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Old 05-17-2011, 06:27 PM   #31
Jim Bud
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Watching the FUN!

Enjoy the trip.....
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:27 PM   #32
potski
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Enjoying the RR csustewy, subscribed.
The Alp looks really well.
Looks like you are much better than me and my wife when you pack for a 2 up trip; how is it coping 2 up with all the kit?

Ride safe both; looking forward to your next update.

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Old 05-18-2011, 01:42 PM   #33
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Love the ride. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:23 PM   #34
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:28 AM   #35
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Route 66

Our first stop of the day was Williams, AZ - the former little Las Vegas along Route 66. It now has some relics of its former hay day, but is otherwise a nice small town. The visitor's center was helpful, the old man at the cheap gas station was not. He yelled a lot, something about how cheap his gas is (he only had 87 octane), and how it works fine for everything from trucks to weed whackers, and if he was willing to put it into his weed whacker then it should be fine running it in a bike with only 2 cylinders. We should have taken a picture with him, but instead decided to go to the next gas station over, where abrasive yelling seemed less frequent, and higher octane gas was available. We had some breakfast of fruit and granola bars at the Safeway and hit the highway (yuck) towards the Route 66 turn off.

Historic Route 66 is a fairly desolate road. Much of the time it's a straight shot with not too much to look at. Every once in awhile there was an old gas station or other stop that has faded with time, but then you roll into Seligman, AZ, a tour bus mecca along the route.



The shops there sell all sorts of random trinkets and try to one-up there neighboring shops with the amount of kitsch. We got some free coffee from the barber/souvenir shop and wandered around town.



We planned on a lunch stop at Peach Springs, which was another hour up the road. It's an important city for the Hualapai reservation and where you can turn off to the Grand Canyon West Entrance, which we opted not to do because it's outrageously expensive (around $70/ppn to enter and walk on the skywalk). That town had absolutely nothing, not even rusted out old cars. There was one hotel/lodge/tour/restaurant building, but we kept driving - knowing how much they charge for their tours, how much would lunch have cost?

We grabbed a burger at Mr D'z diner in Kingman, followed by a fudge brownie sundae. Entertainment during our meal was provided by a group of Italians (that's a guess, but we're pretty sure) who had all rented Harleys and gone on tour. They took more posed pictures than I've ever seen anyone take in my life, and that was just in the diner - at the entryway, from the other direction, in the corner, at the bar, at the jukebox, back out front,... it was non stop. They got back on their bikes and the excitement continued - all 10-12 bikes were turning left across the highway business loop, following their tour guide. None of them seemed to care whether cars were coming or not though. There were. Luckily they stopped to let them pass.

After the commotion died down, we ran across the street to a visitors center (clearly our favorite stops in small towns, USA) where we were told of a sweet spot to camp on the shoreline of Lake Mead. The place is called Bonelli's Landing and the NPS map didn't show it at all, but the guy we talked to drew in the road with his pencil and we were on our way. It turned out to be an ideal spot!



We were right on the water and had a chance to do some swimming. While we were wading out there, a number of big fish kept swimming really close to us. If we would have paid more attention to a TV show we saw in Zion, Hillbilly Hand Fishing, we just might have been able to noodle us up some dinner. But no such luck. We stuck with chili instead. Here's the smallest guy that was checking us out.:

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Old 05-20-2011, 10:29 AM   #36
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Lots of Concrete

After a very nice, warm night at Lake Mead, we went to the Hoover Dam to have a look. The architecture is quite amazing. The company that won the bid to build the dam ended up completing the dam 2 years early by working 24 hours per day nonstop for about 5 years in the mid 1930's. The town of Boulder City was established for the workers and their families to live in the area and is now a decent size town in Nevada. Walking around Hoover Dam was pretty spectacular, but we were unable to do the tour or even walk into the visitor center because it was so expensive - a tour was $30 and it was $8 to walk into the visitor center. We tried to use our National Park pass because some of the signage outside the building said that the Hoover Dam was the 5th most visited National Park, but we were informed several times by the cashiers that the Hoover Dam is NOT a park. Apparently the Dam is not funded in any way by the government and is fully funded by a private organization so that makes it ok to charge so much.

The water level in Lake Mead has decreased drastically in the past several years. At first they blamed it on drought, but now they just call it climate change. You can see from this picture where the water level used to be and where it is now. Since so many states in the SW depend on the lake for their energy, there may be some problems in the near future.









After leaving the dam, we took the scenic Lakeshore drive to see more of Lake Mead. Some of the former marinas are no longer running because the water level is so low. We then worked our way up to Vegas where we stayed with Brent, his girlfriend Francesca and their roommate Francis. They were great and accommodating and let us take over their front room, couches and computer for 2 days. We went to the Strip the first night to walk around and look at people, but it was a Sunday, so not too crowded. And, since neither of us really gamble, we didn't even spend any money. The house was about 10 minutes from the strip and we caught a bus directly there and back. Thanks again to Brent, Francesca and Francis.

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Old 05-20-2011, 11:33 AM   #37
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Tire Change Lesson

We left Vegas on Tuesday to head over to Henderson, NV. There, we met up with a contact and new friend, Tim, from this site - he was kind enough to respond to a random request in the regional forum for tire assistance, and was a huge help! He allowed us to have 2 new tires and tubes sent to his place, as well as offered to give a crash course in tire changing. Mike is a noob to dual sport and dirt bikes - over the past 12 years of riding cruisers, has never changed his own tires. But given the likelihood of having to repair a flat, or at the very least swap out tires again, it seemed worth it necessary to know how to do this. And for some reason, doing it for the first time in a comfortable, dry, well-lit garage with beer in hand sounded a helluva lot more pleasant than fighting through the first ever tube repair on the side of a deserted road...at night...in the rain...without a working flashlight...with rabid donkeys attacking us...and anything else that Murphy would have thrown at us.

Both tires finally arrived on Wednesday evening, after a hassle in ordering - there's a difference when ordering on line between 'Available' and 'In Stock' which made a difference of nearly a week according to the customer rep (but only got the tire to Henderson a day earlier than what was shown for the 'Available' tires). So to try to save further delay, we're running two different brands of 80/20 (road/dirt) tires. The rear is a Kenda K761, front is a Shinko 705; both get good reviews for dry and wet road performance, and as good of a review in dirt as can be expected. The set came out to ~$110 (+ free shipping!), which is a screaming deal compared to the cost of some tires out there.



Tim started showing Mike the basic procedure. We pulled the rear tire, put in a brand new tube, and then Mike proceeded to absolutely demolish the tube while levering the second tire bead into place. Luckily the old tube was in good shape, so that's what went in next, and seems to be holding air, so Mike's gotten better already! The front tire was swapped next, and we've got a fresh front tube as a spare.



When installing the rear wheel, Tim had a chain alignment tool that showed exactly how bent the swingarm of the Transalp is - a lot. The old Tourance rear tire showed some lopsided wear caused when the alignment markings on each side of the axle were even, and really only noticeable over the last 1000 miles or so. Now we know that the right side has to be almost 3/8" forward of the left in order to keep the chain straight from sprocket to sprocket. I guess that lady who rear ended Mike in August did more damage than he thought. The rear wheel was balanced and trued, but the swingarm and frame must have taken a good hit as well. Makes sense given the condition of her bumper and lack of license plate after the collision... But for now, we'll keep the chain aligned and see how the ride goes.

A grilled steak dinner with spinach salad was the perfect reward for the tire change, but mostly for Tim's patience. Thanks Tim for your help!

With a little repacking, we also got our 2 person hammock to fit into the front engine guard bags, leaving a little more space in the GIVI trunk. Now that we've finally hit desert heat, that trunk space will be valuable for our extra jacket and pant liners. Jill's stoked to be in consistently warmer temps, and can't wait to get to the beach...
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:39 AM   #38
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Trash Canyon

After the new rubber was on the bike, we left Henderson towards Phoenix, AZ, with plans to pass through Tucson and then hit the border close to Douglas/Agua Prieta crossing. Since we have been bums while in Vegas and Henderson (fully blaming the delay in tire arrival, of course), we didn't want to have too big of a riding day. Looking at our free visitor's center acquired map of AZ, we targeted some BLM lands and National Forests on the NW side of Phoenix. That took us through Wickenburg, AZ, but the last 8 miles before Wickenburg looked something like this:



Road construction kept us on the road for about an hour to travel that last 8 miles into town. Finally there, we picked up a couple of items at a motorcycle shop and found some dinner at the Bashas' grocery. Buffalo Chicken flavored rice with canned chicken and hot sauce. Best one pot meal yet!

We asked in the moto shop about places to camp for free and they weren't too familiar with easily accessible options. The salesman mentioned a pull off near Lake Pleasant that had a big parking area about a mile off the highway. We found that turn off - an access road to a boat ramp into Lake Pleasant - and saw the parking area with a few makeshift fire rings. That was after passing it originally, turning around where 2 guys were firing rifles and handguns into the hillside. The parking area was heavily used, and not well maintained = Trash Canyon.



As we were eating our Buffalo Chicken goulash, those same two firearm toting gentlemen came into the parking area and starting firing there. At first we couldn't see them, as we were in a slight depression, but thankfully they were not using the hillside behind our slight depression as a backstop. Nonetheless, we were wondering if small arms fire was going to keep us awake all night, but they took off just after dark.




We slept well and were both happy to be on the road again!

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Old 05-20-2011, 11:40 AM   #39
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Monochrome Phoenix

We have just arrived in Phoenix and will take our time today getting over to the Tucson area. Everything in this city is the color of desert, for instance the desert most definitely is, the houses are all adobe, and the buildings are all tan brick (if not adobe). It's not offensive. It's just boring. At least the desert landscape is still intact amidst all the buildings, with interesting plants, cacti, rocks, etc.

We'll take a look at some hiking around here and then camp before meeting up with a couchsurfing host in Bisbee, AZ. That will serve as our jumping off point for Mexico. We're both excited to finally get south of the border to feel like we're making real progress on our journey. The tour of the southwest US has been great, but we're ready for the next stage.
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:55 AM   #40
csustewy OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianstanfill View Post
Riding in the wet? If you find the inside of your panniers collection moisture along the way, consider this cheap mod: trash compactor bags at the supermarket offer an additional layer of defense against the elements and they tend to fit very large panniers very well.

Safe rides!

Brian
Brian - thanks for the tip! We will keep that in mind as we find ourselves in wetter situations, but so far so good...

Quote:
Originally Posted by potski View Post
Enjoying the RR csustewy, subscribed.
The Alp looks really well.
Looks like you are much better than me and my wife when you pack for a 2 up trip; how is it coping 2 up with all the kit?

Ride safe both; looking forward to your next update.

Cheers
Potski
Potski - thanks for the compliments . It looks like you've got a couple of beauts in your stable as well. Is your '88 in moonstone? That color scheme is tops in my book.

2-up touring on the TA is definitely pushing the limits. Both Jill and I are happy to get along with minimal changes of clothes - the true test is whether our friends and acquaintances along the road agree with us! With a bigger bike we would have brought a couple more small items, had more room for food (we can only really pack 2 days worth of light meals) and water, and had an easier time stashing our jacket and pant liners. But so far, we're managing pretty well. And we're expecting that the smaller size of the TA, relative to the big 1150GS we used to have, will be a benefit more often than a detriment. Only one way to find out...
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Old 05-21-2011, 01:32 AM   #41
potski
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Hi csustewy,
Looks like you are both enjoying the trip, some great photos, thanks for taking us all along.
Like you I came from bigger bikes, Guzi Californias/Z1000 Kawasakis, generally road bikes, so the little dual purpose Transalp was a strange but extremely pleasant experience. Bad news regarding your swinging arm/frame. My bikes are not moonstone they are "winterlake blue" in reality they look silver/grey; I think the white/blue like yours is one of the best.
Just out for a day trip myself now..
Ride safe both and Keep it coming.

Cheers
Potski
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:45 PM   #42
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Adventures in Camping

We ended up driving through the industrial part of Phoenix for a majority of our morning, then found a Greek restaurant in downtown Tempe. From there we drove towards Tucson hoping to find some camping in the national parks surrounding the city. We could see the mountain where we thought we would be able to camp, but every road seemed to lead to more Tucson sprawl. We couldn't figure out how to find these huge parks in the GPS either and the people we asked at the gas station were of very little help, so we just drove around for awhile hoping to magically find a place to camp. Eventually we got to Saguaro National Park, but there was no camping there, and they were closing the park because it was getting dark. The first park ranger we saw recommended a couple of pay parks that may or may not be closed for the night and do not allow people to come in after hours. The other recommended place was about 30 minutes in the direction we had just come from and we didn't really want to backtrack. We were standing around trying to figure out what to do when another park ranger arrived and told us there was free camping about 15 minutes from there.

We found a place just off the road and as we set up (in the complete dark by this point) we noticed that a lot of cars were coming up and down the mountain even though we were on a gravel road seemingly as in the middle of nowhere as possible in Tucson. We got all set up and cooked some dinner with just our headlamps as light and were getting ready to head to the tent when 2 cars pulled into our pulloff where we had set up. They were the law enforcement for the park service. They said they had been watching us get set up and had been laughing at our lack of lights. They ended up being really nice guys and were very interested in our trip. They also told us that our camping area was very popular among high school and college students and this weekend was graduation so a lot of kids were coming up to party. We missed out on the parties but did get some of the noise. Here is a look at the site.



In the morning we got loaded up and headed back to the road. It looked like the sand on the way up a steep incline back to the road was pretty solid, but we ended up stuck pretty good and had a nice, gentle fall, although Mike's back hasn't felt the same since. The rear wheel dug in some, with a slippery rock in front of it, but some light pushing and throttle got us out no problem.



Our goal for the day was to buy a cooler (temperature-wise) motorcycle jacket for Jill and to get to Brisbee, AZ to couchsurf. We ended up running errands all over Tucson until about 3:00. The good news is that Jill ended up with a screaming deal on a cooler jacket. The bad news is that she mailed the coat home and forgot to clean out the front top pockets, which had the spare keys, thus creating another round of errands to try to make copies of the keys. During our marathon errand running session we also found some cooler motorcross socks for super cheap, so that was a plus.

We are enjoying Hermosillo, MX now, and will get some more ride report updates soon...
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Old 05-25-2011, 11:56 AM   #43
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Keep Bisbee Weird

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." -Hunter S. Thompson as requoted by Karl, couchsurfing extraordinaire

We really didn't expect a whole lot out of Bisbee, AZ. We only decided to go there because it was close to the border and had a person on couchsurfing with a place to stay. Bisbee ended up being a definite highlight of our trip thus far. The drive to Bisbee is beautiful because despite being desert, it is green and has different kinds of trees than in the desert. This is because the elevation is about the same as in Denver (approximately 5300 feet). Tombstone is not far away so we stopped in to take a look. They have preserved the town well, but it is quite the tourist trap, with hired actors dressed as old West characters.



This is the courthouse. It closed at 5 and we got there at 10 'til. As soon as we walked in the door the person selling tickets told us they were closed and was pretty serious about us not looking around too much.




Driving into Bisbee, you see a lot of houses built into a mountain. The town was established in the 1880s and a lot of the original buildings still exist.




Our couchsurfing host, Karl, lives in an awesome old house, moved over from Tombstone in 1906, that he has been pretty much rebuilding for the past 8 years. He was a very cool guy with lots of amazing experience, like hitchhiking through Africa, and a lot of great knowledge about the area. He took us for a driving tour of the town and cooked us dinner, then we hit up a few bars to check out the local scene. Bisbee has a very different feel than most towns and it collects a variety of odd characters. There are even cave dwellers that still live just outside of town.

The following day, Karl took us on a hike outside of town along the San Pedro river. (Who would've expected a riparian area in the middle of southern AZ?) It is known for its birds and we saw lots of really cool bird, highlights included the elegant great blue heron and the small bright red vermillion flycatchers. The hike also took us to the ruins of a town called Charleston, "The Town too Mean to Live" (in contrast to Tombstone's slogan "The Town too Tough to Die"). Charleston was run by the Clantons, rivals of the Earps in Tombstone, that led up to the gunfight at the OK Corral. Apparently the town was really too mean to live and was eventually abandoned after a flood in the late 1800's. The US government practiced bombing it during WWII but several walls still remain of the structures.





Not far from the ghost town there were several petroglyphs made by the Native Americans who lived there. It is estimated that some of the glyphs were from 2-3000 years ago.



After the hike, closer to Old Bisbee we passed one of the old copper mines that surround the area. The mines are not currently active, but the area will definitely feel the effects of the mine for a long time to come.



All in all, we had a wonderful time in Bisbee. Karl was a great host and we really enjoyed hanging out with him for 2 days.



In the morning we headed for the Douglas/Agua Prieta border and got across in 1 hour. We made it to Hermosillo, Mexico with absolutely no problems and stayed with a couchsurfing connection there. We are about to head to Bahia de Kino to go to the beach and will post more about our wonderful experiences in Mexico soon.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:34 PM   #44
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Loving following this..... and I LOVE the bike! I have a Vstrom and would love to do something like this someday.... so for now, while trapped in the working world, I am enjoying the escape of following you two! Enjoy and ride safe!
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Old 05-27-2011, 06:53 PM   #45
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Have a great trip, looks like your off to a good start!
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