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As we were loading the truck and travel trailer for the drive west to pick up our motorcycles in San Diego, we desperately search for Ehren’s phone which has apparently been misplaced. This small snafu seemed to reflect our general state of mind: lost. Although we’d had time to re-prepare ourselves for leaving again, there had been so much going on over the course of the summer that it was hard to figure out where to start. But we had to start somewhere, so we began with the tough decision to drop the trailer.

Oh, Bartleby. We barely got to know ye.

Yes, that same moto trailer we had worked so hard on all last winter (the build process making up the bulk of our Youtube channel so far). The decision was based on another we had made: removing paragliding from the equation. Although we do enjoy paragliding, we find our skill set lacking for the sites we aspired to visit. In addition, after Ehren’s mom’s passing, our priorities changed. We found we desired a more streamlined and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach to traveling.

With that decision made, we realized we only had a month remaining before our departure to San Diego in mid-September. Getting down to business, we purchased a new set of panniers (a larger capacity than the other set we already had) to allow for extra space needed to fit camping and other equipment from the trailer. We fabbed up a couple of tool tubes out of 4″ PVC pipe, one for each bike, in which to store spare parts and tools. We also decided to add one more set of tank panniers to hold more parts and maintenance items. Finally, we added a waterproof duffel to the lineup to hold our tent and sleeping bags since we couldn’t fit them in our existing storage.

Most of the new gear we got was ready to go onto the bikes when we rejoined them, but some preparation still had to be made. The most time-consuming was to prepare one of the new panniers for the eventual transfer of our auxiliary battery and solar charge controller from the trailer. We built a partitioned mount out of quarter-inch plywood and angle aluminum stock using small screws to fasten everything into place. We also cut four large holes in the box (always a bit unnerving cutting into pristine new metal cases): one for bike charging (where the wiring harness that used to go to the trailer would connect), another for solar input and two for power output, which would allow us to charge our electronic devices. Because our hard solar panel would have never fit into our new setup on the bikes, we purchased a folding solar panel (fortunately we were able to retain the 30-watt charging capacity!).

[Normally some photos of the build process would go here, but since the only photos that exist were lost with Ehren’s phone, we only have ‘post-build’ pics to share]

Here you can see the tool tubes we made—they are the round, yellow things protruding from the rear left side of each bike. You can also see the difference between our two sets of tank panniers: there is the who-knows-how-old-exactly-cuz-we-got-it-with-a-bike set on Fritz and the new set on Smokey. This photo is also a good comparison of the sizes of the panniers; Britt’s bike has 36L cases and Ehren’s bike has the 45L boxes. Also, the duffel we got for our tent and sleeping bags is sitting on the table bench.

Next on the list was figuring out how we would get the moto trailer back to MN, as it was still with the bikes out in San Diego. We had already decided earlier in the summer that we would attend the Horizons Unlimited travelers meeting in Mariposa from Sept. 21-24, to kick-off our reentry to adventure. A plan was formulated to have Ehren’s dad fly to California and join us at the HU meeting. The two of us would drive his truck and toyhauler trailer out there two weeks before the meeting to pick up the bikes and moto trailer in San Diego and bring them up to Mariposa, where we would work on swapping gear from trailer to bikes and preparing them for travel. After the traveler’s meeting, he would take our moto trailer in the toyhauler and drive back to Minnesota while we continued south.

Before we knew it, the night before we left home again was upon us. One last search for the missing phone ends without success. Morning comes and we say goodbye to Ehren’s dad, knowing we would see him in a week’s time. We say sad goodbyes once again to our kitties, knowing we would not be seeing them again for some time. That there are no additional goodbyes and hugs from Ehren’s mom is an unavoidable fact, and her absence weighs heavy on the three of us.

With only a few truck issues on our way to the southwest (and a whole lotta fun figuring out campsites for a 28′ trailer without the convenience of a smartphone), we make our way to the 10′ x 10′ box that contains our bikes and moto trailer in four days’ time. They were as we left them just three months previously. We load up everything and make our way north to Mariposa, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The town had recently survived the ravages of the Detwiler wildfire (extinguished mere feet from the city limits), which had claimed over sixty homes in the surrounding area. The climate there is an interesting mix of heat during the day (from the Central Valley to the west) and cooler air from the Sierra to the east in the evening. The grasses are tall, tan and dry while the trees are full and green; the contradiction making for some unique scenery.

Back in action! Nevermind that Fritz is missing a front fairing panel… we just hadn’t replaced his reg/rec yet.

Oh and.. erm.. nevermind that Ehren is elbows deep in Fritz yet again, he just has a fussy set of carbs.

TRAVELERS MEETING

Horizons Unlimited (HU) is a website started by two intrepid travelers who spent 11 years riding two-up on a motorcycle around the world and wanted to create a place for others to share road knowledge and advice. The travelers meeting is designed to inspire and inform. The event is open to anyone interested, but certainly lends itself well to motorcycle travelers. Topics covered ranged from travel to technical tips and everything in between from cooking and setting up bikes to gear and listening to other travelers’ ride reports.

We attended to help get ourselves back into the traveler mindset and, more importantly, to network with others who had similar interests. We met many people who either had advice for the road ahead or asked us for advice as they prepared their own journeys. The meeting also served as more mental healing from the events of the past three months. Sharing our story with others helped us find our direction again.

As the meeting neared its end and all of our new found friends started to pack up and leave, we felt reluctant and a bit sad. The common thread of motorcycles and traveling really allowed us to connect with the people and the event itself. Finally we felt as though we were going in the right direction and that there was a possibility we could be ready to hit the road once again. By Sunday night there was only one other motorcyclist left, a solo traveler who’d been on the road for as long as we’d been on hiatus. On our final day with our befriended traveler we agreed to meet up somewhere down the road at points south.

It is our desire to be able to present at one of these meetings some day in the future and help inspire the next traveler to go further than they think they can. The world seems like such a huge place, but it becomes smaller with every mile under our tires and in every interaction shared with those around us.

TRAILER WOES

During the event, we happened to speak to someone who made us aware of some information concerning Mexican border crossings with trailers. We discovered we would have to bring the trailer back to the border to cancel our TVIP (Temporary Vehicle Import Permit) since it was on the paperwork for Britt’s bike. Ehren’s dad would not be able to bring our moto trailer back to MN since he was on a tight schedule to get back to work, which meant we had to ship it.

As luck would have it, the shipper who took our KTM 640 from MN to NV after we sold it happens to live in the San Diego area. We reached out to him and was immensely relieved when he said he was actually planning a MN trip in mid-October and was willing to take the trailer. Uffda! He was going to be out of town for a few days so we needed to kill some time. This was no problem for us, as a package we were waiting on in Fresno was delayed a week. So, leaving our moto trailer behind in Mariposa, we decided to spend a few days checking out Big Sur as recommended by a camp mate at the HU event.

We loved it thiiis much

BIG SUR

Big Sur, located south of Monterey on Highway 1 along the coast, was closed off at the north and south ends because of a bridge collapse and large hillslope failure, respectively. There is a road, we were told, that winds through an army base and some coastal mountains before dropping down onto the coastal highway. Because many believe the area is inaccessible, there is nary a soul there.

Ehren stands on a street in San Luis Obispo, most likely incredulous that we had to find a bookstore (a rarity in itself!) in order to get a paper map of California. We inquired about maps at no less than seven gas stations along the way to the coast—their response was always the same: “Not since Google have we stocked paper maps.” Apparently Californians never lose their phones?

Weeeeeeee!

Riddled with mountains and stunning seascapes, the coast terrain is very harsh and rises out of the water for thousands of feet. The road itself must have been some feat to accomplish as each mountain jutting up from the sea is split by a river valley. It was a once in a lifetime chance to experience this part of the California coast almost completely unimpeded by other tourists.

Britt and the sea

Ehren peers into an old lime kiln tucked away in a redwood grove

We spent two days overlooking beautiful vistas, hiking through redwoods, and watching dolphins play against the backdrop of a gorgeous sunset. At one point we made our way through the brush to a cliff edge, drawn there by a barking sound, and were greeted with a vantage point from which we could see sea lions sunning themselves and playing in the water.

Sea lions!!!

After five days away, we eventually returned to Mariposa to pick up our moto trailer. We said goodbye to the camp hosts, with whom we had become friends over the past few weeks, over some pizza and conversation. It was time to journey south, take care of our paperwork issues and finally enter back into Mexico once again.

 
 

One Comment

  1. Chris Struna says:

    So glad you guys enjoyed Big Sur!
    Enjoy the journey,
    Chris & Sharon

     

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