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Diary 14

25 Sep.

It's a little strange being back on the bike.

Barstow last night and Visalia for the next two nights.
I remember Visalia, from a trip a few years back with my niece, as a small pretty town.
It's neither as small or as pretty as I recall but I have internet access, a laundry and am in striking distance of Los Angeles where I need to drop the bike on Thursday for shipping to New Zealand.

Dropped lines to - Mike to set up the draining and delivery of the bike, Reid for shipping and Ian for refilling in NZ.

I have a week between dropping the bike off and flying.
I'll think about NZ route planning then (I'll probably stay in Auckland for the first couple of nights, depending on what the jetlag is like). Now I'm just thinking about leaving the US.

The roads today were nothing special. I wasn't looking for bike roads but somewhere to hole up for a couple of days.
Went past the commercial airliner graveyard at Mojave, then through a huge wind farm, followed by miles of fruit trees (oranges I think).

Now I'm just catching up with the stuff I haven't done for a week and listening to the iPod.
I took 110 albums of MP3s with me on the laptop and I loaded them all onto the iPod and told it to play random tracks.
I have some real good music that I haven't listened to for ages.
It's great.
I might even look into fitting speakers to my helmet - we'll see (given that in the past I have spoken out against folks who have done that).

26 Sep.

You know what it's like here - you've seen it in the movies.
Cold, wet, overcast and windy.

Rode a few miles south to get new tyres and a replacement headlight bulb (the third one so far).
The shop didn't have any 020s, which are the current tyre so I had to make do with what they did have that would fit my bike.
But the bulb wouldn't be a problem in a Honda shop.
And the rain had started.
Ho hum.

Spent the day reading, listening to music and doing a laundry.

27 Sep.

You know what it's like here - you've seen it in the movies.
Blue sky, constant sunshine, warm and pleasant.

Headed for the coast down 41.
I bumped into a BMW rider at the junction of I-5 who recommended a cafe at the junction of 41 & 46.
What I didn't realise is that is the junction where James Dean died, and the 50th anniversary is only a couple of days away.

They were unveiling the new marker as I rode past and a number of radio crews were asking people for their reactions.
I avoided them.
One bit of the old memorial I did like was a quote from ' the little prince' - "What's essential is invisible to the naked eye". Apparently one of James's favourites.

Towards the coast 41 became real fun.
Corner after corner running down a valley.
Nice and twisty.

When I reached the ocean the temperature dropped.

The driving here is ... interesting.

I was in a queue of vehicles in the left lane overtaking a truck.
A car blasted up the right lane to the back of the truck - which placed them alongside me - and then moved over.
I had no choice but to brake hard and let them in.
I'd seen them coming and didn't trust them.
Once in front of me and past the truck I accelerated up behind them and they started throwing trash out of the car at me.
Empty drinks cups and fast food wrappers.
I ducked, hit the brakes and let them go.

A mile later I passed them as they were pulling off on an off ramp.
All that for a mile on the road.

Santa Barbara for the night.
Not the cheapest place I've stayed but I really need Internet access for mapquest (to find where exactly I'm going tomorrow).

I spoke to Mike who is going to help me drain the bike.

All set for NZ.

28 Sep.

I've rarely been as nervous as I was this morning.
Heavy traffic and knowing that I must not drop the bike today.

Wasn't out too early as I don't have that far to go.

Found the local Honda shop and picked up a headlight bulb.
Didn't bother with tyres - I'll replace them in NZ.

It was hot once the road moved away from the coast.
Very hot and very windy.

Got to Mike's by 3 - an hour earlier that I'd planned but what the hell.
I've a book and and iPod.

Mike got home around 5.
We pulled the side plastics off the bike which was an adventure for me in itself.

Draining the oil was easy. Undo a bolt and it drains.
The radiator has a drain on the water pump. Undo that and nothing happens, till you remove the radiator cap and a 3 foot jet of green liquid completely misses the bucket you've placed under the bike.
The fuel was a little tricky.
We went to Mike's other house for pipes to siphon the tank.
Having got most of it the best way to finish would be to run the engine - but without oil, water and battery that's tricky so we decided to finish it in the morning and we hit the beer.

29 Sep.

Damn it's hot here.

9 a.m. and you can feel the skin tightening when the sun hits it.

We undid the bolts holding the tank on, disconnected the wires, opened the filler and turned it upside down.
The filler is recessed so the fuel wouldn't come out.
We removed one of the pipes leading from the tank and turned it back over.
Bingo - fuel pored out.

As we had the bike in bits we washed it properly.
Mike had some degreaser so the plastics are cleaner than at any time since I got it.
Once everything dried (which didn't take long in this heat) we replaced the fairing.
Mike has a ramp and we pushed the bike into the back of his pickup.
I was a little nervous about this but he's done this with most of his bikes at one time or another.
Tying it down was fun as there isn't much exposed metal to attach the hooks to.
Bike ready, documentation gathered, off to the shippers in Compton.

Debbie at ETC International looked up when I walked in.
"Dropping off a bike for New Zealand" she said.
"Yup, that's me".
She took the carnet, the bike registration, details of where I want it delivered. She gave me a copy of the terms and conditions and a credit card authorisation form.
Once they have the dimensions of the crate and speak to the agent in NZ I'll get the final price.
It took about 10 minutes and we were done.
No hassles, straight in and straight out.
She said that she'd talk to the airline today to book the space (once they have the dimensions and weight). She'll arrange the fumigation and I should have the bike within 3 days of arriving in Auckland.

Mike nipped into work for a few hours then dropped me at the 'Budget' car hire stand at LAX, picked up a Chevrolet Classic for a week. Got on I-405 south to get the hell out of LA.
Two hours later (23:25) I'm somewhere about 40 miles north of San Diego, tired and sweaty.
I dislike busy interstates and all of the ones in LA are busy.

And the Internet connection in this room doesn't work.

30 Sep.

San Diego is a big city.
Don't like big cities so I got out and headed East.

Picked up some back roads then North to near Palm springs.

I'll head for Arizona or Nevada tomorrow.

1 Oct.

Didn't sleep much last night - and had a headache all day (No it wasn't beer induced).

Headed for Joshua Tree National Park.
It's OK - you get a good view of Palm Springs and it's 100 golf courses with the smog from LA rolling through.
A couple of places I stopped to have a look around I was assaulted by the loud music from picnicking families.
I'm sorry - one reason I like the desert is the peace and quiet.

Back on the road and east to Arizona.

By 4pm I had crashed out

2 Oct.

Las Vegas is like a magnet.

I'm not sure I made a conscious decision to return but return I did.

I stopped at the Fashion Show Mall and made use of the apple store wireless link to book a hotel.
The second cheapest ($30 per night) has wireless so I'm in the 'Artisan' on Sahara.
It's an odd place - the walls and ceilings are covered in reproductions of famous paintings.
Each room is artist specific and the room is full of his paintings.
I'm in the Guy Buffett Suite.

Went down to 'Three Fine Irishmen' for a couple of Guinness's and bumped into a group of Irish guys in town for a stag weekend. Hit some tables and lost $40.

3 Oct.

I'm just killing time till I fly out.

The Orleans casino has a cinema so I watched 'History of Violence' (not one of Cronenbergs best but OK) and 'Lord of War'. Again OK.

I got the details of the shipping to NZ.
About double what I expected but I don't really have much choice.


And here's another thing.
Occasionally my jaw goes out.
The joint on the right hand side where my jaw bone meets my skull occasionally kinda steps out.
The jaw moves forward and my teeth don't line up - and I can't close my mouth properly.
After a day or so it goes back in and everything is OK.
Well it's been about a month now ...
Some days (maybe 3 or 4) by the end of the day everything has lined up.
I was thinking that the crash helmet might be putting pressure and not helping but 4 days in a car and it's still a problem.
Do I use the insurance I have and see a doctor?
It's not life threatening.

4 Oct.

Left Las Vegas for Barstow - about half way to LA.

Spent the day poreing over NZ maps and trying to plan a route without much success.

I'm here for two nights.

5 Oct.

My last full day in North America.

24 States and 4 provinces.

It's been good but I'm ready to move on.

Just some tidying up to do.
Laundry, cleaning all the bugs of my jacket, cases and helmet.

Diary 16