Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 14 - Back in the USA! Whoa!

This post will be short and sweet, after leaving the Joker hotel this morning I didn’t take and more pics all day. Before leaving I did take a few moments to record the splendor of the Joker Hotel where I stayed last night so I’ll post a couple of those. The Joker wasn’t all that bad actually, at least if you could get past the heavy disinfectant smell on the bedding. That part was a little iffy for me but the rest of the place was passable and I was too tired to start prowling around looking for another place.

Can you see El Nino in front of my room?
They also have that neat restaurant and I scored my last meal in Mexico for breakfast, eggs ranchero with a new twist, mole` sauce. I have to stop eating those damn tortillas; it’s getting difficult to see my feet again.
The Joker's restaurant
Earlier this morning I’d set up a route that would take me to Yuma, AZ where I planned on turning north to meander through AZ and thereby avoid all the mess around Los Angeles and its environs. I’d cross the border at Mexicali if that worked or in Yuma if not.
I really didn’t want to see Yuma, I just set it up to give the screaming Garman woman something to look forward to while I figured out something better. Like so many well laid plans this one was in the toilet the moment I got to TJ and missed a turn. I don’t actually sweat missing turns as there’s no real hard allotment on them so you can take as many as you like. I did.
As soon as I recovered from the first one that had me double back I bumbled the 2nd time and this one was sort of fatal. I knew I was dead when the up ramp I took suddenly developed into what appeared to be a major traffic jam, all at a dead stop. Traffic jams don’t particularly bother me either as long as I’m on a bike so I figured this one would probably be no different. Wrong again Bozo, this is the freaking line up for the Tijuana border crossing!
Now the way I see things the easiest method of gauging how serious a traffic snarl is seems simple; if there are people wandering around between lines of cars selling stuff that means you may be there awhile. In this case they had sales stalls set up with all sorts of stuff, food, drinks, gawd-awful souvenirs, newspapers; the whole enchilada.
I sat there mesmerized for several minutes wondering if it would really take two hours to get through this and if it did would I have other options than to ride north through freaking Los Angeles?!! As I pondered my fate one of the food hawkers strolled over and said “Hey Mon, you know you can go ahead through these cars, you don’t have to wait.” That was already on my mind but having never tried working El Nino with those big fat panniers I wasn’t too sure about it. On the other hand I didn’t relish the idea of baking my brains out in the hot sun while waiting for the 500 cars in front of me to move on.
Well what the hell I thought, I’m fairly adept at staying upright and if I’m careful I should be able to make it through the mess so off I went. Wobble, wobble. It seemed to be working as it wasn’t long before I arrived at the border gates and slipped in front of a guy who looked away for a moment.
The guard motioned me up, I stopped and shut the motor off and answered the usual questions about “Where are you going?” “Bandon, OR ” “Why there?” “It’s where my dog lives. It’s also where my clothes are.” “Ha ha ha. OK, you can go.” “Izzat all, aren’t you gonna say welcome home or anything?” “You’re not home Bub but welcome to California.”
And then I was off into the southern CA freeway blitz from hell. Actually it wasn’t so bad and with my newfound experience of lane splitting I began to apply everything I’d learned in the waiting lines only faster. Subscribing to the principal that cats use, if they can get their face through a hole the rest will follow El Nino, fat butt and all was much the same, we probably threaded our way past several hundred cars all of whom were courteous and kept a mini-lane open for bikers at all times. Those drivers who failed notice me and then did would immediately pull over far enough to allow me to squeeze by. What a deal, I have new respect for CA drivers. They’re still quirky as hell but I like ‘em anyway.

Today's ride north
Once out of the LA area everything lightened up and traffic moved at an astonishing rate, so much that I soon found myself approaching the before unheard of megalopolis of Gorman. Timing couldn’t have been better; I was feeling pooped and ready to call a halt to it for the day. Luckily there’s an Econo Lodge complete with a nice restaurant attached. Uh, what kind of restaurant you ask? Mexican of course, what else?

Just now as I was getting primped up for dinner I noticed my suntan mask has returned, same as it does every year. Probably looks scary to little kiddies... 

Rocky Racoon look 

Tomorrow I’ll continue this saga by attempting to reach Sacramento, all in one day. That should be a truly exciting event but someone’s gotta do it and I’m first in line. Sorry about today’s lack of interesting pics, I’ll try to do better tomorrow.
PS - I forgot to mention this, I only had to deal with one military checkpoint this morning. I don't know what I'll do being able to ride around without those people watching me but I'm going to try to adapt.


  1. Welcome home, amigo. If you have time in Sacramento, visit the railroad museum.

  2. But...but....they have all those wheels...and the noise, and the steam...ewww

    Good to be back in the US even if I wasn't gone all that long. I'll buzz you when I get home.

  3. Gorman CA? My 1959 MGA holed a piston going up that grade in 1970 when I was coming home from the service in Utah.
    It was in the dark of night and there were only a few buildings there. One was a garage with a couple of guys working on a demolition derby car.
    He checked the engine and told me the nearest place that worked on exotic cars like that was in Bakersfield. He filled it up with 90 weight oil and said I could probably make it if i took it easy.
    We limped into Bakersfield and spent 3 days in a motel watching Porter Waggoner on a snow-screen TV while our tiny 1 1/2 month old daughter slept in a dresser drawer.

    I recommend getting thru that country as fast as possible. ;->

    If you're not in a hurry you can swing by Yosemite Park off to your right. Lots of little towns and back roads through orange groves along the base of the mountains.

  4. Porter was probably wearing his baby blue suit wasn't he? And Tammy was hanging around in the background too? Man I miss those two. The drummer for Geo Jones used to wear a Tammy T-shirt at Geo's concerts. Always wondered how that went over with Geo.

    Lucky you made it to Bakersfield in the MG. (Or anywhere for that matter.) I used to tell my buds "If I ever buy another British car just sneak up behind me and shoot me, it's the right thing to do."