May 29, 2010 GMT
USA - 11 March to 4 April 2010

We had planned to cross the Mexican US border at Tecate rather than Tijuana, so our planned route up through the mountains was somewhat scuppered.

Marvelling at the wide freeways and much faster traffic, we arrived in Temulco California around dusk and suddenly found ourselves paying treble money for our accommodation and double for our food. But our room in a hotel run by an Indian couple from Manchester (their accents made us feel at home!) was enormous and we enjoyed the novelty of cooking a ready dinner from the supermarket in our microwave!

Next day was classic car festival day in town.


A view over Lake Elsinore CA on a good biking road

Past Lake Elsinore and up and over the lovely Santa Anna Mountains to Torrance, Los Angeles and our home for the next three weeks courtesy of our motorcycling friend Alice.


Arriving in Torrance CA

The time flew what with bike rides up the coast to Malibu and up into the Santa Monica mountains and a great stay with Alice’s friend Shannon, an interesting visit to a Harley dealer’s ladies night which they called a Garage Party, bicycle rides to the beach, walks with Alice’s dogs and a visit to Hollywood to see the stars and the famous sign.


Posing 1


Posing 2


Posing with the stars (Lassie)

In between times, Pat changed the oil and filters and spark plugs on both bikes, put a new seal on one of my forks (one too many crashed speedbumps in Mexico I suspect), put a new front tyre on my bike and new rear brake pads on my bike.

And in between times I attempted to revive some of the pidgeon Japanese I had learned 15 years ago, and sorted sending ourselves and the bikes to Japan. This latter took a huge amount of time researching to get logistics and comparable costs for both sea and air and find a crate. In the end we went for the air option as it looked like the port and customs costs in Japan would be much higher.

We hunted without success for a free crate and ended up paying $250 to get the bikes crated professionally in one crate and nearly $1400 to airfreight the crate to Japan. And we had to buy return tickets to Tokyo as the airlines refuse to let you on with a single ticket as they get fined $30,000 per returned passenger who is refused entry. Gone sadly are the days when you could flog off your not-needed return ticket.

The bikes went by China Airlines via Taipei and we went by Korean Air (at $700 each). Thanks very much to Shannon and Mark for our last night in the USA – great fun – and to Sarah for driving us to the airport early on a Sunday morning after a riotous late night.

Posted by Pat Thomson at May 29, 2010 10:42 AM GMT

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