Thursday, 20 December 2012

Home alone !

Well I am now at home....... but I have no regular internet until Feb when my phone gets put back on line !!

I promise I will do a full write up of my last few weeks in the USA and how it felt when I got home...... also will do a breakdown of highs and lows and what equipment worked and what didnt !!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The end is nigh !

Well time and time again I say " I must update my blog" then I do some washing, check the bike over, crack open a beer or two and end up watching telly !!!
Of course I dont watch telly when I am camping ! but I do tend to snuggle up in bed and watch a movie on my laptop and of course most campsites do not have WiFi !

Well in the next couple of days I will end this part of the Journey, 7 1/2 months and roughly 20,000 miles to circumnavigate the world !East to East :-)

Im not far off but at the moment I am staying with my Uncle and Aunt in Jacksonville for a few days rest before heading of to the East coast and completing the mission !

So I last wrote I was heading towards Las Vegas, well I had a couple of cracking days and found a motel just off the main drive at a very good rate. I spent the days wandering up and down looking at the massive casinos and all the florescent signs that are found every where in Vegas !

I also took the night bus tour, this was a $20 tour which took place aboard a London open topped double decker bus. I soon made friends with a couple and had a fantastic night, The trip also included a 90 minute stop in old downtown, where I saw a spectacular light show

What a fantastic place ! I would have loved to have stayed for a week or more.

From Vegas I headed over the Hoover dam and onwards to Arizona,
I did start to ride more on the Interstate roads ( think motorways), but every now and then I would drop off onto smaller back roads.
Thru Arizona and then thru New Mexico, Miles and miles of nothing ! I also took the time to do some of the old Route 66, I was quite disappointed ! nothing of note to see apart from a few touristy type shops and cafes.

Then I hit Texas, man that state is huge !! I think it took me about 4 days of riding to get thru it !

I did see cotton fields for the first time and lots of oil well pumps, but it soon became thousands of acres of cotton fields and a million oil pumps !

I was also invited to stay with Lee and Pat and family, I even did a couple of radio interviews of my trip !
I ended up staying for 4 days, once again I had been made to feel like part of the family and was fed well, over fed ! but you cannot go on a road trip and stay forever at peoples houses, so it was time to get moving again.

I had managed to stay just ahead of the cold weather that was quickly chasing me, some mornings I thought the bad weather had managed to catch up with me but I was always lucky and one step ahead !

It was then onto the Gulf of Mexico, following miles and miles of road that hugged the coastline, fantastic scenery but was still a bit nippy first thing in the mornings.

As I approached a town of Pensacola I noticed my rear tyre didnt feel right ... this is what I saw when I looked !

And this was on a Saturday afternoon and all the motorbike dealers were closed ! some of them appeared to  be closed till Tuesday morning !

Anyway, my friend Polly had seen my plight and her husband Doug was in the area and managed to get a hold off a spare tyre for my bike, delivering it to me on Sunday morning it was soon swapped out and I was on my way again. 

Here Doug gives me helpful instructions whilst I sweat to change the tyre out !!

From there on it was back on the road towards my Uncles house, which is where I am now, having a couple of days rest before pushing on again.
Ride Safe, till the next instalment :-)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Now heading East

Well I know its been a few weeks since my last update, I keep saying "I must update my blog" then I get to my motel or campsite and get a beer and settle down for the night and then the blog goes out of the window !!

One thing I have been thinking about was the lovely couple who hosted me some weeks ago when I stayed at Lake Tahoe. Christine was originally from Bury in the UK and invited me to stay in front of their RV. No sooner had I parked up, Alan her husband was out and offering me a whisky followed by a beer :-) I have to admit I was a bit light headed while I put my tent up. As I sorted out my stuff, Alan had made me a delicious home made chip buttie ! The next thing, he is lighting a lovely camp fire for me..... I felt like a king that day :-)

A warming camp fire that Alan sorted out for me
I thought that I had taken a photo of Alan and Christine but I can not find it ! Then again, I have now taken about 4000 pictures on this trip.

Well after I left Boonville, I headed down on route 1. This is a fantastic route that hugs the Californian coastline. I ended up staying in Vallejo with Scott, who had kindly offered a room on the ADV rider site.
I just felt I really needed a break from riding! so much so that I ended up staying for 9 days :-) It was so nice to just chill and walk to the local shops. I also did some work on my bike and carried out a mini service.
Scott getting ready for a ride out

Leaving Scott's I head south over the Golden Gate bridge, to be honest it didnt seem that grand ! and it cost me $6 to cross !

Mind you, the ride down route 1 made up for the disappointment! lots of sweeping curves and the views were spectacular :-)
Posing on Route 1 California

So after a few days of living it up on the road I had arrived at the HUBB meet in Cambria. I was due to give a presentation on my trip so far. To be honest, I was quite nervous ! However it went down a treat and everyone managed to understand my English jokes :-)
So much so that I ended up doing 3 presentations !
To me though, the best bit about the meet was meeting like minded people, people who understand the need to travel. I made many new friends that weekend :-)
I also met up with Iain and Debz, who I had left the UK with just over 6 months ago. It was great to listen to their stories.

So now I am now near Area 51, having survived the ride thru Death Valley!
The next few days will see me having a rest in Las Vegas before heading East

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Welcome to Sunny California

Well today it has been 6 months since I left home in the UK.

What an incredible journey its been so far. I think my mileage is around 16,000 miles but I cannot be certain as my speedo cable broke when I went down just outside Ulan Ude Russia.

So I am now in Vallejo just outside San Fransisco California, so how did I get here ? I have no idea ! The other day I decided to reinstate my diary, it took a few hours to work out where I have been in the last couple of months.
Its so easy to just ride along and forget where you have been, some days I think of fantastic twisty roads I have rode and have to think hard where they were ! or maybe its just old age sinking in !

So I left Cheyenne and headed towards Salt lake city with the view of seeing Bonneville salts. I have to say, what a boring ride ! mile after mile of a very straight road with ...... wait for it ............salt on either side of the road !

Can you imagine riding 100's of miles on this road !
I ended up in Wendover, right on the state line of Utah and Nevada. One side of the town had cheap motels and the other was all the glitzy huge hotels with brightly lit casino's attached to them. Needless to say, I stayed in the cheap part of the town :-)
The town was having an airshow on the saturday, I was hoping to camp at the airshow but they wouldnt let me. They did however offer to watch my bike and look after my stuff while I spent a few hours walking around.

World War 2 Veterans, I really enjoyed chatting to these guys for over a hour 
Lots of planes to see

And other interesting people to talk to :-)

Posing in a World War 2 Jeep
The was lots to see and do at the airshow, as I walked round people kept stopping me and asking if I was that English guy riding around the world..... fame at last hahaha, I did really enjoy chatting to lots and lots of interesting people.
I headed south West hoping to catch up with my friend Geoff who had kindly offered to take some packages in for me. One of the parcels was a replacement Kindle, though it did take almost a week of negotiations with Amazon as I had bought my kindle from the UK. When they did finally agree to send a replacement they forgot to include any return mail labels (they had promised as I had 30 days to return the broken kindle or they would charge me for another).
So after another couple of hours negotiations they agreed I did not have to return the broken kindle ( mind you, I have that much confidence in Amazon that I am keeping my old kindle for the next few months in case they go back on their word !).
The other thing I was waiting for was an airmat from Exped, my old one kept going down on me. So I sent the mat to them and within a few days a replacement mat was sent to Geoff. Why cant all companies be this good ?

Well I arrived in Boonville, what a delightful small town :-) Geoff and his brother Alan really spoiled me. The highlight for me was a quiz night at the local pub, of course we had to sample the food too !

Posing outside the pub

My winnings :-) I won a spot prize in the pub

Burger was huge !! I was unable to eat it all
So after a few days of being pampered I set off to see the coast of California :-) but first I had to say goodbye to Geoff's family 

Last family picture before moving on
I think I could have happily stayed in Boonville for a good few months :-)

I headed down route 1, infact I often headed back and forth to ride on route 1. It is one of those fabulous twisty roads. Some of the cliff drops where slightly frightening lol 

I spent a few days camping along the coast, I did find a cracking campsite right on the beach. Priced at $5 a night it was a steal ! However, there was a fog horn that blasted every minute of the night ! So it was earplugs in and a peaceful nights sleep.

I then moved to Scott's house. Scott had kindly offered tent/room space on a thread on ADV forum. So I contacted him and he said I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted.
So I have now been here 5 days, just relaxing and pottering around :-) I have managed to sort out all the little bike problems and have done a service, bleeding brakes and oil and filter change.

The next few days will take me down the coast where I intend to camp and chill prior to attending the HUBB meet in Cambria, where I will be doing a small presentation on my trip so far... just hope no one falls asleep during it lol
till the next time... ride safe :-)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sturgis I love you :-)

Well I know its been a while since the last update. So I now find myself in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I spent a few days at Yellowstone, though Yellowstone West reminded me very much of Blackpool, full of tacky overpriced shops ! but the saving grace was the beauty of Yellowstone National Park

Lovely Buffalo comes to say hello to Louise.. my bike

stunning colours

Old Faithful blows for me :-)

The heat was stiff ling 
I had 2 days in the park and then headed east for Sturgis where I was hoping to catch up with the Cannonball 2012 race, these guys are riding East to West all on pre 1930 bikes ! They think nothing of stripping down an engine by the side of the road and replacing pistons and heads ! These are the hardcore riders of the world.
I decided I would try as best as I could and stay of the main highways... think Motorways ! so I was happy to spend my days winding down smaller roads. One road, was called the "Chief Joseph Highway" took me up a spiralling mountain, at the top I reached 9,430 feet. A new record for altitude height. 
On this road I saw, An Indian on horseback, a moose ! thought it was cattle till I saw the massive horns and lots of deer.

I was hoping to see Custers last stand at the Battle of Little Big Horn but realised that the cannonball riders ( here is the link )arrive at Sturgis on Thursday night ! Its so easy to loose total track of time when your on the road.
So I head 250 miles to Sturgis and managed to bump into Doug ( I stayed at his campsite in Bulgaria). He invited me to join the rest of the riders at a free dinner and drink do :-) There I met the owner of the campsite Fritz who invited me to stay as long as I liked.
So I had a lovely 4 day rest and caught up on all my laundry and serviced the bike.
Finally managed to meet up with Doug

Sturgis camp site, during bike week this is home to 9,000 campers

Leaving Sturgis I backtracked to Devils Monument, it is famous for the film "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind but actually is about a bear chasing Indian children..... Google is your friend here lol

From there I headed home.... to Newcastle !

Sadly Newcastle Wyoming !
Now that really did make me feel homesick.
I headed up to Crazy Horse Memorial, it truely was a breathtaking event ! The monument is fantastic and I would love to see it finished in my lifetime.

The I headed for Mount Rushmore but they wanted $11 entry, its the same if you turn up with a car full of 5 people, so I decided just to look from a distance... to be honest, after Crazy Horse I was a bit let down at how small the presidents heads are.

I then followed the road to Custer Park, what a fantastic road it was, full of little twisty turns and 360 degree turns where you would climb up by the use of wooden bridges... I have never ridden anything like that!

I then ended up in Hot Springs and so a local talked to me about a campsite about 20 miles down the road. So off I went, 20 miles, 30, 40 still no campsite ! 50,60,70 still nothing, I was on a very straight road.... with fences either side !
To make matters worse the light was fading fast, I find a town ... great ... its a ghost town frown full of old buildings and abandoned cars..... Julian banjos started playing in my head ! get the hell out of there quick !
110 miles later... and nearly out of fuel .. I find a motel... but the bloke wants $55 ( I have set a $40 tops motel fund), so I move on 3 miles down the road... find a Fort with a camp area, 45 mins later in the pitch black I find the campsite and get set up... havent ate all day, so cook some sausages up and have a cold beer smile
being late, I decided just to cover the frying pan (with a plastic bag because I am having eggs in the morning) so I put the pan outside my inner tent and put it on top of my hard cases. around 4 in the morning, theres a big crash !!! I jump up... something is trying to steal the frying pan ... so I get my torch and open the zip about 1 inch and peer out ... nothing there... but the plastic bag is all ripped... so I brought inside the tent.... Lay there, thinking feck me.. what if it had been a bear !! Was I going to blind it with my torch light lol.. I think it was a raccoon or something like that.
I also heard Indians singing... and I think wolves crying.... the next day I asked the lady in the petrol station about the Indians... she said "Theres no Indians round here..... well not since a 100 years ago"..... Made my hairs stand up on my neck!
Needless to say, I struggled to get back to sleep and felt tired all day... so Im in a $35 motel enjoying a cold beer before hitting the sack and catching up with my sleep.

So thats it for now folks... please tune in again.... in the next few weeks to read about my exciting journey to California