May 04, 2008 GMT
3. Grand Canyon

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
LAtoFlagstaff.JPG

Flagstaff Mountain is what I called it, if you look closely you can see the flag at the top
1FlagstaffMountain.JPG

From Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon and back, forrests on the way there and red rock on the way back
FlagstafftoGC.JPG

In 3D
FlagstafftoGC3D.JPG

The Grand Canyon, pictures will never do it justice, the scale is so vast it is difficult to comprehend.
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3gc.JPG

4gc.JPG

5gc.JPG

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Spot the Lone Pine
9gclonepine.JPG

10gc.JPG

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
11gcpath.JPG

Take a close look, you do not want to be on that path
12gcpath.JPG

13gc.JPG

14gc.JPG

15gchistory.JPG

There are people up there
16peopleupthetop.JPG

That little river did all this damage
17theriver.JPG

18theriver.JPG

19theriver.JPG

20gc.JPG

One of the locals
21local.JPG

The train to the GC
22train.JPG

Lots of bikes out on the weekend
23ktm.JPG

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
24ktm.JPG

That's the Grand Canyon in the background on the other side of the Rock wall
25ktm.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 05:38 AM GMT
May 05, 2008 GMT
4. Sedona

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
sedona.JPG

In 3D, note the elevation profile on the right
Sedona3D.JPG

On the way down
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sedona2.JPG

sedona3.JPG

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Sedona, many, many, many souvenir shops
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Metal Sculpture
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This was Cowboy country
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Posted by Chris Desmond at 04:15 AM GMT
May 06, 2008 GMT
5. Las Vegas

"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
8.FlagstafftoLasVegas.JPG

In 3D
9.FlagstafftoLasVegas3D.JPG

Enroute to Las Vegas
1Nevada.JPG

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3nevada.JPG

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Hoover Dam
6hoover.JPG

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MGM Grand
8mgm.JPG

Hooters
9hooters.JPG

Tropicana
10tropicana.JPG

Free Slots ???
11lucky20.JPG

New York, New York
12nyny.JPG

Tropicana
13tropicana.JPG

Excalibur
14excalibur.JPG

Mandalay Bay
15mandalay.JPG

16thehotel.JPG

Luxor
17luxor.JPG

18luxor.JPG

Monorail
19monorail.JPG

That Roller Coaster - A whiplash machine
20roller.JPG

The Strip Lights
21lights.JPG

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25harley.JPG

26glacier.JPG

27lights.JPG


Posted by Chris Desmond at 05:26 AM GMT
May 07, 2008 GMT
6. Las Vegas 2

More Las Vegas and and I did not see all of it....

The MGM lobby, huge.
1mgmlion.JPG

Slots a Million
2slots.JPG

Real Lion
3lion.JPG

I think they change the lions every day
4lion.JPG

The Killer Coaster again
5roller2.JPG

This is Indoors
6indoors.JPG

7indoors.JPG

Planet Hollywood, 1.6 Km of shops
8planet.JPG

And they are building more of these monsters
9moremonsters.JPG

Indoors again
10indoors.JPG

11indoors.JPG

Caesars Palace
12caesars.JPG

Bellagio
13bellagio.JPG

Paris Las Vegas
14paris.JPG

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Bally's
16ballys.JPG

Flamingo
17flamingo.JPG

Harrah's
18harrahs.JPG

The Mirage
19mirage.JPG

Treasure Island
20ti.JPG

Inside the Venetian
21indoorvenetian.JPG

Why are people leaving money for this guy?
22money.JPG

The Venetian
23venetian.JPG

Palazzo
24palazzo.JPG

Attention to Detail
25lacruiser.JPG

26lacruiser.JPG

Fashion Show
27fashion.JPG

Treasure Island Skull
28ti.JPG

Venetian
29venetian.JPG

Mr. and Mrs. Greenback
30greenback.JPG

Gambling while you have a drink at the Bar
1bargambling.JPG

Sports Book means you can bet on anything here
3sportsbook.JPG

Lion Habitat inside the MGM Grand
4lionhabitat.JPG

2lion.JPG

5lion.JPG

6lionglass.JPG

7lionname.JPG


Posted by Chris Desmond at 06:29 AM GMT
May 08, 2008 GMT
7. Death Valley

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
10.DeathValley.JPG

In 3D
11.DeathValley3D.JPG

Death Valley National Park
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2nevada.jpg

3nevada.jpg

Death Valley, an old Lake Bed
4dv.jpg

5dv.jpg

Surrounded by mountains
6snow.jpg

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Faint traces of snow on the top
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Below Sea Level
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Death Valley Boardwalk
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16dv.jpg

Ghost Town in Panamint Valley
17ballarat_1.jpg

Panamint Valley parallels Death valley but is about 300m higher
18panamintvalley.jpg

Highest (Mt.Whitney on the left) and Lowest (Death Valley on the right) points in the lower 48 so close to each other.
19deathvalleyprofile.JPG

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
12.RidgecresttoPorterville.JPG

In 3D
13.RidgecresttoPorterville3D.JPG

Hairy Trees
1hairytrees.jpg

There was a whole forest of them
2hairytrees.jpg

Isabella lake, very pretty, small towns dotted along its shores
3isabellalake.jpg

On the way down
4s155.jpg

5s155.jpg


Posted by Chris Desmond at 06:00 PM GMT
May 10, 2008 GMT
8. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

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
14.SequoiaKingsCanyonNP.JPG

In 3D
15.SequoiaKingsCanyonNP3D.JPG

Miles of Citrus trees at the base of the mountains
1citrus.JPG

And it is harvest time
2citruspicking.JPG

Lake Kaweah
3lakekaweah.JPG

Kaweah River
4kaweahriver.JPG

Lots of flowing water
5lotsofwater.JPG

6plants.JPG

7view.JPG

8view.JPG

9plants.JPG

Giant trees forest
10bigtree.JPG

Three pic's merged into one to capture this average monster
11bigtreemerge.jpg

These trees have bark that is 600mm (2 feet) thick so forest fires have no effect on the core of the tree.
12deathdefying.JPG

13bigtree.JPG

Snow below
14snowbelow.JPG

15moresnow.JPG

16bigtree.JPG

Kings Canyon on the way to Cedar Grove
17kingscanyon.JPG

18someonedownthere.JPG

Kings River
19kingsriver.JPG

Spot the car on the road, puts things into perspective
20spotthecar.JPG

21kingscanyon.JPG

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Kings River close up
26kingsriver.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 07:11 PM GMT
May 23, 2008 GMT
9. Yosemite Valley

Misadventure followed by Yosemite Valley

Porterville to Merced
16.PortervilletoMerced.JPG

Merced to Yosemite Valley
17.Yosemite.JPG

In 3D
18.Yosemite3D.JPG

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
5rocker.JPG

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.

1waterfall.jpg

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3mirrorlake.jpg

4rock.jpg

5rock.jpg

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7YosemiteFallsl.JPG

8locals.JPG

9locals.JPG

10loweryosemite.JPG

11river.JPG

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13river.JPG

14river.JPG

15bear.JPG

16rock.JPG

17mirror.JPG

18awahnee.JPG

19local.JPG

20halfdome.JPG

21northdome.JPG

There is a road under there
22rockslide.JPG

23rockslide.JPG

The Bus
24bus.JPG


Posted by Chris Desmond at 05:34 AM GMT
May 25, 2008 GMT
10. San Francisco

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
19.MercedtoSF.JPG

In 3D
19.MercedtoSF3D.JPG

Laguna Seca Raceway
1laguna.JPG

2lagunaseca.jpg

3lagunaseca.jpg

Highway 1 - Great ride, lots of bikes on the road and cars for the long weekend (Memorial day)
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8h1.JPG

2sfseal.JPG

City Hall, very impressive
3cityhall.jpg

Art on the streets everywhere
1sf1.JPG

4sfskyline.jpg

5sftallbuilding.jpg

These guys know what they are doing
7sfmonkeys.JPG

Symbolic Entrance to China Town
8chinagate.JPG

9kidsreading.JPG

10chinatown.JPG

This really is a China Town
11chinatown.JPG

Art on the buildings as well
12sfbuilding.JPG

13sfbuilding.JPG

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
14streetslope.JPG

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.
15ggbridge.JPG

Coit Tower Marker
16survey.JPG

Coit Tower, there is some history here, google it.
17coittower.JPG

18coit.JPG

Fishermans Wharf, Pier 39, Shops, Restaurants and Rides and millions of Tourists
19pier39.JPG

The Bridge being built
20ggbridge.JPG

21pier39.JPG

Seemed to be the speciality here, Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl
22clamchowder.JPG

Alcatraz from the Wharf
23alcatraz.JPG

24sub.JPG

25fishermans.JPG

26cc.JPG

27cc.JPG

Cable Car, slow, noisy, bumpy and packed, a fun ride.
28cablecar.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 04:09 AM GMT
May 27, 2008 GMT
11. Alcatraz

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.
38ferry.JPG


Golden Gate Bridge
4ggbridge.JPG

San Francisco Skyline
5sffromtheferry.jpg


6sfskyline.jpg

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
39me.JPG

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
7alcatraz.JPG

On the way up the hill
8laundryworkshops.JPG

9watertower.JPG

Outmate and a member of the Bomber squadron
10outmate.JPG

11guardtower.JPG

Me again, as you can see I am an hour older in this one
12me.JPG

Prisnors were searched thoroughly, thoroughly, like I said be Good
13search.JPG

I think these pics give us a better idea of what it was like to live here
14shower.JPG

15clothing.JPG

18mapisland.JPG

17map.JPG

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'
16s9x5cell.JPG

Recreation
19yard.JPG

D block if you misbehaved, the cells were bigger but you were not let out very often
20dblockcell.JPG

And if you really upset the bosses, this was it, steel floor and darkness
21solitary.JPG

22library.JPG

One escape attempt resulted in Prisnors taking Guards hostage and executing them, it did not work
23seige.JPG

24seige.JPG

Prison Art
25art.JPG

26visitation.JPG

27visitation.JPG

28prison.JPG

29prison.JPG

A unique view of San Francisco from the Rock enjoyed by the Guards
30sffromtherock.JPG

The only successful escape, though whether they lived to tell the tale is the debateable. "Escape from Alcatraz" Starring Clint Eastwood
31escape.JPG

32escape.JPG

That is the hole they enlarged with spoons to get into a Uitility corridor where they climbed up the pipes to the roof
33escape.JPG

Dummy heads under the blankets to fool the guards
34escape.JPG

The Utility Corridor where they climbed 3 floors up the pipes to the roof
35escape.JPG

Dining Room, they had the best food in the Prison system and Tear Gas cannisters in the ceiling
36dining.JPG

Freedom, water birds skimming the waves
37birds.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 04:18 PM GMT
May 28, 2008 GMT
12. Golden Gate Bridge & Cable Cars

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
1SFfromBridge.jpg

On the way, no Doughnuts for these guys, its Clam Chowder
2chips.JPG

They look brand new
3chips.JPG

4chips.JPG

Bear with me, I spent three hours on a razor blade getting these pictures for you
5gg.JPG

6gg.JPG

Can you see the suffering on my face and this is only after 15 minutes
7me.JPG

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9me.JPG

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
10me.JPG

11gg.JPG

12gg.JPG

13boats.JPG

That Rock again
14therock.JPG

15pilot.JPG

16boat.JPG

For the Jumpers
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18gg.JPG

19marina.JPG

Coit Tower, the knee breaker
20coit.JPG

At last, the other end of the bridge, now its all/mostly downhill
21gg.JPG


CABLE CARS
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
cc1.JPG

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This is where the cables enter the Depot from the street
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These huge wheels are what keep the cables moving around
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Inside, the Grip Man in Front
cc6cablecarinside.JPG


Posted by Chris Desmond at 05:21 PM GMT
May 29, 2008 GMT
13. San Francisco - Goodbye

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
2castro.JPG

The Castro Theatre, google it for more info
3castro.JPG

The New Wonder Drug
1medical.JPG

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
6uphill.JPG

Even the Cable Cars complain when climbing the hills
7uphill.JPG

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.
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If not the Crookedest, it certainly is the prettiest street.
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Ghirardelli, I took this picture so I could remember the spelling, famous for their Hot Fudge Sundae and I did have only one
22ghirardelli.JPG

Mermaid Baby
23mermaidbaby.JPG

Street Cars another one of San Francisco's weird Transport devices
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24streetcar.JPG

Street Car Driver, he looks very uncomfortable
25streetcardriver.JPG

The Inside of one
26streetcarinside.JPG

San Francisco in 3D
23.SanFranciscoin3D.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 01:18 AM GMT
May 30, 2008 GMT
14. Lake Tahoe

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

sea level.


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.
24.SanFranciscotoLakeTahoe.JPG

In 3D
25.SanFranciscotoLakeTahoe3D.JPG

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
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In 3D
27.AroundLakeTahoe3D.JPG

Across a 2300m high mountain pass to get to Lake Tahoe
2approachTahoe.JPG

Does my bottom look big in this outfit, Lake Tahoe in the background
1approachTahoe.JPG

Its pretty all the way around, take your pick

Some of these vista's are very long, scroll sideways to see the rest
1LakeTahoeVista.jpg

2LakeTahoeVista.jpg

3LakeTahoeVista.jpg

4LakeTahoeVista.jpg

5boat.JPG

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100me.JPG

11vista.JPG

12vista.JPG

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
14bikes.JPG

6bikes.JPG

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
2upperlowertruckee.JPG

Lake Tahoe Beach
1LakeTahoeBeach.jpg

Me at the beach, not in the water
3me.JPG

Big Ducks or they could be Geese or Swans
4ducks.JPG

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

mouth.
5lunatic.JPG

Your guess is as good as mine
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Local Art
9art.JPG

This is what people come here for in winter
8skirun.JPG

Only in America, taking the Dog's for a walk
10dogwalk.JPG

Vicious man-eating bears everywhere
11bears.JPG

Another local happening, people having fun playing Horses and Wagons
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13wagontrain.JPG

The state border at last, casinos start right on the border
15harrahs.JPG

16harveys.JPG

I took this while lying down for a rest on the 7km hike back
17jet.JPG

Posted by Chris Desmond at 04:46 AM GMT
 
 

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What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

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Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

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