Day 9: Lodi, CA to Day 11 Manchester Beach, CA – 16th to 18th August.

Good afternoon from Yakima in Washington State. It’s been a very full on 5 or 6 days, with no time (or more honestly ability) to actually take the time to diary what’s been happening.  We’ve covered so many miles it’s hard to think back, almost a week ago, to our new friend Doug and his backyard near Lodi in California. .

But if you’re sitting comfortably, I will try…

So we escaped San Francisco following the Bay road as there was no way we wanted to tackle those city-mountains with the bikes fully loaded, but not without first riding along the Fishermans Wharf area and taking our friend Lisa on a run down the famous Lombard St curves, as you do.

Up at 6am and on the road at 7.30 for the (approx) 4 hour run up to Lodi as we watched the temperature rise right up into the high 30’s (hovering around 95F) which apparently is the norm for anywhere more than 20 kms inland. Some months before we left Oz, Doug had contacted us and offered to sell his 2nd hand Redverz Atacama tent, which we were very keen to accept.  Doug and his wife Jan welcomed us with open arms and we camped for 2 nights on his back lawn.  He not only proved to be a wealth of knowledge, but has also helped us map out a guide for an entire route around USA.

We did 2 things of note while we were there. The first was to go to the Lodi farmers market in their main street on the Thursday night. The stalls ranged from jewelry to fruit to food vans in what was for us, a first experience of a smallish American town.  It could have been Braidwood or Goulburn except for the accents and vineyards.

The second was a trip to the recently reopened Yosemite National Park. It had been closed due to the fires but reopened only a few days earlier.  What an absolutely stunning landscape. Not very big, but a deep gorge through a river valley with towering cliffs, waterfalls (one working and one dried up) and incredible geology.  And then there was Doug as our guide.  It was 6 hours in the truck with him (both ways) and he had story after story to entertain us.  And entertain he did. A genuinely lovely guy who lives to help adventure motorcyclists.  We were sad to leave, but the coast beckoned and we needed to escape the heat.  Which we did… eventually…

But that 2nd evening we had a rather special treat. Janelle spent nearly an hour stalking a Hummingbird with her DSLR, the stunning result is below.  (1/50 sec  f/5.6  280mm  ISO 100).

So we booked into a campground on the coast at a place called Manchester Beach, about 230kms north of San Fran and hit the very hot road.  About a 5 hour ride from Lodi, all but the last 20 minutes in 38 – 40 degrees (96 to 104F according to the temp gauges on our bikes). Not fun at all, especially for a 30km section around Clear Lake stuck behind 2 Winnebago’s. Horrible dangerous things they are!  And they infest every road. There’s millions of the buggers. We Hates Them!

And then it got cold, really cold. Probably due to the fog. Yes, the fog. On a northern California coast in the middle of summer.  Thick, cold, wet fog. I’m not kidding. The temp dropped to about 20C which was lovely.

And the campground had a pool and hot tub, which we basically took over. It was heaven. Followed by a seafood meal by the ocean in a nearby town, a walk along a fog shrouded beach and, the next morning, an excited pack up because that night we would be camping among the redwoods and riding the Avenue of the Giants…

A quick check in. Full update soon.

Hi from a little industrial town called The Dalles on the Oregon/ Washington border.

We’ve had 4 days of hard but amazing travelling, covering lots of distance but not leaving any time for telling you about it.

So we just want to let you know we are doing really well. Fit and healthy (not counting sore travel weary bodies). We are eating really well, halving most meals (huge portions) and really taking extra care to look after ourselves.

The bikes are just brilliant. Absolutely perfect for the job and we have covered just over 1600 miles.  That’s around 2500 kms.

And new tent is everything we wanted. It’s the best ever.

Here’s a pic of sunrise at Lodi (yes the place Credence sang about) and the giant redwoods.

Goodnight for now.


Days 5 to 8: Highway 1 to San Jose and blown away in Foggy San Francisco – 12 to 15th August

Sean met us again in time for terrible coffee and we left Cambria pretty early. He took us north along the truly wonderful piece of coastline called Highway 1 that was unfortunately largely covered in fog… in the middle of summer… because California, apparently. When it did clear we go the most amazing views of the pacific ocean.

And then it got better when we turned inland near somewhere called Half Moon Bay and Sean took us through this incredible redwood forest.  Id say this might well have been the highlight of our ride so far, but the whole day was pretty amazing.

Sean then delivered us safe and sound to Janelle’s old school friend Chetta in San Jose and we spent 2 night with her and husband Andy.  Home cooked meals, washing and an oil change for the bikes, and for good measure a lesson on how Harley Engines work. Nuff Said.  And we managed to get in a little shopping as well.

But most importantly, we got in some practice for the crazy messed up road systems we would shortly encounter.

And talking of San Francisco….

Sean again played awesome guide for us, arrived at San Jose at 8am and we rode out and headed north for the hour easy run the the Golden Gate. We hit the traffic about 20 minutes out but negotiated it fairly easily and then suddenly this thing loomed out of the fog in front of us.  We pulled into the visitors centre to plan the ride over.

Photo’s, coffee, and a ride we will never forget before a stop on the lookout (Vista Point in american) on the other side to try and see something through the fog, but more importantly, to farewell our awesome guide Sean.

You Sir are an absolute legend and we insist that you and your lady come down to Australia to give us the opportunity to return all the favour. And try some more Aussie wine.

And then there was San Francisco! What can be said that already hasn’t been.  We didn’t get to Alcatraz cause we didn’t book last year… but we walked (and rode) through Fisherman’s Wharf, caught a famous cablecar to Union Square, navigated those hills…  and the fog… and the wind, ate  clam chowder and took it all in.  I don’t know who built a city on the edge of a cliff… but it’s both iconic and to be avoided at all costs.  What a crazy place.

We also caught up with our friend Lisa who has flown over from Florida to hook up and travel with us for a few weeks.  Damn good to see you again girl, and in time time honoured tradition of Long Way Down she is now officially our American Fixer.

Two night in the craziness of what is apparently the most expensive city in the world was enough. We got up with the sun on Thursday morning and made the 3 hour ride directly inland to Lodi to meet Doug and pick up this tent we arranged to buy of him ages ago. And what a winner it is!. But more of that next time.


Days 1 – 4: Jet lagged in California.

So we landed at LAX at 6am on Wednesday morning after 13 cramped and bumpy hours, way down the back of a 747 (yes they still fly those things). Then another 3 hours getting through Border Control and then connecting with the right bus and train to get to Claremont Station. James Tucker picked us up and took us to his place where our bikes were waiting. (That’s him in the video below, filming us leaving this morning).

So all up about 25 hours travelling time.

The first thing we noticed is the smoke in the air and the heat. It’s a Canberra summer but dryer.  And still really hot at night.  They all say this is unusual so maybe it is.

So that day we walked about 10 kms (yes really) to get a bank account sorted and sim cards for our phones.  We have US numbers now so if you need, email us and we can provide.

Then we spent Thursday and Friday just trying to wake up from the jet lag and getting the bikes ready, fitting the luggage carriers and the aux wiring harnesses for our tech. Adjusting suspension to handle the load, stickering them up, and a shake down ride over Glendora Ridge and Mountain.  (Google it).

And Janelle has named our bikes.  We’ve never really seen the need to before but hers (the silver on)e is now known as Silver Bullet and mine (the black one) is Black Panther.  Please direct any comments to the management.

And then suddenly we were ready. At 7.45 this morning we rode our of the Tucker Compound and hit the road, found the freeway, yes just like the crazy ones we see on tele. We rode back into LA via Pasadena then up through Ventura and a heap of other towns that sadly no one has written songs about.  Around lunchtime we were joined by Sean, another rider from the ADV forum, who guided us through the afternoon into the lovely little town of Cambria, almost exactly halfway to San Francisco.

We’re here tonight and will make it to San Jose tomorrow to catch up with Janelle’s friend for a couple of nights and then we’ll dive into the fun that is San Fran.

So here is some pics of our bikes in full travel regalia, and the video of leaving James’ place.

We need sleep now, still so very tired.


Ready to leave Claremont. (Kevin is on the passengers seat of the rear bike… mine)
Coffee stop at a random mall near Ventura
Janelle out in front (wearing her red backpack).

Kevin tells us how to comment on posts

Hi everyone.

So my mate Fozzie recently asked how to comment on posts… you know, incase someone has advice or directions or anything, or wants to help me manage my humans.

It’s so easy ever a Koala can do it.

Just click on the post heading (where I’m pointing) and the page will refresh with a comment box underneath. 

Then just say your piece, tick any of the optional buttons and then click “Post Comment”.

Remember it’s probably best to play nice, cause my humans are rather delicate souls and we don’t want to break their internet. 

Say g’day to Kevin the Koala

Hi everyone. I’m baaaaack!

You might remember me from other adventures such as – We’re all going to die on crazy Italian Backroads, Let’s play Burlesque in Berlin or Oops the Bastards lost me in Zermatt.

Well I’m going to accompany Terry and Janelle on their hot lap of USA and try to make sure they don’t get themselves in too much trouble.

Wish me luck.

I suspect I’m going to need it.