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July 31, 2016

The Baja Trip: Day 4 - Tijuana to San Diego

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in San Diego, California, USA.

This is roughly the route I took today.

Starting Odometer: 44,028
Ending Odometer : 44,133
Miles Driven Today: 105

Cabrillo National Monument

This shows the average wait times for the border crossing at San Ysidro. Note: This is for crossing into the U.S. For crossing into Mexico, there is no wait time because they don't care. They just wave you through.

I check out of the hotel in Tijuana, and decide I'll try to get across the border before things get too insane. The GPS takes me a different route through Tijuana than the highway signs do, but I follow the GPS and go through old town Tijuana. NOw, I see signs for the border crossing.

But of course, the border is just gridlock, so I start lane splitting because, if you're not going to do it here, where are you going to?

Now, you should know that border guards are the most royal jackasses on the planet. These are not people to fuck with. These guys make small town cops, highway patrol, county deputies....all pale in comparison to border guards. These guys can keep you out of the country.

And, at least one time I came back over, I tried using the bus lane and they were so pissed they sidetracked me for secondary screening.

So, I lane split up to very near the front. Then, I get in line and don't screw around a lot.

She types in my license plate number, because I didn't stop at the right place when I was pulling up. It says "2 cars per green light", which confused me, apparently.

This is the part that concerns me. I'm not clear if there are warrants for my arrest. Who can know for sure, right? I mean...you'd have to open your mail to know for certain.

I'm working on my Spanish, trying to make sure I get my verb tense just right, and all of the objects as masculine (o) or feminine (a). Suddenly, it occurs to me, that she won't speak to me in Spanish. And for this, I'm kind of sad. I like trying to talk to people in Spanish. It's fun and challenging, in a ridiculous sort of way.

She asks where I've been. Where I'm going.

"I was in Bahia Los Angeles for the weekend. I'm going to Riverside."

It sounds fishy, even to me. Who in their right mind would drive a motorcycle from Riverside to Bahia Los Angeles for the weekend.

But she just waves me through.

I figure it took me about 30 minutes to clear the border crossing (from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.)

Once I'm on the US side, I already have a little plan in mybrain. What I'll do is drive up the peninsula that defines San Diego Bay. I haven't been up this way in a long time. So I head up the peninsula, and the difference between the USA and Mexico is just stunning. Like, down there, it's all just failed housing projects, trash on both sides of the road, open fires of burning trash in the desert, the smell of raw sewage in the streets. Here, it's all bougainvilla, paved biking paths, condos, preserved coastlines.

The roads are paved and smooth, conspicuously lacking potholes. No one runs up to you selling cookies in the streets. No stray dogs. No stray cats.

The view of San Diego with the bridge before it is just stunning, of course. Southwest planes are taking off about every 7 minutes it seems.

Now, I'm at the Hotel del Coronado, established in 1888. Stunning hotel, of course.

I drive around pretty much all of the island that you can see. Also, they call it Coronado Island, for some reason, but it's not an island. Clearly.

I'm not real sure where to go now, so now I head to the north end of San Deigo Bay, and drive out onto that little peninsual there.

On the way, I find Ocean Beach and the pier. Also the Sunset Cliffs. I remember these places, but I wasn't clear where they were exactly.

That's where the Cabrillo National Monument is, which I'd seen before, but sort of spaced, I think.

Stunning view of San Diego Bay.

They're having the 19th Annual Robosub Challenge. Kids build robots and bring them here to compete in an oceanside pool. I'm there for some time, before someone asks who I am and tells me to move my motorcycle.

Now, up to La Jolla, but there really aren't any places to eat on the beach at La Jolla.

I decide to crash in San Diego, I'm having so much fun down here. I'll drive back to Riverside in the morning.

I rest for a bit in bed, exhausted from the drive up from Tijuana. It wasn't far, but we sat in the scorching sun for about 30 minutes, and it was so hot that I couldn't even run my motorcycle. There were a few of us, and we went so slowly that we all shut them off and just pushed the bikes forward with our feet in the unlikely event that a car was allowed to move forward in the line and enter the usa.

The Mexicans are working the sweltering crowds of cars, peddling drinks, hats, food...you name it. I bought a Diet Coke from one of them for a dollar.

But the sun took a lot out of me, so I rested for a bit. Then, close sunset, I go back to La Jolla beach. This time, I've decided that I will swim in the ocean. I swam in the Sea of Cortez yesterday, and I sort of want to swim in the Pacific today.

The Pacific is much colder at La Jolla than at Bahia de Los Angeles. Like, I wouldn't have even gotten in except that there were a bunch of kids swimming in it and I didn't want to look like a pansy.

But it was very cold. And the waves knock you over. So, I dunno. Maybe it's better for surfing, but the ocean was more comfortable in the Sea of Cortez, IMHO.

I walk up and down the beach a little, shooting photos of strangers like a psychotic stalker. Then, when I get ready to leave, I try to drive up the hill on the KTM, but I keep turning back to shoot the last palm tree or the last bush or the last flower.

I don't have my 400 mm lens with me, which is why all of my photos are landscapes, and no close-ups of flowers or birds or anything. I'll bring it out next time I get back to Colorado.

It's sort of funny getting reacquainted with a city. Like now, I'm sort of figuring out the lay of the land. So I can driving around San Diego without a GPS because now I know the roads a little better.

As I drive up the hill, I see a woman trying to take photos of her daughter. I generously stop and offer to help, because that's just the kind of person I am.

They're both ecstatic to have an actual photographer helping them to shoot photos, and she asks me if I live in the area and I'm like....ah....not really...I sort of live in Riverside...or Denver...sort of.

You live in Denver...or Riverside?

Yeah...well..sorta both....I commute from Denver to Riverside....

This is what people have a problem with. Like...sure...I commute from Denver to Riverside...and I'm in San Diego for no real reason that I could vocalize...and I was in Bahia De Los Angeles yesterday...El Rosario, San Quintin, Vicente Guerrero, Ensenada, Rosarito, Tijuana, again...no real reason....um....

And I leave them with their iPhone on the hill. At least I showed them how to force it to flash when you're shooting into a sunset. So I did that much for them.

Tomorrow, I'll get up and drive into Riverside. The goal is to get into Riverside by noon. I should sleep well tonight, as I had a pretty big weekend.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 31, 2016 at 6:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 30, 2016

Bahia Los Angeles to Tijuana

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hacienda Del Mar Hotel in Tijuana, in the state of Baja California Del Norte, Mexico.

This is roughly the route I took today.

Starting Odometer: 43,582
Ending Odometer : 44,028
Miles Driven Today: 446

I wake up this morning in Bahia De Los Angeles in an unairconditioned motel. I manage to leave without paying.

And, honestly, I'm not sure what to do. First, I decide to drive around and see Bahia De Los Angeles while I'm here. I find a sand road/path leading down to the beach and I take that. A few times, the bike slides, but it never goes down. And pretty soon, I'm out at the beach. Like...in Mexico, people build houses at the end of sand roads and, so long as they're on the beach, who cares right?

So, I park my bike and then I walk down the beach a bit. There's a lighthouse just here at a point. And a map explaining all of the islands. THere seem to be countless islands, and also, I'm certain of it now, I can see across the sea of cortez to the other side. My guess is that I'm directly across from Kino Bay. Or maybe San Carlos. But this is just a hunch.

I swim in the Sea of Cortez for a bit. It's not nearly as cold as the Pacific, but still refreshing. ANd the waves are much more gentle. You don't feel like you're getting gang raped like in the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific.

Now, I drive north as far as I can go and at some point, the road just sort of ends. But I wanted to explore a little while I was here.

Now I have to drive back across one of the driest deserts on earth. And of course, you have to wonder why you came down here. You have to question your sanity for wanting to drive across that beastly desert. I am not looking forward to crossing that freaking desert again. And yet I must.

I go to the Pemex station, but they have only verde. No roja. So they direct me to another Pemex about 200 yards down the road. So I go there, but still only verde. No roja. I really want "roja" (Premium), to get back across the desert. But I fill up with verde (regular), get some Jumex, and set off into the Punta Prieta desert.a

Now, yesterday, I thought for sure that I would never survive crossing the desert. It was hot, and the ride was long. But today, I get up and leave much earlier, as the desert is cool in the morning. So, by 8:30 a.m., I'm rolling.

The cacti are taller than the telephone poles, They're between 20' - 30' tall.

On this road...there are no other cars. This road is basically not used. Everyone in Bahia De Los Angeles flew into the airport. I'm sure of this.

It's about 45 miles to Mexico 1, where I turn north. There is apparently someone who sells gas here occasionally, but he's not at his truck for wahtever reason. So I just turn and head north into the desert.

The next Pemex station is in El Rosario.

I try to drive fast across the desert, to make the trip seem shorter. But the trouble with this is that the roads are not very straight. They follow the terrain, and that means frequen winding cuves through mountains. And, sure, in the straights, you can run 90 mph, but then the mind tends to wander, and suddenly I'm going into a sharp curve going 84 mph, so you sort of have to try to drive fast, but pay attention to the terrain.

Occasionally, I blow through a small herd of free range cattle. This is surprising to me. Yes, sure...I do see the signs for them...there are free range cow signs, but how on earth can they live out here in the desert? Where do they find water?

I see birds that build their nests in the cacti. Why? How? i mean...I guess if that's all you have, then you go with it, right?

Now, I should mention here that the motorcycle has an issue, that's undiagnosed. Occasionally, for reasons that are not clear to me, opening the throttle causes the bike to choke down, and pretty much stop. WHen this happens, if I turn off the key, and turn it back on, while I'm riding, the problem usually goes away.

On the drive down, this issue happened 3 times.

Now, it's happening more and more frequently as I cross the Punta Prieta desert.

I pull out to pass someone, open the throttle, and the KTM just sort of bogs down and chokes and won't accelerate.
This problem goes on all day, getting worse and worse, until I'm barely able to go 40 mph at times.

"Fuck...If I get stuck out here in this desert...that's going to suck in a big way."

80 miles south of El Rosario, at Catavina, I see my buddy in the desert, and he sells me 2 gallons of gas for $80 pesos a gallon. The gas is verde, not roja.

Now, I'm rolling north again. I'm about 80 miles from Rosarita, and the problem is as bad as ever. I'm scared to try to pass someone, because every time I try to open the throttle, then engine bogs down.

I'm not clear if I will make it out of the desert this time. Damned this cursed desert.

I have liquids on me...plenty of water and Jumex, and 2.2 gallons of gas in my spare gas can. But the bike is acting so funny that I'm not sure I will make it out.

Now, I pass two women broken down on the side of the road in the punta prieta desert. They're desperate for help. They're both looking at me and waving their arms madly. But I do not stop. I can't help these women. I'm no mechanic. And they're both fat. And not very cute. I'm afraid they could die out here.

I keep going. Eventually, I roll into El Rosario. Immediately stop for gas, and have them fill it up with roja (premium). The bike instantly runs better, but it's also cooler here on the coast.

I try to follow a dirt/sand road down to the playa. But at some point, they tell me it's another 12 kilometers. And I'm like fuck that. The road is really bad. Just sand, really, and I'm sliding all over the place, so I turn around and go back to El Rosario.

Now, I'm heading north again on Mexico 1.

I don't really have a plan for where I'll end up tonight. I'm sort of tentatively heading for Rosarito.

But a few places South of Rosarito look interesting enough that I stop and check them out, but everyone has the same story. We have no rooms.

So, I'm not clear what's going on, but I figure I'll head to Rosarito, and they've got plenty of rooms. But when I get to Rosario, all of the hotels are booked solid. I think it's sort of the last weekend of summer, and the kids are starting back, so people are all trying to get out and celebrate summer, and they just happened to pick the same weekend that I was out rolling around.

I stop at some hoitey, toitey place...some country club place north of Rosarito, and they tell me that they have a room, but it's not air-conditioned. And I'm like...Oh fuck that. Like, I slept without A/C last night. I may as well just crash on the beach.

"Doesn't any place around here have a room for rent?"

"You might find something in Tijuana," he sort of half-snickered.

So, I keep heading north. I really don't want to cross into the USA for a variety of reasons. I'm not through with Mexico, really. I'd like to spend the night in Mexico, if only I could find a room.

Now, I decide that I'll go to Tijuana and see if I can find a room. So, I roll into Tijuana, and I see a sign that says "Tijuana Playas", so I head that way. Now, I'm rolling west and I see a sign that says "Hotel", and I immediately pull in and get a room for the night. It's like $70, and it has a pool, A/C, and internet.

Now, I decide to go look for dinner, and I stumble onto the Malecon. I never even knew this place was here. My hotel is right next to the bull fighting arena. I've seen this before, but it's been a long time.

So now, I'm eating dinner overlooking the Malecon. A cop is driving down the beach for reasons not clear to me. Crowds are dancing, playing music, swimming. The place is a circus. Somehow, I never even knew this place was here. I order a carne asada, a margarita, and a beer. I give her a $50 bill, and she brings me back $40 and change.

I'm starting to think that I could like Tijuana.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 30, 2016 at 10:50 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 29, 2016

The Road to Bahia De Los Angeles

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Costa Del Sol hotel on the shores of the Sea of Cortez in the town of Bahia De Los Angeles in the state of Baja California Del Norte, Mexico.

This is roughly the route I took today:

Starting Odometer: 43,287
Ending Odometer : 43,582
Miles Driven Today: 295

Today, the plan is to drive to Bahia de Los Angeles, but the problem is that these towns are not in my GPS for whatever reason. So, it makes it difficult for me to navigate for various reasons.

First of all, most people give distances in kilometers, and amounts in pesos. So, everything is a calculation to try to get it into units that are meaningful to me.

Somehow, I get past San Quintin without even realizing I'd passed through it. I thought I would recognize the place. But now I'm wondering if I'm not losing my mind. How could I have driven through San Quintin and not known it?

I'm trying to figure out how far it is to El Rosario. How far it is to the exit to Bahia De Los Angeles. But all I get are various numbers...kilometers...hours...miles....

I can't find El Rosario on my GPS.

I follow the coast for a bit, but now the land is becoming more arid. I see cacti on both sides of the road. This all looks too familiar. I'm following the coast, loosely, when suddenly the road turns inland and now there are cacti on both sides of the road.

Oh no. Forget this. My plan was to get to El Rosario and fill up there. But now, we're going inland, through cacti. I know where this ends up. I've been through the punta pieta desert before. I'm not going into the desert without a full tank of gas. I turn around and backtrack 21 miles to a Pemex station.

The Punta Pieta desert puts a fear into you that is hard to describe.

I ask the guy at the Pemex station. "Donde El Rosario".

"Quarente kilometers," he replies. So, I turned around before I got to El Rosario. I figured as much, but I couldn't risk dying in that desert. It's too painful to describe.

Now, I have a full tank of gas at least. I'm somewhere south of San Quintin.

I'd forgotten about stick fences. Everything is a failed housing project with rusting rebar and trees painted white at the base.

Now, I'm rolling south again, and the road turns inland. Through fields of cacti. They get taller and taller as we go inland.

I'm ready to confront the Punta Pieta desert again.

I've sort of given up any hope that I'll recognize any of the towns along the baja. They're just so different than my recollections.

But now, I roll into El Rosario, and it's exactly like I remember. The Pemex station. The hotel. The grocery store. Everything.

I stop and fill up at the Pemex.

"Lleno roha, por favor."

"Quanto kilometers para gasolina?" I ask.

He says it's 350 kilometers to the next gas station, but this time I'm listening.

Now, I'm rolling south east through the Punta Prieta desert. And, ostensibly, my goal is to refill at the exit to Bahia De Los Angeles.

So now, of course, I have no idea how far it is to the exit to Bahia de Los Angeles. This isn't in my gps either, of course.

About 75-80 miles into the desert southeast of El Rosario, and now there is a guy selling gas on the side of the road. He's got a little hand-made Pemex sign.

I remember this place from last time. Last time, this is where a guy emerged from the desert (heading north) and he was throwing away a Chlorox just with about 2-3" of gas in it. "Here dude...take this...you will need it," he offered. "When you get to the exit to Bahia De Los Angeles, there will be a guy selling gas out of the back of his truck on the side of the road."

So, this time, I stop, and the guy gives me 2 gallons of gas. I gave him $200 pesos for 2 gallons of gas. My calculations are that it cost me $5.88 per gallon, which isn't bad, considering.

Now that I have a GPS, I see what the road does. Mexico 1 turns and follows the dead center of the peninsula for some distance here. There are mountains on each side of me. I can only assume that they are on the coasts.

The desert would be a horrible place to die. This occurs to you over and over. So many things could go wrong. The roads are not good. We're constantly climbing and descending again through these mountains. The roads are not good. Lots of paving. Lots of potholes.

I pass some free range cows on the road.

Occasionally, the odd car stopped on the side of the road. I do not stop to help them.

At every bad curve, the rails are taken out. Glass. Broken cars. Sort of a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world on parade.

It's hot, of course.

I'm driving across the desert in the heat of the day. A smarter person would have left earlier.

I have petrol. And lots of water, Gatorade, and Jumex and Sponch.

But seriously, it's hard to imagine what made me think that I wanted to cross this desert again. It's hard to know what the thought process was. I'm driving for hours through this sweltering heat, sweating like a whore in church.

When I get to the place where I ran out of gas last time, I recognize it. I know exactly where I am now. Mountain range on each side. Cacti as tall as telephone poles. This is where he was. For sure.

I look at the mountains in the distance, and I've tossed this around in my head countless times since I ran out of gas in the Punta Prieta desert....I feel like, on paper, the baja peninsula is not all that wide. So, worst case scenario, I could have walked to either coast. This is what I tell myself once I got home from that adventure.

But now that I'm back in the desert, I see how impossible that would be. Imagine marching through a field of cacti in the heat of the day. It's impossible. You'd have to shelter in place until the heat of the day was gone, and there is no shelter in the desert. If you could walk to the coast, in theory, in practice, you'd be bled out by the cacti long before you got to either coast. And you'd pass out from heat exhaustion.

The desert is just indescribably inhospitable.

Now, I see the sign for Bahia De Los Angeles, and this time, I take the exit. Now, I'm heading roughly east down a road I've never been down before.

Not much different than before, but I'm glad to be getting closer to my destination.
Now, I'm only 20 miles from a hotel, I think.

Only now, I notice, no one else is on the road. I pass no one. No one passes me.

Finally, after what seems like an eternity, I roll down the hill into Bahia Del Los Angeles. It's truly stunning. Islands dot the Sea of Cortez in all directions. Unless I'm mistaken, I believe I can see across to the other side of the Gulf of California.

I'm so happy to be alive and out of the desert.

I drive through town until I find a boat launch. Immediately strip down, change into my bathing suit, and swing in the gulf. I had people convince me that it would be too warm, but it's not. It's a perfect temperature, like the gulf of Mexico.

Then, I climb out and drive through town until I find a hotel with internet, A/C, and hot water showers. now, I'm at the "Guillermo's on the Beach". I tried to get a room here, but they were all booked up.

Update: It turns out that there's some sort of huge fishing tournament going on. Some guy from San Diego brought a bunch of his friends down here, and they booked up all of the rooms in town for some fishing tournament. The place I'm staying at basically lied and said they had A/C. Well, maybe in theory they have A/C, but I'm sweating like a whore in church and there are certainly no controls in my room where I can control the A/C, of course. But, I can't seem to find any other rooms either so...yeah...there is that.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 29, 2016 at 7:20 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Posada San Martin Hotel in Vicente Guerrero

In the morning, I come out and the ocean air is cool. Hibiscus flowers and palm trees and gently blowing breeze.

I walk outside wearing just a bathing suit and a man looks at me.

"Amigo, we have cookies and coffee here for you," and I think about that.

Like, this is the place we're supposed to be afraid of. This is what the new media has us convinced is so dangerous. It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.

We sit down and start eating cookies and sipping coffee. And I tell him where I'm going. He's also been to Muleje, Loretto, Las Barillas, La Paz, Todos Santos, Cabo, Bahia Los Angeles. It's so rare to run into people that have been to these places, even down here.

Finally, it dawns on me that he owns the hotel. Duh.

But still, the coolest little hotel on the planet.

I ask him about the mariscos in San Quintin. Yes, the place closed down a few years ago. He used to sell seafood on the side of the road, but he sold the place to a gringo. And then the gringo tried to redevelop it, but got into financial trouble or legal issues and now there's just nothing there but a fading mariscos sign. Sigh. And so it goes.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 29, 2016 at 10:32 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 28, 2016

Return to Baja

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Posada San Martin hotel in the town of Vicente Guerrero, in the state of Baja California Del Norte, Mexico.

This is roughly the route I took today:

Starting Odometer: 42,993
Ending Odometer :43,287
Miles Driven Today: 294

I left work at 1:15 pm and I was in Mexico heading south on Mexico 1D at 3:15.
So, I'd say it took me about 2 hours to get out of the country.

By 4:00 p.m., I'm eating a late lunch on the beach at Rosarito. Tons of people, mostly Mexicans. There's some band playing loud obnoxious music, as always.

Somewhere in San Diego, on I-15, I see the football stadium and suddenly I know where I am. Like, I think that this is the best part of traveling. To look around and realize where you are, when you haven't been there in 5 or 10 years.

And now, I realize that my GPS is routing me into a border crossing that's east of the crossing I normally take on I-5. So, I panic, and drive off road for a little bit to get over onto I-5.

Now, I'm rolling south on I-5, and I missed most of downtown San Diego, but I'm OK with this.

Today at work, a guy I work with asks me if I'm getting insurance for Mexico. I just laugh. Like, I'm not clear if I have insurance for the U.S. And I'm sure as fuck not going to buy it for Mexico.

I exit close to the border to get ready for Mexico. I have to stop to gas up, get some gatorade. Things like this.

Things I told myself I'd never ride without when I ran out of gas in the Punta Preita desert of Baja last time.

In the desert, the two principal comodities are Gas and Water. So, I stop and gas up. Then I get some gatorades for the ride.

And I head south again towards the border.

I roll across the border into Mexico. They never stop you.

As I roll across the Mexican border everything is gridlock. So I just start lane splitting and
now they're routing us around some road construction through this third world hell of
rusting rebar and now, 2 other motorcycles are racing me across Tijuana. Every intersection is a game of chicken.

Who knows who has the right away? Who cares? It's just this madness of honking and beeping and turning and braking and finally, we get back onto the main drag so we're heading west towards the beach and I know where we are again.

And I have my GPS this time. So that helps.

There's a left turn for Mexico 1D and I always miss it. Every freaking time. But not this time. This time, I see the turn, turn left and now I'm heading south on Mexico 1D and I come to the toll road. It's 15 pesos or 85 cents.

I pay the guy and now I'm rolling south along the beautiful coastline. It's cooler on the coast, of course. Suddenly, I don't feel like my spleen is going to boil or I'm going to die any more.

Now, I'm rolling south, looking at all of the construction. Development seems to have exploded down here.

I see an exit for Rosarito, and I take it. Now, it's under construction. So, I pull up and ask them what to do. The dude is like...just go man. So now, I'm driving down this dirt path that is under construction. The guy is driving a steam roller right beside me. I'm spinning all over the dirt they've laid down. This would never happen in the USA.

I finally find a beach at Rosarito, but there's no one here. So I ask the guy..."Donde la playa?"

He tells me to go south a few more blocks down the boulevard to the main drag.

The main drag is just a circus of whistling and honking and every man for himself.

Finally, I see a road that seems to go down to a fairly crowded beach. I stop my bike at the end of a little alley that ends at the sand.

Water running through the street reeks of raw sewage.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with my gear...my bike...my clothes...all of this shit
because I want to go down to the beach and swim in the ocean.

Finally, it dawns on me. This guy's shirt says "Parking" in English.

I ask him if he will park my bike. Of course. If I eat at the restaurant, and sit out on the tables on the beach, then parking is free. Change into my bathing suit, in the parking lot and now I'm sitting on the beach as the tide comes in, washing away the tables and
pushing the cart vendors scurring from the crashing waves.

All of this. All of this is Rosarito. Beautiful.

Return to San Quintin

I am trying to make it to San Quintin (Sahn Kah-TEEN). No real reason, per se. I mean...I've been here before, and I'm trying to get some miles under my belt today, so San Quintin was a town that I remembered from last time, and it ends up being about 300 miles from Riverside.

So, if I'm following my standard (preferred) 300 miles/day habit, then San Quintin is a good place to stop for the night. I'd like to make it as far as El Rosario, where I spent the night last time, but I'm afraid that will be too far for today.

When I get to Ensenada, I ask a guy how far it is to San Quintin and he assures me that it's 4 hours, which is hard to imagine, since it's only 100 miles away, according to my GPS.

But now, I start driving, and, just south of Ensenada, the road turns inland. And what's odd about this is that I don't recall this deviation from the coast. At all.

This trip is sort of an interesting one, for a variety of reasons. My motorcycle trip from San Diego to Cabo and back in October of 2009, so 7years ago, roughly. And that was the start of all of my big motorcycle adventures.

It was a ground-breaking life-style changing event for me. Ever since then, I've done big motorcycle trips every year, pretty much. But this is the first time that I've ever returned to Baja, where it all began. For me anyway.

What I recall from last time is that I drove down the coast from San Diego, and spent the night in El Rosario.

In my mind, that trip was pretty much all following Mexico 1D, and Mexico 1, down the coast. I was stopped last time at a military checkpoint near the end of the toll road, probably at Rosarito or Ensenada.

And I didn't take a lot of pictures that first day. As in hardly any.

And this time, all of the military checkpoints are gone. But the road doesn't go where I remember. And I didn't take any photos. And it occurs to me that I don't really remember the trips. What I remember is the photos of the trip.

I'd really like to get to San Quintin, only because I remember that there used to be some stands on the side of the road where they sold mariscos (sea food). I know this because someone told me about them when I was in Ensenada. But I don't think they're there any more because I told Erol about them last year and he sent me a photo showing that they were all out of business, I think.

So, I sort of have these tenuous memories of San Quintin, and I'd like to go there, and it's about 300 miles for the day.

But south of Ensenada, the Mexico 1 is just horrible. Who knows what happened to it, but it's just ruined. And we're diverted every so often to drive down through these gravel/dirt roads. And maybe that's why the guy said it would take 4 hours to get there. The roads suck so bad.

But now, the sun is setting. And I'm so tired. Really tired. I'm not clear why, but it's that sort of "on-the-road-and-not sure I can do-300-miles-today" tired.

And, honestly, I do not have a plan. I mean...if it can be said that I have a plan, what I'd like to do is go to Bahia Los Angeles, and return north up the Sea of Cortez on that side of the isthmus, which I've never seen before. But I mean...this is sort of a back-of-the-envelope sort of plan.

In all honesty, I'm just winging it. I just don't really have any reason to be in Denver, so I'm in Baja type situation. That's all there is really.

I'm just sort of down here kicking around, really. Sort of like when you go down to the altar and the priest gives you something in a cup. You know you're going to drink it and who the fuck knows what's in the cup. That's sort of where I am.

I'm just down here saying "deal". Racing across the Baja.

This part of the Baja is much more verdant than I recalled. They're growing irrigated crops on both sides of the roads. And the sun is setting. And lord god I've got to get off of the road when it gets dark. There are so many reasons not to be riding around down here I can't begin to name them.

You can't see the road. Or the turns. Or the loose farm animals. Or feral dogs. Or tires in the road. Bandits. Lots of reasons really.

But, for some reason, I am so focused on getting to San Quintin, that I won't stop. And I'm riding 80 mph because I'm 40 miles out and that means I'll be there in 30 minutes. I'm following that sort of logic.

It gets darker and darker until it's so dark I can't see the road. And now, I'm rolling through some little town...I'm not clear where...and suddenly the road goes away. Like...all of hte sudden, I'm driving down gravel and there's some large rock/boulder in front of me
and I"m not even on the road anymore. And somehow, I dodge the rock/boudler, and the bike nearly goes down, but it doesn't somehow.

By the grace of god. And I'm like...OK. That's it. Fuck this. This is why I don't ride at night. I'm not riding another meter.

And I pull up and there's a sign that says Hotel Mission Inn And I park. Walk up to the building, and open the door.

But it looks like a restaurant. Not a hotel. Somehow.

"Hotel? Donde hotel?" I ask the guy at the desk.

"It's next door," he answers me in perfect English.

"Gringo stupido," I laugh, and I walk outside to get on my bike.

The guy follows me out and asks me if I like beer, and if so, what is my favorite kind.

"Tecate," I laugh. Get on my bike. Ride next door to plead for a room.

And, I'm arguing with them over the rate, when I finally grasp that they don't even have any rooms available. So, I'm not really negotiating from a position of strength.

But they take pity on me and call around and find me another hotel room, 1 km back up the road I came down on. Mexico 1.

I can't remember the name of the hotel to save my life. So they write it down for me on a card.

When I go outside, the Raul is coming out of the restaurant, with an open 12 ounce Tecate long neck.

He hands it to me in the parking lot.

I want to cry. Who does that?

Get on my bike, ride 1 km back up the road, find the hotel. And I go to check in, but I'm so tired,

The room key number is either a 6 or a 9, depending on how you look at it. I walk in on a girl in Room 6. We were both surprised.

Turns out, it was a 9, not a 6. But I can't find room 9. So, I go back into ask for help about 3-4 times.

Finally, the hotel clerk gets me to my room, but now I can't figure out how to work the A/C.

Now, I return to the restaurant for dinner where the guy gave me a free beer, only he's not here anymore.

I try to explain to the other waiter what had transpired, in broken spanish. Of course, he speaks perfect english.

"What does he look like?" he asks. But that's not how the brain works. I can't do that. I might recognize him if I see him again. But I can't tell you what he looks light. At all.

Finally, the other guy shows up.

His buddy tells me that I looked so exhausted when I got off my bike, that the guy felt bad for me and handed me a beer.

I'm sure it was not a pretty sight.

Now, it's 9:43 p.m. I'm going home to get in bed in my room at the Posada San Martin hotel.

Update: I'm in the Posada San Martin hotel in the town of Vicente Guerrero, in the state of Baja California Del Norte.

This is roughly what I will attempt to do tomorrow. I'll cross the Punta Prieta Desert and run out to Bahia Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 28, 2016 at 11:55 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 26, 2016

Return to Hell

On the plane, we take off in the dark. There's a man up in front of me and I'm reasonably sure he will die on the plane. He's coughing like he won't live.

The fight attendants scurry to the back of the plane to be as far from him as possible. I have on my bose acoustic noise canceling headphones.

We land at Ontario, and there's the police sitting out there on the tarmac. So odd to see police parked on the runway, but always they are here.

Now, we spill out in front of the terminal 4 waiting on the shuttle for long term parking. I get tired of waiting and decide to walk down to Parking Lot 5. This turns out to be a mistake, I think. I walk past the man in the box. He sits in there and charges people when the leave. But now, he sees me walking by him carrying a motorcycle helmet.

And then, I drive across the sidewalk and leave without paying. But, this is sort of tricky because I end up driving the wrong way down the street for a bit. I'm sure he noticed that I didn't pay. Next time I'll take the shuttle, so we don't have this issue. Also, flying in this late makes it much more visible, obviously.

Now, I'm riding down I-10 and, it's true that I rode my motorcycles in 2 different timezones today, but it wasn't really like I'd imagined. The KTM handles a lot differently than the XR, and I'm racing down I-10 in a hairdryer of hot air and sweat. Exhausted. Near collapse. This is close to something, but I'm not sure what. Close to collapse, really.

I go back to the Motel 6. They already have me ready when I check in. They remember my name and everything and stick me in the back of the Motel 6.

The third week in a Motel 6 is when you realize that you have to kill yourself, if for no other reason than to maintain your dignity.

This is no place to live. Everything is closed. I end up driving to a gas station and forcing myself through the panhandlers to get some snacks for dinner.

They're like walking zombies. It never gets cold here, so they sort of just wander around like the walking dead.

I crash hard in the motel, and now the alarm is ringing and it's morning. I turn it off, but soon it is ringing again. I've set multiple alarms because Tuesday morning is our status meeting, and I need to be there.

Now, racing down the highway on my KTM, going into work. Somehow, this is my 3rd week and I still need a GPS to drive 6 miles to work. I walk into the meeting like a zombie. Barely awake. Barely alive.

Now, meetings and meetings to review progress of the test cases, and I don't really have any progress. Just muddled confusion and spreadsheets and timesheets and meeting after meeting and coffee and more coffee.

You just can't imagine the complexity of these meetings. We run sharepoint to share desktops, and no one can keep up with what's going on. It's just screen after screen and app after app and I'm just biting my nails, hoping that no one can smell the fear.

When will I be done? I have no idea what they're even talking about. "Thursday." Always Thursday.

There's no way I'm going to get on a plane on Thursday. Instead, I'll drive down to Rosarito, Mexico, Baja California Del Norte.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 26, 2016 at 12:42 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Gilpin County Courthouse

Not Like This

I can't really tell you what my life is like. And by that, I mean, I'll try.

This morning, I have a court date in Gilpin County. Why? because I'm not capable of following the law. It all goes back to a day last summer when I was riding with some random guy I met on the road, and we ended up at the Rollinsville Tunnel. Probably in a place we weren't supposed to be. Technically. Not that it matters. But, we roll up there to get some photos at the tunnel. What we didn't know is that the area is remotely monitored from Kansas or Nebraska.

So, the Gilpin County Sheriff's deputies stopped us shortly thereafter and that was the beginning of my saga with the courts of Gilpin County.

In any event, to make a short story long, they charged us with about every crime you could think of, but promised to drop all of the charges if only we'd donate $300 to our favorite charity and provide them proof of the donation.

Needless to say, I immediately left the country, drove to Mexico, and never bothered to pay the $300 to any charity. At all.

Fortunately, Jennifer opens my mail, and she left the letter from Gilpin County where I stumbled across it and it said I had a court date today, July 25th at 9:00 a.m.

Now, I'm very nervous about this, of course, as I really, really, really don't like going to jail. And I have a pretty good idea that that's where I'm heading. I mean, never mind the fact that I failed to meet the requirements of my Deferred Adjudication....I suspect that I may also have outstanding warrants for my arrest. I'm sure I've got some unpaid tickets, in any event.

Also, I'm supposed to be in Los Angeles this morning.

So, I email my boss and tell him that I'm going to have a court date in Colorado. We don't really go into the specifics of why it is that a grown man can't live his life without the involvement of the court system.

But only I tell him I'm fly in later tonight, and I head up to Gilpin County Court House at about 8:00 a.m.

Now, I'm very nervous about this, and I'm reasonably sure I'm going to go to jail, so I don't even bother to buy a ticket back to Denver from LA because, if I'm in jail, I certainly won't need an airline ticket.

I donate $300 to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, screen shot every screen, and the confirmation email. Dump it all to a printer. Shove the paperwork into a manilla folder, shove this into the back of my motorcycle riding pants, and take off.

On the way to Gilpin County, I'm breaking about every law in the books. Speeding. Passing on a double yellow line. Pretty much Mad-Max type of driving because, if I'm late, I'm hosed. So, I'm racing up the Peak to Peak highway 119 like a lunatic, heading towards the Gilpin County Court House.

It occurs to me that, if I don't end up in jail, then later today, I'll be driving a motorcycle in California, instead of Colorado. Which is sort of an odd thing to think about. A peculiar realizataion.

Somehow, I get to the Gilpin County Court House without getting a ticket for speeding, wreckless driing, etc. This time, I don't have as many electronics as last time. Also, I decide that I'll keep all of my electroncis turned off. Last time, the judge castigated me publicly for having my cell phone on and using it during court. So, this time, I won't make the same mistakes.

I find my name on the door, again, and walk into the court, again.

There are a few people in the room. About a dozen inmates in prison orange. Two deputies guarding over them. A court clerk. The prosecuting attorney. The public defender. And then the judge walks in. Slowly, it dawns on me....I know them all. I know every one of these people. Not that that's anything to be proud of. It isn't. It's a sad testament to the fact that I can't get my life together and I'm still acting like a 9 year old.

I'm sitting here in the court house trying to think of what my story will be.

Should I tell them that I mailed them a copy of my canceled check back in December but they must have just lost it? Like, lying under oath is a crime. It's called perjury. Produicing falsified documents in court is also a crime. It's called Libel.

So, I'm in court, trying to think up the best story I can dream up, when the smoking hot chick calls my name. I stand up, and now i remember her from last time. Last time, I hit on her. I asked her out, as I recall. Beautiful blone chick. Smoking hot. Makes a grown man want to bite his nails.

But instead, I just show her my documents, showing that I paid the $300.00.

"OK. We'll move to rescind the motion to reinstate the deferred adjudication."

"Do I need to do anything else/" I ask.

"No. That's all. You're free to go."

And with that, the beautiful blonde prosecutor turns and walks away, and I walk out into the sunlit parking lot.

Now what? What now? Like...I was pretty sure I'd be in jail at this point, but that didn't happen. I'm free to go. I've got to catch a plane tonight to Los Angeles, but other than that, I'm a free man.

I ride around Gilpin County and Clear Creek County for a little bit. Grab lunch at Carl's Junior. Now back to my house. I connect into work out in LA and send the boss some emails to demonstrate how much work I'm getting done.

And I do get some work done.

Eventually, I walk over to my neighbors and bother them for a bit. They poor me some wine and I check their progress with their chicken coop. They're trying to make a cage that is strong enough to keep my cats away from their chickens. After dinner, I go to my other neighbors. We drink some beers and eat chinese food. and watch one of my cats stalking birds in an open field across the road. I feel kinda bad for the birds up here. My cats do kill a lot of birds. I can't deny that.

At 8:30 p.m., I leave for the airport to fly to Los Angeles. I don't have a ticket to fly back to Denver because I wasn't sure I'd be able to travel. Now, without a return ticket, and no compelling reason to return, I decide to spend the weekend in Mexico.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 26, 2016 at 12:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 20, 2016

Plastic Jesus builds a wall around Trumps Star on Hollywood Boulevard


Posted by Rob Kiser on July 20, 2016 at 2:06 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 19, 2016

Deleting Photos from MacBook Air w/ El Capitan

I deleted thousands of photos and videos from my MacBook Air to free up some space, but of course, this doesn't free up any space because apple sucks so fucking bad.

Now you have to go to Albums and click on the left arrow to go to the top level/Root of the albums. Once you are there scroll through the albums and you will see "Recently Deleted". Go there and delete the Photo's/Videos.

Fuck. You. Apple.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 19, 2016 at 11:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Garmin Montana 600 Battery Save Option

So now that I figured out how to charge my Garmin Montana 600 while it's plugged in with the USB cable, I want to turn off all of the Battery Saving/Power Saving Options.

Set Up - Display - Battery Save - Off

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 19, 2016 at 9:50 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 18, 2016

Updating Maps on Garmin Montana 600

So, I installed this app on my MacBook Air called "Garmin Express".

It identifies any USB connected Garmin GPS. It found my Garmin Montana 600

Device: Montana 600
Serial Number: 2JN058873

Add Device.

Software updates available.

Software version 6.80

Registered to: rob.kiser@gmail.com

So, I'm not really clear what, if anything, that did.

Disconnect GPS.

Validating update...
Software Loading...
Loading photos....
Loading maps...

Only now do I realize what the problem is. Meridian Parkway is not in Riverside, CA. It's in March Air Reserve Base, CA.

So, this means that every email I received was wrong, as far as the addresses were concerned. Doh!

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 18, 2016 at 2:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 17, 2016

Power converters to convert Spain and Italy to USA

So, in the USA, most of our electronics are powered by 110v AC at 60 Hz..

Spain, apparently, is like most of Europe. In Spain, electric power comes through at 220 volts and at 50 Hertz. Though similar to most of Europe, this differs from the 110-120 volts at 60 Hz North America electrical standard. Certain types of equipment from North America won't work properly if it does not have a built-in capability to work with 220 volt power supplies.

My MacBook Air has a power charger that says "45W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter".

Jen's MacBook Air has a power adapter that says "60W MagSafe Power Adapter" with a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter.

So, this site says that the Apple Power Supply is pretty much set up to convert anything from any country. All you need is the correct connector to the AC Power Adapter.

Italy is pretty much doing their own thing.

Apple has this World Traveler product that seems like it would do the trick.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 17, 2016 at 8:40 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 16, 2016

Charging the Garmin Montana with USB Cable

So, the problem with the Garmin Montana that I have is that when I plug in the USB cable, it automatically goes into the data mode, which is not what I want.

It finally bothered me enough to study the problem more in depth.

There are apparently two ways to charge the Garmin Montana.

One is with a USB cable, and one is with a cable that came with the Garmin Montana, reportedly.

So, I decided that I needed to figure out how to charge it with the other cable.

But then tonight, I found this post, which makes me think I can solve the issue with the USB cable.

Enable spanner mode: Setup--> System --> Interface --> Garmin Spanner

When set for Spanner mode...
Hook it up with usb and when it asks Mass Storage? , press No, and it can be used even without batteries in it.

OK. So, now I'll try this. I'll change the Interface from Garmin Serial to Garmin Spanner.

Now, when I connect the USB cable, it says "USB Cable Detected. Would you like to go to Mass Storage." I select "No".

Now it works, and charges at the same time. Lord God I wish I'd found this years ago when I bought this silly thing.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 16, 2016 at 8:27 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Copying .gpx files from California trip

1) Launch EasyGPS.
2) Click on "Receive (from GPS)" icon.
3) Click OK.

So, now I see them in my EasyGPS app, but there's no topo map or anything. So, I save them off as s:\garmin\2016_california.gpx

Now, to upload them onto a map.

Go to http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/

Select your .gpx file.

Click Map It.

So, here is a map of my trip from Denver to California (and back).

I should point out that I have always charged the Garmin Montana 600 via a USB cable at night with my MacBook Air. However, when the USB cable is plugged in, the Garmin Montana is pretty much useless, as it just shows a screen indicating it is connected to a computer, and can't really be bothered to function as a GPS.

As a result, the GPS isn't always charged, and doesn't always record where you are.

Finally, this bothered me enough to go online and see if there isn't a way to make the Garmin Montana function all of the time. As it turns out, there is another little connection where you can plug in a dc power supply to keep it running all of the time. Who knew?

So, maybe then I will finally have this GPS working all of the time.

Deleting Tracks from the Garmin Montana 600.

Click on Up arrow at bottom center of screen on Garmin Montana 600.
Click on Track Manager.
Click on Archived Tracks.
Select the top track.
Click on Delete.
Click on Delete again.
Rinse. Repeat.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 16, 2016 at 6:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 13, 2016

Locals want palapa torn down

The locals around here are trying to get a surf shack, aka a palapa, torn down. This one has been in place for 30 years.


Posted by Rob Kiser on July 13, 2016 at 7:09 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 12, 2016

Flight Status - 2768

Check Flight Status online for Southwest Airlines:

1) Go to https://www.southwest.com/air/flight-status/index.html

2) Click on "Search by Flight Number".

3) Enter Flight 2768.

4) Look at the arrival time for Denver. ETA is 7:25 p.m.

You should also be able to just click on this link, and it should show you the arrival time for flight 2768 into Denver on Thursday 7/14.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 12, 2016 at 4:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 11, 2016

Day 1: First day at the office in Riverside

In the morning, I wake up and evaluate my situation. I'm in a Motel 6 in Riverside, Kalifornia. I haven't dry-cleaned anything in so long I can't remember. The clothes that I brought out in my little CC Filson bag are wrinkled and dirty. I can't recall the last time I shaved. My

So, it's not like Riverside is all that bad. I mean, it's not great. Don't get me wrong. But it's not quite as bad as I had imagined. I was thinking it would be like Watts and Crenshaw, famous for the "Watts Riots" back in the 1960's.

But really, Riverside is more like a sort of dystopian desert, a middle-class enclave in the deserts east of Los Angeles. Here, there are occasionally the low-rider vehicles, and the urban gangster blacks, but mostly, the sun beats whatever strife they had out of them long before the day is done. It's much too hot to carry on a real concerted revolution. Anything that takes co-oridination will be over long before it starts.

This is sort of a hopeless, suffering, suburban hell, but it's no more dangerous than say, Tijuana or Matamoros.

I worked in Detroit. Cleveland. Pittsburgh. I can handle this.

At 9:00 a.m., I walk up to the front door of the building. A voice from God asks me if I'm Rob Kiser. Somehow, he knows. "Yes. That's me..." the door buzzes to indicate it's unlocked. And I swing open the door to see that God is just a black man in a security uniform. He was watching me through the glass.

I'm just so glad to be out of the sun there aren't words. You want to race to the water fountain and drown yourself in cool, sterile water. But that would be brash. Uncouth. Unexpected. You don't want to seem desperate.

They take me upstairs and tell me to pick a cube. Any cube. They're sort of these cut-down cube walls so that you can see through the whole building. From one end of this large warehouse out in the desert. Lizards crawling in for the shade. Anything to escape the roasting desert sands. Lizards. Toads. Iguanas. Geckos. Creatures I've never seen before.

Other people walk down the fur-lined halls, bouncing so the whole building resonates. The more they weigh, the worse it shakes. I've worked in San Francisco and Redwood Shores enough to know what an earthquake feels like. And every time a cow goes marching past, I'm half-way under my desk before I realize that it's not an earthquake. It's just some woman that doesn't believe in moderation.

I pick a cube and now I'm sort of sitting at my cube, minding my own business. By 10:00 a.m., no one has shown up to acknowledge my presence. By 11:00 a.m., I'm ready to hang myself. This is what's wrong with the publik sektor. It's not their money. No one cares. No wonder this project is in trouble.

It doesn't matter how much they're paying you to do nothing. It isn't fun. I want to have some work to do, people. Oh Christ I pray that some people show up that have an idea what's going on. At 11:30, my savior walks in. He's been expecting us. He takes us around and introduces us to some other people that are also working on the project.

It's hard to believe that this world is real. That anything matters. Two guys are commuting here from Chicago. They just flew in this morning. They ask about my helmet and I'm like...."uh....I drove out here." Like, it's hard to explain that to...well...anyone really. Like...why on earth would you drive out here on a motorcycle across the Great American Desert? Why indeed.

The lady next to me is trying to connect into the system. Connect to the database. She keeps asking me all of these questions and I'm like....Look...I took this role as a functional person. I'm not going to be doing a bunch of technical work. That wasn't in my contract.

She keeps asking me how I connected to the mail server and I'm like...what makes you think I can remember how I got it working? It was a miracle I found a Motel 6 last night.

The lady next to me starts going into diabetic shock, and asks me to go get her a vanilla milkshake. So, I get her a vanilla milkshake, and when I come back, there's a note in my chair that we're in a meeting. So, I walk into the meeting. They ask questions in the meeting, but I'm just clueless. The lady beside me is drinking her vanilla shake, and answering all of the questions. "Yeah...that was in an email you sent us. I saw that already."

In the middle of the meeting, they come in and announce that I need to move my motorcycle. Like...I'm 50 years old and parked on the sidewalk like a teenager.

"Oh...I OK. I'm in Visitor parking. I guess I should move it..."

"Well...Visitor Parking is normally not a problem..."

"I'll just move it," I offer. And get up and leave the room.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 11, 2016 at 2:36 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Copying Files from MacBook Air to Windows 7 PC over RDP Tunnel

So, I'm trying to copy files from my MacBook Air to a Windows 7 PC over an RDP tunnel. But, it won't let me. Big surprise.

I'm not clear what version of RDP I'm currently running. Hmmmm.

"Apple - About This Mac" shows I'm running OS-X El Capitan version 10.11.1.



Looks like the latest edition of RDP is: Apple Remote Desktop Client 3.8.4

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 11, 2016 at 11:37 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 10, 2016

Day 8 - Saturday(7/10) - La Jolla, San Diego to Riverside, CA

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in Riverside, CA.

Starting Odometer: 42,245
Ending Odometer: 42,424
Miles driven today: 179 miles

So, I woke up this morning and drove around a bit. The first thing I wanted to find was where we used to watch the seals or sea lions or whatever they are at La Jolla, so I drove down and found the cliffs about them and got some photos with the 400 mm lens.

Then, I decided I wanted to find where I used to work, at PetCo's corporate headquarters. It's moved, of course. So, it took me a while to chase it down, mainly because I was looking for it east of the I-5, when actually, it's east of the 805. I was kind of curious why I couldn't find Miramar Air Force base. Finally, I realized it was east of the 805, and I drove right to it. Basically, the whole place is shuttered and closed.

PETCO Headquarter Campus - 8945 Rehco Rd, San Diego, CA

But this is kind of cathartic for me...to go back and find where I used to work, used to live, used to play, etc.

Then, I decided to bolt for Riverside, and figure out where I'm supposed to be in the morning. I found the location, and I rented a room about 5 miles away. So, worst case scenario, I'll have to lane-split for 5 miles tomorrow. Pray for me.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 10, 2016 at 7:18 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 9, 2016

Day 7 - Saturday(7/9) - Santa Maria to La Jolla, San Diego, CA

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in La Jolla, San Diego, CA.

Starting Odometer: 41,885
Ending Odometer: 42,245
Miles driven today: 360 miles

So, this morning I got up and left Santa Maria, trying as diligently as possible to stick to the coast. So, that meant that I was trying to follow CA-1, but occasionally also ending up on the US 101. So, I sort of drove down the coast in this manner. Cursing my GPS, and trying as hard as possible to follow the coast.

The first town of interest that I came to was Lompoc. Lompoc has always been an enigma to me because, the first (and last) time I was down here, some man told me: "Don't go to Lompoc. It's a bad town."

Now, I went through Lompoc last time, and had no issues. What I do remember fairly well though is a mural of some Indians paddling a canoe. And, this is what I like so desperately to see....to see something that I remember from before. Even if all I remember is the photos, I still want to see proof that I'm at the same exact place again, albeit several years later. I don't know why I find this so encouraging, but I do.

I have spent a lot of time trying to imagine what so bothered that man that he warned me about Lompoc. I do think there's a state prison there but, aside from that, I can find no major deficiencies in the town.

I stopped for gas and they were grilling Tri-tips in the parking lot. OK. Sure. Why not. $9.00? Set me up.

Now, I'm sitting here in the parking lot of a gas station eating my tri-tips and some man sits down to join me. He spends 9 months of the year in AZ, and the summers here in Lompoc. Apparently, the Tri-tip was invented in Lompoc. Back in Texas, all they had was brisket. The Tri-tip comes from the hind leg of the cow. Who knew?

I ask him if he knows where my mural is, and he tells me: "If there is one, it will be down there...in the old section of town."

So after lunch, I'm driving through Lompoc, and I find scads of murals. Way more than I'd imagined or remembered. So, I'm driving around and shooting lots of murals, and then, lo and behold, I found the famous mural of the indians rowing the canoe, exactly as I recalled it.

After Lompoc, I really don't think that I've ever been down here but once before, when I drove my Honda Prelude down to the border, planning on driving to El Salvador. But when I got to Chula-Juana, I chickened out and drove back across L.A. at 3:00 a.m. to avoid traffic.

OK. There was one other time. I used to work for a company here just north of L.A., and I tried to surf at Malibu, and failed.

OK so...my plan today was to drive through Lompoc, then to Santa Barbara, and Malibu, then Riverside, CA, out in the deserts east of LA.

At some point I see a guy selling fresh strawberries on the side of the road. So I stop, of course. Life is too short to pass up fresh fruit. And I've been wanting some strawberries since I smelled them in the strawberry fields yesterday.

So, I stop and choke down some strawberries. The guy admitted something to me that I've heard before, but have never had verified. In Mexico, they teach them not to mess with the gringos. Like, you can kill each other, but for the love of God, don't fuck with the tourists. They're our life-blood.

At Santa Barbara, you start seeing all of these drilling rigs out on the ocean. The first time I ever saw them, I was shocked. I couldn't imagine that California tree-huggers would allow anyone to drill off their coast. What I didn't know then, but researched, is that California had their oil spills first. That's why they were always so dead-set against drilling. They had their coastline painted in tar back in 1969, long before I was aware of the issue.

I'd planned to drive into the Riverside, in the deserts east of L.A. today, but once I got to Malibu, I decided to make a break for San Diego. Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!

I mean, basically, my thought process was:
a) No one in their right mind would go to Riverside if they didn't absolutely have to.
2) I don't really HAVE to be in Riverside until Monday at 9:00 a.m.
c) I would much rather be in La Jolla than Riverside, on any given Sunday.

So...yeah...basically I overshot my target by 150 miles.

But honestly, I don't know what to do in the deserts east of L.A. It doesn't sound like a nice place. And La Jolla is....well....La Jolla. So, yeah.

Now, I'm heading south of I-405, and the traffic starts backing up. I'm just sort of sitting in traffic and this BMW R1200GS comes blowing by me, lane-splitting. Now, lane-splitting is not technically legal in California, but it's widely tolerated. And, this guy is doing a trick that seems like it might be OK. He's lane-splitting between the Carpool lane and the left-most lane on the interstate. And there's a solid-double-yellow-line between the two lanes which means "do not cross". So, it seems like a fairly safe place to lane-split. So, I follow him. Plus, with him leading, it seems arguably safer for me, coming along behind.

Basically, we ride like this for some time, where we lane-split for a while, and then traffic starts to flow again. Eventually, I make ti down to La Jolla at about sunset. I decide that I've gone far enough for the day. Sure, I'd like to run down to Rosarito, but this will have to do. I'm tired and I stop to shoot some photos at La Jolla Beach at sunset.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 9, 2016 at 11:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 8, 2016

Day 6 - Friday(7/8) - SLO-town to Santa Maria

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in Santa Maria, CA.

Starting Odometer: 41,787
Ending Odometer: 41,885
Miles driven today: 98 miles

It's Not a Good Idea...

I've had a long drive today. I drove all the way from San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach, a distance of roughly 13 miles.

So, I finally get to Pismo, and I roll through town. I end up at the entrance to the Dunes, which is technically outside the city limits of Pismo Beach.

A man in a box guards the access to the beach.

"I wouldn't take that bike onto the beach," he offers. "It wouldn't be a good idea. People don't bring motorcycles like that down on the beach here. You might hit a soft spot..."

That's what the man in the box says. As if I care what he thinks. Like, I'm going to take advice on where to drive my motorcycle from a man who lives in a box. Like...dude...nobody asked for your opinion.

"How much does it cost to go on the beach?" I continue.

"Five dollars."

I hand him $5.00. He gives me a receipt and a piece of tape and starts fretting over where I should tape it.

"I think you should tape it here..." he offers hesitantly, "but it's up to you..."

I just tape it to the inside on the windscreen and drive onto the beach.

People are always trying to pour their fears into you. It's hard to know why. Is it altruism? Jealousy? Who could say for sure. But don't take advice from a man in a box, obviously. People who have given up their dreams will try to convince you to give up yours.

I drive onto the beach without dropping the bike. When I get down close to the water, I ask someone walking by to take my photo. They always look at the SLR like it's a Rubik's cube designed by demons. Like...how on earth could anyone master the complexity for this beast, and for what purpose?

But they blow through a frames and get some decent shots of me in spite of themselves.

Now, the waves come up onto the beach and even around the tires of the motorcycle. I should have listened to the man in the box. I beat a hasty retreat off of the beach and, by the grace of God, I don't drop the bike, although it's sliding all over the place in the sand.

I don't really know what I'm doing out here, of course. I mean...no sane man would spend the amount of time in the saddle that I do. I don't think there can be any argument against that.

And obviously, there's some fear there. Some indecision. Some second guessing. Now that I've made it to Pismo, I'm honestly having a hard time moving on. I don't really want to go any further. This is where my trips always end, really. I don't want to go to L.A. I never have wanted to go there. That's just sort of the inevitable conclusion. The final destination.

I'm also having a hard time with the calendar. I'm having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that today is Friday. As in, today is only Friday. Or, today is still Friday. Time seems to move very slowly when you're not working, and all you do is ride around the country on a motorcycle. I don't have to be at work until Monday, and I'm in no rush to get to Los Angeles. So, I think that I'll just hang out here for a few days.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 8, 2016 at 7:48 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 7, 2016

Day 5 - Thursday(7/7) - Farmer's Market in San Luis Obispo

Update: I am alive and well and eating dinner at the Famer's Market in Sn Luis Obispo, CA.

Starting Odometer: 41,510
Ending Odometer: 41,787
Miles driven today: 277 miles

So, I got up this morning, and said my goodbyes to David and Christine. I checked the forecast, and it didn't mention rain, but the SF coast is just socked in with fog. Surreal. Cold. Damp. And now, I'm driving down the Cabrillo Highway (Pacific Coast Highway - CA 1), and I'm thinking how odd it is that I'm somehow incapable of preparing for a motorcycle ride in the climates I've driven through. I feel like I go from too hot to too cold and back again.

I try to follow the coast, because my GPS is as useless at tits on a bull.

But, i get lost and lose the coast and have to stop and ask some old man for directions. I get back down to the coast in Pacifica. I need to get gas. And food. I'm not driving down the Pacific Coast Highway again, only to get stranded again, without food again. I"m not going to do that all over again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So, I find my old gas station, and stop to gas up. Buy some more snacks for the road and more gatorade. I won't travel without food and water.

"Why is it so cold and foggy out there?" I ask the gas station attendant.

"I dunno. It was sunny 2 days ago."

"I'm driving down to Cambria. I'm going got freeze to death," I whine.

He looks at me funny.

"You know...Cambria...it's down past San Simeon..."

He's never heard of Cambria. Or San Simeon. He's working behind the counter at a gas station. How does he even afford to sleep in this city, I wonder?

So, now I'm off, rolling south through the densest fog you've ever seen. I'm seriously scared I will run into a car in the fog.

But, I have one thought...How great would it feel to drive out of the fog? How great would that be?

I think about switching over to CA 35 (Skyline Drive), or to CA 101, or to I5. But, I decide to stick with the coast. This was the plan. Let's roll with it.

By the time I get to Half Moon Bay, it's starting to clear and I can see blue sky (granted only small patches, but it's a start). Slowly, the fog dissipates as I go south. And now, I'm so happy there aren't words. Now, I'm warm and it's sunny, and this was the drive I'd imagined. This is the ride I made happen. I did it. :)

Now, as I roll south, I'm trying to remember how many times I've been down here and, the truth is, it's not a simple thing to figure out. I think that I've been down this road quite a few times:

1) First, Michelle and I drove down the coast from San Francisco to San Simeon back when we were married. Maybe in 1996?

2) In Jan/Feb of 2013, I drove my blue Honda Prelude down to the border with Mexico, and then drove it back back when I worked for Genentech in South San Francisco. This blue Honda Prelude I Purchased in 2004 while living in South San Francisco, CA. Drove it down to Chula Vista in Jan/Feb 2004 after my project with Genentech was over. Spent the night in SLO-town. Sold it when I got back to South City.

3) I drove a Honda XR650L down here and abandoned it on the coast when it broke down. In May of 2012.

4) In June of 2012, I drove a Honda XR65L from Denver to SF on my NXNW route. This was to replace the bike that I lost down on the Pacific Coast Highway.

I believe I drove down to Pismo after the XR650L broke down on me on a different motorcycle. In 2012? And I had some work done on the bike at the Harley shop in Santa Maria. And I stayed at the Motel 6 in San Luis Obispo. The problem is that I don't have any records of this trip, for whatever reason. Hmmmm. And this was the last trip I took to Pismo. And, I think that I stayed there...and then came back. But where are my posts about the trip? Yes...I did go back down there, because I went back to 831 cycles, and saw my Honda motorcycle in their shop. They have since closed, but they were the ones that told me to buy a KTM 990 Adventure.

And I think that's the last time I drove down CA 1.

I find a nice little beach just north of 7 mile beach that I'd never seen before. I think it might be called 11 mile beach. Very nice spot.

I roll through Santa Cruz. Lots of surfers and people on the boardwalk.

Now, rolling south again. Moss Landing. Monterrey. This is where the Dennis the Menace park is with lion's head water fountain. I can't even bring myself to go there. It's much too painful for me to even consider.

Instead, I try to take the 17 mile scenic drive around Monterrey, but they won't let motorcycles on the road any more, for whatever reason.

So instead, I drive down the beach at Carmel. Now, people say things to me...they say...Oh I haven't been to Carmel. And this just pains me. There's no excuse, really.

Now, rolling south again. This is really a dream vacation. Like...I try to think about what I'm doing. I try to make sense of what's going on. None of it really makes sense, of course. Driving a motorcycle across North America is just an escape. It's not really a sound business decision, I don't think. More like a whimsical adventure dressed up to look like a logical plan to solve a transportation issue in a different time zone.

You can't really drive very fast on the Pacific Coast Highway. It's not really patrolled, per se, but there's a lot of traffic, and I'm not sure what the speed limit is, but it's not like it's very high.

Mostly, the trip is like I remember. I stop and shoot the Bixby Bridge, because I've never shot it before, for whatever reason.

Now, my plan is to make it to Cambria. But, when I get to Cambria, they want something stupid like $150 a night for a room at the Bluebird and I'm like...."that's not going to happen, dude". And I start looking around on Hotels.com. I can get a room in San Luis Obispo for $75 a night. So, I make a reservation on my cell phone and look around the Bluebird. Mainly, I'm here for catharsis. I walk around the grounds, trying to remember what it was like last time I was here.

Now, it's late in the day, but I'll drive to SLO town. The GPS is as useless as can be. Can't find the address of the hotel with my Garmin. Great. But I think I remember where it is. I think I stayed there last time I was down there. In this mysterious trip that I can't find documented anywhere.

So, I drive to the hotel. I check in. Now, I want to go back into SLO town. Again, I remember all of this very clearly from this mysterious last trip I took down here. I remember eating in a restaurant in SLO town.

But now, I drive into SLO town to eat, and the place is an absolute circus. As it turns out, every Thursday, they have a Famer's Market, and the place is an absolute riot. Complete circus. Bands playing. People selling food. The main street is packed. The main street (Higuera Street) is shut down.

Afterwards, people ride around the town in massive bicycle groups like Critical Mass.

Now, it's killing me that I don't have any records of my last trip to Pismo. WTF???

OK. I went back and read through my text messages from 4 years ago, and I see that I started texting Carrie right after I got back from Pismo. So, I was last in Pismo exactly 4 years ago (yesterday), to the day. 7/7/2012. I got "New tires. New front brakes. New chain."

So, I was last in Pismo 4 years ago. That helps. Lord getting old sucks.

OK. Here's the post where I mentioned I was in Pismo last. http://www.peeniewallie.com/2012/07/pismo-beach.html

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 7, 2016 at 9:07 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 5 - Thursday(7/7) - Fading Memories

All of these murals, and the pink bunny, are gone from the corner of Laguna and Haight.


Today, I will drive down to Cambria along the Pacific Coast Highway. The last time I drove down the Pacific Coast highway, my motorcycle broke down and I abandoned it on the side of the road. That was in May of 2012.


David and Christine are both on teleconferences, working from home. I'm just sort of lying here in bed watching the rain/fog hit the windows. The closest thing I can recall to this is 1997, when Michelle and I went on a cross country journey, checking in on people. I made a lot of money in 1996, so in 1997, we didn't work. Just drove around bothering people. The funny thing is that everyone else is always working. So, if you don't work, then it's really annoying that everyone else seems so hell-bent-for-leather on working all of the time.

Like...put down the phone. Let's drink an espresso and talk about MoFo and Sarah and Millie. Rob and Carol. But, this is sort of how it goes. You're either working, or you're not working, and there's precious little grey area in between.

I'd like to point out here something that Marc told me. I used to work with Marc on the UCSF project, and I couldn't really remember how it ended. The best I could guess was that it ran out of funding. But now that Marc and I have been talking about it, I recall now my version of how that project ended. To wit:

The project at UCSF came to a point where they didn't need me for a week or two. So I took off on my motorcycle for Alaska. Now, for clarification, on this journey, I didn't go to Deadhorse, AK. I went to Hyder, AK, the very southernmost point in AK. And then, the night that I got there, I woke up the next morning, Marc called me and told me the project was canceled. So then, I wandered back down to SF, and then drove home from SF to Denver. This was the first time I'd ever crossed the Great American Desert. As it turns out, this was in 2011, 5 years ago.

What's funny though, IMHO, is when I'm talking to Marc, this isn't how it really went. He says that I only had a few days off, and then when they were looking for me, I was up in British Columbia. So, it's not really how I recall it, but I'm not saying he's wrong either. Also, apparently, the Office of the President had firmly told UCSF not to go forward with the PeopleSoft implementation that we were attempting at the time.

Now, I'm going down to Riverside to work on the same implementation, but state wide. Meanwhile, Marc has moved up to the office of the president in Oakland. So, it's kinda funny how things go around.

Now, I start packing up my gear for the trip down to Cambria.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 7, 2016 at 8:17 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 4 - Wednesday(7/6) - The Haight and the Mission - Is Nothing Sacred?

So, today I ended up shooting a lot of Haight Street (Lower and Upper). A homeless guy fell out of his wheel-chair, which was upsetting to everyone around.

I really haven't shot the Haight in ages. It's changed a lot, of course. One of the most troubling things I discovered was the changes at Lower Haight and Laguna Street. It wasn't just murals that are gone...they demolished the entire block and rebuilt it, erasing the bunny statue that had been there.

Here's a story where they confirm what I'd suspected...they destroyed the rabbit and countless murals when they demolished the block and rebuilt it form the ground up.


Much of the rest of the Haight is pretty much as I recall it, but the loss of Jeremy Fish's pink bunny, along with countless murals, is an unforgivable crime, IMHO.

After shooting the Haight, I headed to Ceasar Chavez, looking for a bunch of murals I'd originally discovered when working for Genentech back in the day.

On the way there, I was driving south on Guerrero Street, I passed a guy that had been in a bad motorcycle accident. I'm pretty sure he didn't live.

Eventually, I stumbled onto them.

In the Mission, there are countless alleys off of 24th, all smothered in murals. Aside from the fairly well known Balmy Alley, there are also countless other alleys in the area. So, I slowly moved through most of the murals on 24th.

I tried to talk to a hispanic guy in Spanish and he was like, "Dude...I don't speak Spanish."

After I shot the Mission, I wandered back to North Beach, collected my things from Mark and Lara's place, and said goodbye. Then, I went to dinner in Pete's (formerly Amante's, owned my Whiz). After dinner, I went and met David and his wife for a second dinner.

Now, I really don't know what to do with myself. I really can't see putting off leaving the city for another day. I think that I really will have to start down the Pacific Coast Highway tomorrow. If I don't then I won't make it to Riverside by Sunday.

I should point out here that there are some issues with the bike. I'm not clear why, but it's hard to shift it into first, and it tends to die when I let out the clutch in first gear. I'm not clear what's going on. Also, the front wheel seems to have a wobble that is somewhat disconcerting. A more practical man might take it to Scuderia West to have it inspected. I, on the other hand, plan on driving it down the Pacific Coast highway tomorrow, as is, from SF to Cambria.

Cambria is the cool little town that I discovered last time when my Honda XR broke down on the Pacific Coast Highway.

I honestly don't think I've been down the Pacific Coast highway since then. In any event, I show it's about 5 hours / 230 miles down there. So, it shouldn't be a problem, I think. Tomorrow, it looks like a low of 54F, high of 63F in Monterey.

Cambria is about the same. I don't see any rain for tomorrow, so that's a plus.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 7, 2016 at 1:02 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

July 6, 2016

Day 4 - Wednesday(7/6) - Forged in the Fog - Caffe Trieste

This morning, Mark drags me out of bed and we walk down the street to Cafe Trieste for coffee. I never really understood his infatuation with this place, until I realized that he lives on Vallejo, and this is just a short walk to the bottom of the hill for him. It's just off Columbus, at the bottom of the hill, in North Beach.

On the way down the hill, we pass a building on the corner that is abandoned. It has no tenants. No businesses. It's just closed. And has been for 10 years.

"This really bothers me..." Mark offers.

"Por que?"

"Because...it's been closed for 10 years. They could have something here. Anything"...his voice trails off into the fog.

Slowly, it dawns on me...this is truly one of the few flaws of capitalism. Now, it's worlds better than socialism, which is what every hippy degenerate truly yearns for in their core, but this is a valid point. There's absolutely no excuse for having this building vacant in downtown San Francisco. It's worth millions of dollars, and someone, somewhere, so rich, is just sitting on it, and doing nothing with it.

I remember this from when I lived here last time. Entire city blocks, or large portions of them, are totally undeveloped. And there can be no justification for this, except as a true flaw in capitalism.

So now, we get some coffee and sit outside. I try to pay, but he won't let me of course.

Now, we're sitting outside in the cool mountain fog, and these homeless people come up and start talking to us. Tattered clothes. Frayed pants. Shoes worn down to nothing. Long beards. The quintessential hippie, beatnik, homeless look we've all seen.

Only now, they start talking, and they're talking about Jack Kerouac, the beatniks, Thoreau. Like...these guys know more about history than any people I've ever talked to. Now, the conversation turns, and they're talking about the baseball game last night.

Momo was just in Eugene and makes a living selling his art, somehow.

This is a favorite haunt of Epic Beard Man.

And, this is how it goes every morning. Every morning, they walk down here and drink coffee like clockwork and North Beach is their living room. It's so beautiful to see these friendships, forged in the fogs of North Beach.

There is a mural I looked for yesterday, but couldn't find. And, what's odd is that I have this photo in my downstairs bathroom....it's a mural of a screaming black man pointing a gun...and I can't find it. I feel like I need to find this mural before I leave the city. That maybe it will be the one mural that really can tell me whether San Francisco is getting better or worse. Whether gentrification has truly taken root, or whether there's hope for this city.

I text Jody and ask her to send me a photo of the mural. She sends the mural, and it clearly says on it 135 Buxome Street.

I want to take photographs, and I have my camera, but I'm not a photographer. A true photographer would be getting pictures. But I just sort of listen, surfing on their shoulders. Taking it all in. Wondering what is lost by living alone in the mountains of Colorado.

Why have i so perfectly secluded myself from society? For what reason did I feel compelled to do this?

There must have been some reason. There must have been some genesis. Some impulse that led me to conclude that the life of Ted Kazinsky must have been something admirable. Something worth emulating.

But now a caterpillar/front-end-loader pulls up out front, and they start tearing holes in the street. Everyone goes inside, but as soon as I sit down, they start playing some horrible jazz music,

The line is getting longer. The restaurant is getting louder. Maybe it would be better outside.

The table next to me has about a dozen middle-eastern men laughing and talking. I ask them where they're from. They're from North Africa, and they're all celebrating the first time they've eating in daylight for a month...it's the end of Ramadan, apparently.

At first, I eye them suspiciously. Why are there no women here? They probably abuse women and treat them like dogs, but then a woman comes in wearing a scarf and carrying a Fred Perry handbag with a daughter. All of the men stand up and greet them warmly. The woman, her daughter, a small boy. Much camaraderie. These people aren't terrorists. I just can't believe that. I can't go there.

Now, I'll leave for 135 Buxome Street, and another day of cruising around San Francisco.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 6, 2016 at 9:54 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

July 5, 2016

Day 3 - Tuesday(7/5) - The Mission, the Tenderloin, SOMA, and North Beach

So today, I got up and walked and drove all over the city. Mostly, I shot photos of murals, but I'm also shooting homeless people, tent cities, and other random things.

It's sort of funny but, when I first got here, I was sort of disoriented and lost. Now, after driving around for a day, I've got a lot of the city back under control. Every time I found a mural, I'd immediately remember where all of the surrounding murals were.

So, I kept driving from mural to mural and shooting. I did this first in the Mission. Then, I ended up trying to chase down the building in SOMA that has all of the furniture on the outside of it. IT's been there for years, and has tables and chairs and a bathtub on the exterior of the building.

Finally, I'm sitting on the corner of 6th and Howard, and I realize that...the building has been demolished and replaced. So, this is sort of sad. This is what they mean when they talk about gentrification.

So, I roll around, trying to find all of the other murals. A lot have been painted over. Some new murals have shown up in other areas of the city.

The city has really gone downhill since I was here last. Lots of trash in the streets. Lots of homeless tent cities popping up everywhere. People doing meth in broad daylight. It's not good, really. Hard to watch.

After 5:00 some time, Marc comes back. Lara met with Tim Cook today. Marc and I go out for dinner and drinks at Pete's place.

It's a tough live but someone has to do it.

It's a beautiful city, but you end up seeing all of the people all around us that are homeless and suffering.

Last night, we watched Inside Amy Schumer. Now, tonight the bartender tells me I have to watch Trainwreck with Amy Schumer.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 5, 2016 at 10:01 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

July 4, 2016

The Bird in the Bush: Day 2 - Monday(7/4) - June Lake, CA to SF, CA

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in North Beach, San Francisco, CA.

So, this morning, I got up and left my room at June Lake. Now, for the record, June Lake is insanely beautiful, and to think that I'd never even been there before disturbs me on so many levels there just aren't words. Not only had I never been there before, but I'd never even heard of the place. But it's spectacular, of course.

So, in any event, I get up this morning with the idea that I'll try to bolt out of here and make it into SF before the fireworks show tonight.

But I'm having a hard time with the timezone change. You wouldn't think that just gaining one hour would be so confusing, but nothing updated automatically. Not my phone. Not my laptop. Not my cameras. Not my Garmin. Not my KTM. So, everything has to be updated manually, and I'm so stupid that I can't figure out whether to add an hour or delete one.

So, finally, I blow out of June Lake. Stop off at the little store there in Lee Vining and get me some gatorade, some snacks for the road, and a YNP sticker for the bike. Like...let's not forget that, right?

I drive into the east entrance of Yellowstone at Lee Vining, and now I'm rolling through Yosemite park, and it's just stunning. Like...I forgot how beautiful this place is. And I'm stopping to shoot too much, and not making very good time. And eventually, I come to a little visitor center, but I don't really recognize it, so I stop in. And it's the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. And it says the other visitor center is something insane like 50 miles away. Like...I'd totally forgotten how large this silly park is.

So, I'm racing across the park going well above the posted speed limit. I'm not really clear why, but it appears to me that all of the redwoods in Yosemite are dying. Not clear why that is really. I remember I figured out a while back that they'd accidentally burned a large portion of Yosemite. But now, it looks like it's all dying.

Then, eventually, I come to the exit and take Highway 120 west from Yosemite. I really don't know what route I took to get to SF, because I couldn't get my Garmin Montana to navigate to the SF that was nearest me, of course.

It's hot as hell driving across the central valley, and I stop at a couple of roadside stands to eat peaches, which are delicious. I only get one, because I can't carry them, so they usually just let me eat for free.

In SF, Mark and Lara cook me dinner and put me up for the night. We go up to the roof to watch the fireworks, but it's cold and foggy, so you can't really see the fireworks really.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 4, 2016 at 9:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Garmin Montana 600 Screen Flipping

I managed to reset my Garmin Montana before I left, so now, it's practically useless.

1) The screen flips back and forth constantly between portrait and landscape.

2) When you navigate to a destination, it shows a straight line going across mountains, rivers, etc, but not following roads.


You will want to lock the screen orientation to either portrait or landscape.
This is done in the display settings.
From the Main Menu > Setup > Display > Orientation Lock > select Lock Portrait or Lock Landscape.

OK. That worked. Now, my screen isn't flipping any more.

As the crow flies routes can sometimes happen if you have Navigation switched to "shortest point to point" or a profile set to "off road". So be sure to check those too:

Setup->Routing->Activity to "Motorcycle Driving" from "Direct Routing" and Setup->Routing->Lock on Road to "Yes"

So, that fixed the problem where it shows your navigation "as the crow flies", ignoring the maps, but it still won't let me navigate across Tioga Pass. Well done, Garmin.

OK. Now, I see what it is. When I say to navigate to San Francisco, it lists every San Francisco on the planet, and then the one that I'm trying to get to last. Brilliant.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 4, 2016 at 9:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Bird in the Bush: Day 1 - Sunday(7/3) - Denver to June Lake, CA

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the resplendent Boulder Lodge, overlooking the scenic June Lake, in June Lake, California.

Start Time: 8:03 a.m. MDT
Start Location: Morrison, CO
Starting Odometer: 40,112
Witness: J.J. Ellison

End Time: 11:06 p.m. PDT
End Location: June Lake, CA
Ending Odometer: 41,125
Witnesses: Becky Oldfield, Boulder Lodge, June Lake, CA. 760-648-7330

Daily Trip Meter: 1,013 miles
Driving Time: 16 hours and 3 minutes.

So, I wake up this morning, and start packing things up for a motorcycle trip across the Great American Desert. And I have to say that, there is some very real fear when you start one of these ridiculous rides. Like...no one else that I know is doing this. Most people just go to work on Mon - Friday and then watch TV at night and they seem to be fairly content. Why not me?

Why am I so enticed by the bird in the bush?

Why am I compelled to quit my job, and then drive an adventure bike across the continent?

So, I'm throwing some things into an absurdly small little CC Filson handbag. Strap an old 2.2 gallon gas tank onto the back of the KTM seat so I won't die out in the Great American desert, and I take off.

JJ is on his lot, so I wheel in and let him get a "before" photo of me. As in, "This is what he looked like before he hit the deer and got run over by an 18 wheeler."

And I'm off. I get away about 8:30 a.m. roughly. Stop, gas up, get a gatorade for the road. You have to have food and drinks when you're on a bike. Always.

The forecast called for rain, but it's not raining and I hit I-70 west. It's technically the 4th of July weekend, but because I'm leaving on a Sunday, I correctly guessed that there wouldn't be much traffic.

At first, I'm too hot, but then as I climb to towards Eisenhower Tunnel, I'm getting colder and colder. But then, by the time I get down to Silverthorne, it's not too cold any more. Same thing again at Vail Pass.

I get to Vail in something like 90 minutes, and it's always surprising to me how close everything seems when you finally make up your mind to go there. Now, Avon, and now everything starts to go from evergreen mountains to a more arid landscape. Glenwood Springs. Grand Junction. Now, everything really starts to look like a desert. Most of this pretty much as I remember it.

Stop at the Utah state line for a photo op. I ask a total stranger to take my photo, and he does.

From Green River west, it's a new sight for me, because I've driven this route twice, but always form West to East. Now, I'm going from East to West. So, it looks a lot different.

I'm surprised to see that the speed limit on I-70 in Utah is 80 mph. (It's 75 mph in Colorado.) So, I drive 90-100 mph while I'm in Utah.

In Utah, it starts to rain on me. Then it stops. And really, the rain just makes it so it isn't too hot. It rains on and off on me all across Utah. Twice, it starts hailing on me like the world is coming to an end. Marble-sized chunks of ice are hitting my hands going 90 mph, and, even through the gloves, it hurts like hell.

There are these birds....I'm not clear what kind they are...look similar to barn swallows...and they come flying at me, missing me by millimeters, as they're feeding along the highway. I can't guess how many birds I dodged today. But not just birds...rabbits...foxes...you name it.

I remember much of the state. I remember the big lake, and a lot of the towns like Salina and the little dogleg you have to do on I-15 as you follow US 50 West.

US Highway 50 is widely documented as the "Loneliest Road in America".

Now, west of Delta, outside of Hinckley, Utah, I stop at the shoe tree. I remember this tree, and decide to stop and get some photos of it. But as I start to take photos, the wind picks up to hurricane strength winds. threatening to blow over my parked bike. How it didn't go over, I'll never know. It took everything I had to keep the bike from going over.

Now, I'm riding west out of Hinckley, Utah, and the winds are so strong it's like wrestling an alligator. This goes on for about 60 miles. Only when I climb out of the valley and descend into a new valley do the winds let up.

I stop at the Nevada state line to get a photo of the Welcome to Nevada sign. I've been racing a guy across the desert for hundreds of miles now. He's towing a totaled truck on his trailer, and he stops to talk to me at the state line gas station.

"Man...I was afraid I was going to find you crashed on the side of the road back there. That was some crazy wind, huh?"

"I can promise you it's the worst winds I've ever driven through," I reply.

I shoot a couple of selfies with my Canon camera using a timer at the state border.

One thing I'd forgotten about in Nevada is all of the cattle gaps. I'm never clear when I cross a gap...are the cows with me now? Or was I leaving them behind by crossing the gap? This should be documented more clearly, I think.

Now that I'm finally in Nevada, I'm thinking that I shouldn't stop at Ely. I want to keep going for a couple of reasons. There's still at least two hours of daylight left, and I have a long drive tomorrow, so why not keep going to Tonopah?

So, instead of stopping at Ely, I just take a left to follow US Highway 6 (leaving US Highway 50) and head towards Tonopah. Now, as it turns out, there are no gas stations between Ely and Tonopah, although this is not indicated by any signage. (No service stations for 168 miles might be something you'd like to point out, for future reference, Utah.)

Although US 50 has the nickname "The Loneliest Road in America", US 6 has a solid case for the title, as Tonopah and Ely are the only cities it goes through in the 306 miles it traverses in Nevada.

So, there are basically zero other cars on US Highway 6 when I run out of gas, 50 odd miles shy of Tonopah. There are a few things that come into play on this. My gas mileage is abysmally low, and I'm not clear why. My assumption is that it's because all of the additional weight I'm carrying with my suitcase and additional fuel tank.

I pull over on the shoulder and pour the 2.2 gallons of gas into my left tank. I'm not clear if this will be enough to get me into Tonopah, as I'm well short of my goal. I'm 53 miles from Tonopah. It's going to be close.

I stop to shoot a few photos here and there. Occasionally, I turn on my GoPro and shoot a minute of video occasionally. But the truth this that I'm deathly afraid that I'm going to run out of gas and die out here in the desert. I keep waiting for the Low Fuel light to come on on the KTM. I figure i can go about 20 miles once it comes on again.

The low fuel light comes on, and I drive into Tonopah on fumes.

So, now, I'm in Tonopah...I stop and shoot the mural of fighter jets on the side of a building. Now stop in for gas. Now, I have another problem. I'm very close to 1,000 miles in a day, which would get me the Iron Saddle.

If I could drive another 150 miles, I could get my Iron Saddle. So, at the gas station, I go in and start asking...."what's 150 miles west of here?"

And, pretty much, it's Lee Vining. Now, I know where Lee Vining is. It's the east entrance to Yosemite. So, I'm all for driving there, if it means I will get my iron saddle. now, in theory, I could wake up in the morning, and drive very early and try to get there before 8:00 a.m., as the Iron Saddle is based on a 24 hour day/window. But, I know that, if I drive there now, I'll be much more likely to actually get my Iron Saddle, and also, when I check into the hotel, I'll have a witness.

The sheriff tells me about a shortcut....120 that I should take. He says it's curvy and has rises and drops in it, and suddenly I remember driving across it now.

Will they have rooms there, I ask.

I never can tell with that place...

So, I bolt out of Tonopah, heading for Lee Vining.

The sun is setting as I pull out of Tonopah, so I'll be driving in the dark, which is extremely dangerous. So I take off and I'm 20 miles outside of Tonopah before I see a sign that says US 6, so I know I'm on the right road now, at least. (I reset my Garmin Montana to the factory defaults, so it's practically useless now. It navigates in a straight line, instead of following roads. It keeps changing the orientation of the screen. Very aggravating. Close to useless.)

The sun sets and now I'm driving in the dark, at 90 mph. Hell bent for Lee Vining. With no reservations. I see the short cut at 120, so I take Highway 120, and now I see a natural hot springs with a small motel built around it. I stop, but there are no rooms. This is going to suck if I can't find a room for the night. In a big way. I'm exhausted, and it's cold now, in the dark, as I roll down Highway 120.

Eventually, at about midnight (MDT), I get into Lee Vining. I see the store that I remember, but it's not a hotel, of course. Just a restaurant/gas station. And it's closed. I drive up to two people I see talking and ask, "Is there a hotel around here?"

They send me to some hotels up the road (North) a short distance on I395. But only one hotel is still open, and he has no vacancies. I'm actually still about 5 miles short of 1,000 miles for the day, according to my odometer.

I'm thinking....look man...we can do this hard or easy. I'm not sleeping outside. I'll curl up on this chair here and spend the night and I'll pay you whatever you want, but I'm not sleeping outside, see?

I plead with the guy at the counter, and he calls around and finds me a room about 11 miles south on I 395.

Ecstatic, I race south on I396 11 miles, turn right at the Shell gas station, and stop at the Boulder Lodge on June Lake, in June Lake, CA. This little run puts me at over 1,000 miles for the day, so I'll get my iron saddle after all.

I go check in, take a shower, and collapse.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 4, 2016 at 3:10 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink

July 2, 2016

Motorcycle Adventures

(DOH! It looks like I've documented my motorcycle adventures in two locations. Here is the other Motorcycle Adventure compilation).

Here's a list of my motorcycle adventures:

October 2009 - Drove from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas and back.

October 2010 - Drove around Lake Michigan.

August 2011 - Drove from SF to AK and back, then home to Denver.

May 2012 - Failed Trip to Pismo on 93 XR650L.

June 2012 - Drove from Denver back to SF via WY, MT, ID, and OR.

July 2012 - Rode from SF to Pismo Beach and back. I have lots of photos but never posted them from this trip for whatever reason.

May 2013 - Drove from SF back to Denver.

May 2013 - Drove from Illinois to the Panama Canal. FedExed the bike back to Jackson, MS. Then drove it to Nashville, then home to Denver.

July/August 2014 - Drove KTM from Denver to Deadhorse, AK and back.

November/December 2015 - Drove KTM from Denver down to San Carlos, Mexico and back.

July 2016 - Drove KTM from Denver to San Francisco, down to La Jolla, and then to Riverside.

July 2016 - Drove KTM from Riverside down to Bahia de Los Angeles and back.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 2, 2016 at 11:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Preparing to Cross the Great American Desert

Now, I'm doing some last minute preparations to drive across the Great American Desert.

At this point, all of the work has been completed on the KTM. Many thanks to B&B Cycles for their excellent work. The bike has new chain and sprockets. New brakes. New rear tire. New air filter and oil filter. Correct tire pressure.

So, it rides much better than before. I have a much better chance of making it out to Kalifornia thanks to their help.

Now, it's mainly a game of charging ever thing up and copying data off of memory cards. . (Camera. Laptop. GoPro. GPS. Cell phone.)

Also, some re-configuring the Garmin Montana 600 and the Go Pro Hero 4 Black camera the way I want them.

Copying gpx files off of the Garmin Montana 600


1) Launch EasyGPS.
2) Click on "Receive (from GPS)" icon.
3) Click OK.

So, I saved off all of my .gpx tracks as S:\_2016\2016_07_02_GPX\2016_07_02_GPX.gpx

Now, to delete them from my GPX.

So, I went to Track Manager on the GPS, and then deleted each track, one at a time. Slow, and painful.

Now, Trip Computer - 3 bars at bottom - Reset - Reset Trip Data.

There. That worked. Somehow my max speed was 168 mph? Not clear how that happened.

Now, I want to reset the Garmin odometer.Not sure if that worked or not. Seems to be working better now. It's all cleared out and reset and still has my maps. Woohoo.

This is what my route looks like for tomorrow
. Basically, take I-70 west to US Highway 6 to Ely, Nevada. Bing says it's 670 miles, roughly. Forecast is rainy and warm until I get to Utah. So, that's going to suck in a big way.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 2, 2016 at 7:36 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Latest Trip Planning

So, my latest idea is to bee-line for SF, so I can hang out in SF for a few days before wandering down to the LA basin.

This map
shows roughly how I plan to get to SF. I've actually driven this route at twice already, but always from West to East. This will be the first time I've driven this route from East to West.

(It looks like the first time I did this trip was 5 years ago in 2011. Then, 4 years ago, in 2012, I drove my motorcycle back out to CA on my NXNW expedition. The 2nd time I drove back east across Nevada was 3 years ago in 2013.

I met my precious daughter for dinner tonight down in Morrison. She flies out in the morning heading to New Mexico, and I've decided to leave early Sunday morning on my drive across the Great American Desert.

Lots of things have changed my route and plans already. The contracting company shorted me a week on my time off, and the tire we ordered for the KTM was shipped to the wrong location. So, I'm going to be riding on a street tire, instead of an enduro tire. Not a big deal, really, but the KTM won't be ready until 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. And the drunken barn party starts at 2:00 p.m., so I think that I'll just get up and leave crazy early Sunday morning.

This is what I have tentatively planned for Day 1.

The theme song to this trip is Kevin Morby - Parade.

Also, if you don't get why I'm doing this trip, you really need to watch the 2nd season of Bojack Horseman.

Posted by Rob Kiser on July 2, 2016 at 12:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink