Tuesday 28 May 2013

Hanging around in San Ramon

Due to our enforced break courtesy of BMW, our host Pete has been showing us around, really nice place around here, very clean and orderly after Latin America, a bit too clean and orderly though, still taking a bit of getting used to. This weekend is Memorial day weekend so everybody was off, a nice "Wind & Art" gala in the local park kept us amused on Sunday, just like a village fete except bigger. And yesterday a drive around Livermore & Dublin and of course a visit to a shopping mall! The pics as always tell a better story.
Enjoying the California sun

Police bikes at the fair, surprisingly the local cops changed from Harley after 10 years recently, no complaints from the guys we spoke to!

Every fair needs a stationary engine, just like hame!

And a tractor

Jazz band kept the mood mellow

Everything is big here, these pick ups are amazing but I wouldn't like to pay the bill to fill the tank back home ($4 a US gallon here which is actually about 70 p a litre)

Liked this one

Cool 1952 Chevy police car

At first I thought the guy was of Irish descent (one was) but the clover is to show how many accidents they walk away from....

Nice guy answered all our daft questions

In Bridges restaurant Saturday night, made famous for being used in a scene from Mrs Doubtfire (the food wasn't bad either)

Cheesecake factory for lunch.... well we are on a break....

Nice olde worlde main street in Livermore

Luckily just caught this as we left the supermarket, sounded great!

Sunday 26 May 2013

Into San Francisco but BMW gremlins strike again!

We arrived in San Francisco on Thursday to stay with Pete Balshaw who we knew from Scotland and who's been working here for a year. Friday I was checking the bikes over and noticed Fiona's was leaking coolant out of the Water pump drain hole, usually a sign one of the seals has gone, it wasn't just a small leak and considering we were heading through Death valley after here I decided we better get it fixed, still 4 days of the warranty so along to the BMW dealer in Livermore, very helpful and of course this is a holiday weekend so nothing will happen until Tuesday at the earliest, he's hoping to get us back on the road for Wednesday night so a longer stay with Pete than he expected.
It's a known issue but usually doesn't happen until high mileage, a bit disappointed that its happened at 26000 miles!
Today we went sightseeing in San Fran, the usual stuff, BMW always making us go back to be tourists!!
If any car manufacturer put out a bike that needed major warranty work every 6000 miles they would soon go out of business, why can't they get their act together and make bikes which last??
On a positive note the Scottoilers are doing great, still on the original chains & Sprockets after almost 16000 miles in some pretty extreme conditions!
Fishermans Wharf San Fran, seals fighting over space

Good way to use up half a VW campervan


City tour on one of these anyone, pay to look like an idiot 

Golden Gate Bridge

And again with the city in the background

Compulsory photo!

Our Host Pete about to get invaded

After a nice dinner

BMW shop had this in, very nice

The streets of San Fran

Not the steepest street but you get the idea

More boats


Seals everywhere, the two in the middle arguing over space

Thursday 23 May 2013

San Diego to Monterey via Hollywood LA

We left San Diego Monday morning and made our way up a very busy Highway 101 to Los Angeles, a quick stop in Hollywood to get a photo of the iconic sign before heading to Malibu Creek National Park for a nights camping. A couple of things struck me, first Hollywood wasn't as glamorous as I thought it would be (and I'm sure they'll say the same about me!) and it felt like I was riding through an American movie, signs for Sunset Boulevard plus others including Beverly Hills seemed surreal. The camping in the National park was $45 a night, when I asked what I got for my $45 the ranger replied, toilets, a shower and a fire pit! He never mentioned we had to pay extra for the shower. It was great to be camping again and we spent some time with a couple of Dutch students Frank & Fabio chewing the fat.
Tuesday we headed up the Pacific Coast Highway to just South of Big Sur to Los Padres park, this time it was $22 for camping but no showers and no electric in the toilets, we did enjoy it although the temperature has dropped and it was feeling very cold. The run up the road was nice scenery wise but the high gusting wind made it difficult, at one point two side gusts one after the other blew me into the other lane into the path of a 4x4 who luckily moved over so I didn't hit him.
Today (Wednesday) more Pacific coast highway, more scenery and more wind, as we hadn't had a wash for a couple of days and were both smelling like woodtinks after two nights at the camp fire we thought we'd better get a hotel (In Monterey) and get cleaned up before meeting Pete Balshaw an old colleague in San fran tomorrow.
We still are having trouble adjusting to the American way (Mainly the prices) but it'll come!!

A nice Buik in a Hollywood petrol station

Gino Rondelli of no fixed hairstyle , moustache or eyebrows under the Hollywood sign

Fiona takes a much better picture

Camping again!! MASH & Planet of the apes were filmed in this park

Sun setting

Camping so it must be pasta!

This guy and his mates hung around scrounging all morning

This guy just lazed around

Los Padres park

Chef Rondelli cooking Stovies, a first while getting clothes that nice smokey smell

The Pacific, never realised California could be so cold and windy and still look like a film set

Waiting at another set of roadworks

Busy Harbour in Monterey

Fat Birds

Fishermans Wharf where we me a Scottish family on Holiday, our first in 6 months!

Now I was hoping for the sake of the guys with their noses up the others bums that flatulence isn't a problem, this could be the cover of my next book on business, how to 

Sunday 19 May 2013

Santa Rosalia to the USA (San Diego) plus some motorcycling legends

We left Santa Rosalia and had quite a long day through the Baja desert to Rosita, including a 200 mile stint with no gas, however we were told in Catavina we could buy petrol at the side of the road, that was correct so we got a gallon each fom the roadside vendor which kept us going to Rosita. All day Fiona was complaining about the bike cutting out, so at night I checked and re tightened the electrical connections on the battery and could see nothing else wrong, We stayed at the famous Mama Espinoza's place. This is a mecca for followers and competitors of the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 desert races, nice place with some great memorabilia.
Friday the plan was the head to Ensenada and meet up with fellow overlanders Billy & Trish from Australia but we arrived there before 10am and decided to press on to the border at Tijuana. Tijuana is a busy place and we fought our way through the city to where we had information the Banjecito was (to cancel our temporary import documents and get our $400 guarantee back) transpires despite the signs still being there they moved it around 6 months ago to near the Octay border crossing about 6 miles away.
Another bit of chasing around near Octay (still Tijuana though) we ended up parking next to a car wash while I set off on foot (the traffic was crazy) to locate it, i did that then Fi's bike died, no electrics at all! The battery still showed 13 volts but after a while looking for the problem I came to the conclusion the battery was dead, starting the bike from mine proved it, as soon as I disconnected the jump lead it died. Then I got one of the car wash guys to take me to a nearby bike shop, no luck, transpired there was a battery dealer 200 metre from where we were parked so after wandering up and down with various batteries to try I got one that fitted but had the terminals the wrong way round! A bodge job got the bike going and back together and we made the USA at 8pm, a 13 hour day with no food or drink! Luckily the US crossing was painless enough and we stopped in the first hotel we spotted! Fast food in a McDonald's type place for dinner and no Beer!!!!!
This is the Gas station !


Looks like a film set

The boulder fields

Fi wondering when her bike will cut out again

Mama Espinozas

Great history on the walls

Bike IN the cafe

Outside our digs for the night

In Tijuana bodging the battery wires (thats the old one on the

Saturday we rode the short distance into town to Sonny Angels bike shop, he has been here for over 50 years, a record holder on Bonneville salt flats, the first American to ride a Yamaha at the TT (in 1960) Now 85 years old and still working. This man has a photo of him and Burt Munroe (of Fastest Indian fame) when Burt came to him for advice on riding the flats. It was an honour to meet him and have a good chat, his shop is pretty amazing, real old world shop full of Nortons & Guzzi's , my idea of heaven. I also met up with Mike Madigan who gave us some great ideas around where to go, thanks Mike.
We had to get another battery so across the road the really nice guys from National City Motorcycles didn't have the right one but called around and arranged for another shop to start preparing one. A ride there and we changed the battery whist chewing the fat with some of the guys! A busy and eventful few days!   

Me with Sonny (Right) and Mike (Centre) outside the famous shop

My kind of shop

 Mikes Square 4 being worked on with a smiling Sonny looking on
 Guzzi's everywhere
 Norton's and Ducati's too
 Fitting the second (but correct) new battery in 2 days!