LOL Trek EAST – The 2 Day Trip Home

Standard

There’s something awesome about leaving somewhere at 645am and being a good bit down the road by 830am.

In our case, that good bit ended us up in Kingman, AZ. What neither of us knew at the time was that Kingman is in the middle of one of the largest still-existing stretch of Route 66. After acquiring that little piece of knowledge, we hopped on it and rode it the rest of the day. Apparently Route 66 has been chewed up by I-40, but every so often, it reappears for a few miles as it goes through a little town.

This particular stretch is over 100 miles, and as we’re flying down this road going about 90 miles an hour, we got pulled over by the Indian Nation security forces. That sounds serious, but it was just a guy in a pickup truck – he was irritated with us but after Lee sweet-talked him, we were let go with a warning – and a photograph. If you meet us at Key Bar for our welcome home party on Wednesday, you might even get a signed copy ;-).

Yes, I did get a picture standing on the corner in Winslow, AZ.

I have to give a huge shoutout to Jayla Fuller for calling up the Hotel Albuquerque and booking us a room for the night. We pulled into the ABQ at 11:30pm and the only thing open was … you guessed it … an Applebees. For the second time this trip, we ate at the bar at Applebees. And both times were in New Mexico. What does that tell you?

The first day, we had put over 550 miles on the bikes but we weren’t even halfway home. The next morning while filling up for the ride at 7am, we contemplated the 770 miles that were still ahead of us. Lee was a little pessimistic about how we were going to be feeling at the end of the day and I had to deliver a little piece of Hemati wisdom:

“When faced with inconvenient facts, I just choose to ignore them.”

I wish there was more stuff to talk about on this second day, but in reality, West Texas is just unremarkable in pretty much every way. There is a stretch just below Abiline that’s covered – and I do mean COVERED – with windmills. I felt like Alice in Wonderland for a minute on this little 2 lane road in the middle of this poppy field. Or maybe I’m mixing up my fairy tales. Either way – wow.

Other than that, though, we just watched the miles tick away hour by hour. Another 100 miles. Another stop for gas. And so on and so on.

My brother Russell met us in Lampassas for a refreshing Sonic burger and Diet Coke. Lee split off at Georgetown to meetup with Becky and Russ and I continued to the Drive Thru where we rolled in right around 11:30pm. Off came the saddlebags and windshield.

We had traveled over 3300 miles, all the way to the coast and back. No mechanical incidents. No heat stroke. No drama. I got reconnected to friends I hadn’t seen in years, saw things I had never seen, did things I always wanted to do.

Truly, the trip of a lifetime.

Advertisements

LOL Trek EAST – Vegas Baby!!

Standard

Vegas was amazing. As usual. I keep thinking that one of these days I’m going to have a bad experience there but it still keeps batting 1.000.

We left Moravia after breakfast around 9am. Lee and I would joke afterward that we “were lulled into a false sense of confidence” by the cool weather we had experienced in LA over the last 36 hours. After crossing over the mountains on I-15, the temperature began to slowly climb by about a degree every 5 minutes or so. By the time we were in the Mojave Desert, it was 115 degrees.

I wish I had the picture of me literally standing in the beer cooler at the Nevada border trying to cool off…

We rolled into the hotel at 1pm. Loa had flown out to meet us to celebrate her birthday with an epic Vegas weekend, but we were so sun-sapped that all we could do was shower and collapse for a few hours.

After a solid nap and a few hours in the pool drinking Mai Thais, we linked up with my friend Eckelfest and hit the town for some dinner and a session with Steel Panther – Spencer’s favorite Vegas band. If you haven’t heard them, go to YouTube and prepare for some of the raunchiest funniest 80s tribute bands you’ve ever seen.

The next day Lee had hooked us up with tickets to the infamous “Rehab” party at the Hard Rock Cafe. Pictures will be up soon – there were thousands (and I don’t exaggerate at all) of morons in the pool there. They really should call that party “Mayhem” instead of “Rehab”. I’m pretty sure there was no one there that was going through rehab…

That night my friend Leslie Stein – an author and speaker who moved to Vegas a couple years ago – flew back into town and bounced around the strip with us. We had discovered a dollar shot bar the night before and we ended up the night there, sucking down $2 tequila, $3 Jager and $4 Fireballs. Quite a difference from the Rehab party we hit up that day.

Having learned our lesson from the Mojave on the ride INTO Vegas, we went to bed resolved to wake up at 6am and hit the road at 645a to head toward Albuquerque.

LOL Trek West Day 5+6: Beaches and Movie Stars

Standard

My friend Ashley got on me this morning. “I never read blogs and I can’t believe I’m telling you this – but UPDATE YOUR BLOG!!”

Sorry for the delay guys – the last few days have really blown by. I’m going to consolidate Day 5 and 6 because there’s really nothing to report on Day 5 at all. Except that Will Smith is completely underrated in “After Earth”. The scorching 115 degree heat leaving Phoenix was just too much to handle, so we hid out in a movie theater on the outskirts of town and waited for dark. Talk about a couple of hard-core bikers …

20130609-171637.jpg

We crashed for the night in Palm Springs and rolled out bright and early the next morning to hit Santa Monica by 11am. Deciding to take the more scenic 60 into LA rather than stay on 10 was a huge winner of a decision – there’s really nothing like zipping into the cool mountainous LA valley after being in the heat of the desert; and the thrill of going 90 miles an hour along with a thousand other vehicles who don’t care a hoot about the speed limit was an experience I’ll never forget. Thankfully I was wearing a helmet so I was perfectly safe the entire time; even with the lane splitting.

20130609-172201.jpg

Hitting the Pacific Ocean after several days of desert and heat was so fulfilling. It was like a big “We made it!!” for both of us. Not even because we thought we’d never make it or anything – but just because we had been talking about it for so long – to anyone who would listen. “We’re headed to the Pacific, baby!!” is something nearly every gas station attendant along the way had heard for 5 days.

[YouTube http://youtu.be/GI7AxSVeqPE%5D

We rode up the PCH to Malibu, then turned up Mulholland to get back toward Burbank. Mulholland is without a doubt the most technical piece of road I’ve ever ridden; the switchbacks and rising altitude, coupled with the rolling back of the coastline cloud cover we’d been riding under all morning made for a dramatic 30 minutes. One of my favorite YouTube channels is almost entirely made up of bikers along this line of asphalt – check it out in the video above.

20130609-173303.jpg

When I was a senior in college, I took my first trip to Europe. I backpacked all over the UK and crossed over to France for a minute as well. I took that trip with my friend Lisa who sold books door-to-door with me all over the country. I hadn’t seen Lisa since she introduced me to her then fiancee 9 years ago in DC. Since then they’ve been living in Australia and have had 3 kids. What does that have to do with this story? Well 4 months ago, they moved to LA and we were fortunate enough to spend the night with their family. What a great sendoff to head back East! We were greeted with cold beer, BBQ and a full bottle of Blanton’s which Lisa and I nearly polished off before I lost consciousness at 3:30am. Love you Lisa!!

20130609-173852.jpg

We woke up bright and early, wolfed down some home-cooked breakfast and coffee and headed toward Las Vegas. I’m writing this from my hotel on the strip and am already up $39 in blackjack, so I know you’ll enjoy all the shenanigans in the next post. Stay tuned!

LOL Trek West Day 4: Swimming Pools and Fancy Drinks

Standard

Waking up in a bed full of pillows and high thread-count sheets is a decadent pleasure that one can only TRULY value after being on a hot bike for 3 days straight. My amazing friend Cerrie G “The Cerr-Bear” was so gracious to give us her house for 2 days. This stopover was definitely one of the most needed rests I’ve had in a LONG time.

20130606-101927.jpg

First stop of the day was the Wildflower Bread Company where our friend Jared had left us an open tab. Free breakfast is the kind of thing I’d like to start every day off with if I could – it just puts me in a great mood and reminds of childhood in some distant way…

After getting some work done, we hopped on the bikes to do some good old-fashioned “Pool Pirating”. Cerrie had drawn us a map of one of the nearby resorts so we knew exactly how to storm the castle. Our target: Montelucia

20130606-102309.jpg

Her trick of going not through the main entrance, but actually through the service entrance that the cabana girl use to deliver your drinks? Totally worked. In no time, I was poolside, sipping on a Mai Thai and getting some much needed sun on my legs for a change.

20130606-102423.jpg

After filming the sequence you see above – and if you haven’t watched it, you need to – we headed back into town to freshen up for the evening. There’s a patio bar called The Yard where we got the party started, and then moved on to the Merc Bar. There are some crazy stories I could tell you from the Merc Bar, but unfortunately what happens in Phoenix has to stay in Phoenix this time. All I can say is that it revolved around a pleasantly-inebriated black man, some champaign cocktails and a cluster of semi-hot cougars. Use your imagination.

20130606-104341.jpg

LOL Trek West Day 3: Wile E Coyote & The Roadrunner

Standard

I went to bed feeling like I had been run over by a freight train but woke up feeling like I could ride 500 miles. And that’s exactly what I did.

First stop out of the Motel 6 was Rosie’s – a great little cantina on the way out of Mesilla. I learned that Mesilla has a lot of really important historical significance. I just didn’t remember any of it to post in this blog. Use Google – from what I don’t remember, it was really interesting.

20130605-111941.jpg

About 150 miles down “the 10” as I’ve been told the freeways are called “out West”, we stopped to talk to a State Trooper. We were debating whether to stay on the 10 through Tuscon and approach Phoenix from the south, or if we should take the 70 across the desert and through Globe, AZ. The intervals of gas stations were our primary concern – the bikes only go about 110-120 miles before they need to recharge. He gave us all the intel we needed (including where the speed traps were!) to decide that the desert ride was totally doable.

20130605-112255.jpg

At the Arizona state line we did some pretty fun footage – we put a GoPro camera on the yellow line and rode by it at around 80 miles an hour – both directions. Can’t wait to see what that looks like after the edits. I was stunned to find that Verizon had 4 bars of 4G service in the middle of nowhere. And I do mean NOWHERE. Can you hear me now? Hell yes you can!

Oh yeah. Riding at even 85-90 miles an hour (to generate some wind) through the middle of 100 degree temperatures will suck the life out of you. Remember that the next time you think about going through the desert in the middle of the day in June. Now I know what those 3 guys who were tossed into the fiery furnace in Sunday School were dealing with. Not fun.

Globe, AZ is probably one of the most scenic little spots I’ve ridden through. It’s a multi-tiered village with bridges, train trestles and rock formations everywhere. We’ve got some great footage riding out of town here that you’ll enjoy in the video up above. We stopped at the Drift Inn, a little bar in the historic district where Barbara and Lisa took good care of us with cold beer, ice cold tequila, Rueben sandwiches and the all-important Wi-Fi so I can keep some semblance of a connection to work going. [Note – I did have a new client I picked up yesterday, so you can actually make money while being completely irresponsible. Good to know. I will have to figure out how to use this more to my advantage in the future…]

20130605-113000.jpg

Another BRILLIANT sunset ride out of the mountains and into Phoenix capped off the day’s ride. The picture above doesn’t even begin to do it justice. I have never in my life seen such exquisite beauty. I’m not sure if it’s being in the open air, if it’s the contrast with the flatness and heat of the desert just hours before, or if it’s really just that good. But if you get a chance to head West on a bike in the future, take it. It’s truly good for your soul.

20130605-113158.jpg

We made a beeline for the OHSA Tavern in Scottsdale to meet up with my dear friend Cerrie G who was kind enough to put us up in her house for a couple of nights. Bling had a few of his friends join in as well and it was really turned into one of those fantastic hodgepodges of previously unconnected people who all share commonality over some beers and Moscow Mules. I know that’s random, but it’s just the way it was. Don’t hate.

More good stuff to come tomorrow 😉

20130605-122140.jpg

Day 2: Lords of Leisure do New Mexico

Image

Christina Irvin – you need to watch to the very end… 😉

If you’ve read Day 1’s post already, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve settled on “Dumb and Butthead” as the working title of this series. But that may change later. I have a problem with commitment …

OK so after waking up at 7:55am to hop on a conference call, we were ready to roll out with Carrie at 9am to do a group ride to Pecos, TX. And as a side note, those of you who have been dissing Carrie’s motel – the Comanche – let me just say for the record here that it was one of the most hospitable stay-overs I’ve had ANYWHERE … aesthetics notwithstanding … 😉

20130605-111234.jpg

Carrie and her friend Clint had sold us on diverting from our intended route (a SUPER challenging task as anyone following us live has to know by now :-P) and going on a scenic tour of New Mexico instead of barreling straight down I-10 to ElPaso. I think the quote from Clint was “Man … you don’t want to do that.”

I didn’t need to hear anything else.

The new plan was Fort Stockton > Pecos > Carlsbad Caverns > Cloudcroft > Alamagordo > White Sands > Los Cruces > Tuscon

20130605-111313.jpg

In Pecos we discovered a Walmart and the World’s First Rodeo. Hello Fancytown! (c. Ashlee Voda). After a 15 minute inspection, we continued on.

20130605-111252.jpg

Carlsbad Caverns was incredible. The largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere apparently. Just one of the rooms that we toured was big enough to hold 16 football fields. On our way out of Carlsbad we stopped at the Post Time Saloon where the owner showed us the library from the Kellogg Mansion in Chicago. Apparently someone who had bought it at auction lost it to him in a poker game and he had it rebuilt in the middle of his bar – in its own little room. Al Capone himself had played poker at that same table.

20130605-111329.jpg

The ride into Lincoln National Forest to climb up to Cloudcroft has to rank as one of the best motorcycle routes I’ve ever been on. Great turns and a steadily dropping temperature provided some much needed respite from the desert heat we’d been dealing with. By the time we made it up to Cloudcroft, the temperature was pretty chilly and we were almost at 9000 feet elevation. The bikes were having a hard time breathing and I was having a hard time staying warm since I had planned for desert temperatures and not to freeze my butt off in the mountains. #lessonlearned

The drop down into Alamagordo from Cloudcroft was one of the most serene and breathtaking series of switchbacks you can imagine. I pulled in my clutch handle and literally coasted the entire way down the mountain using my engine as a brake – a drop of over 6000 feet through canyons and tunnels in about 25 minutes. The eerie silence lent itself to contemplation – but I was too awed by the sunset to even think. It was the most spectacular feeling of emptiness I can describe. Except I can’t describe it. So I’ve got that going for me.

20130605-111339.jpg

After a quick ride through Alamagordo we rode through the White Sands National Monument and the White Sands Missile Base – except that it was pitch black by this point and we couldn’t see a damn thing. Except for the stars. Which – if you’ve ever seen stars in the middle of complete blackness (since there literally was NOTHING around us) – was awe-inspiring. I was reminded of a scene in ROME when the two Roman soldiers are staring up at the sky talking about the stars.

“You know those are holes in the sky that lead you to heaven” says the Centurion.

“Has anyone ever climbed up and gone through one?” asks the Legionnaire

“I don’t think so” replies the Centurion. “How would you manage to get up there?”

“Probably by capturing a really large bird!” the Legionnaire proclaims.

Well – a really large bird couldn’t get me off my bike fast enough after that day’s ride. So after a quick pit-stop at Applebee’s in Los Cruces, we decided to call it a night and crash at the Motel 6.

Day 3 coming up soon – stay tuned.

Day 1 of the Lords Of Leisure Trek West

Standard

So today I took the first leg of a trip I’ve been wanting to take since I was in college – to ride out to the Pacific Ocean on a motorcycle. A couple weeks ago I heard my friend Bling Johnson was planning on taking that exact trip and I invited myself along. #booyah

20130603-020043.jpg

We had planned to leave this morning at 10, but Bling realized his bike was leaking around the main gasket so that repair took the morning and early afternoon to fix. As a helpful friend, I decided to let him work on that himself and hit up my friend Ashlee’s pool party – just to give him space to work, of course.

20130603-015909.jpg

By the time we actually hit the road, it was 3:30pm.

First stop was Luckenbach TX to see Abbey Road and have one of their legendary pulled pork sandwiches. We got lost in conversation with her and before you knew it – it was 6pm.

20130603-015958.jpg

Once we passed Fredericksburg, it’s only another 40 miles or so until you hit Interstate 10 where the speed limit is a whopping 80 MPH!! Of course that wasn’t fast enough for us, so we laid the hammer down and went 70 miles at 110. We saw a sign that said “El Paso 430” – and I screamed at Bling over the engine roar “We’ll be there in 4 hours!”

Alas – that wasn’t to be the case. We quickly found out that at the higher RPM’s we were pulling, our gas mileage plummeted. We barely coasted into a gas station in Sonora before going completely dry – and decided that perhaps 80 was a perfectly fine speed after all.

As we passed Bakersfield, TX, we began to see a ridiculously amazing lightning storm off in the distance. The lights from Fort Stockton started to be visible and the storm was playing around right on the edge of town. Rather than go all the way to El Paso, we decided to stay at the Comanche Motel in Fort Stockton tonight.

20130603-020410.jpg

After drinking beers in her parking lot for an hour, Carrie the owner said Bling Johnson and I were a combination of Beavis and Butthead & Dumb and Dumber.

I can’t decide whether that’s Beavis and Dumber or Dumb and Butthead …

Oh yeah, and on her recommendation, we decided to skip El Paso and do a trek through Carlsbad and White Sands in New Mexico. She’s even coming riding with us tomorrow on our leg up to Pecos.

I love traveling without an itinerary 🙂 Stay tuned for the next installment…