Phew - what a day!! We are stopped at Lone
Pine CA. About 50 miles (we've decided to work in the local measurements -
makes it easier) short of our intended destination at Bishop, but the area is in
rush mode as it is a three day holiday weekend. Monday is Labor Day.
We are on the road that goes to lake Tahoe so most of LA - well, most of them who
own SUVs or RVs - are headed that way, so we decided to pull up a little early to
be sure to get a motel vacancy. We got one, but the prices are inflated due
to the weekend. About twice what we'd expect to pay for equivalent in Oz and
probably double their normal rate.
But it has the amenities, including cold beers from across the road at the Mobil "Gas Station". We're learning the lingo. Why do we need cold beers? well for most of the afternoon the ambient temp gauge on the Goldwing has been reading 104F. So I'll sit here sipping and typing, just cooling down after a great day.
Started off early - as I said above - with a light brekky of Vegemite on breadroll and filter coffee. All the motels seem to have a filter coffee maker. It is quite nice when fresh so we indulge. Coffee is everywhere and quite cheap, by the way.
Just saw a funny sight. Jack is walking down the street with laptop in hand, trying to find a signal. For some reason the free wireless internet here works badly. I can get on intermittently, but Jack is having problems. Back to the story.
Jack, our friend from Albuquerque NM arrived this morning at 8:00am after an 800 mile trip from home to lead us through LA and for the first couple of days. That's like coming down from Townsville just to help a mate out. Great bloke. We hopped in a taxi and petted her dog all the way to El Segundo and the rental office, following Jack. LA cabbies are a fun lot. She spent the whole way talking in Spanish on her mobile. It is still legal here but there is talk of making it an offence.
At the rental office we signed all the paperwork making us responsible for California's
total debt. There was also stuff to sign about if we did any damage.
As if!! But we signed anyway, and handed over our lowest limit credit card
just in case. The bike was still being cleaned and washed. Nice!
Outside, Jack met a bloke he had previously met in Asia somewhere so had a good
reunion. Then out came the bike. A nice dark blue 2007 GL1800 with under
9000 miles on the clock -- with big scuff marks and scratches all over it.
Sheesh. How could anyone do that to a lovely Goldwing? Apparently that
is how it had just come in and our only choice was to take it as is or take John
and Kaz's and let them have a Harley while ours was being fixed. We thought
about it, but decided we wouldn't be able to stand the whinging, let alone the other
noise, so took the bike as was. Took half an hour to list the damage for the
But the bike is solid and goes well so what the heck.
Finally got underway with Jack leading. Our new chant is "Righty tighty - Lefty Loosy". Right corners are taken in close hugging the corner and left ones out wide and loose. Easy to remember - Maybe. But with Jack leading we had no worries. First thing he did was take on a semi that ran a red light. A lot of fist waving and honking. So be it, I was glued to his tail and my lot was in with the Wing Rider. Around a couple of "lefty loosies" and we we on the LA freeways. Jack is not a local to LA but did live there for some time, so he was aware of the directions we needed to go but not the specific details. However he had his Garmin so off we went. Up one ramp and down the next, changing highways more often than changing gears. We went by the CBD (lots of big buildings) and through a few tunnels and ended up on the Angeles Crest Highway. We made a stop here - it was the first real chance - while I installed my Garmin on the bike and off we went again. Around three sweepers and we were in mountainous country on a two lane set of tight twisties. We had 8 miles of this then had to turn off as further up the road was reportedly closed by landslides. Look at the pics and you'll see why.
The first few corners I was a bit nervous, being on the other side of the road and all but was just managing OK when a car came around the next corner ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! Well he wasn't really but he was on my left side and for a split second I was confused. I swerved a bit, thankfully to the right, got a bit offline then settled back into the turn. It gave me a big fright and took quite a bit of getting used to. By the end of the day I was coping all right but this was a bigger problem than remembering to drive on the right. We'll see what happens in the next few days.
That fright over we settled in to a great ride up through the San Gabriel mountains, chasing Jack as much as I dared. It was quite hot and we stopped for a drink at a small shop nestled into the hills. The local who served us was laid back and a good story teller. His family, so he told us, traced back to a three greats grandfather who lived with the Indians in a mostly unexplored California. Great stories and a very good stop.
Then it was up over and down the other side of the mountains and the roads straightened out and remained so for the rest of the day. We turned right at Mojave and then crossed the Mojave Desert on mostly very good divided highway with very few corners. But it was hot. Very hot. I checked the ambient temp on the dash and there it was, 104F. It only changed by a few degrees for the rest of the afternoon, except for when we went through a welcome shower of rain and it plummeted to 68F then rose again as it dried. It dried quickly as well!
Due to the heat and the aforementioned holiday traffic we decided to stop at a little town called Lone Pine. A few beers, a bathe, then a walk down town to a local steakhouse. The local food is pretty much the same, but different in subtle ways. Different names and methods of serving. It is all good though.
|We want to get up there - this was our second ever left turn.|
|The freeways are rough, but the GoldWing handled them well|
|Palm trees and freeways - this is Los Angeles|
|There's the CBD|
|Stopped to install the GPS, Goldbear popped his head up.|
|Into the twisties on the Angeles Crest|
|Easy to wave this side. Harley riders DO!!|
|Amos Lewis's Cafe nestled in the hills. Cold drinks. Nice|
|On the straighter roads we saw lots of RVs. This one towing.|
|Jack on his '04 'Wing. Nice colour.|
|Yep - them's cactuses alright.|
|Red Rock Canyon has some interesting formations|
|Our first fuel stop. Credit card swiper is a great
idea. Weird nozzles aren't.
Low grade fuel here
|We did go inside to get a drink though. MMBear watched the bikes.|
|Rumble strips are different and effective.|
|RVs SUVs straight roads and mountains either side.
Apparently it snows up there in winter. We are over 3000 feet on this road.
|The mountains are getting more rugged so who knows what tomorrow will bring.|
|Yep, they have Outbacks here.|
Our ride for the next few weeks. GPS, Mirror wind deflectors
and video camera mount added. The bears want to ride.
|Internet can be hard to find|
|Only 18 wheels, but much longer body.|
|We know how - we just don't know where.|