This morning we left for Palm Springs. There is this strange weather phenomenon in Newport Beach call June-gloom. This eerie and cold cloud just sits over the coast cooling it right down – not the most ideal riding conditions as you have to wear a bit of cold weather gear. Nevertheless about 30 mins later we were on the Ortega Highway heading south-east. Ortega is another one of those drives filled with twisties and stunning scenery. Dilu loves desert landscape so this was a perfect start to her trip. Since it has been a while since she rode it took a while to get into it…and soon we were cooking with gas (except for the wee tipple a few miles from Lake Elseneor…but we shall not speak of it anymore).Our ride took us through the San Bernandino ranges, Idylwild-Pine forest (which smelt amazing) along the Pines-to-Palms Highway. It was indeed pine tree to palm tree country. The temperature soared and the landscape became rocky, barren yet full of life. At one point we stopped we were amazing the the variety of flora around us from agave to yuccas to little critters running around. Simply amazing. At one point the traffic ceased and all you could hear was the wind whistling by through this blazing white hot, scotched landscape…and yet the ding-dongs were not melting… Getting back on the bike and switching on the 'air-conditioning', we progressed down the ranges, twisting and turning till there is was…an oasis in the middle of the desert – Palm Springs. A paradise of wide palm-tree lined roads and resorts on either side. We booked a room for two nights at the Indian Wells Resort. Legend has it that it founded by a movie stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1957 but to us it has air conditioning, a pool, a king size bed, half price cocktails before dinner and breakie…what more could motorbikers ask for. Tomorrow we off load all the luggage and head up to Joshua Tree National Park…and will be listening to the album on the way there no doubt 😉 Team Berg over and out
Team Berg is finally here, in the US of A! After all the planning, discussions and last minute panic attacks we touched down at LAX at 6am. Glad to leave the plane and feel terra-firma, LAX proved to be rather surprising. After all the horror stories we heard our experience wasn't too bad. We did have to wait in line for about 45 mins but there were three other planes that landed from Brisbane, Melbourne and Auckland. The Immigration lady scanned and locked us into the system with a smile and "welcome to America" she said. We were in! Tracking through Customs was even better – they saw our four massive removal boxes full of motorbike gear, asked what was in it and didn't even bother to scan it! There was no need to scoff down the yellow kiwifruit as we were landing after all.LAX had the feel of Sydney airport and thanks to our pre-booked hotel, we hitched a ride in the courtesy bus (including said removal boxes), but unfortunately our room wasn't ready yet and we had to kill another three hours. Although severely jet-lagged, we took took the opportunity to explore the hood and stock up on essential food items – like Ding Dongs, Twizzlers and Mountain Dew – all of which are practically unheard of (and possibly prohibited due to harmful ingredients) anywhere else in the world. Did you know that Ding Dongs (chocolate coated, cream filled mini cakes) do not melt in the sun? And they contain beef-fat…YUM! Makes steaks taste good so why not ding-dongs? Top job for the day was to clear the Dakar trough Customs and pick it up from Qantas, all of which went well thanks to Doug Saker the shipping agent, which charged us more than 300 bucks for the pleasure, but it was money well spent and enabled a trouble-free process which otherwise would have taken days and probably the same amount of money in taxi fares. Virtually a matter of signing a piece of paper, paying and riding into the sunset – ahhhmm, LA traffic that is…mind you we didn't get lost thanks to our GPS! The last three days we stayed with Chris Nelson – the brother of Erica who CB met in South America almost four yeas ago – how time flies but friendships stay strong. He is a motorcycle aficionado himself with a shed full of bikes and a workshop any bloke can just dream of! Seriously, there is pretty much EVERY tool and gismo the concerned tinkerer can possibly dream of. With Chris' help we got the bikes ready for the trip and also managed to knock of one of LA's finest motorcycle roads – the Mulholland Drive (http://goo.gl/maps/B6RR) from Malibu into West Hollywood. Now we all have heard Jeremy Clarkson & Co. go on about the lack of corners in the US…well just goes to show how much they know…Mulholland is any drivers' paradise…Amazing scenery and twisties gallore! Chris N let CB even ride his F800GS, swapping bikes for a few miles and there was some reluctance to give it back afterwards…what a machine indeed! On the way back, we did some sightseeing and went up to the Griffith Observatory (http://goo.gl/maps/X0HL), from where you get the sweetest view of LA, including the famous Hollywood sign. The sight is also of significance because it was where Optumus Prime decided how to deal with the Decepticons in the movie Transformers I – we are in Hollywood after all. We also checked out Santa Monica Pier but figured that motorcycle gear was unsuitable to mix and mingle with all the bikini clad folks on the beach. We found that LA got a lot going for it, and we are sure that we will come back to explore it more thoroughly, however the traffic is a real killjoy! Not only do you get 12-lane wide bumper to bumper congestion (in each direction), there also seems to be an endless spiderweb of Highways criss-crossing themselves in every direction. Totally overwhelming for small town kids like us (even Sydney is a village in comparison), but the Garmin Zumo saved the day once more…take note Motormonkey!!!
Team Berg over and out