Wow, what a journey! Delays at every possible opportunity. First at Manchester for three hours, then four hours at Chicago. We got into Los Angeles at 3.30 am Thursday, instead of 5.15 pm Wednesday. That was a trip lasting nigh on thirty hours, thanks to British Midland! Immigration wasn't as bad as expected, neither were customs. But there were plenty of small minded people in uniforms strutting around barking orders, Never mind, we got here and drove alongside a lovely sunrise over the telegraph wires of the Californian landscape.
It was amazing how well I managed to perk up on arrival. I'd only had about four hours sleep in over 48 hrs, yet when we finally got the hire car I was feeling excited, alert, and raring to go. I only felt slightly let down when we were given a damned Ford Focus as our hire car; all the way to the States and get a boring car like that. Though it was cool having completely empty roads, being so early in the morning; it made navigating out of LA really easy. I could just swing across any number of lanes to take the right route. I even swung a great U-turn on Lincoln Bld. We got to Ojai by 6.30 am, absolutely knackered. Cai grabbed some sleep but I hung on till evening to give myself the best chance of getting over jet lag.
Being welcomed into someone's family home like one of their close friends is such a nice experience. We're staying with Al and his family, even though we've never meet them before. Lovely prople and such a great little spot they have in the reaches of the Ojia (pronounced O-hi) valley. We've been given the guest quarters (doesn't that sound grand?), an old second world war Nissan hut. As you can see its a nice wee pad! They used to live in it themselves until they built their earthquake and fire resistant house.
Oh boy, is it hot here or what? And that's me saying that; the sun king, god of the tan. Its actually a pleasure to get up at 5.30-6.00 am to get some things done; even if it is only poring through motor trade mags for motorbikes. Though we feel we need to take things easy it isn't possible to leave searching for bikes till later. Its the most important aspect of our journey, so it takes priority over everything else. Even if we have to undertake the arduous task of reading bike adverts while resting in the shade.
Oh, how I'd love to tell you about the wonderful purchase of our bikes. What a joy it was to finally decide and buy two brand new Kawasaki KLR650's. We viewed the bikes last Saturday (30th June2007) and were so impressed by them we went for it, even though they were $1000 more each than I'd budgeted for. They deal was worth it and we were over the moon, only $9300 for both; thats cheaper than one new in the UK. There was a black and a red one, despite insisting I'd have first choice on bikes I allowed Cai his pick and he went for the Red one. Oh why, just why didn't I stick to my guns and have my first choice, which was the Red!!
Riding down the Interstate 55 we were headed for the Pacific coast highway, which was our first planned route. Both of us were so looking forward to it. As the bikes were we had to deep the revs down to 4000 rpm for 500 miles, which means about 60 mph. The ride was going well, we took turns leading and stayed together, rarely being out of sight at all. We were separated by other vehicles pulling in between us but that was no concern. My attention was diverted by a van driving worrying close behind me, by the time that situation was over I checked for Cai and there was no sight of him. I reduced my speed and waited, but still no sign, so I pulled over to the hard shoulder. Another driver also pulled over and told me there'd been an accident, Cai was hurt but alright! I sped back up the hard shoulder to the scene to find Cai being cared for by other motorists with experience in such first aid.
Cai just wanted me there to hold him and hug him, he was in a lot of pain but wanted me to know what had happened. As he pulled over to another lane his engine lost power, the next thing he know a large freight truck plowed into him.
As we waited for the emergency services he was having problems staying conscious. When they took him to the hospital I was left to ride my own bike there, where I was denied access to see him and given a sheaf of paperwork to sign. After about four hours of surgery and resuscitation they couldn't restart his heart.
I expect to get his body back home by the beginning of next week where we'll have a service and wake for the multitudes of friends and family who Cai meant so much to. Just this morning I have found out his grades from his International Baccaluareate were excetional, top of his class and plenty for him to be able to study medicine. He was so keen on using his life to help others, to have an positive effect on our imperfect world.
I will forever treasure the all too short time Cai had alive, he was the dearest friend and the most wonderful person I've ever known. He was my life!!
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- France Mini: Sep 5-7
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- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
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