The longest day of my life occurred during a once in a lifetime road trip with family and friends…
Originally, I had the idea of packing a tent, a sleeping bag and some clothes to head out on a weekend adventure somewhere in the Midwest on my motorcycle. I told my friend Troy about my idea and he said he wouldn’t mind coming along for the ride. But then, I had an even bigger and better idea. Let’s do a “California Motorcycle Road Trip” I said. We wanted to have a bigger group because it’s always more fun riding with others so I asked my dad and his best friend John to come along too.
Disclaimer: This website receives compensation from the companies whose products I use and review. NavigatorNick.com is independently owned and the opinions expressed here are my own.
So, my best friend, my dad and his best friend turned my long weekend motorcycle camping plans into taking a flight from O’hare International Airport (ORD) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), renting Harley’s and riding down the Pacific Coast Highway! It’s been awhile since I was last in California (2009) and I have been trying to get back ever since. I found an unheard price on airfare while using the Hopper app, $140 round-trip. I highly recommend using the Hopper app for any planned flight travels. Here is the link to their website, www.hopper.com, or just search “Hopper” on the App Store or Play Store.
Pacific Coast Highway, PCH or California State Route 1 is roughly 655miles long and has some of the best views the world has to offer. Mountains on one side and ocean on the other, what could be better?
After the flight was purchased there was no turning back and I began to map out our once in a lifetime road trip. The trip consisted of five days and six nights. We would fly from ORD to LAX the night before our road trip began and we would head out on our adventure early the next morning. We rented our Harley Davidson motorcycles through a third party called RideFree.com and picked up the bikes from EagleRider in Hawthorne, California. RideFree.com works with EagleRider to rent out motorcycles. They have a vast selection of bikes and as long as you book way ahead of time, you should get exactly the bike you want. RideFree.com gave us a great customer experience. The owner and our customer service agent, Wil Sakowski, was helpful in meeting all of our needs and helped answer questions about my route. He made sure the bikes were set up with hard bags and luggage racks to accommodate all of the stuff we needed to bring on the road with us.
Since we had four bikes lined up, this was quite the order and we wanted to make sure everything was right, there was no room for error. The Harley Street Glides came in at a price of $571.29 for four days. This included unlimited mileage, pickup and drop off from our hotel, cable locks, disc lock, hard bags and a luggage rack.The Harley Davidson Electra Glide w/ GPS came in at $636.54. This bike was equipped with GPS (in case our phones died or we had no service) and unlimited mileage, pickup and drop off from our hotel, cable locks, disc lock, hard bags and a storage trunk.
We decided to book overnight hotel accommodations for a couple of nights so we made sure we had a place to lay our head. The first night we booked a cheap hotel called Baymont Inn & Suites in Los Angeles for $140. One room divided by four people comes to $35 a person. Prices for the hotels we booked will vary depending on what time of your you’re going. Refer to this link here to save $25 on your first hotel booking. Our second night be booked at Yosemite Sierra Inn in Oakhurst California for $180. We weren’t sure how far we would travel each day so it was hard to book other hotels. One hang up could delay our trip by hours or even days and we didn’t want to get stuck with a hotel we paid for that we couldn’t reach in time.
If you’re keeping tabs on my trip total, I’ve spent roughly $775.29 so far on parking, airfare, bike rental and two nights at two different hotels. I will try to keep my running total as accurate as possible but I will leave out small things like meals or drinks. I will also not include gas.
On the evening of 8/30/2017, my dad, John and I arrived at O’hare Airport on our bus shuttle from Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. We didn’t park at the airport because its way too expensive. We could park at Crowne Plaza for around half the price so six days of parking for $50 was not bad at all. We split this up between three people (my dad, John and myself). We met Troy at the airport because he was getting dropped off. If you’ve never been to ORD it’s usually a madhouse but we were lucky to get from the front door to our gate in under an hour. We had time to grab a bagel for breakfast and watch the plans come in and go.
To our surprise, our plane was a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I had never been on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, they are fairly new planes. The plane felt huge inside and the TVs on the back of every headrest were nice. The flight was pretty quick flying to the West Coast (a little over three hours) and it was so smooth. I think this had to do with the fact that the plane was massive and the newer technology newer plans are getting. Troy goes into a little 787 detail in the daily vlog video posted below, check it out. We got into LAX earlier than expected, about an hour early actually. However, because of our early arrival, there was no space at the gate so we had to taxi, which was an experience of its own. The plane was told to stay out on the runway and we would grab a shuttle bus to the nearest gate. I had never had to do something like this before but I guess that’s what happens at one of the busiest airports in the world.
After grabbing our luggage and picking up a ride from Troy’s good friend (Maritza), we headed to the famous In N’ Out burger for a bite to eat! Food coma and all, we checked into our first hotel to get some much needed sleep before we hit the road the next day.
DAY 1 SUMMARY:
Wednesday Aug 30th 2017: Flight from ORD @ 6:25pm – Arrive in LA @ 8:56pm | Eat @ In-N-Out Burger. Stay the night at Baymont Inn & Suites
Miles Traveled: 2,026miles/5hrs
Trip Total: $775.29
Day two started off with a quick continental breakfast and an Uber ride over to EagleRider Motorcycles in Hawthorne California where we would see our brand new Harley-Davidson’s for the first time. My Dad, Troy, and I chose the popular Street Glide and John chose the Electra Glide. The 2017 Harley Davidson’s have a new for 2017, Milwaukee-Eight 107 cubic inch motor, 111 lbs torque, 45mpg and weigh-in at 830 lbs. Although very similar bikes, visually, the Electra Glide offers trunk space and a fixed fairing. These bikes are beautiful, check them out!
Once we figured out how to navigate the LA traffic, we set our sights on the Hollywood sign. While it was only a short 24 mile trip, it took well over an hour because of traffic. We rode the twists and turns and the up and downs of the Hollywood Hills neighborhood and that was an experience altogether. I’m going to be honest here, I almost laid my bike down at a steep corner at a stop sign. There was a police officer creeping around the corner and I wanted to make sure I came to a full stop because I didn’t want any trouble. Well, a hard lesson learned, it’s very hard to stop a 850lbs bike on a steep uphill and then make a 90 degree turn.
As we seemed to pop out of the Hollywood Hills neighborhood, we could see glimpses of the sign from afar through the houses and trees. Beautiful houses lined the streets and you could tell you were out of the city and this was the place to live if you have deep pockets. Seeing the sign made me feel like I had officially arrived in LA. In the end it was worth fighting traffic because I believe everybody needs to see it at least once, it’s pretty cool and the park we were sitting in was a great change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the LA streets. The sign is iconic and I’ve seen it in so many movies and TV shows, I had to see it in person.
It was afternoon now and temperatures reached close to 110* F and in the LA traffic heading north, we started to become fatigued and exhausted very quickly. Not only did we have about 250 miles more to go today, but we were also out of water already. We had to stop on the side of the road to catch our breath and make sure our luggage did not come loose on the back of the bikes. There was a car broken down near us and it was overheating underneath the California sun. A pickup truck pulled up behind them to give them a lift and we felt like we had to ask them for water but felt embarrassed in doing so. Who doesn’t bring water riding through the California hills in late August?It was a very hot and quick stop but we needed to get back on the road for our next stop at the Teller-Morrow Son’s of Anarchy garage. If you are not familiar with the show and are a fan of motorcycles, it’s a must watch drama and action packed TV series on FX. Purchase the whole series HERE.
After the guys in the pickup truck gave us some water and we re-packed our bags, we were ready to hit the road again. The famous Highway 5 was a beautiful ride despite the hot temps. Up and down the hills we rode, finally free of the LA traffic and heading straight north. A quick rain shower brought some relief from the heat and felt really good.
I want to take a second and point out how crucial our Sena bluetooth headsets were on the entirety of this trip. You can find them on Amazon, right HERE. Troy and I each had a headset so we could communicate while riding. The unit sits on the outside of our helmet with a microphone and speakers situated comfortably inside the helmet. When one of us was navigating the other would use the headset to relay the information to the other person. Basically, they were built-in walkie talkies.
As the sun was starting to set on Day two we got closer and closer to our destination of Oakhurst California. We reached town a couple of hours after nightfall and grabbed some ice cream at a local McDonald’s before heading to our hotel and checking in at Yosemite Sierra Inn.
DAY 2 SUMMARY:
Thursday Aug 31st 2017: Ride towards Yosemite, first stop at Hollywood sign and the Teller-Morrow Garage. Destination – Yosemite Sierra Inn, Oakhurst, CA
Miles Traveled: 285miles/5.5hrs
Map Route: https://goo.gl/BeFXV2
Trip Total: $775.29
Waking up at the crack of dawn, opening up the hotel door and looking straight out into the mountains is a thing of beauty. As ash filled the dense air we had our sights set on Yosemite National Park. We quickly grabbed some breakfast from the hotel lobby and packed our bikes to hit the road. But, before we left I was able to get some great photos and drone footage. Check it out in the vlog video at the bottom of this page.
As we left Yosemite Sierra Inn, we headed up the winding roads north of the city. Yosemite National Park was only about 15miles from our hotel and we planned it that way so we could be one of the first to enter. Since we were traveling by motorcycle it was going to cost us $20 per bike to enter. However, about seven miles north of our hotel, the road was shut down because of wildfires in the area. Not the news we wanted to start off our day. Before heading into our hotel the night before we noticed ask and dust on our bikes in the hotel parking lot. We figured this was from a local campfire or a small fire. Boy, were we wrong! Turns out that this part of the state was having some of the most intense and widespread fires in history. To be honest, we should’ve known better because on our ride up the mountain it was hard to see, breathe and function riding through the mountains, ash and smoke-filled the air. Once we hit the point in the road where police officers and the roadblock were closing the road, we were forced to turn around. We were greeted by a local and inquired about what was going on and how we could still make a trip to Yosemite. They were very informative and it was nice of them to grab this photo of us (see below). However, we learned that a trip to Yosemite just wasn’t feasible going an alternative route. The alternative route would’ve taken us over two hours and we just wouldn’t have the time to make up that ground. It was some very sad news at the time as this was one of the big highlights of the trip.
As we backed tracked down the mountain a little and through the valley’s the ride was as beautiful as ever. It’s hard to complain that we didn’t get to Yosemite when your’e on vacation and riding a motorcycle through great scenery like in California. As Oakhurst was fading in our rear view, mirror we headed northwest up route 49 to see what we could find. We followed route 49 about an hour to a little town called Mariposa. With only a population of about 2,000 people this small town had a lot of character. The main street was loaded with places to shop, eat, drink and sightsee. It made for a great place to take out the drone and make camera and get some great shots. We spent about 45minutes looking around and seeing what the town had to offer.
At this point we were still full from breakfast so we weren’t quite ready for lunch yet. We threw our leg over our bikes and we hit the road again. We headed west out of Mariposa on Route 104 and then merged onto Route 99. We were miles and miles away from Yosemite but you could still see the burned down fields, houses and businesses long after we left. I had never seen anything like it before. Thousands of acres burnt down to the ground, blackness all around.
After riding for a couple of hours it was time to stop for lunch and see what the next town had in store. The next town, Modesto, was a lot bigger than the last. Population here hovers around 210,000 people. We drove up and down the local city streets for a little bit to find an appealing place to east. We noticed a sports bar and grill on the corner that looked promising so we circled the block a few times looking for parking. The place was called “The Fox Pub” and it had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I have ever had. Most importantly though, it had very cold air conditioning! Let’s not forget, the weather has been hovering around 100 degrees for the past three days and with all the motorcycle gear on and the heavy bikes, we were always drenched in sweat. You could probably imagine how good a cold beer tasted. I think what kept us going was the motivation to travel and see as much as we could. I highly recommend these heat out shirts. When they are moist, they have activated technology that helps keep you cool. In this heat, these were paramount.
With our stomachs full and our bodies cool, we rode northwest on 99 with our sights on Oakland. We took 99 north to Route 120, which turned into 5, which turned into 205, which turned into Route 580. Along the way we saw a lot of golden hills and highway ride time, not the most scenic part of our trip. I did enjoy the fields of Windmills and the 80mph average speed that kept us cool. For most of the trip I had my full face helmet on. EagleRider offered us brain bucket helmets but I kept it on my luggage rack. I wore the full face helmet for a couple of reasons. The helmet kept my face out of the sun, which kept me cooler. It has the bluetooth headset so I could talk to Troy and whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Just kidding, we were mostly cracking jokes, navigating and bitching about how hot outside is was. And lastly, I felt more comfortable and safer with my full face helmet on navigating roads, cities and highways I was unfamiliar with.
By the time we reached Oakland California a couple of hours later we were so exhaust and tired of sitting in traffic. Frustration led us to pull off on a side street in a suburb of Oakland to take a breather. We had no idea where we were and what neighborhood we were in, Oakland can be a bad place to get lost…
We sat on the curb for a few minutes, some of us even laying down on the grass to close our eyes in such a way that we were thankful to have come this far and get here safely. The neighborhood seemed to be safe so we started to plan the rest of our day and night. We needed to find a place to stay for the night and we know we needed to eat as well. The thing about riding on a motorcycle is, you can’t do a quick Google search at a stoplight or while you’re driving. In fact, please never text and drive! Talks about where to stay and dinner plans became a hard task at the moment. We were out of water, Gatorade and food. Honestly, I think we were starting to become a little delusional at the moment. John became a little rambunctious and out of desperation went up to a the house we parked in front of to use the hose. I quickly followed and didn’t think twice about it. All four of us were now surrounding the faucet like we had never seen or tasted water before.
After a quick French bath under the hose we were approach from across the yard by a neighbor…
The neighbor’s house was owned by a lovely lady named Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn knew the house we were at and offered us some water, ice cubes and to come inside her house for a few minutes. We were blown away by her generous gesture and even hesitated at first. We did not want to be a burden for anybody but I think she could tell that we were exhausted by the looks on our faces and our body language. After what seemed like a gallon of water and a thousand ice cubes later, we started calling around to book a hotel. We found a Fairfield Inn & Suites in San Mateo, California for around $130. SOLD! Fifteen to twenty minutes later we felt refreshed and ready to head back out on our journey.
We headed south from the suburbs of Oakland, past the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and Oracle Arena where the Raiders and Golden State Warriors play. Then, we crossed the famous San Mateo–Hayward Bridge (commonly called the San Mateo Bridge). The bridge connects the San Francisco Peninsula with the East Bay. We had a beautiful view riding over the bridge and it was our first taste of the ocean. We knew we were finally getting closer to the coast.
Once we took an exit right off the bridge, our hotel for the night was just a short few miles. The front desk had freshly squeezed lemon water and we were trying not to look like slobs as Troy and I drank half of the container. We finished checking in and got to our room to throw on our bathing suits to hit the pool. For the first time on our trip, we were truly relaxing poolside while taking in the sunset.
After a relaxing evening down by the pool it was time to find a unique place to eat. There were many chain restaurants surrounding the hotel but I wanted something different, I’m a bit of a foodie. Troy and I searched google maps and we noticed San Jose was not that far away and we thought why not cross off another city on our trip. John and my dad decided to stay back at the hotel and get some extra shut-eye so Troy and I made the 60 mile round trip. Driving at night was a different experience. It’s hard to see and we didn’t know where we were going so we relied heavily on our phones again for GPS. The route was mostly highway but the one way streets in the small city were a little confusing when trying to find parking. We were lucky to grab a spot and found a great Mexican restaurant to eat at called Mezcal.
The food was fresh, hot and very tasty. I loved the atmosphere, decor and the waiting staff. We got a table pretty quickly and decided to go all out and order the fresh-to-made table side guacamole dish. Say that five times fast. Just look at it… mmm tacos
DAY 3 SUMMARY:
Thursday Aug 31th 2017: Tried to explore Yosemite National Park but wildfires stopped us dead in our tracks. Headed towards Oakland and stopped in Mariposo and Modesto. Arrived in San Mateo. Went to dinner in San Jose.
Miles Traveled: 276miles/7hrs
Trip Total: $807.79
Map Route: https://goo.gl/maps/D1QTfwj96jR2
Ah, Day 4, Day 4 was a roller-coaster of emotions. Let’s jump into the good part where we visit one of the highlights of our trip, The Golden Gate Bridge!
We left the Fairfield Inn & Suites early Saturday morning and started heading to San Francisco. The town was amazing and I will be back, you can count on that. The streets are full of bright houses, character, parks and steep-sloped streets. San Francisco covers an area of about 46.89 square miles and has a 2017 census-estimated population of 884,363.
As we took the last turn on Veterans Blvd into the Welcome Center to park our bikes, I was stunned. This wonder of the world was spectacular, I could not believe my eyes. Seeing the bridge in person is a thing of beauty. It really makes you think how smart we are as human beings. It is not known how many workers worked on the bridge but it was engineered by 11 different contractors. Just like the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge is something you absolutely must experience in person. Pictures and videos do not do it justice. It is HUGE and at over one mile long, it better be a clear day or you can’t see the other side. The morning was beautiful and we could see the bridge stretch across the Pacific to the other side in Marnin County. Check out some of the photos below that I was able to grab.
We spent a good 45min or so at the bridge but we could’ve stayed a lot longer if we had more time. I wish we would’ve been able to go across the bridge or see it from a different angle but we had to keep moving if we were going to head down the coast today. We left the Golden Gate Bridge and made our way to Pier 47, navigating the hilly streets and trying to take in all the city had to offer.
Next up on our tour was Lombard street. This famous steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns stretches from The Presidio east to The Embarcadero. This one block section lays claim to be “the crookedest street in the world”. It is a major tourist attraction, receiving around two million visitors per year and up to 17,000 per day on busy summer weekend. The street lives up to its name and it was crowded, even in the morning. We stopped to marvel at it from the top and then we walked down to the bottom. But, not before we watched John take his bike down it. What a cool experience for him and I’m glad one of us was able to accomplish this.
People watching here was at its finest, it kept us entertained for a while.
As mid-morning turned into late morning, we had to head to our next “Tour de’ San Fransisco” location, Pier 47 & Hyde Street Pier. Hyde Street Pier was full of sail boats and ship, most notably the ship C.A. Thayer. C.A. Thayer is a schooner built in 1895 near Eureka, California. The boat is 219′ and is gorgeous. Take a look!
Jefferson St near Hyde Street Pier had a bunch of gift shops and I bought a snapback and a few shot glasses. We took a minute to stroll down the street and then back up to Ghirardelli Square to grab some of their renowned ice cream sundae’s and chocolate. The sundae was expensive but we were on vacation and price didn’t matter. But, if you’re taking a family of five, I would suggest hiding the kids eyes while passing this place, each sundae is between $10-$16 on average but man was it good.
If I knew what was in store for us the rest of the day, I would’ve bought a second ice cream at Ghirardelli’s because the trip took a quick downward turn afterwards. Once we finished eating we started planning our route south down Pacific Coast Highway. We noticed that there were road closures and had to re-route. Before the trip we knew there was at least one road closure because of a big landslide in May of 2017 near Big Sur. The landslide buried PCH under 40 feet of dirt and rock. So, because of our time constraints and road closures we were forced to miss over 50% of State Route 1. This is where our nightmare first started.
The plan was to ride PCH through Santa Cruz and past Monterey Bay to the Bixby Creek bridge and then backtrack to Highway 101. Since we were now out of San Fran, we thought getting a hotel somewhere down the road later tonight would be no problem, so we didn’t worry about it. On our way down to Santa Cruz there was a very cool high-speed section of Route 17 that zigzags back and forth, great twisties for riding.
However, fighting traffic and heat (temperatures were hovering around 115 degrees) it got so bad that we had to stop and take a break. Our hands and legs were cramping and we were drenched in sweat and tears (just kidding about the tears part but we really wanted to see PCH and the Bixby bridge!). For the first time on our trip we decided to lane split. If you’re not familiar with the term, lane splitting is the process of splitting the lanes in between cars so you can skip out on traffic and head to the front of the line. This is perfectly legal in California but not in many states. It was very scary at first but it helped preserve our energy. Secretively I would like to admit it was quite fun but nerve wrecking and adrenaline pumping at the same time.
This is what heat exhaustion looks like, it’s not good. Thankfully we stopped in time because one of us was going to pass out soon. I was starting to get light-headed, dizzy and I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. We had only been riding for about an hour and a half but the sun, heat and traffic really takes a toll on your body. Being on a motorcycle has its advantages, but not when it’s this hot. We stopped to fill up and grab more Gatorade and water before our long ride to Morro Bay. Again, the ride was supposed to be the highlight of the trip with stops at the Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, McWay Falls and miles upon miles of ocean on one side and mountains on the other. Alternatively, we had to take the two and a half hour ride down Route 101 until we reached Morro Bay around 8pm that night. Morro Bay is a quaint little town with lots of vibe and colorful streets. The main attraction though it Morro Rock.
We finally sat down for dinner and drinks around 9pm at a very cool pub and grill called “Otter Rock Cafe”. The restaurant was slammed and service was pretty slow but the atmosphere was vibrant and there was a live band playing in the main room. Over dinner we discussed our plans for the rest of the trip. Then, we started looking and calling for hotels around the area. All the hotels, motels and AirBnb’s in the area said no vacancy, booked, sorry… I guess there was an art show in town and a yearly car show in the other town. Add the fact that it was a holiday weekend, the heat forcing people out of their homes to stay in the AC and the wildfires, we were out of luck in Morro Bay. We started getting tired and we were still not able to find a place to stay for the night. So, we tried calling towns 20miles out, 30miles out, 50miles out. Their response was the same, “no vacancy, booked, sorry”. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you that there were no hotels, motels, hostels, fire departments, police departments or a couch to stay on within 100 miles of our current location. What could we do? Get back on the bikes and start to keep riding south to find vacancy and that’s what we did.
We had a hunch from a website and a phone call that there might be a vacancy at a Motel 6 about 55 miles out from our location and set our sights on Santa Maria. As we pulled up to the filled parking lot we knew in our minds we had no chance of getting in but we went to the front desk and tried anyways. We were grasping at straws and just hoping some luck would find our way. But, no such luck at this particular Motel 6 so we kept on riding. Nightime riding is a scary thing, especially with no road lights and traveling at an average speed of 65-70mph on the highway. You never know what’s going to jump out in front of you and what you can’t see on the road. My eyes were getting heavy, my throat dry and my headache and dizziness were starting to come back. Really, the only thing that kept me awake was Troy in my headset. That is, until our batteries died and we lost communication. All I had left to keep me awake was the ambition to not crash, the sound of the engine and blasting music to keep me from fading off.
Over this hills and through the mountains we rode 110 miles and ended up in Santa Barbara around 1am. That’s 110 miles farther than we planned, not to mention it was in the middle of the night. Right before we entered Santa Barbara, we crossed over the Los Padres National Forest. This was an incredible ride up and down through valleys and canyons. It seemed to be cooler and the temperatures dropped 15-20 degrees and it was such a relief. The cooler temps and the great ride woke me up as we entered town but I was still dead tired.
We came to a gas station in town to gas up and check out the local hotels, motels and hostiles. Not knowing if there was anything available we called hotel after hotel. Between the four of us, we’ve had to call at least 25+ hotels and we all came up empty.
We called the police, we called the local firehouse.
I guess they don’t take people in?
This is how it happens…we were sleeping outside for the night.
2am rolls by, 3am rolls by, 4am rolls by.
Troy was passed out on the patch of grass by the curb. My dad was passed out on the side of his bike. John was nodding off and so was I.
4:30am – Troy comes around the corner, so tired he could barely speak…I noticed a stranger behind him and became concerned very quickly so I jumped off my bike to see what was going on. Troy comes up to me and says “this guy asked if we wanted to stay at his place, he’s just down the street”. My first thought was to say “Heck yes, absolutely!”. But then my natural instincts kicked in and I had concerns. I was torn as to what do to. Do we stay at a strangers house in the middle of a city in which we didn’t know? Do we say yes and hopefully nothing bad happens? I mean, what could go wrong at this point? We didn’t have a lot to lose besides the clothes on our back and the credit cards in our pocket.
This is what we did; Troy and I stood with the four bikes at the gas station and my dad and John went with Carlos to check out his place. We started to get nervous after 20 minutes passed by and there was no sign of their return. A few minutes later and we finally saw them in the distance. Thank god they were safe and on their way back. They said the place was just a block away and had a nice room to sleep in with a bed and space on the floor.
The slight smile on my face was all I could muster with the remaining energy I had left before passing out.
DAY 4 SUMMARY:
Saturday September 1st, 2017: Tried to ride down PCH but road closures stopped us. Headed towards Morro Bay and could not find a hotel. Slept at a gas station in Santa Barbara until 4am and eventually met a stranger who said we could stay with him.
Miles Traveled: 400miles/14hrs
Trip Total: $831.88
Map Route: https://goo.gl/maps/RsTmkHs4nLv
Day five couldn’t start off any worse than the end of day four, right?
After a brief two-hour slumber we woke up to the sound of a tow truck backing up and lifting our bikes onto it. It was roughly around 7am at this point in time. We rushed out of the house in barely shorts and a shirt to see what in the world was going on. Bob Holzer Towing got a call from a next door neighbor that claimed our bikes were blocking their driveway. So, instead of knocking on the door or ringing the door bell of his fellow neighbor, this inconsiderate asshat called the police. Once we found out why the tow truck was taking away our bikes and that the neighbor next door called the police, things became heated pretty quickly between us and the neighbor who called. Let’s call him Richard (Dick for short).
Dick claimed his wife had to go to work early Sunday morning so that’s why he called. Hours before we were told by Carlos we could park at his place, so we parked in the driveway. What Carlos didn’t say is that he shared the driveway with his neighbor. Two bikes parked in the driveway and two bikes parked on the street. Carlos, in broken English, was very apologetic for the miss-confusion and we understood. What we didn’t understand was why the neighbor didn’t handle the situation like a grown adult and confront the situation head on. In the end, only one bike made it onto the tow truck bed and we ended up paying $175 for a drop-fee to get the bike off the trailer bed. The police officer also gave two bikes a ticket for “blocking the sidewalk” for an additional $75. I’m sorry, but are many people using the sidewalks at 7am, no I didn’t think so either! This was the start to Day 5. We woke up to a bike on a tow truck bed, a police officer and in a strangers house.
Not all was lost though, we were thankful for Carlos and that we had a couple of hours of sleep with a roof over our head. I will tell you one thing though, I never want to be without a place to sleep, that is for sure.
Before we said goodbye to Carlos we left some cash that we had in our pocket as a nice gesture for letting four random strangers stay in his extra bedroom.
With hardly any sleep and nothing to eat, we tried to turn the day around by heading to the Santa Barbara Pier.
The Santa Barbara Pier was beautiful and the sight and smell of the ocean brought me to my happy place. I’ve always wanted to walk down one of those big wooden piers that jet hundreds of feet into the ocean in California. We didn’t know we could ride our bikes on it so that was a bummer that we didn’t get to experience that. But, we did walk all the way to the end, stop for some photos and just reflect a little bit on our trip.
And then, I get a phone call from my dad. He was stopped by the same police officer from this morning…
Luckily this time it was just because one of us left our headlights on. I’ll tell ya, at this point in the trip we were absolutely spent and couldn’t think straight. We had gone over 24hours without much sleep, rest and food and the continued heat wave was unreal. Nonstop 100+ degree days, out in the sun, all day, every day. It definitely took a toll on our bodies and mental state, something we did not take in account before starting our journey. Sometimes mother nature can be a real mother$#@#$@!…hey did you see that huge whale in the last photo slider?
We dug our toes in the sand for a few minutes just to say we went on the beach and then headed back to our bikes to throw our leg over and keep heading south down PCH. Our trip plans were totally off at this point and we honestly just wanted to get back to LA safe and sound. We couldn’t afford anything else to go wrong and we needed to make sure we had a place to stay the night before our bike drop off and plane ride home the next day.
Things started to look up after we left Santa Barbara in our rear-view mirror. When we rode down Highway 1 and past Malibu, the traffic let up and the seaside landscape was so beautiful that I wish we had taken more time to stop and admire it. At one point there were thousands of campers along the shore and beach. They might have been envious of us on our Harley’s riding by, but we were envious of them chilling on the beach with nowhere to be. It was something that I’ve never seen before, the amount of campers was crazy!
We were seeing a lot of bikers now, something that we didn’t see a lot of on the rest of the trip. Probably because it was cooler riding along the coast and the heat was manageable. At 85 degrees, it felt cold to us, ha.
Our bike ride from Santa Barbara back to LA was one of my top rides of the trip. The coastline is rich with vibrant beach-houses, businesses as PCH twisted and turned. Despite the twists and turns, it was hard to keep my eyes on the road, there was so much to look at. Let’s start with the ocean and the waves crashing just on the other side of the guard rail. Or the beaches that stretch for miles and miles. Everybody seemed so happy carrying beach bags and surfboards to visit the Pacific. Next time, next time…
We pulled into our final resting stop at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott El Segundo around mid-afternoon and hit the pool. Of course, why wouldn’t we hit the pool after the last 48 hours we just had, it was much needed. I think I blacked out after this because I don’t remember what happened after the pool. Let us not forget, I basically didn’t sleep for the last two days. All the guys were doing their own thing at this point and just chilling out and enjoying the air conditioning and comfy hotel beds. How could a mom not love this face?
A picture says a thousand words. I can’t describe the amount of exhaustion we were feeling at this point. However, we did need to treat ourselves to a nice steak dinner so we washed up and took a stroll down the street from our hotel to find an upscale steak & seafood restaurant. I got the surf and turf special and it was spectacular. Dinner conversation was mostly centered around our trip and what we would do different next time. Nobody was ready to admit quite yet they were up for another motorcycle trip anytime soon.
As the sun was setting on our day and trip, we headed back to the hotel for a full nights rest.
DAY 5 SUMMARY:
Sunday September 2nd, 2017: Woke up to our bikes almost being towed at a strangers house in Santa Barbara, CA. Headed to Santa Barbara Pier. Made it safely back to the LA area. Went to dinner in El Segundo.
Miles Traveled: 101miles/3.5hrs
Trip Total: $897.10
Map Route: https://goo.gl/maps/D1QTfwj96jR2
We woke up at a decent time on our last day and decided to take one last ride. It was about 8:30am and we had our sights set on Long Beach, California.
Most of the marina was empty and we enjoyed a walk down the boardwalk to snap some photos of the boats and ships nearby. I flew my drone for a good 30 minutes or so but after the flight my data was corrupted and nothing actually recorded. I was super bummed because I hardly had the chance to fly it all trip since we were always rushing from one location to the next.
I’m not going to talk too much more about our last day because the video below sums up our trip pretty nicely. After we left the Long Beach Marina we headed back to the hotel to pack up our belongings for the last time and ride over to EagleRider to drop off our bikes. An Uber picked us up from EagleRider and took us back to the airport where we waited to board our plane back to Chicago.
DAY 6 SUMMARY:
Monday September 3rd, 2017: Took a ride to Long Beach California for one last ride. Dropped off the bikes at EagleRider and took our flight home.
Total Miles Traveled: 1136.9miles
Total Trip Cost: $897.10 – $1100
Map Route: https://goo.gl/maps/9Hvpdc1V3ER2