October 2017


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95429.94 – Post # 5

The San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest in the world with over 50,000 vehicles and 25,000 pedestrians crossing each day. We were a little unprepared for the chaos and added to it by selecting the wrong entry lane.

Playing a motorcycle version of frogger, we cut across 6 lanes of steady traffic, jumped cannonball sized speed bumps and made it to the immigration office where vehicle import permits and tourist cards were issued. 

After a quick stop at the beautiful Pacific coast city of Ensenada, we were on our way to the legendary Mike’s Sky Rancho.  The ranch is a destination for off-road dirt bike riders, having been in existence for over 50 years, and provides sparse, but comfortable lodging and hearty meals to weary back-country travelers.

The sand roads leading into the ranch were extremely challenging.  Upon arrival we were greeted to accolades by the staff for bringing our heavy bikes into a place where usually only dirt bikes and off-road vehicles fear to tread.

We were unaware the road was going to be so difficult; sometimes the line between courage and ignorance is razor thin.  We were rewarded for our efforts with a fantastic steak dinner prepared by the proprietor Jose and his staff and had a great time swapping stories and information with the other guests at the ranch and gazing at the incredible star-filled sky after the electrical generators were shut off for the night.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, it was back down the gravel track and off to San Felipe, a small tourist and fishing town on the Sea of Cortez (Sea of Cortez).


Border Crossing Mayhem


Thank goodness for the new Heidenau tires installed in California


Sand roads leading into Mike’s Sky Ranch (Istvan and Jamie would like these fenceposts)


Sand and gravel track to the ranch


Bikes resting for the night – 2 on the right


Sunrise at the ranch


River crossing on the way out


Two fellow ranch guests, Phil and Chuck, driving an old VW station wagon down the Baja


Derek and John, geared up and heading back to the USA after a ranch visit

95421.43 – Post # 4

From the Mojave National Monument (Mojave National Preserve), the Ortega Highway 74 took us into the oven of Southern California where a heat wave of 100 °F (37.8 °C) temperatures was in full swing. The Ortega Highway was built in the 1920’s and connects Lake Elsinore with San Juan Capistrano.  With its tight twists and turns and elevation gains and drops, the road is a mecca for driving enthusiasts of all types. 

Lake Elsinore (Lake Elsinore) was also the site of famous off-road racing in the 1960’s and 70’s; Honda named their original CR250 after the event, so the Africa Twin was right at home.

The destination was Orange County and on to the home of Rob, a university classmate and a good friend for over 30 years.  We were put up nearby at another friend, Scott’s home and it was the perfect tonic (and gin) after days of grueling travel across the US. 

Rob, his family and Scott were wonderful, gracious hosts and treated us to sightseeing tours of the beach districts, BBQ’s, Escalades, wrenches, baseball gloves and most importantly, fantastic quality time with friends, old and new.  

Thanks to Rob’s son Kyle for educating us on how to “airdrop” without sustaining personal injury.

Both bikes were serviced and outfitted with new tires at a local bike shop; last minute personal business was attended to before saying goodbye (but not committing to being either a Packer or a Viking fan) to our friends and continuing onward to the south toward Baja California, Mexico.


Arriving to a warm welcome, and appropriately dressed

for the 100° F plus temperatures in Southern California


The calm and serenity of Scott’s home was an ideal

        setting to recharge body, soul and mind.


Touring the beaches of Southern California


Good friends, old and new 


Last stop in Mission Bay, San Diego before entering Mexico


Taking care of a necessary evil



95416.22 – Post # 3

According to Wikipedia the (Basin and Range National Monument) in Nevada has geological, ecological, cultural, historical, paleoecologically, seismological, archaeological, and paleo climatological significance.  That is a lot to take in on our first couple of days so we stuck with the geology – and the gravel roads leading through it. 

After a hike into the Oak Springs Summit fossil beds (Oaks Springs Trilobite Area) to search for trilobite fragments, the road led us into the heart of the Basin and Range park.  The basins were vast, empty bowls, miles and miles across and were transected by towering lineal mountains.  The road wound across the flat shallow basins and up and through several ranges.  For the remainder of our time in the region, time was spent enjoying the solitude of the emptiness and the challenge of keeping the heavily-laden bikes upright on the dusty track.

After leaving the park and successfully avoiding the Las Vegas area, the next part of the route was down Lake Mead into the Mojave Trails National Monument in California.  Here the strong winds returned but this time they were extremely hot and dry.  It was easy to understand how these types of winds could relentlessly drive the fires currently causing devastation to the north of us. 

After a quick stop-over in Joshua Tree (Joshua Tree National Park), our next few days will land us in the Los Angeles metro area, where we are looking forward to a visit with old friends, and getting the bikes serviced.


Leaving Utah behind


Trilobite fragments at Oak Springs, Nevada


Outcrops within the Basin and Range National Monument


Deeper into the Park


One of the many ranges transecting the edge of a basin


The basins stretched for miles


Steep walled ridges with giant talus slopes



95402.13 –  Post # 2 The launch; Ron sending Tom and Martin off on their way south

After some great quality time with family and friends and some frantic last minute packing, we set off on a cold but sunny morning.  It was good to have our good friend Ron see us off and make sure we have all our travel documents in order.  Ron is a pilot and a meteorological genius  and will be providing us with regular satellite weather reports of significance along the way. 

True to his first forecast, we encountered brisk 60 mp/h (97 km/h) wind gusts the first few days while heading south across Montana and Idaho.  The snow line on the surrounding mountains is still several hundred feet above the highway but remnant snow along road ditches indicated winter had, at least once already, touched the valley floor.  The heated gear and hand grips are a welcome relief from the frigid cold wind.

After two full days of riding we are on the northern edge of Utah, enjoying the warm sunshine and looking forward to a few days exploring the gravel track of the Basin and Range National Monument in SE Nevada, described as “one of the emptiest spaces in a state famous for its emptiness”.


The launch; Ron sending Tom and Martin off on their way south.


The snow line is rapidly descending down the mountain slopes in Montana


Are we there yet?


After 2 days of winter in Montana and Idaho,

finally into Utah and a break from the relentless wind. 


One for Goetz and the team



95369.3 – Post # 1 Challenges in Minimalism

There are only 10 days until we depart and it is a mad scramble to get everything ready.  The two biggest challenges have been getting the bikes equipped for the long-term travel and minimizing the amount of gear and supplies we will pack over the course of 6 months.

The bikes are pretty much ready to go, with the majority of modifications having been completed over the summer months.  Decisions about the amount and type of gear and supplies is always a work in progress (e.g., what tools to bring, how many spare oil/air filters/tire tubes, what type of sleeping bags and pads will be required for tropical, desert and windswept steppe climates? Most importantly, do I really need that 2nd pillow?)

Despite all the planning there will likely be things we either forgot or didn’t think about, so there is comfort in knowing we can always stop in at the local Walmart to re-supply.


The V-Strom’s Mosko-Moto soft luggage system is proving

its value by providing ample space for storage:

luggage system


A muffler lowering bracket was custom built (thanks Sonny)

to allow the Mosko Moto panniers to mount:

muffler bracket


The Africa Twin’s hard side panniers are

spacious and ideal for keeping gear dry and secure:

toms bike


Gear to be stowed on the bikes:

gear to be stowed on bikes


Enough electrical gadgetry!

electrical gadgetry