"Ventura Highway, in the sunshine.
Where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine.
Youíre gonna go, I know.
"
-America, Ventura Highway

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Big Sur, CA to Los Angeles, CA: SR-1 South through San Simeon, Harmony, Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, South on US-101 past Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, Buellton, Santa Barbara, to Ventura to Channel Islands National Park VC, back on US-101 South to Thousand Oaks to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area VC, back on US-101 South to Las Virgenes Road South, to Mulholland Highway East, to Stunt Road to Saddle Peak Road to Tuna Canyon Road to SR-1 East to Sunset Boulevard to Los Angeles.. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
Iíve waited a while to hit the road this morning, hoping the rising sun might burn off the fog. But as I head south, continuing the trek along the precipitous coastline, Iím riding through milk. The mist is rising up from the sea, visibly wafting up the cliffs. But I canít see anything when I look out towards the water. This fog isnít going anywhere soon and Iíve got miles to go before I reach L.A.

Near San Simeon, at the end of the Big Sur coastline, the fog breaks up and the sun shines through. Good thing too, because there are two great things to see here. The first is Hearst Castle, the 127-acre, 115-room estate built by newspaperman William Randolph Hearst. And the second is the thousands of Northern Elephant Seals bobbing in the water along the beach at Point Piedras Blancas. I skip the mansion (no reservation, no time, and no interest in leaving the fully loaded bike unattended for a couple of hours) but spend about a half-hour taping and watching the seals. The males bark and joust with each other in the water, while the females sun themselves along the shore.

Iíve tried to make up some time, cruising down 101 and then across the Ventura Freeway past Santa Barbara. Iím running very late, so I make real quick stops at the visitor centers for the Channel Islands National Park and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Areas. Zip in, get the stamp, and keep moving. Thereís an accident on the other side of 101, slowing things to a crawl in both directions. When I get closer I can see what happened. A "weekend warrior", out for a Saturday afternoon run on his Italian superbike has bit it. By the looks of the wreckage, whoever was riding this bike wonít be riding anything, ever again. Makes you think.

Iím supposed to meet my friend Michele Edelman, yet another former Classic Sports colleague, at her sisterís house up in the Topanga hills. And the ride over the mountains and into the canyons is spectacular. But by the time I get there, Micheleís gone. Iím about three hours late. Micheleís already home in West Hollywood. So Iíll ride into town, taking Sunset, as the sun sets, across from Santa Monica through Beverly Hills. Iíll have to stop and say hi to Heff along the way.

Some young guy in a beat-up Toyota starts to pull into my lane. Actually he starts to drive right into me. I slam on the brakes and then whip around him on the right to flip him off and honk my horn. He freaks out, realizing he almost killed me, and just takes off. But weíre driving on Sunset, near UCLA, and the road curves fast here with stoplights along the way. And thereís lots of traffic. At the next light he slams on his brakes and skids to a screeching stop, inches away from the back of a beautiful Jaguar. This kid is out of hand and now he knows it. Heís either late for his colonic appointment, or heís a P.A. working on the latest billion-dollar Hollywood blockbuster, delivering the dailies to the lab.

I reach Micheleís home, a beautiful townhouse just north of the Beverly Center, but sheís got to run to a surprise party. So she invites me to crash at her place for the night. This is great because I had no idea where I was going to stay in L.A. I didnít even think Iíd ride this far into town. So itís me and Micheleís two dogs, Scooter (a Boston Terrier) and P.D. (a Boxer), sharing a Saturday night in the City of Angles. Laundry, Chinese takeout, and a 55-inch television with DirecTV. Iím in heaven.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 324.3
Total Miles: 18,173
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 45 Minutes
Average Speed: 56.5 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (CA)
Total States Visited: 32
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 2
NPS Stamp Totals: 137 Stamps, 29 States
Weather: Foggy, and then, guess what? Sun, Sun, and more Sun.
Times Iíve stopped for gas so far: 85

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Pork Palace, CLOSED TO PUBLIC" Ė sign on US-101 near Buellton, California
"Smile and Drive Safely"- road sign on Las Virgenes Road, just south of US-101 near Agoura Hills, California.

RANDOM PASSINGS:
Thereís something pissing me off about California. You see, they make a big stink about automobile emissions here. There are so many cars here that the air quality is constantly under siege. So along with the regular auto inspection, the DMV also checks the exhaust emissions. New cars sold here have to meet certain clean air requirements. And the gas pumps have those pain in the ass clean-air nozzles, the ones we used to have in New York until they realized they donít do shit anyway. Try using one of those to fill up your motorcycle. It just doesnít work.

So the thing that really ticks me off is that Iíve seen more semi-trailers, trucks, pickups, vans, and plain old automobiles spewing out black smoke from their tailpipes than any other place Iíve been in the last 61 days. Sometimes itís so bad I actually start to choke. Itís incredible offensive and disgusting. Iím breathing so much carbon monoxide on the roads of California that Iíll need a lung transplant before I reach Vegas. No wonder theyíve outlawed smoking in restaurants here. They needed someplace to get away from the smog.

So why donít the cops here spend less time hassling the speeders and start pulling over these environmental terrorists? You donít need a radar gun to see the toxic waste blowing out all over the road. Take a couple of these culprits off the road and you can get rid of those lousy gas nozzles. Come on guys! Wake up and smell the fumes!

 


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