After Los Angeles the Grand Canyon and the Mountains of Arizona were a breath of Fresh Air
Left LA early, it took 110 kms to get out of Greater LA and for traffic to become less frantic. After that it was a geat ride becoming colder as the road climbed up from sea level to the stratosphere.
I stayed in Flagstaff, a very nice town and also very cold being at 2,200m this was to be expected. It was -4c (yes that is a minus in front of the 4) the first morning I woke up there.
The Route from LA to Flagstaff
Flagstaff Mountain is what I called it, if you look closely you can see the flag at the top
From Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and back, forrests on the way there and red rock on the way back
The Grand Canyon, pictures will never do it justice, the scale is so vast it is difficult to comprehend.
Spot the Lone Pine
This Path is reserved for people who have committed a great sin, their penance is to walk down and then back up without being rescued
Take a close look, you do not want to be on that path
There are people up there
That little river did all this damage
One of the locals
The train to the GC
Lots of bikes out on the weekend
I rode back along the Canyon towards Cameron, lots of good lookouts along this road and lots of roadside Navajo stalls selling jewelry and jerky
That's the Grand Canyon in the background on the other side of the Rock wall
This must be the best country in Arizona
Sedona and Cottonwood are small towns south of Flagstaff at a lower elevation and the road descends quite steeply through the hills. Lots of campgrounds alongside the river in this wooded area and some shacks built by the river as well, very picturesque.
Once out of the mountains the landscape turned red with some stark rock formations set against a very blue sky.
Quite a lot of traffic along this road, lots of bikes, all mammoth cruisers which sounded like Harleys and some Goldwings.
The road to Sedona and Cottonwood
In 3D, note the elevation profile on the right
On the way down
Sedona, many, many, many souvenir shops
This was Cowboy country
"Las Vegas Blvd" as the sign says or a short stretch of it is what makes LAS VEGAS
Rode along Interstate 40 and then onto Route 93 to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam. Easy ride with some excitement approaching the Hoover Dam, Police were stopping all vehicles in both directions going over the Dam especially RV's, Vans and Trucks, they waved me through (missed again) so I could not ask what was going on, probably because my bike is not capable of carrying enough fertiliser to be worthy of their attention.
Arrived in Las Vegas early quite warm, walked around for a couple of days, the Mega Resorts are really MEGA, I have never seen anything like it.
Slot machines by the million, most of them unoccupied, shopping malls within the resorts, rides within the resorts, lots of people everywhere, lots of different languages, an amazing experience but I was glad to be out of there after 2.5 days.
The Route from Flagstaff to Las vegas
Enroute to Las Vegas
Free Slots ???
New York, New York
That Roller Coaster - A whiplash machine
The Strip Lights
More Las Vegas and and I did not see all of it....
The MGM lobby, huge.
Slots a Million
I think they change the lions every day
The Killer Coaster again
This is Indoors
Planet Hollywood, 1.6 Km of shops
And they are building more of these monsters
Paris Las Vegas
Inside the Venetian
Why are people leaving money for this guy?
Attention to Detail
Treasure Island Skull
Mr. and Mrs. Greenback
Gambling while you have a drink at the Bar
Sports Book means you can bet on anything here
Lion Habitat inside the MGM Grand
Death Valley - Weird and Wonderful and not a blade of grass in sight.
Rode through Death Valley from Las Vegas via Shoshone.
Actually rode through the valley twice because I misjudged my fuel stops and went back for fuel when I did not have to.
Beautiful contrasts, desert below and snow on the mountains above, rocks of many colours, very warm especially in riding gear, I finished the day happy but completely dehydrated.
Great ride winding two lane back roads wth whoops and some in poor condition, up and over mountain passes and back down through the valleys.
Route from Las Vegs through Death Valley, Panamint Valley and China Lake
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley, an old Lake Bed
Surrounded by mountains
Faint traces of snow on the top
Below Sea Level
Death Valley Boardwalk
Ghost Town in Panamint Valley
Panamint Valley parallels Death valley but is about 300m higher
Highest (Mt.Whitney on the left) and Lowest (Death Valley on the right) points in the lower 48 so close to each other.
Stopped at Ridgecrest near China Lake for the night, surrounded by Military Bases.
Rode over the Sierra Nevada via Isabella Lake on the S155, another great ride through the mountains, up to 2000m and back down again.
Route from Ridgecrest to Porterville over the Sierra Nevada
There was a whole forest of them
Isabella lake, very pretty, small towns dotted along its shores
On the way down
Big Trees, Big Mountains, Rivers, Snow and Ice, warm in the Sun
It is difficult to find words to describe these places, feel good wilderness
Sequoia, Kings Canyon and all the way to Cedar Grove
Miles of Citrus trees at the base of the mountains
And it is harvest time
Lots of flowing water
Giant trees forest
Three pic's merged into one to capture this average monster
These trees have bark that is 600mm (2 feet) thick so forest fires have no effect on the core of the tree.
Kings Canyon on the way to Cedar Grove
Spot the car on the road, puts things into perspective
Kings River close up
Misadventure followed by Yosemite Valley
Porterville to Merced
Merced to Yosemite Valley
Since Flagstaff I had been hearing a loud ticking from the top of the Bike's engine so I decide to check it out at Merced.
The Inlet Valve clearances had opened up to about 1mm, should be 0.15mm, I knew then that there was wear in the Rocker Arm and/or shaft, it is a known problem with this model.
I rang KTM dealers all over the country for the parts but they all said backordered to the 26 June 2008. Next I called SOMMER KTM in Germany, they had the parts in stock and shipped them out within 4 hours of my calling them, delivery time 6 days.
The temperature was +40c, a heatwave, everyday right until the parts arrived, I spent my time watching repeats on TV.
The day the parts arrived it started blowing a gale 50kph winds all day and night for 3 days, the gusts were strong enough to set off my bike alarm. I pulled the Rocker Cover off with dust flying everywhere, the problem was a worn Roller Bearing on the Inlet Rocker Arm, I replaced the Arm and the Shaft and reassembled everything. Now the fun part, I had to wait 72 hours for the Silicon Sealant I used to seal the Rocker Cover to cure.
The Offending Part
While waiting I took the bus to Yosemite Valley the most picturesque part of the National Park.
All the Big Rocks, Waterfalls, Rivers and Tree's have names, I don't remember them so you can make your own up.
There is a road under there
San Francisco Old and the New all mixed up
The weather changed again, rain for the first hour out of Merced towards the coast Salinas and Monterrey.
Stopped at Laguna Seca Raceway, Home of the US MotoGP, rode around the outside, very hilly, lots of ups and downs.
Carried on to Pebble Beach, Private Road, Motorcycles not allowed which at $9.25 for 17 miles may not have been a bad thing.
Back onto Highway 1 and San Francisco, a city of contrasts and many tourists.
Merced to San Francisco
Laguna Seca Raceway
Highway 1 - Great ride, lots of bikes on the road and cars for the long weekend (Memorial day)
City Hall, very impressive
Art on the streets everywhere
These guys know what they are doing
Symbolic Entrance to China Town
This really is a China Town
Art on the buildings as well
All the streets are like this, cars parked uphill are required to turn their wheels to the left and cars parked downhill must turn their wheels to the right to prevent runaways.
And if you plan on walking like me, take the bus or the train or the cable car or the street car
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Coit Tower which is on top of a hill I was foolish enough to walk up, take the bus next time.
Coit Tower Marker
Coit Tower, there is some history here, google it.
Fishermans Wharf, Pier 39, Shops, Restaurants and Rides and millions of Tourists
The Bridge being built
Seemed to be the speciality here, Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl
Alcatraz from the Wharf
Cable Car, slow, noisy, bumpy and packed, a fun ride.
Be Good, this is not a nice place.
Alcatraz Island, I booked a ticket on the ferry in advance by phone, this is the most popular attraction here and booking is recommended.
Its a 15 minute ride on the ferry to the island, cool (13c) and windy.
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco Skyline
Someone requested that I put some pictures of me in this blog so now whenever someone asks me to take their pic I ask them to do the same for me.
On the ferry at the Rock
After it closed as a prison the local Indians took over the Island and lived there for over a year, claiming it as Indian Land
On the way up the hill
Outmate and a member of the Bomber squadron
Me again, as you can see I am an hour older in this one
Prisnors were searched thoroughly, thoroughly, like I said be Good
I think these pics give us a better idea of what it was like to live here
The self-guided Audio tour started here and lasted for 2.5 hours, it was recited by former Prisnors and Guards with sound effects, very well done.
Home Sweet Home 2.7m x 1.5m or 9' x 5'
D block if you misbehaved, the cells were bigger but you were not let out very often
And if you really upset the bosses, this was it, steel floor and darkness
One escape attempt resulted in Prisnors taking Guards hostage and executing them, it did not work
A unique view of San Francisco from the Rock enjoyed by the Guards
The only successful escape, though whether they lived to tell the tale is the debateable. "Escape from Alcatraz" Starring Clint Eastwood
That is the hole they enlarged with spoons to get into a Uitility corridor where they climbed up the pipes to the roof
Dummy heads under the blankets to fool the guards
The Utility Corridor where they climbed 3 floors up the pipes to the roof
Dining Room, they had the best food in the Prison system and Tear Gas cannisters in the ceiling
Freedom, water birds skimming the waves
Biking the Bridge, what they should really call it is Splitting you in Half on the Bridge
I believed the ad's and decided to Bike the Bridge, the man said "One or two small hills, really small hills on the way, liar.
Two hours uphill and another hour coming back, soaked in sweat, panting, cramps and a near death experience but worth it in the end, great views and I Biked the Bridge (next time I am Tour Bussing the Bridge)
San Francisco from the Bridge
On the way, no Doughnuts for these guys, its Clam Chowder
They look brand new
Bear with me, I spent three hours on a razor blade getting these pictures for you
Can you see the suffering on my face and this is only after 15 minutes
At last on top of the bridge, now only 3.2km's to go across the bridge and 3.2km's back and then its downhill most of the way
That Rock again
For the Jumpers
Coit Tower, the knee breaker
At last, the other end of the bridge, now its all/mostly downhill
San Francisco has the only Cable Car system in the world.
There are 4 huge loops (kilometers long) of cables running around under the streets of the city. They are kept in continuous motion by huge wheels at the Cable Car Depot, a very complex system of wheels and pulleys keeps them from getting tangled up under the streets.
The cars themselves have no engines, they use a huge set of pliers to grab the cable which pulls them along and to stop they let go of the cable and apply the brakes.
The Grip Man must have a strong back, it takes two guys on each car, they take turns as the Grip Man.
$5 a ride but if you have a day or week pass its free
This is where they get turned around manually at the end of the line
This is where the cables enter the Depot from the street
These huge wheels are what keep the cables moving around
Inside, the Grip Man in Front
Last day in San Francisco, the nicest city so far
I took a street car to Castro, the Gay District, just another street, some same sex couples holding hands. This was fairly common in other areas as well, Gay Marriages are now legal in California.
Colourful Flags mark the area
The Castro Theatre, google it for more info
The New Wonder Drug
I am trying to give you some idea of how steep the hills are, the San Franciscan's must be the fittest people in the US
Even the Cable Cars complain when climbing the hills
The Guide Books call this the Crookedest Street but in the next sentence thay say it isn't and that honour belongs to another street somewhere else, go figure.
Anyway this is the one all the tourists visit and no I did not walk up it, I am now older and wiser, I took the Cable Car to the top and walked down.
If not the Crookedest, it certainly is the prettiest street.
Ghirardelli, I took this picture so I could remember the spelling, famous for their Hot Fudge Sundae and I did have only one
Street Cars another one of San Francisco's weird Transport devices
Street Car Driver, he looks very uncomfortable
The Inside of one
San Francisco in 3D
A lake surrounded by mountains another natural wonder
Lake Tahoe is the result of a basin formed by land sinking between two faults
(according to the FAQ) and it is not a volcanic crater.
About 2 million years ago lava flowing from Mount Pluto formed a barrier across
the basin's outlet.
It is 35km long, 19km wide, 115km around, 501m deep and it is 1897m above
Half the lake is in California and the other half in Nevada
San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, I lost my way in the maze of freeways around
Sacremento and kept going on the I80, this was serendipity because the route
(49) I took to get back onto S50 was a geat ride.
I rode around the lake, there are small communities around most of the California
side, the Nevada side only had casino's at both State borders
Across a 2300m high mountain pass to get to Lake Tahoe
Does my bottom look big in this outfit, Lake Tahoe in the background
Its pretty all the way around, take your pick
Some of these vista's are very long, scroll sideways to see the rest
There was some sort of Bike race or gathering this weekend and there were
thousands of these guys/gals riding around everywhere obstructing and breathing
in the fumes of all the 4 wheelers.
This a winter sports town so the bikes thing must be to keep the local business
from going broke in summer
A fine day 18c with blue skies all round so I decided to walk to the Nevada state
border (another stupid decision) about 7.2km, I did not know this when I started,
it only took a few minutes riding my bike.
This is the Upper or Lower Truckee river
Lake Tahoe Beach
Me at the beach, not in the water
Big Ducks or they could be Geese or Swans
This is an escapee from the local asylum, he thinks he's a duck, the water is just
above freezing point. They took him away in a padded jacket with a fish in his
Your guess is as good as mine
This is what people come here for in winter
Only in America, taking the Dog's for a walk
Vicious man-eating bears everywhere
Another local happening, people having fun playing Horses and Wagons
The state border at last, casinos start right on the border
I took this while lying down for a rest on the 7km hike back
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