Home on the range…

It is kind of fitting, I suppose, that our Western America Adventure Tour was “bookended” by a bit of range time at the West End Gun Club.

When our good buddies from China and Colombia arrived in the USA, one of their first requests was for an In-N-Out Burger.   We did that the very first night on the way home from LAX.   Then it was on to the hotel and a good night’s sleep after a long journey.

We had a spare day before the ride and the next morning I asked our guests what they would like to do.

Their answer was direct:  We want to shoot a gun.

I was happy to oblige.   I put my Ruger Mini-14 in the van and we were off to the West End Gun Club.

Our guests were fascinated with everything America has to offer, and the freedom guaranteed by our 2nd Amendment was obviously high on that list.   After a brief lesson on the rifle, the cartridge, and firearms safety, we set up a target and our guests took turns putting the Ruger through its paces.  The smiles were real, and I had brought along plenty of ammo.   The guys did well, too.   Literally every shot was on target.   They told me I was a good teacher.   I think they are just good shots.

Now before any of you get your shorts in a knot about guns and shooting, let me tell you that even though I am a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, I can understand why some of you might be opposed the freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.   When I go to a public range I sometimes see people who I wouldn’t allow to have oxygen (let alone firearms).  The problem, as I see it, is that if you restrict our rights in this area, it would be a government pinhead making the call on who gets to have guns and who doesn’t (and that scares me even more than some of the yahoos I see with guns).   It’s a tough call, but I’ll come down on the side of the 2nd Amendment every time.   The founding fathers knew what they were doing, and they did it before pinheads permeated the government.

Ah, but I digress.   Back to the main attraction…my day at the range with our guests.

I didn’t get photos of that event.   I was busy teaching, watching, and explaining, and I just didn’t have an opportunity.   The Chinese and the Colombians did.    They were having a blast (literally and figuratively), and they captured hundreds of photos.  When we finished, they all collected their targets.   Their next request:  Can we go to a gun store?

We have a Bass Pro near where we live, and it’s awesome.   Okay, then.  Next stop:  Bass Pro.

I was already getting a sense of how much our guests liked taking pictures, so I told them when we got to the gun department at Bass Pro we shouldn’t take pictures.   Usually there are signs prohibiting photography in these kinds of places.  We gun enthusiasts don’t like being photographed by people we don’t know when we are handling firearms (big brother, black helicopters, and all the rest that comes with a healthy case of paranoia and a deep distrust of the government).   I told our guests I would ask if we could take photos, but until then, keep the cameras at bay.

The guys were in awe when we reached the gun display area.  Speechless, at first.  Open mouths.  Wide eyes.  There isn’t anything like Bass Pro in China or Colombia.

Now, you have to picture this.   The Bass Pro gun department.   A bunch of guys from China talking excitedly a hundred miles an hour in Chinese.   The rest of the customers watching, literally, with dropped jaws, wondering what was going on.   We were a sight.

I explained to the gun department manager who we were and why these guys were so excited (thrilled, actually).   He smiled.   “Would they like to take pictures?” he asked.   Hoo boy!

The guys loved it.  So did the Bass Pro staff.   They were handing the Chinese these monster Smith and Wesson .500 Magnums so they could pose for photos, ala Dirty Harry.   It was quite a moment and it made quite an impression.   The Chinese were fascinated with the whole concept and what it is like to live in America, and the Bass Pro staff were quite taken with the Chinese.   I was pleased.  Our guests were getting a first-hand look at American freedoms and American hospitality.  It was a theme that would be repeated throughout their entire visit, wherever we went.

For me, a crowning moment was when one of the Chinese told me that while he was growing up, he had been told that Americans were evil and we were their enemy.   “That’s just not true,” he said.   Mission accomplished, I thought.

You know all about the motorcycle tour that followed.   But it all started with that day at the range and a visit to Bass Pro.   Freedom, American style.

So, the Chinese are either home now or still in the air as I write this.  Our epic ride is over.   It was a hell of a thing.  Oh, we still get the Internet zanies criticizing us for this or for that.   We actually had one dude go off on us for the route we chose.   If they only knew…

Baja John is staying at my place for a couple of days before pointing his Jeep east for his ride home, and yesterday, he and I went to the WEGC range again.   John has a beautiful new .25-06 Browning A-Bolt rifle with a fiddleback maple stock that he had not fired yet.   We aimed to correct that shortfall, and yesterday, we did…

IMG_1336-650

IMG_1339-650

The rifle, like all Brownings, is a tack driver (it is extremely accurate).  Browning takes a few extra steps to increase accuracy in their rifles (glass bedding the action and free-floating the barrel, for example).   It works.   John’s rifle shot beautifully.

I have a Browning in .308 with a walnut stock and I haven’t fired mine yet, either, but I intend to in the near future…

Abolt308

One more thing to add before I saddle up and head to the CSC plant this morning.   You may remember the story I told you about San Marino Bill’s grandson seeing us on the freeway near San Luis Obispo and holding up a sign that said “Hi, Joe.”    Well, here’s a nice note from Bill and a picture of that very sign!

Joe:

My grandson gave me the sign he made on a Big Mac bag. He said you had a smile from ear to ear when you saw your name.

Bill

I sure did, Bill!   Thanks again!

IMG_1897-(2)-650

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on Home on the range…

Home Sweet Home…

140801_7346-home

A group photo in the parking lot after 50 miles in heavy traffic, a hot shower, a nice dinner at Red Lobster last night, working out the details on getting everybody back to the airport for their flights to China, Colombia, and New Mexico, the bikes parked in the CSC maintenance area waiting for Gerry’s capable guys to check them out on Monday, and it’s over…an epic ride.       This is one for the ages.

As I sit here at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning enjoying a good cup of coffee, I’m thinking of all the keyboard commandos and their inane forum comments over the last year:  The racist rants against all things Chinese, a 250 is too small, the seat’s too hard, and all the rest of the moronic drivel coming from folks who are tiny in every sense of the word.   Ah, that’s enough…I’ve already wasted more of our blog’s ink (figuratively speaking, of course) than their sorry butts merit…they can go back under their rocks and pound out the venom.

It feels good to be home.

It felt good to be out on the road.   Our 10 RX3s pounded out 50,000 miles in 9 states.   We rolled across historic trails, national parks, national monuments, famous roads, national forests, and all the rest you’ve been following on the CSC blog.   All at 70 to 75 mph, with the needles mostly hovering at 7500 rpm.  Our guests got to see the best of America, speed-dating style.   Sometimes we’d hit two national parks in a single day.  Small towns.  Big cities.   Country roads.   Freeways.   Historic bridges.   The Colorado, Columbia, and Snake Rivers.   Panguitch, Medicine Bow, Cody, Carey, and a bunch of towns most people never heard of.   Sometimes we had RX3-borne buddies join us for a day or three.   It was grand.

Our friends from China and Colombia saw more of America than most Americans ever do.  All on 250cc singles from Chongqing.   300 miles a day.   Every day.  For days on end.   Resting?   That’s for Internet trolls.  Nope, that’s not this group.   We’re out there, living it.  To say it was awesome would be an understatement.

I want to add a few more photos from this trip…stuff I haven’t put on the blog yet.   Enjoy.   And when you’re done, get out there and ride.  It’s what life is all about.

_DSC0012-650

_DSC0016-650

140715_6012-650

140715_6020-650

140715_6067-650

140716_6247-650

140718_6388-650

140722_6618-650

140722_6621-650

140725_6763-650

140725_6807-650

140726_6856-650

140726_6881-650

140727_6957-650

140728_7093-650

140728_7095-650

140730_7319-650

140730_7322-650

140730_7326-650

150727_6944-650

140730_7334-650

That’s it for now.  Time for another cup of coffee…

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on Home Sweet Home…

We’re back!

Wowee!

50,000 miles across the western US with 10 RX3 motorcycles, five guys from China, two guys from Colombia, and three guys from the good old USA!

It was an amazing adventure!

More to follow, my friends…

150715_6115-900-650-650-650

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on We’re back!

That didn’t take long…

So, no sooner had I posted that last blog when this appeared from our good buddy and fellow CSC rider San Marino Bill!

Joe:

My son just called me (3 pm) from the Paso Robles area and wanted to know where the CSC group was riding today.  He is up there picking up his son. He was following a group of good looking bikes (10 or 12).  I told him to make a sign that said HI JOE and show it to the leader.  I hope it was you.

Bill

Hey, thanks, Bill, and please tell your son and grandson thanks very much!

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on That didn’t take long…

San Francisco!

140730_7338-650

We were in San Francisco this morning, and we rolled out early today headed back toward So Cal.  Two more days on the road and we’re home!

The bikes have been performing well.  I thought I’d take a moment and talk about what’s good and where we could maybe do a little better.

For starters, the bike is (to me) a surprisingly comfortable ride.   I have our optional sheepskin cover on my bike and I’m fine with that.   It works for some people; others want a different seat. We’ve got one of the new Seat Concepts seats on Baja John’s bike. Both he and Joe Gresh took turns riding with it.  They both like it.

If you’re one of the people who don’t like the stock rear seat, you’ll want to consider it.  I haven’t ridden with it yet just because I have so much on my mind keeping track of everybody, making sure we stay safe, and everything else that goes with a ride like this that I didn’t want to introduce any more variables.  So, for that reason, I stayed with the stock seat for this ride.

You know, in 50+ years of riding motorcycles, I’ve never had a bike with what I considered a comfortable seat.   My KLR 650 has unquestionably had the least comfortable seat I’ve ever encountered on a motorcycle, but a sheepskin cover fixed that for me (it’s why I added the sheepskin cover to the RX3 as soon as I got it).   But I’m not expecting a Cadillac comfort level from the RX3 or any other motorcycle.  My riding style is such that I stop every hour or so for a stretch break.   As they say, different strokes for different folks.   John and Joe Gresh both like the new seat.   A lot.   I think it’s a good thing, but I can’t (yet) tell you from personal experience.

The RX3 fuel economy has been great on this trip. I had at least a couple of tanks where I bumped up over 80 mpg, and a few where I was under 70 mpg.   We’re running the bikes hard (I mean, really hard…as in hours on end at 7500 rpm).   When you are rolling into headwinds with the throttle pegged, fuel economy is going to suffer.   But overall, the bike is easy on fuel.     We’ve been running the lowest octane we found at every refill. In Utah, that was 85, and the bikes ran fine on it.

We’ve had one flat tire, and that was on Joe Gresh’s bike.   He tells me he’s always the guy to get flat tires on all of his rides.   I don’t know…maybe the rest of us have just been lucky.

Speaking of tires, I bumped over 8200 miles on the clock today (as of right now I’m at 8500), and I’m still on the original rear tire. I think it will go the distance for this ride.   We’ve still got a little over 450 miles to go (188 now, because when I wrote this early this morning, I had poor connectivity and I couldn’t post it).   I really don’t want to wrestle with a tire change on the ride home.   The original tire will get me home.

Of our 10 to 15 bikes (we’ve had other people join us on the ride, as you know from reading the blog), we’ve had 3 or 4 that have lost their low beam.     These have been easy repairs (you just replace the bulb).   When you consider that we’ve rolled up close to 50,000 miles on these motorcycles in the last 17 days, I think that’s good.   Changing a bulb is not a big deal, so I’m not losing any sleep over that one, and I’ve had headlight bulbs conk out on long trips on Hondas, a Suzuki, Triumphs, and Harleys.   No big deal.

We made a decision not to do any valve adjustments during the ride. We adjusted the valves on all of the bikes before the ride, and we’re going to check them when we return to So Cal. If the valves are still in spec, we’ll extend the recommended valve adjustment interval. We’re not doing it yet, though, so for the time being please abide by the inspection frequency we’ve already recommended.  But keep an eye on the blog.  I think we’re going to be able to extend the interval, and I’ll post that information soon.

The engineers at Zongshen tell us the chain life on these bikes (with the original chains) is about 7500 miles.   That’s a pretty accurate prediction.   We’re pounding these things, and the chains are showing it on the bikes that have reached that mileage.  I had around 3500 miles on my bike when I started this ride, and John and Joe Gresh’s bikes (which had similar mileage on them at the start of the ride) are experiencing the same thing (in fact, we replaced Joe’s chain yesterday).   At around the 5000-mile mark, my chain (as well as John and Joe’s) needed daily adjustment (but don’t forget, we’re doing hundreds of miles every day).   As I said earlier, I’ve got over 8,000 miles on my bike now and I’m hoping to get home on the original chain. Assuming I do, it’s going to be replaced as soon as I get back to So Cal.  When you need a new chain, give us a call.   Ryan will help you out.

We are in Santa Maria tonight.  It was an easy roll once we got past San Jose, but the traffic on the 101 leaving San Francisco and all the way down past San Jose was rough this morning.   After that, we basically put the bikes on cruise control and ran 75 mph all the way down.

Here’s a cool thing…on the 101, just past San Luis Obispo, a couple of guys in a gray pickup truck pulled up alongside our convoy and starting beeping and waving at us.   When they were alongside me, one held up a sign that said “Hi, Joe!”   Cool stuff.  I have no idea who those guys were, but it’s a safe bet they’ll read this.   Guys, when you do, shoot me an email.   It made my day seeing you today.   I had a good laugh over it.

Okay, some photos.   They’re all from yesterday.   I didn’t take any pictures today.

On the way down the 101 yesterday, our first stop was in Geyserville.   It was a cool place.   We stayed about 45 minutes and I grabbed some cool photos…

140730_7291-650 140730_7309-650 140730_7311-650 140730_7312-650 140730_7314-650 140730_7317-650 That last photo above is of Willie.   Geyserville ran a marathon a few years ago and somehow Willie joined in and ran with the marathoners.    Willie actually did more than the standard 26 miles (or whatever it is) because every time he saw a rabbit he spun off to chase it before rejoining the group.

After Geyserville, we were back on the 101 headed south.   We stopped in Petaluma to put a new chain and tire on Joe Gresh’s bike (as explained earlier).   It always feels like we’re taking too long whenever we stop for anything, but I guess that’s just me.  I wanted to get the thing done and get back on the road.  The guys wanted to talk with the tech changing the chain.   Time’s a wasting, boys, and we want want to get into San Francisco before the heavy traffic hits!

After the chain replacement, we continued south on the 101 to San Franscisco.   We stopped for fuel, the traffic got heavier, and then we were on the Golden Gate Bridge!

I know I’m not the first guy to ever ride a motorcycle across the Golden Gate Bridge.   I’m kind of hoping I’m the first guy to ever do it on an RX3.   But we’ve sold a lot of motorcycles in this neck of the woods, so if any of you folks out there have done it first, please send us an email and let me know.

After getting into town, we walked around for a bit.  I grabbed a few non-motorcycle photos.   I was doing the typical tourist thing…here’s one of Joe Gresh in front of Ghirardelli Square…

150730_7207-650And a few more…

150730_7228-650

150730_7231-650

150730_7238-650

150730_7245-650

150730_7261-650

150730_7265-650

And one final photo….my obligatory selfie.  This one has both Baja John and yours truly in it, taking a break in San Francisco…

150730_7277-650

This is our last night on the road.   It will be good to get home.

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on San Francisco!

California!

Yesterday was awesome on many levels.    As the title of this blog implies, we are back in California!   We still have a way to go to get home, but there was something about crossing the northern California border into my home state that was immensely satisfying.

Before I get too far, let me introduce Oregon Jim, one of our RX3 riders who hooked up with us for the Western America Adventure Tour a couple of nights ago in Port Orford.  Jim recently re-entered the wonderful world of motorcycling after being away from it for awhile.   Good stuff, and Jim, we enjoyed meeting and riding with you!

140729_7202-650

We were on the road at 7:30 yesterday.   That may not sound like such a big deal, but trust me, when you are in a group this size, rolling out on time is a minor miracle.  Every big ride with multiple riders I’ve ever been on has experienced this challenge.   I heard that there’s actually a formula somewhere that allots a certain number of additional minutes you should add for each rider.   Nah, we’re not gonna do that.  I learned a few years ago that you just announce a departure time and then leave at that time whether folks are ready or not.   People kind of figure it out after that.   That’s what we did yesterday.

You know, I spoke about that solitude thing a few days ago.   I like it.   Even when riding in a group, there’s time to think.   I did a lot of that on this trip.

We saw and rode the routes of many famous western US trails on this ride…the Texas trail, the Bozeman trail, the Oregon trail, the El Camino Real trail, the Lewis and Clark trail, the Nez Perce trail, the California trail, the Butterfield trail, the Great Western Cattle trail, and more.   This ride has been impressive on many levels.  Seeing the historical markers for all of the famous trails had me thinking about what things must have been like back in those days.

Are you old enough to remember who Ward Bond was?  He played the wagon master in the old ’50s TV series Wagon Train.   Crossing all of the historic trails I just mentioned kept driving my thoughts to Ward Bond for some reason.    We’re making this ride on incredible motorcycles; our ancestors made the trek in horse-drawn Conestoga wagons before there were McDonalds, Subways, or even roads.   They just did it.   They must have been incredible people.

I found myself thinking about what it must have been like going these kinds of distances 150 years ago and more.     I wondered if guys like Ward Bond struggled to get everybody moving in the morning on time.   I don’t think so.  If you weren’t ready to roll with the wagon train when it was time to roll in the morning you risked being left behind, and there were real consequences if that happened.  You could get scalped.

Okay, back to the main attraction…our ride.  We crossed back into California and we’ve been following Highway 101 (which originated as El Camino Real, the trail Father Juniper Serra followed in establishing the Jesuit missions extending from Baja to points north).

One of our first photo ops in California was the redwood forests.   Here’s a shot of Lester, Tony, Zuo, and Kyle…

140729_7197-650

I know what you’re thinking, and no, Lester’s Yul-Brynner-like appearance was not the result of any failure to leave on time (it wasn’t me who scalped him).   Lester is always ready to roll on time when we leave.

We’re extending our trip by one day.   Everything is fine with the group and with the bikes; what’s not so fine is the heat.  As soon as Highway 101 turned inland yesterday, the heat became overwhelming.

You may recall that on the first day of our grand adventure, we rode through 105 degree temperatures in the Mojave Desert.  Well, we’ve been on the road riding about 300 miles every day for 15 days now (today is our 16th day).   There’s a difference between riding in that kind of heat on Day 1, and doing it after you’ve been on the road for 15 days without a break.  These guys are troopers and no one has complained about anything, but I’m not doing big days in that kind of heat.   Instead of taking two more days on the road through the heat, we’re doing to do it in three and we’re going to hug the coast coming home.

Today, it’s an easy 130 miles into San Francisco.   We’ll get in around noon, and we’re spending the day there.   If you want to hook up with us, we’ll be staying in the Van Ness Inn at 2850 Van Ness Avenue.

Tomorrow we’ll ride California’s famous Pacific Coast highway down to somewhere south of Cambria, and then we’ll pick up the last 200 miles  on Saturday.

Last night I had another nice surprise…our good buddy Don Knight visited with us at the hotel.  Like me, Don has both a CSC 150 and an RX3.   He likes CSC.   So do I!    Don, thanks for taking the time to make the trek to Willits.  I enjoyed meeting you.

One last thing, and I’m backing up a couple of days for this.   One of the best parts about the Oregon Coast Highway a few days ago are the magnificent art deco bridges.   Here’s a helmet cam video rolling across one of them I thought you might enjoy… 

And here’s a quick progress report…

150715_6115-900-650-650-650-650

Ride safe, my friends.    More to follow!

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on California!

The Oregon Coast Highway…

Not a long blog today, folks…too much stuff to do!

We left the Portland area early yesterday and took Oregon Hwy 6 to Tillamook.  It’s a marvelous ride through deep pine-scented forests.  When we got there, we stopped at the Air Museum.   It’s a cool place in an old US Navy dirigible hangar…

140728_6988-650

That’s Kyle and Lester in the photo above.   The hanger is the largest free-standing  wooden structure in the US.   It’s 192 feet tall.

After that, it was a quick blitz down 101 until we hit the Oregon coast line…

140728_70340-650

140728_7048-0650

140728_7053-650

140728_7055-650

It’s a little past 5:00 a.m. here.  I’ve got the little coffeemaker going and it’s just starting to get light outside.  That coffee is smelling good.  I need it today.

We’re going to make Willits tonight in northern California.  It’s a straight shot down the 101 for another 300 miles.   We’ll be staying in the Baechtel Creek Inn at 101 Gregory Lane.

And, oh yeah, here’s our progress map…

150715_6115-900-650-650-650-650

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on The Oregon Coast Highway…

The Columbia River Gorge!

I had a tough time selecting a title for this blog.   Ultimately, I went with The Columbia River Gorge because it’s where we spent most of today riding.   But I could have just as easily gone with The Bridge of the Gods because that bridge is one of my favorite spots on the planet.  We rode across it today.   More on all of this in today’s CSC blog, my friends.

When we left yesterday morning, the skies were overcast and they grew darker as we continued west.   We hopped on I-84 and we had only ridden a few miles when the rain started, so we exited to pull on the rain gear.   That tactic worked.  We cleared the crest of the next set of Oregonian mountains and the sun came out.   It was a clear, crisp, and refreshing ride.  It was like that all day.

The views along the Columbia River Gorge were spectacular.   We stopped at a viewpoint and the cameras started clicking.

Here’s Hugo, checking out the mightiest river in the Pacific northwest.   And in the next photo, King Kong and John jumped in the shot.

140727_6964-650

140727_6969-650

Everyone was overwhelmed with how clear and how magnificent the day was.   The views along the Columbia were spectacular.

We went another 150 miles up the road and opted for an early lunch in Biggs.   Subway drew the winning ticket for our noon meal.   The guys like Subway.  I do, too.

We headed due north out of Biggs on 97 to cross the Columbia River.    Just crossing over on the Biggs bridge was amazing.

Washington:  Check.

Yep, that river crossing put us on Highway 14 in Washington.  One more state to the Western America Adventure ride tally.

Highway 14 was amazing.   One of the guys said it was the best road yet.   The concept of the “best road yet” has been a continuing theme on this epic journey.   They just keep getting better and better.    These next couple of shots are from the Washington side of the Columbia.

150727_6926-650

150727_6929-650

I still had all of my rain gear on and I was roasting.  I saw the main office building of a lumber company so I pulled in to their parking.  We parked in front of their main office building to rearrange what we were wearing, and a woman came out of their front entrance and beat a path straight toward me.  I thought she was going to tell us to move.

“We have a restroom inside if any of your guys need to use it, and we have a soda machine, too,” she said.

What was coming next would be spectacular.  It was the Bridge of the Gods.   It is spectacular.  At a quarter of a mile long and built in 1926, this cantilever bridge represented the start of the bridge-building art back in the day.  The wildest part is the iron mesh road surface.  Look down while riding a motorcycle across it and you’ll think you are flying 200 feet above the Columbia.   It is one of my favorite spots.

150727_6937-650

150727_6941-650

Here’s a shot of my RX3 after we crossed the Bridge of Gods.    It was awesome.   Everything on this ride has been awesome.

140727_6972-650

Hugo, Kong, and Zuo with the Bridge of the Gods in the background…we’re back in Oregon in this shot.

140727_6975-650

Tony taking a picture of Joe taking a picture of the Bridge of the Gods.

140727_6979-650

Lester makes a new Harley-Davidson friend in Oregon.

140727_6982-650

And one more photo.   I sure like this place.

140727_6983-650

When we arrived in Beaverton, we had a couple more folks show up.   Joe Gresh’s friend Gary wanted to get a ride on the RX3, and we were happy to make that wish come true.

150727_6947-650

And Dave joined us.  Dave bought a red RX3 with just about every possible accessory.   It’s cool.  When I see another RX3 in the parking lot, my first thought is “who’s motorcycle is that, and why is it so clean?”   That’s happened several times.  It takes me a minute or two to realize these are bikes belonging to our friends who just want to hook up and ride with us for a while.

150727_6949-650

Ah, the daily update…

150715_6115-900-650-650-650

Oh, and one more thing…here’s a video I’d forgotten I shot a few days or a week ago…it’s when we left Cody, Wyoming at 5:00 a.m. bound for Yellowstone National Park.   It’s cool (and it sure was a cool morning) because I haven’t seen any other videos of the RX3 on a night ride…

We’re headed west for a bit and then south when we see the Pacific Ocean today.   We’ll be spending most of the day on Oregon’s spectacular coast highway.

Our evening’s destination today is the Seacrest Motel, 44 US Highway 101, in Port Orford, Oregon.

Enjoy the day, my friends.  I sure will!

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on The Columbia River Gorge!

Oregon!

140726_6849-650

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the one above says it all.   That’s Zuo, just after we crossed the Snake River from Idaho into Oregon.

Let me back up a bit and tell you about this fine day in July.   We were up early and we rolled out of, let’s see, where were we last night?  Oh yeah, Boise.

So we rolled out of Boise on the freeway for a bit, we grabbed 95 north (a nice country road), and then we met Rob (yet another RX3 rider) in Cambridge, Idaho.

First, a shot or two or three of Cambridge…

140726_6819-650

140726_6820-650

140726_6824-650

We were taking Idaho 71 through the hills to the Snake River, but allow me to introduce our good buddy Rob first…

140726_6833-650

Rob’s a cool guy and a master craftsman.   He and I had corresponded on the ChinaRiders.net forum, and I was glad I finally got to meet him in person.   I knew Rob would be an intelligent man from his postings on ChinaRiders, and I had been looking forward to meeting him today.

Rob had some nice touches on his RX3, including his mascot…

140726_6838-650

One of the guys asked Rob if his donkey had a name and he said it did not.  I suggested Hoty.    Joe Gresh and Rob both got it immediately.   Get it?  Donkey Hoty?   As in Don Quixote?

Rob had posted on ChinaRiders about a custom set of footpegs he made for his RX3 using bicycle pedals, and I have to tell you, they looked pretty good to me…

140726_6840-650

You may remember that yesterday I told you our good buddies Brendan and Shelby (two more RX3 owners) hooked up with us in Boise.

140726_6828-650

You know, Brendan looks a bit like Tom Cruise.   We talked about that for awhile there in Cambridge.   I told Brendan that people tell me I look like Leonardo di Caprio.   I don’t see it, myself…

Brendan, Shelby, and Rob know Idaho and Oregon well, and they told us it would be at least four hours before we saw any place to eat if we were headed to Hell’s Canyon.  It was already about 10:00, so everybody grabbed something at the gas station in Cambridge.

Here’s a shot of Lester, Kong, Zuo, and Hugo enjoying good old American gas station cuisine…

140726_6827-650

Brendan and Rob immediately struck up a conversation on the finer points of Canon camera gear…

140726_6841-650

I kept my mouth shut on that one…I’m a Nikon guy.

So, after the sampling the culinary delights of a rural Idaho Sinclair station, we were on the road on Idaho 71.  It’s one of the world’s great roads, folks.   We’ve been on so many amazing roads I’m losing track of them all.   We rode 71 right across the Snake River, and we arrived in Oregon.

Oregon.

Let me say that again.

Oregon.

Oregon, by way of California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Idaho.  On 250cc motorcycles.

Oregon.

Okay, you get the point.

Ha ha ha, he he he.  I rode my RX3 from Los Angeles to Oregon.

I’ll say it again.

Oregon.

Here are a few shots after we crossed into Oregon…

140726_6860-650

140726_6843-650

140726_6850-650

I have to wonder what our Chinese and Colombian friends think of all this.   They must be wondering two things:

Are all the roads in America this magnificent?

and

Where are all the people?

On this last point, we’ve been in some very desolate and very beautiful areas.   It’s why Baja John chose the routes he did (and he has done one hell of a job in charting our journey).   Joe Gresh made the comment a few days ago…our guests have to be thinking all of America is like this, and they have to be wondering where all the people are.

We visited yet another amazing place today….Hell’s Canyon.

I’d never been to Hell’s Canyon before, and I always wanted to see it.   Hell’s Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon.   We were actually looking down on hawks flying below us.  Getting up there was a challenge.   The road was “unimproved” (a fancy way of saying washboard gravel).   I don’t like riding in that kind of stuff, but in for a penny, in for a pound.   It took us a good hour to get up to Hell’s Canyon.  It’s another place I can cross off my bucket list…

140726_6883-650

140726_6876-650

140726_6878-650

I was having a ton of fun taking in the views and taking photos.  Like always, though, the best photos are the ones of people.

I grabbed two this afternoon I really like.

This first one is of Juan Carlos and Gabriel, basking in the glory of Hell’s Canyon…

140726_6896-650

I was using my super wide angle lens.   The guys have been joking with me about its peripheral reach.

One trick with a wide angle lens is to shoot down at people.   Here’s a shot doing just that, showing Rob, Shelby, Tony, Brendan, John, Lester, and Joe…

140726_6907-650

After taking it all in, it was time to get on the road again.   We still had another 120 miles to our destination for tonight.  Folks, it was a long 120 miles.  The ride west out of the Hell’s Canyon overlook took forever.   Imagine Glendora Ridge Road (unending switchbacks and unmarked lanes) extending for nearly 80 miles in very cold riding conditions.

I was sure glad when we reached the small town of Joseph at the end of the switchbacks.   That’s the name of the town.  It’s named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians.  I told our guests it was named for me.   I think one or two of them believed me.   I don’t know if they have fully gotten a register on my sense of humor yet.    Maybe.

We had a great Mexican lunch in Joseph, and then we rode another 71 miles to La Grande, Oregon, which is where we are now.

When we arrived at the hotel this evening, we were in for another nice surprise.   Our good buddy Mark (who owns a red RX3) was waiting for us!

140726_6915-650

We were very tired when we pulled into the hotel parking lot, but listening to Mark talk about how much fun he was having with his RX3 was invigorating.  Joe Gresh listened in amazement.   Joe turned to me and jokingly asked “You’re paying him to say this, right?”  But I could tell he was impressed.   Joe is loving the RX3 he’s riding on this trip.   He’s becoming a member of the Cult of the Zong.

I’m calling it a night.   It was a long day, and I need to get a good night’s sleep.  We’re doing another 270 miles tomorrow, but unlike most days on this expedition, they’ll be mostly freeway miles.   We’ll be spending tomorrow night in Beaverton, just south of Portland, and you’ll be able to find us at the Peppertree Inn at 10720 SW Allen Boulevard.

And allow me to add just one more photo, updated to show where we are now…

150715_6115-900-650-650

Take a good look at that photo.  We did that on 250cc motorcycles.    Oregon.   Amazing stuff, my friends.

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on Oregon!

Boise, baby!

Wow, today was the best day yet on this trip.  I know I’ve said that before, but today was a lot of fun.   I enjoyed it more than any day yet on this epic adventure.  And like the title says, we’re in Boise, Idaho tonight.   It was a good ride getting here.

I just came in from changing the oil (we did all of the bikes today).   Hugo and John G have group oil changes down to a science.  We serviced 10 bikes in about an hour.   Fun times. Lots of jokes, lots of kidding around, and just plain fun.  Hugo is turning into a real boss.   John G thinks he’s running the show.   Hugo does, too.   It’s pretty funny watching Hugo holding a funnel, pointing to his wrist, and telling John “quickly, quickly” (especially when you consider that Hugo doesn’t wear a watch).   Good times.

We rolled out of Twin Falls at around 8:00 a.m., picked up Highway 20, and rode it through the southern width of Idaho.   Arizona George met us along the way…he’s a Brit with an accent that everyone mistakes for Australian, and we’re really enjoying his company.

140725_6753-650

Our first stop was at the Craters of the Moon National Monument.  It’s a volcanic field in the middle of southern Idaho’s gently rolling hills, and it’s definitely other-worldly.

I grabbed a photo of Kyle, John, and Gabriel when we got there…

140725_6736-650

140725_6741-650

140725_6750-650

You know, you get to think a lot when you ride a motorcycle.   I like things simple.   I don’t have a GPS, or an intercom, or anything else like that on my bike.   I like the solitude that riding a motorcycle offers, even when I’m riding in a group.   I’m old, I guess, and I find that feeling (a preference for solitude) is more prevalent among older riders.

I sometimes like having a GPS in my car, but only sometimes.   To me, using it is like looking at a map through a straw.   I like the big picture, and I like having a paper map.  I don’t want a GPS on my bike.  Personal preference, I suppose.  When I first starting taking big rides on motorcycles, we used maps.  I still like the feel of a map.

The guys were riding much better today.  We were getting a little too bunched up yesterday, so we had another safety meeting and today things were much better.   I think a big part of it is cultural…in other countries riders ride closer together.  I like big distances with lots of space between bikes.  It gives you more time to react.   Anyway, today was a breeze.   I think my new Chinese name is SesherMe, which the guys tell me means 30 meters in Chinese.   I’m always telling the guys to keep 30 meters between bikes.

The mornings are interesting.   We usually have breakfast in the hotel and then get on the road by about 8:00.  It’s a challenge to get everybody moving at the same time, and Hugo is helping a lot with this.   We’re doing well.

Most of the guys from China have never been to the US before, and it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that the things I see all the time and don’t take much notice of are new and exciting for our guests.   My focus has been on getting everybody moving at the same time and minimizing the time at our fuel stops, because I want to get to the next spot before dark and still have enough time to take in the sightseeing stops we have scheduled.   The Chinese guys want to see it all and get photos of everything.   I was the same way when I was in China.

Today was interesting for many reasons, but what happened in Carey, Idaho, will stay with me for a long time.

We had left the Craters of the Moon and ridden another 50 miles or so (with literally nothing in between except open plains, rolling hills, and beautiful scenery) when we entered Carey.   You have to understand that Carey is basically a wide spot in the road with maybe 40 or 50 buildings along the way.   I was focused on getting there, filling the bikes, and getting back on the road.  Little did I know…

When we pulled into Carey, it was like my home town in the early afternoon on the 4th of July….you know, where everybody is sitting in lawn chairs, lining the street, waving American flags, and waiting for the parade.  That’s literally what we encounted.   The good citizens of Carey were waiting for the parade.   It was Pioneer Day here in Idaho.  I imagine everybody in town was out there on both sides of the street.

Okay, so we roll into town on our RX3s.  All 11 of us, now that Arizona George had joined the party.   You can guess where this is going…the good people of Carey thought we were the start of the parade, especially since the Chinese have large American and Chinese flag decals on their windshields.   The Carey people waved their flags at us and cheered.   What the Chinese guys were thinking I can only guess.   When we pulled in the Shell station, my good buddy Joe Gresh (who is a really fun guy to be around) pulled off his helmet and said “Boy, a lot of folks are following the blog.”  It was pretty funny.

I wanted to get gas and get going.  The Chinese guys and the Colombians wanted to stay and watch the parade.

You can guess how it went from the photos below…

140725_6762-650

140725_6764-650

140725_6765-650

140725_6774-650

140725_6776-650

140725_6783-650

140725_6790-650

140725_6789-650

We actually had a pretty good time. Our visitors were seeing a good old fashioned American parade. You can imagine the stories and photos they’ll be bringing home.

After the parade, we rode another 50 miles or so to another tiny town with two small restaurants, and we picked one. Hugo and I have this system worked out we were get in first (before all of the other guys, we review the menu, and we pick out something that is reasonably priced and order the same thing for all of the Chinese visitors).    Then I explain to the waitress what’s happening.  It’s working pretty well.

Today, we opted for bacon cheeseburgers, and they were awesome.  It’s always fun to watch the reactions when the food comes out.  The Chinese can’t believe our portion sizes.

The other thing that’s fun is to watch the reactions of the other diners in these places.  We’re eating in local restaurants, and the other patrons are local folks.   Today I walked over to the other tables and told them what was happening (you know, new motorcycle in America, visitors from China and Colombia, etc.).   The locals loved it.  They had lots of questions and it was a very enjoyable exchange.  Some of the towns we are going through are extremely small (for instance, the town of Emblem has a population of 10), and it’s a big deal for them (much as it is for us) when we stop in for a meal.   Fun times.

At our stop today for lunch, it was an extra-special treat to have Justin (aka MacGuyver) hook up with us for the ride.   Justin, you will remember, rode with us on the Baja ride.  It was another photo op.  Grand fun, all the way around, for everybody.  That’s Justin in the middle of the photo below.

140725_6794-650

From there, it was another quick 50 miles (although in much more severe heat) to the junction of Hwy 20 and I-84.   We stopped for gas, but on the way into that town, several of us noticed an M1 Abrams tank on display.  Joe Gresh wanted to take a few minutes to photograph it.   So did our guests.   It was a hoot.

140725_6797-650

140725_6804-650

140725_6810-650

140725_6815-650

We’re in Boise tonight, and when we arrived at the hotel, we had another nice surprise.  My old Triumph-riding buddy Brendan and his brother, Shelby, were waiting for us at the hotel.   They both ride RX3 motorcycles now.   They are joining the ride tomorrow, so we now have four additional RX3 riders in our group.

Today we’re headed to Hell’s Canyon in Oregon.  Yep, we’re adding another state to our list.  It’s going to be hot, but it’s going to be fun.  I washed clothes last night and they are still a bit damp.  That will keep me cool for awhile.

This evening we’ll be staying at the Super 8 on 2407 East R Avenue in LaGrande, Oregon.   Ride safe and we hope to see you there.

Posted in California Scooter Company | Comments Off on Boise, baby!