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Oct 14-18, 2011, Day 4 - 8, California

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DAY 4-5, Oct 14-15, Cambria, CA, USA Temp 14C-29C Mist Rain/Sun (560/2560km)

Tidied up at Toni's and got on my way around 11am with the shortest of the rides to my first major destination in front of me.  I had only 2 goals on the day.  A photo of the California State Capitol and making it to Cambria before night fall.

Sacramento reminded me a little of Calgary because the light rail running through the city and some of the buildings.  I would be happy to hang there for a night or two as government towns are always interesting to me and host multiple types of people.

Arnold's old house...I heard it was almost as big as the White House and it was big (how big is the White House?).  And I thought the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin was impressive.

The day continued on the I-5 which is a busy road, but effective.  (C1,R6/7,T5,V3).  Turned off on to I-156 (C4/5,R8,T3/4,V6/7) which had great views of different vegetation on the hills (desert to green) as you made your way to the coast and Highway 1. 

Slow start through Monterey, but once I got passed the train of vehicles it was all good.  Highway 1 runs from North of San Francisco in to LA and beyond.  I had completed the SF portion in 2006 (West Coast Trip 2006) so it was great to do the second section on this trip.  (C8,R7,T4-1,V8/9).

Hwy 1 Monterey to Cambria

Highway 1 just North of Cambria, oh the view

Made it to the (HUBB) Rally just before night fall.  I had no directions with me, but luckily intercepted two bikers while I was on the side of the road seconds from knocking on a Cambrian's door.  So, I followed them to the Rally's great spot on the water.  For $50 you get two days of presentations, $60 got you great meals all weekend and $80 got me two nights accommodation in a dorm (that was a touch expensive, but better than paying $70 for camping).  One guy commented that the accommodation was more that weekend then he had spent in a couple months on the road.

A fantastic weekend for sure and absolutely great to hear such positive travel stories and tips from all the presenters.  Shared a room with Dr. Greg Frazier who has been around the world 4 or 5 times depending on how you measure it.  Also, good to see some V Stroms along with all the other BMW adventure bikes.

Dr. Greg Frazier and some of the adventure bikes.

Grant Johnson from British Columbia (Horizons Unlimited Founder) demonstrating a tire change and talking about everything involved.

In addition to all the good adventure info at the Rally I met up with a bunch of guys I had invited to ride to Argentina.  Dave O (Rookie rider with computer know how and intermediate spanish out of Edmonton; 2011 V Strom 650) and Greg C(Experienced rider with charm and maturity out of Ottawa; DR 650) were interested in riding South and able to wait until I returned from NYC before setting off (see next blog).  Riding with others?  We shall see what happens.  

One of the many things I learned at the Rally.  Dropping your bike.  On purpose?

Any Damage?


DAY 6-8, Oct 16-18, Los Angeles, CA, USA Temp 14C-22C Mist Rain/Sun (390/2950km)

Great drive from Cambria to LA mostly on the Hwy 1 (C3/4,R7,T2,V6/7).  

Best part was the Pacific Coast Highway from Oxnard to Malibu once I found it (C7,R7,T2,V8).  If only I got to do this in the day light then there would be some photos.

Staying with the usual suspects in LA, Gareth and Dorit in Marina del Rey.  On Monday Dorit and I went to the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  I used to follow his show when I lived in Canada thinking it was the best late night show on TV.  We got there around 3pm and waited, then were prepped by the House Comic (Chunky B) and then waited some more and then got in to the freezing cold studio and waited some more and  then we're prepped again and finally saw Craig who seemed to be all business.  This was not as personable as I expected and definitely not as personable as Jay Leno was when I attended the Tonight show years before.  The House Comic continued through out the show instructing us to laugh.  I don't know how many warning we had about making Craig feel good from everyone at the show emphasizing the importance of our laughs like helium to a balloon.  And I thought he was entertaining us?  Turns out we are actually part of the show working with him to impress the people at home who simply surf through the channels and stop on the Late Late show for 20 minutes.  I guess after 11 years and being a Monday show he just wanted to get it done.  To be fair they had to insert a last minute guest, Matt Smith, from Doctor Who, who was a bit weird and then Joel Schumacher who was even stranger.  This didn't help Craig's cause.  Still all and all I was glad I checked it out, but I wouldn't want to do it everyday as it took 3 hours from start to finish for a 22 min show.   Thanks for joining me Dorit.

Check out the enormous Hershey Bars carried by the Price is Right audience after leaving the 1pm recording of that show.

Dorit and I at CBS after the 3 hours

The next day and a half in LA was spent ordering and buying items for the trip.  This seemed like a never ending process, but I'm sure it will come together at some point.  Two shops that were great were Cycle Gear and Honda of Hollywood.  Cycle Gear run by Jay (moved to San Diego store now) had all the riding stuff you could need plus repair kits and other after market parts (even Dainese gloves which no one in LA seemed to have).  And Honda of Hollywood was excellent for online ordering of OEM parts and advice from Frank the head of service who shared his tricks and tips.  I will use them to order parts as they have quick access to Suzuki USA in California and their prices are great.  Not sure if they will be able to send directly to me so having friends in LA that can send it to you is a bonus.  Thanks Gaz and Dorit for everything!

Next up NYC, what?

Other stuff

Check out this log of wasabi I got with my sushi.  That doesn't look right.  Who serves it like this anyway?

Oct 2011 and Day 1 - 3 the beginning of the Argentina Trip

October and the beginning of 6 months on the Road...

The PLAN : Ride a motorcycle from Calgary, Alberta to Argentina.

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Firstly in the month I finished my 3 month Engineering contract (thanks for the opportunity George) on Oct. 7, then I planned to leave for Argentina on Oct. 14.  Unfortunately I had to rush my packing though and leave Oct. 11.  Why?  Well, surfing the HUBB motorbike forums and posting "Who's going to Argentina" I met a handful of guys doing the same thing as me.  The big difference was they were all going to Cambria California for an Adventure Motorcycle Rally from Oct. 14 to 16 to hear stories from great Round the World riders (Greg Frazier and Ted Simon, etc) and take seminars on Adventure Riding do's and don'ts, etc.  This is just what I needed too so I hustled my ass and got on the road for Oct. 11, 2011 = DAY 1...

Quick shot of my mother the night before as she laminates diversionary "documents" with her food sealer.  You're the best mom!

DAY 1, Oct. 11, 2011 - Spokane, WA, USA.  Temp 6 - 16C, Sun then Rain (690/690km)

Ear plug in and I'm out of here!

Good to get on the road and finally test this bike out.  I only had clocked 500km in the city on it so I had no idea how Bumble Bee would handle 140 to 150 km/h.  Answer: Well, expect for the damn wind shield buffeting.  Need to get a Madstad bracket.

The day started sunny and warm in Calgary, but turned rainy and cold as I passed Fernie and in to the USA.  Beautiful mountain scenery.  (Canada section to border Curves = 5, Road = 8, Traffic = 3, View = 7)

Frank's Slide near Crow's Nest Pass

Sparwood Big Dump Truck

Nice country in Idaho as well and cheaper gas which was good as I took the long way around to get to Spokane. (Hwy 2 Curves=6,Road=7,Traffic=3,View=7).

Saw one of these trucks on my way in to town.  Oh the possibilities "We have Ferrell gas...".  For those who don't know in NZ the world Feral is used a lot and means wild and unruly.  I always thought of it as a substitute for gross.  Grandma's cookies made with Feral gas, yum.

Dinner at the Golden Corral - Welcome to America!  All you can eat buffet with everything,


Stayed with Caroline and Troy from Couch Surfing.  Great hosts, great food and great massage table!

DAY 2, Oct. 12, 2011 - Bend, OR, USA.  Temp 9 - 19C, Sun (660/1350km)

Slow start to the day as I had to wait at Westside Motorsport (no affiliation with Blackfoot Motorsport, but the service is similar) for 2+ hours to get new front and rear tires.  Should have been a bit quicker, but the back tire was installed backwards so I didn't hit the effect American highway system until 12pm.

Farmland then Desert was a surprise as I thought I would see forest instead.  Spokane to Kennewick (Hwy 395 C4,R7,T3,V4).  Had a Belly Buster Hamburger (it wasn't) at a Fish shop.  Why not the fish, I'm dumb.

Kennewick to I 97.  Really nice.  Running along the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon with lots of windmills.  (C4,R8,T3,V7)

I- 97 to Bend.  No gas for 150km!  Aside from the great diverse landscape of mountains and trees and sweeping hills and farmland my fuel light flashed for the last 40km before I made Madras.  Sure there were small towns on the way, but apparently their pumps are only open once a week.  Truly testing the bike on the road as I put it in neutral down big hills to save the fumes I had left.  Oh, and as usual it was night fall on a lonely road.  I was happy to see Madras had traffic lights.

In to Bend to meet up with Couch Surfing Host Kevin H.  Bend is a tourist town set in the mountains and gets very busy in the summer months.  We went to 10 Barrel for dinner and some amazing micro brew.  English IPA was great and they even had a beer that tasted like Scotch (it wasn't good, but they had it).  Oregon is all about BEER and I love it.

Look at that Steak sandwich.

Kevin was a great host and helped with some bike mods in the wee hours.  His oatmeal before a long day of riding is the tops too!  Thanks and best of luck with your upcoming trips.

Kevin discusses the late night mods.

DAY 3, Oct. 13, 2011 - Yuba City, CA, USA.  Temp 9 - 26C, All Sun (650/2000km)

Chilly start in Bend and a bit rushed as I had to sort out my Spot GPS a little bit.

Bend to Klamath Lake had everything from Volcanos to Valley Forests to Klamath Lake(C2,R7,T3,V7).  Very straight road considering the views and all the mountains.

Klamath to Redding was great.  Gorgeous mountains and excellent curves.  Like a race track in the mountains at times which reminded me of Switzerland.  (C8,R7,T4,V8)

Let’s not talk about Hwy 99 to Yuba, urgh.  No passing lanes and lots of cars. (C2,R7,T5,V3).  This road goes through Chico a University town which is where most of the Couch Surfers usually stay. 

Sunset just before Chico.

In Chico for dinner.  The only thing that would make this shot better is if I was outside of Taco Bell.  Apparently he likes surfing too.

Rolled in after dark to Toni’s place where she and her two sisters snuggle in with their mom in a huge place with lots of space and full bar in the barn out back.  I mean a FULL bar with stools and tables, pool table, dart board and tonnes of decoration which I would suspect can hold 80 people or so.  It was truly a gem on my trip considering no one ever goes to Yuba City and I had no idea about Yuba City either.  Toni, her mom and sisters were great and fed me a pile of beautiful Blue Moon beer!  I’m coming back again.

Video as I went out back to join my new friends.

Check out the bar.

And my hilarious company.

Next up, Cambria and a Bike rally...

Sept 2011, Life's short

The Life of Brad has seen some sad moments these passed months.  Unfortunately not all days can be good ones and normally I only write about the good, but this month started with a shocking death and then recovered with some positives and moments to appreciate.

Early in the month on the way to a nice afternoon game of golf my mother called me up out of the blue.  I asked what was wrong and she replied that one of my brother's best friends had died.  I was in shock as I had just seen him 2 months before and had a couple of beers with him and his wife.  It turns out he took his own life.  Initially anger overcame me and I still don't know when I'll accept this loss.

Jeff Douthwright passed away due to his own hand in early September leaving behind a 4 month old and young wife.  I did not attend the funeral as I was still too mad to go.  I'm probably wrong to do so, but when I think about any parent leaving a child it crushes me.  If you are giving the miracle of life it's your responsibility to make sure it gets the best chance you can give that miracle.  It's sad that Jeff is gone and I apologise for not supporting everyone in this time.  I truly enjoyed hanging out with the guy and I still can't believe he is gone.  I wish nothing but the best for Karen and Braden and hope everyone truly appreciates this life we have...

Let's take a breath...

On to the lighter side of life and my return to the Calgary Corporate Challenge after 5+ years.  Basically, a Corporate Olympics which puts some good athletes and some not so good athletes together to compete in 20 or so events from Truck Pulls to Crib Tournaments (whoa).  I was on V-ball, Darts (Bronze), Bocce, Mini Golf, Horse Shoes, Foosball (Silver) and Soccer (Puked after the game!).  It's a good time and I recommend if your company isn't doing it they should.  

Opening event, The Truck Pull.  Unfortunately this girl ran in to my shot and it was the only one I had ;o(

John Estepa nailing a "double 3" to move us in to the next round in a super tight match.  We all thought each of the first 2 darts were in.  Have a look at that grouping.

Bronze Medal team; Me, Art, Caroline, John (Maria and Ron T missing from photo)

Foosball Silver Medalists.  Me, Mike C, Ian, Pat G, Kristina P and Chauntel.  Unfortunately I didn't make the cut to play in the final so it was hard to watch the Gold slip away when you can't do anything about it.  It was even worse to see a guy from Engineering that I used to beat soundly win the Gold.  Side note: Mike and I got revenge on them in a friendly match at the end of the night.  Next year Pason Systems, next year.

Winning the Spirit Award for the White Division

Devilish plan hoping the cup is Beer Tight!

Taste of Victory

Moments to Appreciate

Thanks Trevor for the new photos with the new bike as seen in my profile pic.  I had to put this cheese on here so I can get a chuckle every now and again.

Breadless Brendan.  Working in the Oil and Gas industry means you must be clean shaven when you go to the field.  This enables a seal between your face and the gas mask when poisonous gas leaks are detected in rare cases.  I believe it has been 6 years since Brendan's been clean shaven.  It felt like we were back in Jr High.

The Saskatchewan Four.  Four young chaps out of Saskatoon, who I met through my godmother, off to Argentina.  Colin and crew had a day in Calgary and I caught up with them for 5 minutes to check out their gear and bikes at the McDick's across from Canada Olympic Park (COP).  DAY 2 of 200.  See you in "Panama" (say it like Van Halen!).  You better open the budget for that day as we will need a couple of beers!

Slaughter House Studios.  Had the pleasure of playing with Peter S's band near the end of the month at an old slaughter house (which is a total club house).  This place is amazing with a bunch of converted meat lockers in to studios, pool table, beer vending machine and a wicked owner.  Awesome!!!  Looking forward to sitting in again.

Next Month... The Adventure to Argentina Begins...