LIVING THE DREAM Part 3

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Sturgis was getting busier with more and more bikes arriving as we left on the way to Casper, 400+ k’s away in Wyoming.  But first a stop in Deadwood for breakfast and a new pair of Harley boots, yes I know I ride an Indian but the boots are really comfortable.

We made a quick stop at Boot Hill to check out the grave sites of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane who insisted they were to be buried side by side.

The roads were pretty boring by now with a lot of  freeway/interstate riding at 85/90mph and the stop-over at Casper was uneventful except for the number of people walking around with a gun on their hip, next morning was a short hop to Green River.

Once we left Green River we travelled through the Ashley National Forest to Kansas then on through the Wasatch Mountain State Park then on to Salt Lake City for the night. We were worried we wouldn’t be able to buy alcohol in the Mormon State but we found a bottle store and got back to the motel just before the sky opened up and all the roads flooded, we were worried because some of the team hadn’t arrived yet. We found a small Italian Restaurant close to the motel, on talking to the waitress I found out she was being paid $6.00per hour, when I told her she would get more at McDonalds in New Zealand she told me the tips gave her a better than average income even though she had to share them with back of house staff.

When we left Salt Lake City it was obvious where the name came from, we were  on the way to Wendover, Nevada and we were travelling down the middle of the biggest salt pan you have ever seen, all we saw for 200 k’s was salt reaching out from both sides of the road as far as we could see.  You could stop at a lay-by and ride your bike or car onto the salt

which one of our group did but we didn’t want to hang around as we had an appointment with the Bonneville Salt Flats Raceway. Wendover is on the border of Utah and Nevada, there is no gambling in Utah but as soon as you cross the border there were 8 casinos. We found our accommodation casino and booked in quickly as the mini bus was picking us up to take us out to the raceway, we were able to stand on the start line while the competitors were being push started. The gearing was so high in most vehicles they needed a push to get going, on the professional course they had to be doing 200mph by mile two and they disappeared from sight pretty quickly . We were taken up the track to the pit area where we met Reg Cook and his Kiwi Race Team who were running a 3 wheel in line torpedo type machine, Ferg from CycleSpot BMW was competing on the short course riding a Kawasaki ZX10R and had a top speed of  303kph.  It was hard to know what was going on unless you could hear the dedicated radio station. At the track service station/ gear shop they were still selling Burt Munroe regalia which made us really proud Kiwis. Back at the casino we had dinner, boy can some of those Americans eat, then caught the free bus to do a tour of the other casinos, it is depressing watching all that money disappear.

 

We have had 46 days riding covering 14500k’s in British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska & North West USA, no breakdowns or accidents and only 2 punctures in the group, all up a very successful trip.

Next morning it was off to Eureka, Nevada for our next night stopover, just a short 350k ride, then on to Carson City another 380k. The usual stopover programme was grab a shower, have a short rest then a group catch up with a beer or glass of wine, as we weren’t always travelling together there were always stories to be told. The next stop was Sonora, it was a very hot day so we sat around the swimming pool killing a few beers, at meal time we realised the restaurant was miles away and there were no taxis. Oh well! better have another beer for dinner.

We left Sonora heading for San Francisco, when we got close to San Fran the traffic was getting horrendous, 6 lanes travelling at 80-90 mph, we were impressed by the manners of other motorists when you wanted to change lanes, if you indicated they would always let you in and quite often let the whole group in.  We found our hotel in Downtown and boy was it downtown; a small bar across the road with all sorts of locals became our local for a couple of days. You could sit at your table, look out the door and watch small groups selling drugs and women selling the other, one of our members went to the local laundry at 7.00am and was offered a quickie while waiting for his washing to finish, No Thanks.

We had two days in San Fran. so took the obligatory Harbour Cruise (in the famous fog) to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Prison, we took a walk around the waterfront which was booming with tourists and I thought of how we waste the Auckland City waterfront by using it as a car park and container terminal, a visit to the cable car machine-room was also interesting.  I was impressed by how their intersections work, no stop or Give Way signs just courtesy, 1st vehicle at the intersection has R.O.W then the 2nd vehicle etc.

We crossed the Golden Gate bridge and started to head north, we now realised that we had turned the corner and were on the way home, once more the traffic was heavy so we headed out towards the coast and the North Pacific Scenic Coast Highway heading towards Eureka, California.  Our average days riding by now was around 400k which was enough at this stage of the journey along the beautiful coastline.

After Eureka we travelled thru Oregon and stopped in the forest to look at the magnificent Oregon Redwood trees which reach up to the sky, they are massive one of them had a tunnel type cutting which we were able to ride through. We carried on to Long Beach in Washington State for the night stop, they had a sign over the road to the beach which read “The longest Beach in the World”

give me a break it’s only 28 miles and I told them about 90 mile beach to which the lady said

“maybe yours is longer but we can drive on ours”  she wasn’t happy when I told her the tourist buses drive up to the lighthouse via the beach every day. Tonight is the last one in the USA so a few beers/wines/bourbons were quaffed to celebrate the safe end to this stag e of our journey. Next morning it was off to Port Angeles to catch the ferry over to Vancouver Island a 2 hour trip, I asked the deck-hand “what do we strap the bikes down to”  “you don’t”

he replied. We weren’t happy with this so we made our own tie down points, we needn’t have bothered it was like sailing over a table top. When we arrived at our hotel they had made a large roped off area under cover outside the front door or us and treated us like royalty. Vancouver Island is a beautiful place but by this time some of us were getting tired of riding (especially the pillions) so decided to spend the day sightseeing around Victoria the capitol of British Columbia, their harbour-side is a tourist mecca with the shopping precinct, bars and cafes going down to the harbour edge.

After a days rest & recreation it is onto another ferry to the mainland, again no tie down points so we strapped the bikes to the railings for the 2 ½ hour trip which again was a waste of time. We are back in Vancouver and our journey is over, time to scrub the bikes clean and get everything packed ready for the shipping company to send home.

We have had 46 days riding covering 14500k’s in British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska & North West USA, no breakdowns or accidents and only 2 punctures in the group, all up a very successful trip.

We had a temporary Import Licence into Canada & USA so no Carnet was required, if you are thinking of taking your bike overseas contact GT Logistics in Mangere they did a fantastic job with the bikes arriving in Vancouver & back in Auckland with no damage.

LWayne Painter. #1756NZ

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LIVING THE DREAM Part 3

time to read: 6 min