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Old 05-05-2004, 10:59 PM   #76
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26th April

I need another rear tyre :(. I’ve been meticulous with checking the pressures (haven’t had to put any air in), but the heavy load and types of terrain has clearly taken its toll, squaring it off in under 5000 miles. I ring around and, as expected, there’s no local supplier. I’m in need of a couple of days off the bike doing admin/laundry etc, so I order a new rear from SW Motos (in Las Cruces, New Mexico) and arrange for The Cycle Shop, a local dealer, to fit it when it arrives on Wednesday. I decide to clean the bike – it looks a mess



…but scrubs up well…



The trip is starting to get to me a little – this is not a surprise, I’ve suffered from similar problems on long detachments when in the RAF, indeed, this isn’t the first time it’s happened during this trip. The travel is great, but the lack of company (at least, company I know), saying goodbye to people I’ve only just met all the time, as well as the lack of any permanent ‘base’ is depressing me a little. Being aware of it as a problem is, I’m sure, a large part of fixing it – I shall probably take more time ‘off’ (away from the bike), in future.

27th April

On Tuesday, I decide to ride up to the Little Bighorn National Monument. It’s a pleasant, if uninvolving ride there…



In June 1876, more than 260 soldiers of the US 7th Cavalry were killed by several thousand warriors of the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes. Lt Col George Armstrong Custer, who was killed in the engagement, is famous for having utterly misjudges the numbers and organisation of the Indians ranged against him. No-one in his immediate command survived the battle.

The battlefield is a remote and windswept place, with the scene of the ‘last stand’ on a small hillock now surrounded by a fence…



…from where the view across the battlefield is unobstructed…



White markers indicate where Custer’s men fell, either in groups or singly…



The Indians removed their dead, although there are a few red stone markers, indicating where some of the braves fell.

The site is also a Military Cemetery …



…which contains the remains of those who perished in various Indian wars and engagements, as well as military personnel from more recent conflicts, including those as recent as Korea. Unusually (in my experience), many of those interred here did not die in combat, or even whilst in service – there are markers for men who served during WWII, but died in the 1960s.

I ride back to the hotel and make preparations for my onward ride tomorrow.



28th April

I check out of my room at 1100 and ride over to The Cycle Shop. UPS deliver the Tourance (as promised) at midday, and Darran fits it for me.



He owns the combined bicycle & motorbike shop – the workshop has some odd looking inhabitants…



The old tyre has certainly squared off – the wheel & tyre stand up on their own :yelrotflm



I’m soon on my way again. The weather forecast is for snow :( - I need to get a little further south. It soon becomes apparent that I can either stop for the day, or risk riding through a blizzard. I’m 5 miles from the Quality Inn at Casper, where I stayed very comfortably a few days ago – no contest :P

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Old 05-05-2004, 11:00 PM   #77
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29th April

So I got up this morning and found that there had been another flurry of snow during the night…



…bollox :( - after a great deal of shovelling (and, predictably, drying out of panniers : ), I pack the bike and set off. To be honest I was in 2 minds as to whether to leave or stay another night in Casper – the roads to the west were said to be ‘clearish’…
I rode west along Highway 20. At first, the road is merely wet, with snow covering the fields to either side. There’s no wind (thankfully) and I make reasonable progress. Soon however, things start to change. The swept / ploughed snow starts to get closer to the main carriageway and, gradually, slush starts appearing on the road surface. Soon I’m riding in wheel tracks and wondering what the HELL I’m doing out here… The conditions are too treacherous to stop and take a picture, but, take my word for it, I was STUPID to carry on…

But God looks after fools and children and, after 60 miles or so, things improve…



…and I stop to write my name in the snow…



…and note that I’ve had a little ice build-up on the front end…



…luckily, my heated jacket and gloves are behaving impeccably and the only discomfort I feel is the ache in my hands and fingers from exerting an over-tight grip on the bars (despite consciously trying to relax). I get back on and ride through Shoshoni and on to Lander. As I approach Lander, a weird thing happens. It’s now snowing very lightly (if it were raining, I’d call it spitting – since I’m not an Eskimo, I don’t have the vocabulary to accurately describe snow like that), but the road, which has been cleared of snow, is steaming. It’s a novelty to begin with, but, as the sun comes out and the evaporation increases, it becomes like a linear fog bank, just covering the road. It becomes quite hazardous, since other traffic is generally ignoring the lack of visibility and conducting blind overtakes…:(



This picture shows the mist rising in town, outside of town it was a pea-souper… Thankfully, as I join the 287 out of Lander, a brisk wind blows up and the problem, literally, clears… It’s still bloody cold, though – I stop for a late lunch at a small café in Big Sandy and have the special – something Mexican – can’t remember what, but it had enough green chillies in it to warm me through (probably for several days :P)…



Note to self: Do not lubricate ear plugs with saliva after eating chilli…

Thoroughly warmed, I ride on and by 1700 I’m back in Jackson Hole, checked into Motel 6 (where I stayed a couple of weeks ago) and, after a hot shower, I go to the Hard Drive Internet Café and type my journal. 300 miles today – but probably the hardest riding I’ve done yet – I’m knackered…

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Old 05-05-2004, 11:00 PM   #78
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2nd May

I feel completely refreshed after a couple of days ‘off’ at Jackson Hole. I load the bike and set of into the crisp, clear morning at 0900. I ride down and join Highway 89, which runs south west towards Idaho. The road runs to the east of the Snake River…



After about 45 minutes, I pull in to the Red Baron Café in Alpine and have a huge breakfast (large Sunday breakfasts are something of an American institution – who am I to fly in the face of tradition? ).



The café is named after two Red Barons – von Richtofen, the WWI ace, and Ed Browning, who owns the café and also sponsored a racing P51 Mustang, called the Red Baron.
It crashed during an air race in 1979, so Ed decided to carry on with an F104 Starfighter instead :eek: - that was also destroyed – so I guess he makes breakfast now…:P

On the subject of Sunday breakfasts, I noticed that the young couple in the booth opposite were drinking Budweiser with theirs…

I carry on and, just after entering Idaho, find more evidence of the continuing drought in the area…



…the brown coloured ground in the middle distance is grassland – on my map, it should be a lake over 2 miles wide at this point.

It’s Sunday, so I see plenty of other bikes…



…on what is obviously a favourite local biking road…



Unexpectedly, my route takes me up a gravel road...



…which 28 miles later, brings me out to a spectacular view.

A couple of miles further on, I see a rash of chrome on the left side of the road – it’s a bunch of Harleys…



…they’re just taking a breather, collecting all their numbers together after coming through the canyon I’m heading for. They’re good folks and we have a banter session and, after the obligatory photo and my handing out some business cards, I get moving again.



It’s now getting quite warm, with very little breeze – even the tumbleweed can’t seem to muster much energy…



I’m soon back on the dirt roads. It’s becoming quite pleasant and I’m managing to ride at 40-50mph without developing too much of a sweat :P.
Following Betty’s directions, I turn down what Mapsource describes as an ‘Unmade Road’. Soon, it looks like this…



…plus, as the more eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted, it doesn’t follow the path it’s meant to. After a mile or so, I decide to press virtually cross-country, to join the ‘main road’ (a gravel track :P). After negotiating a barbed wire fence (with a primitive gate – anyone who has done a Falklands tour would recognise it) – I’m back on the gravel track and heading towards City of Rocks…



…a spectacular collection of huge rocks, the area was named by early settlers. The view from the top is breathtaking…



…as usual, pictures cannot do it justice…



…time to move on – I set course for Twin Falls…



…arriving at about 1815, after 360 miles or so – the best part of 100 on unmade roads – excellent!



No – don’t get that image in your head…

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Old 05-05-2004, 11:02 PM   #79
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More Gravel, Weird Bugs and the Sahara Motel...

3rd May

Woke late and feeling great – quick lardy breakfast, load the bike and I’m on the road for 1010. I head south to rejoin my planned route – I’m riding the good minor country roads I travelled yesterday. I ride across the top of a small dam, the water level behind it is clearly lower than normal.



After about 40 miles, though, the route turns me off onto a dirt track again. This one’s 23 miles long, and the going’s not great – the road has clearly been re-gravelled (is that a word? – it is now) and there are occasional deep troughs, which send the front wheel squirming – though through pig-headedness and throttle abuse, I manage to keep the Adv upright…



I negotiate a steep downhill section, and am so pleased with myself, I stop and take a picture…



…when I consider what I did later in the day, this act seems remarkably silly :P
I get back on tarmac and the roads are great – I keep up a steady 70 – this seems ridiculously fast after the speeds I’ve been doing on the tracks. I approach the end of a long straight and a 90º right bend. As I get closer, I notice there’s a change of road surface (not unusual, there have been 2 in the last 10 miles) – HOLY SHIT – it’s gravel :eek: No ‘Pavement Ends’ sign or anything, just tarmac to gravel 100 metres prior to a 90º right… I enter the gravel at about 20mph with the brakes released :P



The road winds downhill through Murphy Hot Springs, where a sign gives some indication of the road ahead…



The road follows the path of a fast-running stream…



…and is very picturesque. Soon I come to a choice. Should I turn right, as Betty suggests, onto another ‘Unpaved Road’…



…or go straight ahead…



The road ahead doesn’t cross a bridge with a large hole in it



and would appear to be the more sensible choice…

Whoever had any fun being sensible? I turn right and begin a 60 mile long off road session.
To begin with, the road follows another creek up a canyon. The climb is considerable and the view from the top…



…spectacular.



The summit is just over 6800ft. I’m less than 20 miles into this part of the route. I ride on, it’s often possible to see the route laid out in front of you like a map. This section descends more than 1000ft in under a mile and a half…



There is a great view around almost every corner…



Luckily, I refilled the CamelBack before I left the hotel this morning.



It’s warm (I later find out it’s 84º F) and the effort of holding the bike steady and standing on the pegs for extended periods is knackering – I drink regularly.



This would be a good opportunity to refill with water, wouldn’t it? I thought so – about 5 miles later :P



After climbing a long canyon, the road tops out and, at the same time as the views disappear, the road gets rough – very rough.



The gravel is deep and irregular. The next 20 miles are not fun…

Eventually, though, I get back on asphalt and make good time north west. The flat bottom of these glacial valleys are intensively farmed. The continuing drought has made these huge irrigators…



…a very common sight as they slowly rotate, watering circles hundreds of metres in diameter.

I’m soon back on the dirt again :P. Initially the route, towards Triangle, has a good surface…



…but it soon degrades again. As I climb the side of Cinnabar Mountain, I notice something odd on the road. It’s almost as if the gravel is moving. It turns out to be insects. Millions of them. They are all moving in roughly the same direction, which makes it seem like a scene from a horror movie¹…



Despite the bugs, the view is so good, I stop and take a pic…



The descent is a bit fraught. The slope has been newly re-gravelled (probably within the last week) and it’s a continuous struggle to keep the heavily laden Adv upright. Thankfully, I again get away without ditching it, and soon I’m rewarded with easier, flatter roads.



Unfortunately, the water is not confined to the occasional lake…:P



And just to prove I did ride through…



It’s now after 1800 and I’m knackered. I’ve just finished my water from the CamelBack and also realised I didn’t stop for lunch. I ask Betty to find me the nearest motel and she points me at the Sahara Motel in Jordan Valley – on my route. I ride down the last 15 miles of dirt track…



…before arriving at the Sahara at about 1915. It turns out to be a little ‘Mom & Pop’ motel…



…well, I think Mom probably left in the early 70s some time, taking most of the cleaning materials with her :.

In the shower I notice I’ve been bitten several times on the back of my right knee. I can’t shake off the thought of the Brown Recluse Spider bite (which was in the same place on the unfortunate victim) which someone posted on the forum the other day…:eek: Actually, I often react very badly to bites, but the reaction normally disappear the next day – fingers crossed²…

I have a good steak and a cold beer in the diner next door (owned by a Basque, with pro Basque leaflets and posters all over the place, bizarrely enough), turn on the air conditioner, and settle down for the evening. Only 290 miles today, but over 150 off road and difficult off road at that – I’m knackered.



¹EDIT Apparently it's a Mormon Cricket...

²EDIT All clear the next day - phew!
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Old 05-05-2004, 11:03 PM   #80
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Breakfast in a Casino, Straight Desert Roads and being E-Dumped...

4th May

Don't know what time I originally woke - something to do with a yard load of lorries starting up and moving off. Eventually I got back to sleep and woke to find it was 0700 :P.

I pack the bike and am on the road, heading south, at 0800. The US 95 is a straight road - laser straight...



The morning sun is very bright - I'm wearing sunglasses and have the sun visor down and I'm still squinting.

I stop for breakfast. I know I'm now in Nevada, because every cafe is also a casino :P



After a heart attack on a plate, I continue, turning north west onto the 140 - a road which is, err, straight...



Service areas are not common in this part of the world. I have a guideline of never passing a petrol stop if I have more than 120 miles on the trip meter...



The signs of the continuing drought are here as well. This is a dried up lake bed -



...which is home to a few dust devils, but no water.

After about 60 miles, the road reaches the edge of a bluff and the plain is laid out like a chart below...



It's a popular hang gliding site, but it's a bit breezy for the boys today...

I'm knackered, so stop at Lakeview and check into the Best Western.

I check my Email to find that my girlfriend has E-dumped me.

Bugger.

There's something impersonal about being Emailed like this - no letter to screw up, throw in the corner and stare at thoughtfully...

Better day tomorrow - no doubt about it. A six-pack of Coors assists my passage through the evening...

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Old 05-05-2004, 11:04 PM   #81
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5th May

Don't kow what time I woke, but it felt early. Head was aching a bit - hmm - six pack - it's all coming back to me...:P. Overall, the cyber-dumping was a positive thing. I've known it was on the cards for a while and I'm convinced that this was a major factor in my recent depression. I feel fine.

I pack the bike and set course for Crater Lake National Park, some 150 miles north west. I'd planned to spend the night at Jorge Carbo's, but, having spoken to Mark at the parts counter at Chicago BMW and found that they're only despatching my service bits today, I've contacted Jorge and suggested I delay my arrival by a day.



The 140 is an uninvolving, but pretty, ride. The countryside is becoming more mountainous, as I gradually travel further north west. The coniferous forests here differ from those in the UK in sheer size - not only the area they cover, but the age and size of the trees themselves - they're huge...

I fill up at Klamath Falls, and spot this, ahem, unique form of transport at the next pump...



As I approach the turn off to the southern entrance to Crater Lake (I was assured at the service station that all entrances are open), I notice that, in several places in the woods, there were railway trucks (actually guards vans - called 'cabooses' here, I believe) set on short lengths of rail. I came across the entrance to the Train Mountain Railroad - a private club. Hmmm...



I press north and soon turn left off the 97 onto the 138 - to find...



...that the North entrance is still the domain of the snowmobiler :( - bugger!

Still, the scenery is pretty - I ride around some of the loops off the resort lake...







Before continuing towards Springfield, where I intend to stop for the night. The 58 takes me north west, through more coniferous and, at lower altitudes, deciduous forests...



...and along the side of Lookout Point Lake...



...before I arrive at the Best Western at Springfield.

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Old 05-05-2004, 11:05 PM   #82
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Right - you're up to date - I'm going to bed!

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Old 05-10-2004, 01:47 AM   #83
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Aloha - Oregon

6th May

I rode up the Interstate to Jorge & Sheila’s house. It was 100 miles or so – no pictures – if you need to see what it looked like, go and take a picture of your local motorway then cut & paste into here ;).

I arrive to find Jorge had just left Never mind – the package on the doorstep is from BMW of Chicago – I go and buy the oils for the service and get to work on the driveway. Jorge arrives as I’m cleaning the brakes – we move the bike into the garage and continue. I’m introduced to Cricket, a Shar-Pei / Pit bull cross (with some Bassett in there as well…)



Jorge has my dream job. He works for a well known sports clothing manufacturer. His current project is designing a sports bra. Part of the research for this involves studying videotapes of naked women running on a treadmill – Yes!

As has always been the case with ADVriders, the garage has some familiar residents…



Sheila’s soon home from work, and prepares dinner whilst her husband helps the weird guy from the other side of the pond :P – we manage to do most of the work before dinner, leaving the change of Poly V Belt and throttle body balance for later. A good day’s work

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Old 05-10-2004, 01:48 AM   #84
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7th May

Jorge & Sheila are out early to go to work (which most people I meet seem to have to do ), so I ride over to the Evergreen Aircraft Museum, home of one of the more bizarre aircraft I’ve seen…



…the ‘Spruce Goose’…



Devised as a solution to the massive losses being suffered by shipping in the North Atlantic at the hands of Dönitz’s U boats, the Hughes Flying Boat was, and is, the largest wooden aircraft ever built. It became a huge money pit, soaking up $18m of Federal funding, as well as $7m of Howard Hughes’ own money. It flew, in 1947, just once, with Hughes at the controls. It was then, on Hughes instructions, parked in a specially constructed, climate controlled hangar, for the next 23yrs. The costs of this ran to more than $1m per year. After Hughes death, the ‘Goose’ was sold to a local entrepreneur, who displayed it, alongside the Queen Mary, in Palm Beach, California. When Disney acquired the company, they lost interest in the flying boat and it was transferred to its present, purpose built, home.



The museum is home to an eclectic collection of aircraft, from a Messerschmidt Bf109G…



…to a SR71 Blackbird…



…to a B 17 Flying Fortress…



It’s an excellent museum.

On the way back to Jorge & Sheila’s home, I stop off at what looks like an innocuous little suburban house…



…which turns out to have a garage full of BMWs.



The garage belongs to Steve Prokop, an independent servicing agent. He listens to my engine, attaches his balance gauge, tweaks the throttle bodies and, like magic, the engine smooths out and the high frequency vibration disappears…



…he then turns into the perfect mechanic by refusing any payment – what a nice bloke

That evening, sitting on Jorge’s deck, with Mount Hood looking alternately like Mount Doom, or Mount Fuji, depending on whether it’s cloudy or not, I try a Cuban drink, comprising of rum, lime juice, sugar, mint and, as I find the next morning, a headache…

We spend the evening with Jorge & Sheila’s neighbours, eating & drinking – it’s a very convivial evening, rounding off a good day…

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Old 05-10-2004, 01:49 AM   #85
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Welcome to Washington - here's your umbrella...

8th May

Today I’m going to meet up with a load of the guys from ADVrider at a barbeque at a place called Joemma Beach, near Tacoma in Washington State. Jorge has been away from home a lot recently, so is going to take me over to the local Starbucks, where some of the guys are setting off – he’ll then come home to the lovely Sheila – I don’t blame him a bit ;)



We meet up with Knary & Deacon & set off, picking up Raindog in the geographically accurate, but uninspiringly named Seaside…



We then set off on what turns out to be a very wet ride through north Oregon and Washington…



…just when it seems it can’t get any wetter, we get stopped at a railway crossing



We arrive as the sun starts to come out at the Joemma Beach State Park – I go off and find a motel on Purdey, about 18 miles away, dry out a bit and then return, bearing beer. The BBQ is well under way, with a fantastic seafood dish…



…or should I say – bucket :yelrotflm



It’s full of shrimp, crab, red snapper, corn, mussels, clams etc – and it’s EXCELLENT!

I meet loads of people from the ADVrider site – can’t remember most names, so I apologise to those whose photos appear here for not naming all of them…



MaxMoto, looking like Bruce Springsteen…



KNary, on his specially made seat for short people…



Various ADVriders chilling (& bullshitting, of course :P).



As the sun (& beer) went down…



…the discussion moved up the hill to a firepit in the campsite. I rode back to the motel – another good day…:)

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Old 05-10-2004, 01:50 AM   #86
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9th May

After waiting over an hour for a breakfast of unparalleled mediocrity in the diner next to my motel (it’s Mother’s Day today – in America), I pack up and pay another visit to the Joemma campsite, to see how the survivors are doing – there are still a couple of characters there. I say my farewells and head off south towards California and the warmth and dryness it promises…



This part of Washington is beautiful – there are massive clusters of vividly coloured rhododendrons lining the road and the vegetation is lush and green – as it has every right to be after yesterday’s rain



I ride south, following Betty’s directions towards Sequoia National Park, over 1000 miles distant. I see a sign for Mount St Helens and decide to divert there. The weather (as ever :P) starts to close in and the cloud is low on the horizon. The scenery is spectacular and stark…



On 8th May 1980, the day got off to a bad start for any living thing within 17 miles of Mt St Helens. The eruption, the largest landslide in recorded history and the pyroclastic flows laid waste to 150 sq miles around Mt St Helens. The after effects of the event are clear to see as you ride up to the visitor centre. There is an excellent presentation on the event, including some chilling film of the eruption and transcripts of radio transmissions from scientists whose bad luck it was to be on the mountain that morning. The scale of the eruption has to be seen to be appreciated…



The ride would be worth it anyway, for the scenery…



…plus they have a great bridge…



I’m tired and cold, so I get back on course south, towards the surf bunnies, and, pausing only to read a really odd sign outside a church...



...check into the Best Western at Vancouver (Oregon, not Canada ;))…

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Old 05-10-2004, 10:52 AM   #87
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Mike,

I told you in person, and I'll echo those same sentiments here - your ride reports are fantastic! Absolutely entertaining and well written. It was a pleasure meeting you and being a part of your ongoing odyssey.

Safe travels,

Marc
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Old 05-10-2004, 04:28 PM   #88
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Thank you Marc, very kind of you to say so

So here's today's short & wet missive...

10th May

I had a very late night (in fact, 0330 this morning), so I was careful to leave the ‘Do Not Disturb’ flag on my door handle, check that the alarm clock was off etc. None of this stopped them ringing me at 0730 with a wake-up call I hadn’t booked - Ah well…:P

Never mind - spent the time ringing BMW GB and asking them what they were going to do about my front discs warping (I'm on my 4th or 5th set - I honestly can't remember). The answer was - they'll replace them (I'm 2 months out of warranty, but they're treating it as a 'problem with history'). Due to the vagaries of the various corporate warranties, I have to pay for the replacement here, then I'll be re-imbursed on my return to the UK. Result - time to find a dealer in Califiornia somewhere...

I’m on the road for 1000 and it’s raining. Hard. I hit the I5 south towards Salem, but soon get bored and strike off across country towards the Pacific…



The landscape is basically similar to Europe and the roads are not challenging…



…the rain showers continue, varying from "Hmm, that’s miserable" to "I’m not getting my camera out". I arrive in the town of Newport and check into the Econo-lodge, getting a room with a sea view*.

Just before getting to Newport, I passed a farm on the right, which housed this weird looking pipework above one of its barns – anybody got any idea what it is? :



Closer view...



Further south down the Pacific Coast Highway tomorrow…



* if you climb on top of the bookcase, lean over and squint through the very top of the left window…
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Old 05-11-2004, 12:05 AM   #89
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Hi Mike!
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Old 05-11-2004, 04:07 AM   #90
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Could it be ..... the ADVrider salute??
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