San Diego Trip - March 2004
Getting to San Diego: 1384 miles in three days
So, my wife Joanna and I had 9 days off, and we decided to head from Seattle to San Diego for some fun. I was really eager to take the new (to me) 82 GoldWing 1100 out on the road. It is in great mechanical shape (with the exception of possibly needing a new clutch soon) and has new Dunlop 491 tires on it, so it definately needed a good workout for a few days. We loaded up the bags with too much stuff and hit the road. The following is transcribed from my trip journal, with pictures by my lovely wife.
Sunday: 618 miles
We left Seattle a little later than expected (as usual) at 7:50 AM and rode pretty much straight south on I-5 towards Portland. After 130 miles, we stopped for gas and a short break in Kelso WA. The bike was running really well, and we slabbed on. The trip wasnt too exciting up to this point. Mostly straight roads, but the scenery was kinda nice in southern Oregon.
The next leg, from Medford to Redding CA (170 miles) was by far the best of the day. Fast, twisty mountain passes up and over the Siskiyou Pass and around Mt. Shasta. I was doing about 75 mph and loving it. Unfortunately, it was growing dark towards the end into Redding and I had to pull over at one point to remove my sunglasses so I could see the road.
We stayed in Motel 6 and ate terrible mexican food at La Cabana, the only open restaurant in the area that we could find. It was a long day, and sleep came easily.
Monday: 304 miles
We left Redding about 10 AM and headed south. We finally got a chance to get off of I-5 for awhile and took the 505 to 80 to 680 and into San Jose. It was very windy in the San Jose area, and we needed to stop for awhile.
Luckily, our first planned sightseeing stop was in San Jose at the Winchester Mystery House a huge mansion built over 38 years that started with 8 rooms and grew to 160 rooms. Besides being huge, the structure is very odd, with secret passages and doors to nowhere, and many references to the number 13. All of the finishings inside were made of the finest materials, with many examples of Tiffany glass. Well worth the entry fee!
Frontal View of the Mansion
Side view of the Mansion
The Grand Ballroom
Organ in the Grand Ballroom
Beautiful Sparkly Windows
The Door to Nowhere
After the House stop, we made our way to visit Sandra and Cindy in Livermore. They greeted us with hugs, a feast, and great hospitality. They truly are the Hostesses with the Mostesses! It was really great to see them again, and we chatted for hours on many crazy topics.
Tuesday: 462 miles
We left Livermore at 9 AM and stopped along the way to have breakfast at Dennys. Then we slabbed on.
So Boring!! This is my least favorite part of I-5: straight, flat, and hot. It was during this time that I decided to take 101 on the way back through California. Anything had to be better than this! After what seemed like days, we made it to the hills north of LA. Finally some nice scenery! Gassed up at the top, and parted the smog to head into LA. The air was thicker and dirtier than I had ever seen before. I could barely see the hills I was riding past. How do people live in that city?
I ignored all advice and decided to stay on I-5 through LA at 3:30 PM. Big Mistake! Rush hour starts early here (or maybe it never ends). We sat on the freeway in stop&go traffic and hated it. It didnt help that we kept getting passed by lane-splitting motorcycles. Finally I decided enough was enough and I went for it. This was my first time ever lane-splitting, and it sure was great. Splitting is pretty easy and kinda fun, but a little scary at the same time. I now understand why splitting is so big in California: its a necessity to get through traffic!
After LA, we got to the best HOV lanes ever. They are divided from the main roadway which helps keep other traffic at bay, and they even double into two lanes at times.
We stopped for a quick break in Oceanside and then blasted towards San Diego and our destination, Coronado Island. Since we hit SD around rush hour, I got to practice my lane splitting a bit more. Fun! Got to Coronado and met up with Joannas cousin Nancy, and had great Mexican food at a local island restaurant.
Staying in San Diego: ~100 miles in three days
We were tired after so much travel, so we hung around the house most of the morning. Plus Nancy was trying to get back to Phoenix, so we wanted to see her a bit more before she left. Eventually we decided to see some sights, and we headed up to Point Loma to see the view.
The explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Ghost inside the lighthouse!
Afterwards, we stopped by Old Town, the original settlement in San Diego. Mostly it is just a tourist trap now, with very little historical info. We grew bored and headed back home for the evening.
We went to the the beach on Coronado and looked around the Hotel Del Coronado. Interesting architecture, and all wood construction.
The Hotel Del Coronado
View of Point Loma from the beach of Coronado
Then we went to meet Chad 'Chief' Hartgrave from Streamline Tattoo, a tattoo artist I met in Seattle the week before, but who lives in San Diego now. While he was in Seattle, we had been discussing a piece I wanted, and we did the work down in SD. It is my third tattoo.
Chad doing his magic
Later that evening, we hit a SEAMUS concert (my original reason for going to SD), and hooked up with some old composer friends from Texas.
This was to be our last day in Coronado, and as much as I wanted to ride some of the local roads, I was just too lazy to do it. Maybe next time.
We hung around the island, walked downtown and had lunch, and soaked up the nice weather. Joanna made a great dinner, and we spent the evening with Kristin and Mike (cousins).
The Return Trip: 1446 miles in three days
Saturday: 560 miles
As usual, we hit the road late. Since heading down I-5 a few days before, I had decided highway 101 was the ticket home. Unfortunately I had to get through LA to hook up with 101. My plan was to hook up with highway 1, and take that through the beach cities out to 101. Little did I realize that 1 through the beaches is nothing but a redlight every block. After moving something like 5 miles in 30 minutes, I figured LA was the better choice. I took the first exit to the 405, and started moving again. Unfortunately, we hit the perpetual LA rush hour, but that just gave me a chance to practice my lane splitting some more. I am just starting to get confident with it.
Finally got through LA and stopped for lunch in Ventura. Hit the road again and decided on a slight detour from 101 by taking highway 154. WOW! What a great road. Nice twisties and elevation changes. Oh, and massive wind at times! Saw several other bikes out there, and they all looked happy. Hooked back into 101, and stopped in Santa Maria for gas. This area had the strongest wind I have ever felt in nice weather. I had to lean the bike to go straight, and several gusts kicked my front tire inches to the left.
We took another detour from 101 by taking highway 198 and connecting to highway 25 going north through Hollister. This road was quite nice, with rolling hills, nice turns, and no traffic (we passed only one car). Unfortunately, dusk settled in fast, and it was very dark by the time we got to Hollister.
Crossroads of 198 and 25
Got back on 101 and went through San Jose to Oakland to stay with our friend Jorge. We havent seen Jorge since the day we left Fort Worth, and it was great to see him again. He lives in this big warehouse loft in the industrial part of Oakland. A very Jorge place to live!
Pete, Rebecca, and Jorge
Sunday: 382 miles
We left Oakland very late, about noon, and promptly got lost trying to find 101. Traffic was thicker than I wanted, but eventually we made our way out of the city. The weather was hot, so we took a break in Healdsburg and stripped off excess gear. Traffic cleared up significantly and the road became fast and fun again. Stopped for gas in Leggett and saw the world famous Drive Through Tree. I have always wanted to see this tree, but found it rather underwhelming in person (but definately big).
The Drive Through Tree
We had more highspeed hiway fun into the Eureka area. This part of the country is so beautiful, I can see why the hippies like it so much. We needed some gas, but unfortunately hippies dont seem to live near gas stations (I guess thats why they were all hitch-hiking!). It took a bit of work to find some gas up the road. We continued up the coast into Crescent City, alternating between grand sunset ocean views and dense redwood forest roads. We slept in Crescent City.
Monday: 504 miles
I woke up kinda bummed, as I knew the 101 part of the trip was now over. But there was a big surprise in store before I hooked up with I-5. Highway 199 runs from Crescent City to Grants Pass OR. It is a very nice ride that starts in the redwoods, follows the river through a canyon for awhile, and ends in the hills of southern Oregon. The only problem was the traffic, as there were a few annoying cars to deal with. I was able to mostly maintain a fun speed.
We hooked into I-5 and enjoyed the scenery in southern Oregon, but our purpose was to book it home. The road got progressively straighter and clogged with traffic. We hit Portland just in time for early rush hour. I was wishing I could keep lane splitting. As soon as we got to Vancouver WA, there was suddenly no traffic and no wind. We booked it at around 85 forever, until traffic started piling up near The Great Pugetopolis. Gassed up in Tacoma and blasted into Seattle and home.
The trip was a big success. The bike ran great the whole way, although I did have to top off the oil several times. Might be worthwhile pulling the heads and replacing the oil seals, or possibly the rings. The clutch isnt making any more sound than it did before the trip, but I will definately do a new clutch before too long.
And how did we hold up? Well, we put nearly 3000 miles on the bike, so this is the longest trip either of us has been on via moto, and this was Joannas first multi-day trip. She held up quite well for all the miles we did, and has the makings for a fine Iron Butt. The bike really makes the difference, as I cannot imagine doing such a trip on my old Yamaha Maxim 550. I am considering getting the Corbin seat adjusted, as it makes me slide forward too often. Also, there are some odd wind-buffeting issues that only happen two-up. Minor issues, but fixing them now will make future trips even better.
Thanks for Reading!
Pete & Joanna
Joanna and Pete