Sunday, 24 October 2010

I want to live in Los Angeles*

Unfortunately the southern Californian coast was shrouded in fog when I hit “Big Sur” the much talked about “awesome” coast road south of San Francisco.

Northern Elephant seals, Californain coast

I parked here first and when I came back I could hardly get on the bike.

I'm sure it's lovely but I couldn't see much of it. I stopped off for the night camping near Irish Mountain and was joined by a very inquisitive Bobcat.

A cat called Bob

Later that evening, whilst sitting at my picnic table I heard a noise, turned my headtorch to the bushes and saw two Raccoons sniffing about.

Friday I road into Los Angeles. Not something I had been looking forward too but I had a date with a BMW dealer and anyway it wasn't as busy as I thought it might be. Now you know with drill with BMW dealers. I go in for a small job and come out at least $2000 poorer. So wait for it....

I got a new rear tire, a few bits and pieces for the bike ( I can actually take the spark plugs out now) and they confirmed that the front wheel rim is a little warped. I already knew this and as it would cost well over $1000 to get a new one it's just something I'm going to have to live with. It shouldn't be dangerous – (I've been on enough twisty roads already), just something to be aware of and perhaps if/when I get to South Africa it's something I'll need to address before hitting the less tarmacked African roads.

So, as I prepare to leave the good old US of A. Here are a few facts. I've been here for 48 days and covered about 8500 miles. I've been impressed with the people, the roads and the countryside. I've been less impressed with the food, cost and campsites. Let me explain.

Everyone I've met has been friendly and helpful. Lots of people have come up to speak to me about the trip and are good fun to talk with. Some of the roads have been the very best I've ever ridden on, and even the boring ones have been easy, well maintained and relatively free of traffic. What traffic there is obeys the road rules and gives me space. And the countryside? The National Parks are, of course, fantastic. I love the hugeness of it all. And the variety. Just a great place to travel.

Downside – The food. It's far too easy to eat poorly in the US. Portions are ridiculously big - especially drinks and you soon get fed up with burgers or pizza. And although America is cheaper than Canada, some things are still a little expensive. Especially camping. As, I think, I've said before, campsites charge per site so I'm paying $15-25 for a site even though it's just me. And many of the campsite don't tailer themselves for tents so the pitches aren't flat, are gravel rather than grass and there is nowhere to wash up your dishes up.

Favourite State – Oregon (for the coast)
Favourite place – Possibly Zion National Park or Moab or Redwoods
Favourite place to stay – Augusta Montana
Biggest disappointment – Not been stopped by the state troopers

I have really enjoyed my time here. The America that I have witnessed was friendly, helpful, organised and awesome. Don't get me wrong. I'm very aware that I only witnessed one version of America and there are hundreds. Much of America still scares and worries me. The aggressive nature of the police worries me; the fact that 15 people thought the oldest rocks in Grand Canyon would be found at the top worries me; the support for the “Tea Party” worries me; the fact that the Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado may win worries me (He thinks Obama is a Marxists and has argued that America should bomb Mecca); the drive thu culture worries me; the size of food portions worries me....I could go on but you get the picture.

My last real pit stop in America was in L.A. I spent Friday night with Andrea and Scot. Andrea had been a student of mine in Colombia 10 years ago. She had found me on facebook a while ago and offered to put me up for the night if I was passing through Los Angeles. It was a little bizarre(in a good way!) to catch up with someone who I had last seen as a fifteen year old student. It made me feel really old! But we had a good night out, and Scot showed me his impressive garage full of motorbikes.

Scott's garage. I think there are eight bikes in here.

Scott and Andrea - thanks guys.

I left them on Saturday to head down to the border.

I'm very excited about entering a new country. Two months is a long time to travel in one country and I'm ready for the challenges of moving into a new one. Mexico – bring it on.. por favor

* I want to live in Los Angeles - Frank Black.

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