Sunday, Sept 28: Day 6
We awoke before dawn and had breakfast by 7:30. Since we arrived when it was dark, I hadn’t realized most folk appeared to be of Hispanic descent. I teach Spanish and my wife is Costa Rican, but here in the U.S. I never feel comfortable starting up a conversation in Spanish unless I know that they know that I can and they‘re willing. Marc will soon be immersed when we get to Puerto Vallarta and will have plenty of time to put into practice what he’s learned.
After checking the basics, tires, oil we’re off for Los Angeles...Marc concerned about how much oil he's reading, or rather not
We ride south on Hiway 5 and soon I see signs for Bakersfield then for LA itself. Growing up in the Midwest, LA was always one of those semi-mythical places to be avoided at all costs. Not sure why exactly, just negative press I guess. Even after having lived in Arizona and Oregon since 1991, I’ve still only managed one drive through LA (on my way moving to Oregon). This would be just my second “visit”.
An hour and half Before LA:
We ride through the hills and soon most traffic is zooming by us as we maintain what I thought was a respectable 75mph. The heat disappears as we arrive closer to the coast. A couple times I see Marc checking his GPS, but the signs seem to be clear enough.
Around 12:30 or 1:00 we’re on the south side near Newport Beach and we decide to pull over for something to eat. When we stop in front of a coffee shop I notice that Marc is animated about something. I shut my bike off and curiously I hear he’s cranking his bike, apparently trying to start it again. No, he’s shutting it off, I can see him turning it off with the key and pushing the kill switch. Only problem is the bike is still cranking! I walk over to see what’s going on and the bike won’t stay off!! It cranks and cranks every time he turns it off. It doesn’t start, but just keeps cranking. We both think “it’s alarm system” related but not sure what to do about it. He lets it run while I run into the coffee shop and look up the address for the nearest Honda dealership. Turns out there’s one just two miles back north on hiway 5 and it’s open. We arrive OK and when he shuts off the bike this time, it doesn’t keep cranking like before…the battery is dead from trying. The service area isn’t open but an employee helps us charge the battery enough so that we get it running again. This time it will shut off and we decide what to do. We’re convinced that the alarm function that allows automatic startup is the culprit, but we’re not sure what wire controls that. Do we stay the night and hope to have it looked at in the morning? Do we ride on to San Diego as there’s plenty of daylight left to do so and then try to get it looked at there? After the messing around it’s clear what we need to do--get something to eat! So Marc buys jumper cables for the bike just in case and we head back to the same coffee shop as before.
While we’re there thinking about what to do, we meet Mike who is into dual purpose bikes. After learning of our difficulties, he tells us he knows a shop that’s still open till four, and he’ll take us there! So off we go, only to find out that they’re just closing as we pull in. We decide to spend the night (San Clemente now) and have an 11:00 appointment for the next morning. We find a hotel for the night and after a good dinner and some suds we’re able to see how lucky we were to be so near the dealership, find Mike (thanks, Mike!!) and be all set up for the next morning.
I think we're both a bit unnerved by the bike difficulties, wondering what would we have done if the same thing had happened in the middle of nowhere in Baja. Neither of us are what one might call great mechanics. Maybe the reality of crossing over the border into Mexico with bikes that were fairly new to us was sinking in! Plus it was now Sunday and we still hadn't even made it to San Diego. We had thought we would already be in Baja by now. My deadline of October 7 begins to affect what I want to get out of this trip. In the back of my mind I'm thinking I could ride just a few days into Baja, then turn around and still make it back to Portland in time for my sister's wedding, but I want to help Marc get as near Puerto Vallarta as possible. Or maybe I go to PV with him and fly home from there and pick up my bike later. If I do that, going through Baja would be risky because I'm not sure about the ferry crossing schedule. Hmmm....
Total miles: 249: Kettlemen City to San Clemente, CA