked up its breaks and started swerving wildly! What he was trying to avoid was the large male elk that was on other side of the road….but spooked as we approached. First he swerved to the right…then back to the left which caused the trailer to fish-tail…all while smoke was pouring from the wheels from the locked up brakes. I was hard on the brakes as well trying to scrub some speed. The elk, which ran from left to right across the road didn’t fare so well, as the truck got a good piece of it apparently. The last thing I saw was the elk spinning in mid-air 10 feet of the ground and landed in a ditch at the side of the road as I went by. Mack truck – 1, elk – 0. I also met another biker from Germany who is also planning on riding all the way to Argentina! His name is Edmond and he flew his bike in to Vancouver from Germany…went up to Alaska…and is now heading south same as me.  

Edmond from Germany...on his 1991 KLR650 Tengai


We exchanged emails and will try and catch up somewhere along the road. The riding so far was good, but average.  

Along the way from Prince Rupert on Rt. 99


That is until I turned off of Canada road 97 onto road 99…which is 120 miles of motorcycle awesomeness! It connects road 97 and Whistler…and it was not only scenic, but chock full of ups, downs, twists and turns…motorcycle nirvana!  

Alpine lake along Rt. 97. And yes the water is that clear! Looks like it's 6 inches deep, but is actually 4-5 feet deep! Now that is clear!


Another shot of the same lake...


Scenery along Rt. 97


More from Rt. 99...


Log jam!


Does it get any better?


So after all that good road, the cherry on top was pulling into Whistler, BC! I immediately liked the vibe of this place, and I had it in my mind that I was going to ignore the budget and splurge a little on a nice room and some good food. As for the former, I found a room at the Whistler Inn and Suites right in the heart of the Whistler village. To satisfy the latter, I walked the village from end to end looking at the menus…and settled on a place called 21 Steps which had a great tapas menu. The clincher was a deal they had to choose any 3 tapas dishes for $25. Sold. After ordering a nice Bavarian beer, I weighed my tapas options and settled on these three dishes:  

– Smoked sockeye salmon with grilled red onions and toasted baguette.
– Grilled lamb sausage with roasted peppers and onions
– Goat cheese with caramelized white onions and ginger reduction.  

That beats a tunafish sandwich any day! After that I made the rounds and sampled the beer at some of the local pubs in the village, then called it a night. Of course…there was the small matter of a black bear blocking the entrance to my hotel! As I slowly backed away fumbling around for my camera….a local gal walked up and ever the chivalrous gent that I am, I warned her of the bear. Well, she turned out to be a local and was no stranger to nightly bear encounters in town! Apparently a few bears have their nightly route around town looking for food, and are quite accustomed to humans and not very dangerous. I guess that would explain the live bear trap immediately behind my first floor hotel room balcony!

Day 40 – Prince Rupert, BC to Prince George, BC

Day 40 – Prince Rupert, BC to Prince George, BC     09/29/10     Mileage: 466  

This morning I was out the door and on the road by 8:45 after a shower and granola bar for breakfast. Today was more about making miles than smelling the roses, so I took few pictures despite the good scenery.  

Along the way to Prince George...


More roadside scenery...


I did monkey around with my HERO sport camera a bit though.  

View from my HERO cam mounted on my handlebar...


Another HERO cam shot...


...and another...


...last one...


The fall foliage along the way was spectacular…almost as good as Vermont. But what this has that Vermont doesn’t is high soaring peaks like the Rocky Mountains to cap off the vivid fall colors. What made it even better was the overcast skies that eventually gave way to bright sunshine. One other comment about this area of the Pacific Northwest, southeast Alaska and Alaska in general…is the sheer vastness of the wilderness. What is seen from the thin ribbon of asphalt that connects these remote towns can hardly be half of 1% of what is there. The amount of track-less wilderness up here is hard to wrap your mind around.  I found a campsite just south of Price George as there is no rain in the forecast.  

I had this campground all to myself!


Sunset on another great day...


Tomorrow I’ll be heading for Whistler, BC…and another check off for the life list.

Day 39 – Ferry from Sitka to Price Rupert, BC

Day 39 – Ferry from Sitka to Price Rupert, BC      09/28/10     Mileage: Ferry ride  

Sleeping out on the covered outside weather deck was great and not to cold at all. I got up around 7 and made some oatmeal for breakfast and then went up to the forward observation lounge to take in the view.  

View from the observation deck of the Matanuska


Another from the observation deck...


Getting close to Ketchikan...


We saw this floatplane come in for a landing right next to the!


Nice landing!


Phil and Kelly soon joined me and it was long after that we made port in Ketchikan around 10:45. The ferry didn’t depart until 1:15, so that gave me a chance to get off the boat and have a look around.  

Downtown Ketchikan


The wharf in Ketchikan


Phil, Kelly and I settled on a place called the Arctic Bar which turned out to be the oldest bar in Ketchikan. Paula, the owner, was great and even suggested we get behind the bar for a picture in front of here “happy bear” beer tap.  

The Arctic Bar in Ketchikan...


Behind the bar at the Arctic Bar in Ketchikan


The bear’s on this beer tap were happy not because of the beer, but because they were humping…which seems to be a bit of a theme up here!  

The "happy bears" tap...


 Phil and Kelly were staying in town until tomorrow, so after a few beers and some great halibut fish and chips…I bid farewell to them. It was great having some friends to travel with the last week…I’ll miss them on the road.  

Looking back at Ketchikan...on the way to Prince Rupert...


Back on board the Matanuska I worked on my laptop for a bit and settled in for the final leg to Prince Rupert, BC around 7 hours away.

Day 38 – Sitka, AK – Ferry to Prince Rupert, BC

Day 38 – Sitka, AK – Ferry to Prince Rupert, BC     09/27/10     Mileage: Ferry ride 

The rain was still coming down, so I was in no rush to leave. The room came with a continental breakfast that was really a nice spread for a budget hotel. After stuffing myself with the free eats, I took a shower, packed up the bike and headed for the ferry terminal. The ferry was the Matanuska…the same boat I took from Haines to Juneau. 

The KLR strapped in for ferry ride #3


Goodbye Sitka...


Kelly and Phil were also on this boat…so I got to hook up with them again! They had got on in Juneau the night before, and were getting off in Ketchikan for a few days before continuing on to Prince Rupert. I am now booked straight through to Prince Rupert, but at least we’ll have today and tomorrow morning to hang out on the ferry. Once on board, we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and then I retired to the solarium…which is a covered open air deck on the back of the boat. 

The solarium on the Matanuska...


The solarium has lounge chairs and even ceiling heaters…so it’s quite comfy even in the cool damp air. Kelly, Phil and a few others had slept out there the night before, so I decided to “camp” out there as well by putting my sleeping pad and bag on a lounge chair…very comfy! After dinner we watched two movies, then called it a night.

Day 37 – Juneau, AK – Sitka, AK

Day 37 – Juneau, AK – Sitka, AK     09/26/10     Mileage: Local mileage and a ferry ride! 

Morning came too soon as I had to be at the ferry terminal by 6:30am for an 8:00am departure to Sitka on the M/V Fairweather. Boarding and tying down the bike went smoothly and soon we were off. 

Bike is strapped down for the ferry ride...


The M/V Fairweather


The Fairweather is a catamaran type fast ferry and is more than twice as fast as the larger but slower Matanuska that I took from Haines to Juneau. The trip to Sitka was only took 4.5 hours but took us through some amazing scenery…including the Peril Straits and Deadmans Reach. 

The Fairweather is fast...36 knots!


...and this is why it's fast...jet drive!


Great scenery on the way to Sitka


The shore was so close at times you can almost jump off and not get your feet wet!


The Peril that is a tight channel!


Once we arrived I was off to explore Sitka on the bike….and that didn’t take long for sure! The ferry terminal is about 7 miles north of town and the road goes maybe another 10 south and east of town….so it’s fair to say I hit the end of the road in just over 15 minutes. 

Lake near the end of the road...


Downtown Sitka


Nice house perched on a rock in the middle of the harbor.


I spent a while longer exploring the downtown and then parked in front of the only restaurant open besides McDonald’s! It was a Mexican/pizza place….but they did have a tasty enchilada. It began to rain soon after lunch and the forecast was for rain straight through until tomorrow. I had wanted to camp, but given the current and forecast weather, I got a room at the luxurious Super 8. The room was actually quite nice and squeaky clean. I made a tuna sandwich for dinner, listened to the rain pound on the roof and watched a bit of boob tube…a rare “treat”. After my fill of movie reruns…I was off to sleep.