Day 1-2-3, Santa Monica to Visalia to Merced, California


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North America » United States » California » Visalia
June 28th 2018
Published: June 30th 2018
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Hello and welcome to my blog for USA 2018. I hope you enjoy our stories and photographs from this trip, our 3rd adventure. You are welcome to leave your comments and messages on my posts and images. You are on a list of family, friends, Harley friends, clients, some who've been to the US and those who have not, so I'll try to entertain y'all in these posts. This trip is a bit of a re-hash of our 2016 trip, just heading in the reverse direction this time. From our very first trip in 2014, we decided to avoid the big cities, yes we've done San Francisco, Tulsa, Memphis & Milwaukee & a bit of L.A., however we find the smaller regional towns are great places to talk to the locals and sometimes be given advice on better roads to ride and sights to see. Nothing beats a bit of local knowledge!

We also try to stay off the freeways & interstates, although they are a quick way to do a lot of miles if there's somewhere you have to be. The scenery off the beaten track can be different to the well worn tourist paths, and as Snapper has often mentioned, "Its a meant to be here moment, Pez!" Usually after we've been lead a different path by our wonderful GPS system, affectionately known as 'Calamity Jane'.

So, as they say folks.......Here we go.......

Day 1 - Arriving into LAX on schedule at 6.30am with the flight just a tad bumpy in the middle of the night......arrived at our motel very early, and they were great, had a room cleaned quickly and we had the keys at 10.00am, wonderful, drop the bags and onto a 'Big Blue Bus' for a trip to Santa Monica, a wander down to the pier for a Corn Dog for Angela, then off to Skecher's Shoes (they've moved to a bigger store, Jac!), no purchases today and a sim card at AT&T. Back on the bus to Eagle Rider to check out the bike, and after months of concern on what model I would actually be riding, it has everything required, a 2018 Ultra Classic in black onyx.

Our traveling companion for this trip, Nifty arrived and we jumped back on the bus for a rather entertaining ride back to Santa Monica. Now for those who've not ridden the buses in Santa Monica, it is a real treat, free entertainment with all the characters who jump on & off the bus. Bus fares have risen in the last 2 years, now its $1.25 per person, a massive jump of .25c. We convinced Nifty that dinner at the Cheesecake Factory was the go, so once again, another fantastic meal, I had my favourite, Shrimp & chicken gumbo, absolutely marvellous! Early to bed for a big first day on the bikes.

Day 2 - We picked up our bike from Eagle Rider, packed and hit the road, fighting the LA peak traffic for an hour until we cleared the northern suburbs. Sitting on the I5 at 80 mph got some miles under our backside pretty quickly before heading into Bakersfield to pick up our National Parks pass and onto Bakersfield H-D for a look. The day has started to heat up and a check was 98*F. We left Bakersfield and headed north west to Lost Hills, then onto Blackwell's Corner, which is the infamous last stop for James Dean. He stopped here for a milkshake and an apple, then drove off down the highway where he flipped his Porsche Spyder into a ditch, which killed him. A few photos here then back on the road to Porterville & Visalia. This area is similar to the Lockyer Valley at home, massive areas of crops - tomatoes, carrots, peaches (the biggest you've ever seen), olives, corn, capsicum & a few smaller herb looking crops. This went on for many miles, close to 2 hours riding time.

We have arrived at Comfort Suites in Visalia, and are now looking to have dinner at Brubaker's Bar & Grill just around the corner. Let's see if they can impress me with their Bourbon selection!

Day 3 - An early start today as we made our way to Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon. Through some small villages and into the twisty's up to 7000 feet. This is a terrific ride, temperature was down to 64*F, so a little fresh. First stop was the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia, largest tree in the world. What a magnificent place it is. Back on the bikes and off to Kings Canyon and into Grant Grove to see the General Grant Tree, known as America's Christmas Tree. 3rd largest tree in the world and once again absolutely amazing to see. Both of these trees are as tall as a 7 story building and 40 feet around the base of the trunk. After a relaxing lunch under the giant Sequoia's, we made our way to Fresno, onto the I5 and up to Merced for tonight. Off to The Branding Iron Restaurant for dinner.


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