Day 4

Californian Coast

The DR650 parked in front of a blue Chevrolet Belair at Buena Vista Road House, California, USA
The DR650 parked in front of a blue Chevrolet Belair at Buena Vista Road House, California, USA


I never saw the lady of Chilao Campground. I didn’t know at the time but he was refering to a campground host (someone who manages and lives at the campground). I packed up and went back down to the iron ranger. I checked out the sign behind it. It warned of bears and rattlesnakes.

I tried to grab my $25 out of the iron ranger. I could see the envelope but couldn’t get it out with my tweezers from my First Aid Kit. Dammit.

I made a plan to get to Tim’s place in San Jose by taking the coast. I wore a San Fransisco Giants baseball cap to work and a colleague from the USA picked up on it. He used to live there. I told him unfortunately I hadn’t been to the States but I was riding a motorbike. He said to me. “Oh man, you gotta take Highway 1!”

I forgot his name but I took his advice and headed towards the coast.

Out of fuel

I began riding down the mountains towards Palmdale. I was in the middle of desert scattered with some farms. I was rolling down a hill when the bike suddenly began to bunny hop. It lurched forwards and backwards. The throttle made no difference. The engine stopped. “No, no, no”, I panicked. I had forgotten this was a dirt bike and not the road going bike I was used to. I wondered how far I had travelled. I scrambled to my phone as the words of our family friend Gay Zazryn, who runs a Harley Owners Group (HOGS) rally from Sturgis told me.

“We always fill up at 100km no matter what”

I thought it was pedantic and I paid the price. I found a gas station 35 miles away when I remembered the bike had a fuel reserve switch. “Oh thank god!”, I turned to into position. I wondered if I would make it. I tried to start the bike. It didn’t start. “Come’on!”, I yelled in my helmet. It was hot. I pressed the start button hard and let it turn over 10 times. It popped. Then popped again and started. “Yes!” I continued up the road not 5 miles and found a gas station.


I rode to Mojave. I mistook it for the National Preserve Desert. I’d heard about it on the PC game Fallout: New Vegas. Turns out the town isn’t anything spectacular. The wind farms were impressive and so were the desert planes scattered with shrubs. Other than that it was hot.

I Facetime’d my partner at the gas station and continued to Bakersfield.


I don’t know why I went to Bakersfield. I think I stopped there for coffee at a starbucks. I didn’t know where to go. I charged my phone and made a post on Instagram. I was too scared to try the local places.

I bought more water and a huge man pulled his pants up in-front of me at the gas station. Thats all I remember. It was nothing but huge farm plantations. It was hot and the roads were straight.


I started up Highway 58 when I realised it was 86 miles to the next gas station. I backtracked 20 miles to McKittrick. I wasn’t sure if the bike had the range to go all the way from Bakersfield. I decided to play it safe given the desert heat. It was a good choice. I took Tuckers advice and filled up my Camelbak with iced water from the soda machine. The ride was boring and hot even with the down layer removed from my jacket and the front zip pulled down.

Morro Bay

Trees began to form on around me and the mountains began to rise. The temperature decreased noticeably. Finally there were corners and I new I was getting near the coast. The land was incredibly similar to back home. There were signs of wineries and every so often a eucalyptus tree. North California is much like Australia. I found a cute little road that was recognised by cyclists. It was a hoot to ride.

Highway 1

Before I new it I hit the coast. It was getting dark and I had to find a campsite. I pushed up Highway 1 and was met with the the glorious sunset over the coastal road.

The tourists were a pain but the sunset over the water and mountains was spectacular. Unfortunately, there are few places to camp in the area. There was nothing but farmland on one side and beach carparks that were clearly marked ‘no camping’. The coast was also a lot colder than the desert. With the sun going down I needed a place to stay.

I pulled into an RV camp. The ranger greeted me and told me he only had a couple of spots left for $35. That’s over $50 AUD. I said I’d check it out. He gave me a map and I followed it to the spot. It was nothing but a patch of grass surrounded by families in tents with kids running around. They starred at me as I circled the campground. I’d rather camp on the side of the road.

I left the park and kept an eye on the side of the road for a secluded area. There was none. I tried to go up roads off highway 1 but there were surprisingly few. This continued until the sun went down when I found the amazing Nacimiento-Ferguson Road.

I winded up the mountain as the sky got darker and darker. It was getting cool. I had to setup camp before it was too dark. I passed a car presumably looking for the same thing as me. I eventually hit the Nacimiento Campground by dark.

All the campsites were taken. I asked a girl who had a fire if there was any left and she replied “no, although there’s another campsite down the road”. I turned my headlight into the darkness and spotted an BMW adventure bike! This brother will save me. I rode up to him and said hello and asked if there were any left. Surely he would offer me a spot with him to share stories. He looked at me with his torch on his head. “Maybe look over there”, he dismissed me. I was shattered.

Ponderosa Campground

I rode to the next campsite. Thankfully it wasn’t too far away. The big sign was out front. I stopped at the information sign, another $25. Fuck that, I thought, no one policed it at Chilao. I rode around the site. Most of them appeared taken. I got to the bottom and found an empty one. Thank god. I asked the neighbours if it was free. It was.

I setup camp and dozed into the night.



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