... And they're off!!

Thursday May 4th, 2006 - 7:00pm-12:00am
I'm busy packing away all the equipment people have stopped by and dropped off.  I should have taken a picture of the car but I was too busy getting everything ready.  The cargo net I purchased from REI earlier that day is a wonder.

I don't think  I could have packed everything in without it.  As usual, Russell is late in delivering his stuff.  What can I say, that's Russ for you.  Gotta love the guy.  I was originally going to put my equipment in the car also but ended up loading the stuff on my bike to off load the car for others to use.  It was a good choice.  Plus, I don't have a lot of stuff to take (e.g. a small single man tent, a sleeping bag, some clothing, sandals, two camp stoves,  Thermarest mattress, and some other minor things).  Suffice to say it was a feat to load everybody's bag and gear.  Funny thing is, when I thought I was finished I realize I hadn't loaded the cooking equipment, coolers, and the propane tank.  After a bit of reshuffling, everything fits with just enough room for the support people (Nunez and Vince) to be able to see out the rear window.  Happy with my work and exhausted from climbing all over the car, I started tending to my bike.  The pre-packing from previous days has proven a great help to me.  I lumped all my equipment by the stairwell to keeps things together so I don't forget anything.  As a last minute thing, I start the final work on my bike to hook up the power cabled for the cell phone and the MP3 player.  I had purchase a couple of accessory plugs for the bike from BMW Santa Cruz and had not installed the cables until now.  Sure enough, it was a simple job and took only 30 minutes to complete with some, super handy dandy, double sided Velcro.  In the end, it was 1:00am before I went to bed.  I took a quick shower and tried to catch some Zs.

Friday May 5th, 2006 - 6:00am

5 hours, what's that?  You call that sleep?  I didn't get that great of a sleep the last night (or should I say morning).  Nonetheless, it's time to get up and get ready to go.  I had called Nunez the night before and asked him to show up between 7:00-7:30am this day.  I got up and was doing some final checking here and there and noticed that I hadn't packed my camera.  Easy enough, I knew where it was and had made sure the batteries were charges a couple of nights ago.  So I grabbed it and slammed it into my Marsee Bavarian bag (many thanks to H Marc at R1200GS.info for this tip).  7:30am came and went and no Nunez was in sight.  I figured he had over slept and will eventually call me.  7:45am I received a call with an apology about being late.  It's alright, I'm on vacation so no need for anguish.  Just get here so we can start the trip.

On the flip side, Nate and his band of riders have probably met at the Jack-In-The-Crack, off the 210 freeway at the Arroyo exit in Pasadena.  No doubt they've already hitting the road (thanks to Vance for these shots of Nate's group).

In the meanwhile, I and Nunez are hurriedly heading off to the IHOP on Foothill in Pasadena to rendezvous with the rest of the people riding with the support vehicle.  I received a call from Kevin at approximately 8:00am asking me where the heck I am.  "I'm a little late but I'm on my way."  As usual 8:00am on a Friday on the 210 is impossible.  Cars were packed on the freeway like it's a parking lot.  Great... definitely not a good sign.  So instead of taking the 210 to get to Pasadena, I got on the freeway and off the freeway.  Technically I didn't even get on the freeway.  I ended up taking Santa Anita to Foothill in Arcadia to go to the IHOP in Pasadena.  When I finally got there Russell, Kevin, Joseph and Vince was waiting.  We looked at the time and decided we're all hungry so we went ahead and entered the IHOP to chewed on some fat until the traffic lightened up.  In the meantime I contacted Primo to let him know we're grabbing something to eat and wait for traffic to ease up.

9:30am with our bellies full, we fueled up and headed out to meet Primo.  The ride to Van Nuys was easy going.  There were little spots of traffic here and there but nothing too bad.  We finally met up with Primo.  We can't help but notice a CHP at the gas station we all pulled into.  He was giving us the evil eye but he eventually backed off and went to do something else instead.  Maybe buying and eating donuts or something.  The funny thing was, the restroom was a single stall and required taking turns.  Joseph couldn't wait any longer and decided to relieve himself at another more convenient location.  Something to note, everybody was recently handed a two way radio for the purpose of keeping in contact just in case we wandered off or something like that.  Well, while Joseph was doing his business with a bush when someone squelched the radio and started talking.  Poor Joseph jumped because he thought the COP was right behind him watching him bushwhacking.  Eventually he realized it was the two-way radio and calmed down.  Nothing like the possibility of being busted for public indecency while trying to shake a leg at a bush.

From there, the trip truly begins.

As we were heading out, everything was smooth sailing.  The skies were overcast until we get to the West end of Ventura.  During this leg of the trip, Russell and Kevin eventually passed me up and I was the last one in the slow pack.  The funny thing was, Russell and Kevin would pass me up and eventually slow down because they kept mistaking me for a COP.  I had a small blue chair tied down to my left pannier and an orange Thermarest tied down to my right pannier.  I guess this gave the illusion of red and blue on my bike in the distance.  The other thing I noticed is that a lot of cars were driving slow when I came within proximity to them.  Too funny.  Nothing like pretending to be a COP to freak people out.  Plus, I wasn't even trying.

We made it to Santa Barbara and pulled off at State and 154 to rest and get food for dinner and breakfast.  We were lounging around in the parking lot of the shopping center joking it up when somebody noticed that Primo's front tire had what appeared to be slash marks on the tire.  It was as if someone had take a knife to it.  The cut was deep enough to touch the radial.  Upon closer inspection we noticed a similar slash mark on the other side of the tire.  This time it was clear it was a fracture of the rubber and not a man made mark.  It took a little bit but Primo was convinced to go to a local motorcycle dealer to have the front tire replaced.  Kevin, Russell, and Primo took off to get the tire replaced while Joseph, Nunez and myself went grocery shopping.  $230 later, we were packing the car with food.  I seems like bread was sticking out of every nook and crevice in the car.  If it's not a hamburger bun, it's a hot dog bun, or a loaf of bread.  When we were getting ready to head over to meet up with Russ, Kevin ,and Primo, they called that they were done and they're going to ride back to our position.  $100 bucks and Primo has a new front tire.  A Micheline tire to boot.

We were originally going to get back on the 101 and head towards Santa Maria.  However, the TomTom said the fastest route was to take the 154 highway to the 101 freeway to get to Santa Maria, 56 miles instead of 70 miles.  OK.  New path, but it looks fun.  We all agreed and hopped on the 154 and headed North-West.  The 154 is a beautiful highway.  The road was twisty but it's nothing compared to the Angeles Crest highway (2 highway).  It was a real pleasant ride and traffic wasn't too bad.  As usual, Primo and Joseph warp in front of us.  Kevin, Russell and I were the slow pack again.  Not that I really mind.  I'm having too much fun and enjoying the scenery to worry about speed.  The sky was blue and the country side was gorgeous.  There were a couple of Sheriff patrol cars sitting on our side of the road.  When we passed them, we were doing a steady 55 or 60MPH.  No worries, there was enough traffic that we couldn't speed anyway.  We finally connected to the 101 freeway and headed North to Santa Maria.  Once we reached Santa Maria, we stopped at a Chevron to take a break before completing our ride to Morro Bay.  The stopped at Santa Maria revealed that Primo and Joseph had passed the same Sheriff patrol cars on the 154 at 80+ MPH.  They were fast enough that the Sheriff wouldn't be able to catch them anyway.

Unlike last year, this year's trip seems to be much easier.  We were making good time and were going to make it to Morro Strand before sun down.  Around 5:30 or 6:00pm.  Last year we got to Morro Strand around 7-8:00pm and there wasn't too much light left.

Another thing to note.  Having a navigation system is cool.  Learning how to accept it's directions is another case.  The TomTom had a habit of giving me too much information.  For example, while we were riding on the freeway before we got to Santa Barbara, the TomTom told me that there was only 5 miles left to the destination.  It turns out, it was 5 miles to the end of the freeway.  Where the freeway turned into a highway, and then started up again as a freeway.  As a result I gave false signals to Russell.  I think I confused the heck out of him.  I was flashing 5 for 5 miles on that stretch and Russell was thinking, "what in the world is he signaling about only 5 miles when it's a lot further."  On another instance, the nav system told me it's 800 yards to the exist.  Well, it's hard to determine how far 800 yards is relative to miles.  Hello.... As a result I signal everybody to get into the wrong off ramp.  At the last minute I waved everybody to get to the next off ramp.  Sucky ducky MANG!!!  Maybe I should go to the overhead mode as oppose to the perspective mode, but I'm jumping ahead here so let's continue on.

At Santa Maria we bought drinks, food, and fueled up the car.  1/2 hour to 45 minutes later, we were back on the road again.  It's another 58 miles to get to Morro Strand.  No problem, right? Uh huh... sure... whatever you say.  Everything was going smoothly until we reached the exit for the 1 highway.  The TomTom told me the exit is 800 yards away.  Yards, miles, what's the difference.  You should be able to calculate that in your head and know right away how far things are right? yeah... right... As a result of my supercomputer fast thinking brain's capabilities, I signal for everybody to get onto the wrong off ramp.  At the last minute, I saw the right off ramp and signaled everybody to scoot back on to the freeway and go to the next off ramp.  It was pandemonium!  The support vehicle was so overloaded that it couldn't get back on to the freeway.  They were stuck between the wrong off ramp and the freeway.  Sure enough I received some delightful comments from support for pulling such a trick.  As if I did it on purpose.  Anyway, the support vehicle eventually caught up to us as I turn myself into a road block so that nobody can get from the small street to the 1 highway.  I didn't think my ass was that big but I guess people were just afraid of a hazard blinking COP looking motorcycle.  What's up with that?  OK, so the car caught up to us and we're ready to head towards Morro Strand.  The support vehicle gave me a couple more unpleasant comments and then we're off to our luxurious home away from home.

The rest of the ride to the camp site was easy enough.  While we were on the 1 highway heading pass Poly Slo, I received a call from Nate saying that his group is already at the camp site.  When we were two lights before reaching Morro Strand State Beach, Primo signaled that he needed gas and was going to go fuel up.  I acknowledged and decided to follow them so that nobody would get lost.  The support vehicle on the other hand, had other ideas and more pleasant things to say, and decided, with some off hand comment, to go ahead to the camp site.  What can I say, with all the pleasantries coming from the support vehicle, I was willing to forgo the support vehicle next year.  Sure enough, the car sped up and rush to the camp site while all of the bikes fueled up the last time before going to the camp site.  It only made sense since fueling up now would mean we don't have to do it the following day and would only need to head off to our next destination.  Once done, we all headed to the camp site.  Right before we got to the left turn, Joseph and Russell decided to drag race.  Man were they fast.  An R6 and a R1, how do you beat those two?  In the meanwhile, Primo and I looked at each other in the left turn lane and thought... "Whatever..."  As we made the turn to get to the park gate Kevin volunteered to stay on the street so that Joseph and Russell would know where we were at.  About 5 minutes later, the dragster kings (Russell and Joseph) showed up.

The gate was empty so we proceeded to head into the camp grounds.  We spotted Nate and his rowdy bunch.  It turns out they were ahead of us only about 30 minutes at most.  Good timing.  We then decided on which camp sites to setup shop.  Having 7-8 people deciding on camp sites is not pretty.  It makes filibustering look like a fun hobby to start.  In the end, they (yes they, not me) decided on two camp sites that gave us ample room to setup all the tents.  It was a tent metropolis.  You can't help but trip yourself on tie lines as you walk from one spot to the next.  Ah, the beauty of  a canvas city.

A bit of horse play.

If that's not bad enough, we were about to have a friendly visit from our friendly neighborly park host.  Partly through the ferocious canvas pitching activities, the friend park ranger appeared and told us that all these motorcycles are a problem.  We can't help but look dumb founded and think, "What cha talkin' about Willis?"  He told us that we were in violation of something or other.  Not only that, I told him that we had reservations at the park.  To this point, he looked at us and said, "What? you can't make a reservation at this park until the end of May."  I started scratching my head and was wondering what in the "sam hill" he was talking about.  Anyway, I presented him with the reservation information and he started blabbering about us being at the wrong park.  He said that the park we wanted was several miles down the road.  At this point, everybody had setup shop and we were all settled in for the night.  To pickup the tents and haul it all several more miles down the road was ridiculous.  Anyway, wanting to be generous, he made a call for us to the park where we were suppose to be and told them that we are currently at Morro Strand State Beach.  The funny thing about all this is I'm looking at the reservation web site for Morro Strand and I only see one Morro Strand park.  There isn't another Morro Strand park anywhere in California.  I'm sitting here writing this stuff up and I still say .... "What the F*ck!!!  Old man must of forgotten to take a swig or something."  Anyway, we dutifully waited until he got off the phone and told us everything was OK.  Eventually, we are OK.  Now on to the matter of how many vehicles we had.  He proceeded to look at all the bikes we had and told us that he would have to charge us an additional $6 for every two bikes.  I think everybody was getting a little teed.  Primo was starting to go off the deep end about additional charges for the bikes.  We all know we can fit at least 6 bikes into one normal car parking spot.  So charging us for two bikes as one vehicle was on the ridiculous side.  Sure enough, he made us pay $21 for all the motorcycles and said that he generously didn't count the support vehicle.  He then gave us a couple of stickers and then disappeared.  We all felt a little ripped and can't help but pass it off as him needing some beer money for the night.  Some of us were making jests about him coming back for more money for more beer.  Others kept on thinking it's really for beer money.

We're all standing there pondering how well we've been bent over and shafted for beer money.
*** Notice the white Subaru in the back is completely empty ***
Nice greeting park dude.
(Now why did Russell chop himself out of this picture?  I want the original Russell!  Give me the original!)

Once things calmed down, I got word from James that he can't find his backpack.  I was going... "Uh Oh! Did I really forget to pack someone's bag?"  Standing there thinking for a moment, I remember loading the car up with all the bags I had seen.  Nonetheless, there was a doubt in my mind.  I called my wife and asked her to check the garage to make sure there are no backpacks sitting around being lonely.  1/2 hour later, my wife called back and said there was nothing resembling a backpack in the garage other than our messy stuff.  A sigh of relief went through my mind.  The thing I failed to mentioned thus far is that James is looking for a red backpack.  James then asked Kevin whether he brought the backpack from his place to hand to me.  Kevin said that he delivered everything.  I still can't help to feel bad that James has no other clothing other than what's on his back.  He accepted the situation regarding the missing clothing and went on having fun.  I offered him my extra clothing but he didn't take me up on the offer. (To be continued on this story)

Dinner came and gone.  The steaks my wife had marinated for me was a big hit.  Everybody chowed it down.

Let's get cookin'!

Here's a bit of warning for you folks out there that are planning on driving too many pieces of equipment from a propane tank with a Century Tri Outlet Safety Post.  There's not enough pressure from the propane tank to drive two grills at the same time.  I have a Century Grill/Stove and a Webber grill.

Century Grill/Stove

Webber Portable Grill

Century Tri Outlet Safety Post

You can have one or the other but not both.  Thank goodness I brought the camp stoves (MSR WhisperLite, and MSR DragonFly) with me.  They saved the day.  Plus they use their own hand pressured fuel source.  Russell was sufficiently impressed with the camp stoves and thought they were cool little gadgets.  Of course the DragonFly stove sounded like a 747 taking off.  Steaks and sausages all done, we all resorted to drinking beer, and liquor.  We were all whacked at about 10:00pm and all decided to head off to bed.

MSR WhisperLite

MSR DragonFly

Introduction [It's sheer pandemonium!!!]
Page 2 [Loopy in Guada-loopy]
Page 3 [Just a couple more drops of petrol.]

Written on: May 23, 2006
Last modified: June 28, 2006