Published: August 5th 2007July 26th 2007
Packed And Ready!
Roong and I set off on our trip. Loaded, complete with satellite radio, intercom, iPod and air conditioning!
TRAVELING DOWN THE ROAD, I GET THE FEELING THAT I SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE YESTERDAY....YESTERDAY... I remember asking my wife, Roong, what she wanted to see when she finally took the giant leap from our home in Thailand to San Francisco. Her reply: "America". That's a tall order for someone and may take more than the five months we have to visit. But we gave it a try anyway...sans two wheels.
I have always loved riding motorcycles, but my checkbook didn't allow me to always have one parked in the garage. But these past years have brought about some disposible income, so I rewarded myself with a motorcycle. It has been parked in my storage unit for the many months I've spent in Thailand. But it would soon come alive again when Roong and I set off on our America Southwest States Tour. Our self-guided and planned trip would take us through much of the diverse landscapes that make up California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
A short "test trip" to the Avenue of the Giants to visit the worlds-tallest trees (Redwoods, in this case...though I know the biggest ones are in another area) allowed us to find out what
Home, Sweet Home
This is our portable chalet. We found out it was quite comfortable after you fell asleep.
we needed to pack onto the motorcycle with us. We assembled most of our stuff on the living room floor and then bit-by-bit filtered out things that would niether fit or have a place for necessity. It is amazing how much you can get on a motorcycle and still consider yourself safe!! My 30+ years of experience on motorcycles will put my skills to the test on this upcoming 22-day road trip. The trip to the redwoods would give us a taste, but not the whole meal!
Roong has spent most of her life in Thailand, but has traveled to Europe (Germany), Singapore, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia and I think a few more. I kept trying to put myself in her eyes to see if I could try and experience the same things she will when she arrives. For example, when I was driving from San Francisco to Chico, CA (I arrived in the US one month ahead of her) I would look around and notice things that she would find both interesting and funny. Some examples: our semi trucks are huge! Our highways are clean and signage is orderly. We have more colorful cars. We drive on the
Zion National Park
The only way to get from one side to the other is to drill this hole in the mountain. It took us two weeks with my Swiss Army knife (it has a shovel) but we made it!
opposite side of the road. And, what I found more interesting, that she noticed that Americans DO have jobs!! She normally only sees Americans on vacation. It was funny for her to see that they worked in McDonald's and gas stations....just like Thailand! She was tickled when we ate at a local diner (noted in one of the photos here with the Coutry Diner in the background) on our way to Lassen Park and was actually served by an American. Wow. Such a life to be served, instead of herself serving the tourist. I could see her point. It must be wierd!
Our long road trip consisted of a multitude of stops along the way. With only about three weeks on the road, we had to pick and choose our stopping sites with care. So, we decided, with the help of online forums, blogs and Priceline, to choose the following:
South Lake Tahoe
Walker River Gorge
Lee Vining and Mono Lake
Antelope Slot Canyon
Navajo Reservation, AZ
Bryce Canyon, UT
Zion National Park, UT
Death Valley, CA
Mammoth Lakes, CA
and back home to
These slot canyons outside Page, AZ are truly amazing. Don't miss this if you visit Grand Canyon. Amazing!!
Yikes. That's nearly 3,000 miles!
Well, let me tell you something. If you've never had the experience of riding on a motorcycle with 50mph crosswinds gusts...it will give anyone, experienced or not, the pucker factor. At least four of our days were incredibly stressful with high winds. I'm not talking about winds that just are annoying. I'm talking about white-knuckled, heart-pounding, in-your-helmet-grunting winds. Our motorcycle (which is a hefty 600-pound Honda ST1300) was leaning at a 45-degree angle into the crosswinds just to stay on the roadway. On 2-lane highways, like that stretching from Tonopah, Nevada to Las Vegas, the winds were downright horrendous. When semi trucks would pass from the opposite direction, it was all we could do to hold the bike in a straight path. A few times I wanted to stop, but the winds were so strong that when we slowed down, it would lessen the gyro effect to keep the bike up on two wheels, that it was more dangerous to slow down than to keep going at 60mph. A very tricky situation...and possibly deadly. But we held on...for dear life, and we continued into Las Vegas. After our 160-mile stressful ride, I
Wildlife at Grand Canyon
Look at this nice looking bird. The wildlife at Grand Canyon is amazing!! But don't feed them!
literally broke into tears when we finally relaxed on our hotel bed. The stress finally released itself and I was so grateful that we had made it alive. Really. It was incredible.
The next day we rode on to Williams, Arizona via Hoover Dam. The ride was much more relaxing, but the anxiety level was tested whenever a slight gust of wind would hit us. It wasn't until we had made the final circle around Grand Canyon and into Bryce, Zion and on our way back into Las Vegas did it hit us again. And when we finally reached our hotel near the strip, I telephoned a motorcycle shipping company and arranged for them to ship my motorcycle back to Chico. We rented a car and continued on. It was the best single piece of insurance I have ever paid for. Not sure we could have made it another day in such winds. Some may think I was a bit chicken and not a 'real motorcyclist'. I would like to think that I'm super-duper smart. Kinda like if you decided to walk your dog from New York City to Miami, and then tell your dog he's through and you'll
My new friend, Bill Walsh, took this shot for me. I know...so cliche. But I do look cool. Right?
never have to walk him again. My motorcyle is for sale.
Enjoy the photos!
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