Yes we are still alive! I (Dan) have been a bit slack at updating the blog and have put it off for long enough. I should be able to squeeze it all into one update though – especially as everything gets blurry after suffering the heat of Death Valley and enjoying the excessiveness of Vegas!
After seeing all the amazing rock formations in Utah, we headed to The Grand Canyon. How can I best describe it…… Massive? Humongous? Frickin’ huge? I’m sure there are better ones out there but the place is so magnificent that people just sit and look at it in silence. We met an old guy a while back on Route 66 that has spent the last two decades studying and photographing the canyon in great detail.
It is a 200 mile drive from the north rim to the south rim so we just imagined what it looked like from the other side and headed to the next destination – Vegas!
We did our research on Sin City before we arrived as people tend to spend a lot of money when they go and we were determined to try and keep to the usual daily budget. We got a great deal on a suite in the MGM Signature and after checking in, immediately rode to the local supermarket to buy supplies to last the 4 days. No need to tip the hotel valet guys – they didn’t even want to consider parking the now very dirty Transalp.
Then we did a lot of relaxing! It was a nice change to riding each day in smelly bike clothing and sweating profusely along the way. We tried to blend in with normal people in the casinos and even ironed our clothes (after washing them in the Jacuzzi). I think it worked as we got free drinks everywhere!
After four blissful (and slightly profitable) days in Vegas, we hit the road again on our way towards the west coast.
We had to ride through Death Valley on the way as it sounds like a pretty mean place and it didn’t disappoint.
July is the hottest month and it was between 115-120 degrees on the day we were there.
I’ve always been envious of Lisa’s bike clothing as it has a mesh design for great airflow and mine just has a couple of crappy vents. In Death Valley, my gear actually shielded me from the intense sun whereas Lisa suffered mild heatstroke by the end of the day. On top of that, I decided that we didn’t need to refuel on the way through (over 5 bucks a gallon) and was quite worried about running low when realizing the next town was further than I initially thought.
The day after Death Valley, we got our first puncture. It happened after we parked up for the day.
Good timing or what?!?
Next destination was Bodie State Historic Park. It is now a ghost town but was originally a thriving gold mining town in the late 1800’s. Murders, shoot outs, barroom brawls and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences back in the day.
On to Yosemite National Park. We didn’t spend as such time as we could have here. It was a beautiful drive through the park but to see it properly, hiking is recommended. The famous “Half Dome” is very popular but hiking permits are in high demand and run out quickly.
After driving through the national park we stopped in a small gold rush town of Columbia which is still stuck in the 1800’s and checked into the Fallon Hotel which is haunted. After a long, tiring day of riding, we slept straight through anything that might have happened that night!
Lisa’s 30th birthday celebrations in Vacaville, Napa Valley.
We are now in San Francisco. What a beautiful (but chilly) city! We are wearing fleeces for the first time since Colorado Rocky Mountain High! Alcatraz was on the to-do list but unfortunately the trips are sold out until mid August…..boooooooo!
We did the bus tour instead which gives a good oversight to the city.
A strange fog envelops Golden Gate Bridge for most of the day. Evidently it is caused by the water temperature being higher than the air temperature (so the local Kwik-E-Mart guy tells us) and the temperature gets very cold until the bus returns to the blue skies in the city.
We are staying close to the dodgy part of town called Tenderloin. The locals advise us to avoid the area at night as muggings are very common. We saw a nice white Cadillac pull up last night on the side of the road but then noticed the driver was dressed all in black and wearing a gimp mask – frickin’ scary neighbourhood!
Where next? Riding The Pacific Highway south towards LA. We have a couple of weeks to kill before we fly home for a “holiday” so maybe we’ll see about some beach time on the way. It’s a hard life…….
After initially not planning on seeing too much of of Utah, I’m so glad that we decided to do the extra mileage. We arrived into the state via the casino town of Wendover – or Bendover as we’re reliably informed the locals call it (the Americans sure do like to gamble!!!). We also arrived via a few gravel roads – the sat nav seems to of gone a bit crazy and keeps taking us off the sealed roads (even though it’s set not to!), oh well, it’s good practice for South America 🙂
Our reason for diverting through Wendover on route to Salt Lake City was of course the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was pretty amazing to see the flats and ride a little on them – such a vast flat landscape! And it was pretty cool to think of the records which have been set there and films which have been made since the early 1900’s. We were a few weeks early for ‘Speed Week’ though, which was a shame.
We, unfortunately, did not set any records on the trusty Transalp 🙂
Next stop, Salt Lake City. We had a quick walk around Temple Square to check out the head quarters of the Mormons, which the city is famous for. We also spent a couple of hours in the Family History Library, which was set up by the Mormons and is now the largest genealogy library in the world. I managed to trace a bit of the ‘Timms’ family tree, no scandal uncovered though so nothing exciting to report.
After Salt Lake City we headed down to Moab so that we could check out Arches and Canyonlands National Park’s. The scenery on route was pretty amazing, but nothing like the national parks themselves! Let’s just say we spent a lot of time saying ‘wow’ and ‘look at that!’. I was worried 2,000 photos left on the camera card wouldn’t be enough, haha. We’ve uploaded a few favourites below……
After Moab we headed down towards Monument Valley, via an over night stop in a small town called Blanding. Not usually a stop off that would be worth a mention, except for an interesting meeting with a guy at the motel. We were loading up the bike ready to head off when an American guy came out of his room into the car park and started chatting to us….wearing just a towel. A bit odd I thought because the motel car park was right on the main road through town. He was giving us tips on places to go and good roads to ride as he was a fellow biker. Unfortunately the towels in most motels are pretty small and we could see a bit too much as he stood there chatting away. When we rode off we were both laughing away in our helmets and neither of us had taken in a word he had said…..I hope we didn’t miss too much by not listening 🙂 No photos to follow this paragraph!
Here’s a few shots taken at Monument Valley…..pretty cool views and worth the trip. I apologise that the bike is in so many photos, but after so long on the road, the bike is probably more photogenic than us 🙂
After some research we headed up towards Capitol Reef National Park, via some great roads with spectacular views and hardly any other traffic, just the kind we love. It was a scorching day and the scenery was so breathtaking we could of stopped every few meters to take another pic. The heat always makes it a bit frustrating to stop though as we don’t want to keep taking all of our bike gear off each time we want to stop for a photo, but we still want the photos, so we end up sweating – a lot! You could easily dehydrate in these places.
Yesterday we met an overlander from New Zealand who is travelling a lot of off-road tracks on his way to Canada and also we saw another Transalp, the first one we’ve seen on the road over here – a father and son from Hawaii on holiday. It’s great meeting other bikers who aren’t riding Harley’s or Goldwing’s, there are sooooo many of those over here!!
We’re now down in Southern Utah after more scenic byways and ready to check out Zion National Park. Also, even though we’ve seen a fair few amazing canyons over the past few days, we’ve still got the big one to see……next up Grand Canyon.