Saturday, August 13, 2011

Souther California post-op

Just pulled into the hostel in Monterey, my LAST stop! So its probably time to update the blog!

Where did I leave off...Vegas? Vegas sucks whe you're broke and alone. Not only would that make a great country song, its true. The Cosmopolitan was awesome; pbr in the mini fridge, a "Karma Sutra" next to the bed, and a huge walk in shower. Of course, you can really only take advantage of one of those thing by yourself, so I just wandered up the entire strip. Vegas is WEIRD, not to mention having the worst drivers, hands down, of the trip. Oh, and it was 116 degrees when I left. At 10:30 in the morning. I found myself closing up my jacket to keep the air OUT; it was like riding through a hair drier.

Vegas to Big Bear was a good ride, once I got out of the desert! I never reallu felt like I was in in Cali until I started seeing pines. Then organic groceries, too-tan older women, and well-preserved vintage cars. Yup, California! I set up camp on the north shore of the lake, then got some Mexican food and caught up on e-mails. The temp plummeted the second the sun went down, so I made a fire and read some law stuff before crashing.

The trip down 18 into San Bernadino was some of the most challenging riding of the trip, and hence the most fun! Once down into the valley, I was thrown right into LA traffic! Drivers there were actually pretty good, just fast.

I got In'N'Out for lunch, in Pomona, then went to Annies place. After a quick shower, I met up with here at the Paramount lot! Got a good tour, and saw three of the leads from 'Glee'. Just my luck. I hate that show!

I then headed down Sunset Blvd, took a picture of of the Whiskey A-Go-Go, then rode by to Annie's through the Hollywood Hills. After Annie got back from work, we met up with her boyfriend Scott, and decided to head Downtown for sushi, mostly because my future roomate saw a picture of The Whiskey I posted on the Facebooks, and was in town! Aftet awesome cheap sushi, we met Cat for a drink then headed home, where I passed out!

I slept in the next day, and didn't leave until 11ish. I went down Mullholland Dr to the 401 and 10 into Santa Monica, where I walked the boardwalk and got some tuna steak sandwich, overlooking the beach. What a beautiful place!

I then went up to Malibu, where I stopped at a small, isolated beach. I waded up to my knees in the Pacific, read some Steinbeck, and listened to some Fleedwood Mac. Perfect.

I didn't leave until 4, and by then, it started getting cold! I froze all the way up to San Luis Obispo, but a hot shower and some bbq downtown warmed me up.

I talk about the PCH later, because I want to go into Monterey!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bryce Canyon

The trip to Bryce Canyon was vY uneventful. The fact that cruising through beautiful canyons and high desert is "uneventful" just proves how amazing this trip has been.

Lunch was in a backwater call The restaurant was clean and locals didn't leer at me, so that's about as much as I can ask for.

My campground was a bit outside the main park, so I first set up my tent, then went on a nice three-ish mile walk down to the Sevier River, then back to the campground restaurant for local beer, river trout, and homemade cream cheese and raisin pie (apparently a local thing).

I woke up early enough to ride up to Bryce and be at the trailhead by 9:30. I went to Bryce Point first, the highest point in the main Bryce ampitheatre. I walked down through the canyon, mostly alone, then back up to Sunrise Point, the lowest point of the rim. I had an excellent lunch of elk chili, bison burger, and a rather good local dark IPA. It was an easy, sloping uphill hike back to Bryce Point along the rim, at which point I went back to the campground, it being almost 5 by now.

I took a shower and did laundry, then rode back up at sunset, all the way to the southermost tip of Bryce. A trip outside the park for a dinner of coffee and enchiladas. By the time I got out, it was dark; as the Stranger says, darker than a black steers tuchus on a moonless prarie night.

Thw temperature dropped almost immediately into the 50s! After an aborted trip back to go stargazing, I retreates to the campsite to put the windproof lining in my jacket, plus a sweater and my jeans under ny riding pants. I then made the 25 mile trip up to the 9,000 ft peak at Bryce, through tight switchbacks, fearing a deer was going to jump infront of my bike.

Sadly, the moon was still out, and at 3/4, way too bright for decent star gazing! I couldn't even look at it, it was so bright.

So I decended the canyon, and promptly passed out at midnight, warm in ny sleeping back, fairly comfortable on a bed of pine needles, with my bike cover as my pillow!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Training for Mars

Sho 'Nuff sez, "Utah is where there
stops being things."

Ross mentioned that driving through this part of the country is like living the last scene from The Terminator. He's absolutely right. But its somehow more engaging than Kansas, even with less stuff. People are more boring than sage brush and antelope. I'm stopped in Green River, after only 90 or so miles, because apparently, the next gas station is 110 miles away.

I think I know how the first people on Mars will feel in 30 years.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Its all about the ride

Boulder was awesome; it was great to see Ross and meet his roomate Max, but the trip out to Grand Junction...was magical.

I'm sitting outside a piano and wine bar, listening to a jazz classical guitarist, but in my mind, I'm still barreling through the rockies.

119 runs West from Boulder, ip through the flat irons and tge runs south west, peak to peak, through the rockies. Switchbacks, rapid altitude changes, fast sweepers; its the kind of road I've dreamed about ever since deciding to ride a motorcycle.

Knowing I'm not exactly a Moto GP rider, and I'm lugging at least 70 lbs os gear with me, I started slowly. I'd take 25 mph curves at a comfy 30, breaking early and keeping a steady throttle. As I started getting into the groove, I started pushing more, alittle bit at a time. 35 mph curves started being taken at 40, 45, 50. I started hanging off the bike more confidently to lessen my lean angle. More than a few times a watched a bike in front of me take a turn at more than twice my speed, but seeing as I was all kitted up, I knew better than to try an chase an MV Agusta F4, or Triumph Street Triple 675. Bother if which I saw at least three of. Boulder is well heeled, after all.

While the 119 was technical and a bit scary, the ride down the rockies was completely exhilerating. Glenn Canyon, maybe 80 miles befoore Grand Junction, is a two lane raised hightway, maybe 40 feet above a roaring river, and boxed in on all sides by huge, sheer rock canyon cliffs. Traffic was clear, and 55 mph sweepers gradually became 80 mph sweepers. The road wpuld twist back and forth, them straighten out, shooting you directly at a mountainside, and through a tube-shaped tunnel.

Amazing. I can only hope LA canyons are as fun.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kansas City and electric motorcycles

Sorry for the backlog; typing on a phone is MADDENING.

The trip from St. Louis to KC was rough, really rough. Missouri is desolate, but without the dramatic vistas of Kansas or Colorado. Think of 300 miles of straight road with just enough Applebees and BP gas stations to keep you technically alive and moving. I stopped in a tiny town of Blackwater. I believe the population was 199, and their claim to fame was that 1972 first-time Democratic VP nominee Thomas Eagleton gave a speach there once. Eagleton was dropped from the D ticket by McGovern when it came to light he had undergone shock therapy for depression a few years earlier. He probably got it from Blackwater.

After getting a wee bit lost in the actaully-fun-to-ride backroads of MO (all street names are letters; TT or V or JJ. And no east/north designations. So you can see how I got lost), I booked it to KC in blistering 104 degree heat. Downtown KC was actually awesome! Probably the biggest surprise of the trip. I got off the bike and changed into street clothes in a garage, then wandered for about 2 hours. The Power and Light district is a cool area of nars and nightclubs and music venues (refreshing lemon gellato, too), and across the interstate is KC's hipster district. Boutiques, design studios, record stores, coffee shops, graffiti, and ild warehouses turned into condos. It all had a distinctly art deco vibe, too.

I then headed for Harry Mallin's house, know on the internet as Brammofan. He's a gov't lawyer in KC, but got into motorcycling a few years ago when he found out an old classmate of his ran Brammo, makers of the most popular electric motorcycle on the market. We became familiar with each other the Hell for Leather Magazine comments section, and he gratiously offered to put me up for the night! After grabbing some awesome Mexican food ans talking bikes, Laguna Seca, the TTXGP, and Law School, I crashed at about 10:30. In the morning, we rode to an unfinished subdivision, amd swapped bikea to put them through their paces. I'll do a full ride report of the Brammo Enertia later, but let's say I was really impressed!

Ok back on the road; I'll type my thoughts on Kansas later.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

St. Louis.


That's really going to be the only thing I remember about St. Louis in a few years. Heat like I've never felt before. I remember the thermometer hitting about 101 in Austin during ACL, but it was a bit drier, and there was a breeze, and it cooled off at night. And, oh yeah, I wasn't wearing layers of motorcycle gear.

It was 102 in St. Louis when I pulled in, but I took an ice cold shower and changed into street clothes after arriving, thinking I'd go out at the evening aroumd 6:30, and walk around the city.

It was 102 in St. Louis when I left the hotel at 6:30, and 99 when I got back in at 10:15. It was humid and hazy, anything over three or four blocks away was almost invisible. I didamage to drag myself down to the banks of the Mississippi, where I was awe'd by the Gateway to the West Arch. Totally worth the trip up, too. I then attempted to ise the St. Louis public transportation system to get some food, but wound up walking about 2 miles when a station cloaed. By the time I got to the restaurant I was going, it was closed. So was everything else, too.

After getting a very sudden and distinct feeling that I was not in the best part of towm at the best time, I called a cab, and ate some ribs at the hotel restauraunt. And know  BEST RIBS EVER. Seriously. The meat just fell off the bone, very little fat, and juat enough sweetly smokey sauce. As always, its best to follow the Hitchhikers creed of "DON'T PANIC".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flashback: Chicago

Hardly seems like a flashback, but I've been too busy to consistantly blog! Impossible on the road, and once I get into a city, I'm immediately figuring out where cool stuff is and walking around. But while its fresh in my mind, here's Chicago.

I pulled into the Felix hotel at around 5; its a hotel my old employer, RFP, owns, so I'm very familiar with, at least, its financial performance (thanks, Mike!)

Never having been to Chicago, I figured I'd go for a walk. But being me, that turned into the rest of my night, essentially! Walked to the canal, saw the Chicago theatre, saw the AMAZING architecture, went to Navy pier and rode the ferris wheel, then went to Millenium park. After realizing I hadn't eaten in about 8 hours, I went in search of food. But there were so many options, I couldn't decide! The problem with being downtown is that a lot of the restaurants are either super expensive, or chitzy, andI didn't have time to really understand the subway and go to a place like Lincoln Park. I did find a piano bar, and woozily steped in for a glass of cold white wine. The duet playing immediately went into a Fleetwood Mac medley. I can't escape them, and I love it! Half drunk (two glasses of wine go to your head on a dehydrated empty stomach), I went back to the hotel restaurant for some great pork, cabbage, and couscous. Wound up meeting a Red Sox fan from Arkansas, into town for an education grant proposal, amd chatting with him amd the waitstaff until closing at 12:30.

I've never been to Chicago. I always kind of mocked it as a lame midwestern New York that just didn't have the worldiness that makes NYC on par with Paris, London,Tokyo, Moscow, or Beijing. And I couldn't have been more wrong. Chicago is awesome. Beautiful, even though it was about 95 degrees with a dew point of 88. It is true though; everybody is wayyyyy more nice than the west coast. I'll have to head back sometime and really get a feel for the city...

Palms cafe

Eating a pork sandwich in the Palms cafe and grill in Atlanta, IL. Its a throwback 50s ish roadside diner, complete with blueplate specials and postwar jazz playing.

Had a great pork loin sandwich and a bowl of chili with lifesaving iced tea. A group on 15 Spaniards on (presumably) rented Harleys came in after me, though they had a "support truck" with all their clotges in it following! Attached is a picture of a giant Paul Bunyon holding a hot dog. Because Illinois. According to the two nice old ladies who ran the Atlanta historical society, its on loan from Cicero.

Monday, August 1, 2011

On the road: Indiana

I think I foumd the only Starbucks in Indiana. I almost killed myself trying to get off the highway when I saw the sign! After miles of Denny's and Arby's, it was a sight for sore eyes. I'll type up my excellent adventure in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor tonight in Chicago, but now I have to get the hell out of Indiana!

Song suck on repeat in my head: "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oates