United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 30 May, 2012 02:09:32
We arrived at Stephen Gaulin's place in Scottsdale, Arizona. Stephen is a friend of Kevin's and he invited us over to stay for a couple of days. He has a real nice sand coloured desert house on the outskirts of Phoenix. We had a great time hanging out with Stephen and in his garage we could do our motorcycle maintenance and in my case unfortunately a lot more. Last week a series of unsavoury events happened as my side stand broke off, the cross-pipe of my exhaust cracked, my right fork seal started leaking and the housing of my fuse box seemed to have dissappeared. Carl Santora helped us out with the side stand, sending one by priority mail from Texas. It arrived in time so we could mount it on the bike and it is a real asset compared to the old stock bmw side stand. We found a welder that could weld the stainless steel exhaust pipe and all the other things we could do ourselves. Changed the oils and fork seals, set the valves, put on a new rear tire and we installed a Toastertan lower fork brace. Toastertan is the name of Stephen's enterprise in making triple clamps and braces for motorcycles. The new fork brace is solid as a rock, in my opinion way better than the tiny bmw one. It stiffens the fork and hopefully will prevent stiction and fork seal leaks. Check this link for Stephen's photo documented write up about all the maintenance and repairs we did: http://www.pbase.com/toastertan/k__j All the work has been done now and the bikes are ready for the next stage of our trip: Mexico
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 25 May, 2012 05:39:21
Although Utah is more spectacular from a scenic perspective, riding around in Colorado is more fun because of the twisty roads and mountain passes. We especially liked the sweepers of the Grand Mesa. But also the road from Aspen to Twin Lakes via Independence pass and the US 550, known as the million dollar highway, are very scenic. In Buena Vista we met two American dirt bikers, Lee and Gordon, who recommended us to take Cottonwood pass, the highest pass in Colorado, and the black canyon of the Gunnison. Whereas Utah was barren and dramatic, Colorado is green. Pine trees, lakes and moutains. In fact Colorado is just as I imagined it to be. From Durango we rode into the dust bowl of New Mexico. In the afternoon we got caught in a fierce sand storm. The wind was blowing so hard that at one point me and my bike got swept to the opposite traffic lane. Before me I saw Kevin disappear in a sand cloud that was blown out off the desert onto the road. We decided to stop at Shiprock. But since there was no accommodation there we had to do another 30 miles to Farmington before we could take shelter. New Mexico, what a pit it is. Scrap yards, pawn shops, car wash and sad Navajo's. Don't go there! The next day the weather was better and we rode on to Monument Valley.
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 21 May, 2012 06:50:55
We have seen quite a few canyons and rock formations by now. But it still is an overwhelming experience to ride around on a motorcycle in this scenery. It makes you feel humble and small. You simply don't know where to look because it is beautiful all around you. Nowhere I found the rock formations so elaborate as in Arches national park. Some of them look man made. From Arches we rode back to Moab to stay there for the night. But accommodation was so horrendously expensive there that we decided to move on. And that is how we stranded in Naturita, Colorado, a small village with 750 inhabitants. It was Saturday night so we went out to the saloon where normally a country band is playing. But this night they had a reggae band over from Grand Junction. The band was not too bad and we had a good time chatting a bit with the locals. That is how we found out that the uranium used in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs originated from right here. Naturita's awkward claim to fame.
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 17 May, 2012 05:28:34
We are now in what you can call canyon land. An area from Arizona into Utah dotted with national parks. Grand Canyon, Marble Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Monument Valley to name a few. That means no more long hauls for us to reach a destination of interest. Here all destinations of interest are close by and even the ride between the various national parks is spectacular. It is a very arid region with beautiful red white and yellow coloured rock formations. Fantastic for photography: blue sky, red rock, yellow grass, green trees. You have to beware of the Indians though. They can show up at any time, attack you from behind and kill you with their tomahawks and spears. Fortunately I carry a Colt 45 on me. Grand Canyon is truely grand. Touristy but very dramatic. We camped out in the national park. My favourite so far however is Zion. A very little park with beautiful red layered rock formations. Tomorrow we are going to visit Bryce Canyon and after that we will slowly move east on our way to Colorado.
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 13 May, 2012 06:54:12
From San Francisco we hopped over the Tioga pass on our way to Death Valley. We stopped for the night in Big Pine. The next day we entered Death Valley which is really awesome but unbelievably hot. Riding around in Death Valley on a motorcycle is possible this time of the year but don't try it in summertime otherwise you will find your final destination to be the Devil's Playground. A bit dehydrated we arrived at Furnace Creek. We had a good lunch there, drank a few buckets of water and then moved on via the very scenic Artist's Drive to the plastic city of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas facade is a phenomenon by itself and that to me is the only interesting thing about it. Eat, drink, gamble and fuck seem to be the Vegas imperatives. The first three loudly advertised on electronic billboards, the last one offered more clandestine by latin american touts. Las Vegas is cheap in every sense of the word. Fortunately that also means cheap accommodation. So we decided to stay for a couple of days, do some bike maintenance and then head on to the Grand Canyon.
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 10 May, 2012 23:16:45
After the endless roads of Oregon we entered California and had our first stop in Susanville. The next day we pressed on to Carson city, Nevada to see Mono lake. From there we crossed the Sierra Nevada via Sonora pass back into California on a very very cold ride. Altitude almost 10,000 feet and temperatures well below freezing. On the pass we warmed our hands on the bike's cylinders. The ride into Yosemite national park was really nice: beautiful scenery and lots of twisties and switchbacks. Since we were only 130 miles away from San Francisco we decided to go there. When I parked my bike on the Embarcadero the first thing I saw was a couple strawling around butt naked. Apparently no indecent exposure but freedom of expression to Frisco standards. When I asked a guy whether this was normal he answered: "You can do that in San Francisco but you can't piss on the sidewalk".
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 05 May, 2012 03:32:58
From White Salmon, Washington we rode all the way through Oregon following the Central Oregon Highway and the US 395 heading for California. We drank coffee at a couple of villages, Tygh and Spray, where not much has changed since the days of Abe Lincoln. I still regret not having taken a picture of Tygh's saloon. We stopped for the night at John Day, where every self respecting man has a goaty and drives a pickup truck. The next day we ate delicious soup at Burns, saw a huge ranch every now and then and for the rest there is not too much to tell. Riding these endless roads gets you in a kind of pensive mood. If it wasn't for the strong wind gusts the riding would have been really relaxing.
United StatesPosted by Jan Lamers 01 May, 2012 05:53:35
We had a very enjoyable weekend at White Salmon. The weather was really beautiful for a change and mount Adams and mout Hood were out of the clouds all day. On Saturday we helped out our neighbours Jeanne and Steve bottling two barrels of the 2010 vintage of their wine. The wine is called Goodness Gracie named after their dog Gracie. It's a very nice blend of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Already very well drinkable with a potential to mature for a good couple of years. Check out the good wines they make at www.majorcreekcellars.com. In the evening we ended up in the hot tub with Jeanne and Steve looking at the stars. On Sunday we took out our bikes to ride Southern Washington. Riding without the heavy luggage in nice weather is much more enjoyable than having to fight your way through wind, rain and cold on an overloaded bike. Tomorrow we will make our way south through Oregon.