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Back To LA

Filed Under Alaska 'O8

Traveling back to LA simply (for the lack of a better word) sucks. Didn’t want to do it, and while crossing the vast deserts of the west, the pull of heading east was pretty irresistible. I cringed at the idea of reentering the big city, and getting swallowed by its maze of freeways. Switching back to attack mode, lane splitting between endless lines of cars, and speeding way way up; it will be a sharp contrast to the way Ive been riding for the last few months. Fortunately, I still had a couple of days before that happens, and instead just enjoyed the void that surrounded me as I cruised down the road.

I came across this abandoned Motel in the middle of nowhere. There was something about it I really liked. You find places like this scattered all across the west, but this one was in really good shape. Hung out for the longest time, and took way too many pictures of it.

I guess I did miss the west a bit.

I decided I needed one last night of camping before heading back, so I stayed at Mammoth Lakes.

This campground was going to close in a week, because of the end of the season. It’s hard to believe, that when I started this trip, many campgrounds were still closed because the season had not started yet. Where did all that time go?

The next morning, it was time for that last ride down the 395. I guess you really can’t ask for a better road to end a ride on. The Sierra Nevada range reaching toward the sky on your right, and the beginning of the vast western deserts on your left. This could quite possible be one of the best roads the lower48 has to offer. Yes, im sure im a bit biased.

Once in Mojave, tradition dictates that I must stop at Grazianos, my last stop before making it back to LA. This place has a lot of good memories dating way back. The start and end point of countless trips to Death Valley and backpacking in the Sierras.

Afterward, I took the Angeles Forest and Crest Highways back in to the city. These are fun roads with a lot of twisties. The perfect place to get oneself in that aggressive mode needed for LA traffic. It was rush hour, and a lot of people were heading in the opposite direction toward the Antelope Valley. More than once did I encountered a car in a four wheel drift crossing into my lane heading at warp speed in the other direction. This sort of thing always keeps the ride interesting.

And there she is: the city of Angels:

Once off the mountain, I immediately rejoined the frantic pace of this city. Freeways 10 lanes wide with everyone flying down them at warp speed.  Suddenly I was back in the thick of it.


This morning I continued south to the lower 48. I wanted to go through Glacier Nat’l Park, but it was closed due to snow. Very unfortunate.

I continued on to Missoula in heavy rain. Can’t seem to get a break these days.

The plan was to spend the next few days here and try to get some serious work done. I found a hotel, and basically stayed in doors and worked. But in the end, it was all in vain. The workload finally exceeded what I could do from the road. The reality that I needed to return to LA was a bit of a downer, but I knew that this day would eventually come.

I figured Id be able to make it back over the long Labor Day weekend. So I hit the road south, and you guessed it, in more rain.


This morning I was served up another giant rancher’s breakfast with all the trimmings. Wow, what a way to start the day. Than Russ took me for a quick ride around his property. He had a really nice place with picturesque views that extended forever. Afterwards I changed the bike’s oil in Russ’s garage. Of course, I demonstrated my inability to not make a mess, but fortunately Russ didn’t seem to mind. And than we were off to go ride some quads and do some fly fishing.

Ive ridden quads before in sand dunes, but never 4wd quads. These things can literally go anywhere.

Went over these rickety old bridges. I was convinced they would crumble, but they held.

Than it was time for some fly fishing.

On the third cast, Russ caught his first for the day.

Than it was my turn, and I caught one as well almost immediately.

Than it was Russ’s turn again and we went up stream a bit.

Russ catches another.

Than it was my turn to show Russ how it’s done.

This cutthroat measured about 14 inches, easily surpassing everything Russ would catch today.

Russ, the rancher, the outdoors man extraordinaire gets out fished by some city boy from LA. The embarrassment. In the end, we both caught three each. I absolutely love fly fishing.

Than Darrell showed up on his KTM, and we went exploring.

Coke ovens:

This was one hell of a day. To have something like this in your backyard is the best. Plus, what luck to run in to such cool people, and this was after that disastrous day in Dease Lake. Funny, how quickly things can turn around.

Darrell and Russ operate a dual sport touring company. Check it out:

Good times with some great people.


Back in June at Dease Lake, I met Darrell and Russell. We rode together for a few days, and than met up at the Dust 2 Dawson rally before they returned back home. They live roughly 2 hours south of Calgary, and are on the way to Glacier Nat’l park. I decided I should give them a visit. Really good people. We all had a great time in Dawson City.

Russell gave me some directions including a scenic detour out of Canmore called the Spray Lakes Trail. Excellent recommendation.

Than I made it to Russ’s place. He had a little ranch. One hell of a cool place. It was good to see them again and meet their families. They served up a giant rancher’s size dinner with plenty of beer. I could get used to living here. Good times.


I woke up this morning surrounded by Elk. I didn’t notice them right away, and had walked just a few feet away from them earlier. By pure chance, I glanced to my side, and there they were.

There were campers all around them, but they didn’t seem to mind in the slightest.

After breaking camp, I cruised the Ice Fields Parkway down to Banf. This is not a road you want to rush. Simply spectacular.

Athabasca Falls:

These mountians just towered above you. Trying to capture this on film is really an exercise in futility, but I had to try.

I made camp in the campground next to Banf. Didn’t go in to town. I learned my lesson last year, and instead went to Canmore to grab some grub. Here’s my camp spot:

Some views of the surrounding area:

Tried to stay awake and write a bit, but was so tired from staying up late the previous night with the Gold Wing crew, I fell asleep pretty quick. Traveling the Ice Fields Parkway between Jasper and Banf is an absolute must if you are going through BC or Alberta.


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