January 21, 2010

Cruizin

Short update; internet on this tub costs 75 cents minute, so
cheapskate me won't be doing a lot of posting.

Today (21st) was the worst day for weather yet. So bad they diverted
my mother, brother, and sister in law's plane to LA. The ship departs
in 2 hours, and they are not here, so this may be a solo voyage.

So now I have lost, in order, my drivers license, visa card, nephew,
mother, brother, and sister in law :-) They tell me that if they miss
the boat today they can join the cruise in Hawaii, which basically
means they will miss 5 days of open ocean with nothing to look at but
horizon, water water everywhere, etc. etc..

My DL and visa did arrive at my brothers, so no worries there, and I
won't be needing them for the next 15 days anyway.

Bon Voyage, see you all in February!

--
Erik S

January 20, 2010

Killin time



The last few days I have been hanging out in San Diego, waiting for the other family members and cruise ship.  I got here about the same time as a massive rain storm that is raising havoc all over Southern California. 

There are many attractions within walking distance, so the KTM is getting a rest, and a wash as it turns out.  It is expected that the rain that will fall this week will be the equivalent of a year's worth of rain for San Diego.  They have been in a four year drought, so the rain is welcome.  Welcome it may be, but it is also wet, very wet.  I got soaked yesterday walking home, and right now it is hosing down again.

Yesterday evening I got together with 'CW' a fellow subscriber to the oldscoolcz yahoo group dedicated to CZ motocrossers.  We had beers and burgers at Whiskeygirl (yes, she was cute).   We had a pleasant visit, another example of how connected we can be through internet and mutual interests.   People have been doing this for as long as there was some form or mail or message delivery of course,  but never on the scale it is ocurring now. 


Soon I will be boarding SS (CS?) Zaandam for a 15 day side trip to Hawaii.  I am not sure whether I will  be able to post to the blog for the duration.  The cruise ends on February 5th, and I will be back on the bike, in Mexico.

Meanwhile, check out some photos I took in San Diego;  http://picasaweb.google.ca/everiman/Sandiego# .

SD is a wonderful place to get away from winter, lots to see and do, apparently it is equally pleasant in summer (not too hot). 

Back in February, unless I can post from the ship without breaking the bank.

January 19, 2010

San Diego



I have been in San Diego for a few days now.  San Diego will experience what will likely be its worst week for weather all year.  Temperatures in the sixties and and rain all week. What an Edmontonian could expect for the first weeks of autumn.  I am tough, I can take it.

On Thursday I will be boarding the cruise ship Zaandam with my mother and brother and his wife.  Zaandam is the name of the town in Holland where my father, brothers and yours truly were born, along with many ancestors, so this is kind of cool.  I have arranged to deposit the KTM in a storage facility, 29.95 for the first month, I doubt I could get parking for that, and it will be locked in its own little compartment.

San Diego is a very nice city, Canadian clean, lots of trees (green leafy trees), and it does not look like it just came out of a crate.  There is a good mixture of old and new buildings, most of the new buildings are as attractive as the old.  My cheap motel is within walking distance of downtown, including the 'gas light' district, where all the downtown amusements are to be found.  My room is great, I have large windows on two walls, I finally made it to the corner office!

One thing that strikes me is the large number of homeless men here.  I suspect this is more a reflection of San Diego's mild climate than on the local economy.  Most of the ones I see are either 50 plus or in their 20's.  

I have been seeing lots of homeless in my travels.  Outside of El Centro I had a smoke with a guy who has all his stuff on a bicycle and a makeshift trailer.  Listening to him I learn that he has been living this way for a long time, hoboing around the country, picking fruit and similar work, he tells me he is 63.  Although he claims to only have a grade five education, he is obviously intelligent and very well spoken.  He was reading a Tom Clancy novel, one of the fat ones.  He called it his poor man's TV. 

He hands me a photocopy of a tract of sorts that he typed.  On one side is the declaration of Independence, and on the other his analysis of how the US got off the rails.  According to his essay, it all started with Reaganomics.  It gets a little confusing where he suggests that communists are behind it all, but for that, it contains some interesting insights.  It ends with in invitation to make copies or put it on the internet.  The title is "WAKE UP America, BEFORE we all end up Homeless! and it is signed John E Freedom, AKA John E Forbauer;  I will take John's invitation, and include this excerpt (caps and punctuation as found);

"There's 4 basic categories in the economy of a Country.  (1) Providers; Farmers, Manufacturers, Etc.  ANYONE with a Product, or the ability to bring foreign capital INTO America (To increase the value of OUR money).  (2) USERS; Those who use our capital, and keep it in circulation, where everyone can use it.  (3) HOARDERS; Those who hoard our capital, for various reasons.  (4) DRAINS; Those draining OUR capital, by way sending it OUT to other Countries.
 As long as 2, 3, & 4 stay within what has been Provided by 1, there's a stabile economy that can steadily grow..." 

John goes on to suggest that capitalists believe they are more important than those who provided the capital (presumably the 'providers', and that workers are more concerned with wages than their rights.  He goes on to say he can't tell if America's problems are being caused by the 'ego and greed' of the capitalist or by the communists who have snuck socialism into the American way of life.  If John had gone to college, he might realize that he sounds an awful lot like Karl Marx :-), but reading his essay, I suspect it would have received a better than C grade in a first year college economics class.

I also suspect that John's lifestyle choice was his own, but still there is an awful of lot of these guys roaming the country.  If they are like John, that is a lot of latent talent that is going to waste if you believe that we exist in order to make things better. 

I am less sure of that now then I was when I was younger.

January 16, 2010

Nevada

 As I roll into Las Vegas, I pull into a parking lot to get my bearings, I put down the side stand to get off the bike, and crash!, I am on the ground with the bike on top of me. 

The sidestand bolts have broken.  I need to fix this, as it is very difficult to get off the KTM without it.  The seat height is 37" and my ass is 3" closer to the ground than the seat.  I have been dismounting the same way you get off a horse, and the strain finally got to the sidestand.  No worries, Sportsman Cycle Sales is nearby, and technician Steve Gabbert is able to drill out the busted bolts and get the stand back on.  Meanwhile I practice dismounting without using the side stand until I get it right.  While Steve fixes the stand I use the opportunity to change my rear tire for an OEM Bridgestone (OEM for a Suzuki), I am hoping this tires lives up to its crappy tire that lasts forever reputation, as quantity (as in distance) over quality will be more important.
 
I stay in las Vegas for two days, and Laughlin for three.  The room in Las Vegas was cheap because it was a crappy motel.  Never stay in a motel that accepts cash only :-)  Laughlin was cheap because the owners want you to use all your bucks in the casino.  This works for me, because I don't gamble (with money anyway).

Laughlin is a very new city, founded in the 1960's as an alternative to Las Vegas, and it fulfills this role very well.  It is more like the Las Vegas I remember, it really is in a timewarp.  Directly across the Colorado River is Bullhead City, Arizona which is in a different time zone (mountain) adding to the whole timewarp illusion thing.

There is lots of interesting stuff to see and do, but all the time I am there the wind is howling at 30 mph (50 kph), and it is no fun being outside, especially on the bike.  Nevertheless I get to some petroglyphs, and see some SCORE off road racing.  Motostorm fans, this is the real thing, they did not make it up.


I have posted some more pictures from Las Vegas, Laughlin, and Glamis Sand dunes on my picasa site  http://picasaweb.google.ca/everiman/Nevada#

January 14, 2010

Blackberry Update

I am locked in a timewarp in Laughlin Nevada for the next three days. This place is unbelievable. My otherwise excellent room does not have any kind of internet access, the TV has 13 channels, I just finished watching Adam 12. It is costing me 25 bux a night. Even the furniture is old, er, retro.

SCORE off road racing starts tomorrow.

I got some good pix in Vegas, I will post later. I found Las Vegas a little disappointing. It is like a much bigger, better version of West Edmonton Mall, but the edginess that I remember from 1969 (my last visit) is gone. Tamed, or neutered if you prefer. Ran into a NAIT instructor who will remain nameless :-) I guess it was inevitable that I would meet someone I know in Las Vegas.

Laughlin Nevada seems more interesting, but in a different way. John Irwin told me I would be the youngest guy in town, and he wasn't exagerating. It looks like the old Las Vegas, a cluster of high rise neon hotels in the middle of the desert.

More in a few days.

January 13, 2010

The Badass Beemer Bikers run to Tonopah

Ever since the bike was unloaded I was having trouble with one of my mirrors, trying to fix it with my limited tools I managed to strip the mounting threads.  Fortunately, Antelope Valley Kawasaki Yamaha also sells KTMs and was able to repair my mirror, so here is a plug, if you are ever in Lancaster CA with a busted KTM (or Yamaha or Kawasaki) these guys are great.

On Saturday my plan was to head for Needles.  I had stopped at the spaceport just to get a few more photos.  While I was there this guy zooms in on a BMW and we start to talk.  It turns out he is meeting with a group of BMW riders coming from One Thousand Oaks CA.  My new friend Rick says, 'Come in to the restaurant and have some breakfast'.  So in I go for a coffee, and next thing you know the rest show up, and I accept their invitation to join them on a ride to Tonopah Nevada.

Now Needles is south, and Tonopa is north,  but I figure, what the heck, these guys are from around here, they would not lead me astray.  That was my first mistake (that day anyway).  It was still early.



It was really great to be able to ride with a group who know where all the best roads and sights are.  We visited an old gold mining town,  and a group with adventure bikes went down a road where the KTM could hold its own with its larger cousins from Germany.




The big Beemers travelled at a faster pace than the KTM is comfortable, so I was mostly in the rear.   As we approached Tonopah, I realized my new friends had led me astray.  There was snow all over the place.

Fortunately the snow was all on the side of the road and not on it, but it was still cold.  Turns out this was an annual affair that takes place every second weekend in January, and gives the LA guys something to talk about all year.  The riders were all pretty much of an age (my age), some in even in their 70's.  We had had a good ride and we hoisted a few that night.

The next day they headed back to the palm trees and I decided to take a route to Las Vegas that would take me further east into Nevada.  That was my second mistake. 

As I left Tonopah and turned onto Highway 6, the first thing I saw was a sign indicating that there were no gas stations for 167 miles.  This is not a problem for the KTM and it's 7 gallon tank, but it probably also means no restaurants or coffee shops, which turned out to be the case.  And it got colder, and there was more snow.  I was now at over 6,000 feet and climbing higher, thinking that this was probably not the best idea I ever had.  But I hate to turn back so I pushed on thinking that just up ahead the road would descend into a nice warm valley.  Nope, didn't happen.

There was nothing but a few picnic table rest stops between Tonopah and Ely.  I think I saw maybe four cars for the whole 167 miles.  This would have been great, but I was freezing my ass off.

January 10, 2010

Mojave California

I decide to become a resident of Mohave for the next three days.  The Desert Inn has no stars, but it is economical, and it suits me.   Mohave's claim to fame is that it is a spaceport.  I never been to a spaceport before.


Mohave airport, er spaceport, is where spaceship one was launched.  Space ship one,  for those who have forgotten, won the X prize in 2004, for being the first successful private enterprise space craft.  See the details on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Ship_One
 
There is also this weird rocket nose thing beside it, 'rotary rocket' a less successful wannabe spaceship, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_Rocket#The_Atmospheric_Test_Vehicle_.28ATV.29


A (defunct)  KTM shop, a victim of rerouting the highway around town.

And desert, lots of desert.



Edwards air force base is a few miles down the road.  I try to get on, but no dice, there is a tour for Friday, but it is all booked.  At the entrance to Edwards is a neat old B52 that was used to carry experimental aircraft up in the air.





January 09, 2010

More Desert



Imagine that you are six years old again, only this time you have the worlds biggest sand box to play in, and much better toys....

January 08, 2010

The Desert



Adrian was getting on a plane to Ontario as I was heading to Bakersfield, so he is safe and sound.  Adrian sold the van, so that is OK too. 

Bakersfield is cold, damp and foggy.  I head for Mojave (the town), thinking that it will be nicer there, thanks to internet weather forecasts. 

Bakersfield is in a flat as a pancake valley surrounded by farms and orchards, but it is too foggy to really see anything.  Leaving the valley, the road begins to climb and the fog gets even thicker.   Pretty soon I am going at a walking pace on a narrow, twisting road hoping there is no one else around because I can't see.  Just as the fog is thickest it starts to get brighter, a sign I am soon going to be above it all.  Sure enough a few more feet up and I am looking down on a cloud and up at a blue sky. 

A few miles farther I see all these windmills.  The road is fun once I can see.  Soon I am in the town of Mojave, surrounded by desert and hills, a perfect place to stay for a few days.

Batting a thousand

Well the score so far, one lost drivers license, one lost VISA card, one lost nephew, and one lost van.  This is getting discouraging.  Added to that, Bakersfield is cold damp, foggy and dark.

I leave messages for Adrian to call, but no news. 

January 07, 2010

Where is Adrian?

After speaking to Adrian I figgered I would go to Bakersfield and see if there was anything I could do.  He was staying at a Motel 6.  he has no phone.  There are four motel 6 in Bakersfield, there was no sign of Adrian or Snowball at any of em.

Adrian said he would be fine, and not to worry, so I am assuming he is OK and did what he needed to do, which was get rid of the van, ship his stuff, and get on a plane.  Adrian has been on his own pretty much since he left High School four years ago, and he is very independent, so I guess I should have listened to him,  still I feel responsible, and would have liked to have helped.

January 06, 2010

Signs


On my trips I always take pictures of signs.  Signs tell me about the places I am visiting, and they serve as notes or reminders of where a group of pictures were taken later.  I posted a collection of signs from this trip on my picasa site. Enjoy!  I will add more as the trip progresses. 
http://picasaweb.google.ca/lh/sredir?uname=everiman&target=ALBUM&id=5423500296453516833&authkey=Gv1sRgCPjzp93_wPH6nQE&invite=CKSjiIoE&feat=email

January 05, 2010

California Here I Am!



We made sure that there was a gas station near when we dumped the bike out, as there was only a bit of gas in the tank.  A few miles down the road and 33 dollars later the KTM is gassed and ready to race (KTM joke).

I stop for a break in Cayucos and a couple of local high school kids fill me in on the local attractions.  'Go see the big rock in Morro Bay and stay in San Luis Obispo.'  

An interesting thing about the KTM is that most bike riders don't know what it is, and mostly don't care to know either, it clearly ain't a Harley or a supersport and at 625 cc is 'just a little bike', but every kid dirt biker loves it.  My new friends are dirt bikers and they think it is cool.  It appears I will have no problems relating to the youngest generation despite being a crusty old man :-)
"By thy long beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me ?"

The boys have given me good advice.  Morro Rock has lots of visitors, sort of a Californian Ayers Rock, a spot of significance for many thousands of years.

San Luis Obispo has a Santa Rosa park, which is the name of the park behind my house in Edmonton.  This Santa Rosa is just about as close to my motel as well.  It gets really dark here and there are not many street lights, so it is hard to see what things look like.  It seems nice though, lots of small stucco bungalows, just like my neighborhood.

In the morning I follow the coast all the way to Long Beach, which takes me right through Los Angeles and just about every town the Beach Boys sang about.  And sure enough there are the surfers.





Venice Beach is another place I had heard about.  Lots of people strolling the beach, several volleyball games are always being played.


So far I am really impressed with Los Angeles and Southern California.  If the only way you learn about other places is through the news and TV, it can create a distorted perception.  LA is one of the most pleasant places I have visited, and by that I mean the people are friendly, the place is clean, and everywhere I go I feel safe and welcome.
 

January 04, 2010

Snowball comes to a bad end.

Adrian just phoned from Bakersfield.  Apparently the van's radiator blew, and the brakes are shot.  He will probably fly out and ship his stuff as parts prices are more than the old pig is worth.  Not sure what happened there, the brakes were OK when I checked them last summer, but they did get quite a work out on the mountain passes and the coastal highway.  Probably resented my slanging it as well. 

According to Adrian he will save money over driving it back.

I hope this is not a sign of disasters to come.

Separation is go

We bunk down in Bodega Bay, it was too dark to see, and it looked like the next town was a long ways down.  The room was nice, with a price to match, but this was place was dead, D.E.D dead!  Saturday night, and the sidewalks were rolled up.  Literally.  One restaurant open, a high end sea food joint.  I hate sea food.  I had the veggie burger (garden burger).  Adrian said the snapper was great. Bully.

We were out of there at 6:30 AM.  A few hours later we were driving over the golden gate bridge.  We took the downtown exit for San Francisco and drove through.  We decided that SF was just another big city.  I told Adrian that SF was Super Vancouver, and he got it right away.  A few more hours on the number one and we decant the bike in a roadside campground.  Adrian will head for the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas, and then to visit relatives in South Carolina.  I continue to head south, bidding a not so fond farewell to snowball, may I never see it again. 





Bike Prep




This could be tricky.  The KTM has 52,000 km on it (~30,000 miles).  It is still very tight, does not use oil, and everything works the way it should.  My gut and 40 years of riding tell me that it will go the distance, but this trip will add at least another 30,000 km and possibly double the miles already on it.  Something will go wrong.  I will have to replace tires, chain and sprockets.  Oil changes will have to be done on the road.   I can perform all my own repairs, but I will need access to parts and I will not be able to carry all the tools I would need to fix all the things that could break or wear out. 

The internet tells me that there are KTM dealers in every country I will visit.  Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation in Latin America, so there will be plenty of shops and expertise.   The KTM's wheel rims are of a size able to accommodate a variety of common tire sizes and types, notwithstanding  the factory would not recommend such, they will work in a pinch.

All major and minor maintenance has been done, fork oil, engine oil, coolant, brake fluid,  replaced.  Back tire 50% front 80+, chain and sprockets 80-90%.  I may put on a fresh rear tire in the US. 

The bike is still somewhat dusty from its last ride, and it will be a while before it sees a hose and bucket again.  

I really don't know what to expect re security,  I am thinking that travellers tales of highway robbery and kidnapping grow with the telling, but on the other hand I would be foolish to ignore the warnings.   A KTM 640 Adventure is a bike that only an owner will love, it is not one that tends to make others covetous.  It looks like a mutant grasshopper.  It also has a 37" seat height (no short people).  On its center stand it looks quite intimidating,  the seat almost reach the armpits of six foot me.  Given that motorcycle thieves are weaselly belly crawlers, I am thinking they will give it a pass.

All 'stuff' to be locked inside the Givi bags, another reason for leaving the camping stuff home.  On the down side, the locks on Givi luggage are exactly the same cheapo locks found on filing cabinets that most any office worker can open with a paperclip and pocket knife. 

Bottom line, this is a trip of a lifetime, and if it costs me a broken or lost bike or stuff, that will be part of the experience.  No regrets.

January 03, 2010

Highway One

The Pacific Coast 'byway' is 101 in Washington, Oregon, and the northernmost part of California.  Then Highway 101 heads inland and highway 1 becomes the coast road.  This road is painful in the Dodge.  The road corkscrews over mountains and along the coast, old snowball fights it all the way.  I let Adrian drive, I have seldom been so terrified.
The ocean vistas are spectacular.  The sun comes out. It is warm.  Time to get the bike out.
























January 02, 2010

North West Pacific Coast

Adrian and I left Vancouver in the rain, and it rained all day.  The customs people (Homeland Security) were interested enough in our story that they wanted to hear more details, so we were invited inside for a visit and a chat.  That went well, but it took about an hour before we were on our way. 

We followed the interstate to Seattle, looked around a bit, then we found the Pacific Coast Highway.  Day one was too rainy too see much and the curves were scared the pants off the Dodge van who was only used to straight prairie roads.  Somewhere along the way the van was christened "Snowball", after the pig in George Orwell's Animal Farm.  If I can only find a curly tail to paste on the rear.

We made it through Washington and stopped in Oregon for the night.  The next day started rainy but it did clear up a bit later.  We got some great pictures.






January 01, 2010

Screw Up Number One

Jan 30 I checked into a hotel in Vancouver with the worlds most clueless desk clerk. With all the fumbling and misdirecting I did not notice that she had not returned my drivers license and credit card until I was in Oregon.  Fortunately (I hope) the hotel will send the DL and credit card to my brother who will be meeting me on the 21st.  The hotel will remain nameless (so as not to piss them off so long as I need something from them). Unless they screw this up as well!!!!!
We won't say anything about the nitwit who forgot to check his wallet.