The Famous James Tucker
Dylan George Field leaving the Famous James Tucker's house in Claremont, California, USA
The instagram story covers two days. I didn't know I would be doing a day-by-day journal or blog. - Dylan
Instagram excerpt - See here
Day 1 - Today I took a solo flight to the USA to begin my 90-tour by motorbike. I set this goal 4 years ago. When my partner Azar Zamani's visa was rejected to Australia, we decided I would go with only 1.5 months to prepare. I've arrived safely in Claremont (Los Angeles) and made contact with 'The Famous James Tucker' who exceptionally sourced, purchased and prepared my bike for the 14,000km+ journey in short time. Tomorrow I set off in the San Gorgonio Mountains and head North to discover the country. This ride is dedicated to my Uncle Shane Senini who passed away last week.
I arrived 9:00am local time.
Customs and immigration was easy. I applied for my (Esta)[https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/] before I left. They didn’t ask for my application number. I recommend taking a photo or writing it down just in case. My passport was stamped and I was given 90-days to leave. This includes entries to Canada/Mexico if I exit from the United States.
I scheduled my return flight on day 89. 2nd November - 6 August 2018.
My mission was to get to Claremont. I connected to the airport wifi and found an email from James Tucker. Thankfully he sent instructions to get to Union Station and take a train where he would collect me at the station. I charged my phone and asked the lady at the information stand about buses. She opened a book. “It will be $10, wait over there”, she smiled and kindly pointed.
There were no signs guiding that signaled to Union Station. I looked around as a large knocked about van (or truck) pulled up. Out came a sweaty, slightly stocky man. He looked South American. He jumped from the door “Union Station, Hollywood”, he shouted as he paced the bus stop I wondered if he was legitimate. The way he rushed suggested he wasn’t. Naturally he got to me. “Union Station?”, he asked pointedly. I don’t like hustlers but the van didn’t look too bad and I didn’t know where to go. So I asked,”How much?” “$10” “Deal” He took my bags and I jumped in the van.
We circled the airport and picked up a few others. A couple, a group of asian friends and two girls. There weren’t enough seats so the girls separated. One sat next to me. The driver made chit-chat with young girl closest to him. She exclaimed, “Hollywood!” at one point with her arms in a V.
We bumped around in the van as we rolled along the highway. Houses and palm trees poked over the barriers. We turned onto a raised exit of towards the interstate that faced directly to Los Angeles city with the San Gabriel mountains behind it. It was like an aerial camera shot from a movie.
The girl next to me had the same awe on her face as me. “Amazing isn’t it? Your first time in Los Angeles?”, I asked her. “Yes, and you” “Same” “Where are you from?”, I picked her accent of her friends chatting with the driver. “Russia” “What brought you here?” “My friend and I are going to be waitresses, we’ll work and see as much as we can. You?” “I’m going to ride a motorbike around for 3-months” “Really?”, she paused and looked me in the eyes, “You must be brave”. “Likewise”
We arrived at Union Station. I grabbed my bags and paid the man. The girl I sat next to, looking lost with her friend, gave me a nod as we departed. I took a picture before entering the huge structure. The station was magnificent. Nothing to write home about but simple and charming. I went to information who guided me to the ticket booth. A short older african american lady with greying hair faced me behind security glass. She starred at me behind glasses unimpressed. “I need ticket to Claremont station”, I asked unsure. Her brow furrowed “Over there”, her eyes moved to something behind me. I turned around and saw an empty wall and a small Starbucks 10 meters behind me. “I don’t see anything”, I said sheepishly The lady exhaled. “There’s a ticket booth to the left” “Ohhh, thank you”, I smiled. I’d never met African-Americans before. I’d watched Oprah and Southern Women in movies. It was completely different to talk to them. I was being polite to combat my anxiety of not knowing if the media portrayed them correctly or not. I walked to the counter around the corner.
I was met by a young large African-American girl. A huge smile spread across her face. “How you doin’?” It made me smile. “I’m trying to get to Claremont”, I asked. “Sure”, she tapped on the computer and had a friendly banter with her colleague. “There you go hun, that will be (something) dollars”. I handed her some of the $500 US Dollars my sister and the family gave me for the trip. “You head that way”, she pointed, “and when you hit platform 14 you turn left”. “Thank you so much”, I replied as I grabbed my luggage and swung around to the platform.
The train left in an hour. I connected to the Starbucks wifi and sat on in the waiting area scattered with old wooden seats that looked like they were made 100 years ago. I messaged James Tucker to tell him the schedule while a woman yelled at her son next to me. After an hour, I found the train and boarded. It was a big old double decker. I nodded off from the jet lag of the plane.
I arrived at Claremont. I was nervous to meet James. I didn’t know what he looked like. We only spoke over email. I wondered if he’d find me. I crossed the tracks with everyone else to the carpark. There was no one behind me. A short grey haired balding man walked towards me. It could only be James.
We hoped in his Yellow Volkswagen Beetle. It wasn’t the car I expected. He put my luggage in the back. He used an elastic to hold the boot down. We made awkward conversation until we hit the house. He seemed more interested in the motorbike than me. The gates opened and we drove in. He told me he didn’t like people knowing where he lived.
The house was huge. Old but huge. It was apparently an old citrus farmhouse. It had concrete stairs I had never seen before. It was cheap and solid for the workers boots that walk up and down them all day. James converted the attic himself into an office. It was impressive as it was big.
I slept out the back in a the bungalow. It was an extension of the shed. He fitted a bathroom with shower for all the adventure riding guests he has coming through the property. Six bikes sat outside the double garage and bungalow including my DR650.
He was proud of the bike. It was spotlessly clean. He spoke about the modifications he did for me like lowering it, the suspension and racks. He started the bike. It ran perfectly. I was jet-lagged so I had a shower and took a nap in the bungalow. It must have been 30 degrees celsius inside.
I had to find a sim card. I asked James about the wifi and found a nearby AT&T store. He suggested to pickup an extra duffel bag. I wouldn’t be able to fit everything I had on the bike. He suggested a nearby motorbike store. It was about to close. I’d go there, then the mobile store and grab some groceries. James never mentioned he would cook dinner for me.
I took the bike out for the first time. I heeded Jame’s warning to be careful leaving the property. Watch for cyclists and look both ways. I’d never ridden on the right hand side before. I popped it into gear and gently released the clutch as I rolled out the driveway just before dusk. The bike lurched forward. I kicked it up a gear and rolled on the throttle. The bike pulled and I repeated with more throttle. Wooo hooo.
I navigated to the bike store using offline Google Maps. I made it just before close. The boys helped me with a duffel. “This should work”, I pulled a rubber 60 litre bag off the shelf and inspected it. It was 80 dollars, I didn’t realise American’s display the pre-tax price 🙄
I took the bag and rode to the AT&T store. I picked up an unlimited phone plan for $60/month. This would get me through all the Google Maps, FaceTime with my partner, Facebook posts and looking up various things as I travel. I stopped at a Supermarket and gathered noodles, fruit, muesli bars and observed all the odd foods on the shelf I’d never seen before. I sat in the carpark eating a banana and ice tea wondering if I would be robbed.
I rode back and ate dinner. I was sorting my items out for the day when James came in for a beer. He asked me about the trip, where I was going and the plan. I explained I didn’t really have one. He told me the places he’d been with his wife, Colleen, and how they travelled. He showed me his bikes, the tools and tricks they’d learnt over the years and other things. He wasn’t impressed with my lack of knowledge in adventure riding.
Colleen swung by the bungalow and explained her tips on eating on the road. This included cracking eggs in a plastic sandwich bag to save space and cook later. I went to sleep sometime after.
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Day 1 - Today I took a solo flight to the USA to begin my 90-tour by motorbike. I set this goal 4 years ago. When my partner Azar Zamani's visa was rejected to Australia, we decided I would go with only 1.5 months to prepare. I've arrived safely in Claremont (Los Angeles) and made contact with 'The Famous James Tucker' who exceptionally sourced, purchased and prepared my bike for the 14,000km+ journey in short time. Tomorrow I set off in the San Gorgonio Mountains and head North to discover the country. This ride is dedicated to my Uncle Shane Senini who passed away last week. Forum: https://bit.ly/2vps1rt Personal blog: https://www.georgefield.com.au/motorcycle/