We rise from our hotel near the Long Beach Airport and called a cab to bring us to the nearby Long Beach BMW dealer where our bikes from MotoQuest Tours awaited.
Lawrence our friendly MotoQuest rental agent greeted us and walked us out to our bikes. The next seven days will be spent riding identical BMW R1200GS motorcycles one-way from Long Beach, California to Seattle, Washington. A good chunk of the trip will be along the Pacific Coast on beautiful U.S. Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.
The white giants (the Beemers) had around 400 miles on the odometer. Riding them along the Pacific Coast Highway should prove a decent break-in for these bikes of adventure.
Lawrence got us through the rental contracts within minutes and we began loading the SW Motech Traxx side cases. Getting bikes couldn’t be any quicker and easier. One-way motorcycle rentals through MotoQuest Tours is a new service and they treated us very well.
This is a trip that my dad and I had wanted to take for quite some time. At a young age, he lived in Long Beach. It was chance that our trip launched from this city. Childhood memories rushed back to him as the cool Pacific Ocean breeze cooled us from the 80+ degree outside temperature.
Monica, my wife and #1 pillion, will fly in around noon. So we have a couple hours to burn. We decide to get acquainted with the bikes with a short ride out to the beach. The cool breeze from the west pulled us in search of its salty origin. The bikes were easy to get accustomed to. The power band kicks in from about 3,200 RPM and pulls smoothly from there. The grips and pegs were in comfortable locations. In just a few short miles the bike begins to feel familiar — well, besides the silly BMW switch locations. The switch locations and rock hard seat are two things that won’t likely become better with time. The seat is downright torturous after an hour in the saddle.
We pick up my #1 Pillion, get her gear loaded into the Traxx cases and off we ride into the sunset. Well, at least that is how the numerous movie studios that we ride past in Los Angeles would paint the picture.
If we were deer, then our tails would have been high as we skirt through the millions of drivers along the interstate in L.A. The drivers through LALA land are down right dangerous to motorcyclists. Perhaps it is poor financing for driver’s education programs, but I blame the parents of these drivers. They must not have taught them to care for other’s safety. The roads are dangerous and we are happy to escape the traffic and 97-degree weather as we drop down into the aptly named Pleasant Valley.
The smells of the Safire American Grill lure us from the freeway in the bedroom community of Camarillo. The kind staff provide us with our own outdoor eating area. It was a fantastic way to enjoy the friendly service and decent food.
With our appetites suppressed, we exit the ‘burbs. US Highway 1 starts to come to life in the Camarillo and Oxnard areas. It is in Oxnard that we begin to skirt the Pacific Ocean. As we pull onto a more scenic route, next to the main road, we are afforded a spectacular view. We slowly ride past the endless line of
RVs that hog the view of the water. As soon as we get past the throng of gas guzzling condos on wheels, Monica’s voice comes through the Chatterbox XBi II headset with, “Dolphins, dolphins.” The excited voice throws me off my scanning of the road and I immediately pull across the on-coming lane on to the shoulder to stop and see what all the excitement is about. There are eight to 12 dolphins feasting and playing a few yards off the shore. It is an amazing sight to behold as these graceful mammals dive in to the water and come back up a short time later for air.
Almost as soon as we are skirting the coastline, the road goes back inland. It is nearing 5 pm when we have the option to route through Solvang or push on to Lompoc. There is a motorcycle museum that I’ve read about in Solvang, but it is likely closing time for them.
We push on along Highway 1, through the odiferous strawberry fields near Lompoc. These glorious scents are missed by motorists with their windows closed up tight, music blaring and phone stuck to their ears. It is a true sensory treat. The smell is so strong that the salty pacific air must bounce off the mountains that occupy the horizon to concentrate the strawberry fields forever. Since scent is supposed to be closely tied with memory, this is a fresh, organic experience that will likely stick with us for years to come.
An enjoyable 50 miles later we find ourselves along the coast again in Pismo Beach. We ride around town to get a lay of the land and decide to get a room at the Ocean Breeze Inn for $109 per night. Our room is a block from the beach and several eateries. With the bikes parked for the night we find food and more importantly enjoy a couple beers.
Day one of our trip is complete. We are now solidly outside the rat race of Los Angeles and in the peace and quiet that is found along the Pacific Coast Highway. Scenery abounds from here on out. More of this trip will come soon.