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Old 05-26-2014, 05:47 PM   #1
Stone_1099 OP
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Texas to the West Coast

“The problem with a map is it makes you want to go places.”

A casual glance gets the creative juices flowing. Ideas begin to formulate. The next thing you know you’ve planned out another big adventure all in the span of twenty minutes. Then the nurse calls your wife and you back for her prenatal checkup. As they check her weight, you get yourself an annoyed glance when they catch you adding a little pressure to the scale. And you’re back to reality.

Flash forward a few more months and my greatest adventure begins when I meet my son. The snooze fest that is pregnancy affords you plenty of time to fill waiting for the big moment. Big Sid’s Vincati – a father and son tale of a lifetime spent around motorcycles - fills the gap. Just reading their story makes me well up with fatherly pride knowing one day I will be sharing my passion with my own son.



Five months later… I’m off on my second long solo trip heading west. The extended family planned a beach vacation in San Diego and my wife insisted I make it a motorcycle trip. What kind of husband would I be if I didn’t listen to my wife? The plan was to ride out and meet them there for a relaxing week of vacation. On the return leg I would spend another week exploring the deserts, canyons and mountains along the way home.

Choosing what to see and where to spend your time is actually a fairly complex task. Add a two month old to the equation and finding any spare time to do research becomes a challenge. After several months of reading ride reports and scrolling through Google Maps, I found myself unable to put the ride all together.



I decided it was finally time for the wall map I always planned on buying. And did it make a difference. For me the map worked best laid out on the kitchen table. Here I was able to get the big picture and mark out the route while checking distances on the laptop. I've since decided against mounting the map on the wall. I think it is best utilized on a work surface.

More to follow...
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Old 05-26-2014, 08:46 PM   #2
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Day 0: Trip Prep

Last year I took my first long trip to Chicago by way of Colorado – kind of a Northwest Loop. (Everything centers around Texas and Chicago for our family. I drug my wife kicking and screaming all the way to Fort Worth with promises of one day moving back to Chicago. Looks like next spring I may get to make good on my promise.) On the ride I had a chance to sort out all my camping gear and weed out what I would not need on the next trip.



I’m using a medium size Wolfman dry duffel to store my camp stove / food, sleeping bag and pad, and other small odds and ends. I had my REI tent in another light dry bag, camp chair and tripod all secured on the pillion. My panniers (pelican cases) store my tools, clothes, hiking shoes, extra water and rain gear. Before the trip I replaced my Ducati Performance tank bag with a Wolfman Rainer bag. I cannot say enough for the quality and usefulness of their products.

My riding gear consists of a Shoei GT Air helmet, Aerostitch Roadcrafter suit, and Alpinestar boots and gloves. I debated about bringing my Gerbing heated jacket and decided to have my wife bring it in her luggage just incase. I would check on the weather forecast later in the week before my return leg.



I'm riding an '08 Ducati Multistrada (Tina) with accessories from Strada Avventurosa: pannier brackets, skid plate, PIAA lights and mount, high fender and fork guards. I just purchased the rear luggage rack from Bang Fabrication a few weeks prior to the trip.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:08 PM   #3
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Day 1: Fort Worth to Guadalupe Mountain National Park - 505 Miles



The morning started off with a light drizzle that slowly developed into a hearty down pour. A good excuse to hang back and miss rush hour traffic and spend a little more time with Johnny. Any rain is good with the drought we're experiencing. I finally headed out around 10am. With 500 miles to ride I wouldn't be able dawdle if I want to reach the campground before sundown.

Guadalupe Mountain National Park was my destination. Set in the Chihuahuan desert, the park is home to Guadalupe Peak - at 8,751 ft it's the highest point in Texas. I would be camping at the Pine Springs campground.

I took I-20 west out of the metroplex until I reached Weatherford. From there it's Highway 180 all the way to the park. The rain stopped by the time I reached Mineral Wells. The city is home to the Baker Hotel.



Completed in 1929 it attracted Hollywood stars and the wealthy as a top tier hotel and spa destination. Long in decline and boarded up, the city just passed a vote to use a portion of tax money to begin renovations.

I stopped for lunch in Albany at the Vintage Vanilla Cafe and had a great sandwich, homemade potato chips and of course a vanilla milkshake. A couple of locals stopped on their way out and asked if I was riding a BMW. They had a bet going on what type of bike I was on because of my Aerostich suit. On the way out of town I passed a restored Sinclair filling station.



Apparently there are many of these old stations across the state that have been restored in small towns. Here is the next one I saw in Snyder, TX.



The temperature was nice and cool for May in Texas and I was enjoying the ride. Each little town along the way acted as a checkpoint and help make the miles go by. The wind began to really blow past Snyder picking up the dirt and dust from the farmland. I began to feel like I was in a scene from the Grapes of Wrath. Like a nice coincidence, Bob Segar's Against the Wind began playing on the iPod.



Racing the setting sun I crossed into New Mexico, rode through the town of Carlsbad and back into Texas. I made it to the the campground and set my tent up before dark. A wind advisory was in effect for the area and gusts came down off the side of the mountain most of the evening. With everything unpacked I settled in for the night.

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Old 05-30-2014, 07:09 PM   #4
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Day 2: Carlsbad Caverns to Tucson - 504 Miles

The next morning I woke up early still tired after a long night of the wind beating my rain fly to death. I packed quickly and got back on the road. Unfortunately I did not have time to spend hiking through the park. I prefer camping in National Parks since most of the facilities are well kept and secure. I treat a lot of these visits as scouting trips for places I'd like to bring the family.



Carlsbad Caverns National Park was first thing on my list that morning. On last years trip I explored two different cave systems: Cave of Winds in Manitou Springs,CO and Wind Cave NP in South Dakota. I would recommend both to anyone in the area.





The road leading into the park is 7 twisty miles climbing up into the mountains. I elected to walk in through the Natural Entrance rather than take the elevator. Once inside I continued the path through the Big Room before riding the elevator back to the visitor center. The whole walk was 2.5 miles and took about 2 hours.

















After grabbing lunch I got back in the saddle and headed for Tucson to meet up with one of my fraternity brothers and his wife. I came back past Guadalupe NP and El Capítan on my way towards El Paso where I would pick up I-10 the rest of the way.



I made really good time and before I knew it I was only 100 miles out. I let Sean and Liz know I would make it in time for dinner and continued to eat up the miles. In Arizona I passed through Texas Canyon. For miles each side of the highway was littered with hundreds of huge granite boulders. They looked as it they were dropped out of the sky. I've never seen a landscape like it. Unfortunately there weren't any pull offs to stop for pictures.

I arrived to a warm welcome, home cooked meal, and to cold beers and time spent out in the shop reminiscing. Though separated by distance and time, the bond you share with some friends never changes. Tomorrow I would ride to California, to the coast, and to my family.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:35 PM   #5
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Day 3: Tucson, AZ to Encinitas, CA - 462 Miles

That morning I spent sometime getting to know Liz (Sean was still catching some Z's). We had only met once before when they were in Texas for a weekend. She told me the story about how Sean and her met on a blind date where they went shooting in the desert. She had told her friend that it would either go well and that he'd be a great guy or that they probably would never see her again.

As we stood around in the kitchen talking I couldn't help but smile at the fact that Sean leaves the inside door to his garage open all the time. From the kitchen you can look right in and see his Porsche. Liz told me shortly after she moved in that she asked him if he wanted the door closed. Sean told her that he keeps it open for better ventilation. For the house or the garage I joked. We agreed he just likes to to look at the Porsche. Who can blame him?


Photo By: Sean Martinez

A good nights rest and a hearty breakfast had me recharged and ready to push on to California. I left out at noon. The family was set to arrive that afternoon at the beach house so I needed to make good time if I wanted to be in time for dinner.


Photo By: Sean Martinez

It would be slab all the way except for a detour along a few state routes in California. I transitioned from I-10 onto I-8 and made my way towards Yuma. The temperature climbed close to 100F. The highway rolled on with Saguaro Cactus dotting the desert on either side. Even with all the vents open my Aerostich was too much with the heat. I strapped the jacket in with my other luggage and continued on a little cooler.

Crossing into California the highway closely parallels the border. For awhile you could actually see the fence off in the distance. I was surprised to find that the highway cut across sand dunes as far as I could see. The Algodones Dunes stretch out over an area of 270 square miles. They are thought to have been formed from the sand / silt deposits of the Colorado River carried across the landscape by the wind.


Stock Photo

As I approached San Diego I had to cross over the Cuyamaca Mountains. I-8 climbs 4000 ft up out of the Imperial Valley in just eleven miles. Here the highway separates and runs through In-Koh-Pa Gorge (eastbound) and Devils Canyon (westbound). It was here riding though Devils Canyon that I encountered the strongest wind gusts I have ever experienced. The winds buffeted me side to side through the cut outs until I emerged not knowing which side the wind would come from. Through one left hand corner I remember leaning way right and still being pushed from the outside to inside lane. Once out of the canyon, I began my decent to the coast. I had a chance to catch my breathe and slow my heartbeat at the Campo Station Border checkpoint while I waited in line as the officers questioned each vehicle.

Through the checkpoint I headed into the Cleveland National Forest where I planned to take SR 79 north. I would connect with SR 78 west through Ramona and the San Pasqual Valley. I rode about ten miles before stopping and deciding it would be well after dark before I reached Encinitas if I continued the back roads. As great a rode SR 79 was, after 400 + miles I was ready to be at my destination. I back tracked to the highway and rolled on to the coast. I made it to the house just after sunset to a warm welcome. Everyone was exhausted from a day of travel and still on central time. We called it a night and looked forward to the morning.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:27 PM   #6
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Nice report I truly enjoyed it
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:23 AM   #7
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Great report so far, its always great to catch up with old friends on a road trip. Hope you get more time to stop and smell the roses during the trip back.
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:13 PM   #8
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Very cool Stone, plenty of great riding here if you have the time.
pm me If interested in a ride tomorrow. Twould be a shame if you didn't at least run up Palomar Mtn once (or twice) while your here.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:39 PM   #9
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Many Thanks

Thanks everyone for the feedback. The trip was a lot of fun and I'm enjoying re-telling it. We always had a saying back in college: "Do it for the story".


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shooby View Post
Very cool Stone, plenty of great riding here if you have the time.
pm me If interested in a ride tomorrow. Twould be a shame if you didn't at least run up Palomar Mtn once (or twice) while your here.
I wish I could take you up on the offer - maybe next time - but I'm back home already. I would love to try and do a ride report as I go on one of my next rides. I thought about it but I decided to focus on stopping for pictures and taking good notes once I was settled in for the evening.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:48 PM   #10
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Day 4 - 9: San Diego Part I

Sunday was a relaxing day. We explored the shops and restaurants along the Pacific Coast Highway there in Encinitas. Our rent house was on the bluff over looking the beach. We spent a lot of time out on the patio enjoying the cool breeze and sun. The stairs down to the beach had been removed at some point (watch that last step...). The patio was set up with some outdoor couches and a hot tub. My son was running a slight fever so we took it easy and kept an eye on him.







On Monday we all ventured out to San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. We arrived just after the park opened. The little guy had a "blowout" and the first time parents we are forgot to make sure we had an extra outfit for him (uh-oh). Luckily we had his Sox hoodie with us for the mean time. After we entered, a park employee was kind enough to call the gift shop owner who gladly opened an hour early for us.





We spent the morning exploring the different areas of the park. We rode the Africa Tram through the different habitats and saw a good variety of the wildlife. After a nice lunch we headed back to the house along the back roads.

All the photos from the park we're take by Jim Miller.
















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Old 06-10-2014, 08:44 PM   #11
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Day 4 - 9: San Diego Part II

We settled into a nice routine the rest of the week. Everyone did his or her own thing and we'd all get together for dinner. My in-laws spent a lot of their time at down at the beach. Each morning my brother-in-law Bryan and his brother Alex would go running (like 8 miles... what some people do for fun!). Kelly & Karly would take the baby down to the local coffee shop, Cafe Ipe, for their morning coffee and breakfast. Bryan’s dad Jim and I took a lot of pictures and played with Lightroom during our down time.

On Wednesday the wildfires broke out. Jim and Alex were up at Camp Pendleton visiting some friends. They were able to get pretty close and got some good pictures of the fire. The following morning we woke to ash scattered on everything outside. You see these things on the news at home but its something different to be so close.


Photo By: Jim Miller


Photo By: Jim Miller


Photo By: Jim Miller


Late in the week the girls decided to try their hand at surfing. They were only able to convince their mom to come along. The rest of us were too bashful to try. I met up with them about half way through their session to grab some “proof”. They both did very well. Part of me started to wish I had gone along with them. Even my mother-in-law ventured out and tried boogie boarding. From the beach we were able to see the fires continuing off in the distance.








Halfway through the trip Johnny was feeling much better. My grandfather has always talked of a coast-to-coast-to-coast ride (we count the Gulf coast separate). We made sure to Johnny got his first taste of the coast. I don’t think he even fussed as much as his mama did about the cold water.




Photo By: Jim Miller


Several of the cafes and restaurants we ate at were amazing. From everything I saw from my week in California, the people are dedicated to their passions. Whether it was fitness, food, a brewery, or some sort of craft, the people really seemed to go all in. It’s refreshing to know that feeling still exists. My career at the big XYZ shipping company can be stressful, frustrating and just plain make me want to quit aggravating at times. But all the BS aside I still enjoy what I do at the core. However seeing all these small independent companies makes me long for my own business with all the rewards and challenges that come with it.



Top 5 Recommendations

Cafe Ipe (Encinitas)
Wonderful customer service

Solterra Winery & Kitchen (Encinitas)
Amazing food - best Scallops we've ever had

Union Kitchen & Tap (Encinitas)
Beer!

George's At the Cove (La Jolla)
Amazing ocean view - try the burger

Karl Strauss Brewery Co. (San Diego)
More Beer!
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Old 07-13-2014, 12:00 PM   #12
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Day 4 – 9: San Diego Part III

The wife and I ventured down to San Diego on Friday to see the naval attractions. We stopped first at the aircraft carrier USS Midway. She was built during the closing years of World War II and was commissioned a week after the end of the war. After 47 years of service, she was decommissioned in 1992 and became a museum in 2004.


Photo By: Jim Miller

Instead of waiting in line to purchase tickets, we bought them online and were able show the ticket barcode on our phones. Isn't technology wonderful? After checking in we proceeded to the bridge tour. This is the only part of the ship that has a guided tour. The staff recommended taking the tour first because it tends to fill up fast and they only take a few people at a time. The tour takes you up through the different levels of the island including the control tower and bridge.


Photo By: Jim Miller



It was really wonderful to stop and chat with the docents that give the tour and are stationed around the ship. They can answer any questions you might have and have great stories to share. We felt very humbled in their presence knowing how many of them served and risked their lives for the rest of us. It reminds me of the lyrics to a song:

“Now as I sit here safe at home
With a cold Coors Lite an' the TV on
All the sacrifice and the death and war
Lord I pray that I'm worth fighting for”
Natural Forces – Lyle Lovett


I could have spent the rest of the day walking through the ship just taking everything in. I highly recommend visiting if you are ever in the area. They have aircraft and helicopter exhibits on the flight and lower deck as well as simulators and a café. I’ve been aboard the battleships Missouri and Texas as well. But I must say that the Midway has been my favorite so far.


Photo By: Jim Miller


Photo By: Jim Miller


Photo By: Jim Miller



After a quick lunch at Karl Strauss Brewery we headed back to the pier to visit the Maritime Museum. The museum is a collection of several different ships and two submarines. For us the submarines were the main attraction. On our honeymoon in Hawaii we visited Pearl Harbor and went aboard the USS Bowfin. She was a WWII era diesel sub. Here at the museum in San Diego are two 60’s era submarines. The USS Dolphin is the US Navy’s last operational diesel submarine. Also on display is the Russian B-39, a foxtrot class submarine.







The technological difference between the two was drastic although expected since the Dolphin was more recently upgraded and used as an experimental platform. The main thing we noticed was the design of the Russian boat was much less operator friendly. My dad has made several trips to Russian the past few years for work. I sent him the picture of the Engine Order Telegraph and he was able to read a few of the settings. After a fun naval history day (my wife is such a trooper) we headed back for one last evening with the family. Tomorrow everyone would head home and I would begin the return leg on my trip.
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Old 07-13-2014, 12:42 PM   #13
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Great images Stone. Thanks!
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Old 07-14-2014, 07:40 AM   #14
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Day 10: Encinitas to Las Vegas – 390 miles

Our time in sunny southern California had come to an end. Everyone headed out the airport early in the morning except Kelly and Johnny. Their flight would leave later that afternoon. The three of us headed to the Birch Aquarium. Johnny enjoyed the bright colors and shapes of all the marine life on display. After a short nap we headed into La Jolla and had lunch at George’s Terrace Café. The views from the restaurant were amazing and the food outstanding. We split a light Caesar salad, potato gnocchi with scallops, and a juicy burger. We had excellent service and will definitely be back the next time we venture west.

Sadly, we said our goodbyes for the next several days and headed out in separate directions. After making my way north along the interstate towards LA, I turned off on Hwy 74 and cut over the I-15 towards Vegas. Hwy 74 was a lot of fun and a good interlude to the slab. My original plan had been to stay the night in the Mojave Preserve. However, I decided that I’d rather error on the side of caution and not head out into the desert alone. That coupled with a late start to the day and a hotel seemed like the right thing to do.

I crossed into Nevada just after sunset and made my way towards the bright glow in the distance. I had booked a room at a hotel just off the strip but never saw my exit. I was looking for SR 592, which I soon realized was Flamingo Rd, but not until I pulled off further down the freeway. I could see the strip but I was on the wrong side of the tracks. Too bad it was so late in the day because after a missed exit and a couple wrong turns, I found myself right by Count’s Kustoms. What are the odds? - pretty good if you’re betting on the house.

Finally I found my way the north end of the strip and began to head south back towards the Flamingo. Traffic was awful, as everyone seemed to be mesmerized by the endless arrays of lights. It might just be me but from the street everything seemed a lot smaller and closer than what I expected. I found the hotel, checked in and got my room key. I pulled into a parking spot, took off my helmet and gloves and was ready to be out of my riding gear.

They say it’s not IF but WHEN you’ll have accident. Within less than a second I realized my mistake, just as gravity took over, and down we went. The kickstand! Over 20k miles and 5 years of riding and never once had I forgotten until now. Thankfully I was centered in the spot and avoided hitting the minivan next to me. With my adrenaline pumping I quickly picked her up gear and all. Defeated I lugged everything into the room, ordered a pizza and called it a night.
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Old 07-14-2014, 08:09 AM   #15
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Great report stone! I have done Texas to the west coast last year, really cool route. Be safe out there.
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