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Old 09-03-2013, 09:18 PM   #181
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so this part of the trip was a routing disaster. I had planned up to Taos in my itinerary, and beyond that I was gonna wing it. On one hand, it was relieving to go at whatever pace I pleased, with no set destination or timeline. On the other, I definitely took the long way around.

Suffice to say, I rode back and forth between Taos, Sante Fe at least 3 times. After Santa Fe, I found myself in ABQ with inmate Dr. Greg. Greg set me up in a very nice spare room with AC (thank god). I spent the next couple days enjoying his company and some amazing home cooked meals. Upon inspecting the bike in his garage, the front tire was cupping badly at 10,000 miles. I contemplated holding out until Texas, since the center was fine and I would be doing mostly straight roads once I got past the border. But the tire was riding a little funny in the wet, and I decided not to chance it. We tried a few dealerships in town, but nobody had anything suitable. Coincidentally Greg had a used pilot road 2 that fit the bill just fine.

Tire mounting, a sweaty job.

This one went on easily, thanks to a second set of hands.

Chowing down on an indian taco at the Pueblo indian cultural center. Later a woman comes up to me and tells me she's never seen someone finish one of these before.

Dinner and dancing

Did I mention I ditched the italian leather and got myself a mesh jacket in Denver? The super cute redhead working in the dealership and I got to chatting about bikes and my trip. I tried my luck and she politely showed me her wedding ring.

On my way out of town, I stopped in the Nuclear Museum to poke around. Not really my thing, seeing the prototypes of the hiroshima/nagasaki bombs was a bit disturbing, knowing the destruction those things caused. This was the section on war propaganda, some old WW2 posters:

My next stop was back North again, to Taos. I planned to meet some locals for a ride there the next morning. I rode the very pretty hwy 76 up, I believe the movie Wild Hogs was filmed in this area.

I ducked spots of rain on the high road, but once I got into Taos it started to rain hard. I quickly pulled into a diner on the side of the road. I wasn't really hungry but there was a nice Ducati 900ss parked outside in a special spot for bikes. After a beer and some fries, the owner sits down with me and we get to talking about my trip. I tell him about my plans to camp at Sipapu that evening. He tells me that's a bad idea, and offers me up his guest house on his ranch. I'm at a loss for words, we hadn't been talking for more than a few minutes and this guy is already opening up his home to me. That night I took a warm bath and settled in a very comfy warm bed. If you're in Taos stop by Ortegas for some mexican grub and give this seriously cool biker some business!

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Old 09-03-2013, 09:34 PM   #182
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The next morning I met adver Callie and some locals for a ride around the area. We started at Sipapu and did a fantastic loop around Angelfire, Eagle Nest and Questa. I bid them farewell after lunch and set out to do another loop south of Taos that would take me back to Chamisal in the evening where I would make camp.

As I rode back into Taos in the late afternoon, I saw another nasty storm in front of me. This is 3/3 for horrible weather in this town. I looked around for a spot to pull over, and decided to hold out to the next overpass. Well I didn't make it. I grossly misjudged and rode into a solid wall of water and then hail. It was absolutely miserable, and I was instantly soaked through within seconds. There was no cover to be found, so I kept putting down the road, on and off exits, looking for any sort of shelter. I finally found an overpass, just in time for my phone to chime and warn me about flash flooding in the area.

Bitch, get out the way. Why do you need to park out of the rain in your truck?

I sat for a good hour or so waiting this out.

I was pretty angry and downtrodden at this point. I was freezing and all the warm gear was in a box in the mail headed home. I thought about getting a motel in town, but changed my mind and sucked it up. Stopping at a gas station, I dried myself out as best I could with paper towels. I changed into my last set of dry clothes, long johns and a t-shirt. Put my rain gear on top of that and rode towards Chamisal, where I had a tent spot arranged.

Luckily I got out from underneath the weather, and the warm evening air had me almost completely dry by the time I got to the farm.

I'm a little ashamed to say that I forget Chris's ADV handle,but he has a cool little spot out in the middle of nowhere. The road to this piece of land was a bit of a challenge for the superduke. But it was refreshing to be out in the countryside to myself.

The Shat house.

I set up my tent on a pad overlooking the creek and promptly fell asleep. Some time in the early hours of the morning I was woken by something snooping around outside the tent. Still half asleep, I instantly thought bear. Better make some loud noises to scare it off. "WOOOOHOOOO!!!" I lay there in silence for a moment, realizing how stupid of a noise I just made. Hopefully this bear wasnt the party type. I lay there until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, and drifted off again.

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Old 09-04-2013, 10:58 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by pne View Post
it was definately downhill with some very fun switchbacks. I saw a local in a pickup truck come through one bend sideways, he was having fun.
This is the loop I used to run regularly:

Right at that "8,005" mark there are some crazy steep slow twisties, those are the ones I expect you found, always fun. The road is a blast all the way to Bellvue. Another set of flat, but super tight twisties right by Deadman Hill. Somewhere along Stove Prairie there are some medium turns right at the crest of a hill, I swear I've gotten airborn off those, both in a car and on a bike. I miss that ride.

Enjoying the read, keep it up.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:47 PM   #184
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Pepper spray and flash bangs

I wake up next morning to find bear prints all around the tent. A little worried I decide to take the bear spray out of my saddle bag and actually stash it in the tent with me. First I had to find out how to use it. Let's see, pull the clip out and squeeze... I give it a test shot against one of the walls. Wow this thing has some juice. In fact, it shoots more like a fire extinguisher than a can of aerosol spray.

Now I'm staring at the orange splotch on the wall. Curiosity gets the better of me, and I lean in for a whiff. Well take my word for it, this stuff fuggin works. Immediately I started tearing up and coughing, just from the smell. I had to walk clear of the area and sit for 15 minutes, coughing uncontrollably. Some people prefer their guns. I'll trust my life to this can over lead any day.

I left my bags at the campsite and rode towards Angelfire resort. My plan for the day was to rent another bike and do some pedaling. A very twisty road and a number of hours later, I was on a very expensive carbon fiber bike with 10 inches of suspension travel. Turns out this $7000 bike was a disaster, it handled and rode like a dump truck. I tried all sorts of fiddling with the suspension before I finally took it back to the rental shop and asked for something else.

So off I go again on a good old fashioned aluminum frame Devinci Wilson. I get off the chair lift, marvel and how well the bike is riding, and point it towards some rocks at full clip. BANG! Oh crap, that didn't sound good. I stop, check out the front wheel for the impact. I'm positive that was a pinch flat. Nope, it's still holding, the wheel looks ok.. So I ride on. For a good 20 feet. PSSSSSSSHHHHHH. There it goes!

Disappointed, I push it back up the hill, hop on the chairlift, and get taken back to the bottom. Some more negotiation at the rental shop and I'm on bike #3. A lovely Scott Gambler. I manage to get a great run in, and a little photo op.

The run after this didn't go too well. Being a little later in the afternoon, it started to drizzle, and dark clouds were forming overhead. I noticed I was the only one getting on the chair lift. Still, the park was still open and I hoped get one last run in. As I neared the top, the wind started to pick up. I looked at my trail map, and for some foolish reason decided that I would "quickly" ride the only trail leading down the backside of the mountain, before coming round and joining up with the rest of the trail system on the front side. The words "All new trail for 2013" didn't set of any warning bells either.

So I start riding down the first part of the trail. I get a good 2 miles down, and all of a sudden I lose it. No ribbons, no trail markers, no sign posts. All of a sudden I was staring at what looked like a jeep trail and some remnants of a ski run. I stood there in a huff, mulling over what to do next. It was starting to rain lightly, and I had no idea where this was going to take me if I continued down. I could end up on the base of the mountain at the backside, miles and miles away from the summer shops/lifts. I decided my best option would be to hike back to the summit (you can't climb these downhill bikes very well) then take a well marked trail down the front side.

Mind you this is at 9000ft, so this prairie dweller is having the worst difficulty pushing a 45lb bike up the mountain. An hour later those nasty clouds start pouring. I spit on the ground and cuss, hunkering under some trees to see if it would die out. Of course it didn't. In fact, it started raining even harder, until it was coming down sideways. At this point I still had a little smirk on my face, thinking of the silly dilemma I put myself into, trying to find humor in the situation. And that's when the lightning started.

At first I wasn't overly concerned, it sounded far off in the distance. I tried to remember that rule where you counted the number of seconds between the flash and the thunder, and what the safe time would be. In a few minutes, it didn't matter, because I could see, hear, and feel the lightning coming down right next to me. There was no time to count. I was scared SHITLESS. Here I am, crouching under a tree, on the edge of the tree line near the summit. The chairlift and summit lodge was about a 1/2 mile up, but I would have to cross rocky terrain with no cover at all to get there. This was the only moment of the trip where I genuinely feared for my life.

The next bolt touched a few miles behind me, and I took off sprinting for the summit. I could barely breathe and I was seeing spots, but by god I was going to get to that summit lodge before the next strike. After what seemed like an eternity I got to the lodge, crawled up the steps, and clawed at the door handle. And then all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The door was locked.

Yes folks, being the summer off season, just about all of the lodges are closed, and the resort runs on a skeleton crew. As I sank to my knees in despair, I realized this was it. I had a good run, but surely I would be electrocuted on this mountain and found the next day, a charred unidentifiable corpse. Not really. I ducked into the crawl space underneath the lodge, and waited...

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Old 09-05-2013, 02:11 PM   #185
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Grand Theft Auto

As I sat in the crawlspace getting my wits about me, I thought about what would happen next. It was getting late, the rental shop would be closing soon and they expected me back at 5. But if this storm didn't taper down I might be stuck here after dark, and have to spend the night on top of the mountain. I'm still soaking wet with nothing but a jersey and shorts on.

A pickup truck drives by on the service road a half mile down, doing a final sweep of the hill. I run outside, waving my arms and yelling. He doesn't hear me over the rain and keeps going, soon his tail lights disappear in the distance.

I run over to the chairlift, surely there would be a phone at the top for emergencies. I spot it inside the booth, which was again locked. What kind of stupid idiots run this place? I briefly contemplated smashing the window, and decided against it.

The lightning is still coming down right on top of me, so I run back to the crawlspace to regroup. My cell phone isn't working up here. That's when I spot it, a red ATV parked out behind the lodge. I don't hesitate, I sprint straight up to it. Yes! The keys are in it. I've never driven an ATV before, but in a matter of seconds I had it fired up and was tearing down the backside to grab the bike I abandoned earlier. I slid to a stop, snatched up the bike, bungee'd it to the rear rack, and took off again towards the lodge. I'd ride down to the base on the service roads and explain myself down there.

As I rode past the lodge, a very angry man comes running out. "HEY STOP!! THAT'S MY QUAD!!" Uhhh what? I coast to a stop and he gets right in my face. "Hey.. sorry.. didn't you hear me yelling for help? I thought I was the only one up here..."
Apparently this guy was part of the mountain patrol and was sitting in a little first aid shack attached to the lodge. He came running out when he heard the ATV fire up, but I took off so quickly, all he could do was watch me speeding down the mountain.

I apologized profusely and explained the situation to him several times. Finally he seemed to calm down, and offered to drive me down the very muddy service road to the bottom. It made for a good story at the bike shop, and as I made my way back to camp, I took one last look back at the mountains to see this. Apology accepted mother nature!

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Old 09-06-2013, 04:34 PM   #186
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Sounds like an adventure for sure!
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:29 PM   #187
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Great reporting John! Sounds like an amazing trip so far. :)
It's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:18 AM   #188
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Stop sign

I'm glad you did that, It gives a perspective to the size of the rocks.
Never do anything you have to explain to a paramedic.

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Old 09-08-2013, 07:20 PM   #189
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Rode back to Chamisal for one last night. I watched the sun set and enjoyed a few brews. Thanks for setting out a lawn chair Chris.

The super duke rolling the 10k mark:

That evening, the bear did not visit me again. This time I was woken up in the wee hours by coyotes. SHAADAPP!!

Nothing interesting the next few miles. It was a straight shot into Texas as I took 84 through Clovis and then thru to Lubbock. The straights on the superduke are truly miserable, especially with a small headwind. Didn't help that the speed limits are *ahem* liberal in Texas, and traffic flew by me as I kept it pinned on 90.

In Lubbock I stayed with inmate TheRoss who had a sweet spare room setup. We chatted over dinner at a Texas style burger joint, that had some ice cold beer. Coincidentally he knew Greg from ABQ. Well not totally coincidentally, Greg said I might be able to find someone to stay with in Lubbock and I fired up the tentspace map. Which by the way, has been the single most handy tool I've used on my travels.

Chris set me up with a good local map of the hill country area, and echoed Greg's sentiments that Big Bend would not be a good place to go this time of year. I promised him I'd mail the map back and headed South East. It took me most of the day to make Kerrville. I tend to ride slow and make lots of pit stops to stretch. In the early evening I continued on to Medina on 16, a beautiful stretch. Then rode to Lost Maples State Natural Area just as the sun was setting to bed down. I didn't explore the park aside from the free hot showers.

The next morning I was up early, and rode the "Three Sisters" 335, 336, and 337. A bit tricky to find, but I had the map luckily. My GPS showed nothing in the area. The riding was fantastic, as expected. Hill country is such a wild departure from the rest of Texas. You have this beautiful countryside with rolling hills and some seriously epic greenery. This is the kind of country that people write country songs about. The roads are twisty, narrow, and steep. They are a real treat on a motorcycle. As a bonus, there is practically no traffic in these parts, people with boats and RV's just stay out because the road is too dam narrow.

I tried to photograph the road in a few spots, but just gave up eventually. There's not many places to pull over and truly capture the nature of this road. Take my word for it and put it on your to-ride list if you haven't already.

Some weird camrys were at the general store, bunch of em all had push bars mounted. I think these were test cars for a tire company. I've seen some cool test cars on the road this trip. From Maserati's to Focuses.

The only disappointment of the day was lunch in Bandera, at a place called Forge. Rarely is a dining experience so terrible that I'm compelled to make note in my journal. Just about the worst service I've ever gotten, it took me a full hour to get my burger, another 15 minutes after that to get some cutlery. With some yucky soggy fries on the side to boot. The waitress seemed pissed when I told her they were cold and soggy. Did not leave her a tip. Ride past this place! Everyone sitting at the bar was also complaining about the food and the service.

In the afternoon I stopped in San Antonio to do some shopping at REI. I picked up some waterproof (not) goretex shoes, and a hammock setup to try out. The tent was way too hot, and took ages to set up and tear down. It really limited my choices for stealth camping. I'm not a fold up a wet tent and ride off before sunrise type.
A quick supper at a suprisingly good fast food mexi place, might have been the happy hour lime margaritas.. and I was off.

Parking, Texas style:

Determined to stealth camp that evening, I rode to a "free" rest stop off the interstate that had some good reviews on google. I pulled up as the sun was starting to set. Um, no, no way in hell I am sleeping here unless I want to be murdered by a trucker. Maybe in a RV sure, not in a tent or hammock with a exotic looking motorcycle parked on the side of the road, screaming "ROB ME!"

I rode up 87 to Fredericksburg, looking for any place on the side of the road. Nada. Motels in the kitschy tourist town.. $$$. It was now dark and I set my sights on Lyndon B J National Park. Surely there would be a spot to camp there. I pulled into the visitors center and looked around. Uh... what kind of national park is this? Deer wandering around the grass right next to the parking lot, signs for various ranches. All my headlight lit up was wildlife, staring back at me and saying "GTFO.."

I ended up riding down the road and staying at some silly Yogi Bear theme camp site for $40 a night. Complete with bouncy castle, water park and outdoor movie theater. At least the bath house was wonderfully clean and quite fancy.

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Old 09-08-2013, 07:40 PM   #190
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Being a Texas virgin, I wanted to take in Austin for a day. So that morning as I ate breakfast at Mcdonalds, I booked myself a room in town. The plan was to eat some local BBQ and maybe take in some live music. 1PM I get to the hotel and it's 110 out. I'm begging for mercy, they let me have an early check-in. I get into the room, turn the AC on full, and collapse on the bed. The next few hours are spend watching HBO and the mercury rise outside. This is the crappy part about vacationing on a motorcycle (or being a cold blooded Canuck). Once it gets too hot, its miserable. All I want to do is sit inside by the AC. I get so cranky from the heat, I'm in no mood to ride downtown to see some historical sight or tourist trap. Especially lugging a mesh jacket, helmet, wearing boots and pants, etc. Yeck.

Dinner time, I'm getting ready to go downtown.

Blue Ox BBQ came up as a top rated food cart. Actually it was kinda gross. $9 got me a small paper plate of the sloppy stuff...just beef brisket. Guy looks at me, "you want some bread with that?" Umm yes, do people around here just eat a half pound of brisket with no sides? He pulls out a loaf of wonderbread and plops a couple slices onto my plate. Great. I sit in the heat and manage to put it down.

I spent another hour wandering South Congress street. Not really thinking clearly from the heat and the beef, I try to brush past this plant. This plant back home would have been a leafy fern type of thing. I walk into it and impale my hand and almost my stomach. I let out a big yelp of surprise and jump back, people stare. Stupid sharp cactus things you guys have down here.. the leaves were like sharpened knives. I think it was an agave..

I give up all hope of live music, instead I head to closest liquor store, grab a few tall boys of lime flavored beer, and recede back into the cocoon of my wonderfully cool room.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:15 PM   #191
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Next morning I stop in harbor freight to pick up some feeler gauges. The Duke was coming up on a valve service and I had a tent spot planned in Belton where I could get it done. Some guy pulls up to me in a nice mercedes SUV in the parking lot. "Hey if you need to do some work on your bike, I've got a shop in town"

Wow, more random kindness. Awesome. I thank him but explain I've got it covered already. Fast forward to Belton and I'm in Dan's shop slugging back cold ones and pulling apart the superduke on his bike lift. We shoot the breeze as I'm working, Dan races a ZX-10 and has some cool toys in his garage. After a few cold ones we're mixing up metric and imperial. I'm horrified that the valves are way too tight, then convert back over to metric and realize they haven't budged at all. A little snafu with a loose fuse under the seat and the odometer gets reset to 0. We chase the electrical gremlin down and fix it back up, the contacts for the fuse block loosen up over time and can cause the dash to flicker. Spread em back out with a screwdriver and some waterproof grease, problem solved.

No guts, no glory:

The rain doesn't let up, it pours all afternoon and night. The next morning I toss out the leaky rain gear and we take Dan's truck to walmart to pick up Frog toggs. I marvel at the strange sensation of being inside a vehicle, and not getting wet.

At this stage I was ready to start heading home. The heat was a little over the top and I felt like Texas was a good mid point. Dan helps me tweak my route to pass through Arkansas and sends me off with some more maps. Being unfamiliar with this area, I would have rode right past. Thanks again for all your help Dan, give me a shout next time you do Mexico and I might just join ya. Cervezas on me this time!

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Old 09-08-2013, 08:36 PM   #192
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Seems like a rain cloud is following me whereever I ride. I stop at Munn Racing near Waco briefly to catch a break and grab a few hard to find bolts for my KTM. Then stop at subway for lunch. The frog toggs are working great, and breathe so well I thought the knees were leaking. I'm dry except for my fancy goretex shoes and gloves. Some plastic bags at subway work great for slipping over my socks.

My god, your hands... they're beautiful!!

I get to Daingerfield and get a text from an ADVer warning me about a big storm cell North East of my location. I park my arse in Daingerfield State Park and make camp early. I just can't get no respect. This is the first time sleeping in the hammock and there are some teething issues. I hung it on the low side, worried about something breaking and me landing on my back. By the middle of the night, the nylon webbing had stretched enough that I was touching the ground with my butt anyways. Plus it was a much cooler sleep than I anticipated. On the flip side, it took me all of 5 minutes to pack up and set off the in morning. This would definitely work for stealth camping.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:55 PM   #193
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I was awake uncharacteristically early, and started hit the border after a breakfast at mcdonalds. Heading north, the first thing I noticed about Arkansas was the amount of roadkill. Seemed like every mile there was a skunk or armadillo on the side of the road. Strangely, I never had any close calls with wildlife crossing the road, so thanks to the cagers for clearing them out for me.

Stopping in De Queen, one of the characters from duck dynasty approaches me. Literally, camo overalls, big beard, no teeth. I tell him about my trip and he recommends going out to the river East of Wickes. Some nice scenery but I couldn't figure out how to actually get down to the river valley.

I keep going North to Magazine Mountain. This is a great stretch of road marked for 20 -30mph. I stop at the top of the mountain and tighten up the chain in the parking lot. Even got to sneak in a free shower at the camp site. Then back down to Paris (haha) for dinner. Sadly the most healthy joint I could find in town was subway.

I found a gorgeous spot to camp, a little place called cove lake. Nice warm water to swim in, free hot showers, and cheap to boot.

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Old 09-08-2013, 09:06 PM   #194
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I didn't sleep well in the hammock again, and got a really late start. Sort of a sleepy riding pace all day. As I came down the other side of the mountain, I pass a guy on a red zx-10 at a rest stop smoking a cigarette. I flash him a peace sign and keep going. A few minutes later, as this scene is playing back in my head, I realize.. wait. Something's wrong, why was there red plastic on the ground beside him? I flip around and head back.

So he pulled in to have a smoke, and the battery died. He doesn't have a phone, has been sittin there for an hour. Does he wave anybody down? Nope. Just sits there smoking and waiting... I offer to let him use my phone, but I don't even get service. "Aw hell, just put the plastic back on it, I'll push start you."

He gets the panels back in place and I'm thinking back to that epic failure when I tried to push the harley. "what gear should I put it in?" He asks.

"I don't know.. it's your bike." I reply.

"Yea but you're the one with the ducati" he says.

I start pushing, and before I can even get up to speed he drops the clutch and it fires right up. I feel a bit redeemed.

I finished off the day by riding to Conway, cleaning my chain at a gas station with a cup of diesel, which later turned out to be a bad idea. I met up with Scott and company, a really energetic family and probably my most entertaining tent space to date. With their great story telling and the magic gizmo I've never seen before (apple tv) there was never a dull moment. And icing on the cake was a cup of real espresso in the morning. What a treat.

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Old 09-08-2013, 09:18 PM   #195
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Location: Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
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I had a chance to ride the three sisters last year when I went back through there - and you're right, it's a great ride.

Too bad I didn't know you were going to Fredericksburg as there is a great little motor court (motel) that ran me $45, just about a half mile off the main drag. Plenty of good food in Fredericksburg, since it is a German based community.

Having lived in Central Texas for more than a decade, I know there are a bunch of music venues open every night with just about any type of music you could desire.

Enjoying your trip and looking forward to the next installment.

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