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    West Coast by motorbike: traveling between the parks of the West and Route 66

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    Joel Fulleda

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    With this travel diary our reader Elisa Grandi he tells us about his road trip on the American West Coast both by car and above all by motorbike. For those who are particularly interested in organizing a motorcycle trip, we recommend our dedicated article on how to book a motorcycle in the USA. We would also like to point out two other resources that may be particularly interesting for those who plan to go on Route 66 by motorbike, as Elisa did for some stretches, or to do a wonderful coast to coast on two wheels.

    Our dream came true! finally we have made a journey, or rather, the journey par excellence on American roads through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.

    We booked just a few things well in advance (in January): the Delta flight, the Indian Roadmaster motorcycle, one night at Goulding Lodge in Monument Valley and the Chevrolet Camaro convertible rental car for the last four days; everything else decided at the moment. In Denver we collect ours from Eaglerider Indian Roadmaster: extremely comfortable and comfortable bike with two side bags and a very roomy top box; maneuvering it from a standstill is quite demanding (it weighs about 400 kg dry) but in motion it is exceptional.

    We leave for Moab where we stay for two days, we visit Arches National Park ($ 15 / bike), Canyonlands ($ 15 / bike), Dead Horse Point ($ 10 / bike). Inside the parks there are no service stations so it is necessary to calculate the kilometers to be traveled well.

    From Moab we leave for Monument Valley on secondary roads I191-I163, even here very few petrol stations; stop for a snack in the characteristic village of Bluff and then off to Kayenta (no petrol stations along the route).
    On this road the view with the Monument Valley in the background is truly breathtaking, there are several areas where you can stop to take amazing photos. First night spent in Kayenta, few hotels quite expensive, second night at Goulding Lodge booked from spain; this structure, very expensive, directly overlooks Monument Valley, the spectacle of sunset and sunrise, however, are priceless. We took an eight hour tour ($ 135 each) organized by them as motorbikes and campers are not allowed into Monument Valley. There is a petrol station near the lodge with a well-stocked supermarket.

    The next stop is the Meteor Crater a huge crater produced by the impact of a meteorite, to reach it you have to take the I40 towards Winslow; Admission is paid ($ 18 per person), the structure includes a beautiful museum, a shop and a well-stocked fast food restaurant. A very nice stop on Route 66 is the village of Ash Fork with the characteristic Zettler shop (found by chance on Facebook) where they sell all kinds of Mother Road gadgets.

    We leave for the Grand Canyon visiting the South Rim. Inside the park there are several free shuttles that stop at all the panoramic points, we have chosen the one on the red line.

    Driving along the stretch of Route 66 in Arizona towards Las Vegas we stopped at Seligman al Roodkill Cafe a typical place for breakfast: eye portions are literally exaggerated, the pancakes were the size of our pizzas! Also in this area the distributors are scarce, it is better to always have half the tank and possibly water or rehydrating drinks because the heat is really exaggerated.

    Before getting to Las Vegas we stop to visit the Hoover Dam under a scorching sun (45 ° C-47 ° C), luckily along the way there are fountains that deliver very fresh water. There are numerous paid parking spaces for cars, free for motorbikes. Quick tour, customary photos then departure towards Las Vegas. We had thought of going to Death Valley but the prohibitive temperatures (52 ° C) made us give up, on a motorbike it is not feasible while in the car it is done quietly.

    From Las Vegas, quite insignificant during the day and a huge amusement park in the evening, we set off towards Rachel on 375 Extraterrestrial Highway area of ​​the very famous Area 51. We stopped at the Alien shop a huge hangar with a giant statue of an alien in front; the shop is really very original, they sell all kinds of alien-related gadgets. For lunch we stopped at Rachel, a village with very few houses and a small restaurant (Little A'Le'Inn) with some sleeping rooms. In this area there is no signal of any kind, no cell phones, credit cards and no internet; furthermore, the only distributors before Rachel are in the town of Alamo and Ash Spring after which until Benton there is nothing left (about 120 miles).

    We start again on the US395 towards Mono Lake a beautiful lake with tuff formations, entry is free offer: there is a metal box in which there are paper envelopes, they must be filled in with the vehicle license plate, the number of people and other various information, a part of the envelope is detached that goes affixed to the vehicle as a sign of "bid made", the banknotes are inserted and the envelope is inserted into the appropriate opening.

    After the visit to Mono Lake we proceed to Bodie Ghost Town ($ 8 each) an old abandoned mining town, practically a beautiful open-air museum. The last three miles before arriving in Bodie are on a dirt road, however, well passable even by our Indian Roadmaster.

    Another place we had intended to visit was Yosemite National Park but unfortunately, due to heavy snowfall last winter, they were unable to clean the roads so the route to Tioga Pass was closed. To reach Yosemite it is possible to get there by taking the tour from Sonora Pass; here too petrol stations are scarce, the first after the pass is in Cold Spring (after 85 miles). Let's go through the Tahoe Lake up to Emeral bay but also here, finding another pass closed due to snow, we abandon the idea of ​​going to Yosemite. The choice therefore falls on Sequoia National Park ($ 25 / bike); you can easily turn around by motorbike and on foot in the special paths to see these gigantic plants up close. There is only one petrol station in the Sequoia.

    We then leave for San Francisco, stopping at Pier45 Fisherman Warf, Pier 39, Pier 1-2 Ferry Building, Embarcadero, Finantial District and the inevitable Golden Gate. If you intend to visit Alcatraz it is good to book well in advance as the waiting times are very long (two weeks in June).

    A San Francisco we leave our fantastic Indian Roadmaster, the last four days we do it with a very aggressive Camaro convertible. The intention is to take the Pacific Coast Highway towards Los Angeles via Big Sur but after a few kilometers we find the road closed signs; bad weather and torrential rains caused the road to collapse, making it impassable; it is not known when it will be reopened.

    We go back to Monterey, we stop to visit the Laguna Seca circuit (free entry if there are no tests) and then we travel the internal road to Morro Bay, from there we take the Pacific Coast Highway. Along the way we stop at Pigeon Point Light Station, a small museum that tells the story of the lighthouse and then in San Simeon to see the elephant seals on the beach, there are many lying in the sun. . . they do not fear the icy wind that blows insistently.

    We wanted to look for a few more sections of Route 66 in California before arriving in Los Angeles so we diverted to San Bernardino along Route 66 to Claremont. By now our long journey is over, the last day we spend wandering around Santa Monica, customary photo on the sign "End Route 66”, On foot through Hollywood and by car among the Beverly Hills villas.

    After almost 6000 km... snow on the passes ... excruciating heat in the Nevada desert ... met fantastic people ... seen unforgettable landscapes ... our American dream has come true.

    Finally, some additional tips that were particularly useful during our trip

    • Patent: we got the international driving license as some states do not recognize the Italian one.
    • Motel: we have always slept in Motels along the roads, we have always found them clean equipped with towels and toiletries, several had breakfast included; in any case, almost everyone has a machine for making American coffee in the room. Free Wi-Fi always present. In most motels there are washing machines and dryers and at the reception they sell detergent (given our ultra-small luggage, we used them to great effect: perfect washing and drying)
    • Meals: all the petrol stations are well stocked with food and drink, in some you can also have lunch or dinner; in any case, the choice of restaurants or fast food chains where you can eat everything is endless. It should be noted that the water served at the table is always free. For the other drinks you pay only the first drink, the others are free.
    • Petrol: petrol stations on secondary roads are scarce, as soon as there is the possibility to always refuel.
      To refuel you can: either pay with your credit card directly at the pump by typing the pin, or go directly to the attendant, communicate how many dollars you intend to make and pay immediately in cash or by credit card. If the amount is lower, the employee will give the change in cash, if instead you pay by credit card the difference will be re-credited.
    • navigator: necessary if you book hotels in big cities, otherwise a good map is more than enough.
    • Helmet: it is not possible to bring the helmet used in Spain because it does not comply with US regulations, it is therefore necessary to rent it on site (usually included in the motorcycle rental); moreover, it is compulsory for foreign tourists to wear it.
    • Baggage: being a trip organized independently without support means, the baggage was reduced to a backpack; I recommend to put the clothing in bags so as to make the continuous "remove and put" in the side bags faster. Also given the rather high temperatures in some states it is good to bring a cooler bag in which to put the drinks.
    • Mance: in restaurants consider leaving a 15% tip, it is not compulsory but always well accepted.
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