My name’s Indy; hear me roar.
My knees ached after my light jog through two airports. You’d think that sitting on my ass for 11 hours would help, however, it’s taken two days for my knee to stop screaming! Hey ho!
The first flight was with British Airways. Loads of space and superb service. The second flight – the one at gate 40, the furthest possible gate that you can imagine, (run Fi, run!) was with American Airlines. Evie, I have to say I was impressed. The stewards were very good. Ok, I had to break them a bit. The very first thing I had to get them to do was fill my water bottle. Yet again, the inside of my mouth was like Ghandi’s flip flop in the Nevada desert. Before I knew what was happening, I was getting buckets of lovely white wine. I realise that it’s not sensible to ‘overdo it’ on a long haul, but hell, they offered, I drank. The food was very acceptable. The films & entertainment were great, I haven’t a clue what I watched. Two little snoozes. Then there was an intermission where we got chocolate ice cream. Bonus.
The biggest pain in the ass is getting through customs. Geez oh. Then enter Mission Impossible theme tune….. taxi, driven by an Ethiopian – we had to try to get to Eagle Riders before they closed, so Ed could pick up the sat nav. This gave me an insight into the way Americans drive. Uh, ok. This will be different, don’t tell Mum! Managed it by the skin of our teeth. Hotel time. With a bit of assistance from Google, as the driver was getting it all wrong. Give him his due, he was apologetic. He got a tip. We then headed out to find food. We were a bit ‘staggery’ and the pair of us weaved our way down the street walked for an hour, found nothing other than Mexican food and ended up where we started. Chicken and chips. One step up from a Maccy D’s but not by much. Bed. Living the high life! The Hampton Inn’s bed was THE most comfortable I have slept in for a long time. We slept from 9:30pm through to about 7:30. Solid.
We were at Eagle Rider before they officially opened. My first bike was a matt grey colour, then all of a sudden, Bobby said he had one with a luggage rack. Enter, Indi. What a pretty wee thing.
A bit of farting around, we were on our way. A wee text to Ewan, sat nav set. Didn’t last long, after all that, Ed realised that he had a screen on his bike that he really didn’t want. Back to the garage! Open your eyes, man!
We had a lovely cuppa with Ewan, meeting 3 of his daughters. He asked if we wanted to ride the PCH or through the twisties. It took a nano-second to answer that question….. I was virtually jumping up and down with excitement! Then we were off, riding through the canyons to Neptune’s Net for a bite to eat. It was an excellent way to get used to the wee bike and work out the handling. Ed had given me a top tip. With the rake of the forks, I might find the bike appearing to ‘collapse’ doing slow turning. I realised fairly early on exactly what he was talking about. A strange sensation. A bit of gas and positive steering soon sorts that out! It certainly is a very different bike to what I’m used to!
Naturally, Ewan led. I’d never ridden with him before, however, it was apparent he is an accomplished rider. No shit, Sherlock! I won’t put my analytical Observer hat on. He wasn’t hanging around though. Good man. Good lines, safe, excellent control and great awareness. It was also great to see how he dealt with 4-way cross roads, which, if you aren’t familiar with them, it can be a bit daunting. To sum it up; first come first served. If you have never had to deal with a four way intersection without lights to help, it can be a bit odd! What’s been good, there have been a lot of occasions where cars have let us go first. Cheers.
It was such a privilege to have the chance to ride with him. Cheers, Ewan. It kick started our holiday so well and it was all in the timing. I totally realise what a lucky lady I am! Ed was also blown away. I think it was words to the effect of, “He’s one of the nicest, down to earth people I have ever met!” Now, coming from Ed, that’s a massive compliment! At Neptune’s Net, where we stopped for lunch, a few people spoke to him and he was quite frankly, charming, as you would expect. There were a couple of lads that came up to ask him for a photo. No problem. What made me inwardly snigger was their introduction, “We’re in the Navy…..” I nearly burst into song. Luckily my inside voice kept its trap shut. We did have a bit of a snort about it once they’d gone.
Sadly, he left to go home at that point. I did consider hijacking him for the last leg of our journey. Never mind, we might have the chance to meet up with him again. Oh, go on then!
Next? A visit to Mike’s cousin Ali. They live in Santa Barbara up in the hills. Ali, Rupert, Miles and Grace were all there as our welcoming committee. A truly stunning setting, with the most astonishing view. Sorry I wasn’t able to bring Ewan, Ali. I did however, bring Crunchies. I also took Wispas and regular milk chocolate. It wasn’t as big a hit as taking Ewan, but a close second! We just had to do the sticker thing:
Now, at this point, I think Ali might kill me. A day after our visit, she sent me a message. It goes like this….. “Is it wrong a mother hides a Crunchie down the front of her knickers then sneaks off downstairs (unashamedly) to scoff the lot?” COME ON ALI! The Crunchies are yours, NOT anyone else’s. I did PMSL.
Now, talking about hospitality, I have to say the family were awesome. Grace, quite the young lady, suggested we had a shower first. Nice. She probably looked at my skanky bike gear, which in my defence has been laundered recently, but still looking a bit erm ‘experienced’ and thought that it would be of benefit to everyone! She was right. There’s just something superb about a shower after being out on the bike. Especially after following Ewan McGregor. Ok. Sorry ladies, I hope it was water you spat out and nothing important, like wine!
Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, hospitality. Thank you to the Laslett family. I can’t remember the last time I was blown away by a welcome. As for dinner, boy, the girl can cook, what an amazing curry! We went out for breakfast the next morning, down to the beach. I was promised dolphins (which are up there with cats and squirrels) but got seals. That’s fine though. Breakfast wasn’t my usual. It involved corn tortillas, fried egg, avocado, sour cream, double fried beans (still make me gag) and potatoes with veg. Not my normal option which on occasions can involve salad with bacon and mushroom, soup with a banana or porridge (boke). Jeez oh, who’s the odd one here? Hell, it was Ali’s favourite, so I gave it a go. You know what, it was lovely. Ali then went off to college and Rup gave us a tour aboot. What a drop dead gorgeous place.
We had been told not to miss going for some wine tastings, so, we left the lovely Lasletts and headed up the road to Los Olivos. Now, at this point I have done 100 miles on Indy when the fuel light came on. Apparently, there were 30 miles in reserve. We pulled into Los Olivos ….. cough…. splutter….. fut. Indy had run out of fuel, at 130 miles on the nose. Don’t fret, Ed did his superman bit, rode off, leaving me to talk to the locals and other friendly tourists. It was lovely. A cute little place. Basically a street of vineyard tasting rooms. Once Ed returned with a container of fuel, we cut the arse off a coke bottle and funnelled the fuel into Indy.
We were staying at Solvang, a very odd Danish style town in the middle of Californian wine region. It was really quite quirky, alas, we didn’t get a chance to have a look aboot. Too important to get to the wine! Hotel was comfy. Common theme so far is really comfy beds. I nearly needed a step ladder to get on to it!
We got a taxi back to Los Olivos and randomly selected a tasting house. The measures were 1oz. Hardly enough to get squiffy, however, after three tastings, we were certainly getting there! The last tasting house was where I’d been in for a nosey when Ed was away for fuel. That’s when I met Dana and Justice, when I first arrived, when I was waiting on Ed. Wonder why his parents called him that? That was our last stott spot before dinner. We stotted along (no street lights, hazardous when pissed) to Shoes, which was recommended by Ali. Good shout, it was delicious. More wine, and a wee freebie of the most amazing bacon which was marinated in maple syrup. Oh. My. God! We met a couple in the tasting rooms and had a great blether; Lisa and Lee who were eating in the same place. Bless them, they bought us a nightcap. Just to completely push us over the edge.
The taxi arrived, he asked us where we wanted to go. We couldn’t remember. In the slightest. I had to look at my emails. Completely shit faced.
Onwards the next morning to Carmel, up the stunning Pacific Coast Highway. Crashing waves, lovely twisty roads and quite a lot of traffic. My arse and legs were starting to get used to the riding position on Indi. We stopped to see the elephant seals, HUGE monsters! When we arrived at Carmel, we went straight to the seafront. Gorgeous. On to booking dot com. A surprisingly cheap hotel, considering the venue. Very comfy, with an outside, heated swimming pool and sauna. Yes, we did.
At the pub down the road we met a lovely couple, who gave us some top tips for visiting San Francisco. Thanks, Kimi & Chuck for the advice and the maps, very handy indeed. Late dinner and bed. See a pattern? Out like a light.
More of the PCH, on to SF. Ed said he enjoyed that part more. It was lovely, and slowly but surely, the traffic increased with Thanksgiving the next day. We had booked a hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf, ideal. A really funky room with a dart board and backgammon set provided. We had had lunch in a restaurant over the Golden Gate Bridge, as recommended by Kimi, so we searched out a bar we had been told about.
Lukas @ Kennedy’s Bar. Now there’s a character. Straight away, there was a battle of personalities. Alpha males competing for centre stage. Ed could not get a word in. Really. Well, ok, he got one or two. I had Sauvignon Blanc on tap. The credit card was hit tonight. Boy, can he talk! Interesting music. Check out Little Dragon. Shazam COULD NOT COPE. Must find them, copy the link, send it to Mike, he’ll sort it. Might be shite, however, a couple of interesting tracks. Might have been my wine ears.
The next day, we went on a wee ride about San Francisco. Up and down the streets, especially the one with the tram lines. Indy was like riding a hot water bottle. Her exhausts are so close to my right leg, I have to keep my right foot on the peg when we are at a stop. Not an issue, just something else to get to grips with. Hot girl.
Our plan was to get to Hollister – which was the setting for the film, The Wild One with Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin. Before though, we made sure that we went back over the GGB to get a spot for a photo. It was just too busy the day before. We found a great spot, and afterwards headed over the Richmond bridge and stonked our way down the freeway.
We got to Hollister by mid-afternoon. There on the side of the road was an Indian dealership. Fabulous folk, free coffee and funky t-shirts. After that visit, we found a Motel, showered and walked into town to Johnny’s bar. At this point, ‘you get what you pay for’ springs to mind. The Motel room was a bit dodgy. Plastic under sheets and the rear of the toilet door had a hole where someone had smashed their fist. EEK! It was a shade of brown. You can paint your own picture. It was so bad, I didn’t take a photo. Chicken dinner in town was yummy. Early to bed again!
The next morning, we opened the door to find two police cruisers outside our door. That kind of sums up the type of clientele at this place. One of the officers spoke to Ed and warned him about the slippy roads. He said that because they’re not used to rain and to be quite honest the road structure isn’t good for the wet stuff. The officer said that if a corner has a 25mph sign, do it. Also, the tomato farmers go down the Main Street dropping tomatoes on the road. They’re slippy. Ok, so, I reckon it’s like this. Californians just don’t know how to drive OR ride in the rain. Cornering in the rain is perhaps a step too far!
We had a ball. I thought we were heading for Bakersfield. Ed had other plans. It had basically pissed with rain the whole day. We were dry underneath, however, Ed asked if I could manage another 30 minutes riding. I could at a push. I had to push my tiredness away and really focus. I was getting very tired and what was promised to be 30 minutes was a shit lot longer, through the most amazing canyon with the biggest boulders I have ever clapped eyes on. As it got darker, it started to rain again and I would swear there was sleet too. Ed at least had the honesty to pull over and say, “Oops!” I am glad he said that because I was cursing him under my breath. Bless him, the first place he stopped was a liquor store. Wine purchased as a sweetener! Luckily there were a couple of locals who recommended a roadside hotel. Boy, what a welcome sight, at dark o’clock, wind, rain, snow on the way. Shining up on the road a ‘vacancy’ sign. The room was bliss. A huge bed, and all lovely and fresh. The opposite of the night before, that’s for sure. The extra bonus was the truly fantastic steak dinner that we had. It was one of the tastiest that both of us have had in a long, long time. We were in bed for about 8:45pm. Completely gubbed!
So far, brilliant. As for the next day? Well, you’ll have to wait a bit for that instalment!