DAY 1

After our various arrivals into Portland – the starting point for the phenomenal Pacific Coast Highway tour; our eager group of Magellanites all met up for the first of many meals together.  Delicious juicy Elk burgers were coming thick and fast served up by the two best hosts in America, the wonderful Bill and Judy Douglas. I could tell from the get go, that everyone was well up for a fantastic holiday, and that’s exactly what happened! I’m Billy, and I was the guide for this years tours out in the states, this is my daily diary of our fantastic trip. Enjoy, it’s a corker!! 

DAY 2

We all met up at the front of the hotel and packed our luggage boxes and belongings into the support truck.   A couple of Uber cabs and a 5 minute journey later, we arrived at the bike rental shop to start putting the final touches on our selected hire bikes.  The paperwork and sat nav preparations went very well and in no time the bikes were all loaded up, and ready for a quick test ride along the road and back. Once everyone was happy that their machines were in the right modes and settings, we had a quick chat about the day ahead.    We mounted up for the first time and all set off on our way to the home of the Goonies! Astoria. “Hey you guys” was being repeated over and over in my mind ( the famous cry from the movie) but I resisted the urge to say it out loud. The first section of the day would see us take a leisurely ride towards some nice back roads that would carry us to a river crossing ferry.  The short roll on roll off ferry crossing is the perfect amount of distance in to our first days ride, giving us time to get to grips with our new machines. Crossing the Columbia River is a very pleasant little crossing. It’s a no hassle quick service, that allows us time to change things about on the bikes or just relax and get those smiles going as we realise we are at the very beginning of a legendary biking route.  After a fantastic days riding we all arrived in Astoria in good time and checked into our waterside hotel. With dinner plans made at a lovely restaurant close by, we all met up and made our way across together. It was a fantastic first day’s riding and I could see everybody start to take the first deep breaths of their holiday and start to relax. 

DAY 3

After breakfast,  we made our way out of Astoria and headed onto the famous and truly beautiful Highway 101 and began hugging the Pacific coast line as we made our incredible journey south.  First stop of the day was at Fort Clatsop. Fort Clatsop was the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition near the mouth of the Columbia River. The Expedition took shelter here in the winter of 1805/6 before returning to St Louis.  Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly acquired territories in the west, Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark both set off to map out and record their findings along the way, before arriving at the north end of the Clatsop Plains.  It was interesting to see and hear the tales of the camp, as well as watch a short video on what life was like back in that era. We got back on the bikes and got on our way again heading towards Florence, along the incredibly scenic coastal road. We passed through Cannon Beach and Newport to arrive just in time for the sea lion caves staff to switch the sign from open to closed!  One of the group had made it earlier and as the caves were tidal and sea lions were few, we probably got the best deal by just photographing the stunning views and watching the sea lions play in the ocean below from the overlook above. The hotel in Florence overlooked the ocean and the views were stunning, particularly the sun set. It was another great days riding under the belt and a fantastic place to take a load off with a nice walk along the beach.

DAY 4

Day 4 takes us on a lovely journey through the Oregon Sand Dunes and into the Redwood National Park.   Everyone probably at some point has looked at a tree and thought “that’s big” well, I can assure you the trees in the Redwood National Park are easily twice the height and thickness of anything you’ve seen anywhere else.  It’s mind boggling to look at these trees that stand some 300ft tall, packed tightly together, yet all appear so perfectly formed. Some of these trees have reached the grand old age of 2500-3000 years old. Surviving that length of time is what makes them so special and well worth a visit.  That afternoon we spent some time taking a walk through the trees and took a cable car ride up through them to a stunning overlook. It was a fantastic afternoon, spent mostly taking in the views of this special area and reading the little information plates on the various trail walk stop offs.   Tonight we would be staying in the Requa inn in Klamath. What a fantastic hotel this was! A proper wild west looking place on the outside but once inside you’re faced with fantastically well presented rooms comprising of huge snug and comfortable beds with free standing bath tubs in the corner. The food at dinner that evening in the hotel was delicious and the view across the Klamath River from the dining room windows were simply gorgeous and made for yet another fantastic night.        

DAY 5

Next stop was Miranda and we made our way off the stunning coastline to head inland briefly to the equally stunning Shasta Trinity National Park.  With its endless hairpins and fast sweeping bends, we had a fantastic run along the edge of the river for most of the morning. We were ready to set off after morning coffee, when we realised some of us needed fuel.  It was no big deal as the sat nav showed us a fuel station some 7 miles or so away in the opposite direction. We followed it and when we arrived we found the fuel pump was broken. OOOF!!! Some of us were now down to fairly low range miles on the trip computers,  but the attendant at the station told us “don’t worry, there’s a fuel station just another 11 miles that way” ‘that way’ being further in the wrong direction, or so we thought. We made our way gingerly toward the fuel station and I must confess I may have been the happiest guy alive that day when it appeared up ahead in the distance!  We rolled in to fill up and there at the side of the road parked up sipping his coffee was Trevor on his Harley. After a quick fuel stop we got going and the sat navs had re-routed us all onto a road that was just insanely perfect. The bends and cambers were in perfect harmony. Not a straight section of road anywhere, not even in between the hairpins!  We had a fantastic time just flicking from side to side as we made our way up and over the pass. I glanced in my mirror and Mr Andrew Seed was behind me. I could tell from that Donnie Osmond looking grin he had on, it was time to let off some steam and so we picked it up a little bit and boy did we have some fun!! Foot peg to foot peg, we went up and over that hill like two little boys who’d just been given their first motorbikes.   When we stopped a little bit further down the road we just couldn’t stop smiling as we laughed away about the fun filled miles that got us there. However, all of that was about to change when the predicted rain caught up with us and boy did it catch up with us! We got hosed on for hours on end and Trevor who was a little bit behind us even got snow. Yes snow! Who would have thought?! Thankfully it passed as quickly as it arrived and there was nothing on the roads.  The rain finally cleared as well by late afternoon, and we rode into Miranda to our lovely little cabins in the woods, at the start of the mighty Avenue of the Giants. 

DAY 6

Day 6 saw us set off along the Avenue of the Giants.  The massive trees, all standing so proud along the side of the road like a guard of honour to grant you safe passage on the super scenic road that twists and turns through them. First stop of the day was at the famous drive through Chandelier Tree.  The tree is so big, that even with a hole cut through, its big enough for some cars to pass through. It’s still living and looks really healthy. We all had fun driving through it, having some photos taken before journeying on. California really knocks it up a level in the utterly stunning stakes from this part on and we rejoin the coastline on the 101, where the views have now changed from stunning rock formations to beautiful long sandy beaches and deep coves.  You do feel like easy rider by now and you can hear Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild playing over in your head as you start to just love life on the road in the states, no where else evokes this kind of free feeling. This section of coast road is constantly voted the best motorcycle road in America and it’s really not hard to see why. Simply gorgeous. Next stop is San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.  

DAY 7

Today is a day off the bike to venture into the fantastic city of San Francisco.  First up was crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge. This massive suspension bridge is 1 mile long and looks spectacular as you approach it.  Work commenced on the bridge in 1933 and it took until 1937 for it to be completed. It’s a stunning feat of engineering and such an iconic symbol around the world with its massive bright red towers and steel cables, San Fran really is a movie city.  You could name countless classics from Dirty Harry, The Rock and X-Men to Bullitt, San Andreas and The Terminator. You walk around spotting buildings and places that the stars all frequented in these films and it’s actually really cool!! For me though, there was always only ever going to be one place that was a must, and that was …. Alcatraz! Steeped in its infamous history, the rock takes pride of place in the San Francisco bay.  The first person to document the island was a Spaniard by the name of Manuel De Ayala in 1775. Originally named “La Isla de los Alcatraces” which translates to “The Island of the Pelicans” It later became shortened down to Alcatraz. The island has taken many forms in its history. It’s been a simple lighthouse station, a military fortification, a military prison and then finally a federal prison from 1934 to 1963. In 1969 the island was occupied by Native Americans from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native American activism across the U.S staging public protests at the time.  The island is now a National Historic Landmark and has been since 1986. Again, for me it was all really just about setting foot on the island and reading the endless information boards that told you all about its most infamous guests. From Al Capone to Robert Franklin Stroud, The BirdMan of Alcatraz and not forgetting Machine Gun Kelly; the place really did hold the most dangerous men society had to offer at that time. To walk in their footsteps, stand in their cells and walk around the prison was really quite something, however, as infamous as they may be, there was only one former guests footsteps I wished to walk in!  British military intelligence’s Captain John Patrick Mason formerly of her majesty’s S.A.S; also known as Sean Connery haha!! I loved big Sean in the movie The Rock and it was all I harped on about all day!  

To end the day, some of us took a simulator flight with a twist across the Bay area. Once we all entered the ride, we were shown a few short clips of a film that told the story of a chap who wished to propose to his partner.  It followed him to the rendezvous point, at which point he would kneel down and pop the big question. However a naughty seagull spots the shiny ring and steals it out his hand and then lands on a fence post. We were then taken through to the biggest simulator I’ve ever seen, set out over two stories and facing a huge cinema sized curved 3D screen.  Once you’re sat down and buckled up, you pop your 3D glasses on and up pops this bloody seagull on his fence post! Then it begins, handrails in front of you fold away, the seat lifts up as the floor falls away and then the bird just drops off the post and down the face of a cliff!!!!! Its mind blowingly real!! So real in fact, all I could hear was the lovely Nene Tarr commence her initial “I want off”.  This upped with the intensity of the birds acrobatics “iii wwwwanntt ooofff”, Paul’s reassuring words of “Its alright Nene” were falling on terrified deaf ears! With each twist and turn the bird took “iiiiiiiiiiiii wwwwwwwwwwaaaaaannnnnnntttt oooooooffffffff” would increase in intensity, and as he took a crazy sharp left and flew up the face of the Golden Gate Bridge “IIIIII RRRREAAALLLLYYYYY WWWWWWAAAANNNNTTTTT OOOOOFFFF”  was the cry! Oh Nene! You’re my hero. You just took every fear you ever had and smashed it out of the park with the most epic of challenges on this trip. Well done! 

Like giggling school kids we all left the famous Pier 39 Fisherman’s Wharf and headed back to the hotel having seen everything from Alcatraz, a sea lion colony and taken a flight on a crazy seagulls back around the city.  Memories i’ll treasure forever! Between sightseeing and exploring the city we all had an utterly fantastic time in San Francisco.

DAY 8

To leave San Francisco, we had to make our way across the Golden Gate Bridge and up through the city to the Oakland Bay Bridge.  The Oakland Bay Bridge is equally as incredible as the GGB as it has two decks which let 260,000 vehicles a day pass over it in each direction, one on top of the other.  We get out of town and onto some great fun back roads that take us from San Jose to Yosemite National Park. On the way we stopped off at the Castle Air Museum. Even if your not into planes and aviation, there’s a collection of historical bits and pieces in there that are super interesting. From a retired Air Force 1, which you can have an on board tour of, to a SR-Blackbird that’s capable of generating 34,000lbs of thrust from each engine, can fly at 90,000 plus feet, hit speeds of up to 3,529kph and out run any missile that was fired at it to take it down. Having said all that, there was one or two other equally amazing treasures tucked away in the corners.  There was a hydrogen bomb shell casing identical to the two dropped on Hiroshima and it sat next to the only goliath that could carry it. The Convair RB-36 Peacemaker had a maximum payload of 39,600kgs and could knock out 10,000 miles without refuelling; that makes it intercontinental. It was the first plane built capable of carrying 4 nuclear bombs at a time and it had, wait for it, 6 rear facing turbo prop piston engines and 4 General Electric J47-19 Jet engines! That’s 10 engines in total and when you see the size of this gigantic beast, you know why it needed them. My inner child though had to stand next to Mavericks Top-Gun F-14 TomCat and utter those words “Talk to me Goose” What a great day out!!  Onwards to the hotel and a fantastic afternoon riding through Mariposa and Oakhurst. We arrived at the hotel mid to late afternoon and there were police cars everywhere! I had been emailed earlier in the day and warned the hotel had overbooked us with the state sheriffs department. However, there were alternative arrangements in place for our two night stay and all would be fine, a bit more than fine to be precise. The alternative arrangement turned out to be a not too shabby 1.5 million dollar mansion at the top of a mountain overlooking the beautiful lake below. All feeling like we’ve just stepped into the big time, we scattered through the house like kids on a school trip claiming bedrooms. It was great fun and really made for two fantastic nights. 

DAY 9

So day 9 would be the ride out day around the stunning Yosemite National Park. It seemed only fair that I handed the keys of my bike over to my faithful Dumbledore look alike sidekick – Mr David Billington. Always on hand with drinks, snacks and a spare bike just in case, David was the safety net in the background for the entire trip. I handed the keys over without any bad feeling at all, just tears of jealousy, and in a very played down manner the swine swiped them clean out my hand and was out that garage before the door had finished opening; just in case I changed my mind.   Seriously though, he’s my brother from another mother and I was delighted for him to have that day. Everyone set off for a great days ride and myself and the guide’s guide, my wife Storm, took the truck to the local supermarket 10 miles away and bought a mountain of food for a massive BBQ. When everyone returned we made our way out onto the 3rd floor deck and watched the eagles circle the house as we prepared to get the food going. Only two things were missing, Karl and Lorna! They’d had a longer day and rode the big blue Harley here there and everywhere; arriving just as the food was being chucked on the grill.  We all had a fantastic evening together and it was great fun. The fun was knocked up a notch while the music played in the background and the lovely Marion piped up with “is that a country music song?” I said yes and that changed everything! Thundering out the patio doors came Dolly Marion Parton with legs flying this way and that way, and the hands and bum to back it up, we had a line dancing diva show us how it’s done. Of course Storm had to join in and the dance off got going! What a hoot!! Before we knew it there was Scottish highland dancing in there, and the madness continued as Storm and Marion threw a few shapes.  Well done girls, great fun! If Dee was there, it could have been the whole set with some Irish dancing and Roger backing them up as the Magellan Michael Flatley. River dance might have finished the decking off though and it was a long way down.

DAY 10

Back on the bikes and away we go, leaving South Fork mansion in the rear view mirror, our taste of how the other half struggle with 10 bedrooms and a 6 car garage was over and we made our way on to Kernville.  We push on south and the later part of the day is mind blowing! The Sequoia National Park makes for out of this world scenery and truly fantastic riding. Again, we had some fantastic fun blitzing a mountain pass and hitting the twisty bits where we stopped off here and there for photos. Another amazing day in the sunshine. 

DAY 11

Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire! Yep, we left Kernville and made our way to the fabulous city of Las Vegas, Nevada. What a riding day this was!! An absolute mind blower every mile of the way, I’m sure everyone would agree.  From 4000 feet to sea level, we continued riding through the Sierra Mountains with the stunning backdrop of massive, vast wild west landscapes. Over the last day or so as we got nearer the desert, the colours and the shape of the landscape had been changing constantly in the background. Today we see it change drastically as we enter the absolutely breathtaking Death Valley. With some mind boggling viewpoints and incredible backdrops, it’s easy to see why Americans don’t really need to leave America. The desert is stunning and the most bizarre thing I think we saw that day was a flawless 9 hole golf course with perfect shades of green grass in the middle of nowhere, only in America we all thought! Onwards to the mental and bustling Las Vegas. Now if you’ve never been, you should see it because no one can actually describe Vegas to you. There are two versions of Vegas, there’s the day time version and the night time version. As we rolled into town from the desert like proper adventurers, the sun began to set and those bright lights Elvis sang about began to light up and change Vegas from a collection of tall buildings, into an adult’s theme park.  You truly don’t know where to look first! It’s always a real pleasure to see people enjoying themselves, but to look in my mirror that day as we rode down Las Vegas Boulevard and see so many big smiles and nods was quite something. That and Karl constantly singing Viva Las Vegas made for a special moment and we all felt pretty darn good I’d say. We arrived at the hotel, high fived each other and got checked in and parked up. A quick shower and change of clothes and it was time to walk up the strip and try and take it all in, on our way to the mighty Bellagio fountains.  

DAY 12

Today was a chance to explore Vegas and see the other side of the madness at night. We all set off to spend the day walking through the various casinos and hotel complexes. The pick of the bunch for me is the Venetian. With endless architectural replicas, ranging from the Palazzo Ducale, The Lion of Venice Column and the mile long river with Gondolas it really is something to see.  We bounced in and out all day witnessing the crazy options available to you. So you want to gamble, have a Rolex delivered to the table, while your being measured up for a new suit, no problem! You’ve always fancied flying in a Vietnam styled Lynx helicopter, and squeezing off a few rounds of 50 cal bullets from the gun on board into targets in the desert, no problem! Race a Ferrari up the strip, no problem!…. on and on that list goes, getting more bizarre by the line.   Thankfully we reserved Brits were all holding out for a meal that evening in the restaurant with the best view of those bright lights – The Stratosphere. The Stratosphere has a revolving restaurant that stands some 1,149ft to the tip of the antenna spire, above the earth. We had a fantastic meal and sat and enjoyed the best view of Vegas for a couple of hours. With helicopters flying by in all directions and crazy people being swung off the roof in a mad looking metal swing contraption, you realise the madness of Vegas is everywhere!   

DAY 13

Leaving Las Vegas one thing Elvis said was definitely true, if you see it once you’ll never be the same again. No matter where you go in the world, you will never see anything quite like Vegas, its nuts! Moving on, the first stop is none other than The Hoover Dam. Built between 1931 and 1936, it really is another stunning feat of engineering. This concrete dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado river is a sight to behold.  Built during the great depression to get folk back into work, its stood the test of time beautifully. How can we beat that today then I hear you say, well how about our next stop… The Grand Canyon? By lunch time we had parked up and checked into the entrance of the magnificent Grand Canyon. Some 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide in places, It’s an epic thing to look at. Unbelievably it attains a depth of just over a mile at its deepest point.  We spent the day in the blistering sunshine exploring the Canyon and taking photos, with Roger and Dee opting for the Skywalk. The Skywalk is a glass floored walkway hanging out over the Canyon. Well done guys!! After a few hours of exploring we hit the road again and made our way to Oatman and the start of the famous Route 66. Oatman is a loveable little wild west town with wild donkeys wandering the streets and traditional wild west shop fronts and themes.  After some photo stops and a look around we carried on to Laughlin and got the head down for the night ready for tomorrow’s crack at Route 66.  

DAY 14

On the bikes and off we go towards Palm Desert.  A fantastic days riding on Route 66 we had the weather, the open road and the time to just waft along towards our first coffee stop at a fantastic little café in the town of Kelso. This is where U2s famous Joshua Tree album cover was photographed.  As we rolled in and parked up we could see people everywhere with cameras in their hands looking down the railway tracks. What’s all the fuss about we thought, and then the black plumes of smoke in the distance started to give it away. The last steam powered train in operation that’s only used once a year was making its way through. What are the chances I ask you?  With only minutes to spare we all got into position and got our cameras ready as the mighty roaring hulk of metal came thundering at us, blowing its top all the way.  What a sight to see it was too! Little did we know but we’d ride alongside it for a good few miles to come as we got our kicks on Route 66. Next stop was lunch and where else would you have it if not the famous Roy’s Motel and Café. We rolled in to living history and parked up. Roy’s has been on the go since 1938 and has served weary travellers ever since.  We parked up and made good use of the famous Route 66 signs on the road and then relaxed for a bit. We had a fantastic day in the Mojave desert and I must say it might be one of the nicest places I’ve ever had the privilege to ride a bike through. The vast openness and incredible mountains in the distance just keeps blowing your mind. The road is perfect and there’s plenty of fun twisty parts along the way. The Joshua Tree National Park was just beautiful and the arched rock formations and beautiful colours made for some great photo stops along the way.  A special day indeed! That night we finished off by having Felix and Naomi join us for some fantastic fun filled show cooking at a nearby Japanese restaurant, and what a laugh it was. 

DAY 15 

Well they do say all good things must come to an end and this amazing trip was no different.  First though was the fabulous twisty mountain roads of the absolutely epic Ortega Highway. Well it would be rude not to push on a little bit and finish the tyres off! So that’s exactly what we did, zig zagging up the twisty roads with my wingman Andrew pushing me on all the way, we loved it!!  The last part of the day was spent zooming down the insane L.A freeway with 14 lanes of traffic to arrive safely at the hire centre and park our trusty steeds up for the last time. What a phenomenal fun filled trip we had, and what a fantastic group of riders to share it with. Later that evening we all met up and had a fantastic farewell dinner together in a lovely restaurant in L.A.  The following morning it was time to say goodbye as we all went our separate ways.  

THE RIDERS

Paul and Nene Tarr.      

Never short of a laugh, these two are just fabulous company on tour.   Nene smashed yet another epic set of roads and routes, facing every challenge head on like a hero, well.. except for the 3D simulator ride on the seagulls back.  “IIIIIIII WWWWWWAAAAANNNNTTTT OOOFFFFF” will never sound the same again. Most simulators have a panic button Nene, both Paul and I looked at each other when we came out and said at the same time ” thank f@8k it didn’t have a panic button”   heee heee heee. Well done little bear.

Andrew and Marion.

Andrew just waits on Marions next outburst and laughs his head off at her.  Marion, I’ll never ever hear the word benevolent the same again. After numerous attempts Marion just kept on belting out benelephant until there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Ben bin ban benelephant will never leave me and neither will your line dancing.  You both make a top team and what fantastic riders. 

Lorna and Karl. 

My first trip with my sister and brother in law, and what a trip it was.  Riding along on big blue was all in a day’s work for Karl. Always smiling and always good fun, you both brought plenty laughs to the trip.  Especially when you burnt your face and came out of the bathroom with sudocrem all over you. You went in looking like a traffic light and came back out like Casper.  When we spent some time sorting out your bluetooth headsets, Lorna confirmed a lifelong suspicion when she declared “don’t worry if I can’t hear him, as long as he can hear me, that will do”  women really don’t hear us guys! 

Roger and Dee

Flying along effortlessly on his mighty RT, Roger got Dee safely from A to B throughout the trip.   I’ll never forget the torrential wet and cold day when I was freezing my backside off on my GS. Rogers kind words when we stopped were “it’s not a problem for us because we’ve got the heated seat on”  gee thanks Roger! Seriously, thank you both for a great time and great company and for making me realise the RT is actually the right bike for the trip. 

Trevor Burridge

Trev added in a few parts of his own along the way from previous trips to the states. The lone wolf thundered through the countryside on his Sport Glide and got where he was going effortlessly.  Trev won’t ever be able to surprise any one though, or sneak up on them, because from about 20 miles away you’ll hear back in black blasting out his Harley as he guns it towards you. Well done and thanks for the dinner bookings along the way, always good choices. 

David Billington

Our support truck hero who was sent back through time to supply bikers with peanut M&Ms and water.  He’s living tissue over a metal endoskeleton and he absolutely will not be stopped. Like the Terminator, David was always coming after us and always in our mirrors.  We all owe you a great debt of gratitude as I know it’s not easy lugging that big ole Dodge Ram though traffic with a trailer and two spare bikes. Well done my friend! 

The guides guide Storm.

Never out my ear constantly! Go this way, lookout for that, how fast are we going? when will we get there? I need the toilet… all of these things, she never utters. A fantastic pillion and fantastic help, she’s always on hand to get me through another day.  I did enjoy watching her face change though as she had a read at this. Just a shame she snores like a rhino with a cold at night! oooft sofa it is.

My silly Self, The guide.

I can’t thank you all enough for choosing to travel with us. Some of you more than once, and hopefully I’ll get the privilege of doing it with you all again soon.  I’m very grateful to you all for being great riders and making this trip such a stress free one. I’ll jump back into the Magellan cryo chamber now and be put back on ice till next year, before being defrosted and geared up to do it all again.  You all ride safe and if I can help with anything along the way, you know where to find me. Love to you all from me and Storm xx

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