IN ALL MY trips to the States I have never really desired to do much in San Francisco, maybe it’s because a man in leather chaps is looked at totally differently than in other areas!
The trip from San Diego to San Francisco is interstate riding all the way. Fast, straight and boring. Mile after mile ticks away slowly and you feel every ache as there is little distraction by way of curves, turns or towns. The results of the California fires were very obvious with major tracks of land scorched and vegetation-less; only thing this did is whip up soot in the wind. As if you didn’t get covered in enough black shit when you ride in California. It is putrid, the air stinks and your skin is coated in pollution; how anyone volunteers to live there I have no idea.
At the end of the nearly eight hours boring ride, we could see the glowing lights of San Francisco in the fading light. Along with the fading light came the most amazing drop in temperature. Big Ballz and I weren’t prepared for winter! We stopped and put on extra T-shirts and long sleeve tops—it was, to say the least, fucking freezing!
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and couldn’t see anything due to the thick freezing fog. Luckily, once off the bridge, we didn’t have far to go to the Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf.
After a good night’s sleep we did the tourist thing: Clam Chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, walked the shops and booked a tour of Alcatraz.
Alcatraz is a fascinating place with great stories of Hells Angels and Indian occupation of the island after it was decommissioned as a prison. The guided prison walk is exceptional; it must have been a shitty life for the old convicts on the rock.
Having said San Francisco has no attractions, it is fair to say that I met a lovely lady who lived just out of SF and I was keen for Big Ballz to meet her and for us to be reacquainted. Unfortunately, she was now married, but she was really keen to see us and share a few drinks, so that was okay by me. We rode to Port Costa to see her.
Sharky is a real live wire, part American Indian, part biker stock (with many family links) and part good old American mum. This gal can cook, drink, ride, tell stories, and build choppers (she is partner in a big USA chopper building firm). It was great to see her again, and we were welcomed like family.
Sharky’s neighbour had made, I would guess, 200 litres of various flavoured moonshine in his shed. I sampled but a few (Big Ballz sampled more); to me it was like coloured methylates spirits with the kick of a big red fucking kangaroo. This shit would send you blind, sterile or both, I’m sure!
Big Ballz and I stayed in a haunted bordello (which has since been featured on Ghost Hunters on cable). Now Big Ballz has a couple of really big pet fears, one is sharks (not good for a dive Instructor); the other is ghosts!
From the neighbour’s place we walked down the deserted street to the haunted bordello where we were the only guests. We opened the solid timber door, climbed the two flights of squeaking wooden stairs, and went left and right to our rooms.
I had gone about three paces when Big Ballz said, “Dad.”
“You’re not scared, are you?”
“Yes, can I stay with you?
So here we are sharing a double bed in a haunted house.
When Ghost Hunters did the story Sharky rang me and said tell Big Ballz he is famous. The publican told them of the story of this big strong Aussie guy who got so scared he slept with his daddy! Big Ballz was not impressed.
It was now time to turn heels, head south and prepare for the long flight home.
We had allotted two days to ride down the coast to Los Angeles—it was a spectacular, awesome ride. Just make sure you fuel at every opportunity as there aren’t a lot of services stations. The road winds around the coast not dissimilar to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, but the drops to the sea are significantly greater; and USA planning authorities allow some houses on the very cliff face.
We stayed the night in Carmel and kept our eyes opened for Clint Eastwood (he lives here and used to be the Mayor).
We continued down the coast passing Hurst Castle which is a just “Fuck You I’m this Rich” statement house. It is massive castle full of shit this guy stole/bought from around the world. It has to be seen to be believed. We skipped the tour due to the time it took and the $$$.
The road meanders around the cliffs and beaches and you soon get used to the smell of the Californian sea lions and seals which lay on the beaches near the road. It’s like riding in paradise with your head in someone’s unwashed jocks!
The Big Sur is a magnificent area to ride through and we actually found a lovely café and gas station that served fresh cooked real food. Big Ballz reckoned it was the best meal we had had in nearly a month and I reckon he was right.
We planned to stay in Venice Beach for a couple of nights and then head home to round out our US experience.
In Port Costa I lashed out and bought a second GPS so we had one on each bike because we have been split too many times, and without local knowledge, the traffic, etc, it was always a worry where you would re-meet up. I’m glad I did because I lost Big Ballz twice in the next four hours in the traffic on the interstate, but he eventually arrived at the hotel about 40 minutes after me.
Venus Beach is another shit hole (can you tell I don’t like California). Overrated, overpriced, dangerous, and not really all that friendly. I just about had to mortgage my house to pay for the drinks and dinner Big Ballz and I had on the beach front and it was just a normal place!
Being in California and with some time to waste before we flew out, Hollywood had to be an option. So Hollywood here we come!
We headed for Rodeo Drive, did laps looking for famous people, rode up and down the Boulevard and looked at all the expensive places, then decided it was time for a drink—shit, where do you get one in Hollywood. We zigged, zagged, left, right, looking for a pub. Down a back street we found one. We parked the bikes and strode up the footpath to the pub. People were milling around the front. Big Ballz and I walked straight in past the line to the waiter.
“Can we get a table and some beers, mate?”
“Sir, this is a restaurant and we have a wait list,” said the waiter.
“Okay, where can we get a beer?”
“There’s a public bar over there, Sir.”
“Thanks, Knackers,” I said as we strode off.
As we hit the footpath we noticed three things: First was a small dog riding a miniature Harley-Davidson being remote controlled by some dude; second was the look of all the people in the queue; and third was the heap of photographers out front and across the road.
We crossed the street, sidled up to one of the photographers and asked, “What’s going on?”
Nothing yet,” he said, “but this is the Ivy where all the stars go…”
Shit, Big Ballz and I had just busted the line on one of the most exclusive restaurants in Hollywood.
We stayed across the street, had a few beers and watched like all the other gawkers to see if anyone famous came… we saw no one.
That’s about it. All the rest is returning bikes, counting km (about 12,000 km this trip) and doing the flying thing.
Future plans include going back in June for Laconia Bike Week then, if possible, back to Florida to Biketoberfest and Fantasy Fest (of course only if I get the big pay cheque from Ozbike for the articles!)
Remember: Life is way too short—live it like there’s no tomorrow because there may not be one.
Make sure you check out Roo’s Mis-Adventure Part 9.