First Leg: Chicago to San Francisco
— USA — 5 min read
March 5 - 15, 2010
With everything finally buttoned up in Chicago, I was ready to hit the road and head south. I was definitely nervous the last night before leaving as is normal, however, I was now ready and there was nothing to worry about and I actually got some good sleep one last time in my bedroom, on the floor since the bed was sold. :)
On the morning of March 5th, I said my good byes to my shelter and life here in Chicago and as I rolled out of the garage one last time, the butterflies in me were free and I was comfortable and excited knowing that there was no turning back to this previous life and I had taken a step into a new chapter.
Even though temperatures were about 22F in the morning, I knew things would warm up as I was heading straight south out of Illinois to Memphis. I was riding around the cold and avoiding crossing the high passes of the Rockies because there was still snow up there.
The plan for the first leg was to head to San Francisco to regroup at my friend Shridhar's place. We both connected after my Mexico trip and have been discussing this trip since then and I figured I needed a forward staging location, as such, from Chicago so that if something wasn't working on the bike, I could rearrange things before heading for the border. I also shipped a few last minute things to Shridhar that wouldn't have arrived in time.
The ride wasn't too cold and I was happy to be jammin to my tunes, on my motorcycle, heading south.
Stayed with Gabe in Memphis on the first night through CouchSurfing and we went out for a nice dinner on Balboa in the downtown area.
I'm going to miss the Mid-West. Check out the crazy headline, haha. Somewhere in Arkansas.
Seeing my first long horn in Forth Worth, Texas. Even though I lived just a few hours south while going to Texas A&M, never saw a proper long horn.
James, my host from ADV (texasyeti) with the full horns.
He treated me out to an awesome steak dinner at the revived stockyard and I like it rare.
James has a few bikes and here is a classic BMW Dakar.
And he's a dog person. Dog people are always good people in my books. Cute beagle.
His other dog is this cute pit bull, Gidget. They're such lovely dogs and too bad they suffer a bad reputation. I lived with one for a while that a housemate had and really enjoyed how smart and lovable those dogs are. Pouring over a map to see what excitement lay ahead as I went through West Texas heading to Las Cruces.
Riding into the sun near El Paso, where the road finally got interesting as elevation climbed and the road twisted a bit.
Staying with John from ADV (barko1) in Las Cruces. He also belongs to the purple frame DR club :) And he was actually flying out the next day to Australia to borrow a DR from an ADV member to ride it across from Sydney to Perth.
Heading out into 40F temps and a strong head wind. Just my luck that when I get to the lower latitudes a cold spell swung into place. The head winds were quite strong through Arizona and I figured it was training for the winds of Patagonia.
Staying with Dave from ADV (dave6253) in Phoenix.
He's got a KTM 990 Adventure and an Aprillia sport touring bike. He's a prolific ride report poster on ADV and I got some photo editing tips from him (Adobe Lightroom).
Packing up the bike in the morning. Here comes living out of a pannier for the next few years.
Leaving Dave's house under the auspiciousness of grand saguaro cacti.
Taking US-60 across west Arizona towards California. Wasn't that exciting but had to change it up from riding so much Interstate. Battling head winds all day long.
At least all that wind was being put to good use here in eastern California at this massive sprawling wind farm. There must've been over a hundred windmill towers and they were all spinning fast.
Staying at David from ADV (scorpion)'s lair in the high desert outside Los Angeles in Landers.
Cooking up a spaghetti and pinto bean meal after a chilly and windy day. Winds were battling hard all night and I got up once to make sure the bike hadn't been blown over.
Heading north through California up to the Bay Area. I didn't realize the pass between Mojave and Bakersfield would be as cold as it was. It was snowing and sleeting at just 4,000 ft.
Staying with Chris in San Jose, whom I met and rode with on my Alaska trip. He recently moved into this great location right on top of a small hill.
He keeps hassling me to just get a BMW and be done with it, haha.
Meeting up with Shridhar in Silicone Valley, where he works for Paypal now. Had lunch that day with Rajen, an old high school friend who works for Yahoo there.
Riding the beautiful Skyline Drive through the hills from San Jose to San Francisco.
And finally making it to the west coast and the Pacific Ocean. I'm going to be seeing a lot of her as I head down south and looking forward to it as I just love coastal riding; something about all that water and vastness.
I took a couple days off the bike to catch up on things that I didn't get done before heading out and servicing the bike at a mechanic friend's place of Shridhar.
Having dinner at Charanga (cuban, latin) and meeting up with old friends and new friends from ADV.
Shridhar and I doing the touristy things. But hey, it's a beautiful bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge glowing at sunset.
Enjoying the first of many beautiful sunsets over the Pacific.
Rounding off the evening with a drink at Cliff House. Single malt scotch is my beverage of choice.
Pizza on Haight and Asbury: pesto with potato and garlic.
Having some South Indian food at Udipi since I know it's going to be tough to find this in Latin America. There's probably Indian restaurants down there, but specially South Indian cuisine is definitely more rare. This is a dosa and it's 2ft long and paper thin. It's a rice flour crepe that you dip into lentil soups and various chutneys. It was heavenly.
Shridhar had the Chole Batura, a huge fried puri (fluffy bread) that goes with garbanzo/chick pea curry.
Shridhar with all his toys. That's a para motor strapped onto the Miata and his V-Strom in the back. He also has a DR, not pictured.
Spending a few days at Stewart's place, a friend of Shirdhar who offered to help service the bike.
Mounting a new chain and the Motion Pro Chain Breaker and Riveting tool worked like a charm. Using a grinder to file down the rivets here. Hopefully the new chain lasts me through Buenos Aires.
Putting on new tires, Kenda K761 with heavy duty inner tubes to reduce the chance of punctures.
The old Kenda K270's that came off the bike. This is after 9,000 miles and I think it could've gone another 2,000 but figured best to change it when things were not rushed and had access to a shop at my own pace.
Elongating the valve stem hole, as advised by world traveler Adam (shortwayround.co.uk) to relieve stress on the valve stem to further tube life.
Stewart was a big help and he said he was glad to help me get on my way as he'd like to make a big trip someday himself.
He has a bunch of bikes in his garage and loves tinkering on them. That's a classic Moto Guzzi out there.
And I forget what kind of bike this is, but looks like a beautiful cafe racer in the making.
Taking a test ride around the city. Lots of great architecture.
I'm all done in San Francisco and ready to hit the road again. I like this city and would definitely like to live here at some point in the future.
Heading south to Paso Robles and then onto San Diego.
Next: San Francisco, Part 2
Previous: The Trip Begins