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Posts Tagged ‘ Honda Varadero ’

September 14th, 2011 - Lady Luck Smiles Three Times By GP

I spent a couple of days in Reno with my new friend Doug and his wife Sara, where I visited Lake Tahoe, enjoyed great conversation and received great tips and advice from Doug who is also planning a trip to Ushuaia Argentina. Doug and Sara are great people; I continue to be impressed with the kindness of people I met during my adventure. (More on this later, today was an eventful day.)

This morning I set out early with the intention of reaching Death Valley. Heading along highway 395 north, the road was perfect, traffic was light and the scenery was amazing. I could see desert mountains, a few lakes and clear skies. I have not been in such desert conditions before on my motorcycle and was in my own world enjoying the view. I took and nice corner on the 395 and suddenly the view changed, I saw only red and blue flashing lights on top of a Nevada State Trooper patrol car. I pulled over and a rather large but smiling Trooper approached. I rarely get out of speeding tickets and was not expecting to this time, here is how it unfolded.

Lady Luck Smiles – the First Time

Trooper: Sir you took that corner back there a little fast. I had you at 85mph and this is a 70mph highway.

Me: 85mph really?

Trooper: Where are you going in such a hurry? Is this your map? (looking at the map on my tank bag).

Me: I am going to Argentina.

Trooper: Really? You’re going to ride this motorcycle to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir

Trooper: All the way to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir, All the way to Argentina.

Trooper: I would like to see you get there in one piece, slow down a little.

Me. Yes sir, good idea.

Trooper: Have a nice day.

I couldn’t believe it; I just got off a speeding ticket! I carefully merged back on the highway and watched my speed while continuing to enjoy the scenery. Soon I noticed the signs for highway 50 (the loneliest road in America) and got off the 395 to head east on 50. I passed through a small town and was soon on a long stretch of highway. With no cars in sight, alone on the highway I started to accelerate, enjoying the desert view, the rush of motorcycling and excited to reach Death Valley. Again my view was interrupted by red and blue flashing lights on top of a Nevada State Trooper patrol car. I pulled over, took my helmet off and waited for the Trooper to approach.

Lady Luck Smiles – The Second Time

Trooper: Sir, can I please ask you to stand on the other side of the motorcycle.

Me: Ok

Trooper: Do you have any weapons?

Me: No sir.

Trooper: Do you know why I stopped you? Divers license please.

Me: I’m sure you stopped me for going a bit too fast.

Trooper: Do you know what the speed limit is on this highway.

Me: Well it’s a major highway so it should be 70.

Trooper: At this part it is 50, just ahead it is 70. (pointing down the road)

Me: Oh I see

Trooper: How long have you been travelling?

Me: Almost 2 months.

Trooper: Wow! Really? And what is the best thing that happened to you so far?

I told him about my stop back in Oregon for coffee and pie where the charming woman let me ride her horse. I mentioned about how nice everyone has been to me and how much I am enjoying the people here in the western US.

Trooper: Where are you going from here? (handing me back my license).

Me: Argentina.

Trooper: Really? You’re going to ride this motorcycle to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir

Trooper: All the way to Argentina?

Me: Yes Sir, All the way to Argentina.

Trooper: Be careful. And have a nice time in the US.

I can’t believe it! I just got off my second speeding ticket and only 1 hour apart. I decided not to push my luck and made a real effort to watch my speed. In a state where gambling and prostitution is legal, the least I could do is slow down.

I continued along highway 50, enjoying the desert with its hard flat fields, rock covered mountains and long straight highway. Suddenly off to my right appeared a very large sand dune. It was out of place, everything else was brown and there to my right was a large white sand dune. I had to check it out. I entered what turned out to be “Sand Mountain Recreation Area”. The place was almost isolated, except for a few people on ATV’s enjoying the sand dune.

Lady Luck Smiles – The Third Time

I was watching the ATV’s on the sand dune when suddenly the front of my bike began to fish tail. I had not been watching the road and was now in deep loose sand. I attempted to control the bike with steering, no luck, it continued to jerk around. I released the throttle and the bike began to tip, so I gave it more throttle and the bike went upright. Wow that was close, or so I thought! Suddenly the back of the bike was fish tailing, followed by the front again. I started to go down, could not control the bike and knew I was going over. I hit the engine kill switch. It then felt like I giant had reached out of the sand and grabbed the bike, pulling it upright. I on the other hand, kept going flying through the air. All I could see at first was white sand, then clear blue sky and my black motorcycle boot. The boot was high in the air. Hitting the sand shoulder first, I flipped completely over and ended up in soft white sand on my stomach. I felt no pain, checked myself over and found no injuries, just sand down my pants. I looked over at the bike and it was almost perfectly upright, buried up to the foot pegs in sand. The sand was acting like a center stand.
A quick inspection of the bike revealed no visible damage. I moved some sand away, got back on the bike and was able to slowly drive it out of this mini dune, to more solid ground. I did a closer inspection of the bike and found nothing wrong. So I went in search of lunch, which I found at a small ghost town on highway 50.

The bike preformed as it always has been as I continued towards Death Valley. Construction delays prevented me from making great time and I am now in the town of Beatty Nevada, waiting until tomorrow before entering Death Valley. I hope Lady Luck continues to follow me.

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September 11th, 2011 - A turn of events – Yosemite, CA By GP

I woke up this morning to beautiful sunshine ready to hit the road and make it to Yosemite National Park. I grabbed breakfast at a fast food place, a fried ham and cheese sandwich. The morning ride was hot but not uncomfortable and offered lots of twists and turns, great for motorcycling. I watched my odometer turn to 40,000km while on a great twisty hill and was able to celebrate this event on a restaurant patio right at the top.  What a great morning!

The menu was limited and I ended up ordering a ham and cheese sandwich, forgetting that I had that for breakfast. As soon as the food arrived a very beautiful Latina woman sat at the table next to me and asked if that was my motorcycle? She expressed great interest in my trip and was surprised at how far I have already travelled. I was thoroughly enjoying the conversation and so far it had been a perfect day. Being a gentleman I offered her a ride. The disapproving look from her husband put a quick end to that idea. It was fun and I finished my lunch in high spirits.

Back at the bike I needed to apply more sunscreen as the sun was still beating down. I tried to sneak another look at the Latina lady and while doing so put a glob of sunscreen right in my eye. Wow did it sting! It was like a bee was in my eye.

Making it to Yosemite was easy and after paying my $10 entrance fee I stopped to review the park map. My eye was feeling better but stomach started feel a bit upset. I was not too concerned; it did not feel that bad. Yosemite was a nice park but not as exciting as the others I have been in this journey. Dark clouds started to move in and photo opportunities were not as frequent. I stopped just before the Tioga Pass to put my rain gear on as it was obviously raining further in the mountains. Tioga Pass is 11,526 feet and I could feel the air getting thinner and it was affecting my breathing. The rain gear was almost on when the rain started, and then it started to hail! The hail was coming down fast and was hitting the top of my head, hard, and it hurt, so I decided to put my on helmet.

When I stood up to get my helmet I felt lightheaded and the world started to spin. I caught my balance, grabbed my bike and then violently threw up. I didn’t see that coming. I was shocked but happy I missed the bike.  Then I heard a woman’s voice “Oh my, are you Ok, let me look at you I am a nurse”. Oh man, how embarrassing, I don’t need a nurse and I had no idea how full the parking lot was until that moment. She had a gentle touch, asked a thousand questions and after making me promise to relax there awhile, she pronounced me healthy.  Once she was out of sight, I was back on my bike.

I was pelted with more rain and hail over the Tioga Pass but eventually made it through and continued on to Carson City, Nevada and called it a night. I am going to get some food soon, something that does not have ham or cheese and maybe I should eat alone.

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September 10th, 2011 - San Francisco By Gp

Continuing south on highway 101 towards San Francisco I decided to turn onto highway 1 and stay close to the shoreline. It was much colder and foggier than I had imagined, not really much to see except the car in front of me. Patches of clear sky would sometimes appear and reveal an amazing scene, high cliffs and waves smashing into the shore. Highway 1 was full of twists and turns and was lots of fun to drive.

Getting back on the 101, head to San Francisco was a bit of a shock. The heat hit me like a punch to the face. Unbelievable how much hotter it was once I moved away from the shore line. I unzipped my jacket to allow air to pass through, but it was of little help, it was hot. The next thing I knew, I was on the Golden Gate Bridge! The bridge came up with little warning, down a hill, a bit of a curve and then you’re on the bridge, I moved into the slow lane to enjoy the moment.

I arrived at Dennis and Dominic’s garage easily enough. (These were the guys I met in the Yukon on the classic bikes). I think they were surprised to see me but very welcoming. I was given a tour of their amazing collection of bikes and was later treated to dinner and gave me a great tour of the city at night. I spent the night in their workshop sleeping among some really cool classic motorcycles. I guess if I can’t sleep nest to a beautiful woman classic motorcycles make a good second choice (I can’t believe I just typed that, I am heading straight to Las Vegas).

I spent an entire day being a tourist in San Francisco. Unfortunately Alcatraz tours were booked until Sunday, but there were many other things to see and I kept myself entertained, it’s a beautiful and interesting city. Another dinner with my new friends, more interesting conversation and I slept among the classic motorcycles.

I have been thinking about how amazing it is that you can meet someone very briefly and form a friendship from something you have in common. I talked to Dennis and Dominic at a gas station in the middle of the Yukon for only 20 minutes and was invited to meet them again in San Francisco if I passed that way. We became good friends and share more in common than motorcycles. This type of friendship keeps happening to me on this journey.

Back on the road again heading for Yosemite National Park and I am really noticing the heat.

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September 5th, 2011 - Oregon Coast By GP

I camped the night of September 2nd   in a small state run park and pitched my tent near the river. It had been a beautiful, warm sunny day and camping was the perfect way to finish. Unfortunately the temperature dropped to 30 Fahrenheit (-1 Celsius) over night and I did not sleep well. It was not until morning that I realized I left the tent fly wide open, letting the cold air inside the tent.

After getting some great advice from a local about Crater Lake, I decided to head south and visit the deepest lake in the US. Crater Lake was another amazing destination. The road around offered beautiful views from far above the lake, passing through some forest but mostly staying close enough to keep the lake in view the entire time. I circled the lake three times, once going east bound just enjoying the ride, a second time also going eastbound and stopping for photos and finally the third and final time going westbound just to see a different view.

By the time evening came I really started to regret not staying for more pie back in Hampton, as all of the campgrounds and motels were full. I was getting tired, needed to rest and was going to pull over and pitch my tent in the woods somewhere. Around the next corner  I spotted a motel that had the “Vacancy” sign on and were advertising rooms for $30. Perfect, available and cheap, just what I needed.  I pulled into the parking lot and for the first time in this adventure, all 26,000 km of it, I dropped my bike. I forgot to put the kickstand down! Must have been more tired than I thought. There was no damage to the bike or to me and picking it up a fully loaded bike was no fun.  The motel owner, who looked like Elmer Fudd, came out and said “looks like you could use a room. I have one with a great view of the river”. A great view of the river it did have, but it smelled like dirty socks and I now believe it was haunted. Great, another night without sleep.

I made it to Coos Bay, Oregon where I booked myself into a respectable place for two nights. After visiting the shore and seeing the seals and sea lions relaxing on the rocks I decided that I also needed a full day of rest.

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September 3rd, 2011 - Coffee and Pie By GP

I find it easy to lose track of the days now that I don’t have to get up for work every day. I did not realize that this was a long weekend coming up until I overheard some local farmers at breakfast this morning. I was heading west towards the Oregon coast along highway 20 and decided that a crowed tourist area was not something I wanted. I needed a change of plan. Highway 20 is a long straight highway through the desert, not offering much in the way of distractions. I needed a sign.

“Coffee and Pie” was the next sign, in front of a small old town style café and enough of a distraction to make me stop. The café as filled with local ranchers and ranch hands just in from rounding up some livestock. I ordered my coffee and pie from the petite woman behind the counter and took a seat next to the locals. Friendly conversation soon started and it quickly felt like I was chatting with old friends. The pie was one of the best that I have ever tasted and when the turnovers came fresh out of the oven I just had to have one of those as well. The café suddenly emptied, back to work for the ranchers and their hired help. Only three of us were left, myself, Wayne the “flammable liquid dispensing technician” (gas jockey) and the petite woman, Rebecca, who as obviously in charge of the café.

Now that my mouth was no longer stuffed with pie I was able to contribute to the conversation a little better and answered some questions about my adventure and the places I have visited already. I mentioned my desire to do something “western”, like ride a horse, while I was in Oregon.  Before I knew it “Bell” was saddled up and I was holding the reigns. Now, I have never really ridden a horse before! I have been to a couple of “horseback riding ranches” where they put you on some old horse, make you wear a stupid helmet and you follow a lead horse around some well-worn trail –not real horseback riding. Bell was a real horse, not an old mare, and I had her all to myself with miles and miles of open fields to ride her. I was in shock, these people did not know me, there was no liability waiver to sign and I had their horse to ride for an unspecified period of time.  Riding was easy and the horse behaved herself, we rode for over an hour around the fields and not so well-worn trails. Fortunately for me Bell knew her way home.

Back at the café I had another fantastic meal, an enormous ham and cheese sandwich and best of all great conversation with Wayne and Rebecca.  I watched Rebecca work on her accounting and really wanted to offer my years of accounting expertise in an effort to contribute. After watching for a few minutes I realized two things, 1. She had things well under control and 2. My help would only slow things down. We agreed that I would come back after my trip and work as her accountant; I would be paid in pie.

As I sat listening to Wayne’s wonderful stories, impressed with this knowledge of Canada, I had a decision to make, stay for dinner or continue heading west. I found this decision difficult, not because I  wasn’t really hungry nor because I don’t know what “chicken fried beef steak” is made of but because I found Rebecca to be extremely charming. She had that country girl charm, a beautiful smile and carried herself with confidence and grace.  I knew that if I stayed for dinner, I would find an excuse to pitch my tent and then would have to order breakfast. Most likely I would end up branding cattle, learning to operate farm equipment, get fat from pie and would never reach Argentina. I regretfully got back on my motorcycle and headed westbound.

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September 3rd, 2011 - To Hell and Back By GP

Moscow, Idaho – Hells Canyon – Vale Oregon

I spent the night of August 31st in a town named Moscow. I went walking around looking for Red Square or the famous Saint Basils Cathedral but sadly they were nowhere to be found.   I have been to Moscow Russia many times but this place offered no resemblance. Not yet ready to give up, I went looking for the infamous bar “Night Flight”, but I struck out with this as well. I ended up at the only open restaurant I could find, a Chinese food restaurant on the main street. Chinese it was; food that remains a question.

Waking up in the morning I realize that I am now officially homeless. I sold my home last year and the lease on the apartment was renting expired last night. I live on my bike, my most important possessions fit on my bike. I was told that I have squatters rights in Newfoundland and as long as my brother does not change the code for his garage door, I should always be able to find a place to crash back in Canada. Now however I feel a much stronger desire to move forward in my journey.

I headed south down highway 95 with the intention of getting as far south as I could. Stopping in a small town called Riggins for lunch, my plans were about to change. The very attractive waitress told me about the “7 Devils Road” leading into “Hells Canyon”. How could I refuse?

The 7 Devils Road soon turned to loose gravel with patches of sand. It was a steady 21mile climb with hair pin turns and drop offs descending into canyons. The view was amazing but it took all of my focus to navigate this road. After 19 miles there was a great place to pull over for a photo, but there were 3 cows blocking my path. Cows, on the road to hell? I guess this is why the “Hot Beef Sandwich” was the special of the day back at the restaurant.  From the top of 7 Devils Road you can see all three States, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Descending back down was as much fun and as challenging as was the climb. This detour from my original plan was well worth it, the best plans are flexible.

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August 31st, 2011 - Coeur D’Alene. Idaho By GP

Coeur D’Alene is listed in the book “1000 places to see before you die, so I decided to make a point of stopping and checking it out. It wasn’t worth it. Coeur D’Alene is a nice town on a great lake, and that’s all. I could have died without seeing this place and still died a happy man.  I walked around, had an overpriced hotdog and checked out the boardwalk. Things I could have lived without.

However, the road around the lake, highway 97, was another story! I get over how amazing the roads have been over the past few days.  Highway 97 hugged the shore of Coeur D’Alene Lake, passed over some mountains and much to my excitement had few barriers preventing someone from flying right off some of those hair pin turns.

An excellent couple of days of riding, life is good.

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