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Old 09-11-2013, 09:06 AM   #16
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Day six - Riding the Tetons

On day six, I went and rode up to Grand Teton National Park, about 100 miles from our hotel in Idaho Falls. Rt 26 is an incredibly beautiful two-lane road that passes through the mountain foothills and gets twistier the further east you go. It was a spectacular ride and I got some amazing photos. This place, as well as Yellowstone, are both on my list of "Revisit ASAP."

Here are some pics from the ride up and into the Tetons:

Mid-morning, from just outside the chapel on the edge of the park:
IMG_0555

Panorama from behind the chapel:
Tetons Panorama 1

Antler sculpture in Jackson, WY
P8280151

Chuck, my roommate for the 2013 COG National, on his ST1300. We rode together for half the day, and then he headed back to the hotel (he was in charge of prizes and giveaways for this year's National. A really nice guy and we had a lot of fun hanging out.)
P8280154

Park entrance sign:
P8280158

Me and Ziggy sure are a long way from home...
P8280161

Peaks obscured by clouds:
P8280164

Signal Lake, from the Lodge. Good lunch there. The hummus and cucumber sandwich was lovely, as was the marionberry pie for dessert.
P8280168

Mountains and foothills. Reminded me of a Bob Ross painting:
P8280171

I had stopped to snap a few pictures at the same time that a really nice lady from California had pulled off to do the same. She offered to take my pic, and I thought this turned out really nicely:
Me in the Tetons

Peaks and valleys, really beautiful. Shame that shortly after I took this, I got utterly drenched in a downpour. Sideways rain was blasting me for a good half hour.
P8280191

I really cannot put into words just how beautiful western Wyoming is. I was completely and utterly besotted with the terrain out there. The mountains, the forests, the lakes and rivers, it just blew my mind. I still get chills down my spine thinking about how immense this place is, and how small we all are in comparison to it.

Day seven is up next, with a trip to Lava Hot Springs, my penultimate day in Idaho Falls.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:35 AM   #17
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Elk not caribou

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoneTraveler View Post
Day four, part 2. Powell, WY to Idaho Falls, ID. 285 miles.

Continuing on in Yellowstone, we had a really awesome time riding the access road. Quite a nice set of curves out there, and the surface was excellent for the most part.

Here's a money shot of my bike. I like how this turned out:
P8260110

Traci took this while riding pillion. She's quite the motophotographer!
P8260114

Beautiful forest:
P8260124

I believe this is a caribou (please do feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...)
P8260128

Almost there! Interesting fact, as I understand it, about the Continental divide, is that all rivers on one side flow to the Atlantic ocean, and all rivers on the other side flow to the Pacific. (At least, that's what Stephen Fry said, in this very same spot.)
P8260137

We arrived at the hotel mid afternoon, checked in, and went over to hang out at the free BBQ they were having at a campground down the road. I had a few beers, so didn't get many pictures. It was a fun time, with good food and I even got some good information about the roads heading west after the National.

2013 COG National BBQ:
IMG_0544

Day 5 is up next: The Windfarm
IT is an elk, not a caribou!
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine By Choice View Post
IT is an elk, not a caribou!
Thank you for the clarification, will correct the info.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:20 PM   #19
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Day seven - Lava Hot Springs, COG banquet, final day in Idaho Falls.

On my final day in Idaho Falls, I decided to go ride with this fellow named Duane, down through the wind farm again, and to a town called Lava Hot Springs, about an hour and a half south of Idaho Falls. At first, I thought he was crazy, since the region was in the middle of a pretty nasty heatwave. Figuring, "What the hell, I'm here, might as well go check it out..." I went. Here are some pics:

This was the medium temperature pool. The "hot pool" was so hot, I jumped out like a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water:
P8290209

Very nice facility, and not too terribly expensive either:
P8290214

Very relaxing place, will go there again, maybe in winter though:
P8290216

The sunshades were quite pleasant, and necessary. It was well into the 90s that day:
P8290218

A resident of the facility, quite the cute little fella:
P8290220

Parting shot, quite the lovely place:
P8290223

After we were done, we hightailed it back to Idaho Falls for the COG group picture, and then the banquet dinner. I was a little sad that the rally was coming to an end, but also excited to hit the road to California the next day.

Here are some pics of the hotel, and around the banquet:
IMG_0565

Idaho Falls:
IMG_0568

IMG_0570

IMG_0571

Banquet party in full swing:
IMG_0575

I had a great time out there. Admittedly, though, a lot of the good riding was some distance away from where we stayed, but the atmosphere was quite nice, and everyone at the Hotel on the Falls was friendly and helpful. Special mention goes to this young fellow named Brandon who works the front desk. He's a really nice guy and has an awesome sense of humour. If you're in town, check this place out.

Next up in the series will be day eight, Ziggy's California Adventure!
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:48 PM   #20
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Day eight - Ziggy's California Adventure!

It has been my dream, since I first threw a leg over a motorcycle, to ride across the United States, from New Jersey to California. For the past 3 years, I've been planning this trip, losing 140lbs, buying a Concours 14, getting it exactly how I wanted it, and so on and so forth.

I honestly tried not to over think things too much, I just went where it seemed interesting, and took roads that looked like they'd get me to where I wanted to go. Spending a week in Idaho Falls gave me a chance to rest up, look over everything, and also get to see Yellowstone and the Tetons, which were on my bucket list anyway.

I had arranged to stay with my friend and co-worker, Gil, and his wife Catherine, at their home in Oakland, CA. They're a really awesome couple, and I can't say enough good things about them. Gil and I have worked together for the past 4 years, he in California, I in New Jersey. This was our first meeting in the flesh after all these years, and we picked up just as if we were collaborating on another project.

Left Idaho Falls around 8am local time, and got to Gil and Catherine's house around 8:30 their time. I rode south down Rt 15 to I-80, just outside Elko, NV. It was HOT. Temps were in the mid 90s that day, and the further south and west I went, the hazier it got. At a truckstop, a state patrolman explained that the haze was from the smoke from the fires in Yosemite National Park, and the wind had carried it out into the desert. I made it a point to just get the miles out of my way, and thankfully, there was minimal traffic, and I was able to cross the desert without issue.

I didn't stop to take any pictures, partially because it was so hot, and also because I wanted to make good time. I made fuel/water stops in Elko, NV, Winnemucca, NV, Lovelock, NV, and Colfax, CA. Crossing into California on I-80, I started to get emotional again. I had DONE IT! New Jersey to California, on my own motorcycle, my dream bike!

Eastern California in the areas around I-80 is really quite stunning. Beautiful evergreen forests, mountains, lakes, and so on. Yet another place on my "Revisit ASAP" list.

Next up is day nine, the adventure continues.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:05 PM   #21
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Day nine - The Adventure Continues...

Day nine saw me waking up to this incredibly scenic and bucolic view:
IMG_0577

I had had some indication that this area was quite pretty, but no idea it was this nice! After waking up, me, Gil, and Catherine went into downtown Oakland to the farmer's market, and to have brunch at a local Cuban restaurant. I decided to take a day off from riding the bike, and just hang out and relax.

On our way to the market, we met up with Gil and Catherine's friend, Paul, who drives this sweet VW Microbus. I usually don't take pics of myself, but I dig old Volkswagens, so this was really cool:
IMG_0580

The farmer's market downtown. The selection of produce and other items here was amazing!
IMG_0581

Downtown Oakland, quite a nice place, really:
IMG_0582

This was a really awesome Cuban band playing at the restaurant, called Caña:
IMG_0583

Lake Merritt, quite a nice place:
IMG_0586

After brunch, we walked around downtown for a bit, before heading back up into the hills for a nice, relaxing afternoon. I took a few pictures with Gil from Skyline Drive, just up the road from where they live:

IMG_0596

Sunsets are so much nicer in California...
IMG_0600

Fog rolling in. Sorry about the quality, digital zoom on my old Canon isn't as good as on the iPhone and Olympus I was using:
IMG_0603

I like how this one turned out:
P8310224

Fog over San Francisco:
P8310229

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog:
P8310231

Gil is a huge Oakland A's fan, and after dinner, we went down to the stadium to watch the post-game fireworks. I've never been good at photographing them, but the Olympus Tough has a pretty neat mode for capturing them, and I think this turned out pretty well:
P9010243

A great end to a great day out. Next up is day ten, riding into San Francisco and the Pacific Coast Highway.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:53 PM   #22
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Day ten - San Francisco and the Pacific Coast Highway (part one)

On day ten, another friend and co-worked, Allen, wanted to meet up for breakfast as the Café Trieste in North Beach, a lovely neighbourhood in San Francisco. I decided to ride the bike over, as I wanted to ride on the Golden Gate Bridge. The Oakland Bay Bridge was closed that weekend, as they were working on getting the new span connected and set up.

I got there a little early, so I snapped a few pictures.

Here's the Transamerica Building:
P9010248

Interesting art/graffiti:
P9010249

Edge of Chinatown:
P9010250

Cool streetlight art:
P9010251

To my surprise, when I went to leave, I heard someone talking rather loudly behind me. Turned around, and the gent in the lower left is the one and only Bruce Villanch! I didn't want to bother him, so I just snapped a quick picture, and then rode away:
P9010256

After brunch, I decided to head out to the PCH, but wanted to hit the Embarcadero first, and get a few pics of the waterfront. I also wanted a pic of my bike with palm trees in it, since we don't have those in New Jersey...

P9010259

San Francisco is for lovers too, doncha know!
P9010260

I could sit here all day, I genuinely love this city and its environs:
P9010261

I rode across the bridge in the shot above, and made my way toward the PCH and the Pacific Ocean. This was a huge moment for me, as I had never traveled over land, on my own, this far before. I felt an immense sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at finally having done so.

My first stop on the PCH was the town of Pacifica. It was quite a bit cooler here than in Oakland, and cloudier too. No bother though, I was out riding along the Pacific!

The beach was already starting to get busy, with folks out enjoying the day:
P9010266

I finally did it! Here I am in front of the Pacific ocean:
P9010268

A little further down the road, I turned off to snap a pic of the cliffs on the coastline:
P9010269

Traffic started to get really bad, owing to the long weekend, and the Oakland Bay Bridge being closed, so I went a little further south, then rode through the valleys along Rt 92, to the San Mateo bridge, and then back to Oakland.

That night, me, Gil, and Catherine went out for dinner. I had wanted Cioppino, so we went to this Italian place called Fillippo's, in Oakland. Very good food and reasonably priced too.

Another great end, to another great day, Cioppino!
Cioppino in Oakland

Next up is day 11, riding with Paul, and my last day in California.
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Old 09-12-2013, 08:53 AM   #23
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Day eleven - Point Reyes National Seashore, and my last day in California.

While hanging out with Gil and Catherine, I was introduced to their friend Paul, who rides a gorgeous ZRX1200. We had been e-mailing back and forth for a while, and it was good to finally meet him. We decided to do a ride up the PCH on Monday, Labour Day, before I started to head back home on Tuesday.

We started our day out with a nice ride along Skyline Dr in the Oakland hills, and pulled off at "The Wall" to snap a pic of the city below:
IMG_0623

It was really beautiful up there, just a shame that there were no other bikes around! I had hoped to meet some of the other veteran riders of the area, but that's for a future trip, I suppose.

I like how this turned out:
IMG_0626

After riding across the San Rafael bridge to Marin County, we road on Lucas Valley Rd, which a very twist, incredibly fun ride in the peninsula just north of San Francisco. Paul had a GoPro on his helmet and took some videos of us riding (still waiting on this, but will add once ready.) After we had done quite a nice loop, we rode up the PCH to Point Reyes National Seashore. Once there, we walked along the cliff to find a nice spot to eat lunch (we got sandwiches in a little town just off the PCH. Nice place, but no bathrooms!)

Looks like I found the end of the world, and it is utter paradise:
End of the World

One thing I thought I should mention: I like to listen to music while I ride. Over the past 5 years, I've found that having really epic music playing while in a really epic place can make the experience so incredibly special. While out on the PCH, I had a mix going with some newer stuff, some older stuff, and the pièce de la resistance, Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright." That song worked so well, riding on the PCH, sun in the sky, ocean breeze blowing. It felt great to be alive.

Of note, also: there's only one road going up to the lighthouse at Point Reyes, and it's pretty bad in spots. The Concours 14 handled it without any major drama, but I couldn't imagine riding this on a Harley or a sportbike. Probably best to take a dual sport up there, really.

So enough of my blathering on, here are some more pics:
IMG_0628

I'm somewhat afraid of heights, but this view really sucked me in, so to speak:
IMG_0629

I really liked how this turned out:
IMG_0632

There were seals hanging out in this cove, and we could hear them bark and yelp from time to time. Sounded like they were having a really good time down there:
IMG_0639

IMG_0642

IMG_0645

I had an awesome time in California, so much so that I'm planning on moving out there in 2014. (Small life goal, move to California before I'm 30, might just make it, or shortly after my birthday.) Alas, I still had many miles ahead of me, and so this was my last day there. The following day would see me making the return journey home to New Jersey.

Next up in the series, Day twelve, Oakland to Salt Lake City, coming soon.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:19 AM   #24
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Intermission - Motivation, the Ride, and why we do what we do...

Taking a pause from writing more about the ride, to give some insight into the planning, the motivation, and the desire to just hop on a motorcycle, leave everyone and everything behind, and ride for thousands of miles across the United States.

I had never done such a thing before, on this scale. Last year, I rode to Arkansas. That was test 1, to see what my limits were, and if I could handle anything that happened while out on the road. Being away from my partner and our pets, my home, and so on. I'd traveled a lot in college, but I often feel that that was another life. For many years, I started to worry that I had lost my sense of adventure, that I was giving up on my dreams. My relationship has been going sour over the past year or so, and I feel that it's coming to an end. So this journey was really equal parts desire to think things through, to visit the places my grandfather never got a chance to see, and to test my own limits.

So many on this site talk about the concept of the journey of the self. AntiHero puts it down pretty well when he says:

"...what we have and who we have can always be taken away. The ONLY thing we have that’s permanent (somewhat) is who we are. As long as we're alive and not insane, we are all we can be sure we have."

Finding myself, all over again, as I approach 30, was really important to me. For the past 5 years, I'd been just sort of floating along, riding the tide, and hoping I didn't run aground. I'm not unhappy with my life, just certain details of it. I process things, and clear my head of all the detritus that periodically builds up, by getting on my bike, and riding far and fast. Some people go to church, some meditate, others turn to drink or drugs, still more react with violence or apathy. I suppose there are worse things I could be doing...

I realise that this is rambling somewhat. I've been trying to organise my thoughts from while I was on the road, and have come to the conclusion that they always come back to the same rough idea:

"I exist to do this. I exist to help others. I exist. I exist. I fucking exist!!!"

Full-on self-awareness is one of the most life-affirming things anyone can ever experience. I thought I knew what feeling and being alive was, but I didn't. Not until I was about a thousand miles from home, crossing into Minnesota, and it hit me. "Asshole, you're doing it. You're finally getting your shot at a dream come true." I still get a little emotional thinking about this. I had sacrificed so many things over the years: friendships, time with family, money, possessions, and so on, for the sake of others. For once, I was doing something for me. Really helps to put things into perspective.

One as yet unresolved issue is, what in the hell do I do now to top this? I'm planning on moving to California next year, and then from there, it's a giant question mark looming in the sky, just above the Pacific Ocean.

I look forward to figuring out the next steps, on my own time, and on my own terms.

Return journey is up next. Thanks for following along, to all those who made it this far!
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Old 09-13-2013, 03:17 PM   #25
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Day twelve - The Long Ride Home - Oakland, CA to Salt Lake City, UT - 725 miles

After a quick breakfast, I hit the road at 8am local time, and hopped onto I-80, to head back across Nevada, to stop for the night in Salt Lake City.

Along the way, I hit a patch of rain just outside of Beowawe, NV, and pulled into a rest area to seek shelter and put on my rain gear. Here are some pics:

Part of the California trail:
IMG_0650

Ziggy in the rain:
Rain in Beowawe, NV

Nevada was quite a bit clearer on the way back, and it appeared that the smoke from the Yosemite fires was lessening quite a bit. It was still quite hot, but only touched into the mid-90's for a short while.

Crossing into Utah, I stopped at a gas station right down the road from the Bonneville Salt Flats, and took a few pics of the mountains, and the flats in the area:

IMG_0652

IMG_0653

A whole lot of nothing out here...
IMG_0654

I rode across 80 toward SLC, and the immense emptiness of the place really stuck me. At least in the Nevada desert, there is scrub and other bushes. Western Utah is literally devoid of life. Apart from telephone poles, there was nothing else there for miles and miles.

Coming up on SLC, I made a few quick observations:
1. The bugs here made South Dakota look like a walk in the park.
2. The smell of the lake, in the heat, was really quite unpleasant.
3. I was shocked at the number of people just walking along the side of I-80 at night. Young people at that. Quite dangerous...

I had no hotel planned, and just figured I'd check Google Maps for what was available. Made a few phone calls, and decided on the Quality Inn by the airport. It was an ok hotel, but the first room I was in had a disconnected sink drain in the kitchenette, leaking a nasty, foul-smelling effluent all over the floor. So they moved my room. No big deal, but a pain considering I was exhausted, and just wanted to have a quick dinner, and then go to sleep. All in all, though, a good day out. 725 miles covered, bike was running good, and I was feeling good.

Day thirteen coming up soon - SLC to Ogalalla, NE.
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Old 09-13-2013, 05:32 PM   #26
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This ride report is brilliant. I love the text about finding yourself.
I also love the US and your vast expanses of Fantastic roads and scenery.
Keep the report coming young man. I'm sat with a beer as the wind and rains of Autumn (Fall) arrive in the uk . Well northern England anyway
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Old 09-14-2013, 07:46 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MR Q 0577 View Post
This ride report is brilliant. I love the text about finding yourself.
I also love the US and your vast expanses of Fantastic roads and scenery.
Keep the report coming young man. I'm sat with a beer as the wind and rains of Autumn (Fall) arrive in the uk . Well northern England anyway
Thanks for the kind words! Am taking a day off or so from writing, to get out and ride today. Will post up the next installment tonight or tomorrow.
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Old 09-14-2013, 09:02 AM   #28
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Looks like a fun trip. Thanks for the ride along.
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:36 AM   #29
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Great story you've got going, can't wait to see how this turns out.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:26 AM   #30
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Nice balance of text and pictures and well written! Thanks for sharing.

Later
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