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Old 01-08-2010, 11:43 AM   #1
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Last Hurrah on F800GS

Dateline: 10/30/2009

Realizing that impending fatherhood will have a significant affect on my ability to travel and have adventures, a sudden bout of wanderlust has infected me. I need to get out of the house, and bad. To that end, I decided I want to take a road trip. One big problem with that idea is that I hate cages (aka cars). The obvious answer is to get another motorcycle. A quick search of craiglists around the country identified several options.

I decided to purchase a BMW F800GS in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, about as far as you can get from Atlanta (while staying in the US), and I am going to ride it back home to Atlanta in time for Thanksgiving. I used miles to get me a ticket to Seattle, first class was only 5000 more miles so why not right? I'll start from my father's house in Port Ludlow, WA. The plan is to go to all my former homes, see as many of my favorite people as I can, get some fresh air, and decompress after a "long" year. When I get home, it will be time to start a whole new chapter of my life. Old hat to many, but this is my first swing at fatherhood. It is exciting, but it also feels like something I need to be good at and yet have no experience with so it is a little unsettling as well. The baby is due Christmas Day. That is one hell of a gift!

I will be flying to Seattle on Tuesday November 10th. I will do some wrenching on the bike to get her ready to roll. Then I start heading south.

Tentative Schedule (subject to weather and technical issues):
November 10: Port Ludlow, WA *visit father*
November 11: Portland, OR *visit friend*
November 12: Arcata, CA *visit friend*
November 13: Sebastopol, CA *former home*
November 14: Atascadero, CA *visit wife's family*
November 15: Santa Monica, CA *visit best friend*
November 16: Palm Springs, CA *former home*
November 17: Tucson, AZ *former home*
November 18: Tucson, AZ *visit family*
November 19: Eastern New Mexico
November 20: Oklahoma City, OK *visit oldest friend*
November 21: Honobia Mountain, OK *former home*
November 21: Heavener, OK *place of birth*
November 22: Memphis, TN
November 23: Atlanta, GA *Home at last*

4000 miles down the left coast and across the south to Georgia.

My steed.

Editor's note: This ride report details my little adventure last autumn. I put my thoughts down contemporaneously and am finally posting them here. The posts will me written the present tense as I wrote them on the date specified at the top of each post.
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:55 AM   #2
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:13 PM   #3
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Dateline: 11/01/2009

Getting my wife, Nicole, on board with the idea of me taking off on a cross country motorcycle adventure 7 weeks before our first baby is born was easier than I thought. I mentioned the idea to her and she essentially wouldn't let me back out. Rather than being apathetic to the idea, she was absolutely gung ho. My wife is awesome. Her point of view was hurry up and get home! Why haven't you left yet?

This is my first motorcycle tour, so rather than just guess about what might be useful to have along, I asked people. Responses included:
  • Pack light
  • GPS
  • Ear plugs
  • Head phones
  • Tools
  • Tire repair materials
  • Electric clothes
  • Throttle Lock
I followed all this advice. I ended up ordering nearly everything to be shipped to Washington or put on will call so I can pick it up at Touratech personally. The F800GS needed some farkling along the way. Items that will be on my bike when I leave are:
  • Metal Mule crash guards and bash plate
  • Wunderlich tank bag, throttle lock, and shifter
  • TT hand guards, panniers, bar risers, rear plate, and a few other little doodads.
  • 17 tooth front sprocket
  • Cee Baily tall wind screen
  • Ortlieb Dry Bag
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:24 PM   #4
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Day 0

Dateline: 11/10/2009

After a rather short night's sleep after flying home from Miami for a quick little holiday with my wife, I got up and packed my bags for the big trip. 70 pounds of crap. Everything I think I'll need to get me from Seattle to Atlanta by motorcycle, even if it decides to break down.

The flight was long, 5 hours. I amused myself by finishing a book and chatting with a 30 something postal worker who's idea of a really good time is playing World of Warcraft. I sure am glad I'd rather be riding motorcycles than playing video games!

I landed a few minutes early and my pop picked me up and took me to Touratech USA to buy some more parts for my GS. From there we got on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. That takes us within driving range of Port Ludlow, where my dad lives, and my bike is parked. While I on the ferry I snapped some shots of Seattle.

Bainbridge Island. (not my photo)

Sky Needle

Seattle waterfront.

When we arrived at my pop's house, I went about wrenching on the bike. The list of tasks was long, but with a lone exception, I had the tools and skills required to get the job done. I was in that garage from 3pm till 11pm. Who knew you needed a T55 torx bit to get the throttle lock installed?

Pannier rack. GPS electronics. Clothes power.

Luggage rack. Tank bag. Adjustable Shifter. Panniers. Tall windshield. Tall seat. Suspension adjusted.

While I was wrenching, my pop was making his famous Caribbean Stew which is really REALLY good. In bed by 11. Long tiring day!
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Old 01-08-2010, 12:38 PM   #5
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Day 1: Port Ludlow to Corvalis

Dateline: 11/11/2009


I was up at 0400 this morning. Still on east coast time. I used the time to torque everything I adjusted yesterday. I had to clean the giant mess I made in the garage and then pack everything in the smalled space possible. I did a really good job of it actually. I was impressed with how tight I got everything packed up on the bike. The extra saddle, wind screens, and all the other parts I wasn't taking with me got put in a box to be shipped home.

After a couple of test rides I was ready to go. This bike is nice!

Pop cooked me an omelet and sent me on my way around 0830.

Ready to roll!

Though it was supposed to be raining, the weather was grand. Sunny and cold. The roads were wet, but the bike was very sticky. I stopped at Dosewallip's State Park for a snapshot and had the inevitable motorcycle conversation with a fella in the parking lot. Heck those conversations are one of the reasons I really like to ride. People walk up and talk to people on motorcycles. It's great. He even took my picture.

Dosewallip's State Park

After he left, I mounted back up and was about to roll away when I slipped on slimy pile of leaves while backing up down hill and slipped. The bike being both tall and heavy was not listening to my requests to stay upright and toppled over. All the armor I put on the bike it did it's job perfectly. Not a scratch on it. I didn't even fall. The bike went and I just went with it and landed on my feet. I should have got a photo of this. I needed to take my dry bag off to lift the bike though. It was a little top heavy all loaded up.

From here I went to Portland to see my buddy Thomas. He took me to a restaurant I had just heard about on NPR last week. Pok Pok. It was great.

Thomas and I had a nice visit, but weather turned bad while we were chatting. By the time I got back on the bike, it was 1530 and raining. I decided to skip the beach camping I had planned and just went to Corvalis to stay at the Hilton. Go Beavers...

I snapped a shot of the rainbow that sat in my rear view mirror the entire ride south of Portland. While the rainbow was behind me, I was under storm cell. Alternating between stop and go traffic and high speed truck traffic throwing up huge amounts of spray. I spotted a guy on a 2007 xChallenge with a giant TT fuel tank on the highway as well. He was muddy! Must have had a good day.

Just north of Salem and finally out of the rain.

Tomorrow, I am going to Marshall's house near Arcata. Goodbye Oregon, hello California.

Special thanks to Sean for making sure I took a GPS and electric clothes. That vest really makes a huge difference.

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Old 01-08-2010, 12:42 PM   #6
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:55 PM   #7
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Day 2: Corvallis to Arcata

Dateline: 11/12/2009


I left Corvallis this morning around 0800. It was raining. I made the mistake of not putting on my gaiters this morning. I thought they were not helping yesterday but clearly they were because my feet got quite wet early on. I pulled over and put them on, but my feet kept getting wet anyway. I made a mental note to buy some duct tape at the next hardward store I saw. It was several hours of wet feet away in Florence, OR.

Tomorrow my feet will be dry!

On my way over the coastal range, I found out that my motorcycle has a cool sensor, the frozen road sensor. It was quite cold, mid 30s. Going up and down the pass, my bike flashing the temp at me. Warning, it's $%^#ing cold . After rolling over the pass I was in a pretty river valley heading west. Then the rain starting coming down hard while "Riders on the Storm" was playing in my ears . How appropriate. It was raining inside my helmet, but my face never got wet. Just the visor.

Cold and Wet

By the time I got to the beach the weather cleared up and the ocean was beautiful. Big surf. Heading south, snow littered the road. Pretty amazing weather. So much of it. Tons of weather. Sun, rain, wind, cold. I got all of it again and again.

Big Surf

I stopped in Coos Bay for lunch and chain lube. I got lunch, got not the lube. In Crescent City, I got the lube, but no lunch. 90 weight gear oil for those who care.

Cute dog on the PCH. I hope it finds it's way home.

I arrived at Marshall's just before sunset. I saw something I really never expected to see again. My cat from 1997 whose name is "My Dog Spot". Apparently Marshall ended up with him. It's a long story, but it was SO nice to see my cat again. He fed me enchiladas, and LeAnna kept me chatted me up.

Nice day.

My Dog Spot

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Old 01-08-2010, 07:21 PM   #8
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Day 3: Arcata to Sebastopol

Dateline: 11/13/2009


Early to rise yet again today. Marshall made coffee and oats and we chatted the morning away. I didn't get on the road until almost 0900. I wished my hosts well and bid my former cat farewell. I'll miss that cat.

My first stop was in the Humboldt redwoods, at a place called Avenue of the Giants. Stunning!

Avenue of the Giants

From there, I made my way to Hwy 1 which goes over the costal range on what must be one of the windiest roads in the country. This must compete with the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina. When I finished throwing my bike all over that road, I was greeted by the sea once again. It is always a pleasure to see the Pacific. Breathtaking.

Pacific Ocean

I followed the coast south and stopped in Fort Bragg for gas. The station didn't take my cards, so I left empty handed. I figured I'd stop in Mendocino for gas. Little did I know that their gas is $4.89 a gallon. About a 40% premium over anywhere else in the state.

I took Hwy 128 toward Boonville where I stopped for lunch. I chatted up with some tourists and some locals. I caught up on my Anderson Valley gossip. Guido, my neighbor when I lived here, has cancer. I left the restaurant and drove by my old place.

The Ranch. I lived here in the 90s.

I did 22 miles off road back to the ocean which was very cool.

Off roading to the beach. 18% grades. Nice!

Once back on the coast, I rode south to the Russian river and finished my ride to Pam and Joel's house where I bunked often in high school. They fed me and an old friend of ours, Todd. Another friend, Colby ignored my 2 emails about dinner. I think I have the wrong address. Pout.

Another great day. Tomorrow, I'll call Colby first thing and see if I can meet up with him in the morning before going to my father-in-law Jim's house in Atascadero. No word yet from my friends the Mentors of Santa Cruz.

Nearing Jenner

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Old 01-08-2010, 07:23 PM   #9
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:19 AM   #10
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Day 4: Sebastopol to Atascadero

Dateline: 11/14/2009


I woke up this morning in Sebastopol, at the home of two of my favorite people Pam and Joel. We had breakfast and chatted until almost 0900. I don't know why I still expect an early start at this point. What I really want is to do the visiting yet I keep planning for an early start anyway. A great mystery.

After several days on the coast, I changed up things today. My original plan was to ride down the coast to Santa Cruz from Sebastopol, but because I didn't get to see Colby and his family yesterday, I decided to make the trip to Napa so I could visit them. What a great thing they have going there. So much love in their home. Certainly something to aspire toward. They fed me, let me play with their baby, and sent me on my way better than when I arrived. Good times.

My next stop was Santa Cruz to see the Mentors. Taking a more inland route through the east bay, as I was already in Napa and behind schedule, allowed me to make up all my "lost" time. I had to drive through city traffic, but it is a weekend and it was not terrible. I arrived in Santa Cruz at 1305. Right on time. Rabbit and his son were home, but Margann was initially absent. She got home right as I had to leave, but I got to see her and that pleased me very much. The Mentors live in a cohousing Community. I capitalized Community, for emphasis. It is really a community, in all the best ways! I met the Mentors when I was just a boy. They made an excellent impression on me and treated me very well through those years. They even took me on some very cool roads trips that I have never forgotten. One road trip followed much the same roads I am riding now, only going in the other direction. Thanks for everything guys, you did right by me. Rabbit made me great sandwich served with pickles and smoked jalapeno sour crout.

Rabbit and I in Santa Cruz

The last stop of the day was at Jim and Alex's house in Atascadero. This is the home of Nicole's father and the place I was married. It holds many fond memories for me. Jim and I try to argue, but agree on so damn much we have a tough time finding uncommon ground to fight over. It's really funny how we are so similar. All the way down to our love of a good argument. Now, we just need to find something we don't agree on. Other than motorcycles... Jim is not as supportive of this little adventure as Nicole is. My wife is awesome! Jim and Alex made me a fantastic dinner.


So, lets see if I can sum up today; good friends and family invited me into their homes to share their time and food with me. Mix that up with some freeway motorcycle riding and you have a pretty good idea of what my way was like.
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Old 01-09-2010, 06:40 AM   #11
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:42 AM   #12
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I'm in..........
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:28 PM   #13
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Day 5: Atascadero to Los Angeles

Dateline: 11/15/2009


Rise and shine in beautiful Atascadero, CA. It was cold as heck there. I put on my warm hat and went to the bottom of the hill to fetch the newspapers. Whoever gets the Sunday New York Times from the street gets to read it first. I got to read it!

I made Jim breakfast and set out on my short trip to Los Angeles. I took a scenic route over a mountain and by a lake. I passed a large group of BMW riders heading the opposite way from me. The lead rider was riding an F800GS also. We admired each other's cycles .

Lake Cachuma

When I got to Ventura, I turned off the 101 and took the PCH to Santa Monica. That is the REALLY long and crowded way. In addition to that, it is absurdly windy. I actually got nervous out there boucing from lane to lane like a tin can.

On the PCH (pacific coast highway), the CHP (California Highway Patrol) were out in force riding BMW R1200s. The "I lane split my Ducati with 50 of my closest friends at 60 MPH" club was out there as well.

I arrived at my best friend Jake's house about 5 minutes late. He left 5 minutes earlier. The guy cut me no slack! Mina, his wife, and I had a nice visit and Jake came home soon enough and we all had a great evening. I met Simone, their youngest child, for the first time. She is a very sweet baby. Maddy, their oldest, is getting all grown up. I remember when...

It was great to see them. Tomorrow, it is off to Palm Springs and other parts east.
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:16 PM   #14
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Day 6: Los Angeles to Tucson

Dateline: 11/16/2009


Up and adam very early today. I needed to leave Brentwood before LA's famous traffic jams blocked me in. I was on the road by 0700. I hit some traffic in downtown and in Ontario, but it was rather sedate. I got to Palm Springs by 0900.

In Palm Springs, I drove down my favorite alley from the 7-11, where I would buy my dad smokes when I was a boy, to my house and stopped for a few snap shots. Rex, the 7-11 owner, who worked there every day for the 12 years I was there was now gone.

Mt San Jacinto

My former home in Palm Springs

Then I drove through my neighborhood and rolled past the Frankel residence. I spent A LOT of time there as a child. There home was my second home. Sure enough, Marvin and Carol were there. Ben their younger son was home as well. Ben knew me right away, but I only guessed it was him based on context clues. They even still have the same house keeper. Things just don't change sometimes. We visited for over an hour.

From there, I went to Rancho Mirage and Simon met me for breakfast. He was riding my father's former Harley Davidson Police Crusier. We chatted the rest of the morning away and then went to a pleasure ride up the Palms to Pines Highway. It is a road the climbs from the desert floor high into the mountains where pines actually grow.

Palms to Pines Hwy

I didn't get out of Palm Springs until nearly 1400, but for some reason decided to try for Tucson a day early anyway. It was time to take off 2 layers of clothes. The desert was much warmer than the Pacific Northwest.

I rode and rode and stopped for gas. That's all I did. No lunch. No dinner. No tresspassing.

Quartzite, AZ

It got dark early because I am heading east and pushing the sun below the horizon with every mile I ride. I hit rush hour in Phoenix and finally rolled into Tucson just after 2000. My ears are ringing. My shoulders hurt. My ass is sore. I am SO glad to be taking a break here for a few days before I finish this trip up and get back to my family in Atlanta.
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Old 01-09-2010, 07:58 PM   #15
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Good stuff - I'm now current. Keep it goin'! First child, only one tidbit - no, your child will not grow up to be an ax murderer if he/she cries for a few minutes straight. More times than not, they're simply communicating, not unhappy. My first didn't know what life was like without being held 24-7 - the third, well, let's just say he is sooooo self sufficient, med school right around the corner. Okay, one more tid bit, after your child is born, forever on end, everybody you talk to is a parenting expert (particlularly those without children of their own) - simply listen, don't agree or disagee, just listen and say nothing. Not worth the banter/debate/discussion. Toughest job you'll ever have - and the most rewarding job you'll ever have. Happy for you - enjoy that little bundle of joy!

Great trip, good for you for recognizing how your life will soon change - more than you can ever imagine, but oh sooooo, incredibly awesome. Nice bike huh?! I got a 650 - couldn't touch the ground on the 800, and I absolutely love it.

I saw Fish Rock Road on Google the other day - Hwy 128 off-road all the way to the coast? I'll be on it. You ever take Mt. View Road out of Booneville to the coast back in the day? That's a great ride.

Anyway, thanks for posting your trip - enjoying it!
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