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Old 05-03-2012, 08:02 PM   #1
jdgretz OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Thibodaux to Los Angeles - Mike's Bike Makes the Trip

Day 1 – 18/19 April

Flew in to New Orleans late last night. The moon and stars were shining bright... Sorry, got carried away.

Here's the setup for those who came in late.

About a year ago, the inmates here heard of a gentleman who was dying of cancer and wanted to fulfill his dream to ride a motorcycle cross country. The call went out and a bike was purchased along with insurance, accessories, and riding gear. When Mike died, he wanted the bike to go to another deserving rider to make their ride of a lifetime. After some discussion, I volunteered to house the bike in LA so it would be available to folks coming to the States to do that one time ride of a lifetime.

For the whole story on this bike, check this link.

On to the ride from Thibodaux, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California...

The flight to New Orleans was nice and boring - just the way I like airline flights. We arrived about 30 minutes later than scheduled due to unfavorable winds and a slightly delayed departure. As normal for this time of year, it was humid and I was immediately soaked through with sweat as I was wearing my riding jacket with both liners in place.

Took a cab to the local Days Inn Hotel which turned out to be better than the on-line reviews. Not a place I'd want to spend a week, but for one night, it wasn't bad at all. Finally go to bed around 2am. Richie, my contact for picking up the bike, was due to fetch me at 6am, so I got about three hours of sleep.

Promptly at 6am, Richie shows up and off we go to Thibodaux - about a 40 minute drive - to get the bike I'm riding back to Los Angeles.

After a quick check over the bike and the paperwork, I loaded it up and got ready to leave.

This is Richie with the bike

And there has to be one of me ready to roll as well


First stop - get some gas



Now off to find some location on the
Big Money Rally that are more of less on the way to Los Angeles.

This is the
route I laid out for the trip back
.

The scenery in New Orleans is mostly green - everything is green, with the possible exception of the bugs. I'd forgotten just how many bugs there are in the South. Definitely a place for the shield being down all the time.


Since it's nothing we have in SoCal, the levies, locks, and all the draw bridges fascinate me.



Then again, I liked seeing all the boats alongside the major highways.


Some of the house boats are substantially bigger than any house I've ever lived in.




The above ground burial plots are also something those of us who live well above the water table don't often see. The only other place I've seen this is Florida.



There are two locations in this part of Louisiana for the Big Money Rally, Grand Isle



and Houma.


Everything on Grand Isle is on stilts as it floods on a regular basis. I'm not sure why people think building in a place like this is a good idea. I did notice that nobody leaves a car at their getaway cabin and only a few ratty looking boats were left under the houses. Even the local school is on stilts.

After that it was a boring blast down the I-10 toward Texas and my first stop in Winnie, Texas. Another Days Inn.



If I was going to rethink this trip and take it a bit slower, US 90 would be a better bet than I-10.
__________________
'07 Norge - the fast red one
'03 Honda Shadow 750 - Rocky
'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T

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Old 05-03-2012, 08:06 PM   #2
jdgretz OP
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Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Day 2 - April 20th

Friday morning and all looks pretty good after a full night rest. Time to load up and hit the road.

For the most part, this was a blast (cruise?) down I-10 toward my next stop - Houston, Texas and another bonus location for the Big Money Rally.

The closer I got to Houston, the worse the weather was looking. Off in the distance, it looked like I might be able to get through without too much difficulty. What the heck. If it got too bad, I'd just pull off to a covered location and wait out the storm. I've got a book and the phone gets the internet, so I'm golden.

First stop in Houston is MPH Cycles. These guys are one of a hand full of Moto Guzzi dealers who are well known in the Guzzi community as being one of the very good guys. I've talked to Mike Haven on the phone a few times and have purchased parts from them as well but we'd never met face to face. So I corrected that shortcoming. Mike also gave me a couple of tips to help sort out an electrical issue I'm having with my Norge and said to call him when I get home and he'll help me sort it out. Yeah, these guys are definitely good guys.

I made the run from MPH to The University of St. Thomas in downtown Houston and got my photo.



Left there and started heading back toward the freeway when the wind really kicked up and you could see the sky falling a block away. I quickly pulled in to a service station/convenience store lot that had covered parking and read for a while. I managed to not get too wet.



By the way, this is some of the more expensive gas prices I've seen on the trip. When I left California, Regular Unleaded was running about $4.07. I've been paying around $3.75 so $3.99 is on the high side.

Once the rain let up, I got back on the road looking for I-10. Again, I-10 is like any other Interstate so I didn't take any photos. Some of the ones I did take may be boring to some readers, so why inflict things I find boring on you?

Coming up on Columbus, Texas I was needing gas (this bike seems to have about 160 mile range before reaching for the reserve switch). Cool find. I'm a sucker for old gas stations and gas pumps.




A lot of Texas towns have managed to retain a good portion of their original character in the form of the Town Square. Usually this included the City Hall and Jail with a bunch of shops built around the old center of town. Columbus is no exception.




Los Angeles just does not have a bunch of old buildings like this, so I had to snap a couple of the Stafford Bank and Opera House which was built in 1886
.



I followed the signs to the Columbus Historic District and found these neat little (and not so little) places.






And this place which, while not a historic house I found interesting in that it used to be a single house and has been converted to apartments.



I finally pulled myself away from these neat houses and (for me) quaint streets



and headed out US 90 toward San Antonio.

It was getting a bit late, so I thought I might stop in here and get a room for the night, but they couldn't accommodate me, so I continued to San Antonio to spend the night with a friend from the LA Bikers.



One the way through Weimar, Texas, I came across this memorial that I thought was wonderful.



This wall has the names of everyone from Weimar who served in war time from WW II up through the Persian Gulf War, including Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins who was a Medal of Honor Recipient.

jdg
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'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:12 PM   #3
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Day 3 - April 21st

Saying good-bye to one of the LA Bikers who is currently transplanted to San Antonio, I headed back down town to visit three Universities on the Big Money Rally Bonus list.


The Reverend - also known as Rob Diesel, although neither are his real name - with his Volvo wagon as I'm about to ride out.

The plan is to visit the three universities, my old house, and a couple of places I used to hang out when I lived there and then head over to spend the night with one of the guys I used to shoot with for the Army.

First stop - St. Mary's University. The barricades around the place are due to it being Fiesta weekend and many Catholic organizations are having big doings as well.



From there, it's a quick trip to the University of the Incarnate Word.



Next stop is Our Lady of the Lake. But on the way I found another abandoned gas station so I had to stop in and take a photo.



Hmmm, the bike won't turn over. Switch on? Check. In neutral? Check. Got lights? Turn signals, check, stop light, check, headlight, Nope! This is not good. Grab the cell phone and start calling Honda dealers. Two of the three said they could look at it but I would have to wait over a week to get it into the shop to be worked on.
Alamo Cycle Plex said they could take a look at it today (Saturday) and figure out something. A call to AAA and the bike is on its way to Cycle Plex.

The best guess they technicians have is that it is either the start switch or the starter solenoid. Oh, and by the way, the battery is shot. *sigh* I’m not really surprised at the battery as its history is unknown. Honda will overnight the parts and the shop will work me in as soon as the parts arrive on Tuesday (like the shops in LA, they are closed on Mondays, so Tuesday is the next day they will be open).

Instead of spending one night with Phil, I'm going to be there three nights. At least I don't have to also spend money on a motel room.

Short day, but all things being considered, it couldn't have died at a better place, short of home.
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'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
jdgretz OP
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Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Day 4, 5 and 6 - April 22nd - 24th

Sunday and Monday were spent being lazy and enjoying the hospitality of my buddy Phil and the Papillon, Cooper, who looks like this one from Wikipedia



We wandered around San Antonio, finding some of my old stomping grounds and having a Schlotzsky sandwich. There are only seven Schlotzsky restaurants in California with the closest one to me being over an hour away. I don't get these very often.

Tuesday was laundry day, repacking and sending stuff(tm) home day. I did pack more than I needed and the gym bag could use a bit of slimming so I could use all the seat.

Got a call around 9am telling me the parts arrived so we also dropped the battery off so the shop would have everything they needed to fix the bike. Around 3pm I had Phil drop me off at Alamo Cycle Plex as he headed to court (he's a lawyer). As I walked up, they told me the bike had just been finished and as soon as they finished the paperwork I was good to go. WOW! These guys did a great job and charged me almost nothing for their labor. I was back on the road for about $200 or so - including the battery. Thanks guys - you rock!


Back to Phil's, load the bike, key returned and off I go.


First things first - get a photo of that last university - Our Lady of the Lake



Now out of town and head toward Luckenbach and Fredericksburg.

Here's the freeway shot. Exciting isn't it? Yeah, they all look pretty much the same.



I have fond memories of hanging around Luckenbach in the ’70s – pitchin’ washers, listening to Jerry Jeff Walker, Alvin Crow, and the whole Austin music crowd performing at the open air dance floor. Dancing under the stars, listening to Hondo tell stories, and the original Luckenbach 4th of July celebrations with the Luckenbach Air Force fly over (1 J-3 Cub), the Navy parade (a couple of bass boats) and our own dare devil “Bad McFad” (neurosurgeon from Waco) attempting to be shot out of the Luckenbach Memorial Canon (several 55gal drums with some black powder thrown in for show (don’t try this at home)), and the Saturday night Get-Drunk-and-Falling-Down Contest, followed by the Sunday Morning Group Breakfast. What a time that was. Everything changes and Luckenbach is no exception. But it is fighting commercialization tooth and nail. I think it's ahead on points and may even win this one.







They were having a fund raiser for Doug Davis - one of the folks who have been around it seems like forever - who has been diagnosed with cancer. Doug has entertained folks at Luckenbach for as long as I can remember and has mentored a bunch of young musicians. I had to have a BBQ plate and buy some stuff to help support him.





Some other things seen there today...



This is the road that you had to know was the one to Luckenbach. Back in the day, there was not a road sign giving it away. If you couldn't find it, you didn't belong.



Eventually I headed out to Fredericksburg to find a place to stay for the night.

Fredericksburg is an old German community (there are several in Central Texas) - founded in the 1800s.


What would a German town be without a Beirgarten?



However, the reason I'm there is for the National Museum of the Pacific War.


The question that came to my mind when I saw this was why on earth would you have a memorial to an ocean based war this far inland? Simple answer - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was from Fredericksburg.

Besides, it's not every day you see a submarine conning tower in the middle of a garden.


Or a Five and Dime...


And lastly, my home for the night


My parents used to call these places Motor Courts. Nice little place. Clean room, rolls, coffee and tea for breakfast and free Internet. All for under $50. What more do you need for the night?


jdg
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'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:37 PM   #5
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Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Day 7 - April 25th

After a restful night, it is time to hit the road again. On today's list are several spots on the Big Money Rally.

The ride out of Fredericksburg was nice - beautiful weather and nice roads. Down to Kerrville on Texas 16 then I-10 to Texas 41



The wild flowers are out and in full bloom out on Texas 41.




This was leading to a block of sites - Leaky, Rio Frio, Vanderpool, Utopia and Concan.

First a quick stop in Mountain Home to get some gas, a snack and something cold to drink. It turns out this place makes their own Jerky! Really tasty. I am particularly fond of the honey glazed jerky
.



I was thinking this bit was going to be pretty boring from a riding perspective. Pretty, but boring as in this shot of US 83 headed toward Leaky.



In Leaky I found a few interesting buildings and businesses as well as the Post Office I needed
.





It turns out this group of spots is part of The Three Sisters AKA The Twisted Sisters.

There were warning signs along the road - one by Mother Nature and one by the State of Texas.



There were five of these critters dining on the last guy who didn't make it across the road, but three of them flew up to the trees before I could get the camera out.




Then Rio Frio (Cold River) and more fun roads.




From Rio Frio, a bit of a back track to hit Ranch Road 337 to Vanderpool (very nice ride) and then down Ranch Road 187 to Utopia and more gas and another Post Office.






From there it was Ranch to Market 1050 to US 83
.






(what can I say, I liked this river) and South to Concan, Texas, the last Post Office in this batch.



Continuing South on US 83 toward Uvalde, there was new corn growing on both sides of the highway.




Ah, yes, the Lonestar Saloon - had a few good memories from there as well.

Now here's something you don't see in California
...



I love these old houses. This place would be a fortune in Los Angeles - if you could find that much land to build on.

I can't remember the last time I saw one of these. All I see these days are the big chains.



Heading West again, this time on US 90 - great old road and highly recommended.

I had lunch in Bracketville, at the Brackett Burger and Steak - right across from Ft. Clark.



Unfortunately my delay in San Antonio did not leave me the time to explore everything I would have like to - like Ft. Clark. Something to do next time I'm out this way.

Blasting out along US 90 I had a ways to go. I wanted to get as far West a practical today.


Crossing part of the Amistad National Recreation Area. That water certainly looked inviting.



And on toward the Pecos.



The Pecos does not look nearly as inviting, but it is beautiful in its own way.




On to Langtry and another Post Office I just had to shoot. Why Langtry? That's Lily Langtry
,



and Judge Roy Bean.



I got there too late to visit the museum so back on my (now) trusty stead and off toward Sanderson and maybe Ft. Stockton.

Just outside of Sanderson was this place - currently not being used and probably for rent pretty cheap
.


After a quick fuel stop in Sanderson, I figured there was enough daylight remaining to make it to Ft. Stockton, so make a right off US 90 and up US 285.



In to Stockton for the evening. Tomorrow will be the long boring stretch to El Paso along I-10.

I found out there is going to be a race on US 285 from Stockton to Sanderson and return April 28th called the Big Bend Open Road Race. Google that one. It looks like fun.

Long day today.


jdg
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'07 Norge - the fast red one
'03 Honda Shadow 750 - Rocky
'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:52 PM   #6
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Day 8 - April 26th


Ft. Stockton is soon a memory in the rear view mirror as I head to El Paso and beyond. I’m starting to get a case of Gethomeitis, especially as I know this particular stretch of roadway is long, straight, and boring. Add to that some pretty hefty winds (probably 30-40MPH from the left/South) and blowing dust and it’s just a fun day!

I was too busy staying on the road to take too many photos of the dust, but those clouds you see here is actually dust. These are pretty much all I saw until getting relatively close to El Paso








OK, one interesting bit of art on an overpass outside of Ft. Davis, Texas





One other thing we don’t see much of in California





Entering El Paso, one can get a good look at the fence that separates the USA from Mexico.





This sight is one that has always meant El Paso to me even though it is really a landmark on the Mexico side of the border.



For some reason those smoke stacks have always stuck in my mind and seem to make some statement to me about our relationship with the border towns in Mexico.

So much for Texas (man, that’s a big state!). People who have never driven across Texas have difficulty realizing just how big a state it is. Here’s one comparison – it is approximately 830 miles from El Paso to my home in the Los Angeles area following I-10. I-10 is roughly 850 miles across Texas. Yep, it takes longer to cross Texas than it does to drive from the Texas border to Los Angeles.

New Mexico required a stop in Mesilla – home to the court house where Billy the Kid was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hung.




On the way to Arizona, I spotted this –




Guns, gas, and fireworks – does it really get much better than that?

Just in case Mother Nature thought I hadn’t had enough wind and dust, she gave me a bit more...



I left I-10 around Steins, New Mexico and headed south on US-80 headed to Douglas, Arizona.



I thought this formation was interesting.



About the time I crossed the border into Arizona, I learned something about the Garmin GPS that I didn’t know (although it may be in the instruction book which I’ve yet to read).

Garmin reports the estimated arrival time in the destination time zone, not the one you happen to be in currently.

So I’ve been looking at the arrival time for Douglas, Arizona and translating that to riding time and fuel supply. Yeah, yeah, I know, if I had looked at the trip statistics screen it would have given me the distance to destination and time to destination.

At this point I’m committed to Douglas as my destination and the next available fuel – this is going to be close. I figure I’ve got around 60 miles of fuel and 62 miles to Douglas. My speed goes down to milk a bit more mileage out of the bike as the sun also sets.

US-80 is not what one would call well-traveled. In fact, it was down-right lonely out there. I only saw a couple of border patrol vehicles headed the opposite direction between the border and Douglas.

Yep, I made it. I put 3.9 gallons of gas in what is supposed to be a 3.5 gallon tank. You know what they say about fools and drunks, right?

I found a great little restaurant in Douglas – the New Grand Café on North Avenue G – recommended. This place would be right at home in Hollywood from an ambiance perspective, or maybe someplace like Santa Monica. Very enjoyable.



The place has a good menu, excellent wait staff, photos of Marilyn Monroe on the walls, and lounge lizard music from the 70s and 80s.

Spent the night at a Motel 6 that was recommended as being inexpensive (not compared to what I had been paying) and providing what I needed in a motel, i.e., a clean bed and Internet access. Not recommended.

Yeah, it had WiFi for an extra $2.50, but no in room refrigerator, and was pretty basic. I didn’t remember Motel 6s being that basic. Oh well.



jdg
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'03 Honda Shadow 750 - Rocky
'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:06 PM   #7
jdgretz OP
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Oddometer: 924
Day 9 – April 27th


Ah, Douglas, Arizona. What can I say? There was a Big Money Rally bonus site here, so off to find it and one for the Tour of Honor. A twofor.





http://bigmoneyrally.com/2012/wp-con...427_111500.jpg


Oh yes, and Pritleville – sort of a suburb of Douglas


http://bigmoneyrally.com/2012/wp-con...427_113347.jpg


I usually find some reason for the selection of a particular location – interesting architecture, fun location, great roads, etc. – but I haven’t a clue why this one was chosen.

Before leaving this thriving metropolis, I came across a cool Homeland Security officer and one very cool machine. It runs a mile a minute flat out and does not have to stop for much other than diesel.



Off to more interesting and scenic places. First on the list is Bisbee, Arizona.

On the way in to town, it is apparent that this is a mining community.





Bisbee is home to the famous Lavender open pit mine.





Right next to the plaque, was this memorial to WWII fallen heroes from the area.



This museum looked fascinating, but I was a bit low on time to explore it or take the mine tour. Those will have to wait for another day.



Back to Highway 80 and on toward Tombstone.



Tombstone, Arizona is a tourist trap. A nice tourist trap, but a tourist trap none the less.







I spent some time talking to a couple of the local wranglers (as opposed to cowboys, ranchers, farmers, or other town folk) to get some history of the town rather than more of the hype. Quite interesting. I knew Wyatt Earp was not the nice guy as shown in almost every movie or TV series (although Hugh O’Brian personally is a very nice Marine) but had no idea just what a rotten bunch the whole Earp clan was. The famous gunfight at the OK corral should have more properly been called the bushwhacking on Frontier Street, but somehow that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Anyhow, it was a fun visit to a revised frontier town. I’ll probably stop back next time I’m in the area as the food was good and I enjoyed visiting with people whose families had been there for generations.








Next stop, Tucson, Arizona and Davis Monthan Air Force Base and some nice inexpensive gas (no sales tax on base and I think there was also no Federal tax, but I’m not sure on that one, but it was easily 30¢ cheaper per gallon than off base).

Of course the primary reason I stopped there was to go take a look at the storage and disassembly facility. I was offered a tour, but again, time precluded me playing, but I will be back to walk through the facility.











If you look carefully on the enlarged version of this photo, you might find the remnants of a A/B-26.



Off to Yuma for the night...












I sort of wish I had had the big Canon along with me for this ride as once the sun went down the sky was filled with stars and the little guy I was carrying could not capture the night sky. I could easily have pulled over, lain on the ground and just enjoyed the night sky. I’m sure Arizona has stars we don’t have in LA.


jdg
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'07 Norge - the fast red one
'03 Honda Shadow 750 - Rocky
'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:23 PM   #8
jdgretz OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Day 10 – April 28th – Home finally.


After a quiet night at the local Days Inn and a very good omelet at a 1950s style diner I headed to another memorial for veterans of the Armed Forces. This one is in Yuma.




Then there was this nice hotel…




Ah, the stories these places could tell. I’d love to be able to explore the interior of some of these places with a camera and record perhaps the final chapter in their existence.


Just on the California side of the California/Arizona border is the town of Felicity, California.


Driving along I-8 you might see this sight on the north side of the highway. It’s well worth your time to stop in and see this.




This happens to be section 12 of 25 sections of the original stairs from the Eiffel Tower. Not only that, but Felicity is the official Center of the World. Honest, check it out here or here .


And here I am, standing at the Center of the World.




The rest of the construction around Felicity is nothing short of amazing and fascinating.


These 100’ long sections of granite are inscribed with the history of man.








It really is something you should see if you’re anywhere near the area.


Leaving Felicity and heading toward Ocotillo and Jacumba the landscape lets you know you are in a desert.




Ocotillo holds a special place in the hearts of off-road motorcyclists. It is the home of the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreational Area – 85,000 acres of sand dunes and other areas to play on. Very cool place.




Leaving Ocotillo I found some really big rocks on the way to Jacumba.




This was a nice curvy section of I-8 that rose from less than 500’ elevation to over 3500’ before dropping into town.




Jacumba is right along the Mexican/American border and is the home to another roadside attraction, the Desert View Tower - http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9178. Since it was not right along the road, I passed on making the climb and continued along old US-80.


Along the way you get another good look at the border fence and get to see a lot of Border Patrol folks out trying to do their job.




Highway 80 takes you to CA-94 – one seriously cool road.








I need to get back to this one on the Norge as the Shadow did not do this road justice - I think my Helix has more ground clearance. I saw a bunch of H-D riders who were also enjoying the ride, also at a very sedate speed. This road will seriously smite you if you are not careful.


There are bunches of interesting looking side roads in the Potrero/Barrett Junction/Otay Lakes area that also deserve exploration.

I hung a left on Otay Lakes road as I was headed for San Ysidro – the Southwest Corner of the US and a well-known location for those long distance riders who have done the Four Corners Tour. From there it was the quickest way possible to home.

Totals for this trip –




That was done in 47 hours and 57 minutes in the saddle with an additional 18 hours and 47 minutes stopped for things like lunches, breaks, gas stops, etc., where I didn’t turn off the GPS.


jdg
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'07 Norge - the fast red one
'03 Honda Shadow 750 - Rocky
'99 Honda Helix - Little Zippy
'76 Honda CJ360T
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:37 PM   #9
jdgretz OP
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
Oddometer: 924
Things I learned


This was a very insightful trip for me as I really hadn't done any real multi-day rides in many years, and back then I was much younger and a bit more adventurous. Not being on a real schedule allowed me the flexibility to take the maintenance induced layover in stride and not stress about it. So, in no particular order, here are some of my observations:

  • I pack too much stuff™. There were several items I never got around to using and should never have packed in the first place. I sent home one box from San Antonio but should sent back more stuff. The bike is not a car; I really have to pack less.
  • Rain gear is nice to have, but if you don't plan on really riding in the rain (as in pulling over and waiting for the downpour to pass) don't bother carrying extra rain specific gear, other than boots (maybe).
  • I really like my Motoport stretch Kevlar pants. They worked well in the rain and the desert. Really easy to get in and out of and the armor is great.
  • I'm still very happy with my Tourmaster Snonora 3/4 Air Jacket. Having two liners gave me all the options I needed for this trip.
  • The Sena SMH10 bluetooth head set continues to work just as advertised. Really, what more can you ask of a product?
  • Exoficio underwear from REI are great. Lightweight, wash and dry overnight, and comfortable. I probably could have done the trip with only one pair, but two made it easy.
  • I really enjoy getting out on a nice long multi-day journey.
  • This bike was more comfortable than I expected. 300 mile days were pretty easy on the stock seat once I got to use the whole seat (see above), and when I added the AirHawk, the one 600 mile day wasn’t bad at all.
  • Know what the instruments are telling you and use the GPS as a backup to physical map (or Google Map) planning. Running out of gas at night in the middle of nowhere without cell reception could really suck.
  • I hate Vance and Hines pipes. These suckers are loud and annoying on a long trip. Around town they are not nearly as annoying as I’m not on the bike that long, but hour after hour of that racket was not to my liking. YMMV. Fortunately I’ve found someone with stock pipes that would like the Vance and Hines, so we’re going to swap pipes in the near future – win/win.
  • I really like the Garmin Zumo 660. It beats the heck out of the TomTom Rider 2 I had been using. The ability to build a custom route and import it is a wonderful feature. The ability to listen to pre-recorded music was nice on the long Interstate stretches. The unit is not without faults, however, as about one out of three times, it would not recognize the micro SD card that contained my music. I don’t know what the issue is, but I’ll be checking with Garmin and the various support boards.
The portable XM radio I purchased specifically to use on the bikes (XMp3i) will not work the way I need it to work. First, and this is not explained in the manuals (I did read these) or anywhere on the website, you cannot use the mp3 function unless you have activated the radio, adding it to an existing subscription or starting a subscription if you don't already have one.

I wanted to mount the radio using a RAM style mount and plug it into some sort of 12-volt power outlet so as not to have to rely on the internal battery (they claim 4 hours XM Live or 16.5 for playback from the micro SD card - YMMV). The only way to accomplish that is to use the Power Connect Vehicle Kit as it contains a mount that is powered off a standard 12-v outlet. The problem is that as soon as you insert the portable radio into the mount, it demands you have the external antenna attached even though the radio has a built in antenna. While this might work on the Shadow or my C-10 Kawasaki Concours - both or which have metal gas tanks - it will not work on my Norge or any bike that has a plastic tank or tank covering as the external antenna is magnetic mounting.

Trying the USB connector doesn't work either. The radio assumes you have connected it to a computer and wish to transfer files or recharge the battery. It will recharge the battery, but it will not play while hooked to the USB.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I'm just about ready to do some more exploring. But first a bit of work around the house, some bike cleaning and maintenance, and then maybe another few days out exploring and having fun. Who knows, maybe my wife will join me on her bike the next time.

jdg
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:50 AM   #10
HighTechCoonass
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Laugh Great report!!

Thanks John! great report!
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:08 PM   #11
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Great read. Thanks for sharing.
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