December 15, 2007 GMT
California (Part 3)

We ride through Glendale and Pasadena, before arriving in Pomoma where we were planning to stay for a couple of nights.

Em had picked up a local tourist guide that had dicounted rates for motels, so rather than the campground, we end up in a cheap motel. From the motel Em gets busy on the phone trying to organise an LA tour for the next day, after working her magic we are booked on the complete day tour of LA. Only problem is that the tour company can only collect us from a posh hotel further into town.

So next morning, we ride through rush hour on the interstate, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive on time.

The great thing about the interstate is the car pool lane on the left hand side which we can use being a vehicle carrying 2 people or more. This means we get over into the lane and bypass all the stationary traffic for about 5 miles. There are loads of other bikes in this lane and we get lots of friendly waves as they pass us. The only downside to the carpool lane is having to get back across 6 lanes of traffic to get off the interstate- Luckily they advertise exits 2 miles in advance so you have time to cut across.

We arrive on time and get changed in the hotel car park then wait for the tour bus to arrive.

The coach eventually departs and we head off to pick up other tourists en route to the centre of LA. First stop is the Chinese Theatre which has famous peoples hand and foot prints along with messages from the stars. We wander around for a while seeing which ones we can spot. Darren has this picture with John Wayne's prints.


We then wander down the Hollywood walk of fame looking at all the stars and names.


Back to the coach we head out now to Beverley Hills and the coach takes us round the small side streets admiring the very expensive hollywood homes. We ooh and ahh at Madonna's house, Tom Cruise's place, the Playboy Mansion and the Beckham's new pad. It was cheesy good fun trying to catch a glimpse of expensive cars and houses through all the big gates.

Next we head back into town to Rodeo Drive and get half an hour to wander up the street where the rich and famous shop. This also gives me a chance to drool down the window of the Cartier shop at the most beautiful diamond necklace I have ever seen...

Then it's off for lunch, and just in time as Darren is dying for the restroom. We are taken to the Farmers Market and get an hour for lunch. This is a really nice area and we find a Cheesecake Factory which is just as wonderful as it sounds - 28 different types of cheesecake for dessert - and the other food's not bad either!

You know it's good when there's 2 tools on the go

Are you sure they won't fit in my pannier?

Back on the coach we get driven round the city sights and buildings of interest. Then it's up to the Hollywood Hills for a picture of the Hollywood sign. Looking back down to LA the smog is really noticeable.


Then it's back to the hotel, changing in the carpark and back through the traffic to our hotel - what a day- we are both exhausted!

LA was really good fun, but all too soon it was time to leave, for the last few weeks we had been riding to a bit of a timeframe as we had plans to meet friends from the UK in Vegas.

So with that in mind we ride out of LA and into the Mojave Desert again and after several hours, the campground at Barstow. On the way to Barstow we spot a shopping outlet place and decide to return to pick up a few items that we will need for Vegas, but first we get the tent up.


Once the tent is up, an RV pulls in near us and a guy jumps out and immediately introduces himself, his name is Nat and is a New Yorker. For the next couple of hours we listen to Nats stories of his travels and he proves to be a really interesting guy. Nat is with the RV waiting on friends who are riding in on their hire bikes and the RV provides a base camp for their road trip.

We head off later in the afternoon back to the shopping outlet to get some bits. As we leave Nat takes this great picture of us. It is quite rare to get our photo together on the bike as we are travelling alone.

New Yorker photo1.bmp

The shopping mall is a biking girls worst nightmare as I am surounded by shoe shops and boutiques with lovely things like levi's all at ridiculously cheap prices compared to England.

As we get back to the bike a young couple in a convertible BMW are admiring the bike. The guy asks Darren how he persuaded me to come on the trip - I tell him it was the other way round which makes them laugh.

We arrive back at the campground as it is turning dark, just as we pull up so does Nat's group. They are a really friendly bunch and we enjoyed talking to them, what was nice for me, was that these guys were taking the time out to talk to Em, all too often when we meet fellow bikers the conversation seems to be directed at me.

Yes, unfortunately for me, most other bloke bikers want to talk to Darren about fuel range, tyres, panniers and storage, servicing, oil filters, tools etc... The funny thing is I actually know all the answers to these questions I would just rather be talking about girly things like 'how do I keep up with my beauty routine travelling on a bike', 'how do I manage my hair', 'what luxuries do I have?' etc... The nice thing is that they did ask me some girly questions out of general interest as to how I managed - thanks for making my night guys!

Guys it was a pleasure meeting you, keep living the dream! When's the next trip?

Our alarm clock the next morning is the sound of BMW motorcycles warming up, unfortunately we don't get a chance to say goodbye to the group as they leave early, about an hour later we get packed up. The wind is really picking up, throwing sand everywhere and making the process of taking the tent down particularly interesting.

We leave Barstow and hit Highway 40 across the Desert and the weather gets worse, the wind is kicking up a sandstorm which makes visibility difficult. We are also getting blown around alot.


There is also sand being blown onto the road and we are riding at a constant angle of lean trying to keep in a straight line. The area is very remote, the only break in the sand / rock views is the train tracks, occasionally we get to see these huge trains pass by. On one occasion Em counted 125 carriages all pulling ship containers, sometimes two high.


The wind continues to get worse but there is nowhere to stop, so we press onto our destination which is a campground in a place called Needles. This is a great campground and we get a cabin for the night thinking that it was too windy for our tent.

This proves to be a sensible move as that night it is extraordinarily windy with huge gusts every so often. We are woken at 1am by the sound of the electricity box on the side of the cabin- its door was now banging the side of the cabin in the high wind. Darren goes outside to secure the door and move the bike so that it doesn't blow over. He ends up strapping it to the fence posts at the front of the cabin.

In the morning there is sand and dust everywhere, some got blown in under the door overnight too.


When I went outside that night, my first thoughts were on lashing down whatever was making the noise - so we could get some sleep. On stepping outside I soon realised that the bike would need moving too, it was rocking on the sidestand. After strapping the bike to the cabin steps, I push a large wooden picnic table against the electrical box to secure the small metal door. It was really hard to see as the wind was carrying the sand, the really hard gusts actually hurt as the sand hits your skin, but I could still make out some other campers lashing down what they could.

I get back inside and into my sleeping bag and all you can hear is the wind, until the electricity box door starts banging again. I say to Em that the bike is secure - thats all that matters, so I stay in bed.

We do manage to get some sleep and in the morning all is calm, sand is drifted everywhere as I step out to move the bike. I then look over at the electricity box to see how it could still have made a noise, I could hardly believe what I saw - the picnic table had been moved about four inches - that was some storm.

We packed up, had some breakfast then headed for the nearby petrol station, while I filled up the bike Em got chatting to a couple who had just turned up in an RV. They told us that they had planned to get to Needles the day before, but halfway along Highway 40 yesterday the police had shut the road due to the wind and sand. Em replied "really what time was that?" the guy answered "around 4pm" - that would have put them about an hour behind us..

We were lucky, if we had been turned back on that road, we would not have had enough fuel to get back to Barstow..

Posted by Darren Homer at December 15, 2007 05:32 PM GMT

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