West Coast Tour 2006

The Journey Continues

I planned this tour with the knowledge there was little left for me to do in terms of riding motorcycles in America.  I've traveled to every major National Park, been in every big time city, visited the lower 48 at least 4 times over, and sought out and conquered all Her famous roads.  I've reached a point where it's time to revisit a few places, and that was the theme of this tour.

I've had the good fortune to take many tours, but there is something about a cross country ride that makes it special.  To know I am riding from here to California and back, on deserted country roads fires my inner most fires.  I love the miles, the places, the people, and the experience.  

This tour covered almost 8,000 miles over 17 days.  Along the way I was served up every kind of weather day imaginable.  From 48 rainy degrees in Montana, to a blistering 115 in Needles, California.  My previous 5 West Coast Tours were almost rain free.  In fact most days were perfect for riding.  But not this time, the weather gods played havoc with me.  One particular day in Montana was probably the most difficult ride of my career.
Weather kept me from 2 of my objectives-Glacier and Crater Lake.  I've been to each one prior, so it was not a total loss.  I also revisited the Little Big Horn, and took in a few Lewis and Clark sites, and spent some time on old Route 66, which was definitely a trip highlight.

On this tour I took the Midwest route to Montana, and Washington, before riding down the coast.  I returned home via the Southwest,  Texas, and Oklahoma.

In Washington and Oregon, I felt melancholy because I was riding on some of the same roads Dennis Ryan and I traveled on in 2002.  Seeing those places and highways again, brought back good memories.

Once again, the riding was excellent.  Lots of curves, and scenery, it was more than any Long Rider could hope for, the kind you only get on a cross country tour.

Again, the Honda ST 1300 proved how great a bike it is.  It covered the almost 8,000 miles without a single issue, it did not even burn an once of oil. Comfortable, fast, and reliable, you can't go wrong making it your weapon of choice on a ride like this.  Now showing almost 50k miles it is running better than ever, and yet to have anything break or need adjusting.

Over the years and miles I've made many good friends, but Don and Joyce Cortez are special, and I have many hours with them since 2001. I enjoyed my time with the Cortez's, Ray Antasek, and Alan Tryhorn in Northern California this tour, before dropping back down to the Bay Area for a couple of nights.  Since the death of Dennis Ryan, Don Cortez has taken over as the unofficial caretaker of the Hotel California.  I don't even recall when he signed up for the job, I guess he just eased into it, I'm not even sure he wanted it, but things happen.  In between my yearly jaunts I talk to Freestyle a couple times a week.  He is a fascinating guy having lived a rich and full life, with  many years still to go.  He is now a cornerstone in the Honda community.

I enjoy my time in the Bay Area, so many of the locals go out of the way whenever a wayward East Coast Rider shows up.  It is good to have such support far from home.  Debbie has commented she worries less about me when I am heading for the Bay Area to see Don and Joyce.

Every tour is special to me.  I read back over the journals and remember the details vividly.  Each one has changed me in some way and this one is no different.  I came back a slightly wiser and different man.
I hope you enjoy this journal.  Writing it was a labor of love.

June 25th, 2006

Next:  Day 1 to the Ozark Mountains

Day 4- South Dakota, Little Big Horn

Day 5- Tough day in Montana

Day 6 -rest day in Helena

Day 7- back on the road to the Palouse

Day 8- Rainy day in Washington, Mt St Helens

Day 9- Trying to get to Crater Lake

Day 10- Through the Redwoods and on the coast, Calif at last

Day 11- great ride on SR 36

Day 12- rest day at Freestyle's

Day 13- Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur

Day 14- Cuyama Valley Road, and Route 66

Day 15- Into New Mexico

Day 16- Northern New Mexico Mountains, Amarillo

Day 17-across Oklahoma on I-40 ugh

Day 18- Home from Memphis