So dad and I are beginning our epic trip to America and the Don Matthews CZ World Championships and flying the flag for New Zealand.
We made good time to the Airport from Porchester and I am sure I saw mum in the mirror fist pumping as we drove up the road.
At check-in it became apparent that my riding bag needed to shed 7kg in weight or face a £153 excess baggage charge.
So after some major bag repacking and me now wearing so many clothes it looks like I am going to Antarctica rather than California.
Now enjoying a nice coffee and juice to top up the fluids before our 11 hour flight.
See you soon America the Kiwi's are coming
Enjoyed some nice fush and chups at Fisherman's Wharf tonight after a long 11 hour flight and nearly 2 hours going through immigration.
Dad's dodgy leg will mean a few changes to the agenda but nothing that will stop us from enjoying the sites.
Very pleased with the 4x4 I have hired and will certainly be handy when we get to the mountains and possibly the snow.
Right off to sleep now and I won't need much rocking.
Wow, wow and wow !!!
The blue sky and sunshine were just amazing today and got the camera clicking away.
First of all we started at the hostel we were staying at. Perfect views even from our bedroom of the bridge and Alcatraz along with old fortifications from its military past.
Then we took a ride down Lombard Street which is very steep and twisty.
Then we jumped on to the Cable Car near Fisherman's Wharf which took us across town to Union Square and back.
We then took a very scenic drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Martin Headlands for breathtaking views of the whole bay area.
We then drove down the coast to Santa Cruz and watched the surfers going for it with the famous roller coasters in the background. Dad and I particularly loved this place and would love to come back for a few days and soak up the wicked atmosphere.
Finished up with a traffic congested drive down to Monterey.
Hopefully the fantastic weather continues as we make the long drive to Long Beach tomorrow.
Bought the old fella some Arnica for his dodgy peg and he says it is helping so fingers crossed he is on the mend.
Well the day started at Cannery Row in Monterey famous for the Del Monte factory. Then we took the "17 Mile Drive " through the gated road to the famous golf courses of Spanish Bay, Cypress Point and Pebble Beach. Even managed to get a photo of the US Open trophy which has been held 6 times in the last 100 years at Pebble Beach.
Next we cruised through Carmel which is where Clint Eastwood was Mayor until recently and still lives.
A brief stop at Moro Rock and then on to the Elephant Seal bay with over 1000 smelly elephant seals live.
With 200 miles go and time running out we just gunned it down to Long Beach and a night out with Mark Wilson at The Pike bar.
A short 100 mile trip from Long Beach through Los Angeles to spend the Day with Jim and Sandie near Hesperia.
With snow on the mountain tops and a stiff breeze it got a bit chilly. This meant that as we went for an off road drive into the desert we came across a rattle snake stretched out trying to warm up. Dad thought it was dead as it wasn't moving but after I chucked a small stone near it and really pissing it off, I got to hear the distinctive rattle and everyone else got a laugh as I shit myself and jumped back into the jeep for safety.
We stopped at a nice spot that is dedicated to Railway workers and provided a little oasis in the desert with amazing views of the 4 railway lines and motorway cutting through the valley.
I could not get over the length of the trains, the loads carried or the engines required to push the loads up the hill (5).
We finished up with a tasty dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and lots of motorbike tales being shared.
Nice relaxing day with a little drive down Route 66 through Victorville towards Barstow to start the day and stopping of at the Bottle Tree Ranch was interesting if not a bizarre place.
We then went and had a explore around the Southern California Logistics Airport which was formerly the George Air Force base up untill 1992. It has the second longest runway in America (3950 meters) and now appears to be largely used as a Aircraft breakers yard with thousands of planes being cut up for scrap. The airport has also been used in a lot of films including Pushing Tin, Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift, The Hulk, Jarhead, The Sum of all Fears, Oceans 11, Space Cowboys and Contact.
After putting the off road capabilities of our hire car to full use and getting it covered in desert dust we then headed to Mike Chamberlain's lakeside home for a fantastic bbq with a whole heap of motocross royalty.
We then set off on our 200 mile drive to Visalia arriving at 11.30pm.
Monday morning we headed an hours drive away to the Sequoia National Park. We climbed from the orange Grove plains of Visalia at 300 feet to nearly 8,000 feet in the park.
The drive was phenomenal and had lots of twists and turns as you climbed the mountains. Unfortunately some of the roads were closed due to snow and fallen trees so a lot of Dad's viewing was limited to the car.
Always trying to capture that perfect photo I on the other hand hiked over 15 miles with my camera gear including a 2.5 mile hike in complete darkness whilst playing chicken with the mountain lions and grizzly bears that were waiting to attack me behind every tree and knee deep in snow.
Moro Rock was a real lung buster after a 4.5 mile hike to it you then have a 797 foot climb to the summit at 6,725 feet that leaves you gasping for breath having just driven into the park.
The General Sherman tree was impressive at a height of 275 feet and a diameter of 25 feet and thought to have been seeded some time between 300 and 700BC.
Our overnight accommodation in a little log cabin was a bit different to some of the other places we had stayed in but the old fella said he got his best nights sleep of the trip.
I managed to catch some sun with all the walking but it sure did get cold overnight down to 1 or 2 degrees.
Today we had planned to drive to the end of Kings Canyon where we would have descended to 4500 feet and had mountains above us with peaks over 14,000 feet (deeper than the Grand Canyon), however due to snow and trees that had fallen down the road was closed.
Plan B was a drive down to Hulme lake which afforded a reasonable view of the canyon and an enjoyable drive in both directions.
We then headed back to Grant Grove to see the General Grant tree. Dad even managed the short walk to the point you could walk through one of the fallen trees.
We then drove to Fresno where we will stay over night and I got to have a swim and catch some rays as the temperature peaked at 32 degrees.
We went to a restaurant called Pismos for dinner which was fantastic for seafood and the locals also agreed as it was rammed out with people.
Well finally managed to get the blog going again after being out in the wilderness with out signal and then find out I can only have 150 photos in the blog (had to delete the older photos.
So Dad and I have been having a fantastic time with Dad particularly enjoying the steam train ride and the fact it had drive a system like he had never seen before.
The Yosemite Valley was absolutely breathtaking and hard for your eyes to actually take it all in. I was looking through my big lens at El Capitain and couldn't see the climbers. Someone with eyes better eyes than mine pointed me in the right direction and I still had to break out the tele-converter to get the shot.
There were a couple of special photographs I couldn't get due to road closure which was frustrating again but I am pleased with what I did get.
The Condo that I had booked was good but the dinner I cooked was less so lol.
Temperatures were again in the 30's so an absolute joy to be out and about.
So today should have been filled with more photo sites in and around Yosemite but once again they were closed due to snow which is hard to believe when it is 30 degrees plus.
So we made the most of a very enjoyable 2 hour drive to Oakdale through tight and twisty roads. This involved getting the tires screaching at every opportunity and when they weren't some little fatherly advice telling me that I must try harder lol
We made it to Oakdale which is a sleepy little farming town that reminded us a lot of Fielding in New Zealand.
We past a restaurant called Weiner Snitzel which is one of dad and I's favourite dishes so we decided to go there for dinner after a lazing about the pool for the afternoon As we walked to the restaurant we realised we could be in trouble after seeing that it was also a drive through We then found that they don't serve Weiner Snitzel at all but just hot dogs, corn dogs and spicy cheesy chips.
All that could be said was that it filled a hole and we slept well.
Nice and easy two hour drive to the track with a 30 minute detour after a crop duster was spotted in the distance This became a highlight of the trip so far for Dad as this crop duster was spreading rice sead into a paddy field which was a first for dad and the pilot
Having arrived at the track and made our introductions I proceeded to give out the shirts etc I had had made as gifts which went down a treat.
I walked the track and it will be quite sandy and tight and twisty so it will be important to get into a rhythm quite quickly.
My race bikes look good and I can't wait to get to ride them tomorrow.
Weather was scorching hot again and it could become an issue on race day.
Having a great time and pleased to be seeing the old fella really enjoying himself.
Well not really a hangover but it kind of felt like it for both of us after such a brilliant weekend of racing.
Dad started the day by joining a U2 spy plane pilot for breakfast and it turns out the photo I took could have been him flying out of Beale Airforce Base near the track.
We then began the drive to Fort Bragg stopping briefly for Dad to take some pictures at a crop dusting company that we were passing.
Once at Fort Bragg we stopped at Glass Beach where there is lots and lots of broken glass on the beach and lots of interesting animals and unusual flowers. The California Ground Squirrel was particularly friendly with dad and nearly got a cuddle. We also saw a couple of deer run across the beach and into the undergrowth. Dad also thinks he saw two whales just under water.
From there we headed up to the Avenue Of The Giants which was a long road with giant redwood trees along it. They seemed taller but narrower than the ones we saw in Sequoia.
We finished up in Eureka and after some food and a soak in the hot tub it was time for bed.
Our longest day of driving of the trip so far and we made the most of it. We continued some of the Grand Tourism Race driving from yesterday and combined it with some rally driving and some 4x4 off roading - in short all of the things you can do in a hire car but not your own lol.
We started at Fern Canyon that required us driving about 7 miles each way on a gravel road with 3 streams to cross on route. The canyon has cliff faces covered in ferns with tall trees above that made things darker than my photos actually show.
Then various other stops up the coast including one where I went wadding knee deep across a river to get the shots I wanted. My favourite stop is called Face Rock and you can really see it. Less so was Whale Rock.
These roads are so much fun to drive on but both of us were grateful of getting to the hotel tonight.
Today we drove up the coast stopping at the Devil's Punchbowl, Tillamook Air Museum, Neahkahnie Mountain, Cannon Beach, Astoria and then to Portland via Washington State.
Tillamook Air Museum was the surprise of the day as it used to be a Naval Air Blimp station with blimps up to 285 feet long based there. Very cool and interesting place that kept Dad thoroughly amused for a couple of hours.
I had a crazy mountain climb which helped get my legs going again as my quadriceps were incredibly tight after racing. It wasn't worth the climb from the photo point of view as trees are now blocking the view.
Didn't get to spend too much time at cannon beach but it was the right decision to keep things moving on.
Astoria was impressive and managed to get a photo of one of "The Goonies" film locations.
We then had a little run in with the police as I got radar checked by a police car driving in the opposite direction. The speed limit was 55mph and I was doing just over 60 but the policeman says I was doing 74mph. Regardless of that it is a $165 fine that significantly slowed the rest of the journey to Portland lol.
We crossed the bridge into Washington State and seeing some of the huge ships along the Columbia River blew us away along with the trains and log handling machines in the ports along the way.
Busy day again tomorrow and we will get up earlier to crack on with it.
Today started very overcast and a little cold in Portland and we were out on the road by 8.30am.
Multnomah Falls was a spot that featured in the film "The Shack" and was a nice place to start before the crouds arrived. We followed that with Vista House which overlooks the Columbia River with awesome views.
We then drove 150 miles to Sahalie Falls and Koosah Falls stopping off for a nice lunch at a roadside diner that could not have been nicer. The falls reminded me a lot of the Huka falls in New Zealand but with a higher drop. Whilst taking photos I nearly stepped in some fresh Bears poo that got me leaving the area 10 times quicker than I arrived lol.
We then tried to drive over the Mckenzie Highway but it was closed due to snow. It is a shame because it would have made for an interesting drive past the volcanic mountains.
Dad didn't fancy going out to Spoken Moto for the evening so I let him have a early night and I went out instead and had a great time meeting a few kiwi's in the process.