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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back in the US... Back in the US... Back in the USSA!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I'm baaaaaack!  Literally, and figuratively...  back in the States both physically, and back online with another post.  

Since I booked my flight with United miles leftover from my previous life as a posh businessman, routing wasn't ideal.  Can't complain when the flight/s were free though.  Plus, I've gained a hell of a lot more patience on this trip.  I boarded my flight in BsAs the evening of the 5th, which put me into Houston the morning of the 6th.  From there I had relatively painless flights to San Francisco, and then on to LA.

Reuniting with the motorcycle was a long process, but fairly easy.  LAN Cargo is very close on Avion, so you can actually take any of the free hotel shuttles and walk the one block or so to the office.  A brief thanks to Dan (PlacesBeyond) for the tips.   Once there you present your paperwork and pay your fees, then take a taxi to US Customs where you fill out a few forms and get stamped in, then after all that, head back to LAN where your bike will be delivered via forklift.  I unwrapped the bike, reconnected the battery, mirrors, windscreen, and luggage, and was on my way.  

My good friend Sam lives in Santa Monica and offered his place for Dyann (my friend and current/new riding partner - see last post) and me to stay for a couple of nights.  Talk about culture shock, after 9mos of slummin' it I found myself in a deluxe oceanside penthouse w/ ample garage parking.  Sam if you read this, THANK YOU so much for the hospitality and for showing me/us around the area.  I've spent some time in LA, but never really explored Santa Monica, Main St, or Abbott Kinney, all of which are great.  There is also a Deus Ex Machina location nearby, and I ended up there three times in two days having coffee, drooling over custom bikes, and enjoying fantastic conversations with new friends.  We sampled fantastic cuisine, craft beer, amazing coffee, and expensive wine.  We even ended up at Jumbo's Clown Room (don't ask) one of the nights for several pints of piss, bad decisions, and a solid headache the next day.  Long story short, I really enjoyed my time with Sam and Dyann, and hopping around the city.  A great way to start my reintroduction Stateside.  

From the city Dyann and I rode up the coast a bit.  Around Ventura we ventured north towards McKittrick.  From there we took 58 west to Santa Margarita, then cruised the coast all the way to Big Sur, where we found a sweet cliffside campsite overlooking the Pacific in Los Padres Nat'l Forest near Will Creek Rd.  Being essentially brand new to riding, I'm really proud of Dyann.  Not only is it her first street bike, but her first trip as well, and she is ripping around like an old pro, and has all the gear sorted perfectly (probably better than me I'm ashamed to say).  I'm hard pressed to think of another girl who can clean up for a successful business career, is witty, fun, loves motorcycles, and also doesn't mind camping multiple nights in primitive settings (i.e. no showers, water access, etc).  Needless to say, she's 'down'.  

After our first night under the stars, we broke camp around 8am and headed up the coast.  Near Kirk Creek we hooked a right up and away from the coast on Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.  Let me just say this, that road is F'ing amazing!  Also, plenty of choice, free, motorcycle-friendly camping dotting the roadside.  From there we continued east on beautiful roads all the way to Sequoia Nat'l Park.  The day and ride reminded me how much I've missed some parts of the US, and California.  We ended up finding another amazing, free campsite just north of the park, into nat'l forest area (north of Stony Creek - near Horse Camp/Big Meadows on Forest Rd 14S11).  We set up camp last night, and will be here through tonight.  Tomorrow we'll head to/through Yosemite and spend the night there.  After that, we'll head north on 395 exploring our way up to Tahoe.  No real plan after that, just need to be in Sonoma on the 15th.  

Being back has been surreal to say the least.  This morning I was abruptly awakened by a tree cracking and falling near our camp.  It startled me, and for a second I didn't remember where I was.  For a brief moment it felt like the whole Central and South American portions of this trip were a dream, and that I just woke up back home.  It was a strange feeling.  

Another weird thing happened yesterday.  As we were nearing the park, I was behind a car full of 20-somethings.  As I was about to pass, the driver brake checked hard.  I didn't react negatively, and just went around slowly staring to see what kind of asshat would endanger a life behind him.  As soon as I passed, the car sped up and drove about six inches off my tail.  Again, I chose not to react, just turned on my GoPro.  They refused to pass, and rode behind me for a couple miles.  Finally, when another lane came available they passed quickly and fingers were flying out of the windows.  My first instinct was to 'salute' back, but I just laughed inside my helmet and let it slide.  After a few miles the kid slammed on the brakes again and came to a complete stop in the middle of the road.  I'm assuming they wanted a reaction, but I just waited until they turned into a parking spot on the left.  I slowly rode by staring intently and gave them a friendly wave.  The whole car started shaking and again there was a flurry of one-finger salutes.  I just rode on and wondered what had gotten them so riled up.  I laughed inside my helmet thinking of all the real shit I encountered on this adventure.  It was my first experience with true American road rage since I've left.  I think it was an entitlement thing.  He felt he was entitled to be at the front of the line, and when I went by, it hurt his ego somehow.  The whole thing is a testament to how I've changed.  That would have pushed my buttons to no end before, and would have ended differently for sure.  It felt great to just ride on.  Anyway, I hope the juggalo in the silver Mazda3 w/ tag 7ENM193 had a better day today.  PS...  Nice neck tattoo, I'm sure that'll help you land the job of your dreams!  

I guess that's it for now.  I'm in a cafĂ© inside the park getting caught up, but am gonna go check out a few sights on the bike.  Dyann went to tour one of the caves, but I can't be bothered with throngs of tourists at the moment, so I opted out.  I'm gonna take a few fire roads to enjoy the perfect weather, and get lost in some good tunes.  Until then...

~ D

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