After having left my motorcycle in Australia, in Melbourne, I reach in the United States, in San Francisco. But even the most carefully planned journey cannot predict the unexpected, which always pops up to remind you that, if routine is monotonous and boring, not all surprises are pleasant ones and the one I’m about to tell you about certainly wasn’t for me. Before leaving for the United States I realised I had lost my wallet with all my documents and credit cards. Luckily, I had already bought my plane ticket, paid for the hire car and the first night in a hotel in San Francisco. However, having lost my driving licence, I can’t get the car and, only after a few mishaps, and having contacted a private company, do I manage to hire a car to travel around freely while waiting for my bike to arrive.
I am impatient, I can’t wait to dive into the city and immerse myself in the wonderful views that this metropolis has to offer, with its thousands of hills where these characteristic streets lie, almost as if suspended. To take a scenic tour I use what is traditionally known as the “Hop-on-Hop-off”, a red double-decker bus, in true English style: it is always very handy, because it allows you to get on and off at any bus stop, whenever you like. The next day, as soon as my bike arrives, I try to put it back together again and this time I am very careful to make sure that every piece is perfectly connected, since experience always teaches you something.
I decide to go back to the places I visited the day before, this time on my bike; one must see: The Golden Gate Bridge which, with its famous red spans, overlooks the bay of San Francisco. The bridge, seen from the vantage point I have chosen, contrasts with the landscape, standing out to such an extent that you can easily understand why it has become the symbol of the city.
I am always willing to return to places that are full of vitality, and one of these is definitely Chinatown, the largest Chinese community that resides in the centre of the city since the mid-1800s. I love to see the people going about their daily business, smell the aromas coming from improvised traditional dishes, immerse myself in the streets and lose myself as I study the buildings with their easily recognisable oriental lines.
I regretfully leave the city and its evocative power, where memories of happy and carefree times emerge, but time is running out and I have to reach some friends who are in Bakersfield, however, before arriving there I want to visit the giant sequoia park. I travel along a typical mountain road with flowing curves. It is fantastic to travel with the bike. I stop at Moro Rock, from where you can admire the Great Western Divide and, above all, the great sequoia known as “General Sherman” which, at 84 metres tall, overlooks the other trees in the park. Although they may be less long-lived and impressive, they are still giants of the forest too. Leaving this spectacular “oasis” I set off once more, and in the evening reach my friends. I spend some very memorable days with them: laughing, joking, having fun and, in their company, I reach Los Angeles to visit Universal Studios. These film studios house some surprising attractions and we also find ourselves being drawn in by the characters in costume that roam around the stands, having fun like kids at the fun fair. The time flies by and in the evening, we head back to Bakersfield, as the next day I will be heading off to the Parks.
I decide to stop at Bryce Canyon to admire the “Hoodoos”, the famous pinnacles of multicoloured rock that will literally take your breath away. This phenomenon is due to the erosion of water and wind that has produced spiers and towers over thousands of years, grouped in amphitheatres that appear to have been chiselled by the hand of an artist. If Bryce Canyon is small and the eye can take it all in, the same cannot be said for the Grand Canyon, of which I find it difficult, if not impossible, to delimit the boundaries. I am always enraptured when faced with these sights and I would like to be able to share the awareness of the immenseness that surrounds us, with the whole world. Everything is even more spectacular because it starts to snow.
I set off again, I should have been spending a few days with a friend who is in North Carolina, I call to let her know I’m on my way, but she tells me that it is snowing there too and that the roads are not viable, so I decide to head south and reach New Orleans. I set off, but not long after the bike’s engine cuts out. As always in these circumstances, the first thing to do is check that there is petrol, so I look at the gauge which shows 4 notches, I look at the GPS and see that I’ve travelled 240 kilometres, so I certainly still have fuel. Not knowing how to solve the problem I call a tow truck, which arrives after 2 hours and takes me to a garage. I find a very good mechanic called Bob, who, after having asked me a few questions and having looked at the bike, puts a litre of petrol in the tank and miraculously… the bike starts up again … What is going on? Certainly, there must be something wrong with the petrol gauge… but the GPS? As I think about it, I soon realise that I had set it to American mode, I hadn’t driven 240 kilometres at all, but 240 miles, that’s about 400 kilometres, so I had finished all the petrol! I then discover that the problem was a filter that was meant to clean the dirty petrol that comes from various types of containers that can be found in poor countries like India or Pakistan. In fact, the filter had been mounted on the wrong side by the dealership, that is, on the right, where there is the float that caused the failure in the gauge. Once I have refuelled, I can set off again, but I don’t manage to reach New Orleans on the 13 October, to celebrate my birthday. Despite a delay of one day, I enjoy a plate of Creole prawns that makes me forget all the ups and downs and the hitches encountered along the way. New Orleans is a unique and fascinating city too and, after having taken some photos, I head back to the hotel to rest, as the next day I will be leaving for Miami.
I stay in Miami for a few days, enough time to prepare the bike, have it serviced and put it in a wooden box to send it to Santiago, in Chile. At the dealership they are very nice and change some parts that are under guarantee, even if for “BMW America” they wouldn’t have been covered due to the number of kilometres travelled. As it will take about 10 days for the bike to get to Chile, as a birthday gift I allow myself a holiday in Cuba to enjoy a little sun and a lot of relaxation. Once I get back to Miami, I pick up the documents from the shipper and take a flight to Santiago, Chile, the next day.