I really needed those two weeks back in England. To be reunited with friends and family made me realise how much I have a bond with home.
It also allowed me to assess what was good and more importantly bad with my first stint. Hopefully this will allow me to improve things for the rest of the trip.
First thing was to lose a lot of clothing. I packed way too much and didn’t allow for buying stuff along the way.
Sunday 5th March
After Beanie dropping me at the airport and another emotional goodbye I walked into Heathrow terminal 2 and immediately felt at ease. A quick breakfast and then I made my way to my gate. I had splashed out on a seat upgrade and was pleased at the prospect of a comfortable flight. I had no one sitting next to me, bonus, until the very last minute when a young guy walked on. When I looked at him I could have sworn I knew him but couldn’t place where from.
I had an 11 hour flight and spoke to this chap partly to pass the time and party to see where I knew him from. Nudging towards the end of the journey my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him outright. It turns out that he is an actor called Adam Garcia who apparently has been in some movies. Since googling I found out he was in Coyote Ugly which explains why he wasn’t that familiar to me.
My concerns before leaving were that I would be once again subjected to an in depth search and that my choice to leave the bike in storage would be found out and I would face some issues.
I couldn’t believe it. Straight through customs with a stamp allowing me until September and no questions. In fact from landing at 2pm my arse was on my bike at 3.20pm. It took a while to start but luckily I had packed a jump pack, without I think I may have been in trouble.
It was Sunday so I had no way of topping up my US mobile so I plumped to ride to somewhere I knew. Within an hour and a half I was pulling up to the frontage of the Shores Inn, Ventura. I struck my usual deal (I very rarely pay full rate) and unpacked. Straight to The Social Tap for a bite to eat. I couldn’t believe it, there was a guy I had been drinking with only 4 weeks prior, Steve is a good chap and it was nice to bump into him. The start couldn’t have been better.
Monday 6th March
Slightly jaded from a dodgy pint the night before I headed off. First stop was to top up my phone then it was on to Ridgecrest. I had chosen this as it will allow me to ride through Death Valley on Tuesday. The ride up couldn’t have been nicer. Leaving Ventura I chose the scenic route through Palmdale and Mojave. This route coupled with near perfect weather made the journey better than it should have been given my slightly hungover state. A quick bite to eat and an early night as I had Death Valley ahead.
Tuesday 7th March
Being as I’m still on UK time I’m up early so after checking my route I head out and I’m one of the first in the local diner. Being familiar with how things work has helped towards my relaxed attitude but I also have come to the conclusion that I cant be done with worrying about things. I thought about this whilst back in England, why worry about your bike being safe as it was me who chose the motel or place to park it. If it was so unsafe then why did I chose it? This all helps towards a good nights sleep.
Death Valley is actually a lot different from what you may imagine. It’s quite picturesque and an easy place to ride through but that may only be because I’ve been through New Mexico and Texas which puts most remote place to shame in terms of scale. The route through there towards the carbuncle that is Las Vegas is a cool road and apart from a hiccup made by my trusty TomTom taking well off road I enjoyed the ride.
Riding into Vegas I immediately chastised myself for choosing to stay here. It’s a unique place and I have been before but it’s changed and it may be due to being older but now I don’t much care for it. Still I’m here so I may as well find a nice cheap room and have a night out. Cheap????? There’s no such thing so after being releaved of $265 for two nights in a cheap and nasty hotel I made my way out. I wanted to enjoy the nightlife but just wasn’t motivated to do so. A buffet from one of the big casinos and a rather uncomfortable walk back to my room due to a recurring stomach issue made me think that an early night and a trip to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon would suit me better
Wednesday 8th March
Up early (again) and a nice ride out to Boulder for a great and inexpensive breakfast. I then realised where I should have chosen to stay but you live and learn eh?
On to Hoover Dam and wow, the shear scale is mind blowing. There’s a suspension bridge from where you et the best view and standing on it looking over the Dam I found it a little disorientating. Even taking a picture I found that I had to hold on to my camera a little tighter than I normally would. It’s strange how heights effect people. It made me wonder how I would feel at the Grand Canyon.
I was going to get a helicopter ride to the Canyon but this trip was about me and my bike so I decided to ride there. This is what I would recommend to anyone. From 50 miles out the road is such fun and you ride through a forest of Joshua trees. Plus Maverick tours take you from Vegas for $460 or the same company takes you over the Canyon for $150. Save the $310 and ride/drive there yourself. All that to one side it’s worth the effort no matter what you choose to do. With a 1200 meter drop and no barriers it is something all should experience.
A ride back and I was looking forward to an evening meal and heading out in the morning.
Thursday 9th March
Yeah I’m leaving Las Vegas (I’m sure that was a movie). But I was happy and had my destination set. Zion national park had been recommended to me right at the start by a guy in Florida so it was a must see destination Nevada is a cool place to ride especially if you ignore the I-15 and I was revelling in my choice of route. Then comes Utah and especially Zion, truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I rode on and stayed in Kanab which in hindsight wasn’t a bad thing but Springville would have been better. Just a hint for those wishing to ride a similar route.
Friday 10th March
Ohhh decisions decisions. Do I ride to the four corners monument or ride up to Bonneville Salt Flats. Tough choice as I wanted to see them both but being as ‘The Worlds Fastest Indian’ is such a cool film Bonneville won. It’s a long ride, 410 miles to be exact and you go through all sorts of terrain. I encountered snow and heat. Dead cows, 4 in total and a road which allows you to see for 16 miles due to it being in a massive valley.
My route was highway 93 which means passing through Ely. When planning my days ride, Ely was just a name but I will always remember it as it was the first time I was pulled over by the police. I saw the police car coming towards me. I knew I was speeding to the tune of 88mph in a 70mph area but who cares? He was driving towards me, would could he do? I looked in my mirrors because I could see that his lights were on now. Can’t be for me, or could it? Bugger!! it was, so I dutifully pulled over. There’s no point in doing anything else as it’s one road. They would get you eventually. He said that his reason for pulling me over was due to my speeding and asked me what speed I was doing. I mumbled something along the lines of ‘I was just concentrating on the road’ or some bollocks like that. Then he astonished me by saying that I was doing 88mph. The next thing that came in to my head was along the lines of heading back to the future but I thought better of it and just apologised. Although the apology may have seemed heartfelt I think it was the UK documents which prevented me from receiving a ticket.
Still, it has changed the way I ride now so it has worked—ish.
Saturday 11th March
There are very few things in this world that exceed your expectations but Bonneville did for me. It is in the arse end of nowhere and all it is is one road leading to a ramp where the land speed competitors would take their vehicles onto the flats. For me all I could do was stop at the ramp as the flats were currently flooded which is normal for this time of year. The sight was so lovely though and although I didn’t get to ride the flats I was in no way disappointed as I know that one day I’ll return to watch the spectacle.
I now have a choice, ride south or head to Wyoming. Wyoming looked close on the map and where I was the weather was fine so it seemed the right choice.
Why do I listen to myself? Evanston really wasn’t the right choice. -10c isn’t pleasant at the best of times but couple it with a seriously ferocious wind and being exposed on a bike and it’s a crap situation to be in. South tomorrow.
Sunday 12th March
One of the people I had met along the way had recommended Glenwood Springs and after checking that the weather is fine I head for there. The trouble is I was in bad weather so I opted for my normal solution and spoke to a local. ‘ You’ll have no issues ‘ I was told which installed some confidence. Then I got to the petrol station, ‘The road is snowed in and winds are hitting 60mph’. Not what I wanted to hear. I thought I would start heading south and I’ll know if there’s an issue by the state of the cars coming my way. I wish I hadn’t spoken to the attendant in the petrol station as I worried all the way south on a journey that threw up no surprises at all. Sometimes it’s nice to live in bliss.
Glenwood Springs is a cool place with history that linked to another place i’d visited, Tombstone. Doc Holliday spent his last days in Glenwood Springs hoping the volcanic springs would aid his Tuberculosis but unfortunately he died and is buried somewhere in town. No one knows where because the day he was due to be buried it rained so hard that the carriage couldn’t make it to the cemetery so he was buried somewhere close. One unlucky house owner has an unexpected guest.
Doc Hollidays saloon was the start of my evening and the end was a local place called the Eagles ( I think). I met and played pool with some lovely people. Nick who I beat twice but insisted on telling me how I could have played better, his friends Scott and David. A really nice couple Thu and Sara, these two have more life in them than many people I meet and some time in their company was welcomed.
Monday 13th March
Wicked hangover so decided that apart from a dirty KFC I should write off the day. It’s always the last JD that gets you.
Tuesday 14th March
A more productive day. A camera case had to be purchased as did a new horn and rear tyre for the Honda. I have also decided to buy food from the supermarket when I can, not for financial reasons but I am suffering with the richness of restaurant dishes and want a more relaxed stomach. The bike got a once over including cleaning and re greasing the chain.
It is my wife Beanie’s birthday tomorrow so I ordered flowers to be delivered. This made me think of home and an element of wanting to be there crept in. So I gave myself a talking to and decided that because this I my choice I have to concentrate on enjoying my time, even if that is just relaxing playing Sudoku ( sadly addictive). A self made meal for the evening and Cranberry juice instead of beer was a good choice and helped me sleep well.