Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Yosemite National Park, California USA

After leaving the casino the following morning, Randy heads home to Oregon while James, Adam and I move on to the famous Yosemite National Park.

But before we do.. after a night in a nice warm bed and a proper shower, we KNOW we are going to be camping next.  So off to the grocery store to stock up.  I keep teasing these two that it's embarrassing to be walking around the grocery store with twin suits.. they both ride BMW and even look at the sunglasses!!! haha ;-)  I have to admit I enjoy watching how men think in a grocery store.  Adam went straight for the wine section, gone.. disappeared...AND he picks good wine.  James and I went in search of pasta and veg for salad.. gonna be a good meal!


Into the park we ride....
Yosemite is larger than I expected, but not for an alien man from England!

The roads are all rolley polley paved, very nice.  Not fun and exciting, but nice! We have a good look around on the bikes, but I hate to say this park isn't completely doing it for me.  It is in most people opinions a favorite of parks for the United States, but either I am just tired, or I have been spoiled with too many awesome places lately that it's not hitting me.  Don't get me wrong, I love what I see and I'm grateful to be here.. just one of those days I guess!  The best way I can describe it on my judgement scale is that I'm glad I saw it,  but no strong desire to go back.. and there are many places I would love to go back to that I've seen on this journey!  'nuf said? ;-))

I am enjoying these two though. ;-)

The rock below called "Half Dome" seems to be a feature, viewed from Glacier Point.

So that rock is impressive too! I'm getting more into the park now, really not sure why I wasn't much impressed earlier.

Sun going down... no campsites available.. getting cold!!!!

Rules are strict in this park and most of the campgrounds are closed for the season.  The two that are still open are completely full.  Need to make a new plan.  Ride through the dark to the other side of the park and get out?  Not a great option as there is wildlife all over the road.  Will be slow and it's already super cold.  We vote for the illegal camping option.

We made the most logical decision possible.  We are in a national park, there are bears around and it wouldn't be a good choice to ride the bikes into the dirt to find a hidden spot.  We chose to backtrack to a small gas station/general store and set up close to it.  Not trying to hide or be illegal, and maybe a bit safer bear wise.

In the dark, the boys got straight into cooking up the pasta.. I like that!  I don't have to cook??!! ;-))))

I did my job helping to drink the wine!

After dinner, the boys decided to play with my camera and set up night shots. 

Look at those stars!  I love it here!  Of course you can't see them like we could see them, but I am impressed the camera got the amount that it did!

How we look the next morning..

I'm up early as usual, waiting patiently for the other two. Around 8 AM cars started lining up at the fuel pumps.  Store not open yet, but young James puts the kettle on and we have a warm meal of porridge..

Somebody must have turned us in. While I am sitting here, the boys look at me and tell me that the ranger has just pulled up in a truck and he's walking toward us.  They both quickly and collectively volunteered ME to take care of it!  I'm like why???  They said you'll have better luck as a woman talking through this.. Thanks guys!!! (I have found this theory to be very common by any men I have ridden with on this trip to get us out of trouble.. I admit my record is good, but still!!!)

The ranger was pretty pissed actually.  He took my drivers license and passport (both Australian), was more than ready and prepared to give us a ticket and fine.  After talking to him quite a while, he calmed down.  I think he was happy with the simple truth.  If we could have camped in the organized areas, we would have.  I explained about the closures or fullness.  (and he's a ranger, he knows they are closed) It was already dark when we needed to stop and if we rode out of the park, the big danger was wildlife on the road, which he agreed with. I told him I'd rather take the fine than die on the road at night due to park rules.. Hmmm.. he looked at me with that one. ;-)) THEN his concern was for the bears.  We've been camping amongst bears for months now, and we know the drill.  What we did was pack any of our food, dishes, etc on the roof of the gas station.  He was happy with that actually!  And finally, he didn't like that we had our bikes on the land.  He did let us go without a fine, we immediately moved the bikes onto the pavement, packed up and left.  All good. Thanks Mr. Ranger Dude!!  Whew!!!!


It was a beautiful morning and a super pretty ride.  We eventually make it to the east side of the park and turn south to head toward our next great park, Death Valley.

Onto the highway.  A bit straight and boring, but beautiful here!  The landscape has changed quite a bit, which I love.

 Photos by James

James recorded a tiny bit of video too.. I'll include just for a bit of change from still photos?

Break time!

The end of the day was coming up when we got close to the turn off for Death Valley.  So, it's that time to find a place to camp.. again!

We stocked up on a bit of food from the little shop in Lone Pine and headed out to find a camp.  The first campground we came to was nice, but it was sooo surrounded by power lines.  I can't stand the idea of camping amongst all that electricity, and the boys agreed, so we moved on.

Adam has his eye on these really cool rocks and rides around to check about camping amongst them.  We don't see any houses nearby, but it's not a campground either.  We saw a little bit of evidence that others had made campfires here.  So group decision, we are staying.  It was a super cool spot!  We tried to keep our lights low so anyone on the land might not see us.  Turned out to be another great night in a super beautiful spot...

The stars were so awesome, so nice to camp like this.  Campgrounds are usually full of screaming kids, street lights, slamming car doors.  Out here it's just us, more real.. love it!

The next morning, a very reflective Adam is waiting for his coffee to kick in..

(more photos by James.. thank you!)

I can't help to wander about in the morning.. I pack up early (just in case somebody discovers us, I am ready!  We didn't camp here honestly, we just stopped off to eat a bit of breakfast! ;-)))

I'd be happy to stay here, but we need to pack up and get on to next stop.. Death Valley!
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Monday, 28 May 2012

California Hwy 1 to Horizons Unlimited meeting Cambria and James Dean!

Early morning, back on the road west coast California.  ANOTHER beautiful day for riding a motorcycle.........!! 

One thing I did notice the farther south I got was a fair amount of homeless people along this road and just long the road, nowhere near any community.  I hadn't seen this since Anchorage Alaska.  I would pull over to take a photo, and laying in the bush would be a man or a family.  I didn't take photos of them out of respect, but I was saddened to see so many.  And a big reminder to me how lucky I am in my life to be able to travel like I do.

On a happier note!  I made it to San Francisco!!  No reason to pass up this big city unless you ride across the famous Golden Gate Bridge.  Besides there wasn't an easy option of getting "around" the city anyway.

I've been to San Francisco before.  Never rode a motorcycle across the bridge until now, but it was something I wanted to do.  However, still on my mission to get south in time, I simply took a couple photos, just crossed the bridge and continued down the road. Not as easy as it sounds.  San Fran was quite tricky to navigate even with a gps! The highway system is mad and crazy and I was only too happy by the time I was free again to be out of the city limits.

Continuing on down Hwy 1, hugging the coast all the way, through Monterrey, Carmel (where I really wanted to look up Clint Eastwood and say g'day).. Would it be possible?  Is he still the Mayor? Bugger!  Knowing the likelihood of a howdy from Dirty Harry is fairly slim, I best keep on rollin' ha!  ;-)

Long day again.. Distance not so bad, but San Fran really slowed me down.  By the time the sun was going down, I couldn't resist pulling over yet again for sunset photos.  I took heaps of them, it was such a pretty sunset.  Then this bike pulls up, and I'm like, hey Dude, I'm taking photos here and your in my way!  It was quite unusual to see a bike like this guy though, an old BMW in America?  Not a Harley?  His name is Jeremiah and he was on his way to the same meeting.. of course!

The headlights on my bike are horrible, and I can't see well at night.  I still had far enough to go, so I pull over to check out a campground in Big Sur, California.  It is the weekend, and every campsite along the coast is booked out.. and ridiculously expensive!!  Luckily, things always work out though.  A nice young guy at one of the campgrounds I stopped at was kind enough to let me camp in the playground for free.. woo hoo!! That's my price!  Thank goodness too, as I really wanted a shower before I showed up at the Horizons Unlimited meeting the next morning.

It was nice until all the teenagers escaped their parents camp after dark and decided to drink and smoke on the swing sets until a very late hour.  But hey.. it's all part of the adventure. And I learned some things listening to those young guys.. Gee whiz!!!!! I would never repeat what they were talking about, and I hope the girls they were referring to never know what they were saying either!! ;-/

It was easy to get up the next morning and pack up before the kids started showing up in the playground.

As soon as I arrived to the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Cambria, I knew I was in good company!  KTM's Unite!!! ;-)))

The meeting was full on from the very moment I got off my bike.  So many super cool people (needless to say - Motorcycle Adventurers!!)  Most I never met before, but there is no question that these are my people. My extended gigantic family outside of my own family in Indiana.

Grant and Susan Johnson who's creation IS "Horizon's Unlimited".  I have written about them before, but as a recap I can say that most anything I learned from ground zero that got me on the road within 6 months of having this crazy idea came from their website and videos.  Highly recommend their new and improved website!

I've got heaps of photos of so many people, both seasoned and aspiring adventurers, but here are just a few.

My absolute hero's, Peter and Kay Forwood from Australia!!!  If you don't know them, they are the only riders that I am aware of that have ridden a motorcycle in every country on the planet.. which I believe at the moment is 193?!  All on a Harley Davidson!  You can read more about them here

When think of the them, I know that traveling around the world doesn't have to be just a 'trip'.  It can be a long term lifestyle.. i love love love the thought of that!

They were quick to encourage me to enter a contest for the most stickered bike.  They acted as judges for this event, so their bike was disqualified, but they clearly would have won!  So I did get the prize instead..! ;-))) Haha.. thank you!!

(Gee whiz, I notice in these photos how desperately ready I am for a of the downfalls for not staying still very long.)

Another favorite for the event is Ted Simon, author of "Jupiter's Travels".   Ted rode his motorcycle around the world in the 1970's (he's actually done it twice now) and quite famous for the adventure books he writes.

More amazing adventurers.. no shortage of them here!!  And I'm giving you plenty of reading material!

Below is Carla King, another great motorcycle adventurer and writer as well!

Randy, who came down from Oregon for the meeting, and Nicole Stavro Espinosa. Who is the owner and president of Rugged Rider. She designs dual sport adventure riding gear..!!  Go girl!!!

These women are a great inspiration and so happy to meet them in person!

A somewhat old KTM 690 (around 70,000 km at this point) meets a brand new one!  Photo by Carla King.. thank you!

Matt from Touratech USA.. who set me up with some Rok Straps! I've been wanting and NEEDING a set of these forever and now that I have them,  I love them!  They work so well. Thanks again Matt!

Jasmine and Mike.. 2 Californians that make me laugh!  The entire weekend was like this, so much fun with everybody.

It was such a great weekend and so glad I made it.  I even gave a little presentation for the second time in my life.  Nowhere near as hard as the first time!

On Sunday morning it was time to pack up the bikes and move on.  I was invited by Randy who was riding with his friend Stephen around a bit of southern California that would point me in the direction of Yosemite, my next destination.  They had also invited Adam Shani who is another superstar world rider here from Israel!  And just as I was getting on my bike I met James from London England!  Who would have thought the world was already here in one spot!

I didn't have much time to chat with James so I invited him to come ride with us today as well.  A sort of plan was made and after a zillion goodbyes to so many friends, and we were off!

Stephen, James, Adam and Randy

The thing to do in California don't you know is wine tasting!

Which is a real bugger when you are a wine lover but can't taste much due to riding a motorcycle!!!  But it was still good fun.  Since I live in wine country myself in South Australia, it's good to compare.

I will keep my comparison opinions to myself though... ha! ;=)

 Uh oh.. 4 men and 4 road maps are out now.. I'll stand over here and just observe ;-)))

Stephen needed to make his way toward home, Randy decided to ride with us a bit longer before turning north to Oregon.  He decides to show us where James Dean (the most gorgeous famous actor from INDIANA!!) died on the road far too young here in California.

English: Studio publicity portrait for film Giant.
English: Studio publicity portrait for film Giant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lets hope the same fate doesn't appear for another Hoosier on the road today.......

After exploring, riding, wine tasting, etc. we made our way a bit closer to Yosemite.  Randy suggested we get a room in a Casino for the night.  Casino!??  We are all happy to camp.  Besides, Adam, James and I are not casino gambling type people, but Randy assured us that they offer really cheap rooms and meals in the hope that you will dump your money in the slot machines.. Okay then, a normal hotel and bed does sound kind of good, so we all got a room.

And I am most pleased to learn that inside the Casino, food was cheap AND my new Israeli and English friends share my love for the American milkshake!!

We were quite the interest and spectacle packing up at the Casino again the next morning! We might not be the usual sort of visitors there.  So many questions!

Coming up is Yosemite and Death Valley.. see you!
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