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Archive for April 2nd, 2009

Day 113/114 Fontana CA 31st March

Posted by TravellingStrom on April 2, 2009

A new day and a new learning curve for me. There is no electric jug, but they did have a coffee machine thing. Not being a coffee drinker, I managed to get it working but with powdered cream in a paper cup it tasted crap. I cleaned it all out and just used it to heat the water and made a cup of tea, but this was marginal as the powdered cream is horrible. It was hot and wet, a bonus.

Todayโ€™s job was to get the bike bought. This turned a bit pear shaped. I also had an email from the shipping people, my gear was stopped at customs and they needed more info, not good ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I ended up on the phone with the agent and supplied him with the info he wanted, basically he (insert US customs here) wanted a US based ID, either personal or a company tax ID. He also needed an email explaining that the PIAA lights I was importing were not part of the normal bike system but were an add on for deer/roo spotting. Even though I bought a lot of the gear from the states to start with and it would be taken out of the country again, I have to pay an import duty of around 2%. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I hope it is sorted now, but I will find out in a day or so I guess.

The bike. Well, I needed to get some money from my account and somehow get it to Tom. As the bike was still under finance, this proved a bit of a drama. One of the main options was for me to buy out the bike from the finance company. But, to do that we would both have to travel to Long Beach and sign over the paperwork, this would be a 6 hour travel event, so not an option. After a bit of thinking, I also tried to do a direct deposit into Toms bank account. Once again, this did not work as their systems donโ€™t work that way, I would have to arrange an international wire transfer. My online bank does have the international money transfer, but the way my bank security is setup I need to get a text message and use that code to continue. Guess what, my phone does not work, so that option was out the window!

Next step and the one that finally worked, with a twist though, was to transfer extra funds to my credit card, then do a cash advance at a local bank. The closest one was a short distance away, so I decided to go for a walk up there, do a bit of shopping, get the money and a cab back to the motel. Not good to be carrying US$5000/AU7000 cash in my pocket! By now it was gone midday, about 1.30pm and I was getting hungry as well. Breakfast was a muesli bar ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the front of the motel with the saloon bar on the left.

And a view down towards the shopping centre where I was headed, apparently I need to go three sets of lights, so I figured about 3 blocks, wrong! It was more like 5! ๐Ÿ™‚

A view towards a mountain range behind the housing estate.

And finally reached the bank.

I entered and asked about the process and it was going to be easy according to the lady teller. I said I would go do my shopping and return a bit later. After some shopping, I needed toothpaste as mine had been confiscated at customs(it was larger than 100gm, it was actually 125gm tube but used, they still took it off me), I had a feed at a Wendyโ€™s as there was not much else, then went back and tried to get my money. The lady teller was busy, so I went to the male teller, he said the maximum amount I could withdraw on a credit card was US$1000 per day, arguing got me nowhere. This was the twist, the only way out of this situation was to be a customer, so in the end I opened an account, which was quite easy, then did my cash advance and got my money, hooray!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ (I bet there will be a double handling cost for this which I will need to factor in when I see it on a statement). I asked about fees, and as long as I keep US$25 in the account it is free, but if it starts to cost, I will close it down. I can check online, so that is easy.

There are no cabs out this way! You have to phone one to come and pick you up, I had no phone and there was no public ones, nor cab numbers. Oh well, in the end I walked back, but it seems a good area and I had no problem, and although I was a tad nervous I got back to my motel OK! Tom told me later this was an affluent area which is why he recommended it.

It was late afternoon, around 4.30 by now when I called Tom, he would be there with the bike around 6-630, and so I spent the interim writing up a blog entry. The deal was done and we immediately went and had a few drinks at the saloon next door ๐Ÿ™‚ This is us, two nude nuts and the lovely Kristine who was our server for the evening.

I found out you could get a smaller glass than the pint, but not by much, only a ยพ pint and only a dollar cheaper, we drank pints! The beer was different, the night before I had one pint of Bachmanโ€™s beer, which was a darkish ale, not too bad, then tonight we were drinking Samuel Adams, which had a different taste, but the tongue got used to it. It was an interesting evening, discussing a lot of subjects and as Tom was a local copper, I had some good advice given, the main one was or stay out of jail, I intend to do that! And at the end of the evening, just a quick check of what the bike looks like, my eyes were a bit blurry by this stage as well as the camera ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a couple more nightcaps as I was not really tired, my body clock was still a bit out of whack, but I also did not want to leave until late morning, so I could miss the traffic peaks. I was still quite nervous about riding on the wrong side of the road. Tom had advised to use the freeway system to leave the city as it would be less confusing, all the traffic goes the same way and the opposite traffic is on the other side of a concrete dividing wall.

I eventually crashed about midnight.

Week One Day 114 1st April
Fontana – Mesquite

I woke a bit seedy, but not too bad and after sorting a cup of tea, yuck, I went down to add some stuff to the bike. Mainly the power source for my GPS and the dash shelf for the GPS mount, I also removed the rubber blocks from under the seat(to lower it), and tried to use the Airhawk seat, but it made me too high and I had to put it away until I can get the lowering links installed. Here is the new bike ๐Ÿ™‚

And the chaos in the motel room finally gets sorted out and packed away on the bike.

The bike came with low mileage as I said, here is the proof in miles ๐Ÿ™‚

That is an equivalent of 5000km, very low, not even broken in! The bike is actually a 2007 model, bought new in 2008 and has done nothing much at all. There is no log book, apparently they donโ€™t have them over here? I am not sure on that, but I did get the service history paperwork and it looks all good.

So, off I go, not without a little trepidation, but it was quite easy, turn RIGHT out of the car park and keep to the RIGHT and about 200m down the road I take the first right onto the I15 which is an Interstate freeway. From then on it is just settle back, sit on the speed limit of 70mph which is about equivalent to our 110kmh.

It starts off 5 lanes and eventually gets down to two lanes. I took a few photos but I was more interested in staying upright in the vicious crosswinds and headwinds I was getting. This is just north of Fontana.

And an hour and a half later.

I needed fuel about now, it was nearly midday so I stopped at the next service town which was called Baker. This was another learning curve, how to fuel up the bike ๐Ÿ™‚ It sounds weird, but true. OK, it is NOT like Oz, at home you pick up the nozzle, fill up and go to the desk and pay, well nope, they must have had too many drive offs in the past, so this will eventually happen back home as well. I know the drive offs do happen now, so it may be closer than you think!

So, my first attempt was to read the instructions, follow them and when nothing happens I go inside and ask the dude at the counter. He says I must pay first, as I am using cash, I must guess how much, then he will give change after? OK, so I guess and pay US$10, go to the pump, insert nozzle, lift up the lever and nothing happens? Try a few times, nothing. There is a shroud around the nozzle end to stop vapour and this has a switch on it, so I try pulling back but still nothing!! Some other tourists are also having problems, we go back to the counter about 3 times, still nothing! Oh, he says, maybe we are out of fuel, so I get a refund and go across the road, where I once again try again. This time I pay and it works, finally I have fuel ๐Ÿ™‚ I wander down the road to a local food place called a Taco Bell.

I had something called a taco, or a mince and veg food inside a pastry thing, it came with chips and a drink for about US$5.30. It was not too bad but I was not really all that hungry. I was more concerned about the turbulence I was getting and I had sore eyes already and had only been going for 2 hours. I relaxed for a while before hitting the road again. This time I added my waterproof liner in my jacket, it was getting a tad cooler as I was crossing the Mojave Desert, which is up around the 4000ft level.

Then not long after that I crossed into Nevada County. I only realised this when I noticed the Casinos right on the border but it was too late to stop and there is no turning around ๐Ÿ™‚

Then about another half an hour later I got to Las Vegas and here the traffic was at a crawl, 5 lanes of nearly gridlock, I managed to sneak a shot when I had a free hand for a second or so.

It took a while to get through here as there was road works as well, but eventually I was heading north again and the traffic thinned right out. It was 2.30 and still a way to go, I figured I could ride until about 5 or 6, then see what is around where I could stay. Tom had told me not to stay at the smaller cheaper motels, due to possible druggies etc and my bike may not survive ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Oh well, we shall see. It is still fully insured under his name until the rego gets transferred.

A few more hours of coolish riding, of course I am heading north, so the reverse of what we experience back home. I needed fuel again, so the next biggish stop is a place called Mesquite.

I tried to use my Travelex Debit card, but the machine would not take it, nor could the operator get it to work, hmm, I need to sort that out soon. I will have to ask Lesley ๐Ÿ™‚ I paid cash and then decided I would stay here as the next town was about 90 mile north of here. I had seen some signs advertising US$25 rooms at a casino, seemed cheap compared to what I payed the other few nights (US$90). I eventually found it and as I had flown across the ocean in a Virgin, it was fitting I should sleep in one ๐Ÿ™‚

The check in process took a while, lots of customers and the slot machines were everywhere, as you would expect. The only free rooms available were a smoking room at US$40, I took it, but maybe shouldnโ€™t have as it stank, yuck. As I had no air freshener I made do with my aerosol chain lube, it smelt better than stale smoke. ๐Ÿ™‚

After unpacking I tried the wireless internet, ahh, but cheap rooms means you pay for everything else. I was not paying US$6 an hour or US$10 for 24 hours, thatโ€™s a rip off. Just a note here, all dollar values will be in US unless I remember to convert them, it is too hard to convert without an exchange rate handy and with no internet handy when I wrote this, it is hard. Sorry about that.

I wondered through the Casino after the internet failed. It was not just a casino of course, although it had the poker and black jack tables and craps. It also had a bar ๐Ÿ™‚ But at each position at the bar was a gaming machine inset into the bar itself with room for your drink, no way of getting away from them. Around the corner a bit(all inside of course) was a steakhouse, a cinema, a bingo hall, sports room with a wall of sports betting, then a 20 lane+ 10 pin bowling alley, a snack bar and an amusement arcade. No need to leave the building people, just bring your money ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, so I took no photos, I felt uncomfortable to do so, as hard as that may sound. A couple of slices of Pizza and a couple of beers later, yes I did partake of the machines in the bar and it took my money, as usual. But, I have not worked out my cash system yet, so I needed conserve what I had for fuel etc.

After watching some 10 pin bowling and then the craps table, I still have no idea , I grabbed some free ice and bought some coke and partook of a few rums in the stinky room while doing some blog stuff. It was hard to be a tourist when you need money for fuel, but I will sort that out over the next few days and in the end, I probably saved a heap by being unable to spend it.

I had an earlier night, only 11pm this time after watching a bit of teev and reading a book. It was cold outside, I had seen snow on the mountain peaks and of course this was the high desert, which meant tomorrow I would use my thermal liner in the jacket when I left.


Posted in Around The World, USA Leg | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

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