Monday, July 26th - Day 23 - New Friends
Monterey Travel Blog› entry 16 of 40 › view all entries
July 26th, 2010 – by: RealBackpacker
Well, sorry to everyone who thought I was dead, or worse, kidnapped and being tortured in a basement somewhere in Mexico city by the henchmen of druglords with the only chance of escape coming as a drug-mule.. Okay, mostly this apology goes out to my mother who txt'd me three times in one day AND left a voicemail AND had my father text and email me repeatedly for me to contact her. I dunno, maybe I was just busy?
So, back to the adventure...
I left my host in Bakersfield and rode straight to the nearest McDonalds (free wifi, remember? ;D) so I could set up an emergency couchsurft host for the Los Angeles area while I got my bike serviced. I sent out about 10 requests thinking a couple would reply via text. I arrived in San Fernando and pulled into a Starbucks (more free wifi, with a touch of class! hahah!) and had already received a reply saying I had a place to stay in beautiful Pasadena. I must be getting pretty good at my requests, or my references on Couchsurfing.com must be helping because by the end of the night 6 hosts had replied to say I had a place! But I'm no jerk, I always go with the first person. For what reason would I choose someone over someone else if I've only sent requests to people I wanted to be hosted by anyway, right?
My host in Pasadena was excellent and made my time there very enjoyable. Starting with a documentary on obesity called Killer at Large at their work place, then out to dinner at Houston's with some friends (who also happen to be coworkers), then back to the condo where I had a very comfy place to sleep.
The next day I departed and made my way to Hollywood where a bike dealership was to service my bike for it's 10,000 km. So the service manager hears what I'm doing, the continental trek, and he gets me a device to link into the light's electronic power to feed my GPS (no more dead GPS battery fucking up my navigation and screwing up my travel plans! YEAH!). The cost is $33, but he says they'll install it for free as part of the service. THEN he notices I'm still using seperate keys for the two BMW sidecases. "You didn't ask your service department at your dealer to rekey the locks to work with your bike's ignition key?" I replied dumbly "I didn't know I could..." "Well, we'll do that for you too". Argyll Motorsports, take note: THAT is service... Service to a guy they will probably never ever see again. YOU SUCK! They also offered to do the recall item if they had the part in stock, the same item that Argyll assured me one month in advance that they would have the part for me, and then said when I arrived for the service that they had forgotten to order it for me, and wondered if I could wait a few days and come back to get it done... Which would have thrown off the very beginning of my trip. They seemed so sincere and genuine in their anguish at their failure at letting down a beloved customer. Someone call the Academy, because we have some oscars that need handing out.... Jeez..
So rather than sit on my thumbs at the dealership during the 3 hour service, I had a host who had offered a spot take me out to a cool new coffee shop for breakfast (Mocha Latte and a Banana Nutella Panini.. YUM), and then show me a bit of hollywood, including the Hollywood sign, which was originally a suburban area named "Hollywoodland" that after an earthquake where the 'Land' toppled down, and the remaining letters shifting out of alignment, was left as 'Hollywood'. Interesting!
I returned to the dealership to find a couple LA Motorcycle cops there getting some gear. I walked right up, "You know what I'm gonna ask, right?" "uh no.." "Can you get a picture of me on your bike?!" lol... and naturally they did. Pretty chill guys.
there was also a rider on a suzuki who had pulled in... more on that later...
I departed for the a highway that skips some of the Pacific Coast Hiway in favor for a scenic route west as per the instructions of my Pasadena host who also rides and has seen a lot of the area. Great suggestion! I still got onto the coastal highway where I could enjoy not just the beauty of the ocean, and the terrain, but also the ride. And what a ride!!
-uh oh, it's passed check out time... gotta hurry!-
Made my way into San Luis Obispo, and stayed at the Hostel Obispo... great place. Nice and clean, and a good price! Went out on the town as per instructions via a couchsurfer who could not host but was glad to share some suggestions. I had dinner at Novo, a fairly nice spot (although for whatever reason the hostess was disgustingly rude, and even turned off my space heater before seating me - Yes, space heaters in California! I was shocked too! But it was so chilly there! - And it was only near the end of my meal where it dawned on me how chilly I was but how comfortable everyone else looked. I looked at their red, glowing, space heaters, and then at my dull, black, dank and dark, space heater... "Excuse me, can you turn my heater on please?" I requested from the same hostess. "You want it on?!" she questioned... Yeah, no shit sherlock, I want heat. Hahaha...
After that had pints at Mother's Tavern, nice atmosphere, and then had Frozen yogurt at Balis where they have dozens of custom flavors and bins of candy and chunks of goodness you can add, all at a reasonable price.
Feeling the road and age settling into my bones, I called it a night.
The gorgeous riding continued the next day up highway 1, and as per the suggestion of a bartender in fresno at the casino, I stopped in at the restaurant in Ragged Point and had a Turkey and Avacado sandwich. This place was as swanky as one would find for miles and miles so my sandwich was 13$... but quite good!
After that I continued on towards Salinas and went to the Will-Call at the Embassy Suite Hotel in Seaside, near Monterey. I grabbed my tickets and continued on to the Good Nite Inn in Salinas. Not too bad a place. Especially for the price. $20 more than most hostels and you get your own room, privacy, full queen size bed... yeah Motels are pretty damn respectable!
I settled in and had started getting to work on the blogging when I get a text from a good fellow on powerslide.net named Jumkie who had messaged me months back when I had first posted my itinerary, and had said "I'll put you up when you come get to Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway". The text read something like "Hey, we're on our way through Salinas soon, We can pick you up".
Now originally Thursday night was gonna be a night of respite so I'd be closer to my bustling self of energy for the weekend. But when good people make an offer, you don't sit around like a bump on a log! My reply was "Tired, done 6000 km's so far, I'm on day 18... LETS GET IT ON!!!"
Shortly thereafter a text saying they're in the parking lot. I put on my stuff and walk down and emerge from some hedges to see a bunch of dudes and one dudette milling around outside a motorhome with a camper hitched to it, all having drinks of Woods Rum, a 57% liquor straight from the UK. We said our hellos, I smashed back a massive pull on the woods, and the party carried on! two other great guys from the forum where there too, Arrabbiata1 and The California Kid! Both of whom had posted on my thread in which I had my whole itinerary laid out, and had not only suggested route and great things to see, as well as offered to put me up for the Moto GP, but also stood up for me when others poo-poo'd my arduous journey... Going back to that thread and putting faces to the names.. My god, it's touching, these people were so great! I was so blessed to have met them all!!
Not to mention, jumkie was an absolute perfectionist... He set up a projection screen, and a projector hooked up to a dvd player so we could watch old races.. But it had to be PERFECT!! Alignment of the projector and screen had to be dead on so no 'skewing' of the image occurred. AND everything about the setup had to be dead on, as for what was brought out. Exactly how I plan and execute my big group parties. He also passed the "Platoon" test of integrity and character. In this test, you simply ask an indivdual (serving or formerly served in the military) who their favorite character in Oliver Stone's academy award winning film 'Platoon' was, and the answer is very telling. To any of the individuals on Powerslide.net that have a problem with this guy, you apparently have never given yourself the chance to know him.
It's getting late so I should wind this down, but I'll just say that Jumkie and his people (I also met GatorDuc, and his girlfriend, and their Airline pilot buddy, and his wife - All from florida) made my time in Laguna Seca so special and so memorable... Including Jumkie's buddy from highschool who let 7 of us crash on the floor of his hotel in Monterey near Cannery Row after partying Saturday night, lol! Just awesome!
Watching the qualifying was incredible, the sheer speed that you just CAN NOT appreciate from TV, the explosive rippling of their engines being pushed to the absolute brink! The brightness even, of their bikes, and their suits in the blazing sun, everything, was such a good experience... Sitting in on an interview with Dani Pedrosa (who was in the lead for the first portion of the race until crashing out, unfortunately), getting a poster signed by Casey Stoner, the young Aussie who ended up with second, who I greatly admire, seeing Rossi Valentino from Italy, who with a month old broken tibia, still raced, and still got third, and seeing Nicky Hayden come in 5th, the Ducati team mate of Stoner, who I hope even more for success, it all added to what makes seeing a race live so incredible! True, you can't see every move, every battle, even with Jumbotron TV's places around the track, but TV just does not compare.
I should also mention that no good deed goes unpunished. Briefly, GatorDuc and his company had hoped to do a bit of riding in Cali for the first time ever. They were going to borrow the two R1's that had showed up with another two good people who Jumkie knew, but one of the bikes did not have a passenger seat over the rear tire for pillion. So, they tossed it out there and requested to ride my bike. Well, the reality being that if ANYTHING happens to my bike, my itinerary gets thrown for a loop and I may never catch up, spending days upon days riding to get back on track, but these were such good people, and I just felt like I HAD to do more to repay their generosity in taking in a complete stranger, a stranger who was not even overly involved in their forum community. And although I'd bought some strapping and brought in a case of water, a case of Red Bull, a case of Starbucks coffee drinks, AND a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a gallon of milk, I just didn't think it was enough. So I loaned them my helmets, my jacket, my gloves... and.. my bike. It came back tip top, and I was glad to hear they'd enjoyed it, and enjoyed the ride. It's an awesome bike, and an awesome place to look at.
It was also nice to hear that so many people were profoundly moved by this trip I've taken and were following along with my blog and living vicariously through me as I'd intended. I will continue to post my updates.
I did it not expecting anything in return, but apparently when in Florida, my new pals are going to take their plane and fly me to the Keys because it's too south for me to go to without taking a bunch of days. Wow...
And of course, the punishment being that as I pulled out of motorcycle parking to return to the camping spot, a trucker decided to reverse a bit from the intersection and back his truck up to let one of his fellow truckers by. I honked, I rolled my bike back, but knowing people were behind me I had no choice but to stop. Mr. Genius, the Long Haul Trucker, just kept coming, and only stopped when for some reason he just couldn't go back any further. That reason was my front tire. The rim had actually stopped his truck from going back any farther. I thought he'd deflated the tire! It was squashed to shit!! But after the police had him pull forward -difficult to do as his tires were not making full contact with the pavement anymore - and my tires air pressure reshaped it, and I was able to basically ride away and continue my journey! Thank God for that one! Truthfully, if I had reversed at an angle I could have gotten out of the way, but at least I didn't jump from my bike and flee, or he would have simply driven over it. Wow.
Oh right, and the guy on the Suzuki that was at BMW hollywood, was also in Jumkie's company of people.. small world.
Thanks to Arrabiata1 of Powerslide.net and Orson of Sport-Touring.net for advice to take the PCH,
K, it's an hour past check out time, I got a bit of riding ahead of me, and some couch requests to send out..
Take care, ride safe
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