Day 14 of 14

Yesterday one of our group noticed an orange peel size chunk of tire missing from the rear tire of the BMW1200 affectionately called Warthog. Had he not spun that tire earlier it may have gone unnoticed.

And so with the final 300 miles to go to our finish at Imperial Beach, California. The hare in our group was so worried about that tire and the fact that he might be overtaken in the final end by the two slowest of riders that he departed at 0’dark thirty. No one saw or heard him leave. It was a sort of tortoise and the hare type finale where the hare (Terry) is very confident of winning and to be done in by a blow out at the very end; as Scott and Tom come rolling across the Imperial Beach line.

When I ask the other riders if they saw this? The non locals say no.

When I ask everyone in the group at dinner if they saw this?

Or this?

They say no. So, you stop for a moment and wonder who stipped to smell the roses along the way!

And did not miss out on his pie along the way.

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A little history of the area by

Patrick Daugherty

Imperial Beach was originally part of an 1846 land grant from the Spanish Crown to the benefit of one Pedro Cabrillo. Queen Victoria was on the throne and Grover Cleveland was president when the first American settlers arrived in what is now known as Imperial Beach, then called South San Diego.

And since those settlers were American, and this was California, what instantly happened was commerce, particularly real estate, most specifically, subdivisions.

R.P. Morrison filed a South San Diego subdivision plot with the San Diego County clerk in June of 1867. His plan ran north of Palm Avenue between 13th Street and Fifth Street and west between Palm Avenue and Imperial Beach Boulevard from 17th Street to Ninth Street.

Maps of Imperial Beach made in 1910 show subdivision plots running all the way down Imperial Beach to the mouth of the Tia Juana River. George Chaffey purchased many of these plots, hoping to sell them, at a modest profit, to the good citizens and farmers of Imperial Valley. Another subdivider, Frank Cullen, erected several buildings on the 900 block of First Street, which remained until a municipal fishing pier was built in the 1960s.

Early subdividers established a drill. First, file for a subdivision; then, build a hotel so people would have a place to stay when they came to look at the land; then, the key part of the process, hold a land auction, and then build a community.

There were no guarantees in any of this, particularly the building of the community part, and most of the early subdivisions were written off within 15 years.

Monument City was built on the U.S./Mexican border where the international boundary is today.

The San Diego Weekly Bulletinreported that “the town has been laid out, buildings erected, a school started, and a post office applied for.” The United States Census of 1880 disclosed that Monumentville, San Diego County, California, had residents born in 15 American states, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Hamburg, Hanover, Mexico and Norway.

By 1888 most of the South Bay had been claimed. The editor of the San Diego Record wrote, “At the present date, there are nine cities laid out about the south end of the bay. They are as follows in order: Otay, Tia Juana, South San Diego, South Coronado, Coronado Heights, Pacific Park, International City, and Head of the Bay. Add to these Monument City, Imperial Beach, Nestor, Palm City, and the “Little Landers” section and you will see that promoters planned to cover the area with towns.

By 1900, Imperial Beach got its first sidewalks. Dennis Orlanger was there on the 900 block of First Street, along with the Orlanger family, who owned a general store. Down the street from the post-office and soon, a branch of the San Diego County Library. Lots were going for $25 down and $25 a month.

In 1910 the South San Diego Investment Company put up the first fishing pier in Imperial Beach. This purpose was to lure investors. There was also a two-block long boardwalk and a bathhouse. Both washed away during winter storms, the bathhouse in 1949, the boardwalk in 1953.

E.S. Babcock, the man who built the Hotel del Coronado, had a channel dredged through the mudflats in South San Diego Bay in 1910. The channel was 8 feet deep at low tide and 75 feet across. The boats servicing South San Diego Landing were up to 45 feet long and could hold 50 passengers.

Ralph Chandler bought the Grantfrom the U.S. Grant Hotel. The boat was piloted by Captain A.J. Larseen. The excursion route went between H Street in downtown San Diego to the South Bay Landing. The Grant made two trips a day and occasionally a night foray. The following is a snappy advertisement encouraging the public to climb aboard.

And that as they say folks, is the rest of the story.

Now all i gotta do is make it home in one piece.

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Day 13 of 14 San Diego to Key West ride

One more day and a wake-up is all that is left and then this ride is in the books. And the best part is that we are only around 300 miles from San Diego.

This morning we lost two more of our original group of 11. One is riding home to Phoenix and the other to the San Francisco area.

One is recovering well sporting a new short leg and the other took a flight home from El Paso to mend his broken wrist. Both initially planned to complete the ride in San Diego then ride home to their respective states, Indiana and Florida. My how life certainly always gets the last say.

Fourteen days to cross the USA on motorcycles, staying in hotels from a one star to possibly one or two nights in a near 4+ star is not really something to brag about. Not getting bed bugs in the process sure is. Another noteworthy event is that for the most part everyone got along. Non of tge 7 brand new motorcycles experienced any problems.

On several nightly occasions our organizer, gpskevin would hold what I started referring to as nightly court.

Kevin would start proceedings by first filling up on his favorite plastic water bottle with a mystery drink and then take out and place his folding chair in a conspicuous location.

The other riders rallied around with their own chair and drink of choice. Those not in attendance were often times the subject of discussion. The tie dye shirts came up just as frequent as both rider accidents. No blame was ever placed and seldom was anyone found guilty or innocent.

Televison watching played a very small role in our nightly entertainment except for last nights television entertainment, Survivor, naked and afraid. We fell asleep while it was on. The fact that we had the bar to ourselves for several hours may have played a role. This morning most everyone is up at 0500, welcoming in west coast time.

Our normal evening meal at times included the areas dessert, be it flan, key lime pie, pecan, or ice cream. The road warrior motorbike riders worked up an appetite.

Today I was the first to depart Douglas, Arizona. Russell and I checked out the area surrounding the historic Gladsden hotel. A great place to stay and highly recommended.

The most riders I ever rode with was two. Most of the time Scott rode with Tom; Chris rode with Joey and the foot accident kept Russ alternating between three riders hoping to find one that cruised to his liking.

My flea market special phone charger gave out and I headed to Tucson to find a Verizon store. While there I called up an Army buddy. He offered up a room at his house but, I declined on account of him still a busy working exec.

I next filled up the bike with premium fuel. In my travels I have yet to put in more than $10 worth of fuel for a fill up. Today premium at $3.04 gallon in Tucson. Tomorrow California high fuel prices here we come.

Since the Verizon store did not open till 10 a.m. and I am now on west coast time I had an hour to kill so….. I got a 90 minute foot refexology massage. My soorest spot turned out to not be my butt but, my shoulders.

Today we spend the night in Gila Bend. “Located on an historic route of travel, for centuries Gila Bend has has been a place for weary travelers to stop and rest.

The small town of 1,900 people is in the southwestern portion of Maricopa County, 70 miles southwest of Phoenix.

The Butterfield Overland Stage had a timed stop in Gila Bend. A large Hohokam settlement once thrived here and remnants of their platform mound and canal system remain.

Those that stopped to rest and regroup in Gila Bend include famous guides Father Kino, Juan Bautista de Anza, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Lewis and Clark Expedition guide, Sacagawea.

Well-known groups of travelers that stopped and rested include the Mormon Battalion and numerous 49’ers on their way to the California gold fields.

The Butterfield Overland Stage had a timed stop in Gila Bend. Known as the Gila Station, the stop was built in 1858, burned down by marauding Apache and then rebuilt.

The Oatman family tragedy occurred near Gila Bend. Of the family of nine, one survived the massacre, one died in captivity and one, Olive Oatman, was ransomed from the Mohave’s with whom she had lived in captivity for many years.
When the railroad laid its tracks in 1879, the town moved four miles southwest to its present location to take advantage of the economic opportunity.

Portions of the 1879 Wagon Road and 1920’s unpaved ‘highway’ from Yuma to Phoenix are still visible today.

Travelers in the 1920’s and 1930’s enjoyed rare ice cold drinks and fresh ice cream when stopping at the Stout Hotel in Gila Bend, which had its own ice generating plant.
Recently celebrating its 50th anniversary of incorporation,

Gila Bend is memorialized in song, Los Lobos’ The Road to Gila Bend; in film, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing starring Burt Reynolds and Sara Miles; and more recently was in the international spotlight when Prince Harry of England’s royal family called Gila Bend home for a month while training at the local Gila Bend Air Force Auxilliary Field.

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Day 12 of almost home

Twelve days ago we began our cross country motorcycle ride from Key West to San Diego. We are now in Douglas, Arizona, staying at a respectable historic hotel.

Things are looking up in all manner. The scenery. We left Texas and briefly rode across New Mexico, then when we crossed into Arizona, a smile fell upon my face.

Maybe it was the blue skies, the cowboy like scenery, the golden grassland, or the fact that we are that much closer to home.

Yes, we are this close to Mexico.. Note the sign above.

If you think riding cross country on a motorcycle is impressive. Don’t. A group of 70 and 80 year olds left our hotel recently on bicycles.

They left San Diego sometime ago and and are traveling to…….wait for it……….to key west!

It will take them something like 3 weeks to cross Texas. Took us 3 days with only one casualty.

Along the way I learned a little history about each area we visited. For example, Douglas, Arizona was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century.

It was founded as an American smelter town for the prosperous copper mines in Bisbee, AZ, and was incorporated in 1902.

An incorporated town will have elected officials, as differentiated from an unincorporated community, which exists only by tradition and does not have elected officials at the town level.

Douglas also had a front row seat to the Mexican uprising that began Nov. 20, 1910.

In April 1911, fighting broke out in Agua Prieta, Sonora, just across the border from Douglas. Madero sympathizers attacked Diaz troops as Douglas residents gathered, despite whizzing bullets, to watch.

The rebels defeated the federal troops, a crushing blow to Diaz, who was deposed and fled the country a few weeks later.

Madero was elected president and had a loyal general in Francisco Villa, aka Pancho Villa.
In the early morning of March 9, 1916, several hundred Mexican guerrillas under the command of Francisco “Pancho” Villa cross the U.S.-Mexican border and attack the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico.

Seventeen Americans were killed in the raid, and the center of town was burned. It was unclear whether Villa personally participated in the attack, but President Woodrow Wilson ordered the U.S. Army into Mexico to capture the rebel leader dead or alive.

My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means.

And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly.”

Pancho Villa

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Day 11 of 14

The town was named for the nearby Sierra Blanca Mountains, which were named for the white poppies which grew on them (sierra blanca is Spanish for “white range”).

Today is our last day in Texas. Last night it was still 96 degrees in the shade when we returned from a fantastic dinner. Thank goodness for air conditioning. We are far from any restaurant chains at the moment but, we have a full tank of gas to get us far from this desert climate fast.

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Truly beautiful to look at and enjoy. Someone took a great amount of time to showcase their place.
Sierra Blanca has served as the junction of the Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads.

When Hudspeth County was formed in 1917 from El Paso County, Sierra Blanca was named the county seat, and has the only adobe courthouse in the state of Texas.

The 10 freeway took the town out pre 70s timeframe. Hotel owner tells me it is starting to make a comeback.

If you ever happen to be driving through Sierra Blanca — the dusty West Texas town (pop. 553) just 30 miles from the Mexican border — leave your drugs at home.

Since 2010, a slew of entertainers including Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Fiona Apple and actor Armie Hammer (The Social Network) have been busted at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint there. The motel owner telks me that Dogg was so upset that he refused to take his limo back. It was auctioned off.

We are this close to home now. Tody we lost our broken wrist bmw rider, tomorrow we lose the Ducati and bmw hooligans. I say this affectionately as those two are the salt of the earth, the rock of Texas, the …..you get the point.

Our rooms have gotten to the point where an outhouse is in the motel square. We are about 68 miles from El Paso now.

This was a great sign today passing through Marza, Texas.

The winds in Texas. We shall not miss you.

Our final night in Texas.

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Key west to San Diego pictures

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Day 10 of 14 Key West to asan Diego Ride

Some of our riders appear to already be smelling the barn; even though said barn is still 5 days away. Today we rode our motorcycles from Eage Pass to Big Bend, Texas.

On a scale of Do gooder, follow the speed limit scale of 1 to flat out balls to the wall hooligans, I would rate me a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.

To keep their privacy and future friendship in tact I’ll just say that the hooligan category, of the group, in my humble opinion are the bmw’rs and one Ducati.

My shook up friends on account of the loss of a foot and now another rider with a broken wrist are playing it yet more safe. The poor guy was wearing one of those Superman type vests that self inflates in a kryton second when launched from the riders seat.

As in unintentional, ahhh, shit moment. In his case he told us how a large dip in the road, propelled him.

Subsequently the border patrol did play a strong role in his eventual demise. His bmw is packed so that it would take herculine force and two properly functioning wrists to lift back up again.

The CBP drove hin to an awaiting ambulance that drove him to an energency clinic. Thank god our previous foot casualty did not go down here for they may have taken off the wrong foot.

Superman vest as in because when Christopher Reeves horse went down some engineer came up with this device to hopefully prevent the same type of future injury in jumping horse people.

These Texas roads are such that today while 3 of us traveled for a short distance together one farm or fuel truck passed us at over 100+ mph. Don’t know if he was headed to cap an emergency well or arrive in time for the birth of his new steer but, I could attest that he made us look like we were on a Sunday drive.

Today is Monday. The scenery has gone from island views, bridges, touristy dainty island living to border patrol checks, stops and roads with straight line distances farther than the eye can see.

And to think i had nothing to write about on account of the bland scenery. Hurrah! Wanted to get that out on account of surviving day 10. 5 to go. Tomorrow we leave this badlands, ghost town place that was probably too bad even for an Indian reservation and head to Sierra Blanca, Texas. 254 miles away and some hill to mountain pass changing scenery.

Yes, its hot. However, I was in full on wet weather gear when the day started, just to keep warm.

Our lunch option was in the back of a gas em up store, laundrymat and food store. We ate considerably well. Lunch at around 1030 a.m. Topic of conversation was boats and the new gold wing motorcycle.

Great pictures coming once I can upload them from camera to phone.

My phone usb cig lighter played havoc on me. At one time both phone and garmin went totally blank. Gas became the issue. Were it not for the entrance to aBig Bend national park gas stop some of us were probably 50 miles from running out. My bike gets from a 17 mph at hooligan level to 42 mph at the do gooder level. Haven’t run across any illegals yet but all of us at one time or another on at least 5 occasions have been asked if we are US citizens at check points.

At 5 p.m. a ghost town 5 miles away has happy hour in their restaurant. My clock say its 5 o’clock somewhere. May this amazing race continue. You can bet on this survivor. Here is to seeing Texas in the back of my side mirrors. Ready for Arizona next.

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Day 9 of 14

I arrived in Eagle Pass and can clearly see Mexico. Eagle Pass was the first American settlement on the Rio Grande. Originally known as Camp Eagle Pass, it served as a temporary outpost for the Texas militia, which had been ordered to stop illegal trade with Mexico during the Mexican American war.

Eagle pass is so named because the contour of the hills through which the Rio Grande flows bore a fancied resemblance to the outstretched wings of an eagle.

Of the past 8 days today is the least scenic. I rode most days with maybe one other rider. Today after breakfast at Mcdonalds I left three fellow riders and never looked back. High speeds, open roads, and endless scenery, and oil like smells dominated.

Yes there is an Alice and a San Diego Texas too.

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Day 8

One week ago we left mile zero at key west. Today we are in South Padre Island, Texas for the night. Our ride started in Corpus Christ, Texas, about 336 miles ago.

I am the first to arrive at the hotel for the night. The miles just flew by today and yesterday. I started out the day riding with Russ but, lost him when I stopped to take pictures about 50 miles into the ride. Texas roads today just begged for speed. I opened her up and now that she has over 2500 miles on the odometer she seems to run faster and is more responsive. I really, really love this bike. So responsive. Makes me feel like a kid again when I give her all she has and then coast back down to near the speed limit. Sometimes I rest my feet on the highway pegs I installed back home. I also love my cruise control. Its a device you tighten up that hilds the throttle for you. You can let go and ride with one or no hands, make an expresso and keep right on going.

Yes I cheated. Especially during the winds and downpour, I took a more direct route by passing many of the coastal route scenery. I call it risk management. The same goes for having a support van on this ride. All of us flew to Florida to start this ride and shipped our bikes and carried our luggage. I gave my luggage away, the others did not plan on doing the same so we are using the van for storage. I also cheated by not carrying all my extra clothes and underwear on the ride. This is because i was in Miami for three weeks before the ride started.

The guy who crashed on this ride has his foot amputated today. By having a support van we made him and his wifes life allot easier. She flys in today and the van will catch up with us soon. The rider whose 690 KTM was not cutting it for this ride is also using the van as bike storage. He bought a brand new Hinda Africa twin three day ago and is now riding it.

From the nps:

For almost its entire existence, Padre Island has remained undeveloped wilderness. Because the National Seashore endeavors to preserve Padre Island in its natural state, visiting the island is very much like stepping back into the past.

With few exceptions, visitors can now see Padre Island as it has existed throughout most of its history and how it is described in the few extant descriptions by the early explorers.

Four nations have owned Padre Island at different times. The first was Spain, which owned Padre Island from its entry into the New World until the Mexican Revolution of 1820.

Following the revolution, Mexico owned Padre Island from 1821 until 1836, when the newly formed Republic of Texas claimed the area between the Nueces river and the Rio Grande.

Padre Island was under ownership by the Republic of Texas until its territory was acquired by the United States, following the War with Mexico of 1845-1848.

Throughout these times, the island has been known by several names, with Padre Island being only the most recent. It has also been known as “la Isla Blanca” (White Island) and “Isla de los Malaguitas” (Island of the Malaquites, a band of the Karankawa people).

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Day 8

Todays ride is still a surprise for us. Rain or no rain? When I penned those words there was no rain then at 0400 all hell broke loose. Started with lightning, then distant thunder, then rain. Eventually the winds had the rain going sideways. The hotel we stayed in according to the receptionist had rain up to the desk during the last hurricane. She said she waded out to the local Walmart to shop on her lunch hour? Stories you just don’t hear back home.

This morning the weather is all rained out. When we started the ride no rain but, a ton of wind. According to Russ the report called for 100% rain starting at 0500.

Our end route today is Corpus Christi, Texas. In 1519, on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay on what is now the southern coast of Texas.

The bay, and the city that later sprung up there, took the name of the feast day celebrating the “Body of Christ.”

Today our comrade who was injured in a motorcycle accident yesterday is having his foot amputated right after hip surgery. I am told even through all of this he is in high spirits and joking.

Most vowed today they would go the speed limit, remember we are in Texas and the limit is 75 mph. That vow was broken probably the first down shift back to first gear. Our route took us coastal, then on a ferry ride. Free! Just like in Canada on our around British Columbia ride.

My usual partner was a bit shook up so I rode on without him and soon hooked up with a guy on the BMW 800. When we reached a fork I took the less windy route. Then I caught up to one of the two hooligans and throuh thick and thin stayed with them. That Africa twin is well broke in now. I started out in rain gear and got pelted in a down pour. My stupid visor on the helmet kept popping up after terrific wind gusts. Imagine 3 riders doing 85 mph at a 15 degree lean going straight. That be us. The wund qas terrible but, we endured and are much better for it.

Speedy recovery Ed. I think its his shifting foot that us coming off.

At the hotel now. A one star Indian run job with a terrific view.

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The Ride

If you are wondering? Here is how our riding days go. Once up and dressed in appropriate riding gear for the day we place our pack or whatever we dont want to carry on our chase vehicle, a Mercedes van. Normally Russ and I head out first in search of breakfast. Rarely do we see any of the other 9 riders or the van. We have options. W can follow tge blue gps track or set our own course. The days motel is at the end of the days ride. On the ride the gps may at times show a red road option. This option is usually a dirt back road but, not always. It also loops back.

For the past two days I felt the Africa twin calling and the need for some speed. At times I place my feet up on the riding bars that i installed back home. Riding position varies. Russ and I ride tgen I pass him up and never seen him or another rider till we get to the hotel.

Today on the road ahead of us saw Jeep and passed him up. Later Curly passes Russ and I on a BMW1200. I keep up for a while but, his need for speed, my safety and my need for fuel won out. That wind blasted my helmet and windshield at times towards the last 60 miles or so. Since I have a Garmin and maps on my phone I look down and can see traffic, eta, alternate routes, etc. The only way to stay safe and informed.

We are now in Texas! Day 5. We started in Key West. Every day was different so I dont yet have a favorite day, time, ride or food eaten. Yesterday may be our best but, so can key west. The group has gone out on several occasions for dinner, key west, cedar key, dauphin island. That may be our bonding time as well as the no halls motel. The kind that have front room parking. We usually all bring out chairs and the only thing found missing is a camp fire.

When the ride started I was wearing all my riding protection. That included riding pants and an armored jacket, gloves, helmet, everything. Then Florida bit by bit wore me down. Soon the gloves came off. At times I also in the past 5 days dropped the riding pants for jeans and switched gloves for a lighter pair.

For colder weather. Yes, we have had cold weather on one day and almost a full day of heavy down pour. I have thermals tops and bottom. Russ has plug in gloves and jacket to stay warm.

Our fuel stops. When I reach 2 bars on the fuel gauge I start looking for a gas station. The bike takes between 6 and 7 dollars to fill up with premium fuel. This is high speeds at times but, mostly back country roads where the conditions and scenery plays a major role.

Today I stopped for this shot and never saw my riding buddy again.

UPDATE: We are in the southeast part of Texas for the night.

There are five cities that comprise this area. Nederland is Groves is home to nearly 17,000 pecan trees. My favorite pie, pecan gas its own festival every year, the Groves Pecan Festival. The part of Texas where the oil boom began. In 1901 a bubbling pool of mud erupted into a 100 foot geyser and so the rest is history, Texas oil industry.

It is also here where Janis Joplin belted out her first tune and then died from an over dose at the age if 27. By coincidence I found myself this morning with a tune in my head from Janis. “So come on, come, take another part of me baby, baby” or something like that kept me entertained for a short while.

To get here we crossed this huge tall bridge with views far and wide. Now I know it was Sabine Pass. In 1863, the US Navy attempted to invade confederate Texas via Sabine pass. Lt Dowling and 46 men halted the unvasuon by using six cannons to defeat the 4 invading gunboats.

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