Pan American Adventure [U.S.A.]

October 16th 2019 [Day 23]

This morning Robyn treated us to breakfast at a local biker bar called What The Hell and then she took us to a Harley Davidson store to buy us both bells for our bikes. These bells are hung from the lowest point on the bike and they’re supposed to stave off the road demons to keep us safe on our trip. I think we’ll be needing these bells along the way so I’m pretty happy it’s there 🙂

We tried to get our paperwork sorted at the embassy again today so we went to the Banjercito in Phoenix and were told we needed an appointment and the next one available was for tomorrow so we scrapped the idea of getting stuff ready in Phoenix and we would do it the other side of the borded in Mexico tomorrow.

October 15th 2019 [Day 22]

Phoenix, AZ

Today I got the bike fitted with new tyres & tubes @ Mototire in Phoenix, Charles got his back tyre fitted and fork seals replaced, I imagine most of his suspension fluid is sprinkled on the highway between Vancouver & Phoenix.

Charles sent some messages out on the facebook group “bunk-a-biker” to see if we could find some more free camping in Phoenix for our last night before heading closer to the US/Mexico border. Here we met Swan & Loopy, a biker couple who live in Mesa, Phoenix who took us in and gave us 5 star treatment on our way out of the US.

We learned loads about Cacti and other desert creepy crawlies that we don’t have any clue about. Basically everything in the desert is out to fuck with you, pick you, stick in you, sting you, bite you, as we have already found out from camping in the desert.

My moto temperature gauge hit a record high of 47°C/118°F today. This dry heat isn’t that hard to deal with, and this is not their hot season.

October 14th 2019 [Day 21]

Phoenix, AZ

We tried to get our paperwork sorted today for Mexico but the embassy is closed until tomorrow as it’s holiday for Columbia Day. We retreated from Phoenix to the desert to get some more camping in under the stars.

October 13th 2019 [Day 20]

Phoenix, AZ

One day @ llama Rick’s blended into two days at Llama Ricks, Charles cracked out the MIG Welder to fix some stress cracks in his pannier rack, instructed Rick on the operation of said welder then welded some gaps in my pannier rack that wasn’t done right from the manufacturer.

Rick showed us around his hood, bringing us to one of his friends who collects rocks that look like faces, these were cool. We then got some pool time at his buddy Steve’s place to try get away from the Phoenix Daytime heat. We had a pretty decent BBQ in the evening after finishing up work on the bikes. Some of the Saguaro cacti on Ricks property have birds nests cavities in them hollowed out by woodpeckers, Rick added birdhouse facades to the holes that the birds use to access the nests which are kinda fun!

Phoenix has been very good to us, since we got here a lot of people have come up to us when they see the bikes, there all super friendly and social. By Tuesday we should be pretty much as set up as we can be for our ride down through Mexico.

October 12th 2019 [Day 19]

Phoenix, AZ

First stop this morning was Mototire in Phoenix to see if they have the tyres I need and if they can recommend a mechanic that can replace Charles’s fork seals which he has with him. It turns out they can do everything we need here but not until Tuesday so we’re all booked in for then, pretty happy about that.

After hitting Home Depot, and some other motorbike stores we decided it was time for some Dive Bar day drinks with food and got some recommendations off ‘Lucky’ who we got chatting with outside Mototyre. We headed for Bobby D’s bar for drinks and food, we were also trying to figure out where to stay tonight close to Phoenix since we need to dip in and out over the next few days. Here we met Rick who bought us a round of drinks after liking the cut of our bikes parked outside, he came in to find us, cheers Rick!

Llama Rick ended up helping us out again in the parking lot when we were heading off to try find camping when he offered us space on his land a stone’s throw from the bar. This was cool since we had some work to do on the bikes to get them ready for entering Mexico and Rick had all of the tools we needed to get them in peak shape.

This was a pretty cool evening!

October 11th 2019 [Day 18]

Grand Canyon, AZ to Phoenix, AZ

Today we seem to have swapped out Trees for Cacti as we encroach on the Sonoran Desert heading for Phoenix, Arazona. We wild camped as close to Phoenix as we could since we need to try get in there early tomorrow to set ourselves up for our entry into Mexico.

On the menu is new tyres front and back for me, Charles needs his fork seals replaced since they’ve been spewing there guts since Vancouver, he also needs a rear tyre changed. After this we want to stock up on some hardware and camping stuff, then hit up the Mexican Embassy and try to sort out all our paperwork for importing ourselves and out motorbikes into Mexico.

Camp menu tonight was grilled Salmon, Potatoes and Spinach.

October 10th 2019 [Day 17]

Glen Canyon, UT to Grand Canyon, AZ

We rose with the Sun this morning to get to Antelope Canyon for 8:30am for a guided tour of the canyon. It used to be a free for all where people could go visit it whenever they wanted but now it is only accessible via guided tour. The Canyon is on a flood plane which covers an area of 15 miles. If it rains anywhere within the catchment area then a flood of water can come rushing through the canyon, this happened a few years ago killing 6 out of 7 people who were in the Canyon.

The inside of the Canyon is really cool, we did the morning tour but the best time to view is when the sun is high in the sky and makes its way down through the cracks and into the canyon. These tours are booked out well in advance.

After Antelope Canyon we rode onwards to Grand Canyon which is at 7,000 foot elevation and there is also a cold weather front making it’s way down this way from Canada so it’s pretty cold riding. We were almost too cold to appreciate Grand Canyon, the view here is just sooooo vast!

October 9th 2019 [Day 16]

Las Vegas, NV to Glen Canyon, UT

Mostly a riding day today to get close to Antelope Canyon where we have a guided tour in the morning at 9am. We stopped for a couple of beers along the way where a round cost $5 at happy hour, this would get us about an eggcup of beer in Vegas where a shot of Jemmy was $13.

More cool camping on the moon at Glen Canyon where I found out my phone camera has a night mode for taking pictures of the stars, pretty cool.

October 8th 2019 [Day 15]

Las Vegas, NV to Hoover Dam, NV

Today we were sooooo damn hungover but managed to save the day and headed out in the late afternoon to ride over Hoover Dam about 45 minutes ride away from Downtown Vegas.

After visiting Hoover Dam we rode back into Vegas and rode along the strip to check it out.

October 7th 2019 [Day 14]

Alabama Hills, CA to Las Vegas, NV

Sunrise at Alabama Hills

This morning we crossed Death Valley, one of the hottest places in the world according to Wikipedia, this time of the year its a little cooler than the dead of summer but it’s still uncomfortably hot to stop especially in all this motorbike gear. Having to deal with a puncture in the middle of this desert is not the experience we’re after today. The lowest part of Death Valley that we passed through is below Sea Level, it is also the driest and hottest part. Luckily 100km of riding will get us through it and on our way to Las Vegas.

We rode into Las Vegas some time in the afternoon, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like this place [& I was spot on] but it was worth the stop anyway to tick it off the ‘never want to visit’ bucket list. We checked into the Stratosphere Tower Hotel for 2 nights and got a little messy at the bar there. We then went out and ended up walking all the way around the tower in a super sketch neighbourhood which made for a pretty interesting evening. Charles fell asleep sitting up with all his clothes on, kinda like how a hen sleeps.

Of course we got peckish back at the hotel room at 2am in the morning and cracked out the camp stove under the extractor hood [not sure why the extractor hood was in the bathroom :p] and cooked up some mac & cheese.

Today riding East out of Yosemite on our way for Death Valley we crossed some pretty epic terrain riding some roads scratched out of the sides of mountains. The temperatures are all over the place these days since we’re shifting between sea level and up to 9,000ft. Sea Level is fucking toasty hot in these parts even this time of the year.

We setup camp at Alabama Hills near the edge of Death Valley so that we can ride through it tomorrow in one go so we don’t bake in the desert heat. Alabama Hills is really cool, lots of huge rocks sitting in the wilderness with endless camping. People camp in among the rocks to hide out from the low morning/evening sun.

We ended the day munching Tacos among the rocks.

October 5th 2019 [Day 12]

Yosemite National Park, CA

Another free day in the park today, taking it easy, washing some clothes, catching up on some WiFi time, going over the bike to make sure all bolts are tight and everything looks good. I fixed my sticky throttle and also replaced my rear brake pads, we did a little planning for the next few days from Yosemite, through Death Valley then onto Vegas.

October 4th 2019 [Day 11]

Yosemite National Park, CA

After breakfast we set out to climb to Upper Yosemite falls which is 10km round trip with 1,100 meter elevation gain with lots of great views of the valley along the way. The falls are only a trickle this time of the year since the valley is pretty dry. Definitely one of my favourite days so far!

I dug out some old pics from when I was in Yosemite 20 years ago…

October 3rd 2019 [Day 10]

Lumsden, CA to Yosemite National Park, CA

This morning was pretty easy since we weren’t racing to get to Camp 4 before Dawn so we had coffee and breakfast before riding up out over the valley ridge for 9:30ish. We gassed up at the next station which wasn’t on Google Offline Maps and the place accepted payment 24 hours so we could have made Yosemite early this morning. Paying at the pump works 50% of the time, sometimes the pump requests the zip code tied you your bank account and it doesn’t accept a Canadian Zip so you have to go inside and prepay first if the place is open.

The ride down the mountain into the Yosemite Vally is pretty epic, Half Dome is pretty much one of the first recognizable features that you see on the way in. We were headed for the check in desk of Camp 4 to see how early we need to be there tomorrow to try get a camping space. When we got there the ranger was gone to lunch so we parked the bikes and made lunch. When we got back to the desk to ask about tomorrow the ranger told us we just totally lucked out because the 2 people before us had just checked out early so there was 2 free spaces for us, and there was a guy in front of us with 3 in his group who she turned away, fuck yeah!, some good karma today :). We paid for three nights and started carting our crap into the campsite totally stoked at how easy our next few days had just became.

The ride out from Lumsden Camp

October 2nd 2019 [Day 9]

San Francisco, CA to Lumsden, CA

This morning we rode East out of San Francisco on our way to Yosemite with the plan to freecamp as close to Yosemite as we can for the night. We found a pretty great free campsite at a river down in a valley with dirt trail access for the night.

The plan for tomorrow is to get on the road early so that we can hit Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley for 6am to try and secure a camp site in this first come first served camp on the valley floor. All campsites in the park are fully booked out for the next 2 months, Camp 4 is a climbers campsite and every day they let new people in if some people are checking out that day but the line up for people wanting to get in starts before dawn. It’s pretty central to everything and only costs $6/night

After hitting Lumsden Camp in the evening and doing some math we realized we might not make the 80km to Camp 4 in the morning as we borderline didn’t have enough gas with 330km done since the last fill and we could probably squeeze 400km out of a tank using all of the reserve. The gas station along the way doesn’t open until 7:30am according to Google Maps so we had to scrap the idea of getting into the Valley early early to secure camping and push it out by a day.

We grilled up some tasty burgers on the campfire tonight and scoffed 2 each, sooo damn good!

I also stepped on my glasses today at a rest stop and smashed them to many pieces so now I’m down to one other pair of glasses [which I’m now afraid to take out] and 2 pairs of prescription sunglasses plus a handful of contact lenses for riding in the rain because foggy glasses suck ass.

October 1st 2019 [Day 8]

San Francisco, CA

Today was a free day strolling around the city and turning Rob’s refugee camp into a laundrette/workshop. I got some clothes washed & repaired my spare back wheel tube. I also realized my credit card expires in November which is a headache since there are a few things that I need which hang off it like my cell phone data and whatever else I haven’t remembered that will bite my ass some day in the near future. I have some spare cards to switch stuff over to but I need to figure out how to get that main credit card from my bank in Vancouver back into to my arse pocket.


September 30th 2019 [Day 7]

Napa Valley, CA to San Francisco, CA

We hit one of my fav US cities today, San Francisco and rode into town over the Golden Gate Bridge then on to Lombard Street where we rode our bikes down the twisty tourist trap. Camping tonight is on Rob’s livingroom couch & floor, Muchas Gracias Rob!

September 29th 2019 [Day 6]

Myers Flat, CA to Napa Valley, CA

Another great day in California riding from the Giant Redwoods to Napa Valley wine country in some pretty decent weather. We stopped at Trinchero Estate Winery for some pretty tasty wine sampling and a blown budget for the day!

September 28th 2019 [Day 5]

Crescent City, CA to Avenue of Giants, CA

We rode through the Avenue of Giants today and set up camp in a state park among the giant Redwoods in California, I camped here before on my bicycle trip to Mexico, it’s a pretty sweet spot.

Charles left Vancouver with 2 new tyres strapped to his bike so we swapped out his old front tyre today after we had fully honed the tyre changing process on my bike!

September 27th 2019 [Day 4]

Newport, OR to Crescent City, CA

Today we hit California, I did not drop any panniers on the highway, I did not have any punctures AND we were up in time for Sunrise!

September 26th 2019 [Day 3]

Seaside, OR to Newport, OR

Hmmmm, another interesting day on the road today. It started with a puncture on the same wheel as yesterday so we found a coffee joint that used to be a gas station so it still had a shelter now used for parking so we were sheltered from the rain. Removing the tyre we could see a metal burr left by the tyre levers from the repair yesterday so I sanded this out and inspected the rim and tyre for any other sharps, daily puncture repairs is not our idea of a fun time, on the plus side, were getting better and faster at this task.

We had more fun in the afternoon after the tyre puncture repair when one of my panniers fell off on the highway @ 100kph, what can I say… I’ve taken measures so that this can’t happen again. The new weight distribution shift @ 100kph is not something I need to experience again. Everything is still just about functional, so onwards and southwards 🙂

We did find some pretty decent camping after circumventing a gate [and getting caught by a local] granting us access to an infinity of rolling Oregon Forest. The local guy who we chatted to for a while had access to the forest for hunting and he was nice enough to leave the gate open for us the next day so we could get out easily.

September 25th 2019 [Day 2]

Olympia, WA to Seaside, WA

My Cuz in law Coleen Hooked me up with her fav Metal Fabricator, Kelly of Studio23 Metalworks in Olympia, WA, who shortened my kickstand, the bike was sitting too upright with all the weight on it and was falling over. It’s much better now thanks x 1000 Kelly for the free handout 😉

We were late rolling out of Olympia after getting my kickstand modified so it was unlikely we would reach our target destination of Florence, OR, 450km away. It was even more unlikely after noticing my puncture when stopping for lunch in Raymond. This took a good 2 hours to fix before we were back in action.

September 24th 2019

Vancouver, BC to Olympia, WA

It’s fuckin D-day baby!

A few snaps of the loaded bikes on Canadian Soil before we successfully attempt to penetrate the US of A

Read More… [Pan America – Planning]