Friday, July 31, 2009
12 days, 8 states, 3 countries, 4 bikes, 4000+ miles. You can’t beat a plan that outlines like that. We know the numbers aren’t entirely accurate now. 4 bikes did start, and they were all ridden in each state and country, but only three finished under their own power. Eh, close enough. And we didn’t actually ride in Mexico, but it wasn’t really worth the hassle to go that extra 50 feet. We got to the gate, we looked over into another country, more than many Americans do. I call it, we were there.
We took a few GPS-led detours, which gave us different insights into the same places. We saw things both natural and man-made that dropped our chins to the gas tanks and made us scramble for a turn out so we wouldn’t miss it. I found a new favorite road, and then a few days later replaced it with another new favorite road. Not as pretty maybe, but the best, purest road any of us had ever traveled.
Over 12 days three of us got sick, one not so bad and two pretty bad. We fell in love with Canada and its polite people and clean…well, everything. We stuck out in Idaho, ventured into Montana, sparked pegs in every state, and Too Good earned a new nickname (Pokey).
It was an incredible ride, full of everything any of us could have asked for and more. We were safe, the mechanical difficulties were at least timely, and at the most hilarious, and we rode like bikers, not weekend warrior chumps. We got twisted, got silly, got sick, got robbed by Indians, got attacked by Urban Assault Vehicles, and came out unscathed on the other side with pink tattoos, air fresheners, stickers, and a condom to show for it, along with incredible numbers on our personal odometers.
I see I never mentioned how we would shout from bike to bike, “Squirrel!” and point. You always knew someone saw a squirrel when an arm shot out to the side. I didn’t talk about how we would rev our engines at a stop to let the rest of the group know that we were about to jump to lightspeed, or how the bike in front or in the back would get bored and give a little wiggle of the handlebars and that wiggle would snake its way all the way up (or back) to the other bikes, somehow always missing Lillypad’s. Or how we would sometimes pull up next to a cager on the phone and pretend to text, or dial. I didn’t mention how I drank so much blue Poweraid I was sure it was going to start finishing the cycle blue too. I barely touched on the food we ate, and got fat on. Road food is yummy, but it sure ain’t healthy. Or how the first thing Too Good does when he enters a hotel room is turn on the TV, and the first thing Stitches does when she enters a hotel room behind Too Good is grinds her teeth. No, this journal was mostly about the ride, written at the end of each day as Too Good slept or watched TV, as Stitches knitted or slept, with the moon rising outside and sleep threatening to take over.
Six inches from Earth. What a great way to see the country.
Start – Menlo Park, CA 9:50am
End – Simi Valley, CA 7:05pm
The final day. We knew it when we set out, 4000 miles and then pau, no more trip. We joked about just doing it backwards, turning around and heading back to Canada like hippies during the draft. Or to Iowa and the birthplace of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. But we had to head south and finish what we started, though one bike and two riders lighter.
Too Good’s parents had been wonderful to us the night before and fed us again this morning. It was great to see my friends too. Missed them. The girls, Lillypad and Stitches, left in the U-Haul, taking the shorter, more boring route, and we headed towards the coast. (Ed. Note: The doctor’s verdict on Stitches sickness- a asthma attack which had been going on for three days. She’s a tough chick, barely complained, and she couldn’t breathe! Almost makes me glad Lillypad’s bike broke down. Her shoulder has been slowly getting worse as well. A bad thing that couldn’t have happened at a better time.)
It got cold and foggy fast and it wasn’t long before we pulled over to layer up. (Ed. Note: I was cold, I hadn’t put on my jacket before we left. I wasn’t about to pull a Sidekick and stop us because I was a little chilly. Luckily, even heated grips are no match for Bay Area chills. Machismo rules!) Our coastward commute was otherwise uneventful and soon we reached the 1. Like yesterday, northern and central California’s coastline is more foreboding than friendly, but even the twisties today weren’t all that difficult. We’re weathered veterans of all kinds of roadways by now, we can do this road with one hand. In fact, I did just that for most of the day. Why not? Easy day.
The only drama came from the cager corner. Kalifornia drivers are officially the worst of any of the eight states we spent time in. They don’t get out of the way, they don’t look around, and that new cell phone law is working real well. (Ed. Note: I could have texted this entire journal and no cops would have noticed.) So we were impatient and leap-frogged past a dozen too-slow-for-us drivers down the 1. (Ed. Note: That, by the way, is both fun and scary. Two lane highways on the coast are not meant for passing. All the more reason to get your gigantic helping-the-terrorists-win tank out of my way.) That’s exciting. Nerve-wracking. But exciting.
After paying $4.00/gallon for petrol in Big Sur (Ed. Note: Isn’t it nice that we can complain about $4.00 gas because it’s rare again?) we got back on it. At some point in the last few days I developed a new law: The Coastal Road Rule. This Rule states that if a road follows exactly the coast it shall be a fun motorcycle road. (Ed. Note: I live in Hawaii, thou shalt not question the Coastal Rod Rule.) However, the Coastal Road Rule comes complete with the Coastal Road Rule Corollary: This Rule can, and will, be rendered null and void by any number of things up to and including weather, rock slides, random acts of nature and, as always and most often, idiotic acts of cagers. Damn cagers spoil everything.
Honestly though, we’ve been pretty lucky as far as cagers go. The last two days have been by far the worst (Ed. Note: Though the start of Utah was by far the scariest). Like I mentioned yesterday, we were not around too many cars for most of the trip so it’s an unpleasant awakening.
Outside of San Simeon we stopped to check out the elephant seals that congregate on the beach near Hearst Castle. Cool. Stitches would have liked it. Too Good also met the bravest squirrel in the history of ever. He must have been the head-chief squirrel. (Ed. Note: The bull goose squirrel? “I wanna watch the World Series of Nut Gathering Nurse Ratchet! Raise your paw chief!) Came right up to Too Good’s boots and looked him in the eye. Too Good was mildly concerned about a rogue squirrel attack. Thankfully, the squirrel moved on peacefully and an interspecies incident was avoided. (Ed. Note: Because it has to be done, and was done constantly… SQUIRREL!)
It got more depressing from there. The 1 and the 101 used to be my backyard and, as such, are familiar roads. Sad to be back where I know where I am. I liked being surprised. That’s when I knew it was over.
Bad highway hypnosis for the very end, straight freeway, some traffic, and on into Simi Valley. Not the best ride of the trip, but you can’t argue with a 400+ mile day at the end of a 12 day trek. It’s good to be back…and not. I want to go again.
407 miles today
4131 miles total*
*All mileage based on the trip on my bike. Papa Rocket’s numbers are a little different. Close enough for bikers.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Start – Fort Bragg, CA 8:10am
End – Menlo Park, CA 2:25pm
The penultimate day, also the easiest and shortest day of the trip. After the road last night everything else will pale. It’s too bad about that too, because Hwy 1 is a long, pretty road. (Ed. Note: Ok, now my awe-meter is just about burned out.)
When we left the fog was thick, blanketing the coast, but not so much as to make riding difficult. Just enough for atmosphere. The 1 is called the Shoreline Highway up here and it’s easy to see why. It literally follows the coast. On one side, cliff doooooown to the ocean (Ed. Note: Just FYI, when I typed that I made a little whistling noise like Wile E. Coyote makes when he falls. Now you do it.) and on the other, trees or hills. It’s a twisted road and fun to ride, with nice sweepers mixed in with hairpins and climbers. Little cage trouble for most of the day. Everyone got out of the way. Too bad the girls are still stuck in the truck. Glad Stitches is headed straight for the doctor though.
So it’s still just the three boys, Too Good blazing trail and Papa Rocket flying tail-gunner so he can fall back and then roll on his throttle to catch up. (Ed. Note: Because playing with a big engine is fun! Weeee!) I was mentally geared up for a rough, twisted day. I’d seen a mileage sign for a town with the greatest name ever, Gualala (Ed. Note: Say it out loud, you know you want to.), and it triggered a flood of memories. My first long ride ever, over four years ago and less than a year since I had started riding, had found me up in Gualala. (Ed. Note: No, I didn’t mean to end up there. I’d gotten lost on the way, but in the good way. Part of the purpose of the ride was to get a little lost and come home. It was a great ride.) To my novice skill set the 1 was a terrible, challenging, mean amalgamation of 15mph turns and steep climbs. It wore me out. I was preparing myself to face it again as Gualala approached.
Talk about anti-climactic. It was kind of twisted, but nothing awful. Not at all the road which had taken up legendary status in my memories. Disappointing really. (Ed. Note: I was keyed up for this really intense road for miles, and I just kept waiting for it. It was like going to a Will Ferrell movie. You have heard it’s going to be funny so you sit and wait for it, ready to laugh…but you never get to laugh. Just chuckle once at one of the other actors every twenty minutes or so.) It was neat to see Gualala again. Cute little town. After an aborted lunch stop where we tried to hook up with Stitches and Lillypad, we parted ways with the U-Haul once again and lit out for Menlo Park, the birthplace of Too Good. (Ed. Note: I assume. I guess he might have been born somewhere else and they moved to Menlo Park…eh, whatever.)
I think it’s partially that we’ve spent an overwhelming amount of time riding on back roads and in small towns away from too many cars, but riding into the Bay Area was a terrible shock. These people cannot drive. They are aggressive and self-centered, blind to anyone on the road with them. Papa Rocket was nearly killed twice by the same Mercedes, its driver blithely chatting away on her phone. Love the new law! Works great! (Ed. Note: Twice! Same car. He changed lanes, she changed lanes, rinse, repeat, but farther up his pipes. Bitch.) It even infected Too Good, who learned to drive in the area. We politely gave him some tips when we stopped. (Ed. Note: “Stop driving like a fucking asshole. You’re forgetting that we are behind you, trying to ride in a group. Oh, stop crying like a little girl, this doesn’t hurt that bad. Suck it up. Seriously, stop blubbering, the pipes aren’t that hot. Smells good, though, doesn’t it?”)
For me the highlight of today’s ride was going over the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d never done it before and the fog off the bay was so thick I couldn’t see the tops of the support struts nor the end of the bridge. Very San Francisco, very how I expected it to be. (Ed. Note: That’s why no one can drive! They are all Giants fans and it’s all they can do not to drive their cars into the nearest solid object and end it all. Now it all makes sense.)
Short ride through town and, not much later, we arrive at Too Good’s parent’s house, where my friends from college were waiting. It was so great to see the and rehash the last eleven days and try to catch up with everything. I’m glad they got to meet Stitches too. Too Good’s parents were too good to us.
Tomorrow is the last day. Long ride down the Kalifornia coast. Sad, don’t want it to end. I’d ride ‘til my money ran out, (Ed. Note: Check.) then I’d work just enough to be able to ride some more. (Ed. Note: Someone get Peter Fonda on the phone!) This has been incredible.
215 miles today
3724 miles total
Monday, July 27, 2009
Start – Sutherlin, OR – 11:00am
End – Fort Bragg, CA – 9:05pm
(Ed. Note: This is, by far, the longest entry. Settle in, grab a drink. It’s a good one. Promise.)
Another late start and long day, due mostly to a change in plans from last night. The morning was spent loading Lillypad’s bike onto a U-Haul and getting her and Stitches, who rode in the truck with her today, squared away. Then the three guys were off.
A short start to an otherwise high-mileage day took us, surprisingly enough, to a casino. We blew around an hour and a half and at least $60 bucks there (I came out ahead, no one else did) (Ed. Note: I never come out ahead when gambling. This was a treat. So now, lifetime, I’m only, like, $1,000 in the hole. But most of it’s money Papa Rocket has lent to me when our rides end at a casino.). Seven Feathers ain’t no Vegas, that’s for sure. Glad Papa Rocket foots the gambling bill.
After that we headed coastward for a while, rolling through some nice high-speed sweepers on our way out of Oregon. I noticed that the three northwestern-most states don’t have the jarring differences that the other states on this trip have had. Lots of tall, green, trees. More on that later. We reached Kalifornia with little drama or difficulty.
Kalifornia did announce itself to us in one major way. As soon as we crossed the state line it said, “Welcome back! You will now have the worst maintained roads of the entire trip!” Uneven grades, potholes, and tar snakes litter the roadway and hide road demons, which pull on your tires. DOT, can you hear me? Are you out there?
Upon entering the Golden State we rode along the aptly named Redwood Highway. It is a narrow two-laner carving a path through dense trees. It also followed the aforementioned Rapids Rule, so it was a pretty sweet ride. More smooth, easy sweepers. Too many cagers though. Too Good was seeing red and muttering death threats at every stop. Damn trailers, using our road. We hates them. Seriouslys. (Ed. Note: And really, who doesn’t hate being stuck behind a trailer? But it’s worse for us, I think. We can smell all those cows they are hauling. Chickens. Fruit. Whatever. And they are even slower than normal cars! Bah!)
The highway led out to the California coast. There is nothing like the North Coast. It’s an intense and rocky stretch, not at all warm and friendly like its southern counterpart. But it makes for nice riding. (Ed. Note: Coastal riding is good. Always.)
For 30 miles or so we had been seeing signs for the Trees of Mystery and my curiosity was piqued, to say the least. (Ed. Note: You have to understand, in my helmet I was booming in a deep and menacing voice, “THE TREES OF MYSTERY!!!!” I wasn’t the only one either. Every gas stop from here on out had Too Good and I shouting it at each other. TREES OF MYSTERY! Now you say it, but like it was a bad horror movie preview. “Coming this fall…THE TREES OF MYSTERY!” Fun, yeah?) I had to know: what was so mysterious about these trees? Why do they require large, colorful billboards polluting the pristine forest? I must find out these answers. So we stopped at the Trees of Mystery parking lot. There we talked to a giant Paul Bunyan and giggled at the anatomical accuracy of his blue ox, Babe. (Ed. Note: Really, we talked to a hugemongus statue. We pulled up and I heard something so I said something along the lines of, “Did Paul Bunyan just talk to those people?” and he started my out of my chaps by replying, “Of course I talked to those people! Nice motorcycles.” Ahhhhh. It even waved at small children!) That was enough weirdness for me and we journeyed on. Guess that’s why it’s a mystery, no one can get over the talking Paul Bunyan to notice the trees.
(Ed. Note: This next part, and a part at the end of this entry, I’ve been looking forward to telling since I started typing this out.) Just past the next gas stop we decided to check out a reportedly near-by drive-through tree. Cool! I’ve never driven through a tree before! Not a ½ mile down the road something shiny bounced past Too Good’s bike, barely missing it, and then skipped past me, *bing!*. What the…? I quickly pulled over to investigate. It was (Ed. Note: wait for it…) a floorboard. Specifically, the right passenger floorboard from Papa Rocket’s spaceship. Again, the only American-made bike in the group breaks. And where is Javier? No where. Too Good and I laughed until we got tears. And then we laughed some more. (Ed. Note: You have to understand, he’d been bragging about this bike for nearly a year before he bought it. It got checked out everywhere we stopped. And it is a great bike, so solid and well-made, it really is. But you’ve gotta close your eyes and imagine riding down the road and seeing something shiny bounce past you with a metallic *ping* and realizing it’s from the most expensive bike in the group.”Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to fix that.” That was his excuse. You know when you laugh so hard that at the end you make a, “hoooooo” noise? Yeah.) It was an easy fix but good for about 50 miles of chuckles. We flew in formation behind Papa Rocket after that, hands lowered as if ready to catch the next piece of falling motorcycle. Papa Rocket was not amused. Hehe. (Ed. Note: It was one of those things that are so funny, you stop laughing about it for a few minutes then it leaps back into the front of your mind and you crack up all over again.)
We stopped for gas and snacks in Eureka. Shock, we had the munchies in Humbolt county! Yeah, us and every resident. Hey Too Good, you smell that? (Ed. Note: And we saw a chick smocking while she filled her car with gas. I…I…I…*sigh*)
We have been through some amazing stuff on this trip and seen both natural and man-made objects that have blown our minds. I really thought my awe-meter was blown out (Ed. Note: And my thesaurus). Washington, Oregon, and northern California are home to incredible forests that are breathtaking in their size and scope but after so many days of being right in the middle of it they begin looking like just so many trees. Big whoop. I was done being stunned.
Then we crested a rise and dove down among the giant redwoods of California and my jaw dropped to my gas tank. These massive and ancient trees are so large at the base four grown men would not be able to reach around them. They tower above us, taller than any building in most every town we’ve stopped in or ridden through. The Avenue of Giants renewed my sense of awe at nature. After seeing the Grand Canyon, the rock formations at Zion, and the cascading waterfalls and rushing rapids of the Salmon River, these behemoths still made me gawk like a four-year old. And I’ve been here twice before, but in a car. Never appreciated them, their sheer size and majesty. On a motorcycle, though, you do not passively observe the environment from behind glass, as if it were a display in a museum. You are a part of it, in it, among it freely. (Ed. Note: I still wish we had gotten off the highway and ridding the actual Avenue of the Giants, but we were getting on dark soon, and there was one more adventure left for us today, and it would be better done in the light. Next time.)
We rolled over dozens of bridges today too. Most of them extending over what used to be, I assume, flowing rivers. Now those rivers are mere streams and trickles. I hope this is the result of the season and not something else. It would have been cool to ride over them while water flowed bank to bank.
We finished today with the greatest 40 mile run that any of us had ever ridden. Ever. We turned off the freeway to Fort Bragg, CA, and passed a sign that said, “Narrow Winding Road Next 40 Miles.” Oh hell yes. What followed can only be described as orgasmic in its intensity. It was the most rigorous twisties I’ve ever ridden. It made me use all my skill as a rider, challenged me, and I totally got in its face. I’ve never had a rush like that. None of us has every ridden as well as we did today. We sparked the crap out of our floorboards. We bent the bikes over and came in hot and scrubbed off just enough speed to spark through again. The bikes were twisting through these corners, hot and tight, surrounded by trees, not a car on the road. It grew dark as we tore it up. (Ed. Note: At this point I’ve honestly reached a huge moment of If You’ve Never Done It, Nothing Will Explain It. There are no words for this road. The American Motorcyclist Association named it one of the Top Five roads in the country. If you don’t ride, if you’ve never been in the twisties, fear cowering in the back of your mind, confidence and aggression surging through your body, at one with the machine, you will never understand this road, no matter what I say. It was amazing. Period.) There was a stop light in the middle, just when I was starting to believe that sign really meant 40 miles of narrow winding roads, and Papa Rocket stopped, screaming, “I love this road! I love this bike! I love this road and this bike!” We were shaking, pumped full of adrenaline and jacked on power.
When we finished we had to find a turn-out and when we did we bounded from our saddles, shouting and embracing and jumping. We were shaking, high as we had ever been, one with our machines, like conquering heroes. We walked to the edge of the cliffs and looked down at the ocean crashing upon the rocks and bubbled about what we had done. It was the Perfect Ride. No cages, no problems. Zen. The feeling cannot be adequately expressed. Greatest twisties of our lives. (Ed. Note: So far. There are still four other roads on that list.)
Best stretch of road on the entire 4,000 mile trip. Incredible.
I get to see my friends tomorrow at Too Good’s. Yay! And Stitches is going to a doctor , she’s not feeling any better. Another long day. We’re almost done. I don’t wanna be done.
399 miles today
3,509 miles total
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Start – Astoria, OR 8:05am
End – Sutherlin, OR 8:55pm
You’ll notice the time it took to travel a relatively short distance is inordinately long. It’s because we rode on a Sunday and thusly the biker gods did smite us.
The day started out well enough. Apparently in Oregon it is illegal to get your own gas so Jared had to run my credit card for me. My savior. (Ed. Note: He wasn’t foolish enough to actually try and pump my gas like he would have done had I been in a car. So he just took my card from me, ran it through the slot, gave it back, and handed me the pump. What a guy!) Then we got to ride over a 1.8 mile bridge. Not as cool as yesterday but long bridges are still awesome.
After that we rocketed through some pretty wicked sweepers, loving the weather and the view. Lots of green trees and smooth roads. We climbed and stopped at an overlook to take some pictures looking down at the Pacific. Gorgeous and clear. We’ve been amazingly lucky with weather so far. (Ed. Note: I swear, during the ride this morning I actually thought to myself, along with we’d been so lucky with weather, that we’d been lucky as far as mechanical troubles. Just the Vision needing a boost. I do believe I cursed us, like a batboy talking to a pitcher during a no-hitter. “Hey, why you sitting all by yourself? Did you know you’ve got a no-hitter going?” Noooo!)
60 miles in and Lillypad’s V-Star started getting clunky and grinding. (Ed. Note: We didn’t know there was trouble. At a stop sign a mile before she said something to Papa Rocket, but he either didn’t hear or didn’t understand. We launched into some more sweepers and she quickly fell from view, as she does. We stopped at a pull-out to wait for her and when a bunch of cars passed but she didn’t we got worried. Papa Rocket went back to investigate, leaving Stitches, Too Good and I to wait. Not fun.) After further investigation Master Mechanic Too Good declared the bike unridable (Ed. Note: A word, which, according to Word, is not a word.). We were stuck at the turnout, waiting on AAA.
As we waited on AAA we also had to figure out where to take the bike and what to do from there. After much discussion and iPhonecalls it was decided Lillypad’s family could help us out with a truck and trailer. Now, to wait.
And where do we wait? Fred Meyer! Just a jump down the road is a tiny little town with one of these horrendous eye-sores. (Ed. Note: A Fred Meyer is a Super Walmart on steroids. They have everything. And when I say tiny little town, here’s what I mean: We thought it might be fun to see Transformers while we were waiting so we set off to find the theater. It was showing the movie. Once. At 6:30pm. The town was so small the theater owners said, “To save money, on the weekends we should really only show the one movie we have here once a day. The whole town fits into the theater anyway.”) Four hours inside Fred Meyer is enough to drive the most stable people insane. We are not the most stable people. Too Good and I diagnosed ourselves with SOSMS (Sudden Onset Slayer Moment Syndrome (Ed. Note: “Hi, my name is Dirtbag and I have SOSMS. You may also. Do you find yourself walking down the street, talking to a friend, or just sitting at home, when suddenly you break into a short, intense bout of headbanging and, possibly, air guitar or air drum playing? Does this happen at random and sometimes inopportune moment of your day, possibly in the middle of and ruining job interviews, dates, or sex? Then you too may have SOSMS, the most metal of all diseases.”) and we all realized the only way Too Good would be the first to be ready to go would be if we sat around for an hour first. Also, the first and only time Lillypad led during the entire trip was when her bike was on the back of a tow truck.
So we went from incredible off-the-main-road coastal riding to trapped in Tillamook, OR (Ed. Note: Yeah, the cheese place.) Bummer, no one’s fault though. Finally help arrived in the form of, surprisingly enough, Santa Claus in a truck with a trailer. He loaded the bike up, Lillypad and Stitches climbed in, and they were away, leaving Papa Rocket, Too Good, and I to make our own way to the hotel. I feel bad for the girls. No one wants to be stuck in a pickup with Santa and one of his helpers for four hours, even if they are helping us. (Ed. Note: I later heard to story about their ride in the truck and feel so badly for them. Let’s just say Santa drives like an idiot and he and his elf’s conversation on the way back wasn’t much better. Yeah, let’s just try to leave it at that. On a completely unrelated note, anyone seen Deliverance?)
We took off right behind them, quickly passing and getting back into some wicked sweepers. I felt locked in and rocking. The road was great and would have been even better if the dangerous woman in the Suburban would have gotten out of our way. Instead of sermonizing from my soapbox yet again on the proper cager etiquette in this situation I will merely do a little dance on it then step down.
Because of the lateness of the day we only took the sweepers for about 30 miles then bumped over to the freeway. This is both good and bad. Good because we could then open it up to 80 and get where we are going before it gets dark, and bad because this isn’t supposed to be about getting there quickly. Oh well, we were all Fred Meyer-crazed at this point and ready to be done with the day. (Ed. Note: And Papa Rocket is getting old and doesn’t see so well at night any more.)
It was, by far, the easiest riding day due to the long stretch of freeway riding. After all the 300+ mile days we’ve had, 275 wide open is a piece of cake. And the freeway ain’t so bad. Papa Rocket got to show off the spaceship some more, (which he let me pilot the last 50 miles…fun! Heated grips are a completely unnecessary extravagance…and wonderful.) and Too Good and I got to mess with cagers. (Ed. Note: No, I won’t go into details. Just think unshaven biker with a flip-up helmet and a weird sense of humor pulling up next to your window.)
The trip is not dead. It sounds like Santa is going to pack the V-Star onto his magic sled and take it back to southern California and Lillypad is going to ride on the spaceship with Papa Rocket for the remainder of the trip. That’s better then we thought it was going to be.
Back in Kalifornia tomorrow. So soon? Damn.
275 miles today
3110 miles total
Friday, July 24, 2009
Start – Victoria, BC, CA 10:30am
End – Astoria, OR 6:60pm
Back in the land of the free and the home of the Whopper. Got right on the ferry this morning, literally 0.2 miles from the hotel to the boat. (Too Good accidently left his shades in the room. Room service brought them to the front desk lady, who ran, I repeat ran, out to the terminal to give them back to him. These people are SO NICE! And we barely made the boat. Stupid private company, Black Ball, overbooked it. We were squeezed on last, filling small spaces. I missed Canada already.) We noticed something: American border patrol guards are way less friendly than their Canadian counterparts. I understand, it’s a lame job and repetitive and boring, but they are the first Americans someone coming into the country meets. We’re trying to improve our image here guys! Come on! (I mention this because as we were getting on the boat we were checked by a border guard. He was a douche. If I caught his name I would write it here: ______ is a douche. But I didn’t. They guys who checked us in again in America were also humorless automatons.)
Two more quick things on border patrol: First, yesterday we were welcomed into Canada by a guy in a turban! Awesome! We all agreed you would never see that in Amerika, the land of the free. Where all men are created equal…unless some who looks vaguely like you fucks with us, then you’re fair game.
Secondly, when we were getting off the ferry in Port Angeles, WA Too Good was stopped and searched. I, for one, was very concerned. The root of my concern was that they may have discovered he is a super-secret spy for the Nova Scotian mob, which contacted him during our brief stay in Victoria using his mob name: Pokey, and that would royally screw our time-table. Luckily they were just doing their pig thing and soon we were on our way. Lillypad took some pictures of the strip search behind the gate. Great.
Just because I don’t think I mentioned it enough yesterday, I can’t stress how much we all loved Canada. Victoria was so clean, the people were so nice. All of us seriously discussed taking the last ferry out tonight or staying an extra day. Not to be, but we will be back. We fell in love with our neighbors to the north. No more Canadian jokes for me! Well…I’ll try to cut back. Love live the land of Rush and Shatner. (Ed. Note: They should get the damn queen off their money though. Come on, Canada, grow up!)
All this Canada love I in no way meant to cut down Washington, which is a beautiful state. Our ride today was pretty short but very nice. We rode through long, huge corridors of trees leading to the Puget Sound. Lots of 4th gear sweepers and minimal cager interference.
Stopped for lunch at the T-Bird, not too bad. I think I got screwed on my meal, but it happens. Was tired of burgers. Got to use my reverse gear, I call it Stitches, to get out of some gravel. Speaking of reverse, the road we were on today seemed to be a favorite of Gold Wings, musta seen a gaggle of them, and crotch rockets. Big pack of sport bikes pulled up behind us as we were stuck behind an old guy on a Hardley, a red car, and a pick-up. Eventually the truck moved over to let them pass but they were unable to because the other car wouldn’t get out of the way. Too bad, wanted to see them make the jump to lightspeed.
We also passed a massive amount of felled trees. I think I saw a sign that said 100 acres of trees had blown down. (Ed. Note: I have no idea of I read that sign right. Maybe they were all cut down by loggers. But I prefer to think wind did it.) Crazy. Looked like Paul Bunyan on crack had been through. Passed a few lumber yards too. Smelled good, what I could smell.
I think I’m fighting what Stitches has and Too Good had. Getting a runny nose and trying to blow it at 70mph in sweepers is not recommended. Even if you have a handkerchief. Dayquil is good.
I love coming to big bodies of water when riding. Almost always it’s a huge reveal, a big dramatic moment of cresting a hill or coming around a corner. (Ed. Note: Hence, why I love living where I live. All roads lead to the ocean. I win!) Today was no exception. We left the trees on our right and there was the ocean. And the bridge.
Papa Rocket has been talking up this bridge for days now. He’s been so excited and now I know why. Riding over water is a special experience. And good bridges, when you look to your left and to your right and see nothing but water or, better still, nothing at all, are incredible. This bridge was better.
Half a mile into it we crossed from Washington into the great state of Oregon. Means only California’s border crossing is left on our ride. Damn. But look back at that distance. A bridge a half mile long? Oh yeah. All told, from the start on the Washington side to where it became an overpass on the Oregon side it was 3.8 miles long. This, my friends, is a looooooong stretch of concrete over water. We wanted to turn around and do it again. (Ed. Note: This was a very cool experience. I want to do it again. Not the whole Oregon part, just the bridge.)
In the rooms now. Everyone knows the shortening days and southerning heading mean the end is approaching and no one is happy about it. See Lillypad’s family tomorrow, then Too Good’s in a few days.
We went border to border on motorcycles. It’s a trip. I miss Canada. I know it’s been said (by me and others) but it’s an amazing country filled with really nice people. On the ferry looking back at the slowly shrinking island of Victoria (Ed. Note: And right before Too Good fell asleep again. I swear, every time we stopped that wasn’t for food or gas he passed out.) the only two adjectives I could bring to mind were “nice” and “pretty”. Maybe not bad ass biker sentiments or the vibe the country is going for, but I can dig it. If they only did something aboot the snow. Brrr.
240 miles today
2835 miles total
Start – Kirkland, WA 8:40am
End – Victoria, BC, CA 4:30pm
We are in Canada, eh! Border to Border success! The marauding motorcycle horde arrived at the Canadian border a mere 112 miles after leaving Stitches’ dad’s place. A 30 minute wait later and across we rumbled. (Ed. Note: If you can, try to imagine this entire entry is a bad Canadian accent, eh. It’s aboot how I sounded in my head the whole time.)
The day started with a bad omen. My bike, the Nomad, has an aftermarket trunk and the key to said trunk has been gradually weakening. Well, this am it finally went. I twisted it to open the trunk and only the top of the key turned, not the teeth. Scary moment before I pulled it out intact. (Ed. Note: All manner of frightened thoughts flashed through my mind when that thing gave way. *shiver*) Luckily, Papa Rocket is also Joe Boyscout and a spare was ready. Whew! Off we went.
Crossing the border was as uneventful as it could possibly be. A lot of start-and-stop, on-and-off in line. We stopped and checked out the gift shop about 50 yards past the border. Bought flag pins. Yay Canada, eh! (Ed. Note: I don’t even own an American flag pin. But I own a Canadian one! I love Rush that much.)
Then the Canadian Bike Gods decided to smite the rocket ship. It might also have been all the Rush and William Shatner jokes Too Good and I had been cracking. (Ed. Note: They are both from Canada! How much more proof do you need that Canada rocks? Just ignore that harpy, Celine Dion. She doesn’t over power the Shatner.) Either way, in front of a huge group of Catholic teen tourists, the Vision refused to turn over. Damn. Damn damn. (Ed. Note: Where the hell is Javier when you need him?[If you don’t get that joke go back to Day One. Should learn to read in order or work on your retention skills.])
A bump start in front of a crowd is never fun, especially when it doesn’t work. (Ed. Note: And when they are being too helpful by half and getting in the way. Stupid good Samaritans. Sure, just because we’re in Canada you gotta be polite.) So Too Good and I set off to find jumper cables while Lillypad called AAA in hopes they have a Canadian cousin. (They do. Yay!)
This lead to my being able to say one of the best sentences of my life: “I’ll be right back, border patrol has my ID.” Let me explain. First we went to the gift shop. They politely sent us to the duty free shop across the street (Ed. Note: We may have jay-scampered across the street at this point. Nothing like immediately breaking a law in a new country.). They duty free shop politely set us to the border patrol station. This is where we learned Canadian cops have just as much of a sense of humor as American cops. That is to say- none.
We were full on questioned, more detailed than when we actually crossed the border. “Where are you coming from?” “What do you do there?” “Why are you in Canada?” “For how long?” “How did you get here?” and so on in a stern but still Canadian accent. (Ed. Note: He was of Middle Eastern descent as well. Isn’t it always fun to hear an accent come out of a face you aren’t expecting it from? Like a Chinese guy who sounds British. Also, the whole time he was questioning us he had my ID and Too Good’s passport in front of him and he was typing furiously on his keyboard, looking very serious. I think he was checking out our Facebook pages. What else could he have been doing? Looking at Canadian porn? [I have so many funny images of what Canadian porn could look like I can’t even begin to go into them now. Think maple syrup and extreme politeness, but dirty.] ) Finally he gave us a booster with a warning to come right back, keeping my ID and Too Good’s passport as collateral.
The booster worked and the space ship was running as soon as Too Good hooked it up. He got to be the Canadian Hero!
That delayed us enough to miss our planned ferry so we road to and then hung out at the dock for an hour waiting for the one o’clock. Great ferry, very smooth, easy load and unload. (Ed. Note: Government ferry. Like oil. Tomorrow’s ferry not so much. Private American company.) Beautiful scenery as we traveled between the San Juan islands. Or so I heard. Too Good and I napped most of the way.
The ferry arrived in port and it was a short 30km jaunt to Victoria and our hotel. Apparently Canadians have never seen a Vision because many times during that short trip people pulled up next to Papa Rocket excitedly pointing and taking pictures. (Ed. Note: Really, a guy was leaning over his wife with his cell phone to get a good shot. While she was driving.)
The kilometer thing is a trip for all of us too. The speed signs are now all in kph, hard to switch thinking. Kinda funny to see signs that read “Maximum 100 kph.” This makes Canada awesome because we’ll get better mileage. Kilometers are shorter and kph are faster. Makes sense, right? (Ed. Note: I have no excuse for this logic. It was late. I was tired.)
Notes on Canada - it’s a cliché but the people here are so nice. Like, everyone is incredibly polite. And the whole area is clean. Just beautiful. Canadians know what a great land they have and they also know that if they ruin the populated parts all that’s left is the tundra and bears. Better treat the good part well. And they do.
We’re all thrilled with Victoria. Short ride today too. I’d love to come back for the Olympics in 2010. The hotel is right on the harbor. Watched sea planes land and a street performer on a tall unicycle. Funny guy. Also have some Canadian money now. It’s pretty. (Ed. Note: They have hockey players on their money! We should put baseball players on ours! Presidents? Pshaw.)
We get to sleep in a bit tomorrow. That should be good for all of us. Stitches is still feeling under the weather.
Michael Jackson died yesterday. Must blast Thriller in his honor. Back to the states tomorrow, eh.
160 miles today (257.5km)
2595 miles total (4176.2km)