Ep. 9 – Into the Southwest U.S. Part Two

Farmington, New Mexico to San Diego, California

In this episode, I continue my journey exploring more of the southwest United States. Several times, I questioned my patriotism for never having visited some of these amazing places before, such as Bryce Canyon and Zion, that were right in my own backyard.

Yes, as per usual, here’s a video if you prefer not to read my dribble.

After hanging out with Ben Rainchild of Green Chili Adventure Gear in Dixon, New Mexico, I headed back west and stayed in the same little town I stayed in going east.  I really needed the rest because not only was my right elbow bothering me (which it had since Newfoundland), now my left shoulder and knee were giving me troubles, too.

The next day was a “positioning” day up to central Utah, but I did ride through Glen Canyon on the way there and it was spectacular.  However, I did dodge some mean black clouds for awhile before losing the battle and catching myself in a hail storm.  The entire southern part of Utah is canyons, buttes, arches, and monuments.

 

After stopping for the night in Hanksville, Utah, I veered southwest toward Capital Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante.  Wow!

 

 

I camped near Bryce Canyon and the next morning headed off to see even more stunning scenery.  For Bryce Canyon, you’re up on top looking down, like from 10,000 feet.  It was a cold but beautiful morning.

 

 

Afterwards, I headed to Zion National Park, but this time you’re actually riding through the canyon.  Just awesome!  (I didn’t take any photos, so the video above does better justice).

After a couple of days in St. George catching up on admin (like laundry), I made my way over to Boulder City in Nevada.  I stayed at the Boulder Dam Hotel, which has lots and lots of history, including building of the nearby Boulder (now Hoover) Dam.  When the airlines opened up here, many famous people stayed here, including Bette Davis, the Vanderbilts, and Will Rogers.

 

I visited the dam (see video) and then took off to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.  Just more spectacular scenery.  My jaw was hanging pretty low taking it all in.

 

The next two nights, I hung out in Sin City.  One, just to take a break from riding, but also to rest my aching joints.  Las Vegas is also a city that “never sleeps” and there is so much to see and do without ever seeing the inside of a casino.

 

 

 

 

From Vegas, I took the route recommended by the National Park Service to Death Valley.  This was the Old Spanish Trail and then Badwater Road, which leads right through the valley to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the U. S. at 282 feet below sea level, and the point of the highest recorded temperature in the world – 134F!!

 

There I met Leor and Domer from Israel who had been touring the U. S. for the last month.  Great guys.

The next two days were transit days and I stayed in Ridgecrest and then Visalia California.  I was on my way back to Yosemite for the Horizons Unlimited meeting.  I know I have mentioned this before, but if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of overlanding by motorcycle, this is the place to do it.  Great people, great lectures and seminars, just great atmosphere.

Some new besties, Sarah and Ginamarie!

Lots and lots of motorcycles, everything from Urals to GSs.

From Yosemite, I headed west to the coast going through Monterey, where I attended the postgraduate school there back in the early 2000s.  Not much had changed – Monterey was still as beautiful as ever.

That night, I stayed in Morro Bay.  It’s a small fishing town with a huge rock in the middle of the bay called Morro Rock.

Next was a stopover with family in Redlands, California.  Just a beautiful place with amazing sunsets.

And the next day I stopped in to see the folks at Riverside BMW for service.  Best bunch of people ever!  I chatted with Dan Schoo for a long while the bike was getting worked on.

These last couple of days I have been hanging out in San Diego finalizing all my preparations before entering Mexico.  I cannot quite put my finger on it, but entering Mexico to me is different than hopping over to Canada.  I am expecting a culture shift with great people, beautiful lands, and awesome food, but something about heading south makes me feel I really need to prepare for it.

So, yes, sure, there are some special preparations – like getting insurance (my U. S. policy doesn’t cover me there), getting Pesos (20 to 1 exchange at the moment), getting all my documentation in order for all the border crossing, letting my bank know I am heading south, and so on.  I am sure it’ll work itself out just fine, but nonetheless I am putting a lot of thought into it.

So, that’s it for now.  I am crossing the border tomorrow, September 30, 2016.

Lessons learned:

  1. So, some bike issues have presented. I’m on my 3rd set of brake pads now and had to replace the rear rotor (I am at 50K miles now).  Seemed excessive to me but have been told by three dealers now that it’s normal.  I also blew out a seal on the steering damper.  For heading south, I am taking spare pads and an oil filter.  Overall, maintenance on the BMW has been the biggest part of my budget.

 

  1. I mentioned this in the last post, but I have been doing exercises related to the repetitive motion problems I have been having with my elbow and shoulder. I suppose I can’t emphasize enough the importance of exercising, and perhaps more importantly, stretching, to keep the aches at bay.  It really has helped me.
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12 thoughts on “Ep. 9 – Into the Southwest U.S. Part Two

  1. Hi Brett,
    Mexico is an amazing place with tons to see and incredible people. A couple suggestions after having lived here for about 6 years.
    There are speed bumps as crazy places that are not always clearly marked, small and high, which would really effect a motorcycle. There is often a center spot for your motorcycle to glide through, but since cars use them too, occasionally there is a huge hole right in the center of it. just be careful.
    Turn signals are not used here the way that they are in the US- if a big truck or car going slowly turns on their left blinker and pulls, close to the right, they are telling you it’s safe to pass them. Never pass on a speed Many do, but Federales love giving tickets for it.
    The traffic lights for turning left are really important. They have what they call a lateral lane in many places on the right side of a road. On laterals, the left turn signal light will be on the far right hand side of the other lights. You have to move to the lateral lane on the right, to turn left. If the left turn signal light is to the left of the other lights like they are in the United states, then it is what you are use to and you turn left from the left lane.
    Don’t drive at night!!!! It’s just dangerous with large animals in the road, poor lighting and the speed bumps that jump out at you. It’s also a time when the few out of the many who are involved in criminal activity may be out.
    Be safe and see you when you get to Pátzcuaro,
    Mary

    1. Mary!! Completely awesome advice!! Thanks!! I have been looking forward to Mexico since I first planned my trip and after Day 1, I have not been disappointed! Still planning to stop by your place in a couple of weeks. ~brent

  2. Enjoying the reports on your epic journey. I was in Mexico (mainland, east of Mexico City) two years ago on my Triumph Tiger and blogged that trip here:
    http://www.wanderingnomad.org/blog/563

    I went half way down the Baja about 10 years ago but that was before I was blogging. Mexico 1 is SPECTACULAR. Expect fuel resupply from the back of a pick-up from time to time as Pemex stations are few and far between. And brush up on your Spanish – not much English spoken. Enjoy!

    1. Cool! I just spent a couple of hours planning out the rest of Baja and noted the paucity of gas stations. With my spare tank, I routinely get about 275 miles, but I’ll still watch it closely. So far, Mexico has just been amazing and I am looking forward to the 1 over the next week. ~brent

  3. Crossing another threshold – and on the Black Moon! That has to be auspicious. 🙂 Safe travels my friend. I’m curious. What has been your biggest aha so far?

    1. Definitely another threshold – I am in Mexico today. Ensenada. Touristy but still Mexican. I am looking forward to the colonial areas. Biggest aha? Hmmmm… well, I knew I would enjoy the traveling, but I had no idea I would enjoy it THIS MUCH! ~brent

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