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Sydney Harbour Bridge

Taking a short break in the beautiful gardens

Our route through western USA

Our Harley uncrated and ready to go

Everything is big in the USA

 

The LA road system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very different world of Joshua Tree N. P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressive views in Sedona

 

 

It really is a Grand Canyon

Lake Powell

Lake Powell Dam wall

River trips running the rapids on the Colorado

Dusty little town

Monument valley

Where is the road going?

Quite a climb.

Stunning canyon scenery,

Yes it was cold overnight, spot the snow!

 

Zion National Park

Tonopah, crossing Nevada

Heading into those snow capped mountains of Yosemite NP

Yosemite NP, quite stunning!

Bikes everywhere – near Angel Camp.

More Alpine scenery

The Pacific Ocean

We visited interesting wineries in Sonoma county

Enjoying good company, Dody and Jim, and good wine, what a day!

San Francisco roads, seeing is believing!

Stunning views along the coast

Massive redwoods dwarf the bike.

Interesting seaside activity

The Rogue River - Oregon.

Fishing on the Rogue River, a family affair!

Heading up to Crater Lake NP, snow is building up around us

You just can not capture the beauty

Bad weather coming in.

There's a bear in there!

Seal Rock

A beautiful coastline

Sydney

Intro

I suppose our adventure started when we were told we had to go to Sydney (2000km round trip) to be interviewed for our USA Visa. We hadn't anticipated this and it robbed us of a valuable weekend that we needed to sort out the house. Nevertheless it did provide an opportunity to test the bike, our gear and ourselves before heading to the USA.
The trip went well and in hindsight it was probably a good thing for us to have a break from all the sorting out that needed to be done before leaving for 12 months. Turns out all they wanted to do at the Consulate was to electronically finger print us. Almost as an apology, we were offered a 5 year visa instead of the 12 months requested.
With 3 weeks to go and working right up to when we leave we now had to get a move on. With all the tasks we could think of carefully logged onto the calendar, we progressed at what seemed a blinding pace towards the 2/5/04 and our departure.


We're Off

Well It's 3:30am Brisbane time Monday morning, but only 10:30am Sunday Los Angeles time. We've been on the go for 17 hours and land in 2 hours time. It's been a good trip, gone really quickly and we had a short sleep on the plane. Got lucky with the flight, it was only half full so we were able to get the 4 centre seats to lie on. Tip is to board early and 'claim' the seats before someone else does.
Well we breezed through immigration and customs. Did get asked why we had so little luggage for such a long stay. Just told them it was all on the bike. Don't think that explanation really helped though.


2/5/04 Day One. First impressions:

Cars and SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are huge. Traffic fairly heavy but controlled and drivers seem very tolerant. Hard to find a white american in this area. They all seem to be blacks, Chinese or Mexicans speaking Spanish. Apparently almost half the population of LA is Mexican. Had a quick nap after we arrived at the hotel then went for a walk and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We had a substantial meal, a glass of sangria and a Budweiser for $U17.00 Plenty of food outlets and they all seem fairly cheap. I had bought a bottle of Jack Daniel's duty free in Brisbane but it is about the same price here in a bottle shop. Went for a stroll after dinner through some of the back streets. An older area almost exclusively Mexicans living there but what a pride they take in their homes. Really quaint houses, all very different in character, with well maintained gardens. Very friendly too.
Checked the weather report and southern California is experiencing a heat wave with record highs. Some places 102 Degrees F which is 12 degrees above the previous record for this time of year. that's 39 degrees C.


3/5/04 – LA

We're meeting a LA HOG (Harley Owner Group) member for breakfast and then going to pick up the bike. Then it all begins!
Well we met Dave. Very helpful guy and he took us to Bartels to get the bike. Everything is fine and we've just got back to the hotel. Tonight Dave's taking us to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a seafood restaurant modeled on the Forest Gump movie and one of his favourite spots. Must take this opportunity to thank Dave and his missus Linda for making us feel welcome and helping out. Dave even arranged an ISP for us so we can maintain this site.


4/5/04 – HEADING OUT

We left LA today. Spent most of the morning repacking the bike and squeezing everything in. Almost made it. Dianne has to carry a few things in a bag until we eat or drink them. Despite carefully packing everything before we left, the people at 'Dangerous Goods' ripped every single thing out checking for dangerous goods before allowing the bike to be air freighted. Irony is that items they deem to be dangerous, like our puncture repair kit???, they put in a separate package and it goes on the plane anyway. Hard to figure out.
The freeway system out of LA is unbelievable. 5 or 6 lane highways totally full of cars usually traveling at 120 - 140 kph. You gotta keep moving as they fine you here if you're too slow, Impeding the flow of traffic they call it. They do have a good idea though. There is a special lane for cars that have two or more passengers and also for motorcycles. It is separated from the rest of the hoard by double yellow lines and there are steep on the spot fines for crossing into it. The result is there is this high speed lane with only a few cars and nobody lane changes in front of you when you're in it. They are constantly changing lanes in the rest of the freeway though although nobody seems to get agro and we've hardly heard anyone blow their horn, except at us a few times! The drivers are very tolerant of each other as I suppose they must be with traffic this dense. We traveled about 200ks out of LA on these freeways today, sometimes the speed was down to 40ks. Traffic is horrendous, but then I suppose it would be. LA has a population of around 16 million (remember the population of Australia is under 20 mil.
We turned off the freeway and headed for Joshua Tree National Park and are spending the night about 50ks from the park. The scenery is spectacular. Despite being this close to LA and the coast, it's becoming desert type terrain, and you know how I like deserts.
Tomorrow we head further east for another big day. Dianne is a bit crook (sick). Got the wog (flu), so she's sleeping right now. A hot day tomorrow will be tough going for her.


5/5/04 – JOSHUA TREE NP

Left Yucca for Joshua Tree National Park (1). Already warm at 7.00am and going to get a lot warmer. We paid the $U50.00 National park annual fee as this will cover the entry to all national parks in the US.
Shortly after entering the Park the scenery changed dramatically with lots of the unique Joshua trees in the higher Mojave Desert environment, and Creosote bush dominating the Colorado Desert below 3000 feet. We spent a little time sorting out our camera here as we weren't happy with the results we were getting. Seems fine now, an incorrect white balance adjustment gave a yellow cast to everything. Magnificent roads, good surface and great curves took us to the I10, where we jostled with the almost bumper to bumper interstate trucks.
Temperatures climbed rapidly and soon reached 120 degrees F on the Harley's temperature gauge. (that's nearly 39 degrees C) Pulled into a truck stop just before Blythe and spent an hour cooling off and re-hydrating. Dianne taking the strain with the flu.
Prescott is our destination for tonight, but we still have around 250km to go. Another lengthy cooling off break halfway before gaining altitude and loosing temperature. In the magnificent passes just before Prescott, we reached 6000 feet and lost around 20 degrees F. We found a cheap motel $U38.00 and Dianne crashed. Hopefully she'll be better in the morning.

6/5/04 – STOP PLAY

Dianne had a terrible night and is really bad this morning so we'll rest up today and let her recover. I need some time anyway to sort out how and where to upload these pages. By evening Dianne is looking better and I think the site is working.

7/5//04 – ARIZONA

Headed for Sedona(2) today, and a bikers paradise with spectacular winding roads. We passed through Jerome, Arizona's most famous ghost town where over 1 billion dollars of gold silver and copper were mined, now hapitated by artists and craftsman.
At Sodona we found a coffee shop hot spot. (one with wireless internet connection) We stopped at a "Sip 'n Surf" but apparently all Starbuck coffee shops have wireless connections. Tested the site and it seems good. $2.50 for 30 minutes seems reasonable.
The surrounding red walled cliffs dominate this town. Very impressive and a enjoyable ride on to Flagstaff through winding roads as we climb from 4000ft up to 7000ft. Distant snow capped mountains, the highest point in Arizona of over 10,000 ft, took us by surprise as we continued onto the southern rim of the Grandest of Canyons.


8/5/04

Arrived late at the Grand Canyon(3) and put the tent up for the first time of the trip. Even though the days are warm it got down to below 8 degrees C overnight. Got up early to capture the sunrise. We'd been to the Grand Canyon 24 years ago and were prepared to be impressed but the first look still took our breath away. No wonder it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

Spent the morning walking and taking pictures. With the digital camera we shoot till the card is full, download the images and do a cull. If 20% are worth keeping we're happy, however the immensity of the Grand Canyon is hard to capture.
Midday we decided to head for Page and Lake Powell and arrived evening time after stopping several times at scenic lookouts on the south rim. I am now suffering from the flu and am as crook as a chook (really sick), so we book into a motel again. We're surprised to find Motels for $U40.00 a night, and at this price it doesn't seem worthwhile camping when you're not well. Despite staying in motels more than we had anticipated and doing higher daily mileages we are able to keep within our $U75.00 a day budget.


9/5/04

A quieter day today taking in the magnificent Lake Powell (4) and surrounds. Washing and general housekeeping taken care of. Peter and Kay Forwood said we should take one day a week off form touring to have a break and we're heeding that advice. Don't want to get burnt out.
We find the magnificent canyon lands invigorating and energising and I'm sure that is helping with our recovery from the flu. Our days are always full of surprises as we investigate places along the way. A local suggested we visit Lees Ferry about 40 miles from Page. This is the only part of the Colorado river that you can cross the river from Utah into Arizona. Everywhere else the canyon walls on either side are too steep, but here there is a natural corridor. This is where people begin river trips running the rapids on the Colorado down to the Grand Canyon. National parks restrict the number of boats allowed to do this trip and the current waiting list is 15 years or more. We spoke with a couple of excited adventures who had booked this trip when they first met, and were now married with teenage children.

 

 


10/5/04

Decided to take the long way to Bryce National Park via Monument Valley. As we headed out of Page we had to deal with an annoying crosswind as we rode through the Navajo reservation, but a left turn on highway 160 and joy of joys for any motorcyclist, a tail wind. The winds got stronger as we approached Kayenta with dust and sand blowing across the road and stinging our face and sandblasting the bike. As we rode I got to thinking about how the air filter would be coping. Lets see, 1400cc running at 3000rpm. It's a 4 stroke so that means 1500 intake strokes every minute. That's 1500 times 1400cc every minute = potentially 2100 litters of dusty air every minute. Memo to self: Replace the air filter ASAP. Kayenta was an absolute dust bowl and according to the locals, this was quite normal. Travelers having just come through Monument Valley warned us about massive dust storms. We considered our options but decided to persevere with our plan.
Since leaving LA we had become accustomed to expect constant changes in the scenery around us, but today would have to be described as a day of the unexpected and certainly not because of dramatic changes along our ride.
Firstly, Monument Valley with its colourful eroded buttes and desolate beauty was almost dust free although the winds were still blowing hard. Maybe we were lucky or maybe the warnings were exaggerated.
Secondly the road we had chosen (route 261) headed straight for a huge cliff. We both stared at the road disappearing into the cliff face and wondered how we were going to get through. Well, that straight sealed road turned into windy switchback gravel for 3 miles as it climbed 1100 feet. I was white knuckled when we eventually reached the crest and we were both a little weak kneed and relieved to have made it. (preparation for Bolivia)
Thirdly Glen Canyon National Park(5), and Lake Powell, a place we had always intended to revisit since we were last here 24 years ago, was no longer a lake. Unbelievably all that remained of this vast water way was dust. We looked in awe at this ghost lake, a result of years of drought and the mighty Colorado river reduced to a small stream. In it's hey day it had a shore line longer than the entire west coast of the USA. The Hydro electric power plant at Page must be releasing more water than is entering and the lake is rapidly getting smaller. Stayed the night in a small Hanksville and enjoyed a long shower to get rid of the dust.

A view from the top

11/5/04

On the way to Bryce Canyon(7) we passed through Capital Reef national park, more stunning canyon scenery, then on to Escalante and up to over 10500f before entering the Grand Staircase of Escalante National Monument.
We had planned to camp at Bryce Canyon for the next two nights but when we entered the park we were told the night time temps would get down to -5 degreesC and snow was expected. We found a small wooden cabin with a heater for $U40.00 and were glad we did.

12/5/04

Frost and a light flurry of snow greeted us in the morning with biting winds. That didn't deter us and we enthusiastically headed out to enjoy this famous national park. We rode to the end of the park and up to 10 000f, stopping frequently to take photos and enjoy the vista. Colourful spires pinnacles and other fascinating rock formations fashioned by the elements make up this unusual outdoor arena. One of the features of Bryce is that you can enjoy the rock formations from above and also take a trail walk that descends into the canyon itself and look up at the magnificent rock formations.

Magnificent Bryce Canyon


13/5/04

We hadn't intended to do Zion National Park(8) as we had visited it before and thought we could make up a little time by by-passing it, but at the last minute we couldn't bare the thought of missing out on something so we changed the plan and headed south/west to take in more grand rock formations. It was just a quick visit but we're glad we did it. Left Zion after lunch and traveled on the Extraterrestrial Highway through Nevada to Tonopah. This region is famous for UFO sightings and apparent aliens. There is a secret government facility located nearby and this is where the Stealth Bomber was tested.


14/5/04

We have a deadline to meet up with good friends in Santa Rosa, just north of San Francisco on the 16th. Dody and Jim helped us out a lot when we were here last and we are looking forward to catching up with them after all these years. We really want to see Yosemite again so we'll have to boogie as from Tonopah to Santa Rosa via Yosemite NP and Lake Tahoe is a good 3 day ride thru the mountains.


We left Tonopah with temps in the 60sF, around 15c with blue sky's and no wind and had a magical ride towards Yosemite(8) heading west on the 6/95. We turned onto the 120 and had a roller coaster ride with sweeping bends and undulations enjoying snow capped mountain views in the distance. We climbed and climbed and at the entrance to the park reached over 9700 feet. Our lungs were taking the strain and the Harley has lost of few of it's horsepower but It's still running perfectly.
We were privileged to be able to enter Yosemite at this point as the park had only been opened today due to heavy snow. The snow accentuated the splendour of the massive granite formations and lay heavily on the ground around us. Surprisingly the temperatures were a warm 15c and sunny, a walk into the wilderness a must do. A magic walk, surrounded by conifers with the crunching of the snow under foot and the sound of thunder (lots for Harleys) on the road below. Reflective pools of water, waterfalls and mule deer leaping through the grass were just a part of this most amazing day. Just wished we had seen one of those bears they warn you about. Special bear proof food lockers have been provided along the road and in campsites and improper food storage is a violation.

15/5/04

Again one of the special occasions that happen when you're traveling. We were wondering why there were so many bikes (99% Harleys) cruising around and discovered that there were two big annual events on. One was a frog race at Angel Camp an event that has been going on since the Mark Twain era, and supported by bikers for over 40 years. The other big event was the Top Hatters MC annual event a few miles away at the Avery Hotel. The Top Hatters MC was formed after the famous events at Hollester in 1947, the birth of the biker legend. and they've been coming here every year We stayed for 4 hours watching the bikes and enjoying the characters and even had an interesting discussion with one of the founding members Jess Bravo.

Founding members of the Top hatters, Jess Bravo


Left Avery around 2.30pm and again enjoyed magnificent roads rising to 7000ft and descending to 2000ft as we crossed the Sierra Nevada's on the way to Lake Tahoe(9) on the California /Nevada border. Passed through Alpine country with snow capped mountains, clear blue sky's and fresh mountain air following route 4 alongside the rushing waters of the melting snow with alpine lakes reflecting the sky. Had an excellent Buffet dinner at one of the casinos for a few dollars then watched the gamblers for a while. On the Nevada side there are the glitzy casinos, shows and bright lights while on the California side you can live on the shores of the lake and be as one with nature. Nevada residents don't pay income tax as the income from the casinos is sufficient for the state government. The lake is quite beautiful, just so peaceful, set into the mountains.

Lake Tahoe


16/5/04

Big day today as we meet up with Dody and Jim. It's almost all down hill from Tahoe at 7000ft to Santa Rosa at sea level, and we pass through the Napa Valley. Grapes and vineyards abound and the sight of all those vines lifts our spirits even higher. We lunched at Sonoma and bought a couple of bottles of wine for our hosts. A merry celebration, reminiscing and catching up till midnight.


17/5/04

Maintenance day. time to do the washing, write emails, update this site and generally veg out. We've been going pretty full on since we arrived in LA and done over 4500km in two weeks. Time to take stock and just reflect on the trip so far. Dody and Jim did insist we visit Jenner on coast though. Beautiful spot but we were surprised how cold it was as the Pacific Ocean really cools things off. Interesting ride through the small villages, once part of the hippy movement but now upmarket boutique style shops, pubs and restaurants.


18-23/5/04

The next 5 days with our hosts was pretty full on doing the tourist thing and visiting as many wineries in Sonoma county and the more famous Napa valley(10) as we could. We kicked off at Korbel where they make Californian Champagne. The end of prohibition was toasted at the White House with Korbel champagne, and for the first time we enjoyed Zinfandel, a variety not common in Australia. When we were here before, apple orchards abounded but now the area is a mass of grape vines and they all looked healthy and vibrant with small bunches of grapes just forming.
San Francisco(11) was the former stomping ground for Dody & Jim before they moved to Santa Rosa so a visit to this magnificent city was made more memorable with our personal tour guides whisking us from one major attraction to another. I think the Japanese Gardens, the cable car ride and Fishermans Wharf will be the highlights.

24/5/04

Reluctantly it was time to move on. We have had a fantastic time and promised to visit again within 5 years. Heading west toward the coast the temperatures dropped but we were rewarded with a stunning ride north up the coast with the road carved into the cliff faces at times as it wound its way following the coastline. Hard to believe it can get better than this as we followed the coast for about 250km. Very similar to the Great Ocean road in Australia.
We continued past Fort Bragg towards Rockport and then headed east into redwood territory. These trees are huge and at Leggett we drove through the trunk of one massive specimen. A 350km day with slow traveling enjoying the spectacular scenery, but after 9 hours in the saddle we decided to stay at a cheap motel in Garbererville.


25/5/04

A few kilometres from Garberville we turned off onto the Avenue of the Giants highway, a world famous scenic drive following the Eel River. Here we viewed the largest remaining stand of virgin Redwoods in the world. We took a trail into the forest to get a feel of the enormity of these trees. The Redwoods here are huge and 2000 year old specimens can reach heights of 370 feet with around a 17 foot diameter.
On to Eureka, known as a Victorian sea port, with an interesting historic part of the town, boardwalk and harbour. Lunched on fish and chips at Trinidad, then further north to Crescent City moving in and out of seascapes and Redwood forests. Camped tonight just outside Crescent City in a well maintained RV site with grassed camping areas for $US15.00. We're trying to establish a routine where we can make camp at about 4.30 and explore the area a little before downloading the photos and writing the diary update. It doesn't get dark till about 8.00pm so that gives us plenty of time. So far we've been able to maintain our $US70.00 a day budget and still enjoy a beer and a glass of wine, so things are working out as planned.

26/5/04 - Oregon

Blueberry pancakes for breakfast then off toward Crater Lake, Oregon, a state renowned for wilderness country and great river valleys. We followed the Smith River in California then the Rogue River through national forests stopping regularly to watch locals fly fishing for salmon and trout, either from the bank or from boats which were skillfully navigated through small rapids.

We started to climb again as we neared Crater Lake and were surprised to see snow at the road side. As we climbed higher to 6000ft the snow became deeper but we were warm enough in our Polar Tec coats and Merino wool long johns and tops. Good gear making our trip comfortable. This area receives 44ft of snow a year and only one road into Crater Lake was open.

Crater Lake(12) is supremely spectacular and to see the brilliant blue water contrasting with the white snow, ringed by cliffs and volcanic pinnacles almost 2000 ft above the lake surface was quite unique. The lake was formed when rain and snow filled a volcanic caldera and at almost 2000ft deep and 6 miles wide is the USA's deepest lake. No streams flow into or out of the lake and the water level remains almost constant as evaporation and seepage balance the incoming flow.

Bad weather started moving in so we reluctantly left heading for Westfir and a short stay at Eric & Gail Haws' place. Peter & Kay Forward had given us their email address when they visited us and said we should contact them as they were RTWs and always willing to help out other bikers. Gail & Eric had planned to be in Greece and Turkey but were insistent that we stay at their house anyway. (How many people would do that for complete strangers?)

The rain caught us about 1 hour from Westfir, first rain of the trip and 5500Km. We met the caretaker who showed us around the house and told us to make ourselves at home.

27-28/5/04

It rained for most of the next 2 days so we were really grateful to be staying at the Haws' home. Gave us a chance to soak in some of the atmosphere, learn a little about Eric & Gail and what amazing things they've done. Amongst many other achievements, they were the first people to ride across Russia on a Motorcycle and have a certificate in their lounge from the Guinness Book of Records acknowledging their achievement.

Magadan Siberia to Helsinki Finland - 7998 miles
3rd July - 22nd August 1992.

Many other renowned and respected RTW motorcyclists have also stayed at their home and we felt humbled to be here.

We also took this opportunity to come to grips with a new camera. The one we bought in Australia had a malfunction with the auto focus and the warranty isn't valid in the US. We pondered our options eventually deciding to buy a new camera and send the old one back to OZ and ask our daughter to sell it when fixed. Hopefully that will fund the replacement. Also had an opportunity to do some washing, email and site update.

29/5/04

It's a big day, our 29th Wedding Anniversary, so a big cooked breakfast starts another day full of surprises. We drove through the wilderness area of central Oregon heading into the Willamette National Forest. Along the way we spotted deer running across the road and then to my right I spied a black bear. We did a U turn and the bear climbed a tree and posed for us

A cold wet ride took us through Eugene then onto the coast and north to Seal rock, a natural habitat for hundreds of seals and sea lions. It was a long weekend in the USA and the traffic was heavy. It also meant that accommodation was going to be a challenge. We eventually got lucky, finding a very comfortable room and enjoyed Angus beef burgers and a salad from Burger King for dinner. What a big Anniversary spoiling and to hell with the expense!

30/5/04- Washington -

Ever onward, today heading north as always, we rode through lush green roaming farmlands and visited the famous cheese factory at Tillamook. A chance to dry out and warm up tasting cheese and watching the production process through a glassed in observation section. The milk production is so technically developed that each cow is micro chipped and their feed monitored and adjusted according to milk production.

Leaving the coast we headed east to the interesting Hood canal along the eastern edge of the Olympic Peninsular, heavily wooded on our left and quaint fishing villages on our right. At the top we headed for Port Townsend, the only Nationally recognised historical Victorian city on the west coast. We found a campsite at the local fairground and were just preparing to make camp when the onsite caretaker came over. He pointed to the dark clouds over the ocean and predicted heavy rain overnight, but being a biker and Harley owner kindly offered us a dry spot in a 'barn.' Sounded inviting but the barn turned out to be a cattle pen although the floor was clean and covered with fresh sawdust. We thought about our options and decided to accept his offer, a bit of a come down from the previous night. After pitching the tent we took a ride through this interesting town enjoying the change in architecture before finding a quaint pub and enjoying the local brew. Micro breweries are popular in many small towns and the bar staff are happy to let you sample their varieties.

31/5/04

My 50th birthday and through the night we had heard the pitter patter of rain on the cow shed roof. What a good feeling! Fortunately by morning the rain had stopped and we had a dry tent to pack.

Everything is old in port Townsend, even the photographer!

A special breakfast at a local café and then, with the weather clearing, a short hop along the edge of Olympic National Park to Port Angeles where we caught the midday ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. $A30.00 and an hour and a half to make the crossing into Canada. We had an interesting voyage chatting to Liz, a BMW rider returning to the Island. Local knowledge is always valuable and Liz recommended some highlights in Victoria and on the island for us to enjoy.

Click NEXT PAGE to continue our journey through Western Canada.

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