6 Days Out, Detailed Planning, and Test Packing

Today marks exactly six days until we leave on the trip that will take us across the US and moe back to California riding solo and that means there is no time to lose and I’ve got to get every detail finalized that lends itself to the process.

The rest we leave to destiny.

I’m writing this post from my home base in San Jose where I have just returned after a one-week retreat. It was good quality down time and now I’m ready both to work and to jump into this trip with my son.

Detailed Planning

Up until today, the planning I’ve carried out with my son, Benjamin, about this cross-country ride has been theoretical. It’s not like it’s been pie-in-the-sky planning, but there is only so much you can do in advance to plan a trip like this. Here’s how I planned this journey thus far.

Routes: We’ve looked at routes -we currently have four options, all based on weather patterns that will kick in after day two’s layover in Flagstaff, AZ. The weather across the US is horrendous at present and each day’s weather-related risk factors will ultimately determine out route.

If you buy it, you won’t need it: It’s the reality of every motorcyclist who ever ventured across the country on two wheels. Yesterday I ensured that we’ll not experience flat tires or pictures by purchasing a portable time inflater and a flat-patch kit. Today I’ll get some rain-proof boot covers to accompany my water-resistant gloves and rain suite so as to guarantee dry weather throughout the trip. 🙂

Communications: I purchased two very inexpensive helmet communication systems so we can chat back and forth and listen to iPhone music at will via Bluetooth. They only have a half-mile range (They were less than $100 each) so the quality could be spotty. But as long as they hold up for a week or two, I’m OK with the less than stellar brand name.

Food: When I venture out on the bike, I usually eat light. I focus on high-protein vegetarian meals and some fruit or cereal bars at breaks. It’s important to keep hydrated as well and I have a reusable water bottle for each of us. Ben’s RT has a glove box that will keep his out of the sun, but I might need to pick up a singled handlebar-clamped bottle holder for mine – the bottle is a double-walled aluminum type that should stay cold in the sun. The first day will end with triple-digit temperatures, so hydration is a constant need.

Test Packing – The Right Way

While flying back from my week away on Saturday, I turned my attention to planning the items I’d be taking and what I could fit. Previously I’d made the mistake of listing out what I wanted to take and them working like crazy to fit it all into the various bags.

That’s a mistake.

It occurred to me that the best way to pack was to list what I’d fit in each bag (since I don’t have full-on panniers) instead. So here’s my list for the 1150GS:

BMW Top Box:

  • clothing (zip bag w/ clear top)
  • Macbook & charger
  • toiletries
  • cameras, chargers, selfie sticks

BMW City Bag (small)

  • oil (2 quarts)
  • air pump and patch kit
  • zip ties, velcro, extra pair of shoes

BMW City Bag (large)

  • tool kit
  • flashlight
  • headlamp
  • first-aid kit
  • snacks, coffee

Wolfman bag (large, waterproof)

  • torque wrench
  • sleeping pad
  • two-man tent
  • hatchet

Sea-To-Summit bag (waterproof)

  • Sleeping bag

Tank Bag (Manta style, low-profile)

  • phone
  • camera (an older phone)
  • earbuds
  • chapstick
  • sunscreen
  • map

On-My-Person

  • all protective gear
  • utility tool (on belt)
  • helmet cam remote

Today I’ll test this organization out and see where it lands. Comments welcome on stuff I might have overlooked or any tips you might have.

We’re on this journey together! Cheers!

Hacking My Way Back

Barry_April_2016a long time gone

So, it’s been a while. I can’t now recall why I left this blog….if I look back to the last post it had to with my relocation from the Central Coast to Silicon Valley a little over one year ago.

My riding habits have changed quite a bit as my aging parents continue to decline. On that front, my dad is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s Dementia -such a sad thing to watch- and my mom is actually getting stronger. At 84 and 83 respectively, they are now on opposite paths of life progression.

the big trip

However, in a move to provide some respite from my domestic duties for a bit, in just 21 days, my son Benjamin and I are embarking on an epic tour across the country. In January, I decided to gift him my 2000 BMW R1100RT as I ride my 2000 R1150GS almost exclusively. He used to ride before he got married and had a family.

My daughter-in-law expressed interested in riding as well so I made the gesture thinking my offer might find a soft-lading and it did; my offer was immediately and gratefully accepted.

The only problem is that he lives is South Carolina….gee…how do we solve that problem?

With a cross-country father-son moto-tour, of course!

the plan

Originally, we’d planned on traveling across the old Route 66 (I-40) for most of the way, but severe weather patterns are throwing up warnings that include tornadoes, funnel clouds, have thunderstorms and all kinds of non-California weather. 😉

At present, we’re considering a more souther route that will add two additional days to our ride but hey, two more day on BMW’s with Benjamin is a sacrifice I’ll gladly make.  We’ll be checking weather and conditions daily with our various iPhone apps and make adjustments as we deem necessary.I’ll do the same on my return ride that will be a very long solo-ride.

the hacking 

Because I couldn’t recall what email address I’d used to create this site and the YouTube channel, I had to hack my way in. I’m not a hacker, really. In fact, I know nothing about hacking or computer code beyond some basic HMTL and CSS.

What I call hacking was really retiring a Twitter account to the phone and looking at the setting for the email address I used. Win! So I’m back in business with both this site and the YouTube channel!

Yay!

Stay tuned for more posts regarding the trip.  In the meantime, I’ll be posting live updates via Facebook along the way to this page. So like the page now if you want to see the live updates from the road.

You can also follow me on Twitter here as I’ll also be posting from Periscope.

The Vegetarian Biker: My Transition from an Animal-Based Diet to a Plant-Based Nutritional Plan

I’m about six months into my vegetarian nutritional plan. Yesterday I recorded and published a more definitive YouTube video (see below) that explains my experience transitioning from a diet comprised largely of meat and other animal-based products to on that’s plant based.

Here’s the video. If you don’t have 11 minutes, just skip it and read the narrative below that summarizes what in the video.

Why I Decided to Stop Consuming Animals

There were two main reasons for this decision.

Health Concerns  Firstly, I’ve been eating meat for well over 50 years. That’s a lot of accumulated cholesterol, triglycerides, and fats. Their presence in my body played a part in my diagnosis of essential hypertension a few years ago. I remain on medication today that I take just once daily to help control it.

About two years ago I started transitioning to a plant-based dietary plan. I stopped eating beef and pork since it always made me feel heavy afterward. I didn’t like feeling this way so I cut these meats out first. Then I focused on consuming only poultry and seafood. Chicken is a favorite with turkey running a distant second. But I absolutely love Swordfish, Cod, Ahi, Mahi Mahi, and Calamari.

I wasn’t sure if I could live without these tasty creatures, but a book, and two films caught my attention and, over time, I decided to let go of even these favorites.

Compassion  Animals that give their lives for our dinner plates aren;t humanely killed. Slaughter is a word we use to describe the most heinous crimes attributed to mankind. However, hundreds of thousands of animals are slaughtered each day in the most cruel and painful manner jus so we can order a Big Mac (yuk) or an Ahi Salad (one of my favorite things).

Two documentary films were particularly instrumental in helping to with this, Vegucated, a film and book by Marisa Miller Wolfson, a writer and filmmaker…also a vegan. The other film was Forks Over Knives, a film by Brian Wendel. Both of these films showed only a small portion of graphic film clips of animal slaughter. Reading about it or hearing of it is on thing, but to see it is another. Both documentaries are on Netflix.

These films helped me get in touch with my own sense of compassion regarding the violence I was causing, albeit indirectly, by continuing to buy meat and seafood thereby rewarding the industries that did such great harm. Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, let me state the obvious.

  1. Of course, I realize that if everyone was vegetarian, we’d have an animal overpopulation problem – but it’s one that we unnaturally created in the first place with our desire for chill con carne and chicken tacos.
  2. Yes, there are cage free poultry farms, but not on the grand scale of agribusiness giants like Foster Farms where thousands of birds spend their entire lives in cages that prevent their free movement, often knee deep in bird shit. No thanks, I don’t want that chicken taco after all.
  3. No, my single decision won’t affect the farming and ranching industry, however, I can choose to act on my sense of compassion and honor the lives of those birds, cows, and sea creatures that might have been spared by it and millions of others who made similar decisions.

There is another side to this coin that is also just as obvious:

  • Overfishing of the Eastern Seaboard and West Coast waters has resulted in decreased habitats for both fresh and salt water creatures. We’ve created a shortage of the very populations we love to consume.
  • There is no question about whether a plant-based diet is more healthy. Meat and animal product consumption has been linked to increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, as well as inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
  • The practice of inhumane farming techniques such as pumping animals full of hormones and antibiotics are more harmful to consumers who eat such foods.

Does Eating a Plant-based Diet Make Any Difference?

Other than citing the facts and figures again, I can tell you that I feel a definite difference in my mental clarity and in my overall feelings of well being. After six months of eating plants I’m starting to lose a few pounds and my body shape is changing. I don’t miss eating meat for the most part, but I do miss having fish.

I make a point in the video that the readily available supply of tasty meat substitutes helped me in the beginning when I felt I needed more meat-like texture in my food. Tempeh, a wheat-based product comes pre-seasoned as does textured vegetable protein for substituting for ground beef. Tempeh burgers are rally good and contain none of the animal fats of a hamburger.

Tofu is a also a favorite although most non-vegetarians form the wrong impressions about this versitle food. It’s absorbs the flavor of whatever you combine it with and provides a great source of protein. I like simmering it in salsa or black beans and onions as well as with egg whites and a bit of teriyaki sauce.

I included some links to some online resources in the video notes on my YouTube channel for this video, if you’re interested. Just click on here to see the notes under the video on YouTube. 

😎

The Southwest Solo-Tour of 2013, Part 5

Three years ago I took a solo-tour around the American Southwest and chronicled the trip in the posts on this site. @chaneytweeting once told me how he enjoyed the posts and asked when I was going to finish it up. I've now done so...in fact part of this post was written three years ago.

As I plan the new father-son moot-tour across the country from California to South Carolina slated for next month, I'm reminded again the joy of the open road. Ride Safely!

Day 11 – Cypress, CA to Lompoc, CA

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After two restful days, my belly full of breakfast, and my bags packed with clean clothes, I departed my sister’s house in Cypress and joined the throng of Orange County commuters north along I-405 (Sand Diego Freeway). Commuting in Southern California can only be described as a nightmare. And because of my aversion to lane sharing (filtering), I feathered my clutch level hundreds of times while waiting to clear Los Angeles County.

By the time I got into Malibu via US-1, I was ready for a break and stopped at a Starbucks to get a little nibble as well as some real coffee. The two days I spent with my sister, an avowed Irish tea kind of girl, I subsisted on Via packed, the instant microbrew solution I’d come to appreciate over the past two weeks.

Traffic cleared to the point where I could gain a cruising speed and I made my way north into Ventura County, a beautiful, monied place that is a good alternative to the hustle and bustle of the L.A. Basin. The air if cleaner, saltier, and a lot cooler. The RT was happier and so was I.

A few miles north of Malibu US-1 (Pacific Coast Highway) detoured north to become one with US-101 and I rode along encountering Carpenteria,  beautiful Santa Barbara, Goleta,  and miles of some the most scenic coastlines in the world. The total mileage for the day wasn’t much at just under 200. But I wanted to get into Lompoc early and spend some time closing out the trip in my mind.

I knew that the next day would be my last on the road and then I’d be back at work and entrenched in the routine that I’d come to abhor. I was both glad and sad to be nearing the end of my solo-tour. Full of mixed emotions and thoughts, I veered off of US-101 and rode US-1 the short but scenic downhill ride through the mountains to Lompoc.

The Motel 6 didn’t have a vacancy and so I booked a more pricey room at the Holiday Inn Express. It was my last night and the upgrade did hurt, plus it was directly across the street from a Starbucks Coffee and I enjoyed an afternoon cup there as well as breakfast the following morning.

Day 12 – Lompoc, CA to Rio Del Mar, CA

Day12

Just as the ride into Lompoc was thorough the mountains, so was the ride out the next morning. After a morning coffee and veggie breakfast sandwich at Starbucks, I rode north along US-1.

When I encountered the Big Sur coastline, the road was a bit more challenging for the RT. I didn’t expect the hairpin turns and the 15-20 mph speed limit that the RT was able to perform ride them.

I stopped at the Big Sur Coffee establishment for a midday espresso and was soon joined by a foursome of BMW riders from Southern California. We chatted for a while and they before I  eventually headed northward toward home.

The ride from there gets a little murky in my memory but I do recall the joy of getting into Monterey, Seaside, Watsonville, and finally Rio Del Mar. I decided to finish the tour where it began, at the Starbucks on Trout Gulch Rd.in Aptos.

As I look back at the solo-tour I leaned a few things about the bike, about riding, about the southwest and about myself. Though it’s been three years since that trip, I’m giddy with excitement and more of the same trepidation that others have no doubt felt about an undertaking as ambitious the cross-country trip in June.

The Southwest Solo-Tour of 2013, Part 3

Reaching Santa Fe on Day 5

Day 5: Page, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico

[ Part 1 is here and Part 2, here.]

On the morning of Day 5 of my solo-ride around the Southwest, I awoke in the Motel 6 in Page, Arizona. It was a clean, recently redecorated room; a nice nice place to crash in secure comfort and perfectly suited to my minimal needs on the road.

As rule, Motel 6 didn’t offer a microwave or a coffeemaker and the free coffee offered in the lobby looked and tasted like dishwater. At the very least some way of heating water for instant coffee or tea would have been nice.

I usually carry both on the road in the form of Starbucks Via packets and my favorite tea, Tetley’s British Blend. On this particular morning I was forced to use hot water from the faucet…not even close to a good result.

As a solution, I hit Starbucks on my way out of town. 
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The particularly long ride on Day 5. It was mostly desert terrain and very few travelers until I got into Albuquerque.

The ride was a scenic one with large red-rock cliffs rising out of the flatter environment and plenty of desert heat. I think I consumed 5 bottles of water during this segment of the ride. With fuel, caffeine, and food breaks, I made it to Santa Fe in just under 9 hours.

My average speed was 75 m.p.h. and the bike performed without a single hiccup. At one point a long van kept passing me and then slowing down. I finally boosted passed it once and for all and took off doing 90 for about two miles to get well ahead it.

You never know when someone is going do something weird and I was taking any undue chances...other than riding 90 m.ph., which isn't my habit at all.

It was somewhere in the middle of this beautifully barren New Mexico desert that I had an experience that let me know I was in the right place at the right time.

Faces in the Desert

I pulled into a Chevron station to fuel up and use the bathroom. As I dismounted my bike I noticed a mini-van on the opposite side of the island with a family inside. I didn’t give it though and went inside to use the restroom.

When I returned, the woman was standing by my bike and I said “Um, hello?…are you Ok?” She appeared to be of Southern Asian decent, possible from India or Pakistan, but I wasn’t exactly certain. In broken English she managed to communicate her family’s need for fuel and it became clear that she was either ordered by her husband to inquire or, perhaps, being a woman they thought she’d convert more listeners into donor.

I looked over at the man in the driver’s seat. He didn’t return my gaze nor did he get out of the car. I looked at the two kids and immediately thought of my own when they were small. It didn’t take long for me to decide that they, above all, deserved my help.

I checked my wallet and only had a twenty on me. I handed it over to her she gushed gratitude with teary eyes. Regardless of her silent partner, she and her kids deserved the assistance.

It seemed a no-win situation because I wasn’t sure how far $20 would get them, and I wasn’t prepared to fill up their tank. But I felt like I did what I needed to. I returned to filling my bike up with fuel and saddled up to leave.

As I pulled out I saw the kids waving and the man just looking at me. I hoped they’d find further help but never knew if they did or even if they truly needed it. I waved back and hoped they make it to their destination. I still think about those faces in the desert.

When I'm situations where I can alleviate the suffering of another, I will do what I can with what I have. That to me is being compassionate without taking responsibility for the need expressed.

I didn’t take many photos on this segment of the journey, mainly because of the day being such a long ride.  I did take one photo in the bathroom of a curio shop where I fuel up outside of Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona.

“A bathroom photo? You sick bastard, yuk!”

Well, maybe. I cracked up when I saw this vending machine in the Gents…and had to send it to my co-worker, Catherine who I thought would appreciate the humor.

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Studded condoms for the Roughriders. I guess some like it rough. Lol…and the Love Drops for those sensual spots. I cracked up…but then, considering the desert environment, what else is there to do? 😉

Yeah, she wasn’t impressed.  As my right hand on the office team, I was in contact with here most every day. My office team checked in with her daily to see where I was and how I was doing. A map outside of her work area was the place where they could pinpoint my progress.

Although she might have appreciated photos of Shiprock (see below) or Lake Powell more, I think she kind of enjoyed -just a bit- retelling the story of how I sent her photos of a condom machine. 😉

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Shiprock rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of the northwestern New Mexico desert and dominates the landscape for miles.

I got into Albuquerque via I-25 around 3 pm. I didn’t dismount but took SR-285 north straight into into Santa Fe. It was an additional 60 miles or so. I’d booked a room in a family home via AirBnB for three days. I wanted to explore Santa Fe, rest both my leg and the bike, as well as have a few days of down time before heading west again.

I phoned Alicia, my host, from a Starbucks on Santa Fe (where else?) and she gave me more specific directions to the home she shared with her 17 year-old son.  It was a very comfortable three days and I loved being in this city with such history.

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This was my home for three days and it was very relaxing. All of the homes in the city are built in the Adobe style. It was a nice change from the ramshackle California suburban style.

My room was on the ground floor next to her son’s room. I wasn’t there much as I used it mainly as a base of operations for the three days I stayed in Santa Fe. Alicia was kind and generous giving me free use of the laundry (needed by then), television room (not needed), and the lovely backyard.

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I loved the big kitchen with the massive island and breakfast bar
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The living room area

Days 6 & 7 – Sightseeing in Historic Downtown

I ventured into the historic downtown area the next day, which is dominated by the elegant Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. It’s a New Mexico cultural landmark and even has a prayer labyrinth on the grounds.

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The Palace of the Governors is on one side of the main square where only Native American vendors are allowed to sell their wares
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The wares were a bit pricey for me, but beautiful handcrafted pieces worthy of every dollar
The highlight of the day was visiting the Georgia OKeefe Museum
The highlight of the day was visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Her iconic paintings and minimalist way of life has always moved me
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A popular meeting place in the downtown area is Burrow Alley…why it called this?
That's why.
That’s why

I fell in deep like with the area and its architecture. At one point I’d planned to retire here until I found out that the area gets about a foot of snow in winter and it lasts weeks at a time. Since I view my retirement as largely mobile, this could de a destination in Spring, but not year round.

I’d originally planned a day ride out to Taos about 60 miles north but on the third day I was too tired and needed to rest for the following day’s ride to the Flagstaff, Arizona.

I had a great time in Santa Fe. On my last evening there, Alicia invited me to join  her and her parents for dinner downtown. I did and we had a lovely time. If I’m ever in Santa Fe again and need accommodations, I’ll definitely see if Alicia has room.

I left early the next morning under cloudy skies that rapidly dissipated giving way to more desert sunshine.

Part 4 of this series includes my interesting ride to the Grand Canyon, my lunch in Bedrock City -the only place where coffee is really just five cents- an unexpected riding partner,and getting pulled over by the Arizona Highway Patrol. 

Motovlogging: It’s Harder Than It Looks

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I watch a lot of Motovloggers on YouTube. Everide, GoatCabeza, Jake the Garden Snake, The Northern Vlogger, and TankGrrrl are only some of my subscriptions.

For those unfamiliar with the term, motovlogging is a combination of events that result in a video posted publicly, usually via a dedicated YouTube channel, that contains recorded footage shot from an action camera mounted on a motorcycle, helmet, or some combination thereof and accompanying narration.

Wikipedia - A person who creates motovlogs is known as a motovlogger, and the action of making motovlogs is called motovlogging. Most motovloggers upload their videos on YouTube, and the network of motovloggers [t]here is known as the motovlog community.

Yours Truly wants to begin moto-vlogging, too. Thus far the baby steps I taken in pursuit of this goal are limited to experimenting with my GoPro3 camera, creating the Motorcycling with Baz YouTube channel (empty right now) and studying how to film, narrate, and edit videos. I hope to begin crafting some worthwhile videos soon…the operative word being worthwhile.

In Defense of Crappy Motovlogs

While there are some very useful motovlogging channels on YouTube, like the ones I listed above, there are also hundreds of channels that are the equivalent of random selfies posted on MySpace: mindless, unfocused, and rambling videos that are painful to watch. I doubt these worthless videos ever are viewed all the way through.

But before I buckle the chin strap on my motovlogger critic’s helmet, I will give these brave folks the credit they deserve because producing a motovlog isn’t easy. It’s far more complicated than posting a selfie on Facebook

It takes guts to publish anything in the public space. And, just as there are hundreds of worthless Kindle books on Amazon, there are likewise hundreds of worthless motovlogging channels on YouTube. But each one of the people responsible had the stones to create and publish regardless of the feedback they receive. It’s a brave act to publishing anything and motovlogs are no exception.

Standards for Worthwhile Motovlogs

That said, there is always room for improvement and the following points represent how I think motovloggers could up their game -or, in my case… just start out the right way– and save the world from hours of time they’ll never get back.

Have a Clear Purpose for Each Video. Don’t ramble. Have a purpose in mind for each motovlog and get to it quickly. Let viewers know why they should keep watching and then deliver on the promise.

Just Be Yourself. Some of the best and most entertaining motovlogs result from just being natural as if you were speaking to a friend you’ve known all your life. It’s not necessary to put on airs and assume a persona of Mr./Ms. Pro-Motovlogger and talk in a weird, unnatural cadence or voice.

It’s OK to React to the World Around You. You’re not an automaton; You’re a living, breathing human being and you’re riding a motorcycle in real time. It’s OK to react to the foibles of cagers or road hazards and just be human. Don’t be obnoxious, but be human and real.

Write a Clear Summary of Your Motovlog. Include this in the remarks under your video. It can help viewers decide which video to watch first. Include your social media accounts if you have them: again, it’s helpful to viewers.

Motovlogging, like blogging or filmmaking is a significant undertaking. Anyone to ventures into any of these areas gets the helmet nod of respect from me. Having published three books, hundreds of blog posts, and now wading into the waters of motovlogging, I can tell you it take guts, confidence, and very thick skin.

Have You Got Helpful Tips? Please Share.

If you’re a writer, blogger, or motovlogger (or combination thereof), you’ve probably learned lessons along the way and have some tips or recommendations for filming, equipment, editing software, or anything else related to this topic.

Please feel free to lend me your expertise and experience. Use the comment box below to  give me your best tip(s) and recommendations for anything related that you think might be helpful.

Thanks!

photo: spacep0d

The Southwest Solo-Tour of 2013, Part 2

The Ride Begins: Days 1-4

Day 1: Santa Cruz to Bakersfield

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From the coolness of the Central Coast, through the searing heat of Central California and the Nevada desert, through the beauty and cool temps of Southern Utah

With my bike fully packed and tested, I departed Santa Cruz  for my first night’s destination in Bakersfield. I’d fueled up the night before, performed all the routine checks on tires, electrical systems, brakes and fuel systems that one normally performs before riding anywhere. The temperature was about 68 degrees when I left.

I waved goodbye to my 16 year-old son, his mother- who’d kindly agreed to stay with him in the house during my absence-  and rode out on to the Pacific Coast Highway (U.S. Route 1) heading south. My route took me only about 10 miles southbound before taking SR-152 East toward the Central Valley. About an hour later I was traveling south on Interstate 5 (I-5) where the temperature had already risen to about 80 degrees.

I-5 is a heavily traveled freight route for large semi-trailers and trucks containing all sorts of freight, including cattle and other livestock (always a pleasant aroma around those), other goods, as well as freshly grown fruit and vegetables from the San Joaquin Valley, also known as the California’s breadbasket because the the large amount of crops grown there.

I-5 in this area is surrounded my mountains to the west and rich agricultural and ranching lands to the east. As far as scenery goes, there isn’t much, which is a good thing because the semi’-trucks demand your full attention. I discovered quickly that each truck leave a different draught signature behind them.

These draught signatures can affect a bike in many ways from inducing a sudden impact from an air blast to what felt like a high-speed wobble. Later in the trip, especially in Arizona, it felt like a giant fist was punching the side of my bike over and over.

And because of the hundreds of trucks on the Interstate, there is always another truck just ahead. I soon stopped fighting them and settled in behind a fast moving truck in the left lane just stayed at a distance I could tolerate.

My first day’s ride was only about 4 hours long. In fact, when touring on these 12 days I seldom planned a route that lasted over 5-6 hours. I did this for several reasons.

  • As an older rider (55 at the time) I tire more rapidly than my younger colleagues
  • I wanted to enjoy each day’s ride and not have a strict mileage quota
  • I wanted to stop often for coffee, bathroom and water breaks, etc.
  • I don’t see as well at night and prefer not to ride after sunset…again, an older guy thing

First Lesson: Two Star Hotels are Really Zero Star Motels

I made room reservations whenever possible at the nationwide Motel 6 chain. Because I need little more than a hot shower, a bed, and a safe place to park my bike, there was no need to spend a lot on my accommodations. Motel 6 suited me just fine and represented the lowest standard I was aiming for in my lodging for the trip.

However, on my first night’s stay, I was in a Super 8 motel in a particularly seedy-looking areas of beautiful downtown Bakersfield.

The exterior of my luxurious introduction to life on the road.
The exterior of my luxurious introduction to life on the road.
Bakersfield smells like onions most of the time anyway and on the day I rode into their fine city, it smelled like onions combined with urban grime.

When I rode into Bakersfield, my iPhone displayed a balmy 100 degrees.  I quickly checked into my room and turned on the air conditioner. If the Super 8 Motel was any indication of the level of comfort I could expect for the rest of the trip, I was in trouble. It was obviously a lower standard than I’d previously encountered at Motel 6.

The photo below reveals their choice of fine writing instruments, luxurious note paper, and state-of-the-art communications systems.

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Just the basics…but when you think about it, what else do you really need from a Zero Star Motel?

The room was also adorned with graffiti. Why go outside when you can read the walls in your own room, or in this case just outside the shower?

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The ill-schooled author might have been barely literate, but he captured the ambiance of the place perfectly when he wrote: “This is a nasty ass hotel, strate (sic) the fuck up.”

But Bakersfield was just my first stop and the second night would find me occupying a great room in the Circus Circus Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. However, there were a few adventures waiting for me during this day’s ride.

Day 2: Bakersfield to Las Vegas

I left at about 7a after eating a small breakfast at a nearby Starbucks and headed west along SR-58 stopping in Barstow to fuel up. While I was filling the tank I noticed two guys over by the mini-mart, also on BMWs. Putting aside my life-long introversion and solo-rider persona, I walked over an introduced myself.

Beemer Bros: These to Canadians were headed to Morrow Bay and then north to Santa Cruz.
Beemer Bros: These two Canadians were headed to Morrow Bay and then north to Santa Cruz. The guy on the left rode his bike from Canada and the guy on the right, the more friendlier of the two, rented his.

Leaving Barstow I rode the 2.25 hours along I-15 northeast to Las Vegas, stopping in Baker for lunch even though it was only about 10a. In Baker I took a few shots of my surroundings.

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The world’s tallest thermometer.
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Desert and mountains
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The roadside oasis of Baker, CA
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Bazza II in Baker, just south of the Soda Mountains, ready for the push to Las Vegas

Freshly rejuvenated by caffeine, water, and nutrients, Bazza II and I made our way north to the Las Vegas Strip. I’d booked a room at the Circus Circus Hotel and Resort, one of the strip’s oldest existing properties. The room was a steal at only $20 plus $11 in miscellaneous resort fees.

It was about 100 degrees upon arrival and inside the parking garage the air seemed superheated.

Day 3: Las Vegas to Panguitch, Utah

But by the next morning, I was rested and ready to ride to scenic Southern Utah.

Day3-SW-Solo-Ride
Day 3: The route was uneventful in terms of landscape until I got to Zion National Park

The ride across SE Nevada and NW Arizona was uneventful and the terrain was largely flat. It wasn’t until I entered Utah that the scenery started to change. The small highway towns took on a charm unlike the roadside towns in Nevada.

Here the people were friendly and most of the towns were dominated by the present of a local Mormon Church. In Utah, the Mormon Church is a powerful cultural as well as religious force. Small town life was being played out all around me in any ways.

Zion National Park

Just north of St. George, UT, where I stopped for fuel, I picked up SR-9, Utah’s Scenic Highway, and rode it 20 miles east toward the southern entrance to Zion National Park. Although this road only gives motorists a glimpse of the beauty waiting further northwest, it afforded me some truly stunning vistas.

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The strata on these spires speak to millions of year’s exposure to the shaping forces of water and wind
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With a backdrop this stunning, even a bunch of restroom look impressive. Of course, it’s probably the flashy bike-bling in the foreground…
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Note the sign in the foreground: No Bikes. Darn.

 

Just before leaving the park, I shot this brief clip.

It was an enjoyable ride approximately two hours northwest to Panguitch where I’d booked a room for the night.

Day 3 Zion to Panguitch
Panguitch, UT seems to me an isolated town that was only found if you wanted to find it

 

I entered Panguitch and  right off noted the dated appearance of this out-of-the-way town. Old brick buildings and friendly people gave it a real small town feel. I could feel time slowing in this small town.

I pulled into a fueling station and right way a young man , about 25, bounded up to me and asked me where I was from. I told him I was from Santa Cruz, CA and  he immediately asked me if there were jobs available there. Apparently, he’d been laid off from his job and only his wife was working. He was originally from Hurricane (he pronounced it Hurrican’ as if it rhymed with Amer’can) a town I’d passed through on SR-9.

It was the BMW that he seemed most interested in, however. Can't say that I blamed him. 

I rode to the Panguitch Inn, the hotel I’d booked and found the doors unlocked, the front office devoid of life, and only a note on the front desk. The note relayed this message:

“If you’ve booked a room for tonight, please drive to the North end of town to our other Motel, The Marianna Inn. Our front desk person had a family emergency.”

I found the Marianna Inn and was immediately glad about the swhich. The Panguitch Inn was a two story brick building and although it was closer to downtown, it looked a little suspect. The Marianna Inn was also was an older place, complete with a dead insect lying on the bathroom floor, but it had certain charm.. Once again, my budget for overnight stays was minimal and I’m fairly easy to please.

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The Marianna Inn….cute, comfortable, and the dead bug was free of charge.

The motel had been recently repainted and the room was actually quite comfortable. A little too gingerbread for my taste, but hey…it was cheap and quiet. 🙂 There wasn’t a Starbucks in this little town, but I had my own private stash for the road. I can’t recall where I ate dinner in Panguitch, but I had breakfast the next morning at a coffee shop just across the street from my little abode.

From there, I rode out headed east on SR-12 for Bryce Canyon.

Day 4: Panguitch, UT to Page, AZ

Bryce Canyon was a an hour’s ride from Panguitch and it was well worth the mileage thus far to see it.

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If I lived in these conditions I don’t think I’d be smiling either

 

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Confession: I took this photo on my way out of Bryce Canyon. 😉

 

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Stunningly beautiful rock formations; the hoodoos are the vertical piles of rock

 

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I was impressed by this seemingly precariously perched rock formation
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Bryce Canyon from another vantage point

 

A tiring ride for day 4
After hiking around the vista points at Bryce Canyon, I headed south to Page, AZ

The ride to Page, UT -for the first two hours- was one full of curves and twisty roads…in other words, perfect.. then the terrain gave way to more desert with hotter temperatures and less interesting, but still beautiful surroundings.

It ended at a Motel 6 with a nearby Starbucks. I was again in the land I knew best.

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Bazza II’s preferred parking: unpacked and tucked in for the night.

🙂

——

In Part 3, I'll take you to Santa Fe, New Mexico where I stayed for three days soaking up the rich culture and art, then on to Flagstaff, AZ.