IT’S ALIVE!!….Opening up Pandora’s Boxster on the LA Freeway

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June 18th 2006
Published: June 18th 2006
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Her name was actually Renee but I called her Pandora because of her Porche Boxster, we met, duelling on the freeway…just like a worm, parts in the middle are perfectly motionless while other bits accelerate …but the system is fantastic, freeways get you a long way, very quickly…just don’t miss your turn off…aarrgghhh…hours later… the striated concrete often runs askew to the lane markings, (the striations made by a roadworker with St Vitus’ Dance dragging a huge rake down the line of the freeway, roughly) and at high speed, and with constant buffeting, gusseting turbulence, hazardous!…but the signage is great, but sometimes disconcerting, a huge electronic sign on the freeway advises a child abduction and gives details of the car involved!…..but once off the main routes, the signage is often missing…..I did an 80 mile loop trying to follow a back road this morning!…
Ahh…the good ol’ US of A …consistently the continuum continues to confound, there, I got that off my chest…from the very, very best, the cutting edge, the high end, the biggest, brightest, bestest of science, arts, design, friendliness, generosity, the nadir of depression, depravity, sicko, weirdo, poverty, meanness, injustice…hey, you all know the bad side…but I
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have always maintained it is impossible, not to say foolish, to generalise about the US…I have met some of the finest people I know from the states and I am constantly blown out by the depth and sincerity of so many of the people I meet…sure, there is a broad ignorance of so many things outside their world but that is not their fault, and now, in 2 days in San Clemente I meet regular people who drag me off the street, insist on buying beers all afternoon, offer me room and board, Brad and Mike, showing me different routes, talking bikes and travels, catching up with Scott who I met in Bariloche, great to see him again, took me around to meet a guy who works on, and restores BMWs, fantastic, Gerry and Pauline in the pizza place, he’s a trucker and drew me map modifications to save time and see more, Steve, on a 1200GS, I met in a servo, gave me maps and bought me breakfast, everywhere people wanting to talk the trip…once more thinking of selling tickets..Ha…

The constant, flatulent roar of Harley Davidsons is the background music of California, with all their regulations on everything, how come Harleys are still allowed (aloud)?? They are everywhere….deafening…the riders always with the minimalist WW2 German helmets, usually white-bearded, suffering the elements…but what choice? You just couldn’t imagine a full-face helmeted Harley rider!

I saw a real ‘Smokey the Bear’ sign, crossed a County Line, and a City Limit, did the freeway thing, the LA Stadium, giant Sequoias, forest wardens in their boy-scout outfits, cops on bikes, I passed the LA Coroner’s car, Yosemite, diners….sort of a bizarre flashback to my youth, how much of the American culture did I pick up from MAD magazine satires?…everything! ..and it’s all just like that..
I’m staying in the Squaw Valley Motel, at the foot of Bear Mountain, next to the Double O Ranch, doesn’t get more embedded than this.

Ah, the Sequoia National Park, giant trees, looking for that big one you can drive thru’, saw it a million years ago in national Geographic, as I recall, I was probably looking for bare-breasted native women, as we did, first glimpse of reproductive biology, from the tennis-ball-in-a-stocking-tits from the New Guinea highlands, to the razor strops from Kalahari to the nuggety norks of the Incas, incidentally, still evident in the Peruvian women…too much information!..

The freeways soon hurl one out into open country, the wide concrete and asphalt scars cutting up the land, rolling on forever, giant trucks, hundreds of huge mobile homes, dragging spare cars, boats, bikes and the kitchen sink…thru’ endless orange groves, they just go on forever, hayfields, equally to the horizon, and never a farmhouse, these are huge, mechanised, people-less environments, then fields with mobs of oil pumps pushing and pulling, copulating oil out of the depths, wind towers in amongst the orange trees,

Up into the mountains at last, off the dreaded ‘5’ onto backroad highways, fabulous curvery, this is as good as Mexico, maybe better as the corners are all perfectly engineered, high speed stuff, and the sequoias are pretty speccy, amongst all the greenery and brownery of the forest, these monsters stand out, lighter reddy-brown colour and big…and the smell, beautiful, overpowering, but most of them seem to have been lightning-blasted, few of them standing their true height, but maybe that’s the plan, even the little ones, the trunks rapidly narrow with height, and ‘the biggest tree in the world’ I’m curious, I thought the big one on the isla of arceholes in Chile that I saw with Raf was the biggest, and the tree in the zocola in Oaxaca is the world’s greatest bio-mass, the great white sperm whale of trees as it were…who knows, I’ve already writ about biggest, tallest, longest etc-ist…

And then Yosemite, another childhood memory, my uncle brought me a smoothed rock keychain about 50 years ago from here, and it is as spectacular as anywhere, truly awesome, and even more spectacular is the low-key development, I can’t believe it, very rustic, smalltime development, no chairlifts, franchised fast-food outlets, pretty pristine, mobs of bike people, backpackers and Japanese tourists, outstanding, astounding rock faces, waterfalls, you can hear the roar from way away, I was freezing my arse off, coming in over the pass at 5 or 6 thousand feet (calculator please Tensing) snow capped mountains again, oh no!…cloud over the wet, slippery road, vis down to 10 feet, “ICE on ROAD” signs out, omg…then down to the bottom and a bit warmer, lot clearer, amazing place and the river gushing along the bottom of the valley, not as wild as King’s Canyon, but fabulous, green, smoothy, frothy, bouncing over rocks, past green, mossy banks, a couple of deer!..the real deer, some would have itchy, twitching, trigger fingers, I was trying to grab the camera,
I finally see Bambi, I had seen the yellow diamond warning road signs with a silhouette of Bambi’s bigger and more athletic cousin bounding across the road and taken due care, but this was the real thing..

And metrics, I have to carry my calculator….translating the trip distance, kms per litre to miles per gallon, temperatures in F to C…and the weird date protocol, mm/dd/yy??

But this morning…woke at 6am and caught the Oz - Japan game, packing my bags, loading the bike during half-time, depressed, almost left, but decided to hang in, then that fantastic, feliz final…I rode out of LA a very happy camper…now I catch games wherever I can and plan to be well ensconced for our Brasil game on the 18th

North to Alaska! The coast road, California and on thru’ Oregon is as pretty as anything I’ve seen, and more eucalyptus, on the bike the smell of everything is soo intense, and such an amazing rocky coastline, small bays, another GOR but going on forever, I was buggered, throwing the big Adventure
Alcatraz BackgroundAlcatraz BackgroundAlcatraz Background

San Fransisco
back and forward around beautiful curvery, stopped in another Smallville, just bizarre how quickly you can regress 50 years in this country, internet unknown, local youths in the bar bragging about recent tattoos, jail stretches and drug consumption, ultimate, pointless, boredom…then I smell steak, riding around town, stop and have a fantastic steak, not Argy standard but damned fine, I forgot the barren, grassless feedlots I’d passed, full of crowded cattle eating pellets of bovine soylent green from troughs.

Overcast and windy getting worse, and cold….grip heaters on all day, I stop the night as the rain gets serious, another little backwater, the most amazing thing about this coast is the lack of development!!…pretty much isolated little rural towns, odd housing dotted along the coast, no real estate advertising, no billboards, no fast-food outlets, not even that ubiquitous Scottish hamburger chain, like nothing has changed in 100 years…so why all the gringo developments down south?? ..38 million people in California and this pristine coast is largely uninhabited..??

While riding I am constantly contemplating the dichotomy of the USA, just can’t leave it alone…as those of you who know me well know, I have never been shy in my critical view of the US, after all, they are all “seppos” to me!..but I am changing my view, I am getting to really like this country, it is so fantastic in so many ways….notwithstanding the other side, I am seriously considering a longer time here, seeing more of the country, the natural beauty is as good as anywhere and so many of the people a surprise.

I got thru’ to Seattle around midday and found my way directly to the Pike’s Place market and the famous fish place….I used to show a motivational video of this place…and here I am…fantastic, and it’s just like the vid…I have a chat to the guys, take some pix….for my IPA colleagues, this was soo cool!!

Outside, I meet 3 Brasilian guys with BMWs, one just like mine!!…we share one of the most fantastic moments of sharing experiences that only fellow bike travellers know, we meet for such short periods and have so many shared experiences, an instant bonding, and then never seen again…they tell me Vancouver is only a few hours away so I push on…wanting to get to Canada….but Seattle did have a really good feel to it..must try and get back there...
A long queue at the frontera but after a while the border guy waves me to the front..must be a bike rider, or at least aware that I’m going to overheat in the queue…straightforward crossing and I’m in!!..Whoo hoo…..and Vancouver, fantastic...I think this is going to be a cool place to hang out for a few days...

Here the finals of the ice hockey are underway, the small size of the field accentuated by the Michelin-man-like players, bulked up huge, whacking a tiny puck around, I have trouble following it, very violent, yeah, yeah, time to puck off.
I’m still waking at 6am every morning for the first World Cup game and sometimes the rest…good timing….and manana Our Game against Brasil…omg…should be awesome…ok, that’s all f-folks…

Additional photos below
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Throwing FishThrowing Fish
Throwing Fish

Seattle, Pike's Place Market Fish Shop
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Fish Guy1

Seattle, Pike's Place Market Fish Shop
Fish Guy2Fish Guy2
Fish Guy2

Seattle, Pike\'s Place Market Fish Shop
Waiting at the US/Canada BorderWaiting at the US/Canada Border
Waiting at the US/Canada Border

That concrete post on the left is the actual line

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