Tag Archives: IBAR

So, That Big Motorcycle Trip…..

Hooooo, boy! It has been a while since my last blatherfest.

Lots of nifty little adventures, including overnight camping trips in my lovely Oregon desert to working ‘vacations’ in Portland to assist friends, have been occurring right under your nose.

Yes, yes, I promised big bold write-ups of my little moto romp through the desert Southwest and I’ve been fantastically lazy concerning writing about it.

An overview shall follow.

Ahem.

In the beginning, there was the end of a contract with Apple. The cry “Hallelujah!” rose up from the masses. Well, me to be exact. Shit was packed into Mighty Whitey (the Soob) and hauled to Bend, a flight was procured to return to Silicon Valley and my bike, and thus the adventure began.

Being a comedy nut, I hit the jackpot in the days before heading out as Bill Burr and Doug Stanhope (with Morgan Murphy and Brett Erickson) were doing shows on consecutive nights at the San Jose Improv. Nearly wet myself with glee. Both shows were sweet and really set a good tone for kicking off a new adventure.

My route took me through a lot of So-Cal sights I’d never been to before, but had seen photos of and heard about from friends, magazine articles, etc. over the years. Hit up Carrizo Plain National Monument the first night, I’d been there before, but it’s always good to get the kinks worked out in familiar territory. Pissed down rain all night and proved my choice in tents was a gooder. Fellow riders, if you want a good, small, light solo tent the REI Quarter Dome 1 is reasonable. The foot area is a little funky to set up, but I had plenty room and stayed dry. What more do ya need? The next morning a heavy mist was about giving the feel of being on the moors.

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Carrizo Plain NM

And as many have noted, the desert flowers were blooming like crazy everywhere. Photo evidence to follow.

Starting out with a pile of wet kit to pack wasn’t the top of my list, but got it out of the way early and it was dry as hell most the rest of the trip. Headed through lovely Bakersfield where I met a cool fellow who had moved there from PDX at a Starbucks and chatted a bit about bikes, pedal and motor.

A short aside concerning Starbucks for my PDX coffee snob friends. Yes, Portland is a mecca for all coffee aficionados who love the Stumptown bright, light to medium roast that every company copies thinking they are recreating the wheel in their own special way. There are many parts of the country that would kill for Starbucks as shitty watered down Folgers still dominates the small town cafe scene in the Great American Beyond. As a traveler, ‘Bucks fucking rocks. Clean shitters, solid WiFi and decent coffee. Not to mention a lot of travelers hit it for the above reasons so you can meet some interesting folks there. Not 5th and Alder downtown interesting, but fun interesting.

Totaling 3500 miles and 17 days the trip far exceeded expectations and led to meeting a bunch of cool folks and seeing some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. The route took me to Trona Pinnacles, Death Valley where I rode through the awe inspiring Titus Canyon, Mojave National Preserve for a hike up huge sand dunes:

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Kelso Dunes, Mojave NM

and Joshua Tree NP which was packed, but I still found a sweet little place to camp and hike sans other people. And a desert tortoise. Well, a former desert tortoise.

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Hard Livin’ in the Desert

Salton Sea was very full according to the local guy I bought a soda from in a tiny little lakeside village. And smelled like rotten fish ass. Cruising along, I noticed a film crew and checked them out. They were filming a spin off of Sons of Anarchy. Chatted with a camera man and a few actors for a bit and got a shot of a sweet moto rigged to film riding scenes:

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Can’t imagine it was fun to ride, but the results are worth the headache I’m sure.

Hit Salvation Mountain and Slab City as I’ve heard about them for years and was curious. There were a couple very cute young women taking sexy shots of each other at Salvation Mtn, which I thought was a hoot. This dude’s monument to Jesus and the girls are taking ass shots in the middle of it. Figured, what the fuck, and asked if they would take a shot with my bike and they were in, so:

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Seattle Gals with Thumper

Sometimes you just have to ask.

Oh, here’s the Mountain:

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Slab City:

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was cool and gross all at once. Cool little camps, a library, funky social clubs in a place government has forgotten about. On the down side, the volume of random trash reminded me of photos of third world shit holes and was EVERYWHERE. Apparently living off the grid and away from the clutches of The Man requires folks to be goddamn filthy pigs.

My one actual crash was soon after Slab City, going from a deep gravel road that was freshly graded and shitty back on to the main dirt road. My front tire washed, the bike went down fast and my foot got pinned facing the wrong direction under my cargo box. I flipped over fast feeling the tension on my knee and took about 5 minutes to get positioned well enough to use my other leg to push The Pig off my ankle. Another gear plug, my ankle would have been fucked bad except I was wearing my Sidi Adventure GTX boots. I had around 300# resting on my ankle and a lesser boot would not have done the job of protecting my leg. Both my knee and ankle are a little funky still, but they weren’t destroyed thanks to good gear.

A 60 MPH cross wind for many hours through the rest of So-Cal and a subsequent sand storm finished up the California in memorable fashion. Plus it was hot. Very hot.

A couple gals I went to High School with live in AZ, so I visited Tammy in Cottonwood and hiked around near Sedona and reminisced about the good old days, then turned south all the way to Sierra Vista to see Candy. On the way I attempted to visit the memorial for the Granite Mountain Hotshots that burned up in 2013, but was so pissed off by the bullshit “Our Heroes” whitewashing of their demise I chose to pass. One day the truth about that burn-over will come out and a few fuckers who are protecting their and other folks asses will be held to account. Fucking scum. For those of you unfamiliar with why I give a shit, I was a wildland firefighter for 20 seasons and had friends die in the line of duty. Our desire to get the job done was usually taken advantage of and the results were sometimes horrific. Nuff o’ that.

Candy took me on the tourist loop and we checked out the cool sights including this amazing Celtic cross:

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Our Lady of the Sierras

75′ tall, way bigger than it looks here.

All the adventures up to this point, however, ended up being a warm up for the best part of the trip and, truth be told, the previous year.

So, I mentioned early on my fandom of comedy. Well, it turns out my favorite comedian, Doug Stanhope, lives in Bisbee, AZ a short distance from Sierra Vista. Musician Mishka Shubaly and Comedians Kristine Levine, Anthony Desamito, and Carmen Morales had a show planned in Bisbee so I got tickets, an AirBnB and spent a couple days checking the place out. Met and BS’d with Castle Rock Kenny for a couple hours and checked out Floyd’s shop. Before hand I had made Twitter buddies with Tom Konopka, a long time friend of Doug’s who runs their little haven and loves on the dogs. Mentioned I’d be in Bisbee on my trip for the show and would love to meet him if possible. Ended up scaring the shit out of me while I was hopping on my bike at a diner. Apparently, he was across the street when I tweeted a thanks for recommending the place so he swung by and grabbed me in a big bear hug. Very friendly and warm, super cool guy.

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The show was top notch. Mostly locals and friends of Doug’s larger social circle in attendance. I stood out as a visitor, but it made chatting with folks easier. Saw Tom and he introduced my to Bingo, Doug’s super awesome wife and a few others including Chad Shank, one of the coolest humans alive with a voice perfect for story telling. Met Greg Chaille, Doug’s business manager, and got invited back to the Funhouse after the show.

Doug was on tour, but just being invited back to after party with the friends of my favorite comedian was spectacular. Turns out Kristine Levine grew up near where I lived and we chatted for hours about that and how Portland turned into a hipster hellhole and plenty other stuff. An impromptu concert kicked off with Mishka doing a set and Chaille riffing on guitar while 2 smashed comedians scream sang along. Met Henry Phillips and Ichabod, the aforementioned dogs Tom looks after and a number of others heard about often on the podcast.

Time came to head back to sleep and got great props from Chaille and Tom, being thankful I was polite and respectful. I still giggle thinking how awesome that night was.

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The Funhouse

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The Bingo Sign

The trip wrapped up short due to a last minute interview in Portland, so I ended up riding 1700 miles in 3 days across Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. The weather got progressively shitty the further north to the point of riding through a riving snow storm outside Fallon, NV. Still pretty though as this shot in northern NV shows.

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The last little blast home involved a night at Crystal Crane Hot Springs outside Burns, OR for a chance to warm up and decompress after 3 days of hard riding. I try and hit this place 2-3 times a year as it’s the perfect finish up for adventures and is cheap and chill.

Rolled into Bend with stiff fingers and a taint in desperate need to be off the seat of a KLR. 18 days of a whole lot of fun that has inspired plans that will be presented in the next installment of Ken finally decides to get off his dead ass and write.

Toodles!

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Cupertino to Bend via Bisbee

The last day in Silicon Valley slowly winds it’s way too conclusion. Got last minute shopping and pack fitting done so while I’ve got a little time before heading out to comedy show #2 in 2 nights figured I’d tap this out.

Bill Burr was so goddamn funny last night my abs were cramping. He’s building a new set and I can’t imagine how much better it needs to get to record.

Tonight is Doug Stanhope and his sorted menagerie of misfits. Having followed him for so long, listening to all his sets, podcasts, seeing him live a few times it’s almost like an old friend is coming to town. Except we’re total strangers.

Then it’s wake up, get some coffee, load up the bike and hit the road.

I’ll be posting photos and vids to Instagram each day and posting a few of these as time and data permit. The bloom in the desert is going nuts right now so there should be some really pretty sights to be had.

Feel free to follow me and share this with other adventures or those stuck in a rut needing to live vicariously through some random idiot riding a KLR all over hell’s half acre.

Bustin’ Loose!!

Howdy!
I’ve come to find my previous tactic of waiting long periods of time to blast out rambling missives doesn’t serve my writing urge very well, so I’ll be posting more frequent, shorter posts about random dumb shit. This will either elicit a squeal of glee or a groan frustration, but that’s on you.
The powers that be at Fruit, the Cupertino based tech company I moved to this hellhole to work for, has recognized my hard efforts and blessed me with a paid day off which I’m applying to tomorrow. And how shall I utilize this? Stoned surrounded by food wrappers in front of a screen? Perish the thought. Thumper and I are headed, here in a bit, to Mercey Hot Springs, a little oasis of peace in the odd little dry land patch between I-5 and the 101. I’ve spent most of my camping, riding, get the fuck out of dodge time in this general area and it has been a lifesaver.

Fancier and more spendy than my favorite developed springs in Oregon it’s rustic by Cali standards. Keeps the super yuppies at bay.

This will also be a tiny shakedown run for some recent adjustments to the bike and new gear that will be part of the big 4000+mile 3-4 week SW moto ramble I’ll be heading out on after my contract is up here in a few weeks. I’m so goddamn excited! Gonna be a hoot. More details on that to come, be good to run into some folks while I’m oot and aboot.

Time to prep Thumper and finish packing, y’all have a sweet Sunday.

The Big Desert Blast w/B-Rad

After much discussion, a little planning and heaps of anticipation myself and B-Rad (friend Brad whom I met while living in Canada back in 05-07) each headed from our respective homes to Bend, OR to get 4 days of desert riding in.

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Our respective rides, I have the ’05 KLR 650 farkled to the goddamn hilt and B-Rad his ’15 BMW F800 GS Adventure with some respectable add-ons.

I cut my teeth with this bike in the deserts of Central Idaho and Central/Eastern Oregon. Most of the The Pig’s 33k miles have been on dirt since I got it in ’14 with 14.4k on it. Often it has felt fat and unwieldy when pushed, but I have come to find that’s standard when trying to ride Mx style with a KLR. It’s general dirt road/mellow trail demeanor is rather predictable and easy to manage. Fun, in other words. It’s tossible-ish, holds a line well and has far exceeded my expectations.

B-Rad is newer to bikes and has been putting on a lot of miles on the dirt roads of Southern Alberta around the general Calgary area. One drawback of Alberta’s forest lands is a lack of standard issue shit dirt roads to bumble around on.

The trip was loosely planned with a few highlights I wanted to hit, but a very open route across miles of BIG desert country. Montana is not the only Big Sky state. I was thinking 200-250 miles a day of around 6-8 hours on the bikes. I’m an endurance guy and like to go long and hard all day long, pass out, get up have coffee and get back at it. Didn’t know Brad’s style and I not sure that he did either not having done big rides in this kind of country.

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The Pour House, Good Grub

We hit the trail soon after Brad got to Bend and a last minute grocery/gas/gear/lunch round up. Headed out Hwy 20 to the base of Horse Ridge then off the roads and into the desert we go. All was going just dandy, got onto a road made from cinders which is the worst material in the world to build a road out of. It gets pulverized into a thick loose sand like grabby nightmare that will fuck you the minute you get comfortable. I mentioned to pay attention to the shit handling properties of the road then headed off. After going a bit I stopped and waited for Brad to catch up, gave it a couple minutes then headed back to see if he was having issues. Pulled up on him with the bike down, cargo boxes scattered and him standing there with a face covered with that miserable dirt. Shit. He was fine, the bike was fine, taking into account some remodeled plastics, and the boxes were fucked. Spent a while banging them back into shape so the lids fit and could be remounted on the racks. You could look down the road and see signs of the death wobble in the shit slop that initiated the wipe out. Got it all patched back together and headed out 10 miles down the road to camp out.

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Pine Mountain

Not that far from Bend, but totally alone. Having worked out here for 10 years and played for 20, this is my favorite place on earth.

Day 2 got going with coffee, some light trail riding and a few turn arounds on 2 track dirt roads. Found that the 2 tracks were no fun on a bigger bike, so got us on bigger roads and put on a ton of miles and hours getting from Pine Mountain to the Hot Springs Campground on Hart Mountain. Stops at Ft Rock State Park:

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Ft Rock State Park

The shitty meth hole known as Christmas Valley provided a gas stop, but deserved no photo recognition. Headed over Abert Rim, a childhood deer hunting spot and off down the dirt deeper into it. I love the huge spaces and empty landscapes. You need patience and an attention span to get what the desert offers.

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Abert Rim

Blasted across miles and miles of dirt roads in the hot hot heat and found an excellent refuge in Frenchglen where we got gas, sodas much needed shade and 4G!! Brad got word out to the Mrs. who is one of the best wives of friends I know who basically said, shit happens enjoy the rest of the trip.

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French Glen. Shade and data!

Headed up the shit washboard road to get to the campground that was so rough one of Brad’s boxes rattle off. Slapped it back on, got the the camp spot, pulled out the little camp chairs and slumped for a while. Came to the quick determination that 4 days of power push in the brutal heat was not gonna be fun so agreed to reign in the miles per day a bit. Have an actual vacation, not a punishment run. Hit the hot springs and chatted with a hippyish dude from Santa Barbara headed to Utah to play in a music festival and a couple from Salem checking out the desert.

Steens Mountain was the next days destination allowing for a nice long trek across more hot desert with wide open skies and tons of antelope to check out, but not too long. The plus was getting off the bikes a little earlier and getting to kick it in camp, the downside was the bazillion skeeters that fucking hammered us all night long. The views were worth it, however.

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Kiger Gorge

 

 

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Alvord Desert, view off the east side

Took our time working around the rest of the loop on Steens, taking photos and checking shit out before heading to Fields Station for a huge tasty burger and shake. So goddamn full of tasty goodness it was painful to ride. Thankfully by the time we got to the Alvord, stuff had settled and it was time to blast out hard and fast across the playa.

Saw a large group of gliders on the playa and ran the KLR as hard and fast as it would go. It’s a bizarre feeling and a ton of fun as well. Go hard and just have white slide under you for miles.

Rolled up the east Steens road to wind up the dirt part of the trip. Almost ate shit myself when a car went by and I tucked a little deep into the side of the road into deep gravel and did 50 yards of death wobble, but pulled it off. Whew! Such a goddamn nasty feeling. Figured the last night together should be at another hot springs so we hit the pavement, aired back up and headed to Crystal Crane Hot Springs. I’ve hit this place a good number of times and it is the goddamn bomb for a cheap, decent little get away. I typically spend around 95% of the time I’m there in the water, even waking up in the middle of the night and trucking down to the pool for a few hours.

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Crystal Crane Hot Springs

Saturday AM we each headed out Hwy 395, Brad north, me south. ended up going back by Abert Rim and decided to get a shot of the soon to be gone lake.

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Abert Lake-ish.

THe mud was the nastiest shit around. Took 4 days for that stuff to get off my boots. Smelled like rotten anchovie vaginas.

Ran down 395 til the JCT that heads off to Mt Lassen National Park, so took that as I’ve never gone that way and had no desire to go through either Reno or Sacramento in my soon to be worn out state.

Pulled over for a short rest, took off back into the road, went for second gear and the fuckin’ clutch cable snapped like a twig. Shit. Decided to ride it out for a while, highway doesn’t require a lot of shifting. Thought about it while heading towards Red Bluff and came up with a solution that actually worked. Called a shop and they had no cables or interest that a fellow rider might be stranded so that shop can go fuck itself. Not for not having the cable, I get that. For not giving the slightest shit, fuck ’em.  I got the below solution figured out and it ended up working fairly well the rest of the ride.

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White trash clutch cable fix

Ran I-5 as long as I could in the 100+ heat, but called the ball in Williams and stayed in the least sketchy Motel 6 ever. It was so clean it actually made me suspicious. Fuck it, A/C, ice and shitty food readily available.

Took 2.5 hours to get home the next morning and felt like i had my ass kicked. 2500 miles in 6 days with a ton of high attention shit dirt riding will take it out of ya. Ordered some clutch cables, rear sprocket and chain as they were fucked as well.

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Got my $ out of that one……

Brad made a huge push the first day and made it home Sunday AM. Had a day to rest and unpack before heading to the in-laws fancy cabin on lake Ontario.

Given the opportunity, I’d do little but ride around the West on shitty little dirt roads on a KLR 650 and check shit out. I’d thought about maybe getting an F800GS in the future, but seeing the issues Brad had with it handling in dirt, how bad the wind pushed it around and how complex it is, I’ll be happy getting a newer KLR eventually and keep keeping on.

I didn’t feel like getting a set of tires just for the trip so ran my Silicon Valley daily driver Kenda K761’s and was amazed at the off road handling capability of this tire. Dropped the air to 18 psi and it just did the job: gravel, dirt, trail, slop-nothing threw it. It wasn’t rock solid on every surface, but very predictable. Very happy with my whole setup, once again I was able to focus on the adventure, not the gear. Well except for the clutch cable, but shit happens.