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The Americas: Heading South

A Motorcycle Diary
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Archive for the ‘Heading South’ Category

7 July 2017

07 Jul

Today was a day spent at rest and used to explore Vegas and its surrounds. Max and I took a Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon in order to obtain a vista of this magnificent landscape that cannot be seen from ground level, and it didn’t disappoint. I have said it before and I will say it again, the US is genuinely a world in one country. The beauty that reveals itself on a daily basis, whether its in the form of a hot and stark landscape, a breath-taking canyon, snow capped mountains, man made wonders or just the genuine kindness of strangers, the decision to linger longer has definitely been a good one!

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Heli flip over the Grand Canyon..

We caught a movie in the afternoon in an attempt to stay in air conditioned climes and then took a long walk to Andreas to experience the much hyped impossible burger which was “interesting” and certainly has the potential to catch on as an alternative to beef, provided it ever moves beyond the “fad” stage! It would certainly help with reducing cattle farming’s’ Co2 emissions although to the extent that this product were ever to become mainstream, I have no doubt that its mass production would bring some form of environmental destruction in itself to fill the void left behind by beef production. The only question is, will it catch on, and, to the extent that it does, is the resultant manufacturing implication better or worse than the status quo?! Time will tell although it would certainly be the more humane option.

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Vegas by Day..

The Go Kart racing of last night has certainly taken hold! So much so that we were back again this evening and God help anybody that found themselves on the same track as Max and I as the battle for lap time superiority continued! I would love to say that I kicked the whipper snapper’s butt but I cant, he is consistently 0.5 seconds faster than me although my only consolation, which I steadfastly hold on to in order to defend my bruised ego, is that he has a 25kg weight advantage! Damn you Max, and damn anybody that gets on the track with us that shaves microseconds from our goals!

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Max Schumacher Nobre….

We were originally only due to spend 2 nights in Vegas but have decided to extend by an additional night in order to get in a show (and some more go kart racing no doubt!!) and to see some more of this vibrant city.

As a sign of the grand disposability that has become a hallmark of our modern day culture, It has occurred to me that Vegas is a place that our modern day jesters come to see out their dying days. People that were once considered global stars with massive influence all seem to eventually get relegated to a stage in Vegas in an attempt to perpetuate the glory of their once meteoric status. Simply by looking out of the window of my room, I can see adverts for Jennifer Lopez (who can forget Jenny from the block?), Britney Spears, David Copperfield, Elton John and Gordon Ramsay, all jostling for visual prominence between McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Hard Rock Café adverts! As the famous quote goes, such is the fate of everything that once rose, although the opportunity to get up close to now B Grade stardom still has massive audience pulling capacity, such is the allure of Vegas, and Max and I are not immune as we will be going to see Copperfield tomorrow!

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6 July 2017

06 Jul

We had an awesome and relaxing evening at L’Horizon last night. We also had designs on leaving at 06h30 to avoid the heat of the day. That didn’t happen! Max and I eventually sauntered out of there at 09h30 just around the time that the sun cranked things up to about 40C and got progressively hotter as the day got later.

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Our 4 hour ride in a convection oven…

The ride was fortunately fast and scenic, with a single pit stop along the historic route 66 at Amboy for a Root Beer and a photo before pressing on to Vegas. By the time we got here, it was 45C. I am sure not many of you have ridden a motorcycle in 45C? it feels like riding inside a convection oven with a wind so hot that it literally sucks the moisture out of you. Ironically its cooler to ride with the helmet visor down so by the time we arrived at the Bellagio we stood like two zombies in the lobby for 10 minutes soaking up the air-conditioning before eventually moving to check in.

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Stop on Route 66..

I had promised Max that we could go do some indoor Go Kart racing this evening. After the 4 hour ride in the heat, it was the last thing that I was feeling like so suggested that he drive and I would sit it out and be the official photographer which went down like a lead balloon!! After much cajoling by Max I relented and boy am I glad I did!! What was supposed to be one race resulted in us being there for 3 hours until it closed at 23h00 and they literally had to crowbar us out of the cars! What awesome fun with my boy!!

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Vegas at night…Never fails to impress!!

 
 

5 July 2017

05 Jul

When touring on a bike, it is difficult to call any day a bad day. However, sometimes the stars misalign, and God sits back and has a chuckle. Today counts as one of those days and one of my top 10 worst riding days!

It was supposed to be a short 300km hop from Santa Barbara to palm Springs via Burbank and the Hollywood sign. The outset along the PCH was smooth, cool and fast, then we entered the greater Los Angeles area and for the next 180km it was 30-40km/h of lane splitting bumper to bumper traffic in 40C heat over a period of 5 hours! Exasperated or rage doesn’t begin to describe the range of emotions and the only thing I have to say is Fuck You LA Traffic!! There! Its off my chest!

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Our ride today..

We arrived in Palm Springs at 5pm. It was 43C when we got here. We are staying at a great hotel called L’ Horizon and upon arrival, climbing off the bike with much relief, we were informed that this is an adult only hotel! I think the bellhop and frontdesk person saw the threat of death in my eyes and promptly announced that it wouldn’t be a problem and that just for today, they would make an exception for Max! Good choice!

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The famed Hollywood sign in the Hills of LA.

Anyway, my bitching of the day aside, we had a great swim, an awesome dinner and are going to retire early as we have a 5 hour ride to Vegas tomorrow and its going to be another scorcher! Its 30C by 6am so there will be little to no reprieve from the heat tomorrow.

 
 

4 July 2017

04 Jul

Max and I have been getting up at 05h30 most mornings. I would like to say that this is a product of a healthy and vigorous life but no, its still the effects of the Jetlag! Be it as it may, we are up, I am doing some work, and we are walking in the sunrise, and having early breakfasts thus enabling us to take full advantage of the forthcoming day.

Today, I took a short ride from Santa Monica to Malibu to meet the famous artist Christian Vincent as I am looking at purchasing one of his pieces for our London home. Fascinating man, incredible talent and a lovely human being. The ride up the Pacific Coast highway is one of the most beautiful rides in the Americas. The weather was cool, windless and the traffic at 8:30am on this public holiday was light enough to enable a smooth and fast ride which added to the pleasure of riding up this coastal road.

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Our ride today up the PCH…

Todays ride was a short one up to Santa Barbara. I fetched Max, packed the bike and then backtracked again up the PCH up to Santa Barbara. We got in at lunchtime, checked into the beautiful Four Seasons resort and then relaxed with some lunch, a walk along the beach and an uneventful day. Dinner was on the beach watching the 4th of July fireworks.

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A relaxing lunch and chilled afternoon with my boy…

 
 

3 July 2017

03 Jul

Today was a day spent at Leisure in order to show Max around LA. I have been coming here intermittently for the last 20 years and unfortunately, unlike most of the USA, I have never been able to say that this is a city I love or like. Yes, its got the mysterious aura afforded to it by its Hollywood reputation and its home to so many famous modern day jesters that it must have something going for it, right? Well, um, no. At least not for me, and that doesn’t mean much as my opinion in this regard counts for exactly zero! However, and its important that I qualify this, I have never stayed on the beaches and have always trended towards Beverly Hills, and the other areas that a foreigner would typically associate with LA when popping in for a short visit. Santa Monica, whilst still considered “LA” feels like a world apart from the LA that I refer to above and have found here the same feeling that I have for so much of this incredible country.

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To test my theory, I took Max on the red bus tour, and yes, granted, he is only 16 and prone to early boredom however it took him about 37 minutes to declare the city a dump and asked if we could get off and Uber to Universal Studios to check that out before rushing back to Santa Monica where he once again had a smile on his face! Like I said, my/our opinion is unimportant, but to the extent that anybody actually cares about what is written in this motorcycling travel blog, give LA a wide berth, head for the beaches if you come this way, and other than that, this country is magnificent!

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The remainder of the day was spent doing a double hitter at the movie theatre after a long walk along the beach and an awesome dinner at the Curious Palate.

Tomorrow we head for Santa Barbara where we will be spending one night there before starting our trek east to Palm Springs, and onwards to Vegas and the Canyons.

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The famous Muscle Beach and Santa Monica Pier…

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2 July 2017

02 Jul

Much Excitement as today was the first day of our ride.

We unpacked all of the stuff that I had left packed in the panniers in 2015, discarded the things that were no longer required and packed leanly to ensure that we only took the things we needed as space is obviously at a premium!! Max doesn’t know what it means to “pack lightly” so the Fat Girl is perhaps heftier than she usually is. Add to this 2 not insubstantial males and my poor BMW is in for a cumbersome 3 weeks!!

The route today is a short, 2 hour ride from San Diego to Santa Monica in Los Angeles where we will be spending 2 nights on the beach.

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The weather was cool and overcast, perfect riding weather until we hit the famed LA traffic to navigate for the last half hour. One would think that being a Sunday, this wouldn’t be the case but it looked and felt like any other Monday Morning!

We are staying at a great hotel called Shutters on the beach with views onto the sand, sea and famed Santa Monica Pier. The rest of our day was spent exploring, having an early dinner followed by a movie before bed.

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Our 2 hour ride up the coast today.

 
 

1 July 2017

01 Jul

As is customary with any jetlag, we were up at 04h00 unable to lie in bed anymore. We dressed, and went for breakfast at 06h30 as we were both excited about collecting the bike since its been 2 years since I last saw it.

We collected the fat girl from BMW Motorad San Diego at about 09h30. The bike had an extensive service due to the fact that there was a drive shaft seal leak which had developed some time over the last 2 years whilst she sat in storage, which meant that the bike had to be split in two! This resulted in a $3500 bill for service, tyres, brakes and repairs!! Not wishing to allow the eye watering service costs to dampen the spirit, we set off feeling elated about the upcoming trip and the fact that we were experiencing the wind in our faces again coupled with the anticipation of the upcoming adventure.

San Diego is a lovely town, albeit perhaps a little on the sleepy side insofar as American cities go. Saturday afternoon was spent considering where to get the best burger in San Diego. After some research, it was decided that we would head for FiveGuys, a popular and highly rated burger joint. Google maps showed one about 3 kilometres away so decided to take a stroll to see the city until we strolled right into Logan Heights, the worst part of town, and decided to hurriedly call for an uber as the surroundings started to look particularly worrisome and potentially threatening!! Safely ensconced in our Uber, we arrived at where Google maps said the burger joint was only to realise that this particular shop is set inside the restricted navy base that the public is not allowed access too!! An hour after we had initially set our sights on a FiveGuys burger, we were now determined to find one so a 20 minute uber schlep to the next closest shop on the other side of town, and there we were!! Well what to say, this blog is no food crit but FiveGuys you need to seriously up your game as we both felt nauseous and sick after a cheeseburger and some fries, and frankly would sooner have gone to McD’s, such was the disappointment!!

We had dinner reservations for Nobu that evening, needless to say, the combo of the FiveGuys stomach churn and the jetlag meant that we smashed some sushi, a beer and were out of Nobu in a record 30 minutes!!

 
 

30 June 2017

30 Jun

Max landed at Heathrow at 06h30. I was there to collect him for our “13h30” flight so we knew that we were in for a little bit of a wait. What I didn’t realise is that the flight was 3:30pm and not 13h30 as I had it in my mind so we spent the time browsing (not shopping as we have no carrier space on the bike) the multitude of the Terminal 5 stores.

The thing with an 11 hour flight west is that the flight is in a constant state of daytime which plays havoc with ones body clock. That time is wiled away sleeping, watching too many movies and eating too much aeroplane food, all of which add to a difficult jet lag recovery! We landed in San Diego at 8pm local time (5am body clock time) and we were both immediately hit with a second wind that lasted all of about 0.5 seconds and just enough time to check in at the Hard Rock Hotel, unpack and collapse in a heap.

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Max and I are both excited about the upcoming trip and the opportunity to spend some time together catching up.

 
 

29 June 2017

29 Jun

Its been exactly 2 years since I parked the BMW up in San Diego and updated this blog. Its also Max’s birthday again although he turns 16 today! Happy Birthday my boy.

I mentioned in my previous post that I had so enjoyed my ride across the US in 2015 that I was deliberating over whether to head back down into Central and South America as planned or whether to continue to spend a few more years exploring North America. Well, after 2 years of debating this, I have chosen the latter and have been planning out what to still see and do over the coming years, commencing tomorrow!! I guess that this decision makes the title of this chapter of my Cape To Cairo blog, “heading South” a little superfluous now!! Ah well! What to do!

Max and I are picking the bike up from BMW Motorad in San Diego, who have been incredibly helpful in getting the old girl spiffed up and ready for the 3000 mile ride that we are going to be doing over the next 3 weeks.

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One of our previous Epic road trips…

We will be making our way up the west coast to Seattle with an essential detour to Vegas (every 16 year old young man MUST visit Vegas with his dad first! No?) amongst a few other “must see” places on route.

Max and I are super excited about being together and the upcoming adventure, as he is as mad about bikes as I am. I seriously hope that this can become an annual Dad/Max thing going into the future as touring like this has no real age limitations.

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Our upcoming route…

Before I close off this post it is important to thank Maurice who has so kindly provided the storage and safety for the bike for the last two years. I am very grateful Maurice and thank you again so much.

 
 

29 June 2015

29 Jun

Happy Birthday Maxi Boy.

Today was all about getting the bike stored away. I was very fortunate that some friends of mine have family that own a large warehouse in San Diego, and offered to hold onto the bike for the foreseeable future until the time for the next trip. That meant that today was my last day of riding which took me from LA down the coast to San Diego along the beautiful but busy coastal road.

Maurice, thank you for your generosity and agreeing to hold onto the bike. She is happily stored away in a small, dry and warm room and will no doubt be safely cared for.

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Home for the foreseeable future.

I mentioned at the outset of this trip that the purpose of taking the bike cross country to LA was to position her to ultimately head back into Central and South America however, I have so enjoyed this ride through the US that I am debating whether I continue to spend the next couple of years exploring the US further before heading South. I have said it before, the US is truly a world in one country and the more time I spend here, so the more I love the place, its people, its culture and its quirks. America, thank you for your wonderful hospitality.

Rui Nobre

Los Angeles, USA. 15 June 2015