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 Dam wall
River trips running the rapids on the Colorado
Dusty little town
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!
A beautiful coastline
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Magnificent Bryce Canyon
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.